DURING the day John Beech earns his living by selling sandwiches and sausage rolls but by night he’s busy making wooden replica Games of Thrones style weapons for family and friends, including a famous American TV actor.
Now the 31-year-old, who works at Greggs in the Eagles Meadow shopping centre in Wrexham, is aiming to turn his new hobby into a thriving business.
John, who lives in Saltney, Flintshire, uses wood to create weapons, including swords and knives, for cosplay (costume play) and conventions including Wales Comic Con, which he regularly attends.
He recently made a sword for his hero Chase Coleman, who has starred in the hit TV series Boardwalk Empire and The Originals, and presented it to him in Wrexham prior to December’s event.
The former St David’s High School student said: “I’d seen him at Comic Con a couple times in the past and said that if he came over again I’d make him a sword as a thank you.
“I know he’s a big fan of Games of Thrones so once I found out that he was definitely coming over I started working on making a replica of one of the swords on the show.
“It was only the second piece I’d ever done and in total it took me 96 hours to make. With working I had to do it in my spare time, a couple of hours here and there.
“I posted a photograph of the sword on Instagram and tagged Chase in it a month before the convention and he liked it.
“Chase is also a musician so the day before Comic Con he was doing an acoustic set at Set The Bar in Wrexham so I went down and met him.
“We had a quick chat before and then afterwards I presented him with the sword. It was a really big buzz to see his reaction.
“He literally started saying quotes from Games of Thrones while he was having a go of the sword. He said he’d seen my post but didn’t think it was going to be as big as it was.
“The main thing was he absolutely loved it so it was definitely worth the time and energy!”
John, who is engaged to Brigitte Prior who has two children from a previous relationship – Angelina, 15, and Lawson, 10, added: “It’s funny because I’m a massive fan of Chase but when I first met him at the Comic Con two years ago I didn’t know him that well.
“I’ve always liked his music and been a fan of that but it wasn’t until I started watching him in The Originals that I really began to follow him.
“Me and my fiancée are big fans of The Vampire Diaries so once we finished that we started watching the spin-off, The Originals, and loved Chase in that.
“Funnily enough, although I like his acting, I’m actually still more of a fan of his music.”
John, who is a senior team member at Greggs and has been based at the Eagles Meadow branch for two years, made his first replica weapon as a favour for his 29-year-old brother Danny.
He explained: “I made my first ever one in February last year as he was going to the Wales Comic Con in the April for his birthday weekend.
“He was dressing up as a character from a Japanese cartoon and wanted a samurai sword to finish off his outfit.
“He looked on Amazon for one and they cost around £140. I said to him I could probably make one a lot cheaper than that and roughly it ended up costing £50. It took me two months to make.
“I used to do woodwork and metal work at school although I was never one of the best in class. I just thought last year I wanted to focus on something I have an interest in so why not give it a go?”
He added: “I’m in the process now of trying to turn it into a little business. I made the decision in September last year to start making more.
“I’m getting a lot of interest from people on social media and my brother and a friend have already put orders in!
“At the moment I do it in the back garden, weather permitting, but one day if I can make it a success I’d love to have my own place.
“I really enjoy it and like making my own designs too. The weapons are mainly for conventions, decoration and play.
“I’ve done swords from Game of Thrones, a Knights Templar sword for my step son and a small dagger for my future father-in-law who is an avid knife collector.
“I’ve also made swords for a co-workers’ two boys. I sand them off to make sure they’re not sharp so they’re safe to play with.
“The process starts with me drawing out the design before carving it, sanding it and then cutting it to shape.
“A lot can be done by a cutting machine but I do it by hand for me final definition.
“I then spray paint the weapons and varnish them with two or three coats to protect them in bad weather.
“It was tough at first but I’m learning all the time and I’m really happy with how they’ve come out. I’m hoping this year to start producing more of my own designs.”
You can follow John and his designs on Instagram @jbweapons and on Facebook at facebook.com/JBWeapons