Tools at Skokloster Castle in Sweden

Some of you have been following our blog so long that you might remember that Tomas has posted about an interesting old workbench at Skokloster Castle in Sweden? You might also remember that I have posted some pictures of some of the tools in the collection at Skokloster? Some of the comments on that post asked for more pictures of the tools at Skokloster, and here they come at last. This time I write in English as many of the readers of the last posts about the tools at Skokloster where not reading Norwegian.

This is the famous unfinished hall at Skokloster. The Castle was started in 1654 and this hall was left like this in 1676 when the owner, Wrangel, died. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
This is the famous unfinished hall at Skokloster. The Castle was started in 1654 and this hall was left like this in 1676, when the owner, Wrangel, died. The hall are a very interesting document of how a building project was organized in about 1670. The scaffolding where found dismanteled and what we see on the photo are the origianl material in a reconstructed scaffolding. Photo: Roald Renmælmo

The unfinished hall at Skokloster have some workbenches, a lathe and some tools that all belongs to the castle. In the next room there are a large collection of woodworking tools that have been bought and used by the previus owners. Some of the wooden molding planes  fit with some of the moldings found in different rooms in the castle. I think some of the planes could have been brought by some of the carpenters working at the castle prior to 1676. The largest part of this tool collection are the tools ordered and delivered from the toolmaker Jan Arnendtz in Amsterdam in Holland in the year 1664. Most of the more than 200 tools and even the documenteation of the order are preserved at Skokloster.

Some of the tools ordered from Jan Arendtz in 1664. They are in very good condition. Photo: Roald Renmælmo
Some of the tools ordered from Jan Arendtz in 1664. They are in very good condition. Photo: Roald Renmælmo

It is some planes and tools that sems to be made by different toolmakers than Jan Arendtz. I think some of theese tools might be used by the carpenters in the building period. Most of the tools made by Jan Arendtz have seen very litle use during the more that 350 years at Skokloster. There might have been several different sets of tools and the other sets might be more intended to be used?

The tool collection at Skokloster are a very important reference to tools and toolmaking about 350 years ago. The first owner, Carl Gustaf Wrangel was a high ranking Swedish noble, statesman and military commander. He had the money and power to build this castle in a period in the middle of the 17th century when Sweden expanded to become one of the major powers in Europe. The tools and the craftsmen at Skokloster 350 years ago might have been among the best there was in Europe at the time?

About Roald Renmælmo

Snikkar med fokus på handverkstradisjon og handverktøy. Universitetslektor og PhD stipendiat på NTNU i Trondheim. Eg underviser på tradisjonelt bygghandverk og teknisk bygningsvern og restaurering.

22 tankar på “Tools at Skokloster Castle in Sweden

    1. Offset totes are the standard on jointer and try planes in the 17th century. I am not shure why, but it could be to make it possible to hold your fingers on the side of the plane to feel how the plane are oriented?

      1. I agree with you, the offset tote gives a balance to the left hand pushing on the left side of the plane (for righthanded people!), it counteracts the tendency to tip the plane on the left, I think.

  1. Thank you for drawing our attention to this amazing set of tools! They are a fascinating survival, and for that matter the survival of a 350 year old construction site is amazing in itself. It certainly deserves to be better known worldwide

    It’s worth mentioning that offset totes are common on English and American bench planes until the second half of the 18th century, when they are gradually replaced by centered totes.

    1. Thank you for the information. Offset totes are also very common on Norwegian bench planes up to about 1870 – 1880. You would also find old planes with centered totes among the older planes. You can see some Norwegian planes with totes here:øvel&pos=6&count=87øvel&pos=7&count=87øvel&page=2&pos=44&count=87øvel

  2. Thanks a lot for these pictures! They are great, I guess the best pictures of Dutch planes I have ever seen. And what a marvelous collection!

    The tote on the long planes was often set in from the side with a dovetail joint. You can see that very clearly in one of the pictures. That of course neccessitates it to be all the way to the side. Later they made a mortice for the tote, but only reluctantly moved it inwards to the centre. You can still find late 19th century Dutch planes with the tote set quite a bit to the right. Somehow they must have liked that feeling. I imagine that my jointer with the offset tote is easier to balance when jointing an edge.

    1. Thank you for commenting. You might have a good point about the balance. If you keep your fingers on your left hand on the left side of the plane body and the right hand on the right side it might be easier to balance when jointing.

      As you can see on some of the Norwegian planes I linked to on the comment above, some totes are morticed and pegged from the side of the plane.

  3. Hello,

    The form of the wedges holding the iron of the molding planes can help you find the origins or influences of the plane maker. The one more geometric and angular at the top, the other rounded with its deep incursion like a comma shape. The deeper incision on that one, showing more time was spent to make it nicely. It’s not all to clear in your pictures but I see broad examples of both versions.

    The little block planes, known in Dutch as gerfschaaf. It’s a word referring to the tapered form of the plane.


  4. Thank you for all of these photos. It is nice to see the detail of the tool marks indicating how the piece was made and carved. The beauty of even the simplest tools, like the skew chisel is breathtaking. Even the lines of the bolster are beautiful.

  5. Thanks for sharing these photos, especially the detailed shots of the planes. It’s a wonderful way to get a better sense of the construction and the carvings on them.

  6. Roald, thanks for sharing these pictures. I love the Arendtz saw, and would like to try making something similar. Would you happen to have any more pictures of the carving on the handle? I’m also interested in details like the length and thickness of the blade, and whether or not the blade was tapered in thickness from the teeth to the back, but don’t expect that you would have those.


    1. Yes I do have more images and also some measurements of the plane. I have a plan to make a copy of this plane and would like to write about this on the blog. Then I would also publish the measurements and more pictures. I do not know when I get time to do this, but if you follow the blog you will see it when I post about it.

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