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Conundrum Designs, Inc.

Listing #953   Listed on: 12/14/2009

WOODWEB Content Editor, Brett Hagstrom, Interviewed Scott Reuman in January 2011.

After living on the East Coast of the United States for many years, Scott Reuman wanted to live in the mountains of Colorado. That was thirty five years ago. Now, Scott resides in Nederland, Colorado and can’t wait to make the 75 foot commute to his shop every day. The shop is a modified outbuilding/greenhouse Scott built years ago. The business “office” takes up the spare bedroom in Scott’s house, which he also built.

When Scott first arrived at his property, the only structure was a modified one-car garage that lacked space for tools and himself. He built a quick plywood shack to operate from and then went to work on the house. When building the house and shop, his mentality was “use what you have, don’t get too large, expect to make some adjustments, and be clever.” His tools are on wheels, the shop passive solar, and although he doesn’t have an elaborate finishing room, what he does have works well. Scott mentions that he worked hard to “make myself the attraction of the business, not the price or some other aspect of competitiveness.”

Continue Reading about Conundrum Designs, Inc.

Shop -- all 500 sq ft. Nice place to work.
The studio/shop in fall.
Tools within easy reach.
Me, at work on inlaid kitchen cabinet drawer faces
At work in shop on bending forms.
Internal structure of bending form for side panels of corner cabinets.
This bending form will be puttied and painted and waxed before use.
Bent lamination side panels, crotch mahogany and bending ply, fresh out of vacuum press.
Jig to make curved rails for corner cabinets.
Solid, rough trim out, final cut of curved rail before tenons.
All the curved rails for side panels of corner cabinets, tenons complete. Only sanding remains.
Inlay of inside back panels of corner cabinets nearing completion -- solid mahogany with solid, self-cut veneer inlay - about 1/2
Curved lower doors on corner cabinets, shellac first, then 3 coats urethane.
Glue up of corner cabinets -- lots of joints to fit in one shot. Used polyurethane glue for longer work time.
Almost finished pair of matching display corner cabinets.
Corner cabinets installed (one of pair shown).
Table, chairs, two corner cabinets, and sideboard (not shown) -- complete project of full dining room, mostly mahogany.
Company Name:   Conundrum Designs, Inc.
Contact Name:   Scott C Reuman
Location:   Nederland, CO  80466
Year Founded:   1978
Sq. Footage:   500
Employees:   1
Gross Sales:   N/A

Product Specialties:
    Accessories and Gifts - General
    Cabinets - Custom Cabinets
    Carving - Architectural Ornamentation
    Carving - General
    Furniture - Custom Furniture
    Furniture - Furniture Designers
    Furniture - Furniture Manufacturers
    Furniture - General
    Furniture - Outdoor Furniture
    Veneer and Marquetry - General
    Woodworking - General

Shop Equipment:
    Rockwell - 9" table saw
    Other - vacuum press 54 x 110"
    Dewalt - 13" planer
    Delta - band saw 14" x 105"
    Other - drill press with full rotational head and table

Viewer Comments:

Posted By: Bob Schilke     [02/28/2010]
Hey! There's a butterfly on your work - careful now. Also, the legs on that bench are bowed. Might as well leave them like that. It all looks nice, though I think that shop is way too comfortable. You should trade with me and I'll work there instead. Great place Scott.

Posted By: Hugh Ward     [03/10/2010]
I can't tell you how nice it is to see someone who appears to be enjoying their job. I work for a shop Wash DC 100,000 Sq Ft and I'm Director of Sales Marketing. When it gets this big it looses its art, its joy, and its fun. Beautiful work and great setting. Keep it simple and keep the smile on your face. I raise my glass to you.

Posted By: Tom     [04/24/2011]
Hey Scott - thanks for sharing your shop and ideas. It is great to see someone who enjoys their work and can inspire others at the same time.

Posted By: woodpecker     [06/13/2011]
Nice shop. I'm building my first shop and it's almost complete. I was thinking of buying Powermatic machinery - how good are they?

Posted By: Scott     [06/13/2011]
I don't know. I've never used any. Try searching in the machinery listings on WoodWeb or just Google search for "recommendations" or "review". Also, Fine Woodworking magazine has lots of tool reviews.

Posted By: Ed Perkins     [07/21/2011]
Powermatic is good the older machines "were" American made but now I believe they are a division of Jet and thus made in China or Taiwan still well made I just but a PM 15 planer Molder and love it I use delta shapers and an older PM 66 table saw with Biesmyer fence enjoy hope this helps


Posted By: Ed Perkins     [07/21/2011]
Scott can you elaborate on your vacume press? I have a 1000 square foot shop and ites tight in there. a press would come in handy. I work full time and do reproduction molding and cabinetry evening s and weekends and have a small showroom for cabinetry. I'm impressed with your size shop and what you seem to be getting out the door and could use some advice.



Posted By: Scott     [07/22/2011]
Ed -- my shop evolved over time. As a result, one end is raised about 18" above the other. Under that higher floor I hung a 4x10' truss flat table that rolls out for vacuum press work and projects requiring dead flat surface to work on. The table is built with roof trusses, MDF and cable suspension so it can always be tuned absolutely flat. It hangs from garage door track under the floor joists and rolls into the lower room. I use a vacuum system from Vac-U-Clamp ( and a urethane bag from same. Good products and good warranty. More questions, let me know. Glad to help.

Posted By: Brandon     [12/02/2012]
Love it! I wish you many more years!

Posted By: Brian     [01/10/2015]
Inspiring. Thanks for publishing all the steps

Posted By: John Burns     [06/14/2015]
I found two porch swings, built of Oak wood, on Woodweb's site. One was painted white, the other finished clear. However, I could not find the name of the person who built the swings, the name of the company, or the price of the swings. My question is, did you build them? If so, I would possibly be interested in buying one like the clear finished one shown.

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Company Description Continued

Scott is very happy with the way his shop turned out. He has constantly reinvented his space, but over time he has settled in nicely. He loves the south facing windows that bring in abundant light, free heat, and a delightful view, including a snowstorm one day or bobcats playing in the snow the next. Scott says the work can be intense and the hours long, so he takes frequent micro-breaks to look or sit outside for a few minutes, and sometimes is able to draw inspiration for a design during the break.

Scott likes lightweight tools. “Big tools make bigger mistakes faster and aging muscles appreciate lighter weight tools.” Scott mentions that “a slow cut is just as straight as a fast cut.” With that said, he is not opposed to using power tools and owns more than a few himself. He mentions that he is not the “hand-tool celebrant” that many people think you have to be. “This is a business; I can't afford to be too slow.”

A lot of time is spent using his router. Scott builds many jigs and modifies a number of bits and says that his biggest and best asset “is my brain, of course, but any business owner knows that.” Scott spends plenty of time thinking of alternate ways to make certain cuts or shapes and usually does not buy job-specific tools. His competitive edge comes from “offering something that no one else can, and that's creativity with a capital C.”

Scott does most of his design work and hopes his background in engineering and physics will be beneficial when he designs his own CNC in the near future.

Scott has worked with architects and designers, enjoying and regretting both. “You can't always pick who you work for, and in fact you rarely can, so be a nice person and usually people will be nice too - but don't plan on it. Be a good designer, the best you can, but there are other good designers and they deserve respect, too.”

Scott completes commission and spec work, with commission work currently higher in demand. He says the spec work “can be really fun, but it can also interfere with getting a paying job out the door. The spec work can be an integral part of your marketing plan - what do you want to be building/designing in ten years?”

During the recent economic situation things have improved for Scott. He wishes he could say one thing that has kept him working, but it “never is just one thing.” He’s tried dozens of different marketing plans and directions, keeps debt closely under guard, and doesn’t buy tools or materials unless he really has to - and even that's usually after saying no to himself many times until the need is finally proven. Scott says “make sure you're having fun - at least the majority of the time. If not, your work will suffer, and then your business will too.”

As for future plans, Scott will continue to expand on his signature designs, what he calls his “RiverSeriestm.” He read a book a long time ago titled something like, "Do What You Love and The Money Will Follow." Scott didn’t believe it then, but now he does, and it may be the most important advice anyone can give.

Scott’s advice to someone looking to construct a shop: “make it a fun place to work. Never make it only efficient, never make it only cost conscious, and keep yourself and your customer in mind. Show a little of the individual you are and make it a place you'd want to spend 10-15 hours a day in - you just might have to do that.”

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The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices. What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk.

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