Machine-engraved works cannot be compared to handmade works in terms of craftsmanship. The former is produced on assembly lines in large factories, while the latter showcases the dedication and skill of master craftsmen. Therefore, hand-carved furniture tends to be more delicate, exquisite, and collectible in terms of workmanship
In terms of visual aesthetics
Machine-engraved works appear precise and uniform in detail due to the use of computer-aided design software and automated engraving machines. Whether it is a flower pattern or a cloud bead, every element appears identical without any variation. However, machine engraving techniques are limited to achieving low-depth relief and through-carving on flat surfaces, lacking the ability to create three-dimensional sculptures or intricate multi-layered designs. As a result, the overall presentation may appear stiff and lack vitality.
On the contrary, hand-carved works are more delicate and creative. The lines and strokes created by hand may vary in thickness, ensuring that "no two leaves are exactly alike." Visible tool marks and the choice of shading techniques, such as intaglio, relief, or a combination of both, add depth and dimension to the artwork. As a result, hand-carved furniture presents a vivid and dynamic scene, full of life and vitality, whether it depicts figures or birds and flowers.
In terms of tactile sensation
Machine-engraved craftsmanship, which relies heavily on computerization and mechanization, has limitations in terms of depth. When touched, it feels relatively flat and lacks the intricate tactile sensation. The result of machine engraving appears geometrically precise, with consistent depth and uniformity, while the hollowed areas have straight vertical walls and smooth, shallow patterns. On the other hand, the technique of hand-carved bas-relief is more flexible, allowing for dynamic shapes and undulating lines. The depth of the carvings varies, creating a textured and uneven surface. The overall composition exudes a sense of three-dimensionality, particularly when carving irregular objects such as tree trunks and roots, where the advantages of hand carving become even more evident.
When it comes to depicting the image of a "soaring eagle," machine engraving can only present a somewhat lifeless flat pattern with blurry facial expressions. On the other hand, hand carving can capture the powerful sense of the bird's wingspan, evoking a palpable presence.
Furthermore, some three-dimensional sculptural forms that deviate from the flat plane can only be achieved through hand carving. The mechanical engraving techniques, limited to creating "patterns" with computers, are unable to replicate such forms.
In terms of the production process
Machine-engraved works produced in bulk can be considered as "products," while works born from the meticulous carving of master craftsmen can be regarded as "artworks." In the factory's assembly-line production mode, each piece of furniture goes through different mechanical processing steps, from computerized design to computerized engraving, all done according to fixed templates for mass production. Finally, they are hand-polished and processed before being introduced to the market.
On the other hand, handmade carved works cannot be produced in bulk; they are always crafted by the same artisan from start to finish. Due to the direct correlation between production time, processes, and difficulty with costs, each piece of furniture is created with the hope of gaining recognition and earning profits to fund the making of the next piece. As a result, every step involved in crafting rosewood furniture embodies the artisan's thoughts, efforts, and emotions.