I got a rather snotty comment today on a woodworker's forum regarding the pistol grips I was making.
"I love CNC's it helps people believe they are skilled woodworkers"
The condescension practically stained my monitor. My only reply was "Never made that claim" as the last thing I wanted to do was get in (yet another) pissing match with some keyboard jockey on the interweb tubes. However, it did rub me the wrong way as it's just another form of snobbery. It's like saying "I love compilers. It helps people believe the are skilled programmers" (quote stolen from a Twitter friend).
$5 says the guy who made this comment uses power tools rather than gnawing the wood down with his teeth and sanding it using nothing but the stubble from his 5 o’clock shadow like a true woodworker would!! It’s practically a sawdust covered version of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.
I get it. The CNC automates tasks. There’s a difference between a painting and a mass produced print of the painting. The original tends to have more value, however I didn’t just download a file, turn on the CNC, hit ‘Print’ and walk away. No, I spent many hours and many failed chunks of wood trying to get the system set up correctly. I may not have made the original model out of wood, but I sure as heck put the same amount of effort “carving” the item digitally - a skill in and of itself. I had to track down specifications to turn this
And eventually into this
Which ended up costing a lot more than I was hoping for as I ate through a lot of lacewood with screwing things up from time to time. But learning those kinds of things isn’t a “real” woodworker and doesn’t require skill I guess. Or maybe it is, and I just take a different approach.
Oh, those will be for sale too. And guess what? Because I can easily reproduce them, they’re not going to be $800 “bespoke, hand crafted 1911 grips from virgin mother-of-toilet-seat” grips. The lacewood will be $65. Walnut or maple would be probably $30. Might try some Wenge, and those would be $65 as well. Eventually, I should be able to do inlays which can be custom done for a little more. Once I learn how to get the checkering applied, that’d probably be a $5 upcharge. This is less than a fully handcrafted set of grips made by blind monks living in the backwaters of Jeffcooperstan.
I'm not making things on the CNC and calling them "hand made". In fact, I jokingly am calling it "hand-ish made". There is a level of art involved in fine detail work, and as someone who spent what some people pay for a used car on a custom guitar, I get that. But this is a hobby, one I enjoy thoroughly and if I can have fun making stuff that makes other people happy too, well that’s a bonus.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear the CNC calling me.