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#32701 - 12/05/14 08:20 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: BTF]
Allen Offline

Registered: 12/05/14
Posts: 1
Many good points and it really comes down to were you want to be in he world of timber frames. Traditionalists will fight you tooth and nail for their way, but it is a new digital world and it appears that the digital European timber industry has adapted quite well.
I am somewhat disappointed that the Guild has not adapted to the new millennium especially with the apprentice training in areas of CAD design and automation. If you go into an automated shop you will probably interface with a German, French or Swiss craftsman who is running a digitally controlled machine.

#32702 - 12/06/14 05:08 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
D L Bahler Offline


Registered: 05/17/10
Posts: 946
Loc: Indiana
There is certainly a place for technology, but as was so well pointed out it can never replace the human element. There are notable individuals that do everything by hand, like Jack Sobon for example. I myself like to put away the power tools some times -but only if I am working for myself. Otherwise it doesn't make the $$$. But there is a balance in efficiency. For some of us, the bottom line is more efficient and gives a better return if we minimize the amount of expensive machinery we use. Some times, the return on investment is just not there to justify the expense. The only way to justify those expenses would be to hire a few more guys and triple your output. Not all of us want to do that.

This isn't just a result of mechanization, it's true even in the old days, that any time you up volume to offset costs and increase your profit, you can turn things out cheaper (because your whole process is going to operate more efficiently) but your are also going to lose something.
They always say, between speed, low cost, and quality you can only ever pick two. Even with mechanization that holds true.

So for me, the question doesn't come down to a philosophical issue of tradition vs. profit. Bottom line is, I am going to do whatever I have to do to make the best money I can. Because at the end of the day, I have to be a businessman and being in business always means you have to make sacrifices somewhere. If I want to do a traditional project, I do it for myself or the rare client who wants it.
So for me when considering machinery, the only question that matters is does it return on its investment? And even if it does, is it going to put me in the poor house until I pay it off?
I'll never be a CNC producer, because it doesn't make the dollars for me at the scale I want to operate. But chances are, I will have a good collection of machines -knowing me it will probably be specialized machines that I built just for the way I do things- before I am done. But I'll also still have my axes, chisels, etc.

#32703 - 12/07/14 12:37 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1882
Loc: Maine
With good skills you can tool up for under $1000 and cut some nice frames, no cords attached. It will take practice and learning, getting to know the short cuts and joinery decisions can make up for a lot of time spent with a power saw and router with jigs. I have taken up the cord for some of my work lately. I do know some great efficient work can be done with low technology, and it can be competitive. You may only need one or two frames a year yet a large tech filled company will have to poke out ten+ times that. To what end? I am still drawing on paper with pencil, too.

#32723 - 01/08/15 09:53 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
Jon Senior Offline

Registered: 05/04/11
Posts: 133
"Prefabbing walls off site is a step backwards in efficiency, but it is often promoted by salesmen."

I'm going to take issue with this statement. Prefabbing walls off-site is a step forward in efficiency. It allows construction to occur in ideal conditions; to whit...

No mud. No wind. No rain. Perfectly flat and square surfaces on which to assemble. No ladders or scaffolding necessary as walls can be assembled flat and then moved by machine as necessary. In a properly-equipped workshop, doors and windows can be installed, insulation can be blown in (or otherwise installed) and the air-tightness taping can be completed before the units leave the shop. This allows for a higher build quality at a lower cost. Materials are only delivered to one location and waste is more easily managed. Offcuts can be stored for re-use meaning that the waste per build is lower.

Once the house is completely prepared, raising can be achieved in very little time and generally at the end of one or two days of raising the house is completely air and water-tight. The internal fitting (electrics, plumbing, plasterboard), if not already completed in the workshop, can now be carried out in comfort.

Fabricating a house on site is a ridiculous idea when the option to do otherwise is available. I speak as someone who has done exactly that!

Other than that small rant... I agree with everything that has been said thus far! smile

Contemporary Norman longhouse in Normandy

#32724 - 01/09/15 02:51 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
timberwrestler Offline

Registered: 11/07/05
Posts: 288
Loc: Becket, MA
I'm with you on that Jon.

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