Barnwood Artist Helps Tennessee Barns Live On

tomSome of the best scenery that our area offers is the picturesque barns that you see when you travel the back roads.  These rustic buildings help tell the story of a hardworking people dedicated to the land.  Unfortunately in the last several years terrible storms have destroyed decades of history and left many of these beautiful barns in ruins. Saddened by what he saw, a Hickman County furniture maker was determined that their legacy wouldn’t be lost forever. Tom Podnar also known as Tom the Furniture Guy began salvaging the rustic barnwood in his local area, learning the stories of the barns along the way. One of his favorite stories is about Tornado Red’s Barn.  Red was a cat that lived in an old barn in the Brushy community.  Tornadoes tore through the area almost four years ago upending trees and flattening buildings.  Red’s barn was destroyed and the cat disappeared.  Amazingly Red returned home a few days later battered and bruised but alive.  From that day on that spunky survivor became known as Tornado Red and his barn was the first barn that Tom salvaged.  In the years since, “The Furniture Guy” has saved barnwood from several barns in his area and turned that beautifully rustic wood into furniture. He has built farm tables, benches and trunks for his local customers.  He has even created custom pieces like bed frames and wall units from the old wood.  About a year ago Tom started using the small leftover pieces from his furniture projects to make rustic signs. Since then he has made hundreds of hand – painted signs ranging from the humorous to the spiritual. “Everyone has an idea for a sign,” says Tom, “I love making a sign that is special for them.” Tom has been staying very busy not only making furniture but also doing custom signs for country weddings, birthdays, and housewarmings. He sells his signs at local festivals and also through his wife’s vintage store “April’s Attic” which is next door to his workshop.  You can see what he is up to by visiting him at Tom says, “Not only do I have a great time making barnwood signs for people, but it is also a wonderful way to let these beautiful buildings live on for many more years.”  

Tom the Furniture Guy’s workshop will be open to visitors during the Arts & Ag Tour. April’s Attic Vintage Store (located next door) will also be open.

Written by April Podnar


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