Killeen resident Willie Williams, 68, began making canes in 1989, but following a traffic accident in 1998, he ended up needing to use one himself.
Now he has his home full of his unique, handmade wood work, including more than 15 intricate canes and a number of tables, plaques and baskets.
“He’s always been creative with his hands,” said his wife of 41 years, Barbara Williams. He has a twin sister who is equally artistic, she said.
Williams occasionally sells his work around town, but many of the canes in his home have sentimental value.
The first cane he made features a representation of himself and his wife, for their 25th wedding anniversary.
Another includes a photo of his mother-in-law, who passed away in 2011.
The piece has fishing lures and animals representing her hobbies.
“I was always interested in wood,” he said.
Williams found each piece of wood he uses, much of it cypress, and works with the natural shape of the limbs.
“You have to have an eye for it,” he said.
His goal is to create something no one else has.
The canes shaped like vines were found that way, and then decorated, with Williams burning lettering and designs into the pieces for personalization.
Several items are fashioned out of shellacked whole pecans and walnuts, and one cane includes several teeth from a real set of dentures he once wore.
Williams drove 18-wheeler trucks for a living when
he was involved in the accident that led to his cane making.
“My vertebrae were twisted like a snake,” he said, pointing to a similarly twisted cane.
Three vertebrae were removed and he had six screws and two metal plates inserted in his back. “I know my limitations,” he said.
Now, when they’re in public, the couple can’t avoid questions about the canes.
“They’re conversation pieces,” Barbara Williams said. “People are amazed by them. They really catch people’s attention.”
The favorite work by most is the marriage cane.
Willie Williams uses different canes, whether he’s walking around his neighborhood or attending church.
The couple estimates he’s sold about 30 canes over the years, and fashioned a total of 50.
The parents of six children and grandparents of 15 moved to Killeen in 2009, while their daughter was stationed at Fort Hood.
Although, she moved on to her next post, they remain in Texas.
“He stays busy with the woodwork,” Barbara Williams said.