I play a lot of sand volleyball in the summer. I used to have a plastic winder for my volleyball boundary lines. It was in really bad shape because I tried to use it as a water ski rope and handle a while back. Anyway, someone was sort of laughing at the condition of it a few weeks back. On my bike ride home I decided it would be fun to make an over the top complicated one out of wood.
The next week I displayed my new creation and someone said, “Wow, look at Bart’s cool hand crafted line winder”. I accepted the compliment, but wondered about that term: hand crafted. I, of course designed it in CAD, cut it out on my CNC router and cleaned it up with a bunch of other power tools. Was it really hand crafted? What does that term mean these days?
The issue popped back into my mind reading a blog post over at the Ponoko blog. The post is basically about a discussion occurring over at Etsy “A place to buy all things hand made, vintage and supplies”. While a lot of the stuff is made traditionally, a lot of it is made with laser cutters, 3D printers and sewing machines that cost more than some new cars. Some people wanted to take the laser cut stuff out of the handmade category. Others were suggesting that the laser is really just another tool like a jigsaw, sander, etc.
I think the issue for a lot of people are machine’s capability of mass production. Once mass production occurs most people would agree that hand made no longer applies. I doodled dozens of ideas, spent about 2 hours playing with the ideas in CAD, spent a while with in the CAM program, selected the perfect piece of stock, cut it on the CNC router, rounded all the edges on a router table and hand sanded for about 45 minutes. I then stained and added about 3 coats of varnish. The job was done more for the love of the process than the finished product. I will definitely accept the hand crafted or handmade label.
Unfortunately, several people asked for their own. I guess it is time to mass produce