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side note about handmade debate (contrasts with woodworking,

updated sat 5 may 07


Mettius on fri 4 may 07

humor intended, no stance taken)

Nice little firestorm going on over this topic, though
looks like I missed the original posts that started it.  :)

I have almost no pottery experience, but have been a woodworker for a
few years (I'm still really in the wood-butchery phase) and I find this
discussion eerily familiar...

The same kind of discussions abound within the craft of woodworking as
well.  In a few woodworking circles the 100% hand made camp are called
"Neanderthals". I think it was meant as a jibe, but I think the
hand-tool guys took to it as a badge of honor.  I kind of like it
myself, and indeed aspired to become one myself back when I got
started.  There is a joy to hand planing and using hand chisels that
for me just can't be matched in any way by the use of power tools.  It
has to do with the tactile feedback of the blade slicing oh-so-smoothly
through the wood (when you are having a good day), just a bit at a
time... That being said, turns out I HATE sawing (by hand or
otherwise).  Not fun, nope, not at all.  And it is HARD! Well at least
for me. I can't cut long straight line s to save my life by hand.
(Someday... someday...)   Anyway, a bandsaw quickly made its way into
my collection, as did a circular saw and a jig to cut straight on long
panels.  Never did quite work perfectly (always bowed in the middle...)
This year a table saw and a drill press recently have arrived in my
garage, and wow has my productivity increased manyfold.  And, now I can
get straight lines in no time! 
Though I
spiritually relate to them, I'm not
fit to walk amongst the Neanderthals. (I have and use power tools.  I
hate them more
than I love them... but it comes down to productivity and lack the
time. And I don't even try to make a living with woodworking! I
jokingly refer to them as Bob, my apprentice (Here, Bob, cut this

Anyway, I had some notion of making a point
before I wandered off course.   That is, among the Neanderthals the
requirements for admission to the cult is often in question.  I like
the point someone earlier in this thread made about by hand being
whatever level of tools they personally used or less.  Same thing in

For some extremists it feels that if you use any tool (hand or
otherwise) more recent in design than about 100 years, you are a lesser
man (and I'm not even talking about power tools).

(Oh look, here was my point.)

Then there is the debate of what, usually in context of fair and
accurate advertising, constitutes (shudder) "hand made".  From my
looking about, I wasn't able to find anyone who actually claimed they
felled the tree, and milled the boards with unpowered hand tools before
engaging in hand planing, sawing, etc.

It is interesting to me that the same "religious" arguments seem to
exist over in a totally different craft, I guess it shouldn't surprise
me. Human thinking patterns being the same, just applied to a different

(And now for an unrelated bit)

I'm moving my collection of hand woodworking
from the spare bedroom (my "workshop") out to the garage so it all is
together again. (So much for the comfort of air conditioning in TX...
<sigh>)  The good news is that the "workshop" is about to become
the pottery wheels home.  At least I finally have somewhere to put one!


Austin, TX