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I was in the local Orange Behemoth not long ago, and saw some woodworking magazine with the phrase ‘CNC magic’ on the cover. The picture was a geometric bowlish object – one of those things that looks like it was made with the 3D equivalent of a spirograph. I made an involuntary noise. ‘Bless you’ chimed the woman at the nearest register.

I don’t begrudge anyone their hobbies. And I know that there’s a lot of mental skill involved in programming one of those bowls into the machine. But for the life of me I can’t see how those skills have much to do with woodworking, anymore than I think playing ‘annoying birds’ is like learning physics. Maybe I’m kidding myself, but to my thinking CNC bowls are to woodworking as Big Macs are to beef. Technically speaking, they may be part of the same general category, but that doesn’t make the insinuation any less offensive to a ribeye.

Me? I’ve gotten very clear that I’m at my best when I spend my time and money on skills rather than on machines. It’s not the smart move. The smart move is to get an MBA and pay some ‘skilled laborer’ to make my stuff for me.

But personally I am pretty comfortable with having traded any possibility of a McLaren in for the chance to make things with my hands.

I try not to sob in public.

This week my hands made up a screen and ceiling shade for a client’s kitchen. This is the sound of speed.

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