View Full Version : rules concerning hademade knives

01-31-2001, 09:48 PM
Hay has any one heard about some new rules governing what constitutes a hand made knife? I was told that you may have to have information available as to what machines were used to make your knife and if certain machines were used then it was not considered hand made. As I play with this in my mind its almost a catch 22. I use a metal cutting band saw, a drill press, a bader B-3, and a buffing wheel as my machines and I consider my knives hand-made. When I build a pocket knife I still use pins (no screws of Teflon coated spacers etc.) I like the old style pocket knives with a touch of the custom technics added to them such as 45 degree angles on the bolsters and hollow ground blades and file work. I feel that to get this in a pocket knife it has to be hand made. It doesn't matter to me what machine I used to get there it still had to be done by my hands on a one to one basics. I do not want to take any credit away from the person who uses all hand tools. You definitely have more patients than I have and truly deserve to be called hand made. Trying to define this in my mind I feel that when your trade has reached the point of mass production then you have left the hand made status. Lets talk about it!!!!

01-31-2001, 11:38 PM
I read something on this in Blade a while back. They were discussing the use of CNC machines, jiggs and other mass production tools in the creation of a "custom made" or "hand made " knife. The view were very diverse and good arguments were made on both sides.

I'm with you, I do not use jigs or anything, I just hand grind my blades on power equipment. I figure they qualify and a hand made custom knife.

01-31-2001, 11:58 PM
There are many schools of thought about this, many say if you use CNC milling it is no longer handmade, others say CNC makes the tolerances tighter, more sure. For me I guess it comes down to this, what does the end product look like? Is it a knife I want to carry, show, collect. Is it something that will hold up for me?

For example, have you seen the Scrade-Barnett collaboration yet? Great knife, looks custom, but I am sure they will use CNC for it. Would I buy one, YES, I might not call it "handmade" but I would be proud to have it in my collection, it's a great piece. Many make too much of the "handmade" thing. Before you all gang up on me, I LOVE handmade/custom knives, my business. But the standards are there to be broken, that's the fun of standards, some of the greatest people, not just knife makers, have become famous/infamous/rich/poor by breaking the rules. You have to have some fun in life. What they gonna do, drum you out of the knife making community because you don't fit their mold? That's what custom knife making is all about, breaking out of the regular mold, being different.

Les, if you were at a knife show, like the LV classic and came up on a Schrade-Barnett, would you have it taken off the table, of course you would know it was not technically a handmade knife. What if the person, had 40 of them and they were selling like hotcakes? Obviously if that person had 40 Cases or Gerbers it's easy to decide, but the lines are getting blurred everyday more and more. So what is handmade? To me, it starts with a unique design, executed well, by one, maybe 2 persons. The machines become less important to me, most makers use enough machinary to fill a huge workspace. And it cost more than I make in a year. Hey whatever works.

How about this, is it wrong for a guy who makes maybe 50 knives, not the same design, but he uses a CNC mill to get that exacting tolerance that the hand can't get. Is he then not a handmade knife maker because of this? Where do you draw the line between handmade/ and factory?

Will I be ostracised for buying his knives? Should I be? Who would know? Who cares? It just irks me, when someone, or someones get together and decide for me what is handmade and what is not. That is for me as a dealer, and a collector to decide for myself. I say, unless you are pumping one design out by the 10's nay hundreds, no matter what equipment is being used the knives are a personal statement from the maker and in my eyes a hnadmade/custom knife.

Ok folks, give it to me ;-)

01-31-2001, 11:59 PM
That is an argument that will never be settled. I have only been around the custom knife community for a few years and I have been a maker for the last year. Armed with that info, take my opinion as you will.

There are certain tasks in the knifemaking process that are so mechanical (not machine wise, but process wise), that it does not require skill to accomplish. Scribing a pattern, cutting it out with a bandsaw, drilling holes...these are all examples of that process. Whether it is done with a hacksaw or a bandsaw, to me, is irrelevant to the process. There is a certain knowledge base required, like understanding blade speeds, teeth configuration, drill press speeds for different diameter bits, but again, these are knowledge based, not skill based. You do it a few times and you remember.

To me, the defining line comes to areas that require craftsmanship, good hand-eye coordination, a sense of design and space. Grinding the blade, tapering the tang, filework, guards, bolsters, handle fitting, blade lock-up, blade centering, etc. These are skill based tasks. They must be learned by hand. Some never stand up to the task. I have met guys who tried knifemaking and quit because they could never get the hang of grinding. Yes, all these functions can be duplicated by the machine, but this is the point where I define craftsmanship. I can drill a hole just as good as Ron Lake. I cannot grind a blade as good as Ron Lake. My first hole ever drilled in a knife blank is probably as good as the last hole Mr. Lake might ever drill into a knife, even if it is his 100,000th. I could grind twice as many blades as Ron and never do it half as good. I am sure I can operate a machine that grinds blades as good as Ron Lake, but we lose something there, don't we?

Not every knifemaker wants to hand craft knives for the rest of his life. Some get burned out and some just lose the passion. I am sure Chris Reeve can still hand grind and hand fit a nice blade, but he has established a machine built production knife that is extremely well built and has made him a wealthy man. You can't begrudge him that, but you cannot call his knife a custom knife, and he should not be able to represent himself as a custom knifemaker in the Guild. I am not singling him out, but just using him as a example. There are others who have crossed what I define as the line between custom and machine made.

george tichbourne
02-01-2001, 06:52 AM
It is an annual rite of winter that someone drags up this subject to make a lot of fuss about nothing. The arguement should be ignored.

High tech machines will be employed when the buying public demand features that can only be done on those machines and are willing to pay for the machine time. The people doing the most complaining probably have never paid more than $100 for a knife in their lives and never will.

If you use high tech machinery boast about it so everybody knows that you go all out to give the public the best product you can.

02-01-2001, 09:32 AM
Thatnks George ;-) That's a topic blocker if ever I saw one :P

Jason G Howell
02-01-2001, 11:58 AM
I think George is right on. On some of the other groups, I've seen the emails fly for a month sometimes over the same thing...

A more important issue than tools is the integrity of the maker. as long as a maker never misrepresents his work, whatever the manner in which it is made, he is doing right. You will have a few people buying knives that want what they want. They will seek out a maker that does everything with files and paper if that's what they want. Put some distance between you and a maker that has parts lazer cut, ground, and then claims it all as his own work. Just my 2c worth.

02-01-2001, 12:10 PM
I don't think the subject is blocked, there are always new knife makers like me that have to run in to this question sooner or later and define an answer for themselves. I had the great honor of having a maker take a liner lock apart for me to see how it was done. I knew that I will not be able to do the same thing as good without the help of a machine. It has set a new goal for me. If a machine helps me solve a problem without taking over then when I can I will buy it. The parts that I can do by hand I will. If some body says my knife is a custom knife not a hand made one then so be it. I have found here and with other makers that I have talked to that that is the general decision of the knife maker population.

02-01-2001, 02:39 PM
I'm not sure why, but for some reason knowing that a maker is employing a CNC type process to construct their work causes me to look at the final product like a manufactured piece. The fact that they can reproduce an exact copy of the knife they just turned out gives me the creeps.

I suppose, however, the argument could be made that the minute you employ any tool in the production process that automates the job, you're crossing the line.

If anything, a knife constructed of CNC type milled and machined parts is little more than a kit knife in the end. The maker becomes an assembly technician.

I think the fine-line is defined by "hand-made or machine-made" and hinges on mass reproducibility.

What do you all think?


Jason G Howell
02-01-2001, 03:11 PM
yup, but my shop is full of machines, all controlled by me manually whether it be my dremel for slitting liners, or my lathe for slotting guards... with the exception of my folder screws, pivot pins, thumbobs, etc... not one piece is made by CNC or farmed out(i.e. laser cut). I still consider em handmade <BG>

Don Cowles
02-01-2001, 04:46 PM
Every lick of my knives is hand made, and it shows. I have never made a perfect knife, nor have I ever made two exactly the same. Needless to say, I try very hard to do the best job of which I am capable with each knife, but if you study them hard, you'll find tiny indications that they are, indeed, hand made.

If perfection is your goal, CNC is the answer.

If a piece of yourself, a chunk of your learning curve, evidence of your humanity - and your dedication - is something you are proud of, you can shout to the world, "Hey! I did this all by myself! Not bad for no machines, huh?" I am in that camp, and I imagine I'll probably stay there.

02-01-2001, 05:08 PM
Don ...

That may be the best answer on the subject I've ever read!


02-02-2001, 03:45 PM
The question never gets easier, but the answers are definitely getting better.
Customs are not about rules. Rather the limits of what cutlery can be. Perfection is a perception not a reality.
Many have drooled when they've seen my shop. I can build just about anything I want - and I do. Equipment and knives.
No one has hands that can make a good knife without tools. trust me.
For me, the more tools I have, the more capability I have.
I'm not interested in CNC. My stuff is all one of a kind.
Some use laser cutting, water jets, CNC etc. As long as the maker doesn't represent everything as hand made by him, then it's up to the customer if they want to buy.
I know of knifemakers out there who sell kit knives as their own. That to me is a bigger issue then what "amount" of machinery someone uses.

Rules set boundaries. Handmade knives should not be limited by those boundaries. Every customer has a different idea of what they want. They will find the maker for it.

02-03-2001, 08:47 PM
I can't help but post a reply on this one. where does it stop ? all the way back to the first knife? I don't know who made the first knife but every change since then is a result of progress . most of these changes were embraced as improvements . do we need to make our own files ? smelt our own steel? I dont feel there is an answer just opinions,
do most customers deal with this question when making a purchase or do they just have to have that knife.
I think (as ussual ) George is right)
Just a countryboy makers opinion.

02-11-2001, 04:41 PM
According to MERRIAM-WEBSTER "tool" is defined as "something(as an instrument or appartus)used in performing an operation or necessary in the pratice of a vocation or profession..." . With this in mind I would say it has alot to do with the ability to exactly reproduce something on a consistent basis .Plus I know of 'no one' except maybe "SUPER MAN" that posesses the ability to form steel with nothing other that his hands and brute strength .So this is my 2 cents.

moldy Jim
02-27-2001, 04:10 PM
Ok, time for me to put in my 1 1/2 cents.

First of all I should tell you that at this moment my CNC machine is cutting a part for a fixture ( not knife related) while I sit here at my computer. When I say "my" I mean the one the company has assigned to me, not mine personally. I have been running CNC machines for the last decade or two. I have never used one to make a knife, nor do I intend to.

Anyone who makes 10's, 100's or thousands of any product isn't on a CNC machine making a "custom, or Handmade Product" Period!

But, if you were to use a CNC machine to cut parts for one knife how is that different from using a different machine tool? A mill, drill press or band saw, the only difference is they are controlled directly by the operator.

Most people who put down CNC machines as a "Cheat" don't have a clue of the skill and training needed to properly program and run one. If they ever see a CNC milling machine try to rapid traverse a 1 1/2 end mill through a vise because someone missed a single minus sign in the program, they'd change their tune quickly.
It can be difficul, confusing and frustrating.

To program a CNC machine you need to not only know how to read CNC code, but first you also need to know how to do the machining in the first place. If you don't know how to machine how are you going to know what to tell the controller what to do? Kind of like trying to tell someone how to fly a plane when all you really know how to do is operate the radio.

Now this doesn't apply to someone who draws a knife and has some manufacturing company do the design and programming, that's different.

We all use the products of our modern world, folders that use screws bought from a manufacturer, steel, micarta etc. is that cheating?

You mmight be surprised at how much training and skill it takes to run an EDM also.

I say if you use an EDM, CNC, surface grinder or whatever, as long as the maker is the one setting it up and running it for small quantities, It's custom.

Just my opinion, but if the maker is in charge it's his work.


Rade L Hawkins
03-02-2001, 10:37 AM




moldy Jim
03-02-2001, 11:23 AM
What I meant to say is if the maker sets up runs the machine himself without help, it's his work. Drill press, milling machine or CNC it's all the same if one mind is in control. In my opinion anyway.
I beleive that no mater what the tool or device mankind makes it all boils down to an extension of the human mind or body. Pliers are just an extension of the hand, a chisel is a fingernail or tooth, a telescope is just stronger eye and so on. So in thet respect a CNC is just a highly magnified version of a chisel held in the hand of a perfect workman.
I know it's silly, but think about it...... Is there anything mankind has invented that isn't in some way just a bigger and better form of the tools that mother nature gave us?
I haven't found anything yet that couldn't be related to us somehow.

03-02-2001, 03:32 PM
Question ...

If I made a robot and programmed it to make a custom knife, did I:

1. Make a robot?
2. Make a custom knife?
3. Both?

Now, what if I only bought a robot and programmed it to make a knife. Did I ...

1. Program a robot?
2. Make a custom knife?
3. Both?

Then ... finally!

If I died and the robot (regardless of origin) made a knife for it's new owner. Did I ... make the knife it produced ... even though I'm no longer there?

I'm no expert on philosophy, but it seems to me that the CNC goes beyond a tool in a very important couple of ways ... Of course, this is only an observation and certainly not a fact of any type, but I think a new category of representation needs to be defined, now that all this is possible ... and being used today.

First of all, the CNC is a tool ... we all know that. But ...

1. Is it a process tool?
2. Is it a replication device?
3. Is it both?

The definition of "custom" needs to be examined. Do we want it to mean "one-of-a-kind" or something else? That's where the debate actually is.

I'd say ... let the consumer decide at the time of purchase through disclosure. However, failing to disclose that their new knife was made by a production process (programming authorship aside), that can be perfectly replicated and not absolutely unique might cause them to perceive the value of the end product a little differently.

What seems to upset me most about this whole event is that there are makers who surround us that blatantly avoid telling the public that they use the process in the fabrication of their work. Some of these same people live on the reputation that their hand-eye skills are better than yours (assuming you hand construct).

Is this not really a debate about artistic replication? What portion of the total value of the end product is in the understanding by the buyer of what is and is not "UNIQUE" and "ORIGINAL"?

I'd venture to say that a CNC milled blade is more perfect than a hand produced one, therefore better. Yet, I'd also venture to say that a disclosure statement by the maker (production foreman) as to that fact would drop the value of the finished good to the buyer.

In the end, it's our choice as to where this debate belongs in the grand scheme of our industry. But, the next time you see a CNC knife win a custom knife award, remember to congratulate their production robot too!

For me ... it's the difference in an original painting and a lithograph. Both look beautiful, but only one is the real deal! Also, noted by it's value!


moldy Jim
03-02-2001, 11:59 PM
Ok, let's narrow it down a little. I'll say if a person learns to machine steel, learns to set up and program the machine tool, creates the necessary jigs and fixtures to hold the raw steel, designs the knife and programs the machine himself. Makes one knife and deletes the program after making that one knife. Takes the components and puts them together, does the final fit and finish to complete the knife.

How would that be different than using fixtures, patterns, a surface grinder, belt sander and a milling machine?

Now. I agree if you make a dozen knifes all the same (no cheating by changing minor things) they aren't custom. And if you don't tell the customer the details you are defrauding them if they beleive they are getting a one of a kind piece of art.

Lik I said before, I haven't ever made a knife with a CNC machine, and probably never will, but I don't see why it's put down so much.

A few years ago, I believe it was Steve Swartzer (sorry for the spelling) who created a fantastic mosaic damascus patern of a hunter, his dog and a quail in steel. No one accused him of cheating because he use a CNC wire EDM machine to creat the mosaic. Another maker was in Blade Magazine made some laminated damascus with fantastic scroll work patterns in it that blew me away. He told anyone who asked how he did it.
Was that cheating?
I say if one person sets up and runs the machine to his own design, doesn't do a production run of bunches of parts, and is open about it, he is doing fine.
Just my opinion, and I agree to disagree with anyone. It's more fun that way. ;)
Moldy Jim

03-03-2001, 03:08 PM
Some of you here are also members of the TKCL, you know that we had a massive heated discussion over this selfsame topic. here's the link to the compiled debate. ( My answer to this is mixed in with all the others, as you read the e-mail exchange look at the names of the people responding you may know them, heck, they might be you.

Be forewarned it is rather long.

03-03-2001, 03:29 PM
Jim ...

I think if it were used the way you just described there would be no problem with the use of it. My only concern is that it has the potential to become a cop-out procedure in the sense that it might be used in the mass production of certain componants.

I wish the folder boys would weigh in on this. From my understanding, it's the guys who program it to knock out a full set of parts for the basic designs they produce that are causing the major problems.

I wish I could disclose the names of a couple of the individuals out there that are making a fortune on this process, all the while having un-enlightened buyers believe that they are buying a totally unique design. There are a couple of big name makers right now who's career would be over if the general public found out.

In my opinion, there is nothing at all wrong with the CNC device. The problem is in the disclosure issue. I would suspect that the same makers who are employing this device to attain their precision would find it harder to compete head-to-head, if they had to rely on their hand-eye skills like everyone else.

What's really funny to me, and definitly worth looking at, is that look as hard as you might, you'll never find them mention the process or be connected with it in any way in the information they provide to their buyers. In fact, on their web sites they will draw a detailed picture of their setup and shop tours, but the CNC is never photographed or mentioned whatsoever ...

What that tells me, debatable or not, is that they know it's wrong in the way they employ it ... that is, they know the buyer would perceive it as a semi-custom knife and therefore be willing to pay less for the end product. In this sense, they are actively misrepresenting the product to the buyer ...

What do you think?


03-03-2001, 03:41 PM
This is how one man represents his GNC work ,but does not mention the machine."They all vary a little, giving each a unique quality not found in a factory knife."

moldy Jim
03-03-2001, 05:37 PM
If they aren't willing to disclose how they make their knives, they must have something to hide.
There is marketing, and then there is fraud.
Unfortunatly the people who are willing to be honest are the ones who suffer by being painted with the same brush.

Personally I enjoy running an CNC at work (most of the time). But I definatly need to getaway from it on my own time. It'd be too much like work.

Besides, I haven't figured out how to program it to do forging yet. Wait, maybe the peck drill cycle with a hammer head in the spindle............?

So I guess we basically agree?
If it is truely a one off knife, programmed and run by the maker himself, finished by the maker, and sold by him with complete disclosure it would still qualify as art/custom work?

Would you agree?

03-03-2001, 09:44 PM
Jim ...

This is strictly my opinion. But, I would say, "YES"!

If the artist built a mold to create a sculpture and then destroyed the mold after the work was complete then it would seem to me that the mold was part of the creative process.

If the artist made a second sculpture from the original mold and painted the sculpture a different color, then I think there's where my questions would begin ...

Again ... I'm trying to look at it as a critic.

What say ye?


moldy Jim
03-03-2001, 10:50 PM
Yeah! Very good analogy.
Same as like the difference between a painting and a print.
One is an original and one (or more)is a reproduction.

See, these discussions do have a point.

Now, how do we go about creating world peace?
If anyone can do it we can. (Big Grin)

03-03-2001, 11:39 PM
That's easy ...

Bring an outside threat to the table!

Man is incapable of respecting anything he perceives as his equal or subordinate. Inside every man's mind resides the belief that in some way he is superior to his neighbor ...

I'd venture to say that if some alien race parked ships outside of our atmosphere and aimed big guns at every country on earth this would instantly become the most peaceful place you've ever seen ...

Grab Arther C. Clark's book "Childhood's End". Now there's a good read ...


moldy Jim
03-04-2001, 01:12 AM
Childhoods end? Jeepers, it's been a long time since I read that, I thought that one was depressing. No children, the whole future of our race taken away by aliens with horns and tails? Not the kind of peace I would want. I can't remember a whole lot but that much I do remember.

But I think you are right about an outside threat being something that could bring us together.
HMMM,,,, like the threat of knifes being banned should bring us together in the defense of the right to carry knives for peaceful purposes. No matter the process used to make them?
Sounds good to me.

03-04-2001, 02:53 PM
Jim ...

Those aliens were here to insure that man did not destroy himself. In the end, they were only overseeing the transformation of man to the next level of existence ... Remember? Man was the subject, not the object.


Les Robertson
03-05-2001, 08:15 AM
This topic never ceases to amaze me. My experience has shown me that the people who have difficulty with what is and what is not a custom knife usually fall into two categories.

1) People who want their knife to be more than it is. That is guys who buy factory knives and try to get them elevated to a custom knife. Paul brought up the example of Scharde-Barnett. Yes, this is a factory knife. My only question when I heard about it was, why would Van waste his abilities on such a knife.

2) People who want their knife to be "elite". These people fight the fight of "because mine was made to my specifications it truly is a custom knife". My response is, why don't you just call it a one-of-kind.

Next, Don Cowels commented that all of his knives were hand made. Sorry Don they are not. In order for that to be so, you would not be able to use any tools other than your hands. Remember were are using literal definitions here. Perhaps Hand Made with the aid of Power and Hand tools would be more appropriate. It would certainly be more accurate.

For all you people complaining about CNC, Laser Cutting, etc. Get over it.

These are nothing more than tools. Just like the Micro-Lathe, Drill Press, Band Saw, Grinder, Buffer, Power Hammer, End Mill, Pantagraph, etc. So if your favorite knife maker is using these, remember they were the ones catching the wrath of the "hand made" consumer and maker 50 years ago.

Im quite certain the makers in Sheffield England in the 1800's would have been looking down at every custom knife maker on the planet today for "cheating" by using a band saw or a grinder. After all what was wrong with sitting a grinding wheel and using your foot to make the wheel go around.

Utilizing, better equipment and better materials (or at least the ability to work those materials should the customer require it) is a makers way of remaining competitive.

If you as a maker are in it just for a hobby and have no desire to make money or treat it like a business. Then by all means do so. But don't then sit there and complain that "so and so gets in all the magazines" or how come I never sell out, why does that maker always have a crowd of people in front of their table, etc.

There are people who like antiques, older cars, etc. Personally, I want the newest thing. I don't want my fathers TV, Radio, Cars, Planes, House, etc. I definetly don't want his knives. I want titanium, mosaic Damascus, carbon fiber, Stellite, carved Lapis Lazuli handles, meteorite scales, etc.

Also, using improved technologies will provide you with a knife with a better fit and finish, keep the cost down, permit the maker to increase their profit margin while working the same amount of hours. This then provides the collector with a superior knife at a fair price.

Case in point, Warren Osborne made the "Silver Tip" folder. One utilized laser technology and the other was handmade. The one utilizing Laser Technology, was so marked with a LT under Warrens logo and sold for $450.00. The knife Warren did everything on was $600. Why the price difference, it took Warren an extra 3 hours to make the $600.00 knife.

Guess which one he sold the most of? Ok, so it was a rhetorical question.

For those of you who have been around custom knives less than 7 years. You do not fully appreciate the difference between today's custom knife market and a market that was on the verge of disappearing.

Like it or not, it was the tactical folder that saved custom knives. As 7 years ago a folder from a well known maker was between $500 and $700.00. Now this may not seem like much today. Remeber this was for stainless steel frames, nickel silver bolster, 440C blade, Stag and a lock back. A knife with a ATS-34 blade was considered an "option" you paid extra for.

But imagine how many people 7 years ago who were willing to take a chance on a $500 folder. Now tactical folders came along and were in the $275-$325 range. Custom knives in this range brought a lot of new collectors and users into custom knives. These knives could be sold for these prices because these makers were able to utilize technologies that were available to keep costs down.

Seven years ago a liner lock, with titanium frame and bolster, 440V blade and carbon fiber scales would have cost you well over $1,000.00.
Why? Because the technology was not available to all makers. Now these knives for the most part sell for less than $500.00.

Prior to 1995, you could count the number of folders I sold each year for the previous 10 years on one hand. By 1997 I was the largest tactical folder dealer in the world. As a professional custom knife entreprneur, it is my job to help my clients get what they want.

For the makers out there, just as a test, make a lock back with a 440C blade, stainless frame, nickel silver or stainless steel bolsters and stag scales. Put it on your table or web site for between $500 and $700 and see how long it takes to sell. Besides Bose, Shadley, Davis and Chamblin who make the factory repro's. Give me the names of some other makers who get that kind of money for the knife I described. I know the answer who these makers are. This will lead into another thread. As you will not a commonality among the makers you list.

The Professional will use all means available to them to produce a superior product. They are always looking for that competitive edge.
They will embrace new technology, new ideas, concepts and materials.

So use whatever defition you want, that is your choice. Buy the knives you like, as you may have them a long time.

But be honest with yourself. If you are the type of buyer who likes to trade and sell your knives with some regularity. Then do your homework and find out which type of knife and which maker will provide you with the best chance of being able to get your money back.

If you are the type of buyer who plans on keeping every knife you buy. Then by all means, pay no attention to the trends and buy what catches your eye.

moldy Jim
03-05-2001, 12:50 PM
Alex, I guess I'll have to re-read the book, it's been a long time! Of course the last time Im read it I was a lot younger, I bet my impression is quite a bit different now.

Les, you brought up some good points.
I think the main thing is honesty, and disclousure.


03-05-2001, 07:26 PM
Let's be careful how we assume definitions. They are critical to the argument's logic. Experience has never been a guarantee of success ...

The debate resides here ...
... a maker with average hand-eye skill can utilize automation technologies to produce an end product that is capable of fit and finish quality comparable to a highly-skilled artisan who has inherently derived skills that surpass the need for this technical assistance process.

In effect, a market is created where skill is no longer the driving factor in product value and the collector is conditioned to perceive the value by using standards which are not associated.

Whoever stated that "time outlay" was a factor in the "value equation" was obviously un-enlightened about the process of art valuation. Price and value are not one in the same. Let's be clear about this. They are simply relative in the same equation. That equation is intrinsic to the process only. That is, at the moment price exceeds value by one cent, you no longer have a good deal, regardless of what's being bought, sold or traded.

Let me put the real test to this ... let me ask everyone for input and let's decide together.

Given two identical knives at the same price, with the exception of production process, which one has greater value ...

A. The one produced by the use of automation?

B. The one produced by the hand of an artist?

A or B?

moldy Jim
03-06-2001, 05:22 PM
""The debate resides here ...
... a maker with average hand-eye skill can utilize automation technologies to produce an end product that is capable of fit and finish quality comparable to a highly-skilled artisan who has inherently derived skills that surpass the need for this technical assistance process.""

But to do so (unless he uses the skills of someone else to do it for him, which disqualifies him)
he will need to have the additional skill of knowing How to machine, plus the skill or training to program and run the CNC machine.

Does having the additional skill equal the hand/eye skill of the highly skilled artisan? Because it's a different skill set is it less valuable?

Just another log on the fire.

03-06-2001, 10:03 PM
Dammit Jim ... would you quit blowing holes in my argument?

I was planning to have this case solved by lunch and get back to watching "Rawhide" reruns ...

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I want to agree that CNC and other mechanical means should not matter too much, really. If Jackson Polluck can make a million dollar piece of art by throwing paint in the air behind a jet engine, then it's just a form of expression, really.

If anything, the maker who's work is mostly made by hand techniques should gain from the effect of automation on the process. If the final work is marked "CNC", for instance, then the man's work marked "HM" should take on an entirely different value in the marketplace.

I suppose the question that needs to be posed is "should the use of automated construction techniques in the design be marked differently to separate it from the handmade stuff?"


moldy Jim
03-07-2001, 12:45 AM
Just yankin your chain Alex.. ;)

Even I have to admit that a piece of hand made craftsmanship has some more worth in my eyes than something done on a machine, even if it has the same quality.

Though I have seen some incredible machine work too, Ray Appleton's work has me in awe at his skill for example.

So I guess it is just what it is.