26 May 2009
New research has revealed a wooden building inMora in central Sweden to be the country's oldest wooden residential home.
What kinds of houses were used in Sweden in former
The dominating house type was the X-joint log house (knuttimmerhus) – houses built with horizontally laid logs, interlocked in the corners.
Sweden has large woodlands so the conditions were right for constructing log houses. There are still a very large number of log houses around in Sweden, especially in the countryside
The Swedish term "knuttimmerhus" is normally translated to X-joint log house or cross-joint log house. The technique is called "knuttimring" and is translated into X-jointing or cross jointing. Other terms are notched corners; log built corners or corner joints.
X-joint log houses have been around for a very long
time in Sweden. The X-joint building technique began most likely during the 11th
to 12th century. The oldest documented evidence of x-joint log houses
in Sweden is from the 13th century.
The tradition of building X-joint log houses probably started in the cities and then spread to the countryside. Some historians claim that the Vikings (800 – 1050) were building X-joint log houses but there is no verified evidence of that.
The X-joint technique spread from Eastern Europe to Scandinavia and the timeframe for this is probably the 11th century.
Log houses are built from logs laid horizontally, row-by-row, and interlocked on the ends with notches, so- called X-joints. This results in very stable and tight houses.
The X-joint technique replaced the earlier type of houses built with framed horizontal boards or planks (skiftesverk). X-joint log houses existed in parallel with houses built with the earlier techniques during the 12th century though. However, in the 13th century the X-joint building technique totally dominated among the wooden houses.
X-jointing became the traditional way of building houses in most parts of Sweden, both in cities as well in the countryside until the middle of the 1800’s.
The upper side of the log below was first evened off a
With a special tool called "dragjärn", two parallel cuts were then notched on two adjacent logs. This was done on both the inside as well as the outside of the logs.
A "dragjärn" or scribe in English, was a talon shaped tool with two prongs.
The scribe followed the upper part of the log below alongside the gap and the notch made on the upper log thereby followed the contour of the log below. In other words, the contour of the log below was copied to the log on top of it in a very precise way.
The wood between the notches on the underside of the upper log was then carved out to make it fit smoothly on top of the log below and making the gap between the logs very small (image 3).
In the center of the carved part of the upper log, a lengthwise groove was cut out. The groove was v-shaped and about 3 to 4 cm wide (about
Normally the gap between the logs (the groove) was
filled with moss or tarred flax (lindrev) to seal the area between the
In order to keep the logs in place they also used dowels (dymlingar), i.e. strong wooden tenons or pegs.
Wood - Pine and Spruce:
The forest and timber industry has always been
important to Sweden and Medelpad province (Y) had a situation similar to the
Alaskan Klondike during the second half of the 1800’s. There were numerous
sawmills in the Sundsvall region and people came from all over Sweden to work in
the growing timber industry there. Prior to the 1850’s woodland had no
significant value. Most farmers in the forest regions had large forests on their
land and the primary use for the woodland was building material and firewood.
Now, when the timber industry grew fast and was in great need of timber, the sawmill tycoons went round to the farmers and tricked them to sell their "worthless" forests for nothing. Also, when the technique of making paper pulp and paper out of wood was a fact, the value of the forest rose even bigger. Sawmills first of all used pinewood while the paper mills used spruce wood.
The pines in Sweden can reach a height of 30 meters
(98 feet) and an age of 550 years. Our spruce can reach a height of 45 meters
(147 feet) and an age of 400 years.
Pine was also used for making tar in the pre-industrial age.