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Cnc vs Hand relief carving

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  • Cnc vs Hand relief carving

    Hi Guys,
    I’m new here and was looking for advice.
    I don’t consider myself a professional compaired to most of the work I see here!!!!!
    So, my question is on pricing. I started in this hobby because I quit smoking!!!! I started quitting by vaping but didn’t like using the metal vaping devices. Being I have gray hair now I figured I could handle using a wood pipe. So I carved a pipe from wood and put the mechanics into the pipe so I could vape with that....
    Turns out, I had a nack for wood carving or so people said. I thought to step up my game by buying a cnc machine to make them faster and sell them. The problem I have is I feel it like cheating!!!! Lol
    The thinking behind the machine is that I’d rather spend two weeks designing a piece in the computer and make perfect cuts repeatedly then 3 days on one piece. Some of my guilt is eased by knowing that designing the piece in the computer is a skill in its own. That’s not to mention the skill in actually being able to set up the cnc to cut it. I’d like to post some pics of my work and get real craftsman here to tell me what my work is worth. I have thick skin so don’t hold back !!!!
    You do not have permission to view this gallery.
    This gallery has 29 photos.

  • #2
    Programming a machine, CNC or any other, is an ability, but is it a skill? Matter of semantics, I suppose. But is it woodcarving...not in my opinion.

    If a person pursues woodcarving as a pleasurable pastime or as a professional craftsman, it's an exercise in personal creativity. If a person programs a machine to mindlessly crank out exact duplicates of an object it's a commercial production line. It all depends on what your goals are...the relative values of the two approaches can only be set by you, in your own mind, depending on what you want to achieve, so one is not superior to the other, just different: Do you want to be a craftsman for your personal, creative satisfaction, or do you wish to be an entrepreneur manufacturing a mass produced product? No one should decide this but yourself!

    Just my personal thoughts and opinions here!
    Last edited by Arthur C.; 04-22-2018, 11:04 AM. Reason: Typo


    • #3
      Another woodcarving a hobby for you or a business? A business can easily take all the fun out of a hobby or pasttime--to the point that you don't even want to do it any more.

      Everyone at some point has thought of selling their carvings. I sold some bears at a couple of shows and I just didn't like dealing with the people, i.e. haggling, customers being picky etc. I'd rather give my carvings to people who would genuinely appreciate having them.

      CNC, chisel, gouge or knife: they are all tools in which you need to learn how to use them. As you learn, you get better. I have been a CAD draftsman for over 30 years. While I know the theory behind CNC, I don't know how to nor do I want to know how to do CNC. I am a whittler who carves with a knife and uses carving tools from time to time.

      So, the questions you pose are ones only you can answer. But in the end the final question you need to answer is: what will make you happy?

      Bob L


      • #4
        The worst thing about a CNC I know a lot of woodcraft people who have bought them and they sit in the workshop not used. Why because they are not designers nor artist by trade. In order to use a computer designed machine, you must know the hardcore basics of how to design objects on a computer. That is commercial art..... made for profit. I know lots of artist in this field....if you going for the money then you need to be in the film industry or an internet graphic designer, not a CNC designer. My experience in watching people that think this is an easy way not to do art. In fact, my niece is the top artist in the field of commercial art, she makes big money.....and paying off 5 years of college in graphic design to compete among the best.

        So you got a couple commercial products to sell. Now when we get into commercialized products ....we are entering the competition against world market. Your designs are going against China and soon India who produce the same item on a machine.....mass products sold cheaply to world market via the internet. Amazon has millions of these products. So now you need to know how to do business with the world market. Your product is not art, although you may be designing a product on a computer.....still today a computer cannot make the same product. There is a major difference in a machine carved object and a hand carved one. I know a designer who in world trade market, his biggest sorrow? China and others steal his design and sell it.

        Craft products and art made by hand is not the same market as machine mass productions, in fact, we call them tourist items, fast cheap sells. In the whole new world of commercial art and designers. Of course, you could a fool a fool that knows nothing about real art products. But a horse is a horse, it is not a horse robot.....some people do not care. But if you are a good designer then you need to go for the money. And if your a great one .....the CNC machine you better get at least ten of them. Good luck with the international marketplace because today.....that is where we are really at. So are you going to do handmade and not make hardly anything because you're a craft person or artist.....or are you going for the big bang and prayer you make it. It is all up to you where you end up.
        pipe.jpg Your competition..... This item is 66 dollars from a CNC machine,....there are tons of pipes 34 dollars. Let's see the bag, screens, fittings with a holder, plus wood.....then the electrical cost of the machine, postal cost, and also payment to places like Amazon, ....I think you might make 10 dollars a bang for you time and effort If you made the top cost of 66 dollars selling the item. I would say on the low need to move to China and eat rice to make a small profit. Then again this is one opinion of a professional artist who whole life been watching everyone trying to go for the next best money maker. ....and the CNC machine sits in the wood shop.
        Last edited by DiLeon; 04-22-2018, 01:39 PM.
        . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di


        • #5
          I seriously doubt there is a significant market for carved smoking pipes or vaping adapters, whether hand or machine carved. People who collect pipes are looking for uniqueness in design or grain, not the sameness of mass produced products. I also doubt that CNC machines could handle the variation and hardness of briar wood without frequent breakdowns.


          • #6
            Originally posted by pallin View Post
            I seriously doubt there is a significant market for carved smoking pipes or vaping adapters, whether hand or machine carved. People who collect pipes are looking for uniqueness in design or grain, not the sameness of mass produced products. I also doubt that CNC machines could handle the variation and hardness of briar wood without frequent breakdowns.
            Agree.....the people who use machines for mass products are buying exotics like rosewood, ebony, and few others. They have import license,....almost everything is machined over seas and then sold on the internet.
            . Explore! Dream! Discover!” aloha Di


            • #7
              Welcome to the forum.

              looking through your photos, I really like your fire pit. How did you make it? what type of cement mixture?

              maybe just use the cnc to rough out the pipes and finish by hand...and you can sell the rough-outs to people that might want to carve one.


              • #8
                Hi Molo.
                All the posts above state a lot of good honest advice. From reading your post and looking at your carvings you definately have a eye for carving and for fine detail. ( I love your Buffalo carving! )
                on advice on your costing. You have already invested in the CNC and you have worked out the programming . ( bear with me I know nothing about CNC’S.) So your on your way. Now you just need to test the market as Dileon said you have to figure all çosts and investment in your equipment and your hourly rate to do what you do. With that tallied up put it on the net and see what happens. That is the ultimate test for any product.

                I personally do Power carving ( All with hand held Power Tools.) My wife Karen and i committed to me being a full time carver 8 years ago by building a Gallery next to our home located on the main road into our very busy tourist town. Thinking that I’d have some carvings and signs out on the curb to bring them in and sell what I had carved.
                Well we never really used the Gallery and I started to receive commissions straight up. Which I was very happy to do. And I’ve been very blessed for that to continue.

                So what I’m saying is from my experience that you’ve got to just put it out there. If your passionate about what you do and seek to do something with your own flare and that is a bit different. people will appreciate that and your work will stand out.
                And your original plan might morph into something very different then you had first imagined. It sure did for me!

                And just be honest with people your marketing too. If it’s created by CNC and then hand finished or not. But people appreciate honesty. In the end it’s what you want to make of it. Good luck.

                Regards Richard
                Last edited by Richard Yates; 04-23-2018, 08:13 AM.


                • #9
                  Interesting idea and looks like well designed products but I am not sure this forum is the best place for advice on CNC created product and pricing of the work. Some of the CNC forums could probably be of more help. The cost base for the two processes of hand carved and CNC are very different, as are the skills and processes involved. Greg’s Idea of offering rough out for carvers may be a market worth looking at.
                  We live in the land of the free because of the brave! Semper Fi


                  • #10
                    I look at it this way. For the type of carving I enjoy doing, CNC will never compete or be an option for the people that will pay for my work. CNC will not be as clean, nor can it make some of the elaborate things in decorative carving. My target market is essentially wealthy or discerning individuals who want the very best, and CNC is not the very best. They want something unique that you can't get everywhere. For some types of carving in the right types of wood CNC may look good, but you're going to be in a race to the bottom on price.


                    • #11
                      Not quite sure how CNC would let me get the level of enjoyment that whittling with a simple knife does.


                      • #12
                        me? i rather like the idea of me buying a couple of roughouts from you and i could finish by hand. let me know when you get a couple to sell me. next i wonder if roughing out could be adapted to relief carving, that is, mill out the profile of the subject , and the perimeter of the border, and hog out everything in between, then hand carve down the subject into relief carved. just a thought.

                        photos at........


                        • #13
                          It is my belief that the heading of this topic, "Cnc vs Hand relief carving" is the problem. There should be no "versus" in any genre of creating something out of wood. The methodology is up to the individual. There are many strong feelings among woodcarvers, and among those who acquire the carvings: hand tools only, no non-wood inclusions, single carver only, single block of wood (which begs the question ~ is a laminated block single or still two pieces?). As to the question; is a Cnc carving considered hand carved ~ to me it is not. How can a carving created without manipulating the tools be called hand carved?

                          Ultimately though, unless restricted by the goal of submitting a carving in competition ~ the only limitation is those that the woodcarver places upon themselves.


                          • #14
                            The large version of Bill Reid's "Raven and the First Men" sits in the rotunda of the Museum of Anthropology on the UBC Vancouver campus.
                            They took the roof off to get it into the building. It's a glue-up of 145 pieces of flawless yellow cedar. Not 8' tall, I recall.

                            I agree with Paul: CNC is just another way of doing things. There are some CNC artists out there who really do think about design.
                            Probably one of the very few techniques missing from my collection of carved examples. Must look into that omission.
                            Brian T


                            • #15
                              Within the past hour I was talking with a vendor at a local Farmer's Market who was selling exotic cutting boards. Some had been embellished with symbols or artwork that had been laser-cut into the boards. He showed me how the technology could be adapted to non-flat applications.

                              I would not want to hand carve those designs into the laminations of curly maple, black walnut, etc. I could not come close to the precision his machine had achieved.