Falmouth birdhouse maker breathes new life into salvaged materials

Posted April 26, 2012, at 10:02 a.m.
Tony DiPietro works in his shop at dusk in Falmouth on Tuesday. After putting in 20 years at a paper mill, DiPietro has found a job he truly loves.
Tony DiPietro works in his shop at dusk in Falmouth on Tuesday. After putting in 20 years at a paper mill, DiPietro has found a job he truly loves. Buy Photo
Tony DiPietro examines a heart-shaped hole cut in a board that will part of a birdhouse.
Tony DiPietro examines a heart-shaped hole cut in a board that will part of a birdhouse. Buy Photo
A sign handpainted by Lynnette DiPietro decorates her husband's birdhouse.
A sign handpainted by Lynnette DiPietro decorates her husband's birdhouse. Buy Photo
A salvaged rake gets a new life, adding a bit of flair to a birdhouse on display in Tony DiPietro's backyard.
A salvaged rake gets a new life, adding a bit of flair to a birdhouse on display in Tony DiPietro's backyard. Buy Photo
Old tools salvaged once destined for the dump will be used for accessories on Tony DiPietro's unique birdhouses.
Old tools salvaged once destined for the dump will be used for accessories on Tony DiPietro's unique birdhouses. Buy Photo
Tony DiPietro traces a heart shape that will be cut out on the front of a birdhouse.
Tony DiPietro traces a heart shape that will be cut out on the front of a birdhouse. Buy Photo
A wrench, hammer and circular saw blades accessorize a birdhouse built by Tony DiPietro.
A wrench, hammer and circular saw blades accessorize a birdhouse built by Tony DiPietro. Buy Photo
Weathered wood and salvaged tools add to the uniqueness of Tony DiPietro's birdhouses.
Weathered wood and salvaged tools add to the uniqueness of Tony DiPietro's birdhouses. Buy Photo
A sign handpainted by Lynnette DiPietro and a tiny shovel decorate a birdhouse.
A sign handpainted by Lynnette DiPietro and a tiny shovel decorate a birdhouse. Buy Photo
Wood salvaged from old doors give a well-worn look to birdhouses under construction in Tony DiPietro's workshop.
Wood salvaged from old doors give a well-worn look to birdhouses under construction in Tony DiPietro's workshop. Buy Photo
Birdhouses are displayed outside Tony DiPietro's workshop while he sands a recently built birdhouse in the background.
Birdhouses are displayed outside Tony DiPietro's workshop while he sands a recently built birdhouse in the background. Buy Photo

FALMOUTH, Maine — The owner of the old barn looks at the broken doors and boxes of rusty tools and sees junk. Tony DiPietro sees whimsical perches, roofs and chimneys. Soon, backyard birds will see a home.

In 1998, DiPietro took early retirement after working 20 years in a paper mill. Around that time his daughter brought home an unfinished birdhouse. DiPietro and his daughter decorated it and put it in their field. To their surprise, swallows found it and moved in. And DiPietro found a new profession.

Nowadays DiPietro tinkers in his workshop, giving new life to salvaged materials. Nothing is mass-produced.

“That’s what I didn’t like about the paper mill. Everything was the same every day,” he said. “But with the birdhouses, something’s going to be different with every one.”

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