I suppose you could say that only he can explain what he means...but what I described is kinda the common understanding...
Have you ever been to the Pacific Northwest? I've seen some wood sculptors there that take driftwood from the ocean - carve away pieces here - smooth areas there - highlight certain areas with just the right kind of varnish. What they end up with is a work of art. Yet all they do is clean up the mess that is left from the salt and sun... If you were to tell them that what they do is not "hand crafting" then you had better learn to swim very fast!
If your definition of hand crafting is only "writing the raw code in a text editor." Then you can
"Hand craft" an html document in Sigil...it is a text editor - albeit specialized. You go into "Code view" and just start typing on a blank sheet...codes and all. And yes, I have done exactly that with Sigil.
Even with a text editor (my favorite up until recently has been notepad++) there are built in tools that make your job of writing the code easier...if I tell it that I am writing in xhtml it will turn all the appropriate selectors/properties/values pretty colors and highlight matching tags. The editor also has certain functions that are built into it...like being able to save the file into a particular folder in a given format - open multiple files up from the same folder - rename the files, etc. Using those tools/functions in no way lessens the "hand-craftedness" of my html work. Does the fact an artist uses a saw and sandpaper discredit their work?
The same goes for Sigil. It has an added set of ePub specific functions that I use as tools for me
to create an ePub.
Did you know that there are many different ways to achieve the same result when it comes to formatting an html document?? Different people will do things different ways. The act of going through a document line by line tweaking tags and THINKING about what is wanted - rather than letting a computerized algorithm make assumptions about what is intended - is the difference between "hand-crafted" and "automatic conversion".
So...back to my original clarification:
Part of "Hand crafting" is going in and cleaning up the mess that comes from automatic conversions.