Born to missionary parents, Phil spent his childhood in Chile and Spain. From an early age he showed an interest in how things worked, including a dissection of a lawn mower that never quite got put back together again. Love for nature, travel, good food, music, art, and craftsmanship were inspired by his years in other cultures. His love for wood and woodworking grew as he experimented with rudimentary furniture projects and power tools, mainly gifts and items for the house.
After a career in publishing, Phil began focusing on his passions for woodworking. He outfitted his woodworking studio and completed the Master’s Program in woodworking at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking, whose instructors include many of the world’s leading masters (www.marcadams.com).
While he enjoys all aspects of woodworking and furniture making, Phil discovered a passion in woodturning that remains his artistic focus in wood. Traditional woodworking is left brain oriented, linear and logical. Woodturning is much more dynamic, with greater variables in form, wood, and creativity. A piece of furniture usually starts with written plans and designs, while a piece carved on the lathe emerges in process.
Phil’s current work showcases the inherent qualities and beauty of the wood itself. His pieces are carefully selected from local hardwoods that he harvests from downed trees and limbs. He carefully studies each log and reflects on its potential in a turned piece before the he begins cutting. Middle Tennessee boasts the most diverse population of hardwood species in the country, so Phil is able to choose from a rich variety of beautiful wood.
Some pieces are roughed into blanks on the lathe and left with thick walls which are coated with sealer to prevent cracking during the 4-6 months of drying time. They are then re-mounted on the lathe and turned into final form. Other pieces are carved to final form straight from the fresh logs. Those pieces typically shrink across the grain and distort somewhat as they dry after turning, adding to the unique character of each piece.
After the piece is selected and rough cut into round with a chainsaw or the bandsaw, the blank is mounted on the lathe and the outside shape is carved, along with a tenon on the bottom. Then the blank is reversed and the tenon is gripped by the jaws of the chuck, and the inside of the piece is carved out. The shape of the inside walls are formed by carefully paralleling the shape of the outside walls.
The thickness of the walls varies depending on the form, the wood, and intended use. Walls on utility pieces (salad bowls, popcorn bowls, etc.) are usually kept thicker (1/4” - ˝”) than the more artistic pieces, whose walls can be as thin as 1/16” – 1/8”.
Once arriving at its final form, Phil sands the piece inside and out through a tedious sequence of 6-8 different grits of sandpaper mounted on air powered sanders, up through at least 600 grit. Most of his pieces have no color added to them. The typical finishing process begins by soaking the piece in special oils to bring out the natural color and character of the wood. Phil then hand applies multiple coats of finish, resulting in a hand-rubbed, natural appearance. He calls the resulting pieces “God’s Art,” because he has the great privilege of releasing and showing off the inherent artistry and creativity of the Creator in the natural wood.