CompuCarver goes Big Time with advertising

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 01-02-2007 01:15 AM 4105 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I was cleaning up my shop on Saturday night, getting ready for the New Year, the New Project (Altar), and most importantly, so that I can take a few long-in-coming photos of the inside of my shop to post on my Workshop Page.

While the t.v. was running with a Bowl game on (not sure which one, or what channel, as I didn’t pay much attention after Kansas State took such a beating from someone this year. I can’t even remember who it was that beat them now, but it was from back East somewhere), Sears ran, I think it was a full minute long, commercial on their new CompuCarver.

What got my attention and caused me to turn around and watch, is that the narrator started the commercial with a statement something like, ”have you ever wanted to carve, but found you didn’t have the skills, or the time….then we have a new product for you….” I paraphased, as I don’t remember exactly how it was stated, but it got my attention, so I turned around to see the CompuCarver demonstrated on the t.v., and it sure looked easy and fun to use.

Also, this weekend I received two emails from folks that were searching for information about the CompuCarver and stumbled onto my Blog where a couple of weeks back I broached the subject of the new CNC carving machine, and whether it should have a place in my shop.

Both of the folks that wrote me had good questions, and points to make, and it seems to me that Craftsman is going to be challenging a lot of thinking in the coming months. I can’t imagine how many woodworkers saw the ads this weekend, but one of the guys that wrote me said he was prompted to hit the internet for some information after seeing the commercial.

It will be interesting to watch what happens, change is good, if a person is prepared for it.

I remember in my corporate training courses back in the early 1990’s, at work we watched a video on Shifting Paradigms (not sure of the real title, but I think it had English actor John Cleese in it), and one scene had two drivers in convertible sports cars meeting each other on a small, winding dirt road, nearly colliding their cars on the narrow road. One of the drivers yells at the other one, “PIG!” The other driver got mad at that comment and shouted something back as they turned the corner in the road, and ran square into a big hog in the road. It was a pretty funny scene, but the point was made very clearly to me. Sometimes, I think that things are wrong, only because the shift in paradigms scares me.

So, if a woodworker comes around the corner yelling, “CompuCarve!” What will you do?

Welcome to 2007. Sorry Duane about those cornhuskers, the Big 12 didn’t seem to win many bowls this year. My kids got a great kick out of watching in the stands for the people wearing those big ears of corn on their head on t.v.


Mark DeCou

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

8 comments so far

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 5330 days

#1 posted 01-02-2007 02:23 AM

Hi Mark;
“So, if a woodworker comes around the corner yelling, “CompuCarve!”....
....well I guess I found my niche, or maybe the niche found me some years ago and yes there are more than enough niches to go around. I learned about ‘adjustability years ago in the school of hard knocks.

“What will you do?”
....’hand made’ and liking it that way! I am hand made by the wood that I create.

One of the stories I still remember best is that of a friend of mine and what his wife said one night; ”you don’t work with wood, you work with machines.” Now if you’re looking to open up a new comment seaction on ’you might be married to a LumberJock if….’, well here’s a start.


-- --frank, NH,

View oscorner's profile


4563 posts in 5435 days

#2 posted 01-02-2007 02:47 AM

Well, Mark I’m one of those guys that feels he was born too late in history. I love using my hand plane, drawknife and enjoyed my homemade lathe. Of course, I use routers, tablesaws, my Rigid lathe, SuperShop, etc. I’m not against using machinery to do woodworking, but I do not agree that someone should use the “CompuCarve” and say look what I carved! I don’t use a duplicator when turning multiple candle holders or spindles and I don’t buy items turned and use them in my projects. This is just the way I feel about my woodworking and I’m not bad mouthing someone that does. I read a post once that discussed whether it was right for someone to buy turned legs for a chair and sell it as handmade or custom. The point here was that this person was able to undersell those that built their chairs by hand and turned all the parts themselves. Also, discussed was the fact that the purchaser wasn’t getting what they paid for. It’s really all about honesty in woodworking. If one is ready to admit that a computer controlled router did the work, then I see no problem with it.

-- Jesus is Lord!

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5361 days

#3 posted 01-02-2007 03:35 AM

Here is the video that the Manufacturer made on how easy it is… I WANT ONE !!!

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5301 days

#4 posted 01-02-2007 04:56 AM

Mark, you need to answer yourself on this. It sound to me that you are struggling with the issue of holding on to the concept of hand made, but at the same time not losing out to competitors who might use the Compucarver.

Of course, you are not the first person to struggle with this issue. And since this is how you earn your lving, in the short term at least, it has financial implication for you.

I guess the question is, what is your USP - Unique Selling Proposition? Why do people purchase what you produce. Is it because it represents the best value for money, or because people are willing to pay for the artistry expressed in your woodworking? If the majority of your customers have simply purchased what you’ve made for reason they can’t identify, then it may not matter to them what tools you used to do your work. If it’s strictly because they connect with the concept of hand-made, then you need to thing long and hard about what tools you use.

I suppose the issue is the definition of ‘hand-made’. If it’s that you use manual (non-powered) tools, then that would rule out the cabinet saw, bandsaw, electric powered router, powered lathe, etc. Yet I doubt that many woodworkers would eliminate these tools from their shop to strictly adhere to a purist definition of hand-made.

Come to think of it, simply using power tools doesn’t make one’s production artistry. I’ve seen some fairly ordinary woodworking produced on the best equipment money can buy. It’s not so much the tools one uses, but the eyes and hands of the artist that produces art.

Come to think about it, I’ve seen work produced with the most advanced woodworking machines available that is fairly ordinary and conversly work produced with basic tools that is out of this world.

I am confident that if you used the Compucarver, it would be your artistry that would determine the outcome as much as the technology involved.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 5301 days

#5 posted 01-02-2007 05:59 AM

Sorry about the redundancy at the end in the previous post. (I sure looking forward to being able to edit comments.)

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5424 days

#6 posted 01-02-2007 01:14 PM

I don’t think it’s bad if you reproduce something that was your own creation, that way more people could enjoy your art. How about sculptors that reproduce their creations in bronze, and painters that have prints made of their work, are they cheating ?

Besides it would get awful boring, carving the same thing over, and over again.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5361 days

#7 posted 01-02-2007 04:28 PM

It all depends on what you’re making. The first thing i thought of was Name Plates that you would normally use a router on in the first place and sell at a crafts fair just to make some extra cash. For me it’s a must have, becasue I haven’t been doing this long enough to have made a name for myself, and I still need to make my bills, etc.
I have no problem using the latest technology for things that are too much a pain in the butt to carve.
Mark, you can never have too many tools. On the “Custom” work you do, keep doing it the way you’ve been doing it, for Giant 14 1/2” Signs use the Compu-Carve.
I’m in this business for the enjoyment and the money. If you don’t need the money, you can send me a check at …

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5451 days

#8 posted 01-05-2007 01:28 AM

I saw one of these for the first time in the Sears Circular that showed up yesterday… Hard to ignore the appeal of something akin to a 3D “printer” for wood. I’m sure I could come up with projects for it, (perhaps custom family crests for the entire family, not something I’d want to make more than one of…) but probably couldn’t convince my wife to drop a couple grand on it just for fun.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

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