Sunday, August 05, 2007

The following is excerpted from an email I received from Roy Oram, Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada.

I might never have enjoyed the pleasures of woodworking had I not been introduced to the craft at age eleven during the War. (WWII) During the War, male teachers were not available as many of the men were in the Army in Europe so women taught us and taught us well. I was once the recipient of a three-foot-pointer across the hand as I laid down a plane on its blade. But I also learned how to use the plane, square, a bench hook, a back saw and all the other hand tools which were on each small maple bench in the school. I am now seventy-four and I think of that woman every time I use a plane. I might never have had the pleasure of building furniture for my home and also building my own home in which we now live had it not been for the Sloyd classes. I figure that I've not only made myself over $100,000 part-time using my woodworking skills that began in 1944 but have enjoyed a life-time hobby. When I was out of work in the fifties, I took on a job with a framing crew for a few months. Even as a kid, I made myself a scooter out of an old roller skate and an apple box attached to a piece of 2X4. Soon afterward, I built a small cabin in my back yard in Montreal. I've built five gates on my property that have lasted twenty-five years without sagging and my workshop which is insulated and wired for an electric heater. Learning to use one's hands is an important part of education, I'd say. Right now, since my wife has told me there is no more room in the house for my creations, I'm enjoying making woodcarving knives using Warren blades, polished up nicely, with handles made of various kinds of wood such as walnut, dogwood, ebony and other exotic woods. Of course I have a well equipped shop having collected all kinds of tools since I was able to work after school to earn money to buy them. I still use the first electric motor I bought to run a small saw in 1950. Now I use it as a buffer to polish blades and other items of metal. Sloyd classes are important to a student because it can bring out talents that would otherwise be hidden for life.

Are we failing our children by not empowering them in the use of tools and by failing to unleash their innate creativity? I think so. Thanks Roy for sharing your personal experience.

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