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Pole Lathe

Analog wood lathe - treadle lathe for use and art objects in wood.

With my analogue Pole Lathe, I mainly make food bowls, dishes and cups. In relatively fresh wood, I shape and cut out various utility items. If you are interested in buying something, don't hesitate and get in touch! Much of the tree during my time in Umeå is beaver felled birch from Ansmark. Now with the move to Halland there will be a lot of beech but also birch etc

Pole Lathe is mobile and can be moved and assembled in a short time. When I'm not at home turning, I've been invited to Humblebäck, which is part of the Formstråket in Västerbotten, to demonstrate this old technique. For two weeks in the summer of 2022, I was at Gammlia, the Västerbottens Museum, which is an open-air museum to show different ways of life from the past. Also at markets I have demonstrated this way of wood turning. Visually, Pole Lathe is something out of the ordinary and a public attraction. Watch the wood chips fly, the leg stomp and with a keen eye and steady hands watch a bowl come into being! The fact that the lathe is completely analog is undeniably a bonus these days. Something many visitors happily comment on.

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I started using the Pole Lathe after a summer course in 2021 at Sjungaregården's Craft Festival in Granö. Even before the first bowl, I knew that I would fall in love. 

"I will have built my own Pole Lathe before our daughter arrives in December!" I lyrically announced to my love when I got home and proudly showed off our son's new food bowl. 

All said and done, after a bit of looking online and with a helping hand from a friend, my Pole Lathe was ready behind my mother's barn. The first snow had arrived and my tarp set up did well. I keep warm while pedaling so the cold was no problem. I managed to make three bowls before Neia-Li came to us <3

Pole Lathe - what is it?

Well, in short, an analog wood lathe that is powered by threading down and has something that springs back. Today, many people use a bungee rope for just this spring back effect, but in the past, a branch was used in a tense position. 

The word Sveg (english name for the Pole Lathe) originates from the German "Zweig", which means branch. How it was put in tension could look a little different and guaranteed according to the craftsman's physical ability on the farm. The effect and the simple and ingenious construction have otherwise not changed for at least a couple of hundred years.


The heyday in Sweden for Svegsvarv was during the late 17th century to the 19th century, with the main influence around Borås and various parishes around. There are some interesting curious figures regarding the production in 1771, when 78,030 plates and 30,000 spoons were registered at the customs office, through which the knalls (wandering merchants) would then travel throughput the country on fares nad villages.

With the coming of industrialization and the popularization of ceramics and porcelain, the great demand disappeared, and Svegsvarv with it. No further active tradition has been preserved in Sweden apart from occasional private actors. Which is very different from, for example, England, where the tradition - Pole lathe - survived with large festivals and workshops throughout the 20th century.

Now again, thanks to the whole Slöjdfröjden's new wave across the country and through social media, interest in Svegsvarv has flared up.

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What can you do on a Pole Lathe?

On the Pole Lathe food bowls are mainly made. The bowl is cut out of relatively fresh wood. A birch log can be left for at least six months (and felled during the winter when the sap is at its lowest) but different types of wood have different preferences. In addition to the bowl, it was the plate that was in focus, where the radial annual rings are important, so the plate does not buckle and become warped. Therefore, large trees were needed to achieve large plates and in the south it was mainly beech that was used.

Boxes and jars with screw lids for various purposes were also popular to make on a Svegsvarv. Various cups and mugs can also be made and then usually turned in endwood (as opposed to the surface wood in which the others are turned). Turning in endwood is something completely different and a much more difficult process, but where the end result can be a fantastic pretty and thin cup with good strength thanks to the annual rings going with the entire cup. 

Curious about more?

Get in touch! Everything from buying a bowl to talking about Pole Lathe construction, to book me for a demo.

For a short video check out 

"Beautifully turned - nicely painted" by Svenning Svenningsson is a book I took inspiration from.

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