Category Archives: English language posts

The first ever official skottbenk expedition to USA

Norsk Skottbenk Union will have a stand at Handworks in Amana.

This week 6 members of Norsk Skottbenk Union are going to Iowa and Minesota in USA to meet up with American handtool enthusiasts. We are also going to do some research for old workbenches similar to our Scandinavian Skottbenk. We are familiar with an interesting workbench in Amana in Iowa. We are going to make a visit to see this bench for ourselves and also have our own stand at Handworks 2017 to show how the Skottbenk works. At Handworks we will meet workbench enthusiasts from around the world. The maker of the official apron for Norsk Skottbenk Union, Jason Thigpen at Texas Heritage will also be there.

About Norsk Skottbenk Union

Norsk Skottbenk Union are a group of craftsmen with a special interest in traditional workbenches and tools. We are focused on the use of the workbenches and tools and strive to get other craftsmen interested in theese matters. We belive the Norwegian woodworking tradition are important to keep alive. By making traditional workbenches, making new tool in a local tradition and use them in restauration work and other kind of woodworking we belive we can make a difference. Our tools and workbenches are based on extensive research of old tools, workbenches and historical records. We have also done some work with older master craftsmen to get to some of the intangible knowledge in their craft. Some of the results of this work are posted on this blog. We write in Norwegian for our Norwegian readers because we believe it is important that we use the language that is connected to the traditions in our craft. For you English language readers we have a category for English blog posts.

Our trip

We will start our trip 10. May and go to North House Folk School where we will stay to the 13. May. From there we will start our journey to Amana where we plan to come the 17. or 18. May. We might make some stops along our route from North House to Amana so we are glad for suggestions from you. Theese members from Norsk Skottbenk Union will go to USA and are possible to meet at Handworks 2017:

Jon Dahlmo. Blacksmith that have specialized in making woodworking tools for carpenters and joiners. For members he is a great source for plane irons, chisels and all kinds of special tools for woodworking. He run his own company Verktøysmia in Drevja. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Thor-Aage K. Heiberg. Joiner and Organbuilder. Trained in joinery both plugged and unplugged. Early member of Norsk Skottbenk Union. Enjoys the smell, sound and keen hand of traditional pre-industrial joinery and building conservation. Interested in toolmaking, and traditional woodworking handtools. Studied Technical building conservation and restoration work at NTNU and finished my bachelor degree in 2016, subject: The Sash window plane and Miter iron. Rediscovering a traditional 19th century sash window manufacturing process in Melhus and Meldal. Work as a woodworker and head of building conservations at Sverresborg Open-Air museum in Trondheim.
Ivar Jørstad. Master Carpenter with a special interest in traditional carpenters tools. He is studying at a bachelor programme in traditional building crafts at NTNU university in Trondheim. He work as a restoring carpenter at Buskerud bygningsvernsenter.
Siv K. Holmin. Have been working as a restauration carpenter, restoring traditional buildings for about 20 years. Focused on traditional working methods with traditional handtools. Have also done some intervjus/foto/filming documentation of working methods with elder people to understand and learn the handcraft. Teach woodworking and restoring. Traditional logging, pitsawing, splitting wood and hewing materials, making floorboard and dealboard with handplane in «skottbenk» and thatching traditional grassroofs with birchbark.
Peter Brennvik. Have worked many years with ship preservation, boatbuilding. Interested in woodworking tools, planemaking, høvelbenk and skottbenk. Are now working on a bachelor degree in traditional building craft at NTNU.  INSTAGRAM:
Roald Renmælmo
One of the founders of Norsk Skottbenk Union and active user of skottbenk and traditional handplanes. Have worked many years as a woodworker and restauration carpenter in Norway. My special interests and competencies are joinery, logbuilding, traditional logging, toolmaking and traditional woodworking handtools. Are working on a PhD in historic joinery at NTNU and Göteborg University. Teach as Assistant Professor in traditional building craft at NTNU in Trondheim.

Breaking news, Skottbenk found in Amana, Iowa, USA

I must admit that I have been waiting for this day for some time now. The day when I can give you American readers a photo of a naitive «skottbenk» from USA. A few days ago I got a tip from one of my followers on Instagram, @iasjmobler, about a picture of an interesting workbench posted by @benchcrafted. One of our followers from USA, Jason Thigpen, where the first to comment that this bench is a skottbenk. Benchcrafted is a maker of workbenches and hardware and Jason are owner of Texas Heritage woodworks, the official maker of the shop aprons with the logo of Norsk Skottbenk Union. There are a few pictures on Instagram that are tagged as Skottbenk.

Skjermbilde 2016-05-14 09.05.36
The «Skottbenk» on the Amana Woolen Mill in Amana, Iowa. It was originaly used in the nearby Amana Furniture Shop. Now it is used in the shop of Amana Wollen Mill as a display. Photo: Benchcrafted

I am conviced that this is an old Skottbenk that where used in Amana. The bench are very similar to several Norwegian benches we have seen on this blog before. The pattern of the long boards and the vices are similar to the one that Lars Velsand have made, to the bench from Bredalslien and the bench from Bortistu Storlidalen. It is not very different from the Danish bench that Lost Art Press have blogged about. The bench could easily fit in the Norwegian tradition, but could also be related to the Danish or the German tradition. Amana is an old colony of seven villages in Iowa County. The villages were built and settled by German Pietists, who were persecuted in their homeland by the German state government and the Lutheran Church. They moved to Iowa in 1856 and lived a communal life til mid-1930s. For eighty years, the Amana Colony maintained an almost completely self-sufficient local economy, importing very little from the industrializing American economy. The Amanians were able to achieve this independence and lifestyle by adhering to the specialized crafting and farming occupations that they had brought with them from Europe. Craftsmen passed their skills and techniques on from one generation to the next. They used hand, horse, wind, and water power, and made their own furniture, clothes, and other goods.

In this setting the Skottbenk have made it possible to joint long boards with handtools in an efficent way. There could be more interesting stuff in this area? Some of our followers from USA might go there and search for old handplanes that could be connected to use on this bench? I would also like to get some more pictures and also som measurments of this American skottbenk. I would be very happy to get some more information about this bench, and even other similar benches in USA or other parts of the world.

In case you have missed it, we have posted in English before about how to use this kind of benches. In that post we also have some information about how to make your own Skottbenk. There is also a web adress to a Google SketchUp drawing of a skottbenk from Målselv made by James Groover. I have also posted (in Norwegian) about some American patents of some specialized types of Skottbenk.

The international launch of the Skottbenk

This is a typical situation with a "skottbenk" used with at "skottokse" (the handplane) for shooting the edgde of a long board. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
This is a typical situation with a «skottbenk» used with at «skottokse» (the handplane) for shooting the edgde of a long board. Photo: Roald Renmælmo

When I started this blog I wanted to get some focus on a type of workbench that where almost forgotten in Norway. I wanted to engage other craftsmen in Norway to search for old workbenches and to make their own and start to use them. I did not believe that this would gain interest among woodworkers in other parts of the world. About a year ago Dennis Laney wrote a post about the skottbenk on his blog: If you don’t know your hyvelbenk from a skottbenk – you should. It is not easy to explain the use of the bench and to translate Norwegian terms to English. Dennis wrote a new entry on his blog to explain how this skottbenk works: Skottbenk equals sticking board – Big sticking board. He has also made a later post: Murphy’s law, spring joints and skottbenks.

I have made a small Youtube video to show how I use the skottbenk to make floor boards with tongue and groove. It has some Norwegian text to explain the details but you will get the idea. I have also made a post in Norwegian that explains how to use and maintain the skottbenk. I have also an earlier entry in English on the blog: Jointing bench or shooting bench as English translation of skottbenk?

Some weeks ago I got an e-mail from James Groover, an American that where interested in the skottbenk and wanted to make a 3D model of one in Google SketchUp to help people to make their own skottbenk. We have been working on this model for some time and had some problems with the conversion from metric to inches and even from the Norwegian «tomme», a slightly longer inch. After some e-mails to solve theese problems, James has come up with a 3D model of a skottbenk. That might be the first in history? The model are based on the skottbenk I use in the YouTube video, that again are based on an original from Kverndal in Målselv. James has made his 3D model available for you all from 3D warehouse. You can download the file and use Google SketchUp to wiev the model in 3D.

Screenshot of the 3D model of the Skottbenk made by James Groover.
Screenshot of the 3D model of the Skottbenk made by James Groover.

I do hope that this will help you to make your own skottbenk even if you cant read Norwegian. There should be possible to find similar workbenches as the skottbenk in other parts of the world. Leonardo da Vinci did make a drawing of a skottbenk and I have found several American patents on workbenches that works like a skottbenk. That would indicate that it should be possible to discover a skottbenk outside of Norway. Thank you Dennis and James to help me to introduce the skottbenk in your part of the world.

Adress to the 3D model made by James Groover:

Jointing bench or shooting bench as English translation of skottbenk?

This is a typical situation with a "skottbenk" used with at "skottokse" (the handplane) for shooting the edgde of a long board. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
This is a typical situation with a «skottbenk» used with at «skottokse» (the handplane) for shooting the edgde of a long board. Theese workbenches have been very common in Norway. There is also a system of special handplanes that are used with theese benches. To the left in the picture you can see a long bench that are used when you work the flat side of the boards. Photo: Roald Renmælmo

As a blogger I want to know my readers and get some feedback from them. Our readers have mostly been norwegian, swedish and danish as they understand the Norwegian language. The last few days there have been an encreasing number of readers from USA, Belgium, Canada, UK, Portugal and Germany. This might be coused by a post on the blog, A Woodworker`s Musings that led the readers to both this blog and a related blog, Høvelbenk. There was also some traffic from a internet forum for workbench questions. For us it is very interesting to know if there are similar workbenches as the «Skottbenk» in other countries. Please comment on this post if you have any information.

The Norwegian word «skottbenk» could translate to shooting bench as it works a similar way as a shooting board or a sticking board. It is used for jointing and squaring boards and planks, usually long boards. There are some patents of such benches at the United States Patent and Trademark Office, some of them are presented in an earlier post. One of theese benches are called a Joiners bench «with improvement for Jointing and Squaring boards and lumber».  We could also translate «skottbenk» to «jointing bench». There are also other terms in Norwegian to describe theese benches. The word «rettbenk» could translate to «straight bench». The word «strykebenk» are both used to describe a «skottbenk» but are also the name for the coopers long jointing plane.

The «skottbenk» are used to hold the board when you work the edge with some special handplanes with depth stops (named «meie» that means skid) on both sides. The top of the long straight bords on the «skottbenk» works as guides for theese depth stops. There are planes just for jointing and are named «skottokse», and there are plows for flooring or panels. I have seen this system of work in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The patented bences from USA indicate that something similar are known there to? There is also a drawing made by Leonardo da Vinci that shows a similar workbench. The last one is so complicated that it has been called a «planing machine», but it works a similar way as a «skottbenk».  If you know something about similar benches in other countries, please comment on this post.