Saturday, April 06, 2013

sfwg day one...

Today at my class with the South Florida Woodworking Guild, we began several boxes, made with three kinds of joints, and tomorrow we will make lids and bases, install hinges, and do some additional fun stuff.

I want to remind readers to go to Cuban Hat and vote for Richard Burman's video documentary entry Maker Moments that concerns the relationship between hands, materials and making. We need to find means to get this vital information out into the world. Richard's documentaries can help.

The photos above and at left are of boxes from today's class and of students awaiting veneered panels being glued in a vacuum press.

In a Make blog post, my friend Dale Dougherty asks how long it will take for household use of 3D printers to reach the one million threshold. He describes where the printers are now in utility and household interest and then leads readers to  a somewhat surprising assessment and a question:
"So, here’s where I end up. 3D printers will be seen as a lifestyle product, something you enjoy like a jetski or an espresso machine. What do you think? I might be conservative in my thinking, so how soon do you think we’ll get to one million printers and what will drive those sales?"
So far, what I've seen of them is this... They are incredibly cool products. They are expensive to buy and to operate. The objects they make are crude and unrefined in comparison with what you can make with some skill, some real tools and some interesting materials like raw wood. The objects made are also crude in comparison to the commonplace manufactured objects you can find in any store.

Remember the line in the Dustin Hoffman film, the Graduate? "I have one word for you... Plastics." For some of us, plastic is still plastic. We would prefer the authenticity of real wood to images of wood printed on plastic sheet material laminated to particle board. We would prefer the objects that fill our lives to be objects that we might treasure because we have grown as craftsmen in their making and because they are symbols of the application of earned skill... Not because they came to us over the internet and filled our homes with noxious fumes as we watched them being automatically layered into existence.

In any case, Dale is the founder of Maker Faires and Make Magazine. So he asks a challenging question for the community in which he plays a large part.  In my view, the 3D printer may be an entry point for those who've never been exposed to any sort of creative endeavor. Perhaps a bit of creative inclination will stick. I don't see 3D printing as being able to offer the same level of satisfaction that one can find in the use of tools that can be passed down fully functional from generation to generation in the crafting of real wood. For that check out planes or saws made by Veritas, or Thomas Lie-Nielsen.

It is ironic that in Sweden and throughout Scandinavia, hemsloyd* declined due to the availability of cheap, well-made manufactured goods with which skilled sloyders could not compete. And now we wonder if manufacturers and manufactured goods can be replaced by expensive, poorly made things 3D printed in our own homes. As marvelous as these new devices may be, and they certainly are marvelous, I'll take real wood crafted as an expression of personal skill in preference to automatic stuff.

Make, fix and create...

 *home crafts

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:12 PM

    Those plastic 3D printers are targeting small design offices.
    There are also 3D printers producing metal parts, I suppose not at all in the same price range.

    It is already used for customised medical implants.

    One of the problem will be the making of fake/bogus parts with the wrong metal. Every "progress" has its dark side.

    It sems some kids have already printed plastic guns and knives...