One of the oldest known woodcrafts s is woodturning. Since a large number of clearly turned everyday wooden utensils were found in Hedeby and the Elbe Slavic territories in and around Brandenburg we have intensively researched this craft. We took part in a basics course run by wood turner Master Craftswoman Claudia Behnisch, followed by many more hours of learning the hand articulations and the art of the craft from her.
In the winter of 2014 the first plans were drawn up for the building of an historic wooden lathe. After reading the books “Die Holzfunde von Haithabu” by Florian Westphal and “Spurensuche Haithabu“, we had to confirm the fact that that no explicit and complete reconstruction of a wood lathe was found in the locations we selected for portrayals.
We had to rely on technical drawings of “Drescher” and images from the latter middle ages to reconstruct a wooden lathe. We took great pains to use wood exclusively as a building material. The resultant lathe is thus an interpretation, which leads us as close as possible to an authentic impression of how an historic woodturning lathe would have functioned.
The historic lathe was probably operated by two men or - with an extended adjustment we found in late medieval sources - as a rocking lathe for one person.
Thanks to the good and informative cooperation of the Grünholzwerkstatt Possendorf (Saxony, Germany), we were able to build a modified construction for use in narrow rooms and obtained valuable experience in the use of tools and techniques of historical woodturning.