Choteau's Chuck Gameon at work in his shop.

Not everyone can look at a piece of old barn wood or a broken, beat-up dresser and turn it into something beautiful once again.

Chuck Gameon can. 

Chuck, the Superintendent and Elementary Principal in Choteau, has a unique ability to turn the old and unwanted into something fabulous and something people would love to add to their home décor.

Happily, he is bringing his wonderful designs and creations to the Cut Bank Holiday Bazaar, held this year on Saturday, Nov. 2 at Cut Bank High School.

“This is my first time at the bazaar in Cut Bank,” Chuck said. “I have done shows all over the state and have heard many good things about this show. Amy, from the Chamber, has done shows that I have done and told me about the show.”

Chuck’s refurbishing business, Game on Repurposing, is all about repurposing the old and broken that he finds just about anywhere and turning it into the beautiful and useful once again.

“I repurpose from salvaged items,” Chuck explained. “I love working with barn wood, old doors, antique furniture that is broken down and falling apart or missing pieces, salvage architectural wood and really, anything from wood.”

He takes the old pieces of “whatever” he can find and turns them into benches, coffee tables, wine bars, frames or anything else that he “sees” when he looks at that salvaged item.

“When I do a show, I will always get an order or two for a piece or several. And if someone wants something, my response is, ‘if you can draw it, I can build it,’” he said.

Chuck has been in the refurbishing business for the last six years and even for years before. “I started the business because I had too much stuff that I made,” he laughed. “It really started with a nephew’s wedding. He asked me to make some items for the wedding out of old barn wood and salvaged doors. I loved this and started making stuff for family and friends. It just grew from there.”

Since Chuck was in junior high, “some 35-plus years ago,” he added, “I have always had an interest in antiques and woodworking and refurbishing furniture. I love the history of the old stuff, even if it is just a piece of old wood. It has character. It has a look that can not be replicated.”

Chuck finds the pieces he works with in any number of places. “The material comes from anywhere, an old house that is falling down, an old barn, from garage sales and flea markets. I find material to work with virtually all over the place. I have been doing this long enough that material shows up behind my garage, old doors, wood or broken-down antique furniture.”

Depending on what he is making, Chuck said it could take him anywhere from a few hours to 15 hours. “If I am making a wine bar from an old washstand, I might spend 12 to 15 hours on the piece. Making a coffee table from an old window, might take four to six hours. It really depends on what I have to start with and what I am making out of it.”

Friends and family were the first to tap into his creative thoughts, asking him to make literally, something out of nothing. From there, the business has grown and now requests for items come from other places too. But family still knows all about his talent and those requests still come in.

“Friends and family know about the business so I do a lot for them. I have just finished some props for a niece’s wedding and a few weekends ago, I was asked to make a bench for a wedding that would be used as the guest book.”

Chuck grew up in Conrad and after going to college, he knew he wanted to return to this area and live. When a principal job opened in Choteau in 2000, he applied and was hired. 

“I love living in Choteau and have been here for 19 years,” he said. “I have been in education for 29 years and love the kids. I love going to school every day and hope to have a positive impact on the future generations of Montana and our country.”

His “day job” is all about the kids. It is a profession he truly loves. But the part-time business of refurbishing and creating something new from something old, well that is also something he loves to do. And it shows in his amazing repurposed creations.

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