Who was Sloyd and what was so special about his knife?

Everyone needs a Sloyd knife in their shop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst a little background. Sloyd was not a person. Sloyd is a word derived from the Swedish word Slöjd meaning handiwork or crafts. Therefore a Slöjd Knife could be considered a knife made for handiwork or crafts. In our context, Sloyd generally refers to an educational system developed in Sweden in the 1870s to prepare a student not only for a possible future work in a trade but also to prepare him for life in general.*  The Sloyd system used a series of exercises to develop skills and confidence beginning with simple tools and tasks and slowly progressing to more advanced work.  The Sloyd knife was one of the first tools to be taught, a foundation that all other skills were built upon. It is interesting to note that most currently available “Sloyd” knives are not patterned after the original design. The original design utilized a straight cutting edge with a tapered blade and a front that came down at an angle forming a blunt point. This is an excerpt from, “The Teacher’s Hand-book of Slöjd by Otto Salomon, 1892″:sloyd knife 3I can see several advantages to this design for a general shop knife.  It is much easier to sharpen and maintain due to the straight cutting edge and the geometry makes for a nearly ideal striking knife. It can also be used to carve and add details to projects. The handle design, though simple, is very comfortable and easy to hold. The original Sloyd pattern was well thought out and with a few minor modifications makes an ideal shop knife. Heck, guys could even shave with it if you stayed out in the shop too long and needed to look your best when you finally went home!

There are very few versions of this original style available to woodworkers today so Blue Spruce Toolworks designed a slightly updated version that is a great addition to any shop. A sharper point is not as user friendly for young learners however it can be useful for easily marking into corners. The sharp point is also useful for penetration and cutting and breaking down cardboard boxes, slicing tape, cutting leather, etc. The addition of small, curved flats on the handle sides helps prevent the knife from rolling and gives an easier grip. The same general design was used to make a smaller version that we call a joiner’s knife because it also works very well laying out joinery. It is a marking knife for those that prefer a more traditional knife pattern for marking rather than a double bevel spear point pattern.

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Both knives utilize a traditional 1095 high carbon steel blade heat treated and tempered to a fine grain and a hardness of Rc58. The double bevel is ground and honed and comes sharp and ready to use. It is easy to sharpen with any traditional sharpening method such as oil or water stones, abrasive paper or powered equipment. The blade is coated with a durable ceramic coating to provide long lasting corrosion protection and a distinguished look. The handles are turned from nicely figured maple that has been infused with an acrylic resin creating a good balance to the blade and adding durability to the handle. A ceramic coated brass ferrule nicely finishes off the joint between the blade and handle.  These knives will be a foundation in your shop and give a lifetime of service. We have an optional leather sheath that can be worn on your belt or pants and keeps the knife handy and ready at a moments notice.

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The Sloyd Knife is available for $85, the Joiners knife for $70 and the sheath for $30.  We have a special introductory offer of $175 if you buy all three; save $10.

Visit our website for more details or to order:  Sloyd and Joiner’s Knives

 

Other News:

We have Bench and Butt Chisels back in stock!!!!

I will be at the Lie Nielsen Hand Tool Events in Portland and Seattle in February, Handworks in May, and WIA in September. (Rumor has it that I may be speaking at WIA this year)

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and hope to see you at an upcoming show.

Dave Jeske

 

*Author and Woodworker Doug Stowe has written several very good articles on Sloyd and how it moved to the United States beginning at the North Bennet Street School in Boston in 1989. If you are interested in reading more about it or how it is presently being used to teach young woodworkers, be sure to check out his website, blog and articles.

 

 

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9 Comments



  1. Dave, I received one of your sloyd knives as a gift when I taught for the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers in March. It is absolutely lovely. I thank you for your craftsmanship and for having made reference to sloyd in your blog.

    Salomon’s grave in Sweden is marked with the words, “Den gode är enmakt även i graven,” meaning, The Good is a power even in the grave. I appreciate that you’ve made a sloyd knife (and I now own one) made in Salomon’s recommended style. As long as there are Sloyd knives, there is a chance that folks will become curious about the history of the manual arts. Perhaps they will consider putting real tools in the hands of kids that they might develop in both skill and intelligence as was the objective of educational sloyd.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Doug,
      We appreciate you coming out to the guild to share and teach. I am very disappointed I was not able to make it to the meeting and would have loved the opportunity to talk with you. I referenced your research and writings about Sloyd and the manual arts when working on my version of the knife. Though it is not an exact replica, the purpose and function remain the same. The decline of hand skill and common sense in many of our youth these days is alarming, a shame and a sad commentary on how far we have let outside controls into our lives.

      Reply
  2. MAE Canada

    Very informative blog on Sloyd’s knife do point out the merits of knife markings. It will be of significant value! Thanks!

    Reply
  3. Jim Godron

    I’m not sure how well these knives we’ll be accepted. Most woodworkers I know don’t use knives to mark. Most of us have been around long enough know that a knife is the best marker there are some who use pencils or ballpoint pens.
    I would suggest that you point out the advantages of knife marking. I believe it would increase your business
    Jim

    Reply

    1. Thanks Jim. I find that I use both a “marking knife” with one flat side and also a knife like the Joiners or Sloyd knife. The sharp point allows for very nice marks and can be faster to use.

      Reply

    1. The knifes have a bevel on both sides of the blade like a traditional knife so there is no need for a left and a right.

      Reply

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