LARAMIE -- The smell of sawdust filled the air outside Scott Palmer’s woodshop as three dogs chased each other across his 150-acre plot of land west of Laramie.
Free-roaming chickens pecked at the ground near Palmer, who was searching through a pile of beetle-killed pine logs to use as corner caps for an entertainment center.
“People drop off wood for me on occasion,” the Canyon Creek Log Furniture owner said, measuring the width and length of a gray lodgepole pine. “But most of my stock, I get from a private residence. I have a lot of people ask me to come clear out their beetle-kill, but I just don’t have enough use for it all.”
A former trails manager for the state, Palmer now spends nearly half his time to craft furniture, remodel houses and build cabinetry from logs.
“I used to do this full time, but after the economy crashed orders stopped coming in,” he said. “So, I’m a blade operator for the (U.S.) Forest Service during the summer. And during the winter, I do this.”
About 12 years ago, Palmer’s wife, Mary, asked him to build a log bed frame, so he did. Then she asked for a couch, and he built that. Soon, his house was filling with log creations and his friends took notice.
“I figured, ‘Well hell, if everyone else wants them, they can pay for them,’” Palmer said.
The furniture builder said his love for wood working was rooted in his childhood, and he enjoys the challenge of building orders to custom specifications.
“I’ve made everything from couches to gun cabinets, kitchens to stair cases,” Palmer said. “There’s not too much I can’t build. People come to me with an idea of what they want, not knowing exactly how to explain it. And I use that to build them a bed, a rocking chair or whatever it is they’re looking for.”
While Palmer builds the frames, his wife does all the upholstery, he said.
“She’s got it down to science nowadays,” Palmer explained. “Anymore, I just tell her what I’m building, and she already knows just what size cushions she needs to make.”
Although Palmer works mostly with beetle-kill pine, he said he also enjoys crafting furniture from aspen and Russian olive.
“I like beetle kill, and I enjoy making a lot of things with it,” Palmer said. “But aspen is beautiful, too — even though it’s a little harder to work with.”
Gliding aspen rockers are among his top sellers, he said.
“You’d think beds would be the hottest sellers, but they’re not,” Palmer said. “I make a bunch of benches and entertainment stands. And God, I’ve sold a lot of aspen rockers.”
Wood working comes naturally for Palmer, but he said the challenge to making furniture is himself.
“I get ahead of myself,” Palmer explained. “That whole ‘measure twice, cut once’ thing — yeah, I don’t always do that.”
As the economy continues to improve, he said he hopes to see a boost in sales. But for now, Palmer said he is happy to spend at least half the year in his shop.
“If I could get away with doing nothing but this, I would in a heartbeat,” he said.