MACHINIST: I often wonder why such a fetish is made of sheer hard work. After all, the operation is merely a means to an end. A man wants, say, a sideboard. He has the choice of doing the whole thing by hand, involving a lot of really hard work and taking possibly a hundred hours, or of lightening his labours by letting a machine do the donkey work and taking half the time, leaving him free to get on with something else. In both cases he is getting pleasure from the exercise of his craft. Possibly the purist has pleasure in ripping down his timber from the rough, but for my own part I prefer to do the lighter tasks which call for every bit as much, if not more, skill.
Consider how short a time a man has for his woodwork. All day he is attending to his normal duties, leaving possibly three hours in the evening for woodwork. This may be enough for one who goes in for small, light items only, but when it is proposed to make a bedroom suite it is hardly giving oneself a chance. It would take years to complete, and life is too short, it seems to me.
No, I think that the man who is going in seriously for woodwork will find a light machine an excellent investment. I would suggest a circular saw. I have known many cases of men who would like to make certain pieces of furniture, but who have been put off because they know it would take a tremendous time and would involve some really hard, strenuous work. If they would only take the initial step of buying a light power saw they could tackle the work without hesitation. Small saws do not cost much and they consume little power.
Now let me turn to your point about the danger of the saw completely ousting handwork. I do not think that this need be the case. Apart from straight-forward ripping out, I should certainly do my rebating and grooving on the machine, because it does it just as well as by hand without any disadvantage. But I still cut tenons by hand; also mouldings. When the machine saw will not produce so satisfactory a result as the handsaw the latter should be used. And the same thing applies to all other forms of machinery. For instance, a drilling machine is invaluable for the preliminary clearing out of the waste from mortises. The holes can be made to run one into the other so that subsequent chopping with the chisel is reduced to a minimum. On the other hand, to substitute dowelled joints for the mortise and tenon just because the machine is capable of making them rapidly is obviously a mistake.