The Fine Woodworker and Modern Woodworking Machines

Navigating Craftsmanship in the Power Tool Era 

The primary quality of a craftsman lies in his skill to create things—producing items that are practical and long-lasting without unnecessary embellishments or decorations. 

Following its practical purpose, a sense of pride emerges—the genuine craftsman's satisfaction in crafting something functional yet imbued with beauty and good taste. The aim is for people to look at the finished product and acknowledge, 'This is indeed craftsmanship.' With the advent of advanced woodworking tools in the market, the skills required for constructing various wood pieces have become more automated. Does this influx of machinery diminish the essence of craftsmanship, or does it open up opportunities for more individuals to acquire the skills to work with wood? 

Modern Fine Furniture

Pondering the Concept of Handmade 

What does handmade mean? At first sight, it seems simple enough, Someone made it with their hands. Their hands and what else? The material, of course. Clay, for example, can be molded with just your hands, but in addition to the material itself, you often have to include tools. Wood, the material I work most with, is pretty stubborn stuff to try and wrestle into submission with just your bare hands, though some builders of willow chairs and such come pretty close, so like most of my fellow travelers I have a variety of tools that I use to reshape wood and join it together in different ways.

What Does Made by Hand Really Mean Today? 

The concept of handcrafting may seem straightforward – fashioned by an individual's manual skill. However, a more nuanced examination reveals the pivotal role of tools in the process. Take clay, for instance; while manual molding is possible, the majority of artisans employ a set of tools. Shifting the focus to wood, my preferred medium, attempting to shape it with bare hands is akin to taming a formidable entity. Therefore, akin to many fellow woodworking enthusiasts, I rely on a meticulously curated toolkit that serves as an indispensable companion, facilitating the precision and finesse required to fashion wood into an array of sophisticated creations. 

Making Something that Will Last Forever

Why do woodworkers take the time to build their own furniture? I catch myself asking that question from time to time. One trip to the store or a brief story on the local news usually answers that question for me. In today’s economy, people want and need value. Value in a bad or tough economy usually takes the form of quality.

Milling Stock Four-Square

Craftsmanship depends on tight fitting, and accurate joinery. Without observing the fundamental steps in basic stock preparation, this is impossible. That is why it is necessary to mill the boards we use four-square before cutting joints or shaping them. So what does four-square mean? A board that is four-square is perfectly straight and flat, where each side is at right angles (90 degrees) to its adjacent sides. Why is this important? If the boards you use are not uniform in shape, then the joints you cut will be sloppy. Any sloppiness in one chair leg will be magnified by the inaccuracies of the apron pieces it is joined.

Learning and Teaching 18th-Century Craftsmanship

Mack is the master cabinetmaker at Williamsburg's Anthony Hay Shop. Working with a team of two journeymen harpsichord makers and two journeymen cabinetmakers, he uses authentic tools and traditional techniques to recreate 18th-century furniture.

The Death of Craftsmanship

There’s no doubt that the Industrial Revolution was a two-edged sword. The benefits have been obvious: through efficient means of mechanization and engineering, products could be made at a much faster rate. Since the greatest expense for most businesses is payroll, it doesn’t take an economics wizard to figure out that a manufacturer who can produce one hundred items a day can sell his wares much cheaper than his competitor who can only produce 10 items a day, all things being equal.

Five Advantages Of Handmade Furniture Over Factory-Manufactured

Factory-manufactured furniture has many advantages that draw in consumers from all over the world. Among them is the fact that certain styles that are appealing to the eye are able to be reproduced, thus offering ready availability.

Guidance from a Master Craftsman

In 1993, Michael was the first woodworker to receive the Saidye Bronfman Award, Canada's highest recognition of excellence in fine crafts. This year, he received the prestigious Award of Distinction from the Furniture Society, recognizing his lifetime achievement in the field of studio furniture arts. He works in his rural Lakefield, Ontario, studio, building furniture of his own design for private residences throughout North America using low-tech, traditional woodworking and metalworking techniques. His furniture can also be seen in the collections of the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Ontario, and the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa, Ontario.