In 1989, Andy Anderson, founder and President of Phantom Engineering, Inc., was looking for a way to create, in his home shop, professional looking furniture as well as being able to create unique home improvement projects. At the time he was a partner in firm called D&A Engineering - a firm that engineered and constructed tools and machines for some of the largest manufactures in the Silicon Valley. The only time available for him to pursue his dream, however, was the same as many others whose life is busily occupied filling the many needs of business and family, the all too short weekends.
Many hours were spent looking through the many woodworking magazines in an attempt to find the equipment that he would need to tackle the projects he had in mind. He found a great deal of information about various jigs and fixtures that one could build to flute a spindle after it was turned as well as box jigs that could be built to add the type of joinery he had in mind, but nothing about equipment that would do the job. After coming to the conclusion that these jigs and fixtures were the only options available on today's market, he decided to create his own woodworking tooling. At first he found this a bit frustrating.
He described his problem like this. "I only had weekends to work on my projects. My wife would come out to my garage/shop after my weekend efforts and ask to see what I had built but all I had to show her for my efforts was another jig or fixture." The furniture and home improvement projects were slow in coming but the shop was filling up with plywood fixtures.
Unsatisfied with the "fixture/jig approach" he went back to the magazines to see if he could locate an unknown piece of woodworking equipment that he had overlooked. He found some kind of joinery system, a copy lathe with some type of spiral attachment, some type of precision dividing system to create flutes and beads and some equipment to size the rough or glued up stock for his projects. If he purchased all of these tools, Andy felt that not only would his budget be strained, but that his small working area would be over crowded with tools that only performed one or two functions.
One day a friend suggested to him that he make his own machine that would perform all of the tasks that he desired to do. "After all, you do have the right background to meet this challenge". As a result of his determination and engineering skills the first woodworking ornamental milling machine was born - the 33 inch Indexing Router Table (IRT-33). Many projects were built on this machine and soon other woodworkers were asking for their own. Production of the machine began at D&A Engineering in Morgan Hill, CA. The new tool was nicknamed the "Woodchuck" because a router was mounted on it allowing controlled removal of small amounts of material - the chucking of the wood.
After the "Woodchuck" IRT series, came the improved and larger "Woodchuck" MA series - a much larger and more versatile milling machine. This machine was introduced at the IWF woodworking show in Atlanta in 1992 and soon there were "Woodchucks" from the Netherlands to New Zealand and many parts in between. The latest generation of their ornamental mills, introduced in June of 1996, is called the "Legacy" ornamental mill and includes features not even dreamed of back in 1989.
From its small beginning in 1989 in Andy's garage, the innovations that Andy and his brother, Tracy, introduced into the woodworking world has enhanced the woodworking capabilities of thousands of grateful professionals and hobbyist worldwide. Today's multi-million dollar business reaches across the United States, up into Canada, down into Mexico with phalanxes extending across the seas to the east and to the west.
The brothers enjoy working in their family business together. They are excited with the daily challenges that come from providing innovative woodworking machinery to some of the finest woodworkers in the world. In their attempt to satisfy as many needs and budgets as possible, their company not only produces a complete line of these fine machines, but they also provide in depth training at their home base in Provo, UT, through manuals, with DVD's (and similar media systems), as well as through several experienced Legacy owner/operators throughout the nation.
The working philosophy of both Andy and Tracy can be encapsulated with these words of an unknown sage, "Never get the idea that all pioneering opportunities ceased with the settling of the West."