Digital Craftsmanship: How would you define it?

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When we call a given woodworker a “true craftsman”, what do we mean? Does the same apply to creating things digitally?

What about words like “artisanship”, “workmanship”, “draftsmanship”, or plain old “skill”? Do these words apply to digital creation using tools like CAD or DCC?

How do you distinguish a true digital aficionado? Is there a test, metric, or attitude you look for?


For me, it’s doing all the little things right.

For 2D and drawings, it’s making sure line intersections are closed, the hidden lines are the right scale, and the gaps are there on extension lines. It’s every little thing that you would care about creating a drawing by hand and not just bashing your way through it as quick as possible because the tool lets you do it.

for 3D, it’s having a model that matches the print. Not a bunch of phantom points in space. No datums that don’t realate to the part, etc. It should be a clear and logical progression of building the part and aid the end user in understanding the part.

I have seen hand drawn prints that are absolute works of art. If you can reproduce that digitally, then it is craftsmanship. In short, to me it doesn’t matter if it is digital or not. Craft a good drawing that communicates the design clearly and concisely to the users. That is craftsmanship.


Detail Detail Detail, not only on the final output but in the process as well. An example I would way in CAD would be a clean Solidworks Feature Three on a very complex part, with renamed features, folders, comments, and good design intent… The same would apply to a complex Photoshop image with excellent layer management and so on. Those are the things that show you have mastered a tool…


@Adrian_Diverso, @Engineernerd Tidiness seems to be a theme in both of your responses. Would you agree?


Yep, because in the Digital World, your Craft is a live thing that others will most likely inherit. If they can figure out what you did in a minute or less, then you are a true Digital Craftsman…


It’s like a Carpenter vs a Wood Sculptor, the later only worries about the final a piece and how it’s finished. The carpenter on the other hand has to be very diligent from start to finish, Material and Tool selection, develop the step by step process, and worry about functionality , longevity and finish of his piece.


Really good points. Are we maybe hitting on a distinction between an artisan and a craftsperson?


That’s what it looks like.


I concur with Adrian.

It’s not just tidiness it’s the attention to detail. Just because it is “good enough” for a drawing does not mean the digital data will work for 3D printing or CNC programming. I’ve seen corners cut in drawings before that have cost time on the back end to fix.


The amount of times I’ve received a part file from a customer (or engineer, draftsman) and had to completely rebuild it from the ground up to make a change is astonishing. As you said, cutting corners to save time ends up wasting far more time. I can simply not comprehend the mindset of the “good enough” attitude. It’s a shame.


Call me what you want, just as long as it pays the same :smile:


I think of tailors when I hear the term “craftsman”. A tailor fits his tools to the needs of his client. His efforts are parallel with his materials. In sync to his clients body as well as personality. He dresses his client not only for where he is but where his client wants to go.