"I guess it's a hobby that got kind of out of control," said Bernie Kluesner.
Bernie Kluesner's hobby is woodworking. His pieces, or toys as they're called, are on display in his basement.
Kluesner made his first toy in 1994 after a neighbor showed him a woodworking magazine. Now his collection of about 30 toys includes everything from a tractor to a fire engine to a semi.
These days he spends most of his time making farm implements. Each toy is made from 15 to 20 different kinds of wood.
"All the wood is natural. I don't stain or paint any. It's just a couple coats of lacquer," said Kluesner.
Kluesner said there's a story behind a lot of the wood he uses.
"Some of the green wood you see on the farm implements is poplar. It comes out of the front pillars of a South Carolina home between 175 to 200 years old. Also, cypress from the Dyersville water tower that collapsed in 1919," said Kluesner.
Kluesner keeps a binder with details for each of his toys, including all the parts and all the wood used.
"I like maple and beech. Hard woods," he said.
Kluesner works on his toys in the garage. He's currently working on a corn picker. Each toy takes about six weeks from start to finish.
He mainly uses saws and sanders, and is his own engineer.
"There's plans available for everything but the farm implements. Those I'm doing on my own," said Bernie Kluesner.
Each year Kluesner enters a toy in the woodworking category at the Iowa State Fair.
In 2009, he won Best in Show for a semi, trailer and dozer. The last two years, he was Best in Show First Runner-Up.
But Bernie Kluesner doesn't make his toys for any type or recognition. As he said, it's simply a hobby. He doesn't sell any of his toys. He enjoys it, and he hopes other people enjoy his work as well.
Some of Bernie Kluesner's toys will be on display at the Jackson County Fair in Maquoketa from July 24th to July 28th.
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