We are back in Norway after almost two weeks touring Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa in USA. For most of us it was our first trip to USA and it was a very nice experience for all of us. We have met a lot of skilled craftsmen and made many new friends on our journey. The first four days we spent in Grand Marais, a small city on the northern shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. There we met Trond Oalann that had a class making a Norwegian kind of timberframing, «stavline» at North House Folk School. On our stay here we had some demonstration of planemaking, splitting and hewing logs and forging plane irons and chisels. Peter Henrikson at North House let us have some pices of white pine so we could start to make a new Skottbenk for our demonstration at Handworks 2017. We did also assist Trond and did some work with his students.
The «Stavline» building course at North House Folk School.
The «Stavline» building course at North House Folk School.
Jon Dahlmo are forging a laminated plane iron at Nort House Folk School.
Thor Aage and Peter are demonstrating planemaking at North House.
Siv Holmin are demonstrating how to split a white pine log with axe.
Thor Aage Heiberg are planing the pices that are going to be our new Skottbenk.
After our stay in Grand Marais we drove down to Folklore Village near Dodgeville in Wisconsin. I had read about Aslak Olsen Lie (1798-1886), a woodworker from Reinli in Valdres in Norway who moved to Wisconsin with his family in 1848. Here he built his new home in 1848-49 and this house is now under restauration by Nels Diller who works for Folklore Village. We got to meet the director Terri Van Orman and the carpenter Nels Diller and could see a lot of original materials and logs from when Aslak built his home more that 160 years ago. Some of the preserved floor boards seems to have been made on a skottbenk, but we could not find a bench in that area. You can read about Aslak Olsen Lie in the very interesting book: Snikkaren Aslak Olsen Lie : bygdekunstnar i Valdres og Wisconsin. It might be available only for Norwegian readers?
Aslak Olsen Lie, nr 2 from the right, and his family in front of his home in Wisconsin in 1874. Photo. Andrew Dahl
The Aslak Lie house during dismantling from the original site.
Nels Deller (left) and the new rising of the Aslak Lie house at Folklore Village.
Floor boards from the Lie house. The members of Norsk Skottbenk Union belive that a Skottbenk have been involved in making theese boards
Materials from the Lie house.
Springdale Lutheran Church whith the steeple attributet to Aslak Olsen Lie and built in 1877.
The sign at Springdale Lutheran Church
We left Folklore Village and drove to Vesterheim in Decorah, Iowa. We arrived in the evening 16th May and could participate in 17th May celebration in Decorah the next day. It was still time to make a visit to the museum collection at Vesterheim. Darlene Fossum-Martin from Vesterheim guided us through the very interesting collection of tools and workbenches in the Painter-Bernatz Mill and the building in the Open Air Division. We even got to se some of the furniture collection where they had a cabinet attributed to Aslak Olsen Lie.
The Erikson-Hansen stabbur at Vesterheim
Workbench and «okshøvel» at Vesterheim
This plane in the collection seems very «Norwegian».
This saw seems like its Norwegian relatives.
The «navar» are most likely from Norway.
Ivar has found a broad axe that looks like axes in Telemark in Norway.
This cabinet are attributed to Aslak Olsen Lie and we could do some research in the joinery details.
After our stay in Decorah we drove to Amana where Handworks 2017 where arranged. This was the main reason for us to go to USA in the first place. It was caused by a tip from Jameel Abraham at Benchcrafted who had found an old original Skottbenk in Amana. At Handworks we found a lot of hand tool enthusiasts from all over USA, Canada, UK, Australia and Norway. It was great to meet all the nice people we only had seen on various blogs and instagram. We went straight down to Amana Woolen Mill and found the old local Skottbenk. Then we finished the new Skottbenk we had started to make in Grand Marais.
We made our stand ready with both a low planing bench and a new Skottbenk.
The new Skottbenk are finished and in use. We got a lot of interestied visitors. Here we had Deneb Puchalski from Lie-Nielsen Toolworks who has tried some of the special planes for the Skottbenk.
The original local Skottbenk at our stand at Handworks
Siv are taking some measures and make drawings of the local Skottbenk. We will later post this information on the blog so that you Americans can make a copy of an old American Skottbenk.
It was a lot of things to see and do at Handworks and you might get an impression on Instagram #handworks2017. I recomend the YouTube video of the presentation Roy Underhill had on saturday at Handworks.
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.
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:
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.
Det amerikanske patentkontoret, United States Patent Office, har motteke enorme mengder med patentsøknadar på mykje rart opp gjennom tidene. Gjennom å søkje i databasen til dagens United States Patent and Trademark Office så kan ein finne litt av kvart. Eit søk på ordet «Workbench» gir 4180 treff. Ved ein gjennomgang av delar av dette materialet så dukkar det sjølvsagt opp nokre skottbenkliknande patentar. Dei eldste treffa på patent på arbeidsbenk er frå 1840-talet, ei tid då snikkaren framleis arbeidde med handverktøy og arbeidsbenken var av stor betydning. Samtidig var det ei tid der det å vart meir aktuelt å masseprodusere slikt som verktøy. Patentrett kunne vere ei kjelde til ei sikker inntekt om ein fekk eit populært produkt og fekk godtgjersle for salet.
Her kan du lese heile patentbeskrivelsen og sjå teikningane med forklaringar. J.E.Cryer, 1859, skottbenkpatent 1859. Han kallar benken for «Joiners bench», med det han forklarar som «improvement» for «Jointing and Squaring boards and Lumber». I systemet hans ligg det også eit eige still-apparat for å regulere høgda på det som skal høvlast, ikkje ulikt slik det var på skottbenken til Leonardo da Vinci. Mellom patentsøknadane var det i alle fall 4 arbeidsbenkar til som vi godt kunne klassifisere som skottbenk. Dei fleste hadde ei form for justering av dimensjon (djubdestopp). Dei siste patenta på skottbenkvariantar var utvikla av ein C.A.Williams i 1884, han var særs aktiv på å utvikle patent på arbeidsbenkar.