The Lowrey was initially a challenge to myself to make something in under an hour that I found enjoyable. I had an idea for a magnetic slider, and at the time, I didn't know this had even been done! I quickly drew a CAD design for something I could make from scrap pieces in the shop before I met some friends for dinner.
I made the original from some aluminum, pressed in the magnets, and called it done. I played with it for a few minutes, tossed it in my pocket, then headed to dinner. There, I handed it to my friend, Bill Lowrey, and his response was so enthusiastic that I knew I would need to play with the design more. That first one was pretty crude, and I could do better.
A couple of days later, I needed another break from my regular work, drew a much-improved design, and machined it. And then another. And another. And before I knew it, I had seven different designs floating around and a lot of feedback from friends and family.
At this point, I still intended to just make one for my friend, engrave his name on it, and call it a day. But I wouldn't say I liked the aluminum rubbing on aluminum. So I started designing sliders with brass inserts and then full brass lower sections, so it was only brass on brass. And by that point, I had people asking me to make them because they wanted one!
The next few weeks were a blur. Somehow I think I worked on the design 30-40 hours a week on top of everything else I was doing and then went completely OCD on the touching surfaces. I played with so many I lost count. I tried three different size ball end mills and experimented with grooves and diamond patterns and dimples and all sorts of stuff.
Finally, I started narrowing it down with a bucket of different sliders and narrowed it down to 8 that I liked. I did a quick polling of everyone who really liked to play with them and settled on one for my final design, and made my fixtures and final machining tool paths to produce the first set.
The very first one that came from production fixtures was set aside, and I custom-machined it to engrave "Lowrey" on one of the sliding surfaces. I then gave it to my friend and told him I would name the product after him like I did the "Schulte" line of tops before.
If he hadn't been so enthusiastic about that first crude version, I probably would have just gone on to my next project and never considered making these. He's also been incredibly encouraging to me over the years for this machining obsession I've been struck with. It was only fitting that it should be named after him!
Just like I said years ago with the original Schulte, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it! Order your own Lowrey Aluminum & Brass Magnetic Slider here.