Sjobergs Workbench, and Sloyd in Sweden and the USA

Woodworking Utopia or Dystopia?

Sjobergs of Sweden makes literally thousands of benches and go alongs every year. This one is headed for its forth decade soon, and still has many years left in it. Professional woodworkers prefer mortise and tenoned benches the size of a Buick or a beached whale, but this has had at least four different homes, and it was easily moved. Was–it is now bolted to concrete in four places by lag bolts.

This is a realistic picture of the condition my bench stays in, as I am always making something. It would probably cause laughter from the nine year olds in Sweden, which is when they begin studying sloyd (sljöd in Swedish), which is the Swedish word for crafts. This study continues until after the child is fifteen.

Here’s the kind of thing that Swedish public education gives to nine year olds.

Not the Shavings, but the Knife

That’s a Sloyd knife, in this case a quality Swedish knife made of laminated steel. Instilling quality and character into students is what Sloyd is all about. Sloyd is also a good substitute for physical education, as all I learned in PE was how to become a tolerable free throw shooter.

Alas, the US hierarchy chose to follow “the Russian system,” which is vocational training. The current system here is not to build character and intelligence, but to churn out workers to make some greenback dollars for somebody. As an anecdote, I was the chair of the English department at a “Liberal Arts” University, where the school’s VP told me that English was a department that was a “service” department, there to help departments like the nursing school. So much for building character. My bench has more character than that.

I really should stop using it as a place to mix my various home made paints. If you look close enough, you can see gold glitter paint, that I spilled while mixing it. That’s too much character.

Author: southernfusionfood

Writer, Woodworker, and Happy Eater

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