Axe Tour of Norway and Sweden: Part 3

After I left Hjerleid Craft School in Dovre I traveled to the coastal town of Sandefjord south of Oslo.  Here I met and spent a few days with Øystein Myhre.  Øystein forges axes and other traditional Norwegian tools in the very cool smithy which he built on his property. Based on his own collection of historical tools and tools brought to him by handworkers and museums, Øystein forges accurate, high quality replicas. Many of the axes and other tools he forges are put directly to use by timber builders for the construction and restoration of old buildings – some as old as the middle ages. On the first day of my visit Øystein forged a large ryarbile, which is an axe used to hew logs for house-building. Øystein explained that there is an enormous variety of axes which have been forged over the centuries in different parts of Norway. The Ryarbile axe was developed in the 1700’s and was particularly common in eastern Norway. Starting about 1860 it was produced on an industrial scale by the Mustad factory and sold all over Norway. It has an edge length of 5″ and weighs a bit over 4 pounds (1900 grams). In use it will be fitted with a straight haft of birch about 22″ long.

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