treen, small wooden objects in daily domestic or farm use and in use in trades and professions. Treen includes a wide variety of objects mostly associated with tableware, the kitchen, games, personal adornment, and toilet articles. The word is never applied to objects larger than a spinning wheel and does not include objects designed primarily for ornament. (Britannica)When I see an ironic-looking fellow sporting muttonchop sidewhiskers and pedaling a single-speed bike, wearing Clark Kent glasses, with a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon under his arm, unstructured scarf flapping in the breeze, I'm often reminded of people like our pole lathe turner. I wonder if anyone else is.
People seek authenticity in their lives. Authenticity is often equated with simplicity. Steve Jobs glommed onto the idea of never showing any screws on the outside of his wares to give the user the impression of a monolithic apparatus, not a machine. It's fake simplicity, but so what? As they say, If you don't have good manners, pretend you do; it's the same thing.
Counterintuitively, simplicity also lends itself to originality in manufacture. You'd think that a lack of ornament would limit uniqueness. And that fellow is trying to make everything exactly the same way, every time -- but he's failing utterly and wonderfully. A human can't do the exact same thing twice like a machine can, and the wood wouldn't allow uniformity anyway; no two pieces of wood are identical. Everything you make is one-of-a-kind. I've made hundreds of tables. No two of them are remotely the same. I'll go further, and aver that each has a kind of personality, revealed in working on them. They all have opinions about the weather, and think they have a "good side," like a teenager being photographed. The pieces of a table will fight with you if you don't listen to them.
People can't all make everything for themselves, or there would only be room for a few million people on earth. But the urge is there, a kind of respect, and straphangers use the power of their purses to rub elbows with authenticity as a worthy substitute for doing it themselves.
(thanks to reader and commenter and customer and friend JHC for sending that one along)