If Steve Phipps can't find a tool from his collection to use in building custom cabinets, doors, and windows, he'll make one. When I'm looking for a special radius jamb and entry door or a houseful of bifold windows and doors, or the sweetest hardwood kitchen, Phipps is the guy I turn to first. He makes some of the finest circle-top sash available, even those fancy radius muntins for Gothic tracery.

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Steve Phipps

Credit: Photo: Gary Katz

But Phipps also invents tools and hardware, and makes them right in his own woodworking and metalworking shop. One visit and you'll walk away thinking like I did: This is one scatterbrained genius; another brilliant carpenter suffering from ADD. Good luck trying to keep him on a single subject; Phipps' mind works on multiple issues simultaneously. He might be untying the knots on his latest update to the Rok Buk (a door and plywood dolly that's become a carpentry cult icon, mostly because it's in such short supply!), but his mind is analyzing the traffic and shop flow at his latest creation–a small manufacturing plant where he plans to turn out Rok Buks, custom miter saw stands (that double as router tables), simple T-astragals (with integral extension flush bolts), and who knows what else.

The next time you visit a JLC Live! show, look for Phipps at the Cabinetry Workshop. Don't miss his slick setup for milling cope-and-stick joints in cabinet doors–all right on his miter saw stand. And set aside some real time. There's no such thing as a quickie when you visit with Steve Phipps. Be prepared to learn about cabinetry and tool design, but expect to hear a lot about gardening, classic guitars, deep-sea diving, and Texas, too.