I have been wondering recently if I should change part of the tag line on this website. On Facebook I have found myself being trolled by someone who has taken objection to the fact I used the tag, “handcrafted furniture in a mass-produced world”. They have a real issue when I say that we make things by hand. They have looked at our work and have concluded that it can all be made by machines and therefore must be. The funny thing is that they called me out for making handmade dovetails by a machine when in fact they were made by all by hand.
Part of why I started Paparwark was the fun of making furniture by hand. But it’s interesting that when you start a business many other things become important like making money and efficiency. As much as you would like to do everything by hand machines are a must, especially if you are trying to work to a client’s budget. Part of my philosophy is to help clients get what they are looking for irrespective of whether it is made by hand or with the aid of machines.
Even though I do use a number of machines in my small workshop a lot of the work is still by hand. In fact the whole process of commission work is very hands-on. When using machines there is a lot of skill in setting them accurately. You will find some makers enjoy making jigs so a router can make a complex joint or shape, but in that circumstance, I would rather do it by hand if it’s going to take the same amount of time.
Receiving negative and misleading comments from the online troll made me think about Paparwark’s business brand and how I have worded things to date. I looked at other companies including some much bigger than mine and saw that they still use the term “hand crafted.” I feel that still is a fair description of what I do however I am now thinking about changing the word to “crafting.” To be stuck in a box where I must do everything by hand is crazy. What if I would like to get a CNC machine, heaven forbid! You can make the same joint with the same strength by both hand and machine. If it is the same then why would handmade be better? Of course, there are always the joints that are too complex to make by machine which is therefore fun to do by hand if the client’s budget can stretch to it.
What do you think of the description “crafting” instead of “handcrafted?” What images does that conjure up in your mind? In our workshop we are striving to make excellent furniture using the best blend of hand and machine tools to help speed production without lowering the quality of craftsmanship. In a small workshop working mostly to commission you can be confident that much of the work is still done by hand, where you can find us daily having fun ” handcrafting furniture in a mass-produced world”.