The woodworking group has misplaced certainly one of its giants with the passing of Philip C. Lowe. He was a consummate craftsman and former teacher and head of the furnishings making program at North Bennet Street School in Boston, and later at his personal faculty, The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts. But if you happen to have been to ask any of the quantity of people that have recognized and labored with Phil, the very first thing you’d hear about is what a tremendously sort and beneficiant particular person he was.

In the handful of instances I’ve had the pleasure to work with Phil, I used to be at all times greeted by his smile, fast wit, and nice humorousness. Of course, when he’d get to work, all my consideration turned to his super ability and the seeming ease with which approached his work. For these of us not lucky sufficient to have studied beneath Phil, the excellent news is that he has been a constant contributor to the journal for greater than 30 years. The articles that he has written over the years stand as a testomony to his ability and the generosity with which he shared his insights, although sadly they solely skim the floor of his data and expertise.

—Michael Pekovich, FWW editor and inventive director


Gentleman woodworker

As a woodworker, Phil Lowe was second to none. He was a grasp of his craft, having constructed a lifetime of furnishings worthy of inclusion in any museum. He was a person of character and a passionate trainer who impressed numerous woodworking college students.

I first met Phil in 2004 once I took a weeklong hand-instrument class with him on the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. I used to be a bit nervous. After all, I used to be about to take a category with a legend. Turns out this masterful woodworker was merely Phil—no pretenses, no airs, simply an approachable, educated, and interesting teacher. He was a troublesome trainer, although. I recall the sharpening part of the category, once we have been flattening the again of a airplane blade. Phil wouldn’t let a scholar transfer on to the subsequent sharpening grit till he was glad that every one the scratches from the earlier grit have been gone. That was a sweaty workday for us college students, however by sundown all of us realized the satisfaction of a job properly achieved.

Since then, I’ve labored with Phil on many Fine Woodworking articles and initiatives, together with Fine Woodworking Live. Every room in his store in Beverly, Mass., was stuffed with historical past. There have been desk legs strung up throughout, a whole lot of hand instruments organized on cabinets all sharp and able to work, chair and carving patterns galore, and initiatives completed and underway. Phil’s head was filled with woodworking ideas and methods, and each photograph shoot with him additionally served as a woodworking class.

More than the woodworking classes, nevertheless, I’ll keep in mind the conversations I used to have with Phil. His life was filled with tales, and he may at all times pull a story from his days within the Navy. He was obsessed with furnishings making, however he additionally had a love of crusing, of being on the water at sundown and experiencing the fullness of East Coast shoreline dwelling. Phil was a devoted household man, who spoke lovingly and proudly of his spouse Sandra and their household. Conversations by no means fully revolved round him, nevertheless. Phil was fascinated about individuals. He needed to listen to about you, needed to know your inspirations and aspirations, your successes and your failures.

I reached out to Phil within the spring once I realized of his sickness. He was upbeat, telling me, “We’ll fight this thing like we build furniture: One board at a time.” Simple, direct, decided. Just like Phil.

The world has misplaced a grasp woodworker, however woodworkers have misplaced a pal.

—Tom McKenna, Group Editorial Director


Phil’s data of American interval furnishings was encyclopedic. His eye for element and carving means was superb. I stood in awe of his creations, every one. He was such a high-quality trainer, prepared to share and information. And a beautiful human being.

—C. H. Becksvoort


Phil Lowe sitting down petting a dog
Phil with Gary Rogowski’s store canine, Buck

Phil Lowe lived in a world I by no means inhabited. He lived within the 18th century with the furnishings makers John and Thomas Seymour. Phil’s expertise have been so divergent from our final century and its seek for the fast and ephemeral that it’s laborious to think about him snug dwelling with us in any respect. He instructed me as soon as that he signed all his development drawings for the sake of “provenance.” He understood his place on this planet of vintage restoration and furnishings making. He instructed me that he had as soon as put his identify on a clock alongside different makers and the silversmith’s, Paul Revere. His technical expertise at woodworking have been gorgeous, huge. He was a woodworking savant from his highschool and Navy days and ahead. If there was an 18th-century method, he had mastered it. He was merely the best and most expert furnishings maker I’ve ever recognized.

After one night at a presentation he and I gave, I instructed my host afterward, “Never do a slide show with Phil Lowe.” His work was not authentic within the unusual sense. It was gorgeous, although, in its grasp of method and expertise lengthy thought previous however reborn in his arms. What Phil may do with a chisel or lathe or veneer hammer he did with such ease, such ability, such pace, all I may do was sit again and marvel at it.

Phil as soon as took me to see the Seymour & Sons exhibit on the Peabody Essex Museum once I visited him. The museum guard adopted us round so he may hear what Phil was saying concerning the work. I don’t know what number of instances we set off the alarms on our arms and knees whereas Phil identified some distinctive function or curious little bit of veneer work. With his impish allure and disarming wit, I may solely marvel at his expertise. There are few people born with a chisel of their arms. Phil was a kind of. A marvel, my pal.

—Gary Rogowski


Phil Lowe smiling
Phil on the Center For Furniture Craftsmanship

Phil Lowe’s passing leaves an irreparable gap in our group. He was a peerless craftsman, very good teacher, and as high-quality an individual as you could possibly hope to satisfy. Over the previous 20 years, Phil kindly took time away from his personal very good faculty to show at ours on a number of events. At Monday night time slide exhibits, we have been humbled and uplifted by the breadth and depth of his work. The final time I noticed Phil, he was beaming, in his personal beneficiant and understated means, to see certainly one of his college students take Best of Show on the 2019 Fresh Wood competitors on the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas. Walking his personal path via life, Phil left a outstanding legacy within the hearts of these of us whom he touched as a trainer, mentor, and pal.

—Peter Korn, Executive Director, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship


Knowing and dealing with Phil Lowe via the years has been a particular honor. When I spoke to him at varied woodworking exhibits or dropped by his faculty for a go to, he had a means of creating me really feel genuinely valued. I by no means had the slightest sense that my many questions have been a nuisance or that he didn’t have the time for me. In 2019 I had the privilege of instructing a weeklong carving class at his faculty. Just spending time at his faculty, attending to know Phil extra, and seeing him freely and naturally share golden nuggets of data with the scholars was very particular. His huge data will reside on via the numerous college students he has touched and the generosity he has proven to each associates and strangers.

—Mary May


Like many younger FWW editors, I got here to the journal to broaden my data of the craft, intimidated however excited to satisfy the luminaries who have been featured often. I can safely say I realized extra from Phil Lowe than every other craftsman I labored with, and I labored with all of the greats.

I realized that when you realize one thing deeply, you don’t need to bang the drum loudly. Phil would by no means say a nasty phrase about different woodworkers or their work, regardless of how doubtful their strategies. He would simply say, in impact, “I do it this way, and it seems to work well.”

Phil had been a woodworking genius since he left the navy as a younger man and entered North Bennet Street School, the place he accomplished extra reproductions than anybody else within the historical past of this system. He was a legend on this planet of interval furnishings making, and he didn’t have any factors to show.

I additionally realized that whenever you perceive one thing deeply, you may make clear it merely. Like the entire finest technicians, Phil didn’t see wooden as mysterious or magical, however lovely and predictable. If you perceive wooden and instruments the best way Phil did, world-class work turns into a matter-of-truth, learnable ability.

I realized from Phil that it’s the work that issues, not the instruments or the speak. The means Phil made his instruments work was what made them lovely, not their pedigree or price ticket. And his store was only one extra instrument, no fancier than it wanted to be. The work that went out the door, nevertheless, was jaw-dropping.

What I’m lacking most about Phil on this very unhappy day are his humility, generosity, and kindness. He by no means appeared down his nostril at my dumb questions, and at all times embraced my function as a photographer and collaborator, working to switch his genius onto the printed web page. (My favourite that I shot and edited is “Surface Prep: Why Sanding Isn’t Enough,” in FWW #152, as a result of it epitomizes Phil’s sensible genius.)

After each shoot, we at all times had a steak and a beer close to his store in Beverly, Mass., and simply talked about life. It has been a profound honor to know and work with Phil Lowe, and his legacy will reside on in my coronary heart and arms.

—Asa Christiana, former editor of FWW


Like many people, my earliest acquaintance with Phil was via is articles. I used to be constructing my first Queen Anne piece and turned to his article from challenge #42, “Cabriole Legs: Hand-shaped, without a lathe,” an article I’ve given my college students many instances since. I used to be a novice to the commerce and he was already sharing his data. Bottom line, in my early twenties, he was the craftsman that I needed to be once I grew up!

Because we taught workshops at lots of the identical colleges, our paths crossed on a number of events. As a former convention planner for The Society of American Period Furniture Makers, I turned to Phil various instances to reveal and communicate at our summer time occasions. He was certainly one of our hottest presenters and it was not unusual for attendees to skip different demonstrations simply to look at Phil twice. He knew his stuff, was a grasp of it, and knew find out how to share it.

Over many meals and various beers, I got here to know Phil as beneficiant man who preferred to snort and interact in energetic conversations. He was totally devoted to his household and obsessed with his craft. He invested his coronary heart into his faculty and we’re blessed for the variety of artisans who studied beneath his gifted arms at The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, The North Bennet Street School, and the numerous guilds and personal colleges throughout the nation.

One day, I had the privilege of seeing Phil completely out of context, not within the store or close to the wooden. I used to be visiting him in Beverly and he took me out crusing for the day. I’ve a obscure reminiscence of the boat or the place we particularly sailed however I’ve a vivid recollection of the pilot. He beamed a deep satisfaction from simply crusing alongside. He was in a sanctuary that gave him nice peace. I’ll always remember the smile on his face.  I really feel blessed to have recognized him and 35-plus years later, I nonetheless need to develop up and be like Phil.

—Steve Latta


Philip C. Lowe had a knack. He knew find out how to make individuals snug round him, find out how to encourage nice work, find out how to convey tough ideas. He knew find out how to lead a scholar to the brink of discovery, then step again and see the sunshine go on. He knew that instructing on this area has to incorporate doing; and sufficient of that doing results in the deep understanding that comes wrapped within the satisfaction of creating nice furnishings.

Phil made lovely objects and drew great, clear plans of furnishings, interval and past. He ran applications, wrote consistently, consulted for museums, traveled nationwide instructing and lecturing, raised a beautiful household, and based a nationally acclaimed faculty that he nurtured to the tip.

Phil Lowe on the North Bennet Street School circa 1968–from Lance Patterson,

I taught at The Furniture Institute of Massachusetts for nearly 10 years, largely night time and weekend programs. Phil was at all times there to greet my college students, test on their work, present us one thing a full-time scholar (or he himself) was engaged on, and simply typically share his general enthusiasm for the craft and work achieved properly. Often, he’d keep for many of a 3-hour night time class after instructing and dealing all day—simply because he cherished what he did.

Phil had a dry, Yankee humorousness and the inherent frugality that went with it, imploring college students to return all disguise glue drippings to the new bucket. He additionally had an open thoughts—I come from a unique woodworking background (not interval furnishings in any respect) but he employed me to show, introducing me as somebody who had “drunk the Kool-Aid” out on the West Coast (certainly one of his final initiatives was a cupboard on a stand…hmmm….).

Most of all, Phil had a knack for making group—for bringing individuals collectively, making them really feel welcome and part of the particular place(s) he created. What a present! I’m grateful to have performed an element and have problem expressing the depths of my sorrow at his passing and the lack of the college.

Thank you, Phil.,

—John Cameron


Phil Lowe has been an icon to me from the beginning of my woodworking profession. I knew of him earlier than I went to the North Bennet Street School Cabinet and Furniture Making program. I keep in mind making my household watch the VHS tape of him “Carving the Ball and Claw Foot.” I began instructing workshops after graduating from NBSS and shortly after, Phil Lowe requested if I might be prepared to come back and train at his Furniture Institute in Beverly, Mass. I used to be fairly honored to have the ability to work with him and train at his faculty. He was a sort and affected person trainer capable of attain out to all who had an curiosity in studying what he knew. This made him a superb trainer not solely to his college students however for me as properly. Working with Phil made me a greater trainer and I’m eternally grateful for the time I used to be capable of spend with him.

—Janet Collins


Phil Lowe with one other scholar and George Fullerton c 1973–from Lance Patterson

Phil Lowe and George Fullerton have been the instructors for the Cabinet and Furniture Making course on the North Bennet Street School in 1977 once I began as a scholar. It wasn’t very far into the course when Phil gathered me and two different college students for machine upkeep for the jointer.

I used to be a bit shocked when Phil directed us to fully disassemble the jointer (much less the electrical motor), clear all of the elements, and re-assemble it with correct lubrication and alignment. This was Phil’s common machine upkeep for many of the machines, tablesaws, planer, shaper, hole-chisel mortiser, drill press, lathes, scrollsaw, and compressor (we didn’t disassemble the massive Fay& Egan Bandsaw fully). We attributed this diploma of upkeep to Phil’s time within the Navy. Phil was on a service ship that offered upkeep for different deployed ships. It had woodworking and metalworking equipment on board that have been certainly maintained. With this job Phil confirmed us that “doing it” is a serious tenet in understanding and that it improves our expertise and provides us confidence in our personal talents.

Shortly after I graduated from the CFM course in 1979, Phil requested me to develop into an element-time teacher. My duties have been to maintain the store and machine room open for additional hours for college students, and to show Machine Maintenance. It was a possibility for me to proceed studying from Phil.

He is a superb trainer! He lived his life doing it. He enriched the lives of so many.

—Lance Patterson, Instructor of Cabinet & Furniture Making, North Bennet Street School


Phil was a furnishings maker’s furnishings maker. He knew the traditional types of the 18th century and amassed an enormous package of the methods and methods and the hows and whys of conventional design. Need to breed a singular Seymour banding or Goddard carved shell? Ever humble, Phil would present you ways.

—Garrett Hack


Phil and Freddy Roman smiling together
Phil and Freddy Roman

As you may think about, selecting only one reminiscence to mark my time with Phil is extraordinarily tough. One reminiscence, an instance of his unbelievable generosity, stands out:

My final semester on the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts (FIM) was in 2006. Unfortunately, I reached a spot the place I noticed I used to be not capable of pay for my final semester of faculty, regardless of working full time whereas additionally going to highschool. I used to be confronted with making what felt like an not possible determination: pack up and return house, that means I might not graduate; or, develop into homeless, so I may use my hire cash in direction of FIM. I approached Phil, hoping we may give you a cost plan so I may stay his scholar. I imagine that Phil noticed the stress in my eyes and my ardour for remaining at FIM. Shortly thereafter, he known as me into his workplace and he instructed me that he needed me to complete. He made me a proposal I may by no means refuse, and for which I’ll at all times be grateful. Phil requested me to work for him, generously placing 50% of each job on which I labored towards my stability for the semester. Phil made a private sacrifice in not having my tuition up entrance, as a way to proceed fostering my love for woodworking. Phil Lowe was a grasp of his craft, an excellent trainer, and above all, a very beneficiant man.

—Freddy Roman


I met Phil about 20 years in the past on the Providence Fine Furnishings present. I knew his status and invited him to show at my faculty. During his firstclass a number of months later, each single individual within the class got here as much as me and mentioned, “Make sure you get this guy back here again!” And that’s what I did. Phil grew to become a daily teacher at Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking for years. His data and ability have been phenomenal however, as a trainer myself, what actually impressed me was Phil’s pure means to show. He would pull up on the again door to the college, are available in, after which ask, “so what are we doing this weekend?” And then proceed to have at it.

I feel the factor that struck me probably the most was his means to not get flustered by something that occurred at school. We have been doing a Queen Anne tea desk class and he was demonstrating mortising the within of one of many aprons when the depth cease on the mortiser let go and the bit got here proper via the face. I used to be mortified! Here was probably the greatest craftsmen within the nation and the least I may do was provide him a instrument that truly labored! He didn’t even blink an eye fixed when it occurred, though I can solely think about what was going via his thoughts! Instead he simply mentioned, “So here is what you do when that happens” and proceeded to run a dado the entire size of the apron—proper over the outlet. Then he discovered a scrap that matched the apron and proceeded to suit it into the dado, glued it in, planed it flush, and it was gone. That scene has caught with me for 15 years now and it’s in all probability one of many largest issues I realized from Phil: Anything might be fastened; and don’t make a giant deal of it—particularly in entrance of the category!

Phil was an ideal craftsman and an ideal pal. He shall be missed.

—Bob Van Dyke


On getting into Phil Lowe’s store/faculty there was a small plaque that learn, “If you can make a piece of wood consistently flat, square and smooth, you are on your way.”

The deepest ideas of Phil weren’t recognized to anybody. Phil had a plan from the beginning and it stored evolving as time went on. From his deep respect for our teacher and mentor Mr. Fullerton there at North Bennet Street School to his remaining time at his personal store and faculty, his plan took form.

In some ways, he felt blessed to be surrounded by individuals fascinated about furnishings. Besides the numerous college students who would comply with his lead in making furnishings, there have been many individuals who benefited from his data of how high-quality furnishings is constructed.

Phil Lowe standing with George Fullerton
Phil Lowe and George Fullerton on the North Bennet Street School circa 1980–from Lance Patterson

The individuals who took programs at his faculty have been at all times escorted to the museum in Salem, Mass., and adopted him round as he would describe intimately how lots of the vintage furnishings items have been constructed. There have been at all times many guests to the museum who would bend an ear to take heed to Phil describe to us the best way a sure piece was made. After the tour, we have been all handled to a pleasant meal on the museum and our speak then turned to how Phil had nonchalantly defined his love for furnishings.

First to his spouse, Sandra, and his daughters, Sonia and Vivian, we go alongside our deepest sympathy. Also, to the scholars who have been at present enrolled in his faculty, who by no means acquired to expertise the entire course with Phil.

There are so a lot of my very own reminiscences of Phil and me once we first met on the North Bennet Street School. We had each simply accomplished our excursions of responsibility with the energetic navy service. Phil was simply one other scholar and his work was of a really prime quality from the beginning. His plan was taking form.

I’ve so many great reminiscences of the person who I at all times thought-about to be my brother. We simply thought alike and that was unusual in itself. We didn’t at all times agree on the totally different features of the furnishings commerce or on many different points, however we at all times agreed to disagree after which continued to speak about it. A terrific side of Phil.

In life, now we have many acquaintances however now we have only a few people who find themselves a real, honest pal. Thank you, Phil, for being that true pal. You shall be deeply missed.

—John Potter


Whenever I spoke to Phil we’d inevitably discover that we got here to related low-tech options to widespread woodworking issues. Such an ideal man! I’m going to overlook simply figuring out he’s on the market.

—Al Breed


Phil Lowe at the bandsaw with people watching on
Phil at all times drew a crowd at woodworking occasions–from Mary May

I’ve described Phil many instances as one of many biggest dwelling furnishings makers. He has recreated loads of probably the most intricate and delightful furnishings varieties that we all know of, and has repaired and refurbished priceless artifacts that different makers wouldn’t even take into account touching for worry of messing one thing up. A mutual pal as soon as mentioned Phil was the one man that wouldn’t freak out when taking a handsaw to a 200-year-outdated heirloom price thousands and thousands of {dollars}. Another pal nicknamed him “Gandalf” as a result of “he has a gray beard and does magic.”

Phil’s faculty was certainly one of few colleges within the nation the place you could possibly study the chops to deal with the “high styles” of interval furnishings with the identical methods and construct high quality utilized by the outdated masters. For all that, you’ll assume his store to be an enormous trendy woodworkers paradise—the sort you’d design if you got a clean slate and an open checkbook. Well, it wasn’t. In truth Phil’s store, at first look, is startlingly spare. All Phil wanted was a small room that manages to deal with a handful of primary workhorse machines, a drafting room, and a small workbench in entrance of a wall of hand instruments. That was the primary lesson: It’s not concerning the stuff you’ve gotten.

When Phil traveled to woodworking occasions he would often convey scholar initiatives to point out off. In a means, the coed initiatives have been Phil’s work, and the pleasure he took of their progress and achievements was apparent. People who had accomplished his program years in the past often stopped by to say hello and assist out across the store. Phil constructed a group with out actually making an attempt, based mostly on his selfless devotion to passing on his data and expertise in order that others may also do what they love for a dwelling. Lessons 2-10 are in there someplace.

I don’t assume I do know of one other one that possesses the identical ratio of “top of the food chain in their field” to “humble, polite, and authentic.” Here was one of many greats, plain and easy. There was no person he didn’t have time for. If you have been carrying one thing heavy he’d seize an finish. If you didn’t have the best instrument for a job he’d lend it to you. If you wanted to work one thing out for funds he was beneficiant and understanding. He’d maintain the store open late or get in an hour early if somebody wanted additional time.

I’m going to overlook him. Many others who knew him higher will miss him far more. It was an absolute privilege to get to know him and name him a pal. I’m hoping to have the ability to dangle on to the teachings Phil taught me by instance for so long as attainable. My condolences to the Lowe household and his tight group of makers. We misplaced an absolute legend.

—Roger Benton


The passing of my brother, Phil, gave me pause to recollect him in some ways. I’ve furnishings that he made for us that we frequently joked could be “the original Phil Lowe originals.” But, lengthy earlier than he made our treasured items, he constructed a desk for our mother and father whereas in highschool. Our dad died in 2005 and the connected poem is the eulogy our son, Phil’s nephew, gave proving that Phil didn’t simply construct furnishings, he constructed reminiscences. In gentle of all of the unhappiness on this planet as we speak, it’s becoming that Phil impressed the sentiment that it expresses.

—Madeline Lowe Osiecki

There is a desk
In my grandfather’s home,
Not a lot smaller than
The kitchen it occupies.
It is a straightforward,
Yet, artistic design,
Strong and proud
With a little bit of shine on high.
It’s just a little thicker
Than it must be
And not very simple to maneuver.
There are a number of scratches
Here and there,
With a dent or two
From falling fists
That tried to make some extent
Or silence the screeching
Monkeys at dinner.
Somehow its imperfections
Are all completely positioned.

There is a desk
In my grandfather’s home
With 4 chairs, two stools
And 100 locations to sit down.
A spot for a loyal
And Loving spouse,
A daughter and three sons.
A dozen grand children and
Even a number of nice ones.
There is a spot to eat,
A spot to learn,
A spot to nap.
There is a spot for
Yankee Fans Red Sox Fans
Republicans and Democrats.
A spot to argue, tease,
Talk, Laugh and share.
A spot to develop up and
Grow outdated collectively.
It has been our assembly place
For so long as I can keep in mind.

I realized many issues
At that desk.
The most vital is
How to Listen
To these you Love
Even when
They are fully improper.

There is a desk
In my grandfather’s home.
I’ve by no means recognized
Another one prefer it.

—Daniel A. Osiecki

 

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