The Fine Woodworker and Modern Wood Machines
Fine Craftmanship in the Power Tool Age
The Craftsman's chief quality is his ability to make these things; to make some thing useful and durable without any unnecessary adornments and decorations.
In the wake of this utilitarian purpose, there follows pride; the true craftsman's pride in creating something useful, but creating it with beauty and good taste, so that people could say on seeing his product, 'This was indeed Craftsmanship'. As new and more powerful woodworking tools come on market, the talent needed to construction various piece of woodwork has become more automated. Does this inflow of machine reduce craftsmanship, or enable a greater number of people to learn the abilities to work with wood?
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? When a person looks at a piece of furniture that says its hand made, do you ever wondered what their expectation of what that really means to them is. This is something I have thought about from time to time. I've wondered, do they think that it was totally made by a person using nothing but his hand tools. Maybe they think it was made by a single person who loves their craft working in a small shop instead of in a factory, on a production line, in a foreign country. Maybe some just don't care at all they just like the looks of the piece.
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 answer that question for me. In today’s economy people want and need value. Value in a bad or tough economy usually takes the from of quality.
Craftsmanship depend on tight fitting, 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.
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 the 18th-century furniture.
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.
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.
In 1993, Michael was the first woodworker to receive the Saidye Bronfman Award, Canada's highest recognition of excellence in the 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.