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By D_W
#1332925
Trevanion wrote:
D_W wrote:Most people who start with power tools find what I find, that getting good at using them just isn't that much fun unless you're really driven to get the result.


I suppose we're not dissimilar really, I take great and meticulous care in my machining, you take great and meticulous care in your hand planing and data collection. I think me sitting down at the thicknesser at the end of a work day, with a glass of Old Crafty Hen while in a dead-silent workshop, spinning the cutter block by hand and listening carefully to whether the knives are cutting in unison and making careful adjustments to get it perfect is very much the same as yourself spending hours planing a piece of timber to collate some form of data on the perfect plane set up.

Horses for courses.


I agree. I almost quit woodworking early on because of the tools. No fire there for it. The key is first to get in the hobby, see if there's fuel for the fire anywhere with any method. If there isn't, no big deal. If there is, there's no great reason to with methods that don't fuel the fire, so to speak.

It's hard to know at first what you want to make, I guess. I just wanted to make things. I didn't really want to make them well, and I got frustrated when the results weren't that great. Somewhere along the line, I started building tools and i made a couple OK, I was pleased with the progress but knew they weren't that great. The guy (george) in the videos above sent me a PM and said "you did well for having little experience, but I see potential and here are the things you could do better on the next one". I was kind of offended (this was long ago) and it didn't take more than the time he was talking to me for me to realize that he was telling me things that would allow me to get much better results. That lit the fire once I saw how good the results were, and I've talked to george regularly ever since to get answers to things that aren't that easy to find. George also said that most people think they're too good for advice, and as long as I was willing to apply his advice, he'd provide it for free.

He's a fanatical machinst and diemaker, too, which goes in one ear and out the other for me, but I guess if I'm using the term fires, just about everything fuels his. I have to be able to do hand work well first.
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By Phil Pascoe
#1332932
AndyT wrote: ... it achieves economy by the classic technique of division of labour, as famously described by Adam Smith.
So each operator does one tiny task ... but they do it accurately and they do it fast.


My friend, a long retired (very good) chippie told me that when he did his City & Guilds as an apprentice he worked with the chap on the other side of his bench - he cut the mortices, the other chap the tenons, and so on. Someone queried the arrangement and he told them that was the reality. :D
By D_W
#1332934
MikeG. wrote:
D_W wrote:
MikeG. wrote:. Any joinery workshop can turn out high quality handrails for stairs which curve in 3 planes, particularly for Georgian/ Edwardian staircases without newels, but also for modern "spiral" (dammit, they're helical, not spiral!) stairs.......and that is work that they would do by hand (after initial roughing out on a bandsaw).


This is still done by hand in the UK? There are restoration workers and skilled trades folks like that here in the states, but they generally only work for very wealthy people, and there are few of them. .........


Yep. Bear in mind that many if not most of the houses in most of the UK are between a hundred and 500 years old and you'll understand the need. A 400 year old hand-made staircase needs its handrail repairing.......your only recourse is to old hand-craftsmen. The oldest house I've worked on was built 1432, and some of the church projects I've run have been in buildings well over a thousand years old. Repairing pre-mediaeval woodwork, for instance, isn't something that readily lends itself to machine work. So yeah, there is a steady and enduring requirement for top quality craftsmen around here.


i'd forgotten about the age of some of the older buildings. It's not uncommon where I'm from for houses to be 200 years old (the oldest remaining locally was 1740, and further east, there are some buildings dating to the late 1600s). That said, even with those, the same desire for preservation is probably only recent, and most buildings have been redone inside, even if the outside structure is old - probably most of the churches have had several fires (the one I went to growing up burned twice over the last couple of hundred years and was refitted like a modern commercial building at some point in the early 1900s - blech).

For the older houses and churches that do remain, we just don't have the established professional joiner skill (and people are cheap here about that kind of stuff, anyway) around to do the work reasonably.

There are some old houses in Pittsburgh, but the zest for reviving them seems to be gone (the property value isn't there to support it). For a short period in the 1990s, there was a huge run up in the value of antiques, and suddenly everyone wanted to refit their houses as they looked more than a hundred years ago. That was combined with a bunch of people fleeing the soviet union and eastern europe looking to settle here and do restoration work (skilled work like restoring murals, etc, people who had worked for the soviet government keeping up antiquities over there).
By D_W
#1332936
phil.p wrote:
AndyT wrote: ... it achieves economy by the classic technique of division of labour, as famously described by Adam Smith.
So each operator does one tiny task ... but they do it accurately and they do it fast.


My friend, a long retired (very good) chippie told me that when he did his City & Guilds as an apprentice he worked with the chap on the other side of his bench - he cut the mortices, the other chap the tenons, and so on. Someone queried the arrangement and he told them that was the reality. :D


And going back further, one of the boston furniture makers interviewed here years ago finished a piece and said he was waiting to have it sent to be finished. It was a high boy, and it was shocking to me to find that he could make the piece but didn't feel skilled enough with finish work to do the finishing.

it's probably been the case here that other than in small rural areas, specialization has always existed and small high end workers doing every bit of work on a new piece is more of a modern thing than it is historically accurate.

When I worked in a cabinet factory, you could end up in the drawer or door area or the finish room, etc. If you were a stain wiper, that meant that's what you were - wiping stain. Not applying and wiping, not stain and top coat, you wiped the stain. Someone else probably sprayed it (fortunately, I worked in assembly, where you could have exciting daily jobs like gluing drawers together on a circular merry-go round. You didn't get to do the whole drawer, just a step in it. Nobody there really cared at all that they were doing one step over and over because they could just do the work and hold a conversation while they were doing it as long as they didn't get below rate).
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By AndyT
#1332943
Although these replies are interesting, it's no surprise that they are veering away onto specialist heritage work, restoration and luxury goods.
If we stick to woodworking trades in the UK (this is Ukworkshop after all) and look for anything that any of us might buy in the ordinary way of things, I don't think anyone will come up with an example where goods made just by hand work are what we will buy.
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By Jacob
#1332945
phil.p wrote:.....
My friend, a long retired (very good) chippie told me that when he did his City & Guilds as an apprentice he worked with the chap on the other side of his bench - he cut the mortices, the other chap the tenons, and so on. Someone queried the arrangement and he told them that was the reality. :D
That figures because morticing would have been one of the heavy jobs, like pit sawing, needing a very tough human machine. George Sturt describes pit sawyers as a special breed of surly but tough chaps accustomed to a very dull life of very hard work. Morticing would be similar, tenons would be a doddle!
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By Trevanion
#1332947
Jacob wrote:That figures because morticing would have been one of the heavy jobs, like pit sawing, needing a very tough human machine. George Sturt describes pit sawyers as a special breed of surly but tough chaps accustomed to a very dull life of very hard work. Morticing would be similar, tenons would be a doddle!


I always preferred doing the mortices rather than the tenons if I was doing them by hand. I can swing a hammer all day long but continuous hand sawing gives my dodgy right shoulder some problems (Which funnily enough, I think was caused by many, many hours of machine morticing pulling a lever when I was a fresh-face apprentice and not used to such hard work :lol:). I find the same with groundwork too, I'll happily swing a pick or mattock quite hard in a foot wide trench all day long but give me a shovel to remove the debris and I'll be knackered within an hour, not to say I wouldn't keep going but I'm just not suited to it at all.
By D_W
#1333024
This was true in Japan, too. The workmen who sawed logs into lumber on site appeared at the beginning of jobs and were soon gone. Odates text makes them sound like powerlifters in stature, but the were also highly regarded, and not just dumb labor.
By D_W
#1333025
AndyT wrote:Although these replies are interesting, it's no surprise that they are veering away onto specialist heritage work, restoration and luxury goods.
If we stick to woodworking trades in the UK (this is Ukworkshop after all) and look for anything that any of us might buy in the ordinary way of things, I don't think anyone will come up with an example where goods made just by hand work are what we will buy.


I think you're right. Guitars are the only thing that comes to mind for me, and most us and uk guitar making with handwork left in it is very high end. The culture in Japan is different, I guess.

I purchased a guitar from a company called bourgeois years ago. The owner of the company thicknessed (with a sander) and then hand braces and voiced every guitar they made.

The thicknessing wasn't by hand, but was unusual because he has something like 30 employees, but he felt those two steps were critical. He thicknessed guitar tops to a subjective stiffness standard and not to a numerical thickness like most do. His guitars had a reputation for all being voiced nearly perfectly, and similar to each other.

They weren't cheap, but not unaffordable for a serious player.