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Well-planned mile-high workshop

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Buck Olmsted says he’s learned a lot from reading WOOD® magazine. He enjoys the challenge of designing something, figuring out how to build it, and then building it.
A woodworker’s paradise sits at 8,000' elevation in the Rocky Mountains. Indeed, when you walk into Buck Olmsted’s shop of more than 500 square feet, it’s hard to take it all in. Every nook and cranny has been meticulously organized and crammed full.

A retired architect and project manager, Buck had the basic structure built by some of his employees who wanted to earn some extra income. Buck finished it out himself, including the electrical and plumbing work. He installed 100-amp service with 110-volt circuits, but as he acquired newer tools, he realized that some 220-volt circuits should be added. That’s a future upgrade, he says.

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The dust collector, separator, and air compressor (not shown) sit in an area walled off from the shop to reduce noise.

Shop heat comes from a free, used furnace a contractor friend removed from an apartment he was servicing. Buck ran all of the ductwork, including runs to the garage below for when he works on large projects in that space. At this altitude, cooling simply means opening the windows at each end of the shop and turning on a fan.

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A shop-made cabinet supports a cast-iron router table. A removable top outfitted with Buck’s scrollsaw drops over the router table (inset).

Buck installed a 55-gallon drum upstream from his Reliant dust collector to convert it to a two-stage unit, which is connected to all of the larger tools. His mitersaw and two drill presses each have their own dedicated shop vacuum. Each drill-press vacuum turns on and off with the tool. Two other shop vacuums serve for general cleanup.  

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Having tired of dust-covered tools, Buck made drawers and enclosed storage for most of his hand tools and portable tools.

Buck made smart use of all of his wall space,  and tucked drawers under every tool and worksurface he could. He gives new meaning to the old adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” 

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Buck Olmsted designed the two-story building with a two-car garage below his shop. A grade-level entrance at the back provides shop access.

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