Re: One thing we're ignoring...
So much not correct here.
3D printing is still, in the "inexpensive" printer arena, an art rather than a science. I'm not going to go into why, the build blogs are out there and all you have to do is look.
If you don't want to be left "finishing" a piece post-print you need to spend upwards of $2K. Below that the vertical resolution on all commercial machines (yes, including RepRap) is so poor you get striations on the finished part.
For about $1.6K Sears will sell you a ready-to-cut wood milling machine, about the size of an ink jet printer. Good for making signs, decorative boxes or whatever else you can think up. Plug and play.
NC milling machines can be gotten for around $2-3k that are worth owning. There's a bloke sitting not ten feet from me who won one in a raffle last November when he attended a seminar run by the manufacturer. Turns out, not just computer firms give away stuff at jamborees. Who knew?
A Unimat lathe can be bought for under $2k. I see them on eBay all the time. Then it's a matter of acquiring the skills by lathing materials and reading books. You'll need other tools, micrometers and so forth, but those you can acquire as you develop a need for them.
It takes a few seconds to drill a hole using my floor-standing 15-speed drill press, which cost me about $350 - less than the price of a cheap laptop. If it took an hour to drill a hole, the bit was blunt. The hint would be the small of hot metal and (optionally) melting plastic or burning wood.
I know people who own laser-cutting machines for cutting wood. Never looked into those myself, but given the people concerned that means they can't be ruinously expensive. Laser-cutting can be used in all sorts of fab projects - the case for the makerbot was laser cut the last time I looked at them.
Perhaps one of the real advantages of moving to the USA was is there is ready access to inexpensive machine tools of all shapes and sizes. Makes up for all those guns blasting away in every direction night and day, and having to run from one piece of cover to the next just to go anywhere.
As for your computer geek who can't drill a hole - perhaps one can only truly claim to be an engineer if once one has written some code one can solder a few components to a board on which to run it and knock up a case to put it all in.