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I saw it in (Red Wing) Minnesota

Joe Semler of I Saw It In Minnesota creates a custom carving in the front yard of Mary Brunner's Red Wing home Aug. 5-7. (Republican Eagle photos by Amanda Greenwood)1 / 4
Day 2 of Joe Semler's carving work.2 / 4
Day 3 details of the project.3 / 4
The finished product.4 / 4

Sunday night Aug. 3, scaffolding surrounded a dead tree in the front yard of Mary Brunner’s Red Wing home. But, despite outside appearance, it was not the end for that old tree, which has stood on the Danielson Street property since Brunner’s parents owned the house.

In fact, the maple was about to get the facelift of a lifetime, as Joe Semler of I Saw It In Minnesota broke out the chainsaw, put on his headset, and started sawing away.

“I saw Joe’s work at the Eagle Center about a year ago,” Brunner said.

Struck by the unique craftsmanship done for the center in Wabasha, she then visited Semler’s store in Princeton, Minnesota, to view more carvings and handiwork.

She knew it was the perfect way to take the old tree and commemorate its longstanding history within her family.

From maple to magnificent

Monday morning Aug. 5, Semler began the piece with a stately owl on the top of, what he predicted would be a 14-foot structure.

Experienced sawing made quick work, as the detailed owl was complete by noon.

The owl, like the other animals decorating the tree, was created using just chainsaws.

With the owl done, a shy raccoon and playful bear, reaching for the raccoon’s tail completed the first day of the project.

By the afternoon of day two, Aug. 6, a woodpecker, rabbit and fox joined the group.

Also added were a wolf print, feather and a heart with the initials of Brunner’s parents.

Most of the work was complete by the second day.

Day three included painting the wolf print and sanding down the entire structure. A coat of TWP stain, according to Semler, was then applied by hand.

He suggested the stain be reapplied annually to preserve the carving.

And just like that, in two-and-a-half days, the once-dead maple became a masterpiece.

Want to ‘saw’ it?

Semler has been carving for eight years; the last four have been full time. He also has a son and daughter who carve.

Recent custom carvings include a 9-foot horse and 20-foot painted eagle carving complete with a nest.

Along with furniture and onsite carvings, such as Brunner’s, I Saw It In Minnesota also creates signs, benches, decorative carvings and custom orders.

Carving class information, photo galleries, product and contact information are available on the Web site at

They are also on Facebook under I Saw it in MN.