carpenter

Viking wood workers

Timber was the most important resource for the Anglo Saxons and Vikings. They were skilled in working the wood and also in selecting the correct timber. Most Saxon and Viking woodwork was done green, the timber was not seasoned before working. This meant that the timber could be split easily ( green oak can be split with a seasoned wooden wedge ), and need not be sawn. The big advantage of using cleft ( meaning split ) timber is that it is less likely to crack as it dries. Most of the 'roughing out' and shaping was done with axes and adzes. Timber was used for houses, ships, musical instruments, coffins, bridges, and many households items.

Cups, bowls, spoons, and plates in many sizes and were used in the home for storage as well as eating. Buckets, barrels and tubs were made from planks of wood bound with metal or withy hoops. Butter churns, cheese presses, trays, gaming boards and pieces, boxes and chests have been found too. Looms, beds, tables, chairs, stools and benches were made of wood as well. Tools had wooden handles. Rakes, spades and forks were also made from timber.

To shape cups and bowls the woodworker would have used a 'pole lathe'. The power to rotate the spindle and the balk of timber to be worked was created by pumping the treadle down, and letting the spinginess of the pole rotate it back again. The cutting was done on the down stroke when you provided the power. A skilled lather could produce some very fine pieces of turned work. Some finds of worked wood from York have suggested that the pole lathe was the most likely way that they made turned items such as cups.

Much of the Anglo Saxon and Viking woodwork was ornately carved and invariably painted or decorated in some way.

more about viking woodwork

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