German Craftsmanship

| April 2003

Deep in the snowy confines of Germany's Black Forest, tucked away in poorly lit attic spaces, skilled woodcarvers developed the cuckoo clock industry more than 200 years ago, crafting hand-carved decorations well-known across the Atlantic. In the confines of his own Illinois shop, Irv Termunde, the creator of Das Woodwerk Haus, is carving out a woodwork niche and reputation of his own. 'From the name of my shop, you can tell that I am of German-Dutch heritage,' the five-time toy show trophy winner says about his background. 'I am the last in a long line of farmers and gardeners, although I've been out of farming for over 20 years.'

The Grant Park, Ill., woodworker has created more than 100 1/16-scale models of farming and hauling equipment comparable to the complexity and dexterity of his German woodcarving ancestors.

Termunde models all have working parts that are hand-made from mostly maple, walnut, cherry or oak. He currently favors building large hauling and construction models such as trucks, crawlers, excavators and bulldozers. True to his rural heritage, he's also crafted tractors and implements such as a Case quad-track tractor with an intricately carved 17-furrow plow; a John Deere A with two-bottom plow; a Farmall F-20 with two-bottom plow; a flare, box and double-box wagons; a Kinzie grain cart with track wheels and a Caterpillar Challenger with grain cart.

The price for Irv's models vary, but his hand-made beauties aren't cheap. Trailers start at $200, trucks at $275 - and the price goes up to $500 for the most intricate models. Don't be discouraged by the price - these scale models are dazzling.

'When most people see my models they say, 'It's unbelievable! I thought that couldn't be done! Do you make these? How'd you do it?'' Irv says. 'Most people think that I've made these models with a kit, so I have to reassure them that, no, they're handmade.'

All his models have movable parts. The number of movable components depends on the time spent on each piece, but in general all of the wheels and tracks move on each model. 'The track is actually one of the easier things to make,' Irv says about his crawler models. The track pieces are attached together using a 3/32-inch-diameter dowel rod, - approximately the size of a large toothpick.