Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hand made or not?

Lately, I feel like I'm cheating with what I'm doing. :-(

For me it doesn't matter no longer which angle I look at it from, To me, it looks like I have a robot doing my work!

I'm a member of a local woodworking guild and at the end of each meeting we do a show and tell.

Sometimes I bring in my projects to show, but I'm getting a bit worried about doing that because I'm displaying things that are no longer in the context of traditional woodworking.

To still call this woodworking is probably a farce too, since I'm just machining a medium that lends itself to make a certain product (so far I've had pine, poplar and oak in the machine - poplar being my favorite).

 I'm considering using high density urethane foam (HDU), for things (signs and such) that should not warp when used exposed to the elements outside (changing weather & moisture). I've learned that the foam thing is what a lot of sign makers are doing now all around the country, so I've started to look around for foam suppliers in my area, nothing close yet...

Well, there you have it - that's not even woodworking anymore, it's CNC machining and woodworking or a mix in-between. So much for wandering off the material in terms of wood.

What bothers me the most that everybody at Etsy claims that their product is hand made - when some of it is not (actually most of it). The predicament I have is that is that my products are not hand made either, but I want to be honest about it.

How can you tell the difference?

With carvings especially and inlays, I could probably spot the difference from a CNC made or hand made item from eight feet away by now. So what's the difference? Is CNC made still art, or just a product of progress in this age? Don't take this the wrong way, I have carved by hand too - never took any classes, but I've been there, still am and still use my Sheffield sorted drawer of chisels to enhance CNC cut carvings and whatever else comes up.

One could argue to the theme where you'd ask what is a machine anyways? Table saws, band saws and drill presses are machines too. How does that not count, as everybody is using them...?

For my part, I think I'm still on the traditional side of the fence. I usually card scrape everything once it comes out of assembly to get the glue squeeze out off. Then sand at 80 and go to 220. Because it takes a lot of by-hand sanding to get just one cat-shelf ready for just the sealer application.

Say what you want, but that step in the process makes the finish really shine in the end (by hand)... Perhaps it's then just a piece of wood that looks nice, having a hands-on origin or a CNC based manufacturing process way behind it, don't you think?

To try to excuse myself from that entire argument, I keep thinking that I could claim that the machine itself was hand-made. I mean, it really was! It was built from the ground up, by hand (my hands)...
You can find my build thread, discussing the entire build of the machine over here, at the CNC-Zone, if interested:

So if you design and build such a machine, completely by hand, make parts for items for sale with it, hand assemble and hand sand these items, then continue to put sanding sealer on them, sand them again by hand and then finish them using stains and lacquer hand's-on finishing techniques, is it still wrong to claim that this is a hand made item??

I don't think it's all that wrong to claim that hand-made in the end... What do you think?
Sorry for all the rambling, random thoughts and thanks for reading this far :-)


  1. While not "hand made" it is "home made"!

  2. Everything you have made exists because of your hands. You have garnered an enormous amount of knowledge in how to use your tools during your woodworking CNC travels. Just because your tools are more sophisticated than most doesn't mean it's not hand made. I cannot current do what you do, although I now have a set of Momus plans and will start my build soon :-) Thanks for posting BTW.