Prints charming

If you keep up with current events, you know that 3-D printing is all the rage. Well, big yawn. Woodworkers have been doing that for years.

3-D printing is the latest, greatest feat of technology around if you believe all the hype. Many of the articles you read liken it to Star Trek replicators, where you have the ability to tell a machine you want something, and it just creates it for you. Don’t get me wrong; 3-D printing is pretty cool. But when you break down the result of what it does there’s not that much to be excited about – A 3-D “printer” takes a pile of dust and chips, and forms it into a solid object.

Well we’ve been doing that for years, but exactly in reverse in that we start with a solid form, then remove waste that gathers in a pile of dust and chips. The process may be different but the end result is exactly the same: a finished workpiece that is the shape we want it to be.

Using decades-old CNC technology, we can toss a sheet of wood into a machine, press a button, and in a few minutes that sheet is cut into a cabinet. OK, it’s flat and we still have to put it together, but the parts are all created. Other forms of CNC carve fully formed non-flat objects, however, while CNC lathes churn out complete cylindrical ones.

But we don’t really need all that high-tech gadgetry, and we don’t even have to push a button for that matter. All we need – all we’ve needed for centuries, in fact – is a single low-tech tool:

A good, sharp chisel.



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