A blog as a tool

Traditional tools meet the latest technology in the work of craftsmanship doctoral students Roald Renmælmo and Tomas Karlsson. Their research area is pre-industrial carpentry, with a substudy within historic workbenches, which they document using a blog.
“Most of our followers are from the US,” says Roald.

The idea of starting a blog as a tool in their study of workbenches first came about in August 2013. While working on his licentiate thesis, Tomas Karlsson had built up a wealth of material that needed to be documented. Together with his colleague Roald Renmælmo, he looked for different ways of bringing together this material while also being able to engage in dialogue on workbenches with craftsmen and other people with an interest in the subject. They wrote their first post in October 2013.

Roald Renmælmo works on one of the legs from the Vasa workbench.

Roald Renmælmo works on one of the legs from the Vasa workbench.

“Carpentry is a relatively new subject area within a university context,” says Roald. “The blog has become an important tool for us for making contacts, within both academia and the wider world with other joiners.”

Tomas Karlsson makes a hole for one of the legs on a workbench in Mariestad.

Tomas Karlsson makes a hole for one of the legs on a workbench in Mariestad.

Since creating the blog, they have written almost 50 posts. Many of their visitors live outside the Nordic region – most of them come from the US, and the UK and Germany also rank high in the visitor statistics. Many of those who read and comment on their posts are bloggers themselves. When Roald and Tomas noticed that they were receiving many replies from abroad, they started writing texts in English, too, to encourage English-speaking readers to comment. However, they mainly post in Norwegian and Swedish.

“Our record is 2,793 visitors in a day, and that was for a post written in Norwegian,” explains Roald. “Norwegian and Swedish work well for interesting subject matter with good pictures. The blog is an important forum for promoting our Nordic tradition of craftsmanship, and the language is an important part of that tradition. That’s why we mainly blog in Norwegian and Swedish.”

The Blog

Roald Renmælmo and Tomas Karlsson are doctoral students in carpentry at the Department of Conservation. In their research, they have mapped literature about workbenches and historic examples in Norway and Sweden. One of their projects involves a workbench salvaged from the warship Vasa. They publish texts and images about their projects on their blog.

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