When the property next to their rural Iowa home came up for sale, Bud Bieker's wife, Joan, knew she had to act fast to purchase it. An 1880-era church, converted to a house in the 1920s, it offered plenty of room for Bud's woodshop, which was overrunning their garage.
Bud's decade-long woodworking hobby now had a new home, but it required a lot of work. First, he gutted the interior of the structure, opening up the former sanctuary to its original dimensions, and refinished the original oak floors. Then he rewired the building, dedicating individual circuits to each large power tool. He also added a small gas furnace to supply heat.
With the structure shored up, Bud outfitted the space with shop-made cabinets topped with oak-banded melamine countertops. The cabinets line three walls, roughly half the shop's perimeter. The drill press and planer reside on shorter cabinets. To use the adjacent cabinet as an outfeed table, the planer's bed sits flush with the countertop.
Above the cabinets, slat walls make storage for tools, clamps, and blades easy to customize and rearrange as needed. When Bud builds projects, most of the activity takes place center stage on the main workbench surrounding the tablesaw.
PVC ductwork for dust collection runs high along three shop walls, with the duct for the tablesaw and router table running through the crawlspace beneath the floor.
Bud converted the enclosed porch into a lumber-storage area and installed a 6'-wide overhead door for easy access. He confesses that he planned to eventually convert the former kitchen into a finishing room. However, his other passion—music—trumped that notion, and the space became a practice room for the cover band in which he plays drums.
Bud says the transformation of the old church building to a spacious workshop was certainly worth the effort. He now has a comfortable, fully functional shop space for building furniture for friends and family. He has made pieces such as console tables, entertainment centers, bookshelves, and dining-room tables. He also works on home-renovation projects ranging from decks to bathroom remodels.
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