Paul Tuter woodworker, recycler, restorer—loves thinking “outside the box”
Story by Paul Pintarich
In a cluttered shop in a weathered old barn off the main street of Warrenton, Paul Tuter has been working for three years reincarnating cast-away old stuff into revised versions of . . . well, old stuff.
While other recyclers might transform hatch covers into coffee tables, Tuter, a comfortable-looking man of 40, might just look at an old coffee table and turn it into a hatch cover.
He’s that kind of guy: creative. And happy and relaxed, he admits, leaning against his work bench. He wears a battered cap, earrings, and a sweatshirt reading, “Palm Desert.” What comes in is old and banged up, often past repair, you might think. But outbound, the furniture—cabinets, garden sinks, bookcases, hall trees, even coffee tables—is redesigned, “antiqued,” or “distressed,” or simply in better shape than when it came in the door.
“Everything comes out of my own mind,” Tuter points out. “I put in my grandfather’s nails, and I put ’em in with my wife’s grandfather’s hammer.” Hence the shop is called “My Grandfather’s Nails,” and if you ask, Tuter points to a framed manifesto hanging above his work bench. Briefly, it explains his love for woodworking, acquired as a boy hanging around the shop of his grandfather, E.R. Tuter, in Bolivar, Missouri, where he was born.
After the old man’s death, Tuter was given a jar of his grandfather’s nails, one of which he lovingly includes in each piece he restores. His says his work is inspired by God, who has given him the ability to look at things in a different way. “This is my version of recycling,” he says. “One man’s trash is my kids’ supper.”
His parents live east of the mountains in Prineville, where his father, Don, is an evangelical minister. Despite a sign on the wall (there are lots of signs about) that reads: “See you in church,” Tuter is no zealous Bible thumper, though you will find him in church on Sundays. His faith is comfortable and reliable, and he says, “I’m blessed. I ain’t starved yet.”
Recycling is most evident in Tuter’s shop, a labyrinthine structure chock-a-block with odd pieces of wood, remnants of molding, bits of metal fittings, and what have you, even a pile of table legs (you never know). There is also a room way in the back with items from the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Appropriately, a cozy wood stove counters the coastal chill, and there is an obligatory cat, an orange tabby named Boxy, who was in residence when Tuter rented the place.
FYI: You can reach Paul Tuter at
503-470-0896. His work can be found at the following stores:
Farmhouse Funk, 34888 Hwy 101 Business (503-325-4474)
Farmhouse Funk 2, 1292 Commercial St. (503-338-3810)
Warrenton Builder’s Supply,1015
S Main Ave. (503-861-1362)
Romancing the Home, Hwy 101 and Pacific Way (503-738-9977)
Pacific Crest Cottage, 726 Pacific Way
Wink, 16788 SW Bryant Rd.
Iron Butterfly, 341 N. Main St.
Like a lot of others, Tuter came to this place 10 years ago after “having been around.” He lives in Astoria with his wife Shani and two children, Zach, 14, and Kylie, 12, and has been married 15 years. “We began dating when she was 16,” he says with a grin.
That was in Prineville, where he grew up after the family moved from Missouri. They also lived in The Dalles, Tuter working in tire and auto parts shops before answering his true calling—what he is happily doing now.
“Dad used to say, ‘When you figure out what you’re going to do, you’re going to be something.’ ” Tuter says merrily, lighting a cigarette and leaning back contentedly, adding, “My mom gave me
a love for old things.” People drop stuff by, or Tuter scrabbles around the area in his old pickup, finding discarded items or whatever. Occasionally, there are surprises. “One lady gave me a beat-up old piece of furniture. Then, after seeing what I did to it, she bought it back for $300.”
Tuter charges $30 an hour (or by the piece) for repairs and renovations, and puts his stylized brand on every piece he sells. “I can’t put my name on something I’m not proud of,” he says.
He admits his income can be “various,” but says his work is exciting. “The most fun is seeing a piece and letting my mind run until I get something figured out. People will bring in furniture and say, ‘Do what you want.’ If I can’t do something, I tell ’em. People respect that.”
Tuter considers his future limitless. He is a man to be envied, someone doing what he loves with his own hands and making a living at it, and living where he and his wife want to be. His dream is to have a store someday. “I’d like to have a house, store, and my shop all together and closer to the beach,” he says “And if God wants me to have it, I will.”
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