Phil Freeman with Chair

From the swamp straight to the heart.

SHOP OWNER: Phil Freeman
LOCATION: Evergreen, AL

     I have been involved in woodworking as a hobby for several years, working exclusively with southern swamp cypress. I began working with cypress when I was building my house and shop, and I fell in love with the wood. It is beautiful, machines easily, and has tremendous decay resistance and a high strength-to-weight ratio. Its sawdust is a balm, a reliever of stress, and a perfume to me!

    I built my home (see left photo below) over the period of a year and a half, on weekends and nights. It is constructed entirely (inside and out) of swamp cypress. I moved from a more contemporary home of brick and drywall, and the change from the sterility of that environment, to the warmth and beauty of the cypress was tremendous. I left the exterior board-and-batten rough, put no finish on it, and it is now turning a beautiful gray. The inside is simply planed and left natural. I wanted it to look like my great-grandfather's homestead, and I believe that I have succeeded.
    The shop is very similar (see right photo below), with a corrugated metal roof and rough cypress board-and-batten siding on the exterior. It is 24 ft. by 36 ft., with a 10 ft. ceiling, and storage on the second floor.

Phil Freeman's House on the LakeFreeman's Cypress Shop
More Stress Relief


     Then, I started to make my "stress relievers"--bat houses, bird houses, and Adirondack furniture--from all the scraps. The majority of my projects are outdoor furniture sets. I use 3/4-inch, kiln-dried clear-heart cypress. I plane the stock to size with my Jet 15 in. planer, rip it with a Delta Unisaw, edge it on an ancient Delta 6-in. jointer, cut it to shape on a Jet 18-in. bandsaw, relieve all edges with a Bosch router mounted in a Rockler table, assemble it with galvanized screws and polyurethane glue, countersink and plug all the fasteners.
     When I'm done, I usually wind up giving the chairs away for charity fundraisers, like the Leukemia Society, American Cancer Society, etc.  Go figure!

. . . Phil Freeman



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