A Machine Is A Tool (& Paul Seller's Statements Are Snobbery)

Paul Sellers position is that of a snob (and I think, working against the growth of woodworking). You can read for yourself here:
I am still very concerned about children in woodworking issue. Yesterday I saw two girls and one boy in the whole show and only a handful of women. That is no fault of the show,me or the other vendors. I think this is directly attributed to machine manufacturers who do indeed hog the market and have nothing to offer to balance out the problem. Since machines dominate the market of woodworking and in fact invade sanity at every level, we will never see this change. No one seems to be responsible for bringing about change and so the problem goes on. Eventually this situation will be sealed and woodworking could one day become a machine only form of making and no longer a craft.
This next comments will indeed get me in deep, deep water. You cannot use a machine to work wood and call it Woodcraft. The machine substitutes for the very thing we call skill and art, but it cannot replace it. Anyone that says a machine is a tool can never understand the art and craft of woodworking. As long as we think and express this, we will never see children and women in the wood shop working with their hands.
If you’d like to read the full post, or check out Paul’s entire site, you can here.
The children who were captivated by Chuck Bender's hand cut dovetails
when the Woodworking Shows visited Somerset, NJ were apparently
not in attendance when the show's hit Tampa.
In those closing paragraphs to his 3/16/13 blog entry, Paul says a lot.
  • He says woodworking “could one day become . . . no longer a craft.”
  • He says that its not the Woodworking Show’s fault, his fault or other vendors fault that he didn't see more children at the Woodworking Shows (though I've heard from others there were many children). He says it’s the machine manufacturer's fault that there are so few women and children in attendance.
  • He says that since machines are dominating the market and invading sanity and as long as this occurs things will never change.
  • He says “You cannot use a machine to work wood and call it Woodcraft.”
It'll come as a disappointment that this beautiful chandelier is not woodcraft.
I hope no one's told Todd yet. He'll be sad.
Thankfully, I’m not the only (or even the first) to call Paul out on what he’s said. In her blog post, Megan Fitzpatrick, the Editor of Popular Woodworking Magazine put it this way:
There are many more examples to which I could point – but that would distract from my assertion that woodworking teachers and writers (and editors) perform a massive disservice to the craft by perpetuating a hard line between hand-tool woodworking and power-tool woodworking. And I find it breathtakingly arrogant (and irresponsibly divisive) to state that only by using hand tools can we call it woodcraft.
Machines have eradicated many of the barriers for all people to enjoy woodworking – particularly for those new to the craft (whom, as you imply, Paul, we need to cultivate). In some cases, machines lower the skill level and physical strength required to build something. In addition, machines used to fabricate tools (both hand and power) make those tools affordable to the home woodworker.
I’m glad that we have prominent woodworkers, woodworkers with soapboxes, who promote the craft and don’t discriminate based on method. Megan does more for the craft in her rebuttal to Paul than any hand or power tool does. Tom Iovino is rallying everyone around getting the next generation started with Get Woodworking Week. Matt Kenney proudly proclaims that there is no cheating. Marc Spagnolo just want’s everyone to learn to build. Todd Clippinger constantly asks, “why aren't you in your shop?”

These friends, and many, many others, practice a craft known as Woodcraft. They also help teach it to newcomers and spread the joy it entails.

After all the work that went into it, I was disappointed to learn this
book stand wasn't woodcraft.
Hopefully I’m helping too. I did think long and hard about it, and I know that my recent suggestion to a beginning woodworker that he use pocket screws instead of hand cut mortise and tenons would fall under Paul’s wrath.  I also know my advice provides a much lower barrier to entry and will get completed projects under my friend’s belt. Diving right into hand cut joinery would likely just result in frustration.

To Paul’s snobbish claims, I say a machine is a tool. I use tools and practice Woodcraft. I know that to be true.

Since Paul spreading his snobbery instead of Woodcraft as of late, I’ll leave the last word to Megan.

Tools don’t build things; people build things.
And statements such as Paul’s help to build nothing.

Editor’s Note:
It has been brought to my attention that Paul’s statements are opinion, and opinion should not be treated as fact. While I agree with this, I feel that simply dismissing Paul’s statements as opinion gives him a pass for the the weight his opinion carries (given his position in the woodworking community) and harm I feel it does to the community.