Clive Thompson, who just wrote an article for Wired about the resurgence of DIY culture, points to an excellent essay by Matthew B. Crawford, "Shop Class As Soulcraft," which ran in 2006 in The New Atlantis, A Journal on Technology & Society. [Definitely New to me.]
The whole thing's worth a read, but this paragraph practically demanded to be quoted here:
Hobbyists will tell you that making one’s own furniture is hard to justify economically. And yet they persist. Shared memories attach to the material souvenirs of our lives, and producing them is a kind of communion, with others and with the future. Finding myself at loose ends one summer in Berkeley, I built a mahogany coffee table on which I spared no expense of effort. At that time I had no immediate prospect of becoming a father, yet I imagined a child who would form indelible impressions of this table and know that it was his father’s work. I imagined the table fading into the background of a future life, the defects in its execution as well as inevitable stains and scars becoming a surface textured enough that memory and sentiment might cling to it, in unnoticed accretions. More fundamentally, the durable objects of use produced by men “give rise to the familiarity of the world, its customs and habits of intercourse between men and things as well as between men and men,” as Hannah Arendt says. “The reality and reliability of the human world rest primarily on the fact that we are surrounded by things more permanent than the activity by which they were produced, and potentially even more permanent than the lives of their authors.”"This indelible impression in my forehead? I was just learning to walk, and I creamed into the corner of this coffee table my dad built in college."