JF SHOP – CRAFTSMEN NOT ASSEMBLY LINES8 Min.
What is the true value of craftsmanship? To fully understand why we are so focused on quality and craft at Jewett Farms + Co. let’s start with a little history.
Ye Olde Cabinet Maker
The earliest cabinets were designed to store important papers and valuables. Because their contents were so important, cabinets were considered to be worthy of the highest craftsmanship. They often incorporated lavish finishes, precious woods, inlay, marquetry, veneering, and carving. As a result, the cabinetmaker became the most highly regarded woodworker. * Before the advent of industrial design, the cabinet maker was responsible for the conception and the production of any piece of furniture
The Rise of the Machines
With the industrial revolution and the application of steam and electrical power to cabinet making tools, mass production techniques were gradually applied to nearly all aspects of cabinetmaking. The traditional cabinet shop ceased to be the main source of furniture. Over time, the desire for higher productivity and lower cost moved cabinetmaking from an art to a method of production, and many traditional cabinetmakers were replaced by factory workers.
Bringing back the craft
In the JF Shop, there are no production lines. We work in a way that requires skill and focus from all our cabinetmakers. From milling the materials to creating every cabinet box, drawer, and door. Our cabinetmakers know each project inside and out. They dry fit before the finish is applied and then do the final fit when the last coat is complete. They even wrap everything for delivery. Start to finish, soup to nuts, they know it all.
Why do we do it?
There are a couple of different reasons for this. The first is that having a craftsman with the skills to do every part of a project means that the level of quality is far superior. There is clear ownership of a task and a sense of personal responsibility that can’t be found on an assembly line. The second reason is less about business and more about people. We value our cabinetmakers and want them to stay with us. We feel that the long-term effect of building the same door over and over again is less positive for an individual than the ability to develop a rounded skill set, to hone skills and become a master of their craft. Building a career, not just working a job.
Not all tech is bad
We are all about innovation and utilizing technology, we own and use many machines and computer programmed tools, including a CNC machine which cuts all our plywood to the specific sizes needed. There are some jobs that are more labor-oriented and do not require a high level of skill, and everyone in our shop is happy to offload them to a machine. In 2019, the modern craftsman needs to be skilled in traditional methods and modern equipment.
Know your product
If you’re planning a new build or a remodel, do your research. Find out who’s making your millwork and cabinetry. Find out how they make it and where. Are the doors and drawers built in-house? What thickness are they? What materials are used? Chat with our sales people in Boston or York, Maine to find out how we do things, or come for a shop tour and see the process in action.