About the Museum


The largest permanent exhibit of Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship in the world Group Visits






The On-line Museum
Quick Links



What's New

List of Craftsmen

Paul Knapp Collection

Seal Engine Project

Howell V-4 Project

Vintage Tools


About the Foundation


Did you Know F

Established 1996


Volunteer Invitation

The museum will be closed Christmas day and
New Year's day, December 25 and January 1





Honoring America's Armed Services Members

In addition, we will close early
Christmas Eve, December 24 at 2PM and
New Year's Eve, December 31 at 2PM

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The Joe Martin Foundation for
Exceptional Craftsmanship


The Miniature Engineering
Craftsmanship Museum

Twenty-Three Years and Counting
1996 – 2019


The Joe Martin Foundation's museum in Carlsbad, California displays the world's largest permanent collection of model engineering excellence.



Click on the image above for a photo tour of the Carlsbad Museum.

Visit the Miniature Engineering
Craftsmanship Museum
3190 Lionshead Avenue
Carlsbad, California

Phone: 760-727-9492 or CLICK HERE for a map and directions

Admission is Free (Donations gratefully accepted)

The Joe Martin Foundation is an approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
Donations are deductible from your state and federal taxes. (Tax ID No. 93-1221845)

Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM
The museum is closed Sundays, Mondays, and major holidays
including July 4th, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Years Day

Miniature Engine Demos at 10 AM, Noon and 2 PM each day



Introducing the Birk Petersen Collection

Including 150 engines, guns, clocks, toys and more built by a single extraordinary craftsman.



Below: Exhibits you can learn more about in the on-line museum. (Click on any image to jump right to that section.)




••• Click Here to Enter the on-line museum •••

About the On-Line Craftsmanship Museum

  This on-line version is open 24 hours a day, and you can visit it while sitting at your own computer at home from anywhere in the world. Our goal here is to collect and present as much information as we can about craftsmen from around the world and the projects they build. Our interests are not to just show the projects themselves, but to present details about both the builder and the project. Most museum web sites start by documenting what is in their own existing museum.


While some of the pieces shown here belong to the Joe Martin Foundation, many do not. Much of this collection exists only on the Internet and is presented for your enjoyment as part of the goal of the Foundation to make better known the accomplishments of individual craftsmen. This site is not the work of one person, but rather a collection of the work of many craftsmen and contributors from around the world giving freely of their time and expertise.


Of course you can also see many of these fine projects in person at our physical museum in Carlsbad, California.

We hope you enjoy your visit.


FEATURED CRAFTSMAN! 2019 Craftsman of the Year, James Hastings

James has been building ship models since he was thirteen years old. Some life interruptions due to college and military service slowed him down at times but he never lost the desire to build. He started with kits but over time found he could fashion better pieces of the ship himself, relying more and more on historical records to ensure his models were authentic. Eventually, James was scratch building entire ships. His first ship model that was entirely built from scratch was the Leon, a Norwegian ship that sailed mostly in the North and Baltic Seas.

FEATURED PERMANENT EXHIBIT! Louis Chenot's 1/6 scale model 1932 Duesenberg SJ.

• Without doubt, the finest automotive model ever made

• 10 years, 20,000 hours and over 6000 custom made parts

• Now on permanent display at the Carlsbad Craftsmanship Museum

    ALSO JUST ADDED—10 engines by famed craftsman Phillip Duclos

    AND MORE...A prototype supercharged rotary auto engine by Peter Grunstra

   AND EVEN MORE...Check out the Birk Petersen Collection--over 150 items built by one extraordinary craftsman.

 FEATURED ENGINE EXHIBIT! The Paul and Paula Knapp
Internal Combustion Engine Collection
On loan from the Miniature Engineering Museum

• Over 230 world-class miniature IC engines are now on display

NEW VIDEO...See a "Flame Licker" External Combustion Engine in Action

Click on the photo at the left to see shop Master Machinist Dave Belt explain and demonstrate a "Flame Licker" or "Fire Eater" engine. The vacuum engine has the flame outside the engine and works on a vacuum principle rather than internal combustion. The engine was invented in the 1800's and actually powered very early vehicles.



Click on the photo above of the
Challenger V8 by Paul Knapp to
see a 15-second video of it being
started and run.

The photos below show a small
sample of the kinds of projects
you will find in the museum.

Click on any image to see a
larger version.

CLICK HERE or on the image
of the slide above to view a
PowerPoint® slide show
featuring projects by some
of the Foundation's
Craftsman of the Year
award winners.

(Don't have PowerPoint®?
CLICK HERE to download a
free PowerPoint viewer
from Microsoft®.)

The "Art" of great craftsmanship

"A person who works with his hands is a laborer.

A person who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman.

A person who works with his hands, his brain and his heart is an artist"

—Louis Nizer

Joe Martin was the president and owner of Sherline Products Inc. for over 40 years. The company is one of the few remaining American manufacturers of precision machine tools. Joe was also a model builder and toolmaker. As such he had much experience with precision tools at both ends of the size range. The quote above, recalled from the shop wall of Joe Martin's uncle, sums up his belief that craftsmanship goes beyond mere technical quality. While good machinery can produce parts of great consistency and accuracy when properly operated, without the craftsman's touch the results will be acceptable but not noteworthy. Pieces that truly grab our attention and admiration go beyond the minimum of what is required to add what we can only call the craftsman's touch. Anything from furniture to a stained glass window to a clock to a model steam engine that is made by a master of his craft is worthy of a special kind of admiration. This museum features works that represents the spirit and skill of individuals; not committees or manufacturing companies. These projects were built by people with skilled hands and brains, but, most importantly, they were built for the love of doing it. Coming from the hands, the brain and the heart, they should be judged not just as a collection of parts, but rather as art. Other forms of art, such as dance, painting, music and so on are sufficiently represented elsewhere, so we are concentrating here on small things made by hand by an artisan using the tools of his trade.

The craftsmen represented here have devoted many hours over a period of years to develop the skills to produce these projects. The most worthy candidates are those who have contributed a significant amount to the body of work in a particular field over their lifetimes. This is not just a showcase for any particular project, but rather a place where you can see the work of the people who are acknowledged to be the the best of the best in a particular field. We also plan to add a projects section where the work of up-and-coming craftsmen will be featured, as often many innovations come from enthusiastic newcomers to a field. The featured rooms, however, are from those who have paid their dues and truly deserve to be called not just laborers or even craftsmen, but artists in their field.

Craftsmanship doesn't have to be complicated. Gerald Wingrove makes some of the finest model cars in the world, and has written a number of books on the subject. A budding craftsman in France bought all his books with the intent of making a fine car, but decided to start with something simple. What could be a simpler wheeled vehicle than a wheelbarrow? He crafted it entirely from brass, and Gerald says the craftsmanship is superb. The builder is now ready to move on to something more complicated, but whatever he builds will no doubt be done to the same excellent level of craftsmanship. This museum is dedicated to those who share this attitude toward excellence, no matter what the project. (Click on photo above to view a larger image.)

What is Craftsmanship?

Joe Martin's main reason for establishing this foundation is to attempt to make the average citizen aware of the beauty of great craftsmanship. An object that exhibits outstanding craftsmanship has a quality to it that inspires beyond the object itself. For most trades, competent work is good enough. It’s simply a case where standards are met and doing the work any better would be a waste of time, effort and money. The type of craftsmen we honor here are the few who use the skills of the trades to produce a form of art. Their level of work rises beyond what is needed to complete the job with competence to a level of perfection that can be recognized by many but achieved by few. Often their work will be building exact scale models of something that interests them, and they do so simply for the love of doing it. Their satisfaction comes from attempting to achieve perfection. Auto modeler Michael Dunlap* sums up the mindset it takes to produce work of this quality as follows:

"The issue I struggle with most days in my shop is, “When is it good enough?” Whether I’m assessing the quality of an individual part or a complete model my answer is this: It’s good enough when, based on my current ability, any further attempt to improve it will probably cause it to be damaged. That having been said, my constant goal is to improve my abilities tomorrow over what they are today. For me, building models cars is a very personal expression. When I cease to improve my skills and thus, my models, I’ll go do something else." —Michael Dunlap

*See Michael's work in his museum section or at his own web site at  www.michaeldunlapstudio.com.

GM's take on Craftsmanship in 1932

The General Motors Corporation used to run a contest for young people called the Fisher Body Craftsman's Guild Competition. The challenge was for students to build a copy of the Fisher Body coach, a Napoleonic era coach used as the symbol on the Fisher Body logo. They supplied the plans and offered several 4-year college scholarships as well as prize money in gold to the winners. Their opening statement in 1932 had some interesting advice to the contestants regarding craftsmanship. Here is a partial quote from the introduction:

"Learning the art of fine craftsmanship

...The desire to excel in craftsmanship should be uppermost in your thoughts. So, while you are building your model coach, think only of making it the finest piece of work you have ever produced. The praise of your friends and recognition by the Guild will take care of themselves if you have done your work like a real craftsman.

If you adopt this attitude toward your work, you will be surprised how much easier it will seem and how much more pleasure it will bring you. Think of the fun it will be to make each little part of your model a masterpiece in itself, and then to fit each into its proper place and watch the solid, handsome coach gradually take form.

The surest way to get the greatest rewards from your work is to keep the ideal of fine craftsmanship always before you."

What Happened to Craftsmanship?

Click on the linked title above by William Gould to read a thoughtful study of what craftsmanship is and what you can do to help it survive and flourish in this age of wanting it "right now" rather than wanting it "right."

Exploring Craftsmen and Craftsmanship

Walt Harrington has written a book detailing his experience in exploring the thoughts of fourteen fine craftsmen. Click on the title above to read a review of the book, Acts of Creation—America’s Finest Hand Craftsmen at Work.

CNC Machines vs. Craftsmanship

A current ongoing argument among craftsmen concerns whether the use of computer controlled machines can possibly produce what we think of as fine craftsmanship.

    • To read Deltic engine model builder Clen Tomlinson's thoughts on the subject, CLICK HERE .

    • To read CNC metal artist Christopher Bathgate's thoughts on the subject, CLICK HERE .

    • To read skilled machinist George Britnell's thoughts on the subject, see his page HERE .

If you would like to submit an essay on your thoughts on craftsmanship, please send it to mecm@craftsmanshipmuseum.com. Essays should be thoughtful and non-confrontational—no vitriol please.

Teaching About Manufacturing in Our Schools

To read an article from Manufacturing Engineering by Michelle Bennett on re-introducing to America's students the process of thinking about how things are made CLICK HERE.

What Happened to Craftsmanship?

by William Gould


"Craftsmanship is a marriage between the hands and the soul" —Motto, Mark Adams School of Woodworking


Organization of the museum and how you can contribute

The Craftsmanship Museum is not static. It is constantly growing and evolving. The ease with which information can be communicated electronically makes it possible for submissions to come from anywhere in the world. There are no crating, shipping, display construction or space limitations here—just the transfer, organization and storage of data. As new qualifying projects are submitted they will be added. If they do not fit a present category, a new category will be started to accommodate them. These photos cannot crack or fade. Properly maintained, the electronic information found here will be just as good a thousand years from now, perhaps long after the projects themselves are gone. Come back often to see what is new. If you would like to contribute to a section or have information about a project or builder that would be appropriate for a new section, please contact mecm@craftsmanshipmuseum.com.

horizontal rule

This project exhibits mastery of metalworking skills, yet nobody knows who made it. (Click either photo to view a larger image.)

Who made the above project and why?

The project shown above exhibits mastery in metalworking. Each hand-fitted piece is machined and filed to such close tolerances that you can barely see the joints when assembled. Gale Wollenberg notes that it may have been part of an apprenticeship program in order to qualify to be hired for a particular job. Because it resembles the cross-head of a connecting rod on a steam engine, it may have been made by a machinist in that industry as long ago as the 1800's. The sad part is, it was purchased for fifty cents at a swap meet in Clairemont, CA by museum machinist Tom Boyer's wife and given to Tom as a curiosity. The name of the original craftsman is no longer identified with the project, and his family obviously had no appreciation for its history or the high level of skill needed to create it. It was sold off as so much junk. This is one of the reasons the Joe Martin Foundation was started; that is, to honor this type of work and the craftsman who created it.

Don't let this happen to your work

If you have projects that exhibit a high level of skill, don't assume that members of your family or your friends understand or appreciate what went into making it. It may end up on eBay or at a swap meet like the above piece. We ask that you consider donating all, some or at least one of your best pieces of work to the Craftsmanship Museum while you are alive and can take advantage of the tax benefit for the value of the donation, or add a codicil to your will specifying it be donated to the Foundation upon your death. That way, a record of your skill will be preserved to inspire future craftsmen, and your name and your story will be forever identified with your work. Do a search on eBay for "steam engine" and see how many projects that are for sale there identify the builder. The answer is, almost none. It is our goal to reverse that trend and to honor the most skilled and creative people in our society—the craftsmen.

Tax deductible donations to the Foundation or to the museum

In May, 2003, the Joe Martin Foundation was initially accepted by the Internal Revenue Service as a publicly supported non-profit organization under regulation 509(a)(1) and has now been accepted under section 501(c)(3). This means that any donations to the organization starting in 2003 are fully deductible from your federal income tax. If you request it, we will be glad to provide a letter with our federal tax ID number for your records. In the case of the donation of a project for the museum, you should first obtain an independent appraisal of the value of the project in order to be able to deduct the full value for your contribution. The IRS requires specific documentation on donations valued at over $5000.00. Monetary contributions can be made by credit card by contacting the foundation at (760) 727-9492 or checks can be mailed to: Joe Martin Foundation, 3190 Lionshead Avenue, Carlsbad, CA 92010, USA. CLICK HERE for a list of contributors, or CLICK HERE to learn how to write a bequest into your will or trust to leave a donation to the foundation.

CLICK HERE to learn how you can support craftsmanship in your own community.

"He's an old-fashioned craftsman—he works hard to make things look easy."

—William Finnegan, from his book Barbarian Days—A Surfing Life.

Visitor Comments...

Recently I toured the Joe Martin Foundation Craftsmanship Museum (located 3190 Lionshead Ave, Carlsbad) showcasing assembled works of mechanical art produced by craftsmen from around the world. On display: some of the most amazing examples of three-dimensional engineering ever assembled outside the Smithsonian! The museum explains the technology behind many life-changing innovations we take for granted as consumers today. Visitors receive a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at such ingenious inventions as steam, combustion and solar-powered engines, and more. The museum is right in our backyard, a must-see for first-time visitors and well worth repeat visits. It's a great education resource and the admission is free.

—Wayne Neilson, Vista, CA


For more visitor comments about the museum, CLICK HERE.

Your comments are welcome too. Just e-mail them to mecm@craftsmanshipmuseum.com. Please include your home town, and specify if we can use your name or just your initials.

In Memory of Joseph H. Martin

December 3, 1934—February 12, 2014

Joe was the owner of Sherline Products Inc. and the founder of the Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship. It is through his trust that Joe has assured the continued operation of the foundation. Joe’s goals for the foundation can be found at http://www.craftsmanshipmuseum.com/jmfound.htm. The foundation’s on-line museum as well as the physical museum in Carlsbad, CA will continue to grow and bring recognition to the craftsmen around the world who developed the skills to build the things that make our world work. We will honor the goals he established and to see that they are carried on into the future as he intended.

Copyright 2018, The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship. All rights reserved.
 No part of this web site, including the text, photos or illustrations, may be reproduced or
transmitted in any other form or by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise)
for commercial use without the prior written permission of The Joe Martin Foundation.
Reproduction or reuse for educational and non-commercial purposes is permitted.

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