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Jim Byrnes, the owner and brains behind Model Machines LLC, began building models over 40 years ago - the first one was a plastic kit which his father gave him at age 5. His first wooden ship - also from his Dad - was of 'Charles W. Morgan', and that model sits in his Dad's Living Room today. Jim is currently working on ship #15 - a scratch build of "Old Ironsides", the USS Constitution, as she was launched in the fall of 1797.

When Jim made the transition from kits to scratch building, he very quickly realized that he needed a different "kind" of tool, manufactured to a higher specification, and capable of much finer work, than those he had been using to build kits. He was able to buy sanders, but what he really needed - and immediately - was a small, precision saw. Many of the ones on the market at the time were plastic, and most would not cut to the tolerances he needed. With a 25 year career as a machinist, Jim thought "I can build a better mousetrap."

He started designing with AutoCAD, and the first plans took him six months to complete. Then Jim moved the project into his machine shop - he worked nights perfecting his first 4" Table Saw, and that took another six months. At the end of a year of planning, design and testing, Jim had what he calls "the perfect saw" - one that is accurate to 1/1000th of an inch.

As most modelers do, Jim likes to talk about what he's doing, and the word started to get around that Jim could engineer precision equipment that just wasn't available anywhere else. His first product was a precision Draw Plate, but when modelers heard about his saw, Jim started receiving e-mails asking if he was selling them. Pretty soon, he had 25 orders ... then 50 ... and Model Machines LLC was born.

The next major milestone was a rave review of the saw posted by Phil Krol on the Model Shipwrights web site ... and more orders came in ...

Our 'hub' is a dedicated workshop where each table saw and thickness sander is manufactured and assembled by hand, one at a time, and thoroughly tested before shipment. Jim's background in the Laser industry probably explains why he strives for such close tolerances and insists on such high standards in making his saws and sanders. "I aim for perfection in everything I do in my daily job - and in my own shop, it's no different," he says - then adds, "This is what I do ..."


Jim Byrnes

With many tears and much sadness, we share the news that Jim was diagnosed with ALS in February 2023, and passed away in early October 2024. He was 64 ...

Jim had a true passion for model ship-building. For many years he had done extensive research on the U.S.S. Constitution and was in the final phase of completing his scratch build of the Constitution as it was originally launched in 1797. In 2002 he and I formed Model Machines LLC. People using Jim's machines included builders of model ships, railroads, doll houses, doll house furniture, pen turners, segmented bowls -- even architects. In recent years guitar, harp and violin makers were added to this list.

Jim was a remarkable craftsman and was always ready to help and mentor others, many of whom soon became his very good friends. Jim had close ties with both the Model Ship World and Nautical Research Guild organizations, and attended conferences throughout the U.S. for 20 years ... he developed many long friendships within these organizations.

Jim was a humble, quiet man who was deeply loved and will be missed by so many. Our hearts - as family, as co-workers, as woodworkers, as friends - are broken. For the moment, we are uncertain about the future of Byrnes Model Machines - but we're working on it, and hope to have an announcement in the next few weeks.

This is a time of sadness and introspection for us ...we truly appreciate your business, support and friendship over the years - we thank you for your patience and understanding.

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