Well, epirnik said it best, "nobody's suggesting CNC machines will take the place of a knowledgable craftsperson."
I am a CNC programer and machinist making hydraulic equipment and I can vouch for this personally. At the shop where I work, there is a gentleman referred to as "the old man" who operates the manual machines. He is the master of the mill and lord of the lathe, my words. I am constantly leaning on his experience and trying to learn as much from him as I can before he retires (which he always swears is next week, every week). I will probably never use one of the manual machines in this shop, as I tend to use the CNC's in manual fashion if needed, but I use the knowledge I gain from talking to a true craftsman in everything I make.
JeffB said "a project looses something when you simply program a machine to do some of the creative work." That is just not possible. Maybe you just misspoke, but if you are able to program a computer to be creative that is a true milestone in artificial intelligence. The design and creativity always comes from a human.
Robin9 made me cringe by saying "I can honestly say that there is little woodworking knowledge required when compared to a true craftsman, and next to no actual woodworking skill needed" and that "Soon fine furniture will be done completely by computer jockeys using CNC. There will be little to no skill required, no true craftsmanship." No skill required? The argument that many of those in opposition to CNC machines hold is that it cannot be done, not that it requires no skill. Furthermore it takes a great amount of knowledge and careful setup to get quality results from a CNC machine. Whatever skill is needed to complete a project by hand must be translated into a set of precise instructions that a computer can follow. If you are good, you can do it yourself; if you are great, you can teach someone else to do it.
schwa6970 writes: "I have been a furniture maker for 20 years and I dont think in my 20 years I have ruined this much lumber as they did in a typical work week. I firmly believe that cnc machines do not belong anywhere near hard wood of any kind." This reminds me of an old adage, "a poor craftsman blames his tools" with the exception that you are doing it for them. It would have been helpful to show these people at your shop what they were doing wrong and teach them how to fix it; just because you can control the motion of a CNC machine does not mean you can cut and shape wood. You had the opportunity to make craftsman out of computer programers, take the opportunity the next time it comes up and help keep quality woodworking alive.
I don't want to sound rude (failed) but the idea of a CNC machine as a magic green "start" button that churns out poorly made Swedish furniture is a misconception. Creativity does not come from 1s and 0s in a computer, skill is not as limited as some would think, and for every poorly made project you show me I will show you a craftsman that lacks skill and knowledge. Regardless of the tool(s) used...
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