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.
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.
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.
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.
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.