How five masterful makers integrate CNC and CAD technology into their woodworking
In the December 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine, the article, Digital Artistry is a peek at what five professional woodworkers are doing with digital tools in their shops. Each maker has an extensive traditional woodworking background and many years of experience before they began to use digital tools like CAD software and CNC machines.
As I pointed out in the article, we all know each other. We’re friends and members of a small user group that meets regularly to exchange ideas and techniques as we explore this new digital woodworking world.
For the print article, I asked each woodworking to introduce themselves in their own words – they each said something about their backgrounds, their work and how they got started using digital tools and more. To do this, I sent out a survey to each artist with a series of questions.
With the space limitations inherent to print publishing, only a little of the answers gathered from the questionnaires made it into the final article. But, with so much more interesting information collected, I thought Popular Woodworking’s readers would like to hear more about these professional woodworkers’ worlds. So, in a series of upcoming posts on Digital Artistry, I’ll share parts of each woodworker’s survey answers with our online readers.
In the future, each woodworker will be highlighted in a post along with their survey answers to how they got started in digital, more details about their work, the tools and techniques they use, lessons they’ve learned along the way, photos of their shop and work and more. The answers are in their own words, with only minimal editing for clarity and brevity. Also, I’ll include a short video of each woodworker in their shops talking about what they’re doing with these new tools.
In this first post, I’ll introduce each woodworker in their own words, through the answers to the first question in the survey.
Describe what you do as a woodworker?
“My initial interest was in furniture design, not so much in woodworking. Over time, like most woodworkers, I found the nature of the material seductive and it became more feasible to market my work as “fine woodworking” rather than as “fine furniture design”. Much of the work I’ve done over the years has been one-of-a-kind commissions.
One of my designs is a stacking chair which I’ve produced in small production runs since the early 1980’s. These are built with the “fine woodworking” market in mind, using furniture grade hardwood for bent laminations and leather upholstered seats.”
“I am mostly a custom furniture maker working in domestic and exotic hardwoods. My work is influenced by studying classical American furniture styles, their construction techniques and carving methods, a continuing interest in Asian furniture and and the “NW style” of furniture design.”
“My specialty — and what I am known for, is Greene & Greene style furniture. While I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to do something new – my real love is design.”
“I build custom musical instruments for a diverse group of musicians. Projects range from interpretations on the classic designs to fully unique instruments capable of integrating with a modern studio environment. Woodworking is a very important part of what I do and that is supplemented with the electronics design that makes my instruments relevant in the current guitarist’s toolkit.”
“The woodworking I do falls into two different areas. My work as a furniture maker occupies an unusual niche in woodworking — I make custom high-end outdoor furniture. Rather than commission work, I’ve developed several extensive lines of Arts & Crafts based designs that seem to cover virtually any client need. In recent years, I’m putting more focus on fine art and sculpture that I create with a combination of traditional and digital tools.”