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Clog Making Demonstration In Amsterdam

Clog making has long been a tradition in Europe, especially in the north western countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Norway, where they're typically referred to as "klompen". Essentially there are two distinct types of craftsmen -- those working out in the field or the forests, or those working indoors in one of the larger towns or villages. The itinerant workers would normally rough out the soles for the clogs in much the same way as the English bodgers would do for rough-turning the spindles for Windsor-style chairs. The village clog makers would then refine the rough clog soles, apply any decoration, as well as fit the leather uppers if necessary -- as in the case of English-style clogs.

The clog maker in this video falls into the second bracket of working indoors in a comprehensively fitted out workshop and showroom. However, having said that, it is interesting to note that the rough-hewn, "log-like" bench horse used by him closely resembles his itinerant counterpart's typical work set-up.

A selection of finished, or near-completed, clogs appear to the front of the bench horse, along with various tools, wedges and blocks of timber. Typically alder or sycamore were the woods of choice for the clog or sabot makers but, in this video, the maker has a preference for poplar or willow, which are both softer timbers. The blocks are worked green, and therefore still quite wet. This makes it easier to cut and shape the raw blocks into the finished clogs.

First, the clog maker shaves the outside surface of the block with a specially designed riving knife. One end of the knife is finished with a hook, which is used to engage with a metal ring or eyelet set into the bench horse. The other end is set into a long wooden handle which is great for levering. This arrangement allows the clogmaker to assert a great deal of downward force which, in turn, makes it easier to shave the blocks.

Stating that a pair of clogs can be made in this way in around an hour and a half, the clog maker soon makes short work of the outside surface. He informs us that modern machines can do the same work in about five minutes! He also tells us that, as the wooden blocks are fresh and still wet, the shavings are used in the smokehouse for smoking meats and cheeses.

The rough-shaped clogs are then placed in a hollow which has been cut into the horse. Wooden wedges are then hammered and knocked into place and these help to hold the clogs firmly for the hollowing out process. A series of specially made spoon augers are used to progressively hollow out the clogs before being finished off with various gouges and shaped knives.

The maker seems to have a good rapport with the spectators who have gathered around to watch him work. For instance, as he puts one foot up on the work horse, we're told that the wearer should have ample space at the back of the clogs. About a finger's thickness is necessary as the wood does not stretch as modern shoes do. It is also advised to wear thick heavy socks to prevent blisters forming.

The clog maker also shows us various examples of clogs, such as dress clogs, plain worker's clogs, special clogs for marriage and even pointy fisherman's clogs. Depending on the type of clog made, and their usage, most are left unfinished in terms of varnishing, though some can be painted in bright colors or decorated with various motifs and designs.

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One Response to Clog Making Demonstration In Amsterdam

  1. FP128 on January 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Is this recorded at Zaanse Schans?

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