Balancing craftsmanship with production

Welcome! Forums Project Series Dovetail Boxes Balancing craftsmanship with production

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  • #315588
    Ronald Kowalewski
    Participant

    Can one aspire to work faster while still putting technique and craftsmanship at the forefront?

    I will work the wood/ project freely of my time till i am satisfied with the results. I have a dream of one day selling craft at shows and boutiques, maybe our own store. Im currently on a 25 candle box run. I have been preparing stock in 5-6 box batches planing all faces smooth, shooting all 4 pieces, and marking orientation. I then cut joints and plane. Each day i glue a box, then finish plane the previously glued box, in addition to cutting 1-2 boxes. I now have 15+ frames ready for tops and bottoms. When i reach my number i will mill tops and bottoms, shape and glue, hinge, etc.. Then i plan on finishing horizontal faces of boxes in a big batch, by the time i finish all tops it will be dry enough to turn and do another side.

    Has anyone gone into the box business? Even at a good $75-100 a box the time output is still rather large at this point, but my craftsmanship is getting better each day, as are my times. I didnt get into this to be a factory worker, but methods of production seem to be necessary to be competitive in the craft world. I am trying to find a balance between business and hobby, calling, vocation.

    I dont need to sell, but i want to earn with my hands and tools. I would still do the work out of joy, but could use earning as a justification for my time output to those that dont understand the nature of craftwork. Or should i not worry about justifying myself and my time to anyone besides my lovely wife,( who gets it and is a prolific maker in her own) …

    i welcome any tips, on making multiple beautiful objects, that require sensitivity and care, while still possibly turning a small profit.

    Protect the line.

    #315605
    Ed
    Participant

    I don’t know if this is directly relevant. You decide. My chip carving teacher studied at a traditional Swiss carving school. Students would study generally (signs, statuary, furniture, etc.) and then choose a specialization. At that transition point, one of his classmates was told that his work was quite good, but he was too slow to be of use to an employer or to himself and they did not think he would ever develop the speed needed to support himself. They sent him home. So, yes, I think speed and craftsmanship are not mutually exclusive. Whether we, as people who do not do this full time every day, can develop both, I don’t know.

    #315606
    Ronald Kowalewski
    Participant

    im not going home! If we put the time in, much like music i think we can be proficient. Im trying to find my finishing balance/ tipping point, of many coats, to just enough to suit the project..

    Protect the line.

    #315607
    Larry Geib
    Participant

    When I started in the trades, the real craftsmen didn’t shy from power tools, in fact they thought it freed them from repetitive drudgery, and judicious use of it also enabled them to compete with mechanized production.

    They used hand methods when it could clearly be shown as a distinguishing feature.

    Tage Frid aI spoused the theory that you ought to be able to produce an item by hand, and if demand was there, you ought to be able to do the same things with machines so no one could tell the difference ( not always so easy)

    A friend and mentor once got a commission to build a shellback cupboard for a museum. It took him four weeks to carve the shell. They liked it so much they wanted six more for a library in a mansion. He had other commissions, so even if he got quicker, would have had to turn the work down.

    So he designed a machine that would carve them -basically an appliance for a power router.

    That took him two weeks. Then each shell took a day.

    With a little hand touch-up, there was no way you could tell the difference.

    I ask you… does that show better or worse craftsmanship?

    #315611
    Ronald Kowalewski
    Participant

    ingenuity, applied to Craftsmanship.. I dont think i want huge sanding equipment, im getting off on making those “pristine surfaces” with a hand plane. Maybe my enthusiasm about glass like surfaces will be noticed by all those with fingers who touch and eyes that see. The reward is already given..

    Protect the line.

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