Everything starts from a block of wood when making wooden toys and collectibles at River Valley Custom Woodworking in Port Washington. Wayne Dyer has become a skilled craftsman at building his highly detailed toys and barns.
His love of building began long ago at the age of ten when Wayne helped a lady pull nails from the boards of a building that was being torn down in Newcomerstown. Before you knew it, Wayne was helping her build.
After high school, Wayne enlisted in the Army and was sent to Vietnam where he became a bulldozer operator. After service, Wayne worked at many jobs for 43 years driving large equipment – creating landscapes, housing developments, and coal mining.
Now you can see why he enjoys making this large equipment in intricate detail. He knows it well so can make the small parts to perfection. If they aren’t just right, Wayne has been known to redo them three or four times until he gets the perfect part he wants.
Even before his retirement, Wayne enjoyed making furniture for 25 years. But that was too hard to store and move for display so he decided to make smaller things that he had room for.
The first piece he made was a small truck. When someone wanted to buy it, Wayne was reluctant to sell it as it was the beginning of a new life for him.
His workshop is a busy place where he usually builds about six hours a day since his retirement in 2012. He doesn’t look at this as work or a job but instead pure enjoyment. That’s why he doesn’t have an online store but instead likes to take his finished products to fairs, festivals, and community events.
The talent of this self-taught man has created so many special vehicles – school buses, helicopters, bulldozers, cement mixers, and drilling rigs. While trucks are his favorite things to build, another specialty is replicas of barns. This has led to many awards in recent years.
His barns are one of his big sellers. People will send him a picture of their barn and ask him to make a miniature just like it. Some he designs himself and always adds an American flag. He uses a blow torch on the roofs of the barns to give them an older look.
Many blue ribbons have been placed on his barns at the Tuscarawas County Fair. This year he also took blue ribbons for a tractor-trailer backhoe and a drilling rig, which is his newest creation.
Wayne was a new artist at the Salt Fork Festival in 2019 and has since won two People’s Choice Awards. Last year he also won the George Eikenberry Award for “Natural Beauty.”
Much of his work is done from pictures. Wayne has been doing this so long that he doesn’t need a blueprint to build things to scale. After he draws the outline on wood, he then cuts it out with his band saw. Most of the time he uses oak so his creations are strong, but sometimes he adds maple for variety.
While visiting, Wayne was working on Christmas presents. One of them was a wooden cement mixer, where the mixer actually turned. He’s great at adding special little details to everything he does. He was cutting out parts for several mixers at once to save himself time.
One of his popular sellers is a 1948 Woodie station wagon like that used by the Beach Boys. He uses a picture of it on his business card.
His greatest joy in making his toys is seeing people buy things for their kids. He has fun building things and considers it “a labor of love.” However, all his toys are not purchased for children. He has many adults who have collections of his wooden replicas of fire trucks, army tanks, and Apache helicopters.
Wayne creates all this in his workshop near his home and enjoys the challenge of customer requests. But if it is something he feels he just couldn’t do to perfection, he won’t attempt it. You can find his things for sale at Atwood Fall Festival, Dutch Valley, Gnadenhutten Farmers Market, Salt Fork Festival, and Tusky Days Festival. He enjoys participating in shows that support the community.
You can reach Wayne by phone at 740-498-4686 or watch for him at one of the local festivals. You’re sure to be pleased with his detailed work. He’s always thinking of something new to build.