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#18826 - 03/27/09 10:55 AM Will the CNC replace hand made frames ?
cedar Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/08
Posts: 49
Recently I was at a Trade Show in my area for Timber Frame and Log Home Building. The Timber Frame companies who owned the CNC machines were pitching to the public. How much better they are over hand made frames. Does the recent proliferation of automation in the trade sound the end of the hand making of frames? Do the machines really save time and money for the clients and company producing the frames? Will good joiners be put out of work by the computer controlled equipment? The videos of these machines are impressive to the public. I am new to the trade and wonder about the future.

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#18831 - 03/27/09 12:01 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
Gabel Offline

Member

Registered: 11/18/03
Posts: 687
Loc: Georgia
Originally Posted By: cedar
Recently I was at a Trade Show in my area for Timber Frame and Log Home Building. The Timber Frame companies who owned the CNC machines were pitching to the public. How much better they are over hand made frames. Does the recent proliferation of automation in the trade sound the end of the hand making of frames? Do the machines really save time and money for the clients and company producing the frames? Will good joiners be put out of work by the computer controlled equipment? The videos of these machines are impressive to the public. I am new to the trade and wonder about the future.


Good question. The advent and proliferation of automated joinery machines has already and will continue to affect the prospects of carpenters who build timber frames. The bigger shops who use these don't employ as many carpenters -- that's a fact. and the one's who are employed are required to do less carpentry (and more material handling).

I know there are different kinds of CNC companies out there and some of them use it as just another tool and continue to do cool and challenging things and employ skilled and creative people. But...

Some companies aren't that way at all.


So what does this mean for us carpenters?

I think the days of "production" hand cut companies who ship frames all over the states are numbered. If there is no discernible difference between what you're building and what the machine is making, then you are in a bad spot. You can't pay fair wages that someone can raise a family on, provide benefits, and expect to go toe to toe with the machine and win on speed and efficiency.

For our part, we try to do things the machine can't: work with irregular material, work with reclaimed buildings, work on old buildings.

We also believe that something made by a human is more valuable than something made by a machine. The carpenter companies need to get better at talking about this. We will never have the money to throw at customer education that the big CNC companies do, so I see our influence being limited to the local market and who we can talk to face to face. We can and should be talking to -- and therefore building for -- our neighbors.


I'm out of time for now, but I'm looking forward to this discussion because it is something I think about as a company owner and a carpenter in this trade.

_________________________
Gabel

www.holderbros.com

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#18832 - 03/27/09 12:55 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Gabel]
OurBarns1 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/08
Posts: 570
Loc: Cumberland County, Maine
Good topic, cedar, and one that's a bit close to my experience.

I was a carpenter and woodworker/furniture maker for a number of years. But I came down with carpal tunnel syndrome, had to give up the career, and decided to go back to school.

Having a good knowledge of woodworking and carpentry, I wanted to stay in the profession (and I guess you could say remain in my comfort zone as well). In 2002, at 32 years old, I decided to go to college and become a shop teacher. I had visions of steady employment, indoor working conditions, a good retirement package, generous vacations and summers off. Plus, I'd be engaging a new generation in the art of woodworking. Cool, right?

I found the program at the local university was called "Technology Education." Automotive courses were no longer a part of the curriculum simply because the field had become too technical. Traditional woodworking was also being phased out, albeit more slowly. A new wing of the school, "the technology wing," was just in the planning stages in 2002. But CAD and robotics were definitely part of the curriculum. I suppose the University was being proactive as these are the "jobs of the future."

I soon realized, I would not be helping kids make bookshelves or birdhouses on table saws. High school students now work on projects where they insert a piece of wood in one end of a machine costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, plot their X & Y coordinates, walk around to the other end of the machine and pick up a finished cribbage board.

I probed one of my professors about my visions of a classic "shop teacher." He had been a high school shop teacher before going on to his Ph.D. and joining the University. He told me in Maine it depends on certain school districts--how much money they have, etc.--but that I would likely be teaching CAD and robotics on sophisticated machines and computer programs. I would be "lucky" to find a school teaching the difference between an eight-point crosscut vs. a ripsaw.

To make a long story short, I soon found through some of my other classes that I was much better at writing than mathematics. Plus, realizing that hand tools are really no longer taught to kids was a serious downer (heck, even a table saw is becoming kind of outdated!). In a crazy turn of my identity, I changed degree programs and became an English major. I now hope to write about traditional woodworking, including timber framing.

(I realize this is a long post, but bear w/ me.)

I do not want to jump all over people for the paths they take, but it appears some pioneers of the timber framing revival are doing all they can to remove tradition from the craft.

Bensonwood promotes the efficiency and accuracy of machine-cut timber frames. Here is an excerpt from their web site http://www.bensonwood.com/engineering/cnc.cfm :

An important benefit to collaborating with Bensonwood is our CNC, computer numerically-controlled, German-built Hundegger cutting machinery. Customized to integrate with our CADWORK® software, we cut timbers up to 50 feet and joinery details within tolerances of 1/32 inch in one operation, quickly and affordably, with the highest quality and with a minimum of handwork. Our cutting and fabrication technologies were developed exclusively for heavy timberframe structures and are especially efficient if your plans require numerous repetitive cuts.


The phrases "quickly and affordably with the highest quality and with a minimum of handwork" speak to the future of this “icon of the industry.”

Will they lead?

Quickly and affordably is ironic. I don't think many people would qualify Bensonwood and affordability in the same sentence. Their clients are quite wealthy. But that is the path for them. They are contributing to the timber frame style, but certainly appear to be undermining its tradition...as well as traditional carpenters who "hand cut".

Gabel and crew have the right idea in sticking with older structures and restoration work as machines cannot compete well here. Like many fields, I think economics will play a large role in determining the future of traditional "hand cut" timber framing.
_________________________
Don Perkins
Member, TFG


to know the trees...



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#18833 - 03/27/09 02:30 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: OurBarns1]
Don P Offline
Member

Registered: 01/12/07
Posts: 217
Loc: VA
Several have expressed the feeling that a hand cut frame has intrinsic value. There will always be a segment of the population that agrees with that and is willing to pay for it. There is also a market for a more mass produced product. In fact the mass produced product exposes more people to TF so it acts as free advertising for those who hand cut their frames. You can tear at one another or realize you are not in competition and are in fact helping each other take away jobs from stick frame carpenters. But you probably don't care about that. What I have found at least in the log home field is that when the two factions fight or run each other down in public the public shakes their head and buys a modular smile

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#18838 - 03/27/09 04:40 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Gabel]
bmike Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 918
Loc: Burlington, VT
Originally Posted By: Gabel


Good question. The advent and proliferation of automated joinery machines has already and will continue to affect the prospects of carpenters who build timber frames. The bigger shops who use these don't employ as many carpenters -- that's a fact. and the one's who are employed are required to do less carpentry (and more material handling).

I know there are different kinds of CNC companies out there and some of them use it as just another tool and continue to do cool and challenging things and employ skilled and creative people. But...





This is a half truth (in bold).
There are a few good companies doing CNC work that are able to have more timber framers and carpenters on staff. One company is able to support 10-14 timber framers - from apprentice to 'master', a crew of 8 carpenters from journey man to seasoned pro, and a complete custom cabinet and woodshop.

The race to the bottom in this (and any) industry will be through the customer's pocketbook - too much house, for too little money - be it a timber frame, stick, modular, or McMansion. Those that feed this troll will race to the bottom with the customers and the rest of the housing industry - those that adapt and innovate - be it by hand, with a computer, CNC, or by getting creative and gnawing mortises with our teeth - will be out front - and will likely connect with those clients that appreciate honest work for an honest home.

There are hacks and shortcuts and timber whores in ANY kind of shop - be it CNC, hand, or powered production - just like there are in nearly every industry.


And any company that relies soley on the 'machine made' is better argument to sell is misguided. People build timber frames - be it by programming and hand working, or by hand cutting the entire frame - just like people make mistakes, solve problems, and live in their homes.
_________________________
Mike Beganyi Design and Consulting, LLC.
www.mikebeganyi.com

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#18845 - 03/27/09 08:52 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: bmike]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
I am curious how the big companies are getting along in the economic times of today?

Tim

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#18847 - 03/27/09 11:37 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Don P]
OurBarns1 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/08
Posts: 570
Loc: Cumberland County, Maine
Originally Posted By: Don P
You can tear at one another or realize you are not in competition and are in fact helping each other take away jobs from stick frame carpenters. But you probably don't care about that. What I have found at least in the log home field is that when the two factions fight or run each other down in public the public shakes their head and buys a modular smile




Who are you speaking to Don? What are you saying exactly? I have read this a couple of three times and am still decoding.



Our interest here, timber framing, is particularly unique in that it's highly pertinent to the whole tradition vs. technology debate. TF today is medieval construction techniques designed w/ (and sometimes even cut w/) computer equipment.

Cedar posted this thread to talk about the possibility of CNC eroding the future of hand-cut frames, and those who practice like skills.

Bensonwood's position (pro-CNC) is a fine example of modern TF and how it's being practiced by some big players today. We shouldn't feel that we can't name these folks when it's pertinent to a forum discussion.

I'm not jumping on Bensonwood for their position, merely pointing out said position. I said "...that is the path for them. They are contributing to the timber frame style, but most certainly undermining its tradition."

True enough, no?

_________________________
Don Perkins
Member, TFG


to know the trees...



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#18850 - 03/28/09 04:23 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: OurBarns1]
Ken Hume Offline
Member

Registered: 03/22/02
Posts: 934
Hi,

I don't think that its either - or - its both.

The Automated joinery making machine should be able to afford customers great economy for the manufacture of their timber frames but currently this benefit is not flowing because there is no incentive for automated joinery manufactuers to drop their prices. There are still too many hand cut frame manufacturers who keep frame prices artifically high. Those choosing to adopt the automated route face high initial investment costs and this has to be recouped and then of course there will quickly follow the perceived need to purchase an additional new super improved machine.

Its easy to loose sight of the whole process i.e. when a timber frame leaves the workshop (or is that factory) it still has to be delivered, raised, closed in and fitted out and so the perceived benefit of adopting an automated approach can simply move the bottleneck from manufacture to construction. Provided the construction teams can be adequately fed by a hand cut frame shop combined with the absence of a cost differential in the total finished product price then some very big players have deliberately chosen not to adopt the automated route becuase they perceive that the bottleneck lies elsewhere.

There will always be room for marketing differentiated products in the timber frame arena. Simply do what you do well and customers will place a value upon that quality approach.

Regards

Ken Hume
_________________________
Looking back to see the way ahead !

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#18853 - 03/28/09 08:10 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: OurBarns1]
Kevin L Offline
Member

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 23
Loc: Clayton Ga
It is like what manufactured trusses did for stick framing. It lowers the skill level of the person on the ground building the house. It is hard to find a young carpenter who can frame a compound stick built roof.

Now with the advent and popularity of the CNC timber frame shops the people on the ground are not as skilled as they once were. If an on site problem arises then who has the skills to correct it. I know the argument will be that "Well my guys can fix it" will be the current response from a CNC shop, but twenty years from now once the current crop of carpenters retires what will they say?

Kevin

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#18855 - 03/28/09 09:42 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Kevin L]
bmike Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 918
Loc: Burlington, VT

Have you worked with a crew from a CNC shop?

The CNC shops that I know are doing good design build work - I don't feel that this statement is accurate.

There are probably shops out there that design the joinery as the machine can cut it, that radius the timbers to they plug into anything the CNC router cuts... and yes, they bring down the value of our craft.

There are also hand shops that cut corners, fail to house joinery when it makes the most sense (housings take long to cut!), lag bolt things where no-one will see them, pass off 'post and beam' as timber framing... etc. etc.

There are crooks and whores in any business.

And there are honest people making use of technology to advance their vision of the craft and tradition of home building - often with timber framing at its core.


The loss of the iconic carpenter of yesteryear is a fault of any number of things... least of which should be 'manufacturing'. How about a lack of traditional carpentry education? Lack of respect for people who work with their hands? Push in high schools to eliminate the arts and vocational programs and push to science and math...

Respect and a decent wage would go a long way to bringing young people to learn framing - be it with timber or sticks. The CNC shop that I worked for and managed the TF Design group at is doing just this - promoting a sense of community, bringing good jobs and benefits to a depressed county, supporting not only a pack of timber framers - but house builders, office staff, designers and architects, woodworkers, and has expanded to start this on the west coast too.

It is true, that when you walk in the door with minimal skills you probably won't be able to hand layout a compound roof system - but if you stick with it, in a better company - one that is investing in its future - you'll learn those skills and more.

And the notion that the timber magically flows from machine to forklift to jobsite is utter nonsense. There is A LOT of planning, thought, and HAND work that goes into timber framing with a CNC. Its just a complicated mortise maker and end cutter. It removes some of the 'brute' work in a production environment (when the client wants S4S material)... and it takes skill to operate - from the top on down to the summer labor that hand oils the timbers and sweeps the floor.



_________________________
Mike Beganyi Design and Consulting, LLC.
www.mikebeganyi.com

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#18856 - 03/28/09 09:43 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Kevin L]
bmike Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 918
Loc: Burlington, VT

Have you worked with a crew from a CNC shop?

The CNC shops that I know are doing good design build work - I don't feel that this statement is accurate.

There are probably shops out there that design the joinery as the machine can cut it, that radius the timbers to they plug into anything the CNC router cuts... and yes, they bring down the value of our craft.

There are also hand shops that cut corners, fail to house joinery when it makes the most sense (housings take long to cut!), lag bolt things where no-one will see them, pass off 'post and beam' as timber framing... etc. etc.

There are crooks and whores in any business.

And there are honest people making use of technology to advance their vision of the craft and tradition of home building - often with timber framing at its core.


The loss of the iconic carpenter of yesteryear is a fault of any number of things... least of which should be 'manufacturing'. How about a lack of traditional carpentry education? Lack of respect for people who work with their hands? Push in high schools to eliminate the arts and vocational programs and push to science and math...

Respect and a decent wage would go a long way to bringing young people to learn framing - be it with timber or sticks. The CNC shop that I worked for and managed the TF Design group at is doing just this - promoting a sense of community, bringing good jobs and benefits to a depressed county, supporting not only a pack of timber framers - but house builders, office staff, designers and architects, woodworkers, and has expanded to start this on the west coast too.

It is true, that when you walk in the door with minimal skills you probably won't be able to hand layout a compound roof system - but if you stick with it, in a better company - one that is investing in its future - you'll learn those skills and more.

And the notion that the timber magically flows from machine to forklift to jobsite is utter nonsense. There is A LOT of planning, thought, and HAND work that goes into timber framing with a CNC. Its just a complicated mortise maker and end cutter. It removes some of the 'brute' work in a production environment (when the client wants S4S material)... and it takes skill to operate - from the top on down to the summer labor that hand oils the timbers and sweeps the floor.



_________________________
Mike Beganyi Design and Consulting, LLC.
www.mikebeganyi.com

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#18859 - 03/28/09 10:55 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: bmike]
OurBarns1 Offline
Member

Registered: 03/17/08
Posts: 570
Loc: Cumberland County, Maine
Originally Posted By: bmike


The loss of the iconic carpenter of yesteryear is a fault of any number of things... least of which should be 'manufacturing'. How about a lack of traditional carpentry education? Lack of respect for people who work with their hands? Push in high schools to eliminate the arts and vocational programs and push to science and math...

Respect and a decent wage would go a long way to bringing young people to learn framing - be it with timber or sticks.





Amen to that.

One factor seems to drive a seemingly headlong approach to the "minimization" of traditional carpentry skills: as a society we value the modern, plain and simple. We seem to worship the new-and-improved in nearly everything. Keeping up w/ the Joneses in a post-war "modern era" became a fever of sorts we still have firmly ingrained.

Why do car companies need to release a new model each year? Why not every 5 years? Because the public likes to trade up and have "the latest." Any car company that doesn't will be seen as falling behind and loose market share.

John Q. Public thinks a house designed by the latest in CNC-equipped technology will have more value than a "traditionaly-built" home. He can tell / impress his neighbors that his contractor employed the latest CNC, computer numerically-controlled, German-built Hundegger cutting machinery. Customized to integrate with CADWORK® software, to cut timbers up to 50 feet and joinery details within tolerances of 1/32 inch in one operation, quickly and affordably, with the highest quality and with a minimum of handwork.

At one time history tells us that artisans were highly valued members of society. Timber framers and joiners among them. We no longer have a model that values "working w/ you hands." But as we have stated, in reality working w/ your hands involves plenty of mental acuity (framing a compound roof).

I mean do parents want their kids to be carpenters or programmers?

Hopefully the pendulum can swing back a bit.



_________________________
Don Perkins
Member, TFG


to know the trees...



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#18862 - 03/28/09 11:38 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: OurBarns1]
bmike Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 918
Loc: Burlington, VT
Or they are more likely to say - "wow, we got a great deal on this place from that bumpkin down the road! look at how hard he works. he's got those amish kids working for almost nothing framing the house and those guys in the shop cutting the timber frame! he really could raise his prices and make a killing in the business. we really got a deal"

i doubt people go around quoting some marketing spiel about a hundegger. true, there are folks that want the latest and greatest and wear it on their sleeves. but for the most part, folks i've dealt with have come in by word of mouth - because of a pleasant and fair and honest approach (however costly) to designing and building their home. this applies to a machine shop or not.

and you should really check up on a few CNC shops. you might be surprised at how people still get to 'work with their hands'.

_________________________
Mike Beganyi Design and Consulting, LLC.
www.mikebeganyi.com

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#18869 - 03/28/09 03:32 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: ]
Will Truax Offline
Member

Registered: 05/02/02
Posts: 447
Loc: Center Barnstead NH

I don’t feel like John Henry, I’m swinging at a different spike…

And I’ll keep my sabot’s firmly on my feet. I used to worry, not about the machine, but about the sales teams necessarily attached to them, but don’t do even that any more.

For some percentage of the potential clientele out there, big beamy chunks of wood and price is what they’re shopping for, it’s all good – I’m looking for that other percentage, who’ve maybe spent a little more thought, and want something more, natty curves, carvings and embellishments, maybe hewn exposed surfaces or funky frame and panel enclosures. There are also those looking for someone who is either local, or with whom their personality clicks. Like I said, it’s all good.

There will always be those looking for that different somebody to drive that different spike.

The rest of the time I’m happy to help restore the work of those we follow.

This I think is somewhat analogous to the situation. A person highly capable with the beautifully wrought tool of their choice – Give him a few minutes to crank it up and you’ll be wowed – He’ll never chart in the top forty, and I don’t think he wants to.

Give a listen - The Ballad of John Henry

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEmWC5rQlBo
_________________________
"We build too many walls and not enough bridges" - Isaac Newton

http://bridgewright.wordpress.com/


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#18887 - 03/29/09 06:38 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: bmike]
Gabel Offline

Member

Registered: 11/18/03
Posts: 687
Loc: Georgia
Originally Posted By: bmike
Originally Posted By: Gabel


Good question. The advent and proliferation of automated joinery machines has already and will continue to affect the prospects of carpenters who build timber frames. The bigger shops who use these don't employ as many carpenters -- that's a fact. and the one's who are employed are required to do less carpentry (and more material handling).

I know there are different kinds of CNC companies out there and some of them use it as just another tool and continue to do cool and challenging things and employ skilled and creative people. But...





This is a half truth (in bold).
There are a few good companies doing CNC work that are able to have more timber framers and carpenters on staff. One company is able to support 10-14 timber framers - from apprentice to 'master', a crew of 8 carpenters from journey man to seasoned pro, and a complete custom cabinet and woodshop.



Mike,

Whether we like it or not, the fact is the CNC machine replaces hand work. That means it replaces hands.

Perhaps as some companies made the leap to automation, they were able to grow their sales fast enough that they actually added people rather than letting carpenters go. That's great. But to do the same volume of work without the machine would require even more people. Automation replaces people -- that's a simple fact.

I am sure there are responsible users of this technology, but that does not change the fact that all automation replaces man hours. That is the point of it. I hear it called "brute work" or "drudgery" or "repetetive tasks", but in the end it is all work and it all used to be done by a guy with a tool in his hand.


I'm out of time once more, but I am enjoying everyone's perspective on this and will look forward to continuing later.

_________________________
Gabel

www.holderbros.com

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#19086 - 04/10/09 10:25 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Gabel]
Dave Shepard Online   content
Member

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 707
Loc: Alford, MA
In 2006 I looked into working for a large TF company formerly in upstate New York. The job entailed about two weeks in the shop cleaning up timbers after being run through the Hundegger. Then it was off to the raising, where I'd spend two weeks or so raising the frame and installing the sips panels. And all for about the same money an hour that Dunkin Donuts was starting people. Room for advancement was limited, and it did not sound as though they did much that couldn't be run through their machine.

I decided that my view of timber framing was much different, and that I would not have enjoyed the experience. I've decided to take someones advice, and put a frame up on the side of the road, and let things go from there.
_________________________
Member, Timber Framers Guild

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#19087 - 04/10/09 10:38 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Dave Shepard]
bmike Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 918
Loc: Burlington, VT
looks like that machine was a good thing then...
_________________________
Mike Beganyi Design and Consulting, LLC.
www.mikebeganyi.com

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#19088 - 04/10/09 10:45 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: bmike]
Dave Shepard Online   content
Member

Registered: 02/19/06
Posts: 707
Loc: Alford, MA
I am not sure that I follow you. Good because it sent me on my own more traditional path?


Edited by Dave Shepard (04/10/09 10:45 PM)
_________________________
Member, Timber Framers Guild

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#19089 - 04/10/09 11:58 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Dave Shepard]
Mark Davidson Offline
Member

Registered: 11/12/03
Posts: 1116
Loc: Keene,Ontario, Canada
The world needs MORE roadside timberframes!!!!!
go for it.

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#19090 - 04/11/09 06:14 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Mark Davidson]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
The best form of advertising money can buy, a road side frame. It is two fold, it will attract clients and after that it doubles as a usable building, no add in print can do that.

Tim

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#19092 - 04/11/09 07:11 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Dave Shepard]
bmike Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/08
Posts: 918
Loc: Burlington, VT
Originally Posted By: Dave Shepard
I am not sure that I follow you. Good because it sent me on my own more traditional path?


it proved that the machine will not take over the world, and for those who oppose this technology, your step can be seen as a good one in the struggle against the oppressive nature of the mechanization of timber framing. your choice is certainly not a sabot thrown into the red clamps of the hundegger - but it proves that there is enough room in building structures for all comers...

sort of my point in general in another reply in this thread.
_________________________
Mike Beganyi Design and Consulting, LLC.
www.mikebeganyi.com

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#19096 - 04/11/09 12:19 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: bmike]
cedar Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/08
Posts: 49
I worked in the forest industry here in BC Canada. When it was computerized and modernized in the mid-1980's. It created more jobs than replacing them at the time. Modernization left holes in the industry for specialization. So when I saw the hundegger guys pitching to the public at the trade show their superiority over the hand cut framers. I wondered if the same thing would happen again. Modernization and computerization leaving gaps in the industry for specializtion. Machines will never replace the brains and skills of Craftsman. Good marketing by small shops will always draw clients to them.

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#19098 - 04/11/09 01:17 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
Originally Posted By: cedar
Machines will never replace the brains and skills of Craftsman.


I believe it will in the long run, in the mean time, it will put a big dent in it. So for now I am going to continue to sharpen all of my tools.

Tim

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#19105 - 04/11/09 09:28 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: ]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
Loc: Maine
Derek, that has just about left me speechless. Who would have thought. Worse case example, or a second chance. I get to live in a nature preserve. A return to Eden, or earlier, back to hunter gatherers. Maybe we get a second chance, and are once more tested by the forbidden fruit, agriculture. Would we take a bite the second time? Maybe we are just repeating cycles.

What are tinfoil hats used for?

Tim

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#19115 - 04/12/09 01:11 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
cedar Offline
Member

Registered: 12/24/08
Posts: 49
I like the luddite definition too!!!! My wife and I can live in a wilderness reserve with other luddites. At least we know that we will be in good company. I will only bring my hand tools for timber framing. Hell I will bring draft horses. So we can build as our forefathers did.
While the cyborgs watch and feel sorry for us.

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#19301 - 04/18/09 02:40 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
Thane O'Dell Offline

Member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 234
Loc: Ontario Canada
There are those that don't care how or where it was made...and then there is us.
A business man will buy a machine.
A Timber Framer, joiner, housewright or what ever...will sharpen his axe.
There we always be machines...who cares.

Thane
_________________________
Life is short so put your heart into something that will last a long time.

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#20385 - 06/16/09 11:18 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Thane O'Dell]
Timber Goddess Offline
Member

Registered: 12/04/05
Posts: 574
Loc: Golden, B.C.
My gosh.
I don't know what to say...where to start!

Well, it's been almost 2 months since a post was made here, so I suppose I have time to make a few comments on this topic here and there wink

I'll start with this:
Many of you know parts of my story - I started the trade hand cutting, and when the machine rolled into the shop I ran it for a few years. I watched changes happen, people leaving, new people coming. Even i left - the machine got boring, I wanted a challenge. I went back to hand cutting. I ran out of work, went back to school, got a diploma, and now I'm back with the original company.

During this time the economy has gone from mind-blowing surreal-ness to utter crap, but there's still the same amount of work as when I started, and the same amount of workers at the shop. It's true that many of the timber framers left the company when the K2 came, but they have all started their own businesses, and are doing very well in this area of the world. I am good friends with them all (about a dozen, at least) and they all have work.

And this is attributed to the company that I now work for again. It created not competition, or loss of work for anyone, but great timber framers. I'm so happy for them! And between the shop, the mill, on site, the design department and administration, there's a lot of jobs at our company.

The K2 changed things for sure, but if it hadn't have come along there would not be as many jobs, and not as many timber framing businesses.

There is still a lot of skill involved in the shop and in running the machine(you gotta know wood!) That's a topic for another day.

So, yeah... seen it, been it...it's ok here.

Peace
*K


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#20403 - 06/18/09 02:43 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: Timber Goddess]
mo Offline
Member

Registered: 11/04/06
Posts: 850
Loc: Charleston, SC
Where is the person who designed and built the first cnc prototype? He is not here to defend himself! I'll bet it was Oppenheimer himself!

Man built a machine
The machine is complex.
Complexity requires skill.
The man must be skilled.

Without skilled man, there is no machine.

Craftsman of a different sort?

I'm not worried, I work in 64ths. smile


P.S. when you combine all the expenses of compatible software and the machine against the mind of a craftsman with paper and (more simple and less expensive)tools. hmmmmm.
you can depreciate paper, pencils, and circular saws a lot quicker. Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.


Edited by mo (06/18/09 02:52 PM)

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#24190 - 08/18/10 08:22 AM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ?
Paul Freeman Offline


Member

Registered: 02/24/99
Posts: 136
Loc: Lyndeborough, NH
We built a "machine" in the '80's. It has a saw, router, and gang drill. We use "hand" power tools and slicks to clean up the mortices, square up the rounded pockets, and finely tune the shoulders to the specific beam that sits there.

I've long maintained that we've found a good balance between machine and man. The machine does the heavy lifting and hogging, the craftsman make the final cuts. The owner sees a thing of beauty that otherwise he couldn't afford. Our frames are not "furniture grade", but neither are our clients. But you know what, the client's that had stick frame budgets but buy our frames and fill the gap with their own sweat and toil are so much more appreciative than the "second homeless" that are looking for a turnkey showpiece on their lakefront property.

I think it's an honorable thing to blend technology and craftsmanship in a way that offers responsible construction that supports sustainability and energy efficiency to those that otherwise might not have afforded it.

We were the first to build a timber cutting machine, first to incorporatate CNC in timber framing (and panel cutting as well)we built the first tenoner. I'm pretty sure we are the oldest timber framing company in the country. Granted we describe ourselves as Post & Beam, but in the 60's there was no distinction between the two. Things change - definitions, companies, industry, customers and economies - but that's not a bad thing, diversity is the result, and THAT is a GOOD thing.

Oppenheimer
_________________________
www.brookspostandbeam.com

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#32700 - 11/30/14 03:09 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
BTF Offline
Member

Registered: 06/26/09
Posts: 19
Loc: Calgary, Ab. CDN
I revisit the automation posts from time to time. Sometimes wishing for less industry and more handcrafting. I really enjoy my chain mortisers, large skill saws, chain saws,and routers though. Using technology is a matter of balance of many factors. There is room for all, but few people can make a living being a luddite.
When I first got into carpentry in the early eighties, I hand nailed one house together and immediately bought pneumatic nailers and staplers, etc. does that mean I don't use my hammer any more? Hardly, but to build houses with a handsaw and a hammer is not going to put much bread on the table. It's our modern age, and thank God for it.
The large CNC companies have made a huge investment in timber framing. It has awakened the public's interest in many cases to the craft. There is no better way to cut a timber frame on a 4000 sq ft house, working in tandem with guys that can hand cut changes/ additions.
What I and my crew offer is generally more than any specialized company can. We don't always get to "do it all" from survey to furniture, but as formally educated Journeyman Carpenters with well rounded experience, we can. The construction industry(as with all industries)generally pigeon holes carpenters into specific categories. (ie. the framer does not do any finishing or cabinetry). It usually takes decades (and a desire for life-long learning) to become proficient in all these areas, let alone expert.
Over the decades, municipalities have taken a way a lot of the structural carpenter's responsibility with trusses etc. Even regular stick frame walls are prefabbed sometimes in a factory.
Prefabbing walls off site is a step backwards in efficiency, but it is often promoted by salesmen.
The real challenge for the TFG and Carpenter certification in general is relevancy. I have had my Red Seal Journeyman Carpenter qualification since 1989. a four year classroom and on site education, yet it has no value outside of an industrial/union setting. Most of us could use the diploma/certificate in the porta potty when the tp is all gone. I overheard two technology teachers talking at a tool store recently. Very few carpentry students complete the course. they just go off and work and never come back. they get stuck at 2nd level apprentice forever.
Elevating the title of Carpenter from "flunkie with a hammer" to "professional tradesman" would benefit builders, home buyers/owners, and municipalities alike.
This post touches on many subjects here. Growing the TFG, making it's apprenticeship program as well as the general carpentry apprenticeship programs relevant in the (residential mostly)construction industry, depends on the support of Municipal,State/Provincial Governments,it won't happen otherwise.
There is no will on the part of any Government I know of to support such a vision. The suits have taken over and have tried for decades to turn Carpenters into simple labourers. I think this is at the heart of any negative feelings toward CNC companies whether it is in the timber industry or elsewhere. No
craftsman wants to work on what feels like an assembly line, that's why we don't work in the auto industry.
The good news is that as hard as suits try to erode the carpenter's role, an intelligent highly skilled Carpenter will always find a place, because they will never be fully replaceable. The bad news is that automation can truncate skill development if it is not managed well.
Damn suits and bankers smile

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#32701 - 12/05/14 03:20 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: BTF]
Allen Offline
Member

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.

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

Member

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.

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#32703 - 12/06/14 07:37 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
TIMBEAL Offline
Member

Registered: 12/10/07
Posts: 1875
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.

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#32723 - 01/08/15 04:53 PM Re: Will the CNC replace hand made frames ? [Re: cedar]
Jon Senior Offline
Member

Registered: 05/04/11
Posts: 112
"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
_________________________
Jon

Contemporary Norman longhouse in Normandy

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

Registered: 11/07/05
Posts: 269
Loc: Becket, MA
I'm with you on that Jon.
_________________________
www.uncarvedblockinc.com

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