Innovation in cabinetry |

Innovation in cabinetry

Special to the Daily/Steve Bainbridge

Tom Charles came from West Kansas early in the decade and hasn’t looked back since. A professional woodworker, he first worked as a luxury home building project manager here in Summit County and noticed the quality and variety of cabinetry available for his projects was limited. He shifted to cabinet making, and after a few years evolved his business into one where he now has a 25,000 sq ft higj-tech series of workshops just north of Leadville. You may have gone by Cutting Edge Woodworks if you’ve driven from Copper Mountain to Leadville. You will not see it, as the facility sits on the right side of the road high on the mountain and hidden by forest.

Depending on the level of building activity his staff varies between 15 and 25.

Touring the factory recently, I and other guests were struck by the diversity of the crafts people and gender. They come from all over the world, and in a traditionally male-dominated industry you’ll find women in all roles. Lisa Davis from Segerberg and Mayhew Architects and Design, when seeing a female on a huge material cutting machine, asked whether some of the “guys” helped her move the large sheets of maple melamine (a type of plywood) to the machine work surface. Tom Charles smiled and just said “watch.” In the next 60 seconds the female operator took a small control box hanging from the ceiling, pushed a couple buttons and brought over a large double suction cup affair, picked up the 150+ pound sheet of material and swung and deposited it on the operating surface in a heartbeat.

The tour group was also impressed with the beauty and variety of the finishes and distressing – much of this also executed by females. These looks are always in demand for new and remodeled mountain homes. The local market seems to approve of Tom’s group’s work. Cutting Edge has won “Best Kitchen” seven years in a row in the Summit Parade of Homes competition.

My wife, Sandy, and I were particularly appreciative of the problem solving and creative abilities of Tom Charles, Marilyn Bryant, a designer, and the rest of the team in the execution of the cabinets throughout our new Frisco home.

“We liked how Tom re-shaped our kitchen island to allow for better serving logistics to the adjoining breakfast bar,” Sandy said. “Marilyn added some nice touches with European pull-out small rectangular baskets that made the storage issues of so many small items convenient yet stylish. We also really appreciated the creative approach to helping us not have to buy an expensive built-in refrigerator; instead tightly wrapping cabinetry around a quality free standing refrigerator. It now looks like a built-in but saved us thousands of dollars.”

Tom Charles says knotty alder happens to be the current trend in materials for cabinetry because of great beauty, versatility of finish and look as well as relatively low cost. He also adds that many owners building or remodeling homes are opting for more modern contemporary, European looks.

Tom Mayhew, principal architect at Segerberg and Mayhew, in Vail was impressed with the technology of Cutting Edge. “I’m anxious for the home building industry to turn around in the ski valleys – these Cutting Edge shops are a precious Colorado resource: 3D color computer designs, high speed Italian tooling, material savings tools and processing, great layout technology, and wonderfully talented crafts people.”

Tom welcomes people to come and tour his woodworking facility and show rooms. If you are creative in nature, love tools and technology, talented people and love wood, this experience can’t be beat. It is a beautiful 20-minute drive south from highway 70, at the Copper Mountain exit. Call first: (719) 486-0920. The website is

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having on our residents and businesses. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User