I usually start out my reviews with a picture and description of the tool itself but this time I have to start with a couple of pictures of the packaging. Blue Spruce Toolworks is synonymous with quality and in this case, it starts with the packaging. Even before you pick up the tools you have a sense of quality and pride of ownership as you open the packaging. From the box with the Blue Spruce Toolworks logo and name tied with twine, to the wood shavings surrounding the knives, it is all very well thought out, designed and implemented.
The package contained both the Sloyd Knife and a smaller version called the Joiner's Knife. What is Sloyd? Wikipedia has the following definition: "The word 'sloyd' is derived from the Swedish word Slöjd, which translates as crafts, handicraft, or handiwork. It refers primarily to woodwork but also paper-folding and sewing, embroidery, knitting and crochet. Educational sloyd's purpose was formative in that it was thought that the benefits of handicrafts in general education built the character of the child, encouraging moral behavior, greater intelligence, and industriousness. Sloyd had a noted impact on the early development of manual training, manual arts, industrial education and technical education." The knife was one of the first tools made by these students and therefore was given the name...Sloyd Knife.
Both knives are based on the original Sloyd Knife design and feature finely machined, ground and honed 1095 high carbon steel blades. The blades are coated with Cerekote™ for corrosion resistance and durability. The handles are turned from curly hard maple that has been infused with a polymer resin for enhanced durability and balance. They have flattened sides for a firm, comfortable grip and to prevent rolling on the bench. The larger Sloyd Knife has a 3-1/4 inch long blade and an overall length of 7-1/2 inches. The Joiner's Knife has a 2 inch long blade and an overall length of 6 inches. The photograph also shows the leather sheath which you can wear on your belt around the shop so that you can always have the knives at hand. The sheath fits either knife.
The knives come fully sharpened and are ready to use right out of the box. I've tried to show the cutting edge in the following picture so you can get an idea of the sharpness of the knives.
Knives like these have many uses around the shop. The Joiner's Knife can be used to scribe marks for joinery instead of using a pencil. The longer blade on the Sloyd knife can reach into hard to reach places like marking out a large dovetail joint.
I was able to use the knives in a recent project in my shop. I needed to make a sliding tapered dovetail and this was the perfect tool to score the pencil layout lines and define the shoulders of the tapered tail for the dovetail. My tapered dovetail was based upon a design by Simon James, as defined in his book Working Wood 3. I built his jig (shown below) to use as a guide for creating the sloped sides of the dovetail.
The starting point of the tail is the layout and scoring of the sides of an initial dado, which was the perfect use for the Joiner's Knife. James's sliding dovetail has a straight edge at the top and a tapered bottom so the pinboard will slowly rise into the joint and fit snug as it's tapped together. The layout is shown below drawn in pencil.
This is followed up by scoring the lines with a knife to define the edges of the 'tail.' The top edge is set down 1/8" and stopped short of the front edge of the board. The lower edge is defined by the amount of taper from the pin on the pinboard. (Note: There is a technique he uses to angle the combination square that I'm not showing here.)
I used the Joiner's Knife to score the lines and a chisel to pare down to the line at a slight angle to create a first-degree cut. James says to continue using a knife to score the line to deepen the cut rather than a chisel. The bevel of the chisel will cause the edge to move backward and he 'guarantees' that the final tail opening will be too wide. The Joiner's Knife was very comfortable to use here and gave me a very clean cut. As I pared away more material, the knife easily cleaned up any small pieces left behind and deepened the score for subsequent chisel cuts.
I was able to achieve a very clean cut using this technique.
I won't go into all of the other details about making this joint but suffice it to say that I continued this process around the perimeter of the dado using the Joiner's Knife to define and clean up the cuts. Below is a picture of the pieces for the final sliding tapered dovetail. You can see how the lower edge tapers from wide at the back to narrow as you move to the front of the board.
Blue Spruce Toolworks is known for their quality tools and these knives are no exception. The straight edge will be easy to resharpen in the future but I anticipate that the blade should hold its edge for a long time.
I'm sure it will be a 'prized' possession in your shop, just as it was for the students who originally used this knife back in the 1800's.
Find out more and purchase
Blue Spruce Toolworks Knives
Jeffrey Fleisher has been a woodworker for approximately 20 years and a professional woodworker for the past 6 years. He is the president of his local woodturning club, the Woodturners of the Virginias and past president of the Northern Virginia Carvers. You can see some of the furniture he has made at www.jeffswooddesigns.com. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to the
Wood News Online