Profiles: Scott Phillips

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This article is from Issue 76 of Woodcraft Magazine.

A talented team. Scott and Suzy Phillips show off a Shaker-inspired spindle bench from the 24th season of The American Woodshop.

Still going strong after 24 seasons of hosting The American Woodshop 

Scott Phillips is always on. Over the course of the last few years, as we worked together on articles, photo shoots and videos, I kept waiting for a lapse in enthusiasm or energy. By now I’ve learned that it ain’t gonna happen. That warm, talented, energetic woodworker you see along with his wife, Suzy, on TV is the same guy you meet in person. Scott and Suzy use their show to spread a simple message: If you want something, make it.

—Chad McClung

Photo: Meghan Murray, WBGU-TV

WC: How long have you been working wood?

SP: I’ve been at it for 50 years. I started at 11 years old. I was selling walnut shelves to folks in my neighborhood when I was 12. My dad’s shop was a happening place in the Midwest back then. It beat the heck out of cutting grass.

WC: What about your wife and co-host, Suzy?

SP: Suzy has been a carver all her life and has been turning for 10 years. Now, I can’t pull her away from the scrollsaw.

WC: How long have you and Suzy been together?

SP: We’ve been married for 21 wonderful years.

WC: Who is your biggest influence?

SP: Sam Maloof impacted my woodworking life more than anyone else. He was—and still is—a huge influence. I was at the right place at the right time when I met him. Sam changed the way we all look at chairs. It was so amazing to see the last 10 minutes of construction when the chair really came to life. He knew how to work a spokeshave.

WC: With 24 successful seasons of The American Woodshop, what’s your message?

SP: If you want something, build it. Don’t buy gifts, make them. It doesn’t have to be a big armoire or a highboy— turn a pen or a bowl. Make a bandsawn box. You have these skills at your fingertips. You have all the “tools” in your imagination to make your home, garden and kitchen shine with personal handmade decorative art.

And it doesn’t have to stop there; woodworking is more than furniture and gifts. Make your house your castle. Decorate it with your own trim and wainscoting. Suzy and I not only made all the furniture in our house, we did all the molding and trim work too. We even built the stairs.

WC: What’s the theme this season?

SP: Woodworking’s Three “R’s”: Restorations, Rebuilds and Recycling. We use reclaimed and upcycled materials that are easy on everyone’s budget. Suzy and I also explore combining wood with metal and glass in artful ways.

WC: Your ratings are higher than ever. Why do you think that is?

SP: Working with your hands resonates satisfaction. And that binds us woodworkers together. More people are taking that message to heart. I don’t preach, but I get the word out there and share ideas.

WC: Any parting words for our readers?

SP: Have fun in the shop. Don’t listen to those people who say you shouldn’t sign your work. Take ownership of your creations, and show them off. Celebrate the individual touch. Make mistakes, and put good criticism to work on your next project. Stay positive, and keep working wood!


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