Jim lost part of his right leg below his knee
when his vessel was attacked & sunk to the sea.
A truck collided with his motorcycle the night of June 6th
2000 causing part of his right leg below his knee to be
amputated. This did not slow him down. He sailed on
through life like a real survivor. While recuperating a
creative door opened in his mind. The loss of his leg
caused him to stumble into a new career. He envisioned
a peg legged pirate. One who performs magic and
speaks words of wisdom. He thought that this seemed
years old he pursued this vision. Gathering pirate garb
and picking up the magic that he once performed in
childhood. He began to practice and perfect this pirate
character and his illusions. He took his first prosthetic leg
and would remove the foot and install a metal pylon with
a rubber stopper to create the look of a peg leg. He
would perform for friends and then reinstall the foot when
he was not performing. The wrecked bike was put back
together and painted a silver & black theme with his
prosthetic leg painted to match. This was a first for the
custom bike painter. Jim renamed his Harley Davidson
Night Train Softail the "Second Chance Night Train." Jim
would get some double takes as he road his Harley with
matching leg, sporting the peg leg look at times as well.
The word of this peg legged
magical pirate was spreading.
A new local seafood restaurant in Greensboro
called on him in October of 2004 and hired him to
entertain several nights of the week. This was his
big break for him to be seen by the public. He soon
started having a new prosthetic leg made. One that
would be strictly used as his peg leg. He had the
upper part of the prosthetic leg the "socket"
painted to look like wood grain. The socket was
made of carbon fiber and fiber glass. The lower
part, the "peg" was a metal pylon with a rubber
stopper. Now known as Captain Jim, he wore this
leg for the next several years, performing at all
types of parties and events.
Newspapers & TV were interviewing this Pirate
and telling his lemons to lemonade story.
Captain Jim was now performing at a couple of different restaurants each week.
Weekends were filling with birthday parties, church events, festivals...etc. Jim was
excited and so thankful for the success of this character that he had created. He's
always working on bigger and better illusions, more powerful words of wisdom and
fine tuning his pirate look. But there was one thing that he knew he needed to make
his look more authentic. Although the peg leg he had was a definite eye catcher.
Occasionally children would say "that's not a real wooden leg". He new he needed a
real wooden peg leg. He went to his Prosthetist (a person who makes artificial limbs)
with this new idea. They were used to his creative ideas and were excited to be a
part of the creation of a real wooden peg leg. Jim had an idea of having a new
prosthetic socket made to fit his limb without the hardware below. No metal pylon no
place to install a foot just the carbon fiber socket. Jim then went to a local custom
mill shop. One that he had dealt with in his construction days. He found a craftsman
who was intrigued with this unique project. Several months of planning took place.
Jim's Prosthetist made him a new socket. Covering it in a wood grain fabric just in
case the real wooden cover did not work out. It looked awesome already!
Meanwhile, the wood craftsman had drawn blueprints of his ideas. He would make
an upper wooden shell with the lower part being solid wood. He then would shape
this piece of wood into the look of a peg leg and mount the carbon fiber prosthetic
socket into the upper shell. This way you would have it fit the limb with todays
technology for comfort but the look of a real wooden peg leg.
LEFT: Captain Jim's
Prosthetist, Jeffrey Smith
of Advance Prosthetic &
Orthodics in Greensboro,
N.C. Jeff tweaking Jim's
new leg which has pirate
skull fabric embedded
into the carbon fiber. Jim
is holding his new socket
that will be used with his
wooden peg leg.
RIGHT: The carbon fiber
socket covered in wood
grain fabric. If a peg had
been added and covered
in this fabric this alone
would have been
awesome. Needless to
say Jim was as excited as
a kid in a candy shop.
Precision work and calculations went into both the carbon fiber prosthetic and the wooden peg leg.
Both craftsmen are the best in their fields. Captain Jim will wear the peg leg for long lengths of time. The prosthetic
socket has to fit his limb precisely so as not to wear or rub and cause him undue skin break down or pain in his leg or
hips. The wooden peg leg has to be exactly the right size. The hole in the shell just right to receive the carbon fiber
prosthetic. Making it no bigger than it has to be and the length just right. Once completed there will be no way to adjust
the height on the wooden peg leg like there is on a standard prosthetic leg. The goal is for it not to be any bulkier than it
has to be and definitely not too short.
BELOW: Master Craftsman - Custom Furniture Designer/Maker, Christopher Hanlon of
Hanlon Designs in High Point, NC. Turns the block of wood on a lathe over a period of 4
hours. Using only a hand held wood chisel to shape it into the look of a peg leg. Detail is of
the utmost importance. There is no room for mistakes. Brass pegs are installed to help
fasten the lower solid peg to the upper hollow shell. You would have never known watching
Christopher that this was his first time making a peg leg.
The finished product is a well fitting work of art that these craftsmen can
Over a few more days Christopher would sand and sand the peg leg. Giving it an
extremely smooth finish then applying several coats of sealer. Chris installed the
carbon fiber prosthetic into the wooden shell bonding them together. Once this had
set up he contoured the top of the wooden peg leg to meet the contours of the
carbon fiber prosthetic. Both Jeffrey and Christopher had to be precise with these
contours in order for Captain Jim to be able to bend his leg without having any
discomfort. The hours of meticulous shaping of the peg leg had paid off. Captain Jim
arrived for the finish product. It was beautiful and just what he envisioned. Captain
Jim wanted this leg to make a statement and a grand statement this Brazilian Cherry
peg leg did make! The one last concern was the weight of this wooden peg leg.
Captain Jim's other carbon fiber prosthetic legs are very light weight. Chris and Jim
realized that this leg would be much heaver than a typical prosthetic leg. A lot of time
and financial investment went into this wooden peg leg. The big question now... would
the added weight cause him discomfort? Captain Jim slid the limb of his right leg into
this gorgeous wooden peg leg for the first time. As he walked around the work shop
he became more excited with every step. Yes, much heaver than his other legs but a
great fit nonetheless and one thing was for sure, it's a real wooden peg leg. After a
couple of weeks wearing this new wooden peg leg the weight became no issue.
|The lathe machine turns the
block of wood around and
around while Christopher
guides a hand chisel along
the block of wood cutting
away to shape the peg leg.
He used lots of experience,
patience and detail.
As the peg leg was being shaped
we realized that it looked like a
wooden bottle. So the story now
goes... The rum in the bottle was
the Captain's anesthetic but
when emptied the wooden bottle
became Captain Jim's prosthetic.
Wooden Peg Leg
< SOLID WOOD FOR