Stirring the CNC Vs. Handmade Pot With a Short Story

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Forum topic by JAAune posted 04-10-2015 02:22 PM 1530 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1802 posts in 2345 days

04-10-2015 02:22 PM

I rarely put anything from my company blog on the internet but there’s one thing I wanted to share. It’s a silly little short story I typed out last night as a preface to the newest blog entry. Since other people that read it (including non-woodworkers) enjoyed it, I decided to put it here for others.

5 Strategies for Woodworkers to Beat the Robot Apocalypse

That’s the link for those who want the whole article but the story itself is contained in the below excerpt. Please forgive the lack of formatting. Text doesn’t convert well into blogs or forums.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————- Man Vs Machine

A short story in the style of O’Henry

It was a dark and stormy night. Carl huddled under his hefty roubo bench anxiously looking across the dim shop. A heavy, oak door shuddered from repeated blows. The sound of the impacts intermingled with crashing thunder. He knew his time was short but what could he – a mere man – do against such an invasion?

With the sickening sound of splinters, the wood cracked apart and the sorry wreck of a door skidded across the floor. The once perfect mortise and tenon joinery lay exposed and Carl cast it a rueful glance. He still recalled the pleasant mornings spent shaving the tenons with razor-sharp planes and sliding them home into their receiving pockets. Another crash forced his mind back to the present. This was no time for reminiscing. Those days would never come again. It was time to face the present and as he looked up, the present was ominous indeed.

A massive machine of iron and steel slid through the door frame. He could spot another coming up behind it and another and… Just how many are there, he wondered silently?

Six machines in all. Every one of them a gleaming 4,000 pound beast with menacing gantries that swept back and forth with formidable speed. Dozens of servos hummed and whirred in unison as the terrible array settled into formation around him. Yes, this was the end.

All at once, the monsters fired up their 20HP spindles. The roar of a dozen vacuum pumps filled his ears. With astonishing swiftness, the gantries whipped around, the spindles zipped to and fro and the noise rose to a high-pitched scream as carbide cutters tore through sheets of plywood and mdf. Almost as quick as the eye blinks, perfectly-formed tables and chairs were ejected left and right. Within minutes, the inventory began stacking to the roof and Carl, with a sigh, glanced at the half-finished dining table near his workbench. He’d been lavishing care upon it for the past week.

Carl stood up and tipped his table over in one motion. Twenty paces brought him outside his building. He glanced back into the shop before his attention was caught by a faded sign hanging beside the shattered door frame. Before turning away, he reached up and flipped the sign over.

The sign read, “closed”.

- The End*

-- See my work at and

7 replies so far

View Mark Davisson's profile

Mark Davisson

597 posts in 3345 days

#1 posted 04-10-2015 03:35 PM

“5. Shift focus away from fading careers and look for emerging opportunities.”

This is a timeless strategy. It requires a mentality that is forward-thinking and open to new ideas, but it’s the key to survival. Well, perhaps that’s not the best way to put it. It’s the key to thriving – a person can survive, with some level of happiness, for 60 or 70 years on pretty light rations. But I’d rather thrive.

-- I'm selfless because it feels so good!

View Hammerthumb's profile


2853 posts in 2003 days

#2 posted 04-10-2015 03:44 PM

So, your many talents include writing. Well done!

-- Paul, Las Vegas

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2345 days

#3 posted 04-10-2015 05:08 PM


Yes, since launching my own company, I spent a huge amount of time writing and studying technique (mostly copy-writing). Good writing sells work as well as good pictures. Not that short stories will sell anything but it certainly makes reading dull articles on automation more fun.

I’m not the next O’Henry though. Supposedly he wrote his stories while in prison and was able to pen them from start to finish in one sitting without going back to edit.

-- See my work at and

View DocSavage45's profile


8604 posts in 2870 days

#4 posted 04-10-2015 05:14 PM

Survival is determined by adapting to change. Survival of the species. I was invited back as a therapist at the mental health center where I’d been a therapist and clinical director. I romanticized all of the potential positives, but it was 15 years later, and there was new(but old) technology, and structure to which I needed to adapt. Being older, close to 2x the average therapist at the center put me on the longer end of the learning curve.

My productivity was down when compared to my peers, and I had difficulty learning the non windows based program with waaay tooo many glitches. Oh yeah they misjudged how many clients would be coming!

I’m shortening the story too say I didn’t adapt quickly enough although I did adapt. My dream job became a nightmare. LOL! I’m back in private practice.

If this is going to be a career that you plan to survive in you must find a way to adapt. During the “Great Recession” many excellent wood workers failed to survive, while others that I know did. I learned from them.

To be continued:???

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2345 days

#5 posted 04-10-2015 06:54 PM

Luckily I’m one of the survivors but it almost didn’t happen. It took a lot of shaking up the status quo to get through but ultimately, it looks like the new approach I’m taking will pay off far more than older methods.

Not to say that older business models were bad. They’re still 95% good. It’s just a few tweaks here and there that are needed to revitalize them so they can carry over into the computer era.

That’s another article that I should write someday. It’s usually small, incremental changes that are needed. People who try to reinvent everything from scratch seldom meet success.

-- See my work at and

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8090 posts in 2356 days

#6 posted 04-10-2015 07:30 PM

My daughter writes a lot of micro-fiction and attends writer’s workshops (think Inklings).

It’s an interesting genre.

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2345 days

#7 posted 04-10-2015 07:47 PM

I’m not too familiar with the official scene. In fact, I have no idea how anyone makes a living in the field because I’ve not seen many instances of micro-fiction on the bookshelves. If not for O’Henry, I’d have never known it existed in the world of literature.

Then again, I suppose most people have never met a custom furniture maker. Niches wouldn’t be niches if they were common.

My first exposure to brief stories of this type was in high school where we had to write stories around 300 words or so based upon one teacher-supplied paragraph. Next came role-playing servers and game worlds where players created mini-bios for their characters. Didn’t get too much into it myself since I’d never been an avid writer until necessity demanded it.

-- See my work at and

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