What does Made by Hand Mean?

What does it mean for something to be handmade? Seems simple – made by someone's hands, right? But let's dig a bit deeper. Hands, sure, but what about the tools? Take clay, for instance; sure, you can mold it with your hands, but most times, you've got a buddy in the form of tools. Now, enter wood – my go-to material. Trying to wrestle it into shape with just your bare hands is like trying to tame a wild beast. So, like many fellow woodworking enthusiasts, I've got a toolkit that's practically my sidekick, helping me mold and meld wood into all sorts of cool creations.

Now, don't get me wrong; most folks can agree that "handmade" doesn't mean ditching tools altogether. It's often the skillful dance with tools that makes handmade stuff so darn cool. Watching a craftsman weave their magic with clay, fabric, or glass is like witnessing a wizard at work. The specialized tools add an extra layer of intrigue to the whole process. So, tools aren't the bad guys; it's just about finding the sweet spot.

In the world of woodworking, you've got this crew that swears off power tools. They're the hand-tool purists, planing wood flat with hand planes, slicing through it with handsaws, and getting downright medieval with braces and bits. It's a whole vibe, really – everything's hand-sanded, hand-scraped, and finished up with a touch of old-school charm.

This approach has its merits – a hands-on, no-nonsense, DIY kind of vibe. But, hold up – where's the line? If you can buy pre-milled wood, why not take it a step further and use power tools to mill it yourself? Suddenly, the distinction between handmade and not-so-clearly-handmade starts to blur.

Another angle is looking at it from an individual's perspective. Most of what I sell is a one-person show, with maybe a pal chipping in here and there. But does that mean anything that's a team effort can't be considered handmade? It's like trying to define "handmade" is playing hard to get.

Then there's the whole artisanal workshop versus factory face-off. Is it about the headcount or the way things are made? The waters get murkier, and we're left wondering what defines handmade.

Let's throw in a pinch of tech – the sophistication of the tools. In the age of everything smart, we're cool with woodworkers using power tools like table saws but throw in a computer-controlled milling machine, and suddenly it's a different story. Maybe the handmade label hinges on the chance of a little imperfection – the human touch, if you will.

As tech gets fancier, smaller versions of industrial machines are popping up in the hands of everyday craftspeople. Computer-controlled carving machines that were once the cool kids in big factories are now hanging out with hobbyists. So, are the things made with these gizmos still considered handmade?

Predicting the future of handmade is like trying to forecast the next viral meme – it's tricky. Will future crafters embrace computer-controlled tools the way our predecessors did with power tools post-World War II? With affordable tech becoming the norm, how we define handmade might just be in for a shake-up in the next 50 years.

For me, drawing a line between handmade and not handmade feels like trying to hit a moving target. Take, for example, a recent project – a couple of boxes with dovetail joints. Dovetails cut by computer-controlled machines might not scream handmade, but what about using handheld routers and dovetail jigs? It's like trying to navigate through fog with a flashlight – it's more of a vibe than a clear definition.

In the end, the boundary between handmade and not handmade stays elusive, like chasing fireflies on a summer night. Maybe, for now, the best approach is a bit here and a bit there – a patchwork of hands, tools, and craftiness that keeps things interesting.