Bernie Kluesner and his beautiful wooden toys!

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At the Mid-America Gateway Toy Show, held the first weekend in February in St. Louis, Missouri, they hold a scratch built model contest and Bernie Kluesner from New Vienna, Iowa had his beautiful wooden tractor, a John Deere model with a picker patterned after a 237 picker on display. Bernie found that while he could find tractor kits, that there were no patterns for farm implements. “There were no plans for a picker,” Bernie said.

This model master has been focusing on farm implements for the past eight years. His cornpicker consisted of an amazing 22 woods. He used basswood, beech, Brazilian Rosewood, hackberry, hickory, Kentucky coffee tree, Lacewood, maples, mulberry, Oak, Osage orange and more to create his model. “There are 300 hours in just the picker,” Bernie said.

Working an average of five hours at a time, it is amazing the detail of Bernie’s work that draws the viewer in. His lovely tractor has a shift lever, lights and the picker has a husking bed. The wood for the tractor, picker and wagon display include five woods that are over 100 years old. “The poplar is over 200 years old,” Bernie said. “It came out of an old house, and the walnut is over 100 years too.”

“The maple wood came out of an old school desk,” Bernie added. “The red cedar came from a farm and it also is over 100 years old.”

It was fascinating to learn where the woods originated. “The Cypress is out of a Dyersville, Iowa water tower that collapsed.”

Perhaps it was fitting that the water tower was in Dyersville since that is home to the National Farm Toy Show and the National Farm Toy Show Museum.

Bernie has been working with wood farm toys since 1994. “I have made 52 toys since 1994. I have used 14,410 pieces of wood, put in 9,610 hours and that doesn’t include the thinking hours,” Bernie said.

Bernie and Inez Kluesner with his lovely wooden models