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Make it or buy it?

There was a time when we made whatever we needed. If we needed a veneered panel, we laid it up in the shop.

A special piece of molding was no challenge. Table legs, chair parts, jigs and fixtures, these were made up as needed with no hesitation. All part the job.

These days, many shops outsource these bits and pieces as a matter of course. In fact, many shops are now buying more than they are actually making, reducing their function to little more than assembly shops.

I suppose this makes sense from the standpoint of efficiency. Few shops are able to find people who are proficient in veneering, carving and all of the other specialty areas that woodworking can involve. Nor do most shops have sufficient demand to justify employing full-time specialists.

Being able to outsource an occasional set of table legs can be a boon. But it can also limit the abilities of woodworkers who might otherwise become much more versatile artisans.


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