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Hot Rods The Meaning of Craftsmanship in Hot Rodding

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by JimKing, Nov 24, 2021.

  1. Every car I built was better than the one before it. No substitute for experience. As far as perfection, that's up to the individual. I have built complete cars and driven them while other guys are still squaring the frame.
  2. I want every build to be better than the one before. Age is making that very difficult to achieve. Dwindling eye sight, poor memory makes for some challenging moments. Not complaining. It is part of life. I'm thankful that I'm still going and building. :)
    BigO, bchctybob, JimKing and 3 others like this.
  3. Papas32
    Joined: Feb 18, 2009
    Posts: 150

    from No.Ia.

    I've worked for/with a lotta guys and had some work for me and I've always agreed with John Wayne " A man's gotta know his limitations". Some guys could build a house with a jack knife and a piece of string, some had every tool in the catalog and couldn't build a square box
    BigO, VANDENPLAS, lucky ink and 7 others like this.
  4. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 5,487

    from Berry, AL

    I don't consider myself a craftsman, I wouldn't make a pimple on a true craftsman's butt. I don't really even consider myself a builder, I just build stuff when I need to. I do enjoy working out a problem, designing a bracket or mount, then finding something in the scrap pile I can adapt, cut, fit, and weld together and make work all the while it being strong enough to do it's job and still have a somewhat decent look about it. I tend to overbuild things, I don't want to have to do things twice if I can help it, but sometimes you miss something and things don't go as planned. I seldom buy new material other than nuts and bolts, I just go through the pieces I've saved off of things through the years and look for something to start from, then add as I go along. I pick up scrap steel and aluminum pieces all the time, you never know when you might want to build a bracket or a mount for something.

    My body and paint skills have evolved over time, but nowhere near a Jim Sibley or somebody like that who can take 4 pieces of scrap from four different cars and build a body out of it. I do almost everything except transmissions and upholstery, not at craftsman level, but good enough for me. I'm the only person I have to please anyway....
  5. denis4x4
    Joined: Apr 23, 2005
    Posts: 3,886

    from Colorado

    I’ve always been an idea kind of guy. Fortunately, I have the means to have other people execute my ideas to my specs. By the same token, there are some facets of a project that I can really get into and be proud of the results.
  6. rockable
    Joined: Dec 21, 2009
    Posts: 3,791


    I always try to do my next build better than the last. Always. I would not be happy with myself, otherwise. I am now retired and CAN take the time required to do it over, if need be. There are some on this forum who possess skill levels that I will never achieve. That's ok. I'm still better than 80 percent of the people who try to do this, so that puts me at a good place on the bell curve and I try to keep moving forward.

    If you want to review a build thread that will show you how to build a car to the last detail, check this one out.

    Robert is VERY good at what he does and, yes, he has some specialized tools but he has the knowledge and experience to do all of this with lesser tools, if he didn't. Good luck and keep improving your skills!
    BigO, JimKing, loudbang and 2 others like this.
  7. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 6,735

    Marty Strode

    I thought that was Clint Eastwood's line ?
  8. alanp561
    Joined: Oct 1, 2017
    Posts: 2,229


    A Master Craftsman heard from. ;)
    bchctybob, JimKing and loudbang like this.
  9. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 10,059

    anthony myrick

  10. Marty Strode
    Joined: Apr 28, 2011
    Posts: 6,735

    Marty Strode

    Yes, Clint is THE master of his craft !
    alanp561 and bchctybob like this.
  11. TagMan
    Joined: Dec 12, 2002
    Posts: 6,199


    I try to do my best on every step of my projects. Sometimes, I fall short and go back and redo what I slacked off on. Can't help it- just my nature.
  12. Seems to me the home builder needs to be a little careful when measuring craftsmanship.
    Expecting too much craftsmanship in a build can easily result in a rod that never gets driven or shown because the builder doesn't consider it perfect enough.

    Early in the build the builder needs to have a vision of both the end product and the purpose of the build.

    The purpose could be to create a piece of jewelry. It could be to build a rod that could be sold to finance the next project. Or it could be to build a car that could be driven and enjoyed.

    Each requires a different level of craftsmanship?
  13. Paul
    Joined: Aug 29, 2002
    Posts: 15,751


    Aesthetics in design is subjective but if it doesn't please my eye I don't care how nice a weld it has it gets scrapped.
    And being a hack a lot gets scrapped..
  14. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 16,059

    from oregon

  15. hotrodjack33 and JimKing like this.
  16. Harv
    Joined: Jan 16, 2008
    Posts: 367

    from Sydney

    Tradesmanship is knowing that a bent nail makes a perfectly serviceable split pin. Craftsmanship is knowing it needs to be replaced at some stage.

  17. 2Blue2
    Joined: Sep 25, 2021
    Posts: 186


    I'm very much an amateur when it come to hot rod building.

    Every one messes up now and then.
    Amateur will just go with the mistake, a professional will stop and fix it.

    That being said I'm building for FUN! It's kind of therapeutic.
    There are a lot of artists here on the the good ole HAMB and I enjoy seeing how to do it better.
    JimKing and loudbang like this.
  18. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,835


    I build drivers. The mark of a good builder that builds drivers is to build a car or truck that is safe to drive on the street, and functions as a driver for many years, or many miles without too many issues. Mechanical failures do not count, unless the build caused the mechanical failures. A vehicle being built as a driver is built differently then a show car, or a race car. Pretty, or fast, or perfection are not requirements, but function is. A good driver has to function well under the conditions it gets used under.

    My goal when I build a new driver is to make it better then the last one. What qualifies as "better" is still a struggle at times, but fortunately, I'm the guy that gets to determine if one vehicle was better then the last one.

    Craftsmanship is a dangerous slope. There will always be someone better then you are. I don't consider myself a craftsman, though I think I do some stuff pretty good. I find that experience is a powerful teacher. I've discovered over the years that the bigger the screw up, and the more it cost to fix, the better you remember it. I've also discovered over the years that if I can learn from other people's screw ups, I don't have to make those screw ups myself. That sure helps make the stuff I build be better.

    I guess to me, that means the guy that screwed something up, fixed it regardless of the cost, or time involved, and then shared their experiences with others is the true craftsman. He is not afraid to show others his mess with the hopes he can save someone from going through the mess themselves. Gene
  19. Hollywood-East
    Joined: Mar 13, 2008
    Posts: 1,712


    Interesting topic.... A 77 year old friend of mine I lost earlier this year.. Had a saying, "Better neat than Rite"...
    He built amazing thing's..
    JimKing likes this.
  20. deucemac
    Joined: Aug 31, 2008
    Posts: 1,206


    Kept in mind that as a beginner, you will screw up. I was at a show a few years back and chatting with Rod Covell. As we stood there, he has a video playing and showing how to make a midget race car nose. How to form the 4 panels and shape them to the buck, and when the fit is correct, then weld the top, bottom, and both sides together. As we were talking a young man was watching the video with rapt attention, when all of a sudden, he blurted out interrupting our conversation. And said, "HEY! you're gas welding that aluminum together !" Rod stopped and said yes I am. The young man replied, "how do you do that? All I ever get is holes and puddles when I try that!". Rod looked at him and said that he did too when he first started out and just keep trying. That goes for all of us. I built lots of junk as a kid, but learned (sometimes frustratingly slow) how to build something. We all are or can get good at something, some things we will NEVER get good at, and some things that we will improve on with practice and time. Play to you long suit and work on improving what you can. I can do just about anything I want in metal. Conversely, at 74, wood is still a magic substance that I still can't master. I can make saw dust and splinters, Olympic quality saw dust and splinters, but saw dust and splintets nonetheless. Craftsmenjoy become so by doing, redoing, and succeeding eventually. Never quit enjoying what you do, and always strive to make the next thing better, based on what you learned the last time. Discourage and set backs all help you learn to do better. For the things that you will never get better at (like me with wood) find someoneto do a trade out with.
  21. RJP
    Joined: Oct 5, 2005
    Posts: 2,121

    from PNW

    On my current project (not HAMB friendly) perfection is an absolute must. I call it my 'Black and White build, No Gray allowed'. If rhe part/section isn't perfect, it gets shitcanned. Kid that hangs around the shop can't get over the amount of stuff that hits the dumpster. He's constantly saying "What's the matter with that? Looks good to me." I just tell him he needs to get better glasses. This project is forcing me to achieve a level of perfection I never really worried about in my other builds. There are no curbs or emergency lanes in the wild blue yonder. 'Good enough', or 'it'll do', just ain't gonna cut it.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
  22. indyjps
    Joined: Feb 21, 2007
    Posts: 4,844


    What processes are you getting better at?
    What do you want to learn more about?

    My opinion,
    Attention to detail will raise up any build. Clean wiring with era correct mounting and covering takes things up a notch. If you think that thru, it requires the car to be mock built with every electrical component in place, weld on the right mountings then wrap the harness.

    Welding, bodywork, panel fit. This is a major one to raise the bar on builds. I want to learn gas welding and need to buy a tank set up to do it. Are you ready to pie cut 75% of a fender edge to get a perfect door gap versus throwing in some shims and having it be close enough? Metal finish and bodywork the underside for body color. I don't want it on my cars but for a show car it's almost required. Ready to throw away rattle cans completely.

    Stance. Whatever it takes..... disassemble a complete car to make a chassis mod if needed.

    Most of the above is solved by a complete driving build in primer then tear down for final paint and assembly.
    JimKing and loudbang like this.
  23. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 8,481


    IMO, a Craftsman, it's something you are born with, a natural ability that you discovered and developed. Hard work, attitude, determination is a big part of it and with time you can be good at most anything if you set that goal but to excel and be a SuperStar type Craftsman, either you have it or you don't. My opinions and $2 gets you a coffee most places.
    JimKing likes this.
  24. tiredford
    Joined: Apr 6, 2009
    Posts: 558

    from Mo.

    When it comes to body work, I try for perfection. But at a certain point I just say fuck it! thats good enough

  25. My skills improved somewhat with age. No one will ever call me a craftsman. Learned a lot from craftsman friends through the years. I am satisfied with my level of builds and that’s all that matters to me.
    JimKing, loudbang and pprather like this.
  26. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 10,059

    anthony myrick

    Sometimes I see things done here by some really talented builder and think “I’ll just toss every tool I have and never work on a car again”
    But that’s not the correct response. We don’t have to be as gifted as some of these guys to enjoy the hobby.
    Just build and learn.
    chopnchaneled, JimKing, RJP and 3 others like this.
  27. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,419

    Ned Ludd

    I tend to approach it from the angle of design philosophy.

    It requires greater craftsmanship to make with low levels of capital investment a product designed under the assumption of high capital investment than a product designed under the assumption of low capital investment, to the same standard of quality.
    It requires lesser craftsmanship to make a product designed under the assumption of high capital investment with high levels of capital investment than with low levels of capital investment, to the same standard of quality.

    In other words, it requires better craftsmanship to emulate a sheetmetal pressing using hand tools than it does to make a simple-curved fabrication using hand tools, to the same standard of quality.

    What I miss — and I think is the reason I like the technology of the earlier part of our era — is a feel for designing to the lowest possible level of craftsmanship required to achieve a given standard of quality, using hand tools. This applies to cars, motorbikes, buildings, anything; but especially in cars it seems to be a lost art. Designers are spoiled; they just assume too much. They assume an army of production engineers and end up failing to convince, much like the folk singer who assumes a full string section. Why not give that hood top a curve? Because making it straight allows a simple hinge-to-panel junction detail which allows a greater standard of quality to be had with simpler tools and less superhuman craftsmanship. That straight line makes the design. And if the craftsmanship applied to it is indeed anything special, the result is truly a thing of beauty.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
    SR100, JimKing and 64 DODGE 440 like this.
  28. birdman1
    Joined: Dec 6, 2012
    Posts: 1,370


    At 75 years old, on a very low fixed income, I still have a desire to do the best I can. But I have been a mechanic, not a body man. So my craftsmanship is in the motor and drivetrain. I'm more concerned about it running good than looking good. I don't take my car to the local car shows because I don't like people telling me what a piece of junk my car is. I would love to have a first rate car, but have to be content with what I am capable of doing.

    Attached Files:

    Budget36, hfh, Baumi and 4 others like this.
  29. Craftsmanship is somewhat relative. With my project I see flaws and things I don't like, but everyone who sees it thinks I am crazy they can't see any flaws or why I would be unhappy.

    A friend of mine did the samething on his project. I was looking his project over when he asked "Do you see my mistake on the headers?" (They were somewhere between sprint and a lake style.) I looked and looked, but could see anyting wrong. He could the left and right headers were running a different angles, seems like 2 degrees difference from the left to the right.

    A few years ago I found a few exsamples of my T.I.G. from Modern Welding School I was going to throw them out because of how rough they were compared to my work now. My dad was there when I found them and wouldn't let me throw them away.
    He said "When you came home with them you were so proud of them and the fact you could T.I.G., You should be proud of that work, your current work and how far you how come.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021
    Happydaze, hfh, JimKing and 4 others like this.
  30. Looks good, I am a welder/fabricator/mechanic my foucs is on the chassis, and running gears as well.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2021

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