Isn't that the goal? Seems every machine for the woodworker has that in mi nd. Electric board planer instead of hand planes for surfacing, drill pres ses for perfect 90 degree holes instead of brace and bit, electric routers instead of molding planes, etc.
Again, I think these things are a natural evolution of the genre.
Couldn't agree more. I once received a shipment of cabinets to install tha t had been assembled with out of square drawers with poor fitting dovetails . (BTW, they were sold with the dovetails being a sign of craftsmanship!) Bad enough that the supplier here ordered more and they paid me to take the faces off and screw new ones on.
The thing a machine cannot find a clever solution on its own to accommodate project design features, nor can it change anything on site to adapt to jo b site conditions. Although there is a real WOW! factor with a fully autom ated machine, they are best foot forward at demo time and work within the s trict parameters of their design and program limitations.
But could Leon sustain his current level of craftsmanship, design, and arti stry over a period of several years? We both know (as does anyone that che cks out his WIP photos) that he is not only hard working and dedicated to h is craft, but actually gifted as well. IME, skill only gets you so far. Le on is beyond that.
But... in context of making a living for himself and his family, could he d o that? It is an unfinished conversation between us. How much work could he bring in that would be needed to pay rent on a small space ($2K a month? ), phones, wear and tear on machines, delivery vehicles, a helper/employee, etc.? Would he have the time to lovingly select every board, fuss over ev ery joint, shop hard for just the right hardware, cut/assemble/finish/deliv er/install his work after hours of design? Would he have the time to chit c hat with well heeled clients as needed, listen to their blather and ideas, collect funds, maintain a set of books (OK... Kim could take that), manage his employee, maintain all machines, promote his business (everyone runs ou t sometime), and maintain quality control? And an added 5K a month to the bottom line could make a real difference in his current business model. Be fore retirement, could he have also made mortgage payments, personal expens es, kid expenses, etc.? I dunno... maybe next bottle of bourbon we finish up the discussion.
Leon is an exception to me, not a rule. His talent and workmanship make hi m unique, and he is in the most enviable position any craftsman could ever be in. Earlier in life he earned his way into this situation through his o wn hard work in another field, and Kim did the same. Their hard work and c ommitment /in other fields/ paid their bills when they needed steady cash a nd enabled them to be where they are today. Leon doesn't need the work and only takes the projects he wants. He told me he doesn't adhere to any stri ct time schedules, and that his commissions are "done when they are done".
Those last two sentences separate him from the folks that do commissioned w ood work as a sole means of support. You have a business and support yourse lf with it. I have for over thirty years. My model used to be Leon's curr ent model, but truck payments, paying my own college tuition, rent, utiliti es, employees, slow paying clients, and the slew of things I found out I ha d to address AFTER I was in full time removed my dream of being the prickly old craftsman working in a messy shop that people came to visit like they would a religious figure. I cherished that idea for years, but with one in come, the unpredictable nature of business, and the need to sleep at night, I had to change my personal model.
I think that Leon has the brass ring in his hand, knows it, and seems to be enjoying every moment of it. He should, he earned it! But I hope he chim es in somewhere and puts in his two cents. I would have hated to type out this diatribe only find he feels I have it all wrong.
Although, that wouldn't be the first time that has happened...