Vasa is a Swedish warship built 1626-1628. The ship sank after sailing about 1300 meters into her maiden voyage on 10. August 1628. The ship was salvaged in 1961 and its museum are today one of Swedens most popular tourist attractions. Among the extensive amount of relative well preserved artifacts are a Joiners workbench. Tomas and I have examined the original bench at the Vasa Museum and have had support from Fred Hocker and Evelyn Ansel at the museum. The bench is made of oak and some of the parts have been nailed with iron nails. Theese have corroded away during the 333 years on the seabed. There are traces after a bench hook close to the left front leg. There are also a lot of holes in the bench top and the legs. We have interpreted theese as holes for holdfasts. There are also a sliding deadman with holes of the same dimension. There are some traces after nails that would have fixed a crochet left of the left leg. A crochet have not been found yet.
There are some joiners tools from the wreck. Some of the interiour panels of the cabins where still unfinished when the ship sank. We think that the workbench is a Joiners bench and have been used by one or more Joiners making panels and doors for the ship. The bench are 3,3 meters long, 72,3 centimeters (28½») high and the benchtop 35,8 centimeters (14″) wide. We have made ours about 75 centimeters high after we have discussed how erosion might have made the original bench a bit lower. The average body length of the Joiners in 1628 would also have been slightly less than today. I have made a picture gallery of the last part of the work on our bench. Tomas has also made a similar bench that he has posted about. Click on the miniature pictures to display text and higher resolutions.
I am using a Norwegian blacksmith made Twisted Shell Auger to make holes for the forged nails. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
In the front of the bench we countersunk the nails with a knife. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
I am hammering the nails. The nails are long enaugh to go trough the tenon. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The nails are hammered so that the heads are below the surface of the front of the bench. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
We have ordered several different Augers for boring out the 1″ holes in the benchtop and the legs. From the left: A Shell Auger made by Bertil Parmsten, A Twisted Shell Auger made by Johannes H. Fosse, A Twisted Shell Auger made by Julius Petterson and a Twisted Shell Auger made by Patrick Jarefjäll. The last one has a smaller diamter and was used to predrill the holes. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Tomas uses the Twisted Shell Auger made by Johannes H. Fosse. The Norwegian name for this Auger is «navar». Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The Shell Auger made by Bertil Parmsten where easy to use and made clean holes. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Tomas are using the «navar» on the holes in one of the legs. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Tomas are using the «navar», the Twisted Shell Auger. The «navar» has a conical cutting part and are very effective. I make a relative clean cut on both sides. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Tomas are using our new workbench for the first time when he is rippsawing a strip for holding the sliding deadman in place. The hight of the bench feels right for this kind of work. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
I am flattening the benchtop with my «okshøvel». Photo: Tomas Karlsson
The workbench are going to be on display on «Bygningsvernkongressen» in Oslo in the beginning of September. Later we will use the bench and our workshop in Mariestad to do projects on historical joinery. I have some photos of details of the bench and I have made a small gallery of this.
The almost finished workbench of the Vasa model are set up in our improvised workshop in Mariestad. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The bench almost finished. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The holes for holdfasts in the benchtop are in the same places as on the original bench. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The short strechers on the legs are rabbeted and fastened with forged nails. The long strechers are joined and pegged. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The sliding deadman are resting on the stretcher which are rebated. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The bench hook are made after the traces in the bench and the dimension of the hole in the benchtop. It is made by the blacksmith Mattias Helje. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
The top end of the sliding deadman are fixed by a strip. We have screwed the strip to the benchtop but are going to replace the screws with small forged nails. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Here we are testing the holes for the holdfasts in the left leg and the sliding deadman. The holdfasts are made by Mattias Helje. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Holdfast made by the blacksmith Mattias Helje. It is made after an original that we have found in the south of Sweden. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Hardware for the bench made by Mattias Helje. The nails are for the legs, strechers and for the crochet that we are going to make. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
15 tankar på “The Vasa workbench rebuilt”
Roald & Tomas – very nice work; the bench looks great. Interesting that the stretchers are just rabbeted & nailed, not joined. Thanks for the English, too!
Thank you Peter. So far we are satisfied with the bench. The long strecher are joined and pegged. It is just the short that are rabbeted and nailed.
The bench looks great I will be interested to hear what you think of the sliding supports after you have used them for a while. The navar are interesting, are they intended for hardwoods? and was that a guard for one on the bench, blank with a hole in it? I was also intrigued, is the shed an earth building?
Thank you Graeme. We might have to adjust the sliding support when we start to use it. I made it fit a bit tight so it does not slide as easy as it was supposed to. The navar is the most common auger in Norway and is used mostly on pine and birch. As I wrote we tested several different «navar» on the bench. Some of them where a bit too agressive and did not work that good on oak. On pine theese work well. The less agressive worked very good on oak. You can see a guard (navarhus, hus means house) on one of the pictures. When you order a «navar» from the smith they normally comes with a guard, navarhus.
The «shed» are a small log house made by the students in Mariestad. Inside the logs are covered with clay, also done by the students.
It’s beautiful, a true work of art and love of the craftsman carried forward in time for us to ponder and consider.
Very nice work, the bench looks awesome. Thanks for the detailed photos and also for the English post. Google Translate does an OK job with the Norwegian and Swedish posts but it seems to get confused by a lot of the woodworking terms.
What a beautiful reproduction of this historical bench! Congratulations!
Excellent project. It’s amazing that the notion of raking the rear legs has been around for, at least, 400 years.
Thank you for your comments Roger, Graham, Aymeric and Dennis. I think the workbench from Vasa should be interesting for woodworkers around the world. That is why I wrote in English. The original workbench are still the same at the museum, but I think I can «see» a lot more of the details and understand it better after making one with Tomas. It is a very special workbench with a history.
Reblogged this on Technoprimitive 3 and commented:
beautiful bench,thank you for publishing it!