Thursday, March 25, 2010

welcome Lee Valley Woodworkers...

I have heard from a few woodworkers who have found their way to the blog due to the article in the Lee Valley Woodworking Newsletter. Welcome! You will find youtube videos of the Clear Spring Students at work here. And you will find links to some of my previously published articles Here. One reader noted the similarities between my teaching program and educational sloyd. I have published a number of articles on Educational Sloyd over the past several years, bringing the subject to renewed interest among American woodworkers. These articles can be accessed through the preceding link.


  1. Anonymous7:46 PM

    You hit the nail on the head. I got the Lee Valley newsletter, read the article, and immediately recognized the name of the school and then your name at the end. Lately, I've been re-reading your Sloyd articles in Woodwork magazine and reviewing books on woodworking projects for children. My daughter is 5 and loves being in the workshop with me. We’ve done some projects together - which means she comes up with an idea and I build it. She helps by sanding and holding the vacuum, for example when I’m drilling something on the drill press, but I know she is going to lose interest fast if I can’t get her more hands-on.

    Whether she continues woodworking in the future isn’t as important to me as is the hands-on experience of making something herself. The Sloyd philosophy seems to reflect this, but I’ve run into two roadblocks. The first is that the beginning Sloyd system seems to be geared toward older children. The second is that I can’t find any books on Sloyd. The ones you mention in your articles were written around the turn of the last century and out of print and, in some cases, written in Finnish. I’ve looked at books like Richard Starr’s “Woodworking with Your Kids” (out of print and not at my library) but, from the reviews of these, they are more project oriented than progressive-learning oriented.

    Can you point me in the right direction? I want her to start out the right way and not get frightened off by tools she can’t control or may cut herself on. I’ve told her that we’re going to build a workbench this summer and she’s very excited (she has a plastic Fisher-Price one now where she does pretend woodworking). I hope to have some idea of how to start her off by the time we finish it.

    Thank you and thank you for all the years of excellent articles of all types in Woodwork magazine.

    Jeff Robinson

  2. Jeff, I had a small workbench in my shop where my daughter would work when she was 4 or 5. She would take my scraps and glue them into very interesting objects of her own design, from her own imagination. I would ask, "what is that?' and she would tell me it was a pencil holder, or some other kind of practical object, and we still have a small collection of these things.

    Now Lucy is a 3rd year at Columbia University, and is unlikely to do wood working, though we did work together on some projects for her dorm room before her freshman year.

    I need to get some step by step stuff written up on the Clear Spring School projects. I do have some projects on the Fine Woodworking website. We start regular classes at 1st grade, and do an annual project with the preschool and kindergarten, ages 3-5. This last week the CSS kids made toy airplanes and toy boats.

    The most important thing is to have a good vise to hold wood as it is being cut or nailed. Plans for the benches we use are in Woodwork magazine and also available on the Fine Woodworking website, but you can also just use a hand screw and large C-clamp to hold it to the table for a make do vise.

    It gets easier for both of you as you get started.I can handle 6 or 7 first and second grade students at a time, though it is rather demanding. You can see some of it on youtube. Search for MrDougStowe.

    The Sloyd books have become very hard to find. But some are reprinted as print on demand publications. I was lucky in that no one had heard of sloyd when I first started researching and writing about it. Now it seems my articles have changed all that.