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Thread: Good enough vs overkill

  1. #76
    I think marks response is valid as hard a time I have admitting it. I’ll let you all decide what mark I’m talking about.

    As a guy that makes stuff for a living. The guy that actually makes the stuff not the one that keeps the business above water. I can say this it has been my observation that mark is spot on in his assessment of most making a living of any sort working with wood. Further even those running even moderately successful business seem to me to have some benefactor myself included. Form what I have seen and I have been exposed to numerous shops/makers whatever at this point is people tend to have a spouse with a good job and are filling in as a stay at home dad in most cases. Or come from wealth and things are either funded by mom and dad or at the very least knowing mom and dad have something to leave them and are in no rush to kill themself doing anything they don’t want to. There just really is not all that much of any money in making things other than a meager hard earned living be you the boss or the employee.

    The case of the benefactor seems to come into play “at least from what I have seen” to a larger degree the finer the work the person is producing.

    There’s no rules or lines in sand here in my statements and lots of exceptions to my experiences and observations but that is what I have seen and self admittedly where I fit in also.

    In the time I have been making fine things and I’m not casting stones in any direction here and I know I’m just as guilty of passing judgment if not ore so than most, but makers of nice stuff seem to have a very snobbish entitled view on the world myself included. I’m not proud of it and when I see it in others makes it really turns me off and makes me not even want to be part of the dam club. But alas I’m totally a quality overkill snob. Not much I can do about it as it’s who I am at my core as Mark often points out regarding us perfectionists. All I can do is be aware of it, mind my passing judgment and try to limit it and at all times proceed taking into account hurting others feels or judging them for anything other than having say a ugly hate filled heart is not who I want to be. Each to his own we all have a place to fit in and role to play.

    But yup I kinda a snobbish ass hole and I surely am aware of it. And if for not other reasons that I do actually believe that 99.9% of the crap I have found a way to get paid to make is really nothing more than glorified garbage.
    Last edited by Patrick Walsh; 06-02-2020 at 7:34 PM.

  2. #77
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    Hi Mark,

    Thanks for your analysis.

    My original post was a dig at the modern "throw away attitude" that's all.


    At 66 years of age i have seen some very good work from many trades, i have also seen some very bad work. I don't believe it has much to do with catering to "The customers wants"
    I have had a lot machine work done at many machine shops. The quality of work varied greatly. Not "the customer wants"
    I had one shop weld a piece of round bar to a bracket for me, a trivial job, but excellently done, I put that down to the welder caring a lot about doing a good job, not the budget or specs.
    I know of several shops that make windows, one, well equipped, and does excellent work, another, poorly equipped, does lower quality work. Nothing to do with "customer wants" or budget The good one is run by a highly skilled woodworker that knows his trade and cares about doing good work. the other is run by a businessman who doesn't appear to have the same interest in the work.

    Your kitchen part is quite strange; i am not sure what i said that made you think that. I was talking about how things are built. I made furniture.
    Mostly what i was talking about is the fact that a for a lot woodworking, construction is not specified, and is up to the makers to decide on what type of construction and tolerance they use.
    If you make doors, or tables what do you do, full mortise and tenons, stub tenons, dowels, biscuits, dominoes, screwed and plugged etc.. when its put together your customer can't tell what method you used or what tolerance.

    I had a few friends who "married well" ,or had benefactors and had their woodworking subsidized. i didn't; i had to fully support a wife and two kids, a mortgage and commercial shop rent, car payments, bank loans etc.
    So i had to try and learn to do things efficiently. So got decent equipment. With the right equipment, you can do better work, more efficiently and more profitably.That math is simply math also.
    You probably wont ever make much money making furniture unless you are famous. You get to do nice work in your own shop and scrape by.

    If you think that i have some kind of mental illness, you are probably right. No logical reason to do any more than you have to.







    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Bolton View Post
    So are you in an internal war here insinuating that anyone from an auto mechanic to a furniture maker to a high-rise architect, who evaluates the customers wants, needs, desires, in direct and solumn correlation to thier budget, are somehow being hacks, or scammers, or somehow "less-than", in your mind? Your comments read like the really sad but tried and true recipie for so many who work in this hobby/industry. Someone who simply cant see the forest for the trees, cant adjust their process to meet the specifications of the job, and to that end, they never are truly profitable. The either operate in a world where their neruocies leave them with a balance sheet that equates to $.0875/hour in compensation OR in the more common incantation they are in the dead negative column because its a hobby and they have income from elswhere or retirement, or they have a spouse with a good job (who likley wants to gouge your eyeballs out because they'd like to have a vacation or fat 401K), and you justify going WAY WAY WAY WAY WAY above and beyond NOT because the job or project commands it, but because your neurotic nature cant shake itself free of the Rainman model of moving through the world?

    A kitchen designer doesnt design a kitchen with high dollar euro appliances, imported tile, and high dollar accents, even though they may feel its best for the structure.. they design to the client and to the budget. Whether it be hobby or proffessioinal the math is simply the math.

    Your initial post insinuating that the alternative to anal retentive overkill is a catastrophic bridge collapse is a bit crazy. There is a mile of perfectly viable ground between the overkill and the extreme of a bridge collapse. Understood it speaks to your need to justify going 63 miles off base in overkill which its wonderful that you have that luxury. But to insinuate that the miles of perfectly solid ground between you, and a bridge collapse, is somehow, I dont know.... crappy? Is pretty self endulgent.

    Mike Stetsons, and the other posts that speak to designing and manufacturing ANYTHING to the specifications and standards commensurate with its use and cost are spot on hobby or not. Its fine if that doesnt work for someone and they are comfortable with their loss in going overkill but just as you stated,.. dont force it on others. Post #1 clearly attempted to insinuate that the alternative to overkill is a catastrophic bridge collapse..

    Weird.

  3. #78
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    Hi Patrick,

    My guess is that "most" people in the woodworking business are there partially because of a love of the trade,
    Some are there simply because its a way to make money and they have found a niche in the market that hey can fill profitably.
    A few that do over the top, money is no object, (the ones that i knew at least) were like you say funded from some other source and didn't have to worry about paying the bills.
    Most in the business, that i know of have to earn a living at it, and also take pride in doing a good job, and do some level above and beyond what they actually have to do.
    It is a struggle to find a balance where you can earn a living and feel good about what you do in woodworking, not impossible, but tough.
    I don't think that it is snobbish to take pride in your work, and I think that it's understandable to be a little judgmental when you see people in the trade doing shoddy work.
    I think that most in the woodworking trade are in the overkill camp at some level and do far more than they actually have to, to get paid.




    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Walsh View Post
    I think marks response is valid as hard a time I have admitting it. I’ll let you all decide what mark I’m talking about.

    As a guy that makes stuff for a living. The guy that actually makes the stuff not the one that keeps the business above water. I can say this it has been my observation that mark is spot on in his assessment of most making a living of any sort working with wood. Further even those running even moderately successful business seem to me to have some benefactor myself included. Form what I have seen and I have been exposed to numerous shops/makers whatever at this point is people tend to have a spouse with a good job and are filling in as a stay at home dad in most cases. Or come from wealth and things are either funded by mom and dad or at the very least knowing mom and dad have something to leave them and are in no rush to kill themself doing anything they don’t want to. There just really is not all that much of any money in making things other than a meager hard earned living be you the boss or the employee.

    The case of the benefactor seems to come into play “at least from what I have seen” to a larger degree the finer the work the person is producing.

    There’s no rules or lines in sand here in my statements and lots of exceptions to my experiences and observations but that is what I have seen and self admittedly where I fit in also.

    In the time I have been making fine things and I’m not casting stones in any direction here and I know I’m just as guilty of passing judgment if not ore so than most, but makers of nice stuff seem to have a very snobbish entitled view on the world myself included. I’m not proud of it and when I see it in others makes it really turns me off and makes me not even want to be part of the dam club. But alas I’m totally a quality overkill snob. Not much I can do about it as it’s who I am at my core as Mark often points out regarding us perfectionists. All I can do is be aware of it, mind my passing judgment and try to limit it and at all times proceed taking into account hurting others feels or judging them for anything other than having say a ugly hate filled heart is not who I want to be. Each to his own we all have a place to fit in and role to play.

    But yup I kinda a snobbish ass hole and I surely am aware of it. And if for not other reasons that I do actually believe that 99.9% of the crap I have found a way to get paid to make is really nothing more than glorified garbage.
    Last edited by Mark Hennebury; 06-03-2020 at 11:34 AM.

  4. #79
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    I think most would consider the German Panther to be the best tank of WWII. The T-34 was the most innovative tank, and the best early in the war.
    But that brings up the issue of what is best/quality. The Panther cost 4 times as much as a T-34 and was only somewhat superior. Which had higher quality? That's what this thread is about.

  5. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hennebury View Post
    Kevin you are probable right, my use of the term "good enough" was as in cheaply made. And "overkill" was as in made above minimum passable standards of quality, not as in badly designed overly heavy use of materials to compensate for bad design or such. Of course in reality we all call a stop at some point and say that's good enough, we can't go on indefinitely. So i apologize for any confusion. I posted the photo of the roman bridge as an example of "built to last"
    There are many great woodworkers doing excellent work, today as always. have you seen the work that Chris Hall did on his blog "The Carpentry way" Incredible stuff!
    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Lippman View Post
    The Panther cost 4 times as much as a T-34 and was only somewhat superior. Which had higher quality? That's what this thread is about.
    Wade, I thought the same as you until I saw Mark's clarification above about the subject matter of the thread. As is so often the case; words, especially subjective words, can have different meanings to different people. Speaking for myself, I was totally overthinking the original post.

    It's for Mark to say, but the post might have been nothing more than a simple appeal to not settle for the mediocre, and instead to strive for the highest standards of workmanship possible, all other things being equal.
    Implicitly nested within the point might be a lament (or lecture?) that standards have moved in the wrong direction over time. Of course, this is all a matter of opinion, including my interpretation.

    Speaking for myself only, I try to work to the highest standards of my abilities as a matter of personal satisfaction. I have a sign in my shop that says "Don't quit until you're proud".
    However, unless I'm a paying customer, it's not my place to judge the standards and practices of others. If we're just talking about standards of workmanship in a vacuum, it's for each craftsman to define his or her own standard. Often times, the answer is a negotiation of circumstances.
    Edwin
    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 06-03-2020 at 1:05 PM.

  6. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hennebury View Post
    I think that we have a moral obligation to do more than "good enough"

    That right there, Mark ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ is the sad commentary that, like it or not is mostly the truth of our existence here on the whole.
    Yes, it is on us to do better.
    I also agree most of us that are self employed are self employed because we worked for someone early on who dictated the "acceptable" standard of quality and speed and we knew better was possible.
    Interestingly, there actually ARE people out there willing to pay for better grades of work.

    Better work almost always lasts longer, is more efficient, or is better cared for- a win for the client, a win for the worker, a win for the planet.

    I take pride in ,
    1. furnishing a level that is hopefully above my clients expectation- so far, so good on that one.
    2. Using the proper materials and joinery to create something worthy over time to the cost of the planet and our ecosystem as compared to most of what I see.
    3. On the rare occasion putting some special effort in to create some visual perk not required, but adding value to me and my client. Testing my skills.
    4. Completing all of the above in a way financially that I can support my family and continue forward on this path- sometimes this one is hard!

    Trying to do all that and have mental capacity for the myriad other obligations and goals in life is plenty.
    Anyone outside that, can and will have varying viewpoints on it - some thinking it good, some thinking it doesn't go far enough.
    In the end, I can live with my choices, be happy, and feel I contributed to the "plus" side of the equation.

  7. #82
    Here is a pictorial example of at least part of how I understand Marks question.

    I’m rebuilding these pipe organ pieces. These deliver and distribute air to various pipes.

    These are a restoration project of sorts. The organ in question was subject to water damage result of a bad roof.

    As a result these boxes filled with water and distorted resulting in them no longer being air tight. They have to be air tight.

    Ok so interior organ parts from what I am coming to understand as a organ builder are crude at least and a form of function and only a form of function. It seems the easiest path to a functional solution is all that is employed. These practices in the organ world are a matter of tradition and from what I’m seeing a stubborn resistance to change even if in the name of improvement is highly frowned upon. It’s a very antiquated mindset of it fit was good enough all these years it’s good enough.

    Ok maybe you have a point but as a maker I’m always striving to improve upon anything be it my Woodworking or personal relationships.

    So these pieces are pretty much a box with a lid screwed on with a cardboard gasket. I figured the lids had warped And as a result I figured out I could throw the box portion through the planer to re flatten it’s edge again. They don’t need to be free or twist as they get screwed to something else that will flatten them out.

    So what does that leave for me for work. Remake the tops.

    As a result I opted to use the piece itself as a template.

    Worth mentioning is all hardware screws and all are always retained in restoration work. I mention so as using a screw with a smaller head is not a option.

    So what’s the issue and how does it relate.

    Well when routing the new lid to the box “attached with the original screws” I found whomever made the boxes the first time litters.ly missed the mark and didn’t place them properly as for the heads to not hang over the side.

    As a result the screw heads would have to be routed flush, edge sanded or files flush.

    3B5AE0AD-06A0-48D7-AC5C-5C82405DDCA2.jpg

    437DAFE7-9014-4235-B685-F9DA8019A265.jpg

    Picture showing the side profile and the box bottom glued to the sides and top secured on with cardboard sandwiched to creat a gasket.

    E789E461-BE9A-4BAE-B8FC-0EC0FA131F8A.jpg

    Wtf

    0942BB15-A38B-4204-9352-1711063CE05A.jpg

    No worries just keep going no pride here just a matter of function after all.

    E789E461-BE9A-4BAE-B8FC-0EC0FA131F8A.jpg

    Even worse than this is that organ building is all about air delivery. Very precise air delivery. Paramount is “air tight” and no air leaks.

    If that were to be the case these boxes that are nothing but butt joints pinned glued then screwed would and could have plenty of very basic “or complicated” joinery that would greatly aid in the whole air tight thing. At least as it pertains to the life span of a organ and say wood movement or glue failure.

    But no this is 100% good enough and I think for many a woodworker consumers alike also “good enough” for me this is a miserable failure and a sure sigh that a hack without any real pride or care for his work executed this work. After all this a organ “I am repairing” god knows how old and unlike modern kitchens and furniture the intention is they live on into infinity.

    So why on earth would you build something riddled with butt joints, pins fully reliant on glue and screws. Screws I get in places as to service and repair. But the true lack of basic woodworking technique is at least to me pathetic. Add to the the acceptance of miss like these screw heads or rampant tearout based upon its inside the case nobody will ever see it “unless they go into the organ” is well just not why I work wood. Heck it’s not why I do anything.

    Thought this was attune to topic pretty well..

  8. #83
    A perfect response. At least one that I can relate to and respect.

    Others may have different options and although foregoing the things like the planet doesn’t make me happy not much I can do but my part and do me,



    Quote Originally Posted by peter gagliardi View Post
    That right there, Mark ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ is the sad commentary that, like it or not is mostly the truth of our existence here on the whole.
    Yes, it is on us to do better.
    I also agree most of us that are self employed are self employed because we worked for someone early on who dictated the "acceptable" standard of quality and speed and we knew better was possible.
    Interestingly, there actually ARE people out there willing to pay for better grades of work.

    Better work almost always lasts longer, is more efficient, or is better cared for- a win for the client, a win for the worker, a win for the planet.

    I take pride in ,
    1. furnishing a level that is hopefully above my clients expectation- so far, so good on that one.
    2. Using the proper materials and joinery to create something worthy over time to the cost of the planet and our ecosystem as compared to most of what I see.
    3. On the rare occasion putting some special effort in to create some visual perk not required, but adding value to me and my client. Testing my skills.
    4. Completing all of the above in a way financially that I can support my family and continue forward on this path- sometimes this one is hard!
    A perfect response. At least one that I can relate to and respect.

    Others may have different options and although foregoing the things like the planet doesn’t make me happy not much I can do but my part and do me,


    Trying to do all that and have mental capacity for the myriad other obligations and goals in life is plenty.
    Anyone outside that, can and will have varying viewpoints on it - some thinking it good, some thinking it doesn't go far enough.
    In the end, I can live with my choices, be happy, and feel I contributed to the "plus" side of the equation.

  9. #84
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    My dream is that I can someday create furniture that has enough 'over the top' quality to be featured on the 'Flea Market Flip' TV show.

    Maybe someday.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  10. #85
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    Thank you Peter,

    You and a few others have understood what this was about.
    For those that didn't, i apologize for any misunderstanding and perceived offence.



    Quote Originally Posted by peter gagliardi View Post
    That right there, Mark ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ is the sad commentary that, like it or not is mostly the truth of our existence here on the whole.
    Yes, it is on us to do better.
    I also agree most of us that are self employed are self employed because we worked for someone early on who dictated the "acceptable" standard of quality and speed and we knew better was possible.
    Interestingly, there actually ARE people out there willing to pay for better grades of work.

    Better work almost always lasts longer, is more efficient, or is better cared for- a win for the client, a win for the worker, a win for the planet.

    I take pride in ,
    1. furnishing a level that is hopefully above my clients expectation- so far, so good on that one.
    2. Using the proper materials and joinery to create something worthy over time to the cost of the planet and our ecosystem as compared to most of what I see.
    3. On the rare occasion putting some special effort in to create some visual perk not required, but adding value to me and my client. Testing my skills.
    4. Completing all of the above in a way financially that I can support my family and continue forward on this path- sometimes this one is hard!

    Trying to do all that and have mental capacity for the myriad other obligations and goals in life is plenty.
    Anyone outside that, can and will have varying viewpoints on it - some thinking it good, some thinking it doesn't go far enough.
    In the end, I can live with my choices, be happy, and feel I contributed to the "plus" side of the equation.

  11. #86
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    On point, Thanks Edwin,



    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    Wade, I thought the same as you until I saw Mark's clarification above about the subject matter of the thread. As is so often the case; words, especially subjective words, can have different meanings to different people. Speaking for myself, I was totally overthinking the original post.

    It's for Mark to say, but the post might have been nothing more than a simple appeal to not settle for the mediocre, and instead to strive for the highest standards of workmanship possible, all other things being equal.
    Implicitly nested within the point might be a lament (or lecture?) that standards have moved in the wrong direction over time. Of course, this is all a matter of opinion, including my interpretation.

    Speaking for myself only, I try to work to the highest standards of my abilities as a matter of personal satisfaction. I have a sign in my shop that says "Don't quit until you're proud".
    However, unless I'm a paying customer, it's not my place to judge the standards and practices of others. If we're just talking about standards of workmanship in a vacuum, it's for each craftsman to define his or her own standard. Often times, the answer is a negotiation of circumstances.
    Edwin

  12. #87
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    I’m most on team “good enough”. When things aren’t so pretty, I tell people that it shows that the piece was handmade. “If you want dimensional perfection, go to IKEA”

    But sometimes I like to wallow in overkill. Once we were at a friends farm roasting hot dogs. We’d gon out into the brush and cut sticks. There are a number of problems with sticks:
    1. They tend to droop causing a weenie that sort of burnt at one end and raw at the other.
    2. Rotating the weenie is as most sticks are bent. See #1.
    3. Sticks can be short relulting in a roasted face.
    4. Marshmallows are another challenge. About the time the marshmallow cooks, the stick can’t rotate it.

    so... I said that I would provide the sticks next time.
    i constructed some 3’ aluminum tubes with a central shaft. At the back is a motor rotating about 10rpm using a 9v battery. At the front is a brass rod threaded for several attachments. The main attachment is a simple surgical grade SS spike for a hot dog. I also constructed some holders patterned after fishing pole holders so you can position your stick and step back thus not roasting your face. The second attachment is simply a way to hold two spikes in parallel for roasting marshmallows. With two spikes, you can get a golden orb nearly 3” in diameter.

    i built six of these things.

    i built a fitted case for all this nonsense and took it to the next weenie roast. It was mostly about the comedy of the overkill. But darned if they didn’t work! I was a pretty popular guy around the campfire for a while. I still have them and haul them out from time to time. Maybe when the grandkids are older...

  13. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by Patrick Walsh View Post
    So why on earth would you build something riddled with butt joints, pins fully reliant on glue and screws. Screws I get in places as to service and repair. But the true lack of basic woodworking technique is at least to me pathetic. Add to the the acceptance of miss like these screw heads or rampant tearout based upon its inside the case nobody will ever see it “unless they go into the organ” is well just not why I work wood. Heck it’s not why I do anything.

    Thought this was attune to topic pretty well..
    Funny you bring up musical instruments. The Ruckers family built some of what are considered the greatest sounding harpsichords ever created. Some of them are still playing despite being over 400 years old. Yet they are rampant with exactly the things you describe above. In fact one of their noted characteristics and methods of authentication is basically how sh!tty the construction is.

    Butt joints. Tear out. Split wood straight from the hatchet; no planing. Stuff held together with glue and nails or pegs (screws were way to expensive for them in the 1600s). Knots hidden by decoration. Poor quality wood.

    And yet, the action on the instruments is superb, even if somewhat crudely made. The sound is glorious. As noted many have survived for centuries. Their goal was to build beautiful sounding instruments; they did what they needed to and no more. They didn't waste time with better joinery because it did not improve the instrument, it just made it take more time to make. In fact, it is speculated that some things were done to deliberately weaken the instrument because it improved the sound.

    On that organ, did the "sloppy" construction fail prior to being flooded? Does the tear out harm the tone? If not, don't be too judgmental on its builders. They built it to make music, not impress cabinet makers. If anything, what about the roof that leaked? That seems to be the main issue of poor construction

    Back to harpsichords, many were built with absolutely flawless cabinetry by builders in the early to mid 20th century. Unfortunately, they also didn't understand what was important musically on the instruments. They were very overbuilt, with much stronger cases than historically (those fool historical builders didn't even bother to build a decent case), some even had iron frames. Modern musical wire was used, rather than pathetic low carbon wire of yore. Good plywood was used for stability. And so on, so on.

    The net result were instruments that were of obvious high construction quality, and often very poor musical quality. The heavy cases sucked up the limited input energy of the plucks. The plywood had poor resonance further ruining tone. The individual components were superb, but the overall system was poor.

    When people started buiiding instruments similar to the "hopelessly weak" old designs, they found they were much louder, clearer, and more stable than the new modern, over-designed instruments. Overkill does not always mean better, and better quality of construction of the parts doesn't always make the whole better.

  14. #89
    I recall reading that Stradivarius violins are nothing to look at when taken apart. When you look at the old cabinetmaker journeyman daybooks it's clear that they had no time for making anything perfect that didn't show, but many of the surviving masterpieces of our craft were made under just such time pressure and close inspection proves it. I think the industrial revolution made societies more generally affluent and designer-craftsmen able to indulge their penchant for meticulous unseen work. Of course it also made way for the mountains of mass-produced crap shown in that brilliant "Man" video. Hail blessed, wretched excess!

  15. #90
    Kevin, never heard that. It is certainly interesting since guys who have worked on them and owned them say the
    details that show are generally better than most. Leads me to wonder if he "spot treated " with some thickness changes
    inside the plates after making a perfect outside. Certainly my guess is good enough to be thrown into the storage barrel
    with the thousands of others !

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