With water-based stain on his hands, Don Buyert cranked the lever to a street organ he had made by hand, filling the small room with light-hearted carnival music.
The street organ, one of Buyert’s more challenging projects, took him about a year to complete. A wooden tulip embellishes one side of the organ.
“It had a lot of pieces,” said Buyert. “Every hole had to be drilled just right.”
Buyert, an 83-year-old Pella native, has been using his hands to cut, stain, sand and craft beautiful works of art his entire life.
Since the creation of his first hutch more than 50 years ago, Buyert has built multiple jewelry boxes, pie safes, a Jenny Lind bench, grandfather and granddaughter clocks, wagons, telephone stands, desks, end tables and many other projects. A handmade oak train track currently encircles the ceiling of his bedroom.
“I don’t want to brag on anything, because anybody can do it if they put their mind to it,” said Buyert. “It’s a fantastic hobby.”
Buyert was a woodworker for Pella Corporation for almost 42 years, starting right out of high school at the age of 17. He retired at the age of 59 but has never stopped producing his craft.
Buyert doesn’t accept personalized orders, but he and one of his daughters traveled to craft shows for about 10 years selling their art. Additionally, Buyert has been donating jewelry boxes to Bibles for Missions Thrift Center in Pella since 2017. The first year, he constructed and donated 24; since then, Buyert has donated a total of 49 jewelry boxes.
“It keeps me busy,” said Buyert.
Buyert primarily works with oak and gets scrap wood for his jewelry boxes from Pella Corporation. He says his woodworking days may be coming to an end, but for now, he will continue to make jewelry boxes.
An avid Chicago Cubs fan, Buyert also enjoys puzzles and traveling. Buyert buys his puzzles from Bibles for Missions Thrift Center, puts them together, and donates them back to the store if every piece is accounted for. He traveled for many years with his four daughters and his late wife, Mary Lou Buyert.