Category Archives: Iowa

About the Norsk Skottbenk Union trip to USA

Our stand at Handworks 2017 in Amana, Iowa.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.