Craft production is a method of creating goods by hand, often with simple tools. This type of one-off production was widely used prior to the industrial revolution, and is still practiced around the world. Unlike mass production, craft production results in items that are each unique in small ways, since they are made by hand one at a time. Craft produced goods can vary in quality, though they are often thought to have higher production values than mass produced versions. It is often possible for a craftsman to achieve certain effects or levels of detail using techniques that are not viable in mass production.
Before the days of mass production, all manufactured goods were created one by one using the process of handicraft. New workers in a field would typically be apprenticed to a master, from whom they would learn the craft. Goods were produced by hand using relatively simple tools and no automated processes, so the knowledge and skill of the worker was instrumental to the quality of the final product. Much of the craft production performed today is the work of hobbyists, though some craftsmen still earn their living by it.
One major defining factor of craft produced goods is that each final product is somewhat unique. Though a master craftsman will typically produce finished products that meet general specifications, aesthetics and function are often considered more important than perfect uniformity. This can often be desirable from the standpoint of a consumer that is interested in unique items, though it can have drawbacks if the product ever needs to be repaired. Goods that are composed of identical, replaceable parts are easier and cheaper to fix, and this is something that craft production can not easily offer.
The automotive industry is one example that began with craft production but moved to mass production. When each automobile was a craft built product, new replacement parts needed to be created specific to each vehicle. This made owning and maintaining an automobile very expensive and led to the industry-wide adoption of mass production techniques. Once each and every part that made up a vehicle was identical to the parts from any other vehicle of the same make, the cost of repairs and maintenance became dramatically lower.
In cases where the absolute uniformity of a product is not necessary, craft production has some benefits over mass produced goods. Furniture, cabinetry, and other woodworking is often craft produced due to the level of detail and quality that the method allows for. Handicraft is also practiced around the world in areas where industrialization has been limited.