James Reynolds – The Woodworking Gunsmith.
I was born and raised in rural north Yorkshire and by the advent of my early teenage years started to become involved in shooting sports through a combination of air rifle shooting and beating, which in time, became an all-consuming passion. Guns became a platform on which to consolidate my interests in, engineering, manufacturing, art and history.
It is obvious that work of this nature is an absolute passion to James and whilst a relative youngster, he has the skill, knowledge, ability and professionalism of someone of much more senior years.
Chris Skinner (Kent)
As a young man I was the type of child who would have his Christmas presents dissected into their various parts by Boxing Day in order to understand how they work and with little tools or ability but exuberant self-confidence the same was done to my various air rifles in order to make “improvements”.
( Image right: view from Black Hambleton back towards nether silton )
(Image above: one of my first paid trade jobs many years ago. A new forend wood for a Webley and Scott model 700.)
Exposure to the MLAGB at various game fairs around the county sparked my interest at a young age in muzzle loading guns, and indeed by a chance circumstance it was these interests which lead me into the murky depths of the mystery of the gunsmith.
The acquisition of a quite hopeless old reproduction muzzle loader from an older sportsman who was giving up his activities also offered the opportunity to acquire an old Linsley brother’s shotgun, which the old boy proffered to me on the condition that I would turn my budding talents to restocking the neglected old gun which was missing half the stock from the wrist backwards. I immediately agreed, the gun being more than anything I could afford, however other than some less than satisfactory air rifle stocks, the fitting of a few but pads and a couple of refinishing attempts this was a much bigger job than anything I had attempted before.
Being young the early part of my summer holiday was spent reading and watching and learning how to make a gunstock, which was laboriously carved with a handful of blunt rusty chisels. Three weeks of painstaking work and the stock was made, the attempt was a good first attempt however the details of the job, the style of the checkering, the fit of the gun and practically every detail through which you might recognize fine work was lacking.
The fire was lit, and my passion led me on a journey through my late teens and early twenties constantly refining skills, ideas and understanding to better understand the craft and it was clear from that point on that this was something that would change my life. Setting up the first workshop was a lot of work its one thing fitting a recoil pad on a Saturday for a few quid, and quite enough to provide a secure workshop facility with flexible capability i invested heavily and after much work my new workshop was fully equipped, licensed, planning approved and secured.
(Image below: a bespoke stock for a perazzi copying measurements from a clients old miroku)
Over the years Ive gained the patronage of a loyal private and trade customer base who regularly furnish me with varied and interesting work.
"I have had the pleasure of using several Gunsmiths over my 40+ years of shooting but I have never before seen such a natural flair for precision work at such a young age - his checkering skills are beyond reproach and I have yet to find his weak spot where I could consider his work merely "average".
C.Cherry. Winslow, Bucks.
In late 2020 I moved my workshop and equipment to Thimbleby Shooting Ground, the new workshop opened in conjunction with new management a new club house with cafe and gunshop and general improvements throughout the clay ground. The move to the clay ground has been hugely successful and helped me make a name for myself amongst a more local clientele helping even cash flow with smaller jobs in between the more consuming projects, its been great gun building new relationships with new clients at Thimbleby shooting ground, as well as keeping my existing clients happy. Approaching the end of the second year at thimbleby running the workshop post covid has been a new challenge for me, as after the lockdowns the higher end bespoke work dried up almost entirely resulting in a change of pace as i was forced to refocus on smaller jobs. Reflecting on this as we enter 2023 its my goal to take the business by the reigns again and focus on the project based work my workshop was known best for. Best prices, consistent with quality workmanship. please get in touch to discuss your ideas, email and whatsapp are handy for sending pictures to inspire us both and come up with something unique.
When not in the workshop I enjoy a steady days walked up or rough shooting over unruly spaniels in Yorkshire which boasts some of the most beautiful countryside and the efforts of the gamekeepers keep it abundant with wildlife.
In my spare time i enjoy shooting of all types, be it walked up shooting, duck flighting, roost shooting or relaxing at the local clay ground Thimbleby.
I also maintain a passion for black powder guns and love to get out and put them back into practical use when i can.