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Hand or Machine?

Discussion in 'DIY and Traditional crafts' started by Macaroon, May 30, 2018.

  1. Buckshot

    Buckshot Mod
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    IMO this is the same as the firelighting argument
    it's great to be able to use friction fire lighting but what's wrong with using matches, lighter or firesteel if the situation demands it?
    Again using the fire analagy, it's the difference between making a fire and getting a brew on. if it's the latter use whatever modern means you can as the fire is not the end result but a tool to get there.
    bringing it back to wood work. what's important to you?
    is it the journey of making something from scratch using only a piece of flint and your teeth or is the finished article the goal?
    this can change from project to project of course.
    I will sometimes go through the act of making something from scratch and then be happy to cut corners as well.
    do what makes you happy
    best of luck
     
  2. Mike313

    Mike313 Nomad

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    Hand tools and power tools are …. tools. Use whichever one suits you best. Power tools were invented for a reason :)
     
  3. Nice65

    Nice65 Full Member

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    This?

    [​IMG]

    Or this?

    [​IMG]

    Nothing wrong with power tools. As mentioned, we have always sought to improve the means to carry out tasks with tools. I wouldn’t fancy having a go at this with hand tools...

    [​IMG]
     
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  4. Macaroon

    Macaroon A bemused & bewildered

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    Well now, it's great that so many have taken the time to post on this one, and very gratifying that there seems to be an overwhelming view that technology, in and of itself, does not preclude craft. I can remember many conversations around many campfires where most people had an attitude of ' true craft means handmade and handmade precludes all power tools', I even recall many old-school carvers who really frowned on the use of sandpaper and other abrasives and held that only a tool finish was worthy of the 'true craftsman'. I never really understood the attitude; Ilove to see things produced purely by hand and have a good few items that I made myself over the years which I treasure for what they are and the memories they hold, but just as treasured are other things made with the help of jig saw, table saw, lathe and pillar drill etc.

    I wasn't really looking for justification, in a personal sense, given the choice between not being able to make at all or using power tools to do so is, for me personally, a complete no-brainer, but it's been very pleasing to note the unanimous good sense and broad perspective of those who've responded. Thank you all :)
     
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  5. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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  6. dwardo

    dwardo Maker

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    What ever tool you need to use to get that object from your imagination into the material you are working with,
     
  7. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    If you go to a museum having items from the last couple of 100 years, you can see that most objects were quite roughly and unevenly finished. ( local Ethnographical museums?)
    Of course, they were still 100% functional, but no beauties.
    Machines gives us an (in the old days) unheard of precision. Today, even an amateur (like most of us) can make some really nice and elegant stuff.
     
  8. Dave Budd

    Dave Budd Gold Trader
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    I've got a number of friends who are either full time craftspeople or woodsmen and when young and fit have done everything by hand and powered through old skool. Then they get to their 40's and their joints and backs are shot, so the next 20+ years of self employment are filled with pain and surgergies. I realised thatquite early on and so have spent a lot if time and money on machinery that essetially 'future proofs' my ability to work til i want to stop (i can't see me ever being able to actually retire though!)

    I also specialise in historically accurate tools that can't have modern tool marks on them and even with the rest of my stuff, you would be hard pressed to see evidence of and machinery having been used. Obviously for me it's akso about making things fast so i can earn a living, but a tool is a tool be it an angle grinder with an arbirtec blade, or an adze.

    My suggestion would be to use whatever tool you are comfortable with for the donkey work and then whatever tool you prefer for the finish. For example, i like a tooled finish on a wooden trough. So i would get 95% of the wood off with the angle grinder and various arbortec blades, then go over if with gouges and a spokeshave to give the hand carved look. Of course, if i prefered a smooth sanded finish then i would use flap discs, flap wheels and the like for 4 of the remaining % with only a little hand work to do.

    On another note, regarding purist snobbery. I have a Romanian friend who sells hand carved bowks, spoons, troughs, etc. She really dislikes it when pole lathe turners describe their bowls as 'hand made'. Her argument is that the lathe (even if foot powered) is still a machine.
     
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  9. Toddy

    Toddy Mod
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    I think Dave's post hits it on the nail (no pun intended :))

    Re the tools though, handspun...I can spin on just a distaff, let alone on a drop spindle, but I do use spinning wheels.....where does the limit come ?
    It's all in the skill, the learning....and Janne? machine made was made in emulation of the best of hand made. Hand made is not intrinsically crude or rough or 'homespun'...handspun can be better quality than machine made, and we have good archaeological evidences from peoples who did not have machines to prove that. That's true right across the entire range of handcrafts too.

    M
     
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  10. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    During my apprenticeship we spent an equal amount of time on 'fitting' (hand tools) and machining (lathes, millers, shaping machines and drill pillars etc.). By the time we finished we could 'scrape' a finish on steel to the same level of flatness as we could mill and grind it; it just took us 100 x as long.

    To make a living out of 'craft' these days one has to 'rough out' using tools or use the original as a 'mould'. Jo public just does not value the time spent on true craft. If I was to sell an original large work of art I would have to charge thousands to make it worth it and the average person wouldn't dream of paying that much. If I run prints off the same piece I can make quite good money with zero additional effort!

    Amateurs as Janne calls us may be able to 'make some really nice and elegant stuff' but it takes an artist or a craftsman to have the vision to come up with new ideas and designs in my opinion - machines do not help with that stage.
     
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  11. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    No, handmade can be made to a very high finish, but my point was that when most things/tools were handmade by non trades/craftsmen, the finish was not perfect. They had to be functional. To go from a functional finish to a perfect finish wasted time.

    We should remember that the peasant/farmer had to create most of the simpler tools what he used. Specialists made a blade, ax head, he put a handle on. The leather guy made the harness for the horse, alternations and repairs were done by the farmer. And so on.
    Most wooden implements were made the end user. Rakes, handles for everything.
    Bowls, cooking spoons, plates, you name it!

    Go to an ethnographic museum. Have a look.
     
  12. Broch

    Broch Full Member

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    Oh absolutely; no argument there at all. Anything I make at or for 'camp' is practical, no embellishments, usually tool finished and purely practical. That's a whole lot different to making pieces as gifts or for display and man's ability to produce exquisitely ornate and beautiful pieces predates any machinery.

    A friend of mine never carves a spoon at camp, he just carefully peels a piece of bark off some smallish green wood and scoops his food up with that then throws it on the fire :)
     
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  13. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    My favorite power tool for wood carving is a RotoZip for outlining stop cuts.
    Best when I see that the wedging action of a stop chisel ( eg 1/12) will split the wood.
    And, it saves many days of mind numbing tedium.

    Google UBC/MOA and search the online collection of 45,000 items.
    Paleo? I've examined several of the hot oil bent Mountain Goat horn ladles.
    Those are a marriage of art, craft and intimate knowledge.
     
  14. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    In some areas in Europe, in the past, the future husband gifted his wife-to-be when they got engaged ( or married?) some things he made and embellished in different ways ( intricate carving, painted).
    Things like a wooden ironing board/ plate, fancy spoons, troughs, wooden stuff like that.
    Highly collectible today.

    The Same do a lot of beautiful items today. They use machinery, and finish by hand.

    If you ever go to Sweden, visit three places: in Stockholm: Vasa Museum ship. Etnographic Museum.
    In Arjeplog the Silver Museum. Contains Same artifacts.
     
  15. Billy-o

    Billy-o Settler

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    Yes, if a thing has a sumptuary function and is valued for the quality of the handiwork then it has got to be done by hand otherwise its fraud :lol:

    I was initially grumbly at Janne's remark about making something with power tools and then finishing it to give the effect that it had been made with hand tools. Honesty to materials, construction, process and all that. But, I suppose adding a texture to the surface of a finished object is not much different to painting a decoration onto it.
     
  16. Robson Valley

    Robson Valley Full Member

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    Everybody has to start somewhere. Lots of people do nothing but power carving, big and little.
    So-called "amateur" carvings are a part of being a beginner or an apprentice in the PacNW native tradition.

    Depends if the carver has any appetite to explain how they did it. I won't give away the farm and neither will they.
    Texturing a surface, Pacific Northwest native style, is really difficult to learn and do.
    That's no different than the painted details that you find on Totem poles, Story poles and Mortuary poles up here.

    So tell me this:
    A pole is carved by a master and (usually) a number of apprentices. Who carved the pole?
    Of course, the master gets the credit for the design. As for who did the work, the names of the group are known.
    The totems are earned or gifted parts of your family's place in the community.
    Chopping (adze) the 3/4" sapwood off a 50' western red cedar pole log is usually tasked to the youngest apprentice.
    There are a few power methods as well. Nobody cares. Like peeling onions = get it done.
     
  17. petrochemicals

    petrochemicals Full Member

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    According to a capenter who makes chairs, the legs are quater split ash, the boards sawed planking. Is the planking void because it wasn't cut with a man powered saw? Where dou you draw the line.

    I think a lot of the problem with authenticity is mass production. If you are just knocking out items on machines they are not really thought out. And mass production only pays dividens in quantity, tools for mass production can be a fortune.
     
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  18. Janne

    Janne M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)

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    It was not me that said that. I said finishing by hand, like sanding.

    For me, when I buy furniture for example, a more important thing is the material. I dislike chipboard, ply, artificial materials.

    Take the British furniture manufacturer Ercol. Fantastic quality. Take IKEA.
    ............ :(
    Yes, cheap. For now. Expensive in the long run.
     
  19. Billy-o

    Billy-o Settler

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    Apologies ... it is in Dave Budd's post.
     
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  20. Tiley

    Tiley Full Member

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    When I was introduced to this bushcraft thing, there was a tacit understanding that you made things by hand. Since these 'things' were only rudimentary spoons and bowls, that seemed fine. As a result, I still make things only by hand, using an axe, a saw, my knife, a spoon knife and then sandpaper; I have to perform these tasks outdoors, too, for fear of the savaging I'd get if I made a mess in the house. I quite like to do things like that: it is peaceful, quieter and in the fresh air. I acknowledge that I am not yet plagued by any degenerative condition that might affect my dexterity - although I have had to have four operations on my user hand - and so I continue to scrape and hack outdoors. Is this better that utilising available power tools? No. It is just a different approach.

    The skills shown in the video in the opening to this thread are truly impressive and I, for one, don't think I could ever exercise the necessary control over those tools to create that sort of kuksa. Ultimately, you choose the tools and processes that suit you and your abilities at a given time. The things that you produce should be a source of pride because you made them, using a variety of tools and, most importantly, your time - that most valuable of finite resources.
     
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