It seems that with every paradigm shift within any industry, there are those who stick to old methods at their own detriment, mostly due to fear.
New ways ARE superior
I have seen more then my fair share of websites dedicated to why the “old” way of doing things is far superior to “new” advances. The reasons why the new things are inferior are usually pushed by those with a vested interest in keeping the status-quo. Woodworking websites are one of the many industries I plan on entering with the hopes of modernizing and improving upon. Gone are the days of mail-order blueprints that cost $19.95 plus shipping and handling, gone are the days when it took a few trees and weeks in a woodworking shop to perfect a design and most importantly, gone are the days when you have to be a master carpenter to “not” screw-up following confusing step-by-step instructions that are full of mumbo-jumbo and words of days gone bye. Yes, my friends, these old days are replaced with computer designed models, pdf files that can be easily e-mailed and best of all, making what use to be a very obscure trade open to everybody regardless of experience.
The naysayers are adamant, they truly believe, like the days where horses where better then cars, film cameras where better then digital and ice was better then refrigeration using compressors… that the old craftsman methods are the best way to design. I am here to say they are WRONG! Not by a little bit either, but we are already well on our way into a revolution in the woodworking field, where CNC machines will becoming cheap enough so that people can simply program a lathe to produce 100 identical pins, where molded electrostatic machines can create a 3 dimensional physical model in only a few hours out of hard resin and where the traditional methods of construction will be replaced with far more superior and efficient methods. I did this when I offered 3D animation services back in 1996 to draftsmen who said “paper and pencil is the only way to true design”, web design services to marketing companies who believed that “printed brochures are better then a website” and now, electronic documents for WoodMarvels.
WoodMarvels.com Revolution: Why computerized designs ARE better
There are tonnes of reason why 3D models built from scratch in a computer are vastly superior to pencil, hours in the shop and photographs.
The first is simply the advantages of using an electronic medium, for instance, if I cut a piece of wood and realize I need an extra 1/8th of an inch for a snug fit, I either have to re-cut other pieces of the model to fit or grab a new piece of wood. Not so in a computer, I can cut, re-cut, lathe… you name it, anything can be modified at any time during the active designing process. A great example was when I built the Mayan Temple Bank (in the “Banks” category), at first, I envisioned simply having the top come “off” in order to remove the money that was put inside of it, similar to how the Volcano Bank works, but instead, I decided to cut away on one side and actually make the staircase the mechanism for removing the money. If I had thought of doing this with wood, hours of sanding and re-cutting would have had to be performed. Going through that trouble in a woodworking shpo may well have had me simply give up as well, opting for the simpler design. This required extensive redesigning but I was able to change the width of openings, modify the size of each stair and fix up the top dowels with ease.
Whether woodworkers want to admit it or not, being surrounded by wood dust is actually considered a big hazard. Working on a computer causes no health effects as long as you supplement it with plenty of activities that keep the waistline in check. I also think it’s healthier for the customer as well, they can simply trace out the models and cut, no need to measure ANYTHING. If you played with Lego, then you have more then enough skills to build your very own WoodMarvels.
The designs can be as precise down to the 1/1000th of an inch but plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of room is given as wood expands and contracts depending on humidity levels. I come from a family of accomplished woodcrafters and have taken classes myself as well. These designs aren’t built by somebody who never touched wood but who has intimate knowledge about how it performs under various stresses. A computer is great to design but at the end of the day, understanding of the medium at hand is just as vital.
Like any engineer, the models on WoodMarvels are generally over-built, meaning that as each part fit into the other, overall strength of the model is increased. This is also done by using internal dowels for added rigidity, double supports such as seen in the “Crab” model (see “Crustaceans” category) and a host of layering. The last thing you want to do is build a model that falls apart! We do this without using any nails, screws, only glue and layering. Of course, if you wish to use screws, feel free but they are not necessary. The level of precision needed to accomplish this is a challenge even to great traditional craftsmen.
More Environmentally Friendly
Working on a computer, I use a fraction of the electricity designing a model then I would in a woodworking shop. I also prevent trees from uselessly being cut down as I work out the kinks in your WoodMarvels. In addition to this, offering the documents electronically means no fossil fuels are spent to deliver a hard copy, you can just print the document you purchased at our leisure. No trees cut for oil reserves, no trees cut in testing nor any trees cut in creating promotional materials. Life sure is grand!
There are also a number of bonuses to creating a model within a 3D program, in this case 3D Studio Max. You may not be familiar with the program but if you saw any Hollywood movie in the last 15 years, you have seen the power of this program in the fields of visual effects. After a model is designed, full-color renders (photographs) can be taken of the model with semi-transparency if needed to show how things fit with one another. This prevents lots of guessing on your part and greatly increases efficiency. In addition, a 3D animation showing how each part, and I mean EVERY PART of the model fit into one another simply makes then entire building process incredibly easy even if you never worked in woodcrafts before. I couldn’t imagine doing these animations using stop-action film photography neither 😉
The Bottom Line
Computer aided design is here to stay, join the future or die in the past.