I Cry Foul!

(Voice: Grumpy old man)

Back when I was a boy, we didn’t have no fancy ding dang calculators in school, We had to learn to do ‘rithmetic the old fashion way! And sometimes you had to use the toes of the boy next to you to count them high numbers! And back when I took shop, we didn’t have no sissy pants CNC machines to do our carving for us! What’s this world coming to! Next thing you know cats will be marrying dogs and we all be eatin’ chick weed! …..I’m goin’ to take a nap…..

(Yaakov’s voice: which is cross between John Boy Walton and Duke Slater from Gomer Pyle)

Duke Slater






Jonh Boy Walton

You know, I think the old man is right this time. Back in the day when Norm Abram starting using his drum sander (which was the size of a VW Bug), I was annoyed that he used that machine on a “how-to” woodworking show. However, now that I look back at it, that machine was just a great big power planer, but the other day I saw something that really bugged me.

I recorded an episode of the American Workshopwith Scott Philips in which he made a classic Queen Anne lowboy.

Queen Anne Lowboy

Of course he used pocket screws and dovetail jigs which is all fine as far as I am concerned, but what made me cry foul was the use of a CNC carving machine to carve the sea shell design.  Come on! This is a woodworking “how-to:” show. It’s not fair to whip out a $1.6k CNC carving machine. That’s not woodworking! That’s computer programming!

The old man had a point. First you learn how do to math, then you get to use a calculator, so first you learn to carve, then you get a CNC machine. If you are a production shop that regularly needs this work done, okay, but I call FOUL, when a DIY show uses one for woodworking show. Why don’t you just buy a great big CNC machine and have it make the whole piece of furniture for you?! Is this what we are to expect for the future of woodworking in the home. Humbug!

Your thoughts?

About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
This entry was posted in Woodworking TV Shows and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to I Cry Foul!

  1. Ugh, that bugs me too Yaakov. But hey, what a fun story! 😀

    By the way, as a little boy I was trained to sit in my Dad’s Millworks office—a story high office inside the factory, where you could see everyone working—and play with the back-then fancy calculators. Later on I’d make birdhouse with the help of the masters who would give me pieces of plywood 🙂 And now, Seeing all the CNC’s doing the works, I no longer feel that human connection…

    Your friend,

  2. Lazy Larry says:

    To play Devil’s Advocate… if Chippendale had a CNC he probably would have used it… and a router and a calculator…And a drum sander the size of a VW…
    As to my personal very humble opinion… if you are not actually holding the tool.. be it hand or power it is not woodwork….If you can walk away and come back when it is finished … it is no woodwork…it is just a business….and you are just a programmer… no offence to computer programmers…

  3. Andy Coates says:

    I currently have a commission for a complete staircase, 100 spndles, seven newels, stringers and handrails, and I have to fit it all (which I don’t usually do, but it’s a paying job!)…anyway, I got the job because they wanted a “hand turned” staircase…I was milling the timber and a visitor said, “if you got a copy machine for your lathe you could really make this job pay”…

    He was right of course, but it’s not, a) what I do, and more importantly b) not what the customer wants.
    Mechanisation is fine for mechanised business, but not for craft. I know you could argue that bandsaws and table saws Etc., are part of the mechanisation process, but if you’ve seen me hand saw you’d accept those two as an evil born of need.
    I’m with you…CNC machine are not for woodwork show.

  4. You’ve read my mind again! This has needed saying for a long time. Soon, we’ll be seeing people simply buying CNC files for a piece of furniture, just like they buy plans now, and simply feeding rough boards into a machine. Of course, this may already be happening and I just haven’t noticed. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

    This is supposed to be woodWORKING, not woodWATCHING.

  5. Derek Olson says:

    I just recently read something on Peter Seller’s blog, where he pointed out the distinction between woodworking and wood machining. It really kind of hit home in my mind. I hope I never catch this episode.

    Personally I think the carving and the joinery are the fun parts, I can’t imagine giving them up to a computer, but my biases are kind of obvious.

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