2023 - Volume #47, Issue #4, Page #05[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
He’s Been Carving Wooden Tractors, Combines For 80 Years
From a distance his models look like the expensive die-cast metal models that all of us are used to seeing. But each tractor replica is constructed almost entirely from wood, though DeBoer admits to occasionally “cheating” with paper for fine details as well as bits of wire and tin.
DeBoer first began carving at 12 years old and has perfected his craft during the 8 decades since then. When he started, it was simply a way to make his own toys. One of the first models he carved was a manure spreader. After completing it, he carved a tractor to pull it with. As his carving skills have improved, his models have become incredibly detailed with realistic-looking moving parts.
DeBoer starts each job by sketching out a scale model on paper before looking for a suitable piece of wood. His main tools include a wood file, a coping saw, and lots of sandpaper. Each replica is a labor of love. He estimates it takes him over 80 hrs. to complete each one.
Altogether, DeBoer has carved more than 100 pieces, including over 30 tractors and a handful of combines, corn pickers, harvesters, bailers, field cultivators, and trailers. His Peterbilt truck and forage harvester took the most time, at approximately 250 hrs. each.
Most of DeBoer’s models are John Deere replicas, although he has also dabbled in Case tractors and hay balers to please family members with other brand loyalties. While DeBoer tries not to play favorites, his 4020 cabbed tractor has sentimental value as it’s based on the last piece of machinery he owned.
You can see an excellent documentary video of DeBoer’s work at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=7U9TxSJXSi8
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