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Norwegian Tine

By Jim Anderson and Cathy Balazs

Almost everyone associates oval bentwood boxes with the Shakers. But Scandinavian artisans were making similar lidded boxes, called tine (pronounced “tee-nah”) long before the Shakers settled in America. As collectors of Scandinavian antiques know, tines come in all shapes and sizes. They can be plain or highly decorated, painted or intricately carved.

I’m a tine maker. My tines (“tiner” in Norwegian) are rooted in tradition, but they have a modern twist. I use fine hardwoods and finish my tines to show the woods’ beauty. Instead of using root lacing, I use cane. I learned the craft from Johann Hopstad, a Norwegian tine maker, but I confess that studying and making Shaker boxes has also been influential.

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This tine (Fig. A) is one of my favorites, because the ends feature
stylized fjord horses, an ancient breed from western Norway. Horses have
always played an important role in Scandinavian culture and are often
featured in Scandinavian designs.

Tines don’t require many materials, so you can splurge on exotic
wood. I use kiln-dried “Select and Better” grade hardwood for bending.
Cherry, ash, maple, and black walnut all bend easily. The tine shown on
page 2 is made of cherry and bubinga.

You’ll need a 3" by 28" blank that you can resaw to create the 3/32"
thick bentwood band, a 6" by 10" piece of 1/4" hardwood plywood for the
bottom and a 3/4" by 6" by 12" board for the lid. The horses, handle and
locking pin require a 3" by 28" (or comparable) length of 1" thick
stock. You’ll also need a 1/4" dowel, a box of square toothpicks,
several strands of fine (1/8" wide) natural cane and some wooden toy car
axles (see Sources).

The tine’s side is a thin wooden band. Soak the band in boiling distilled water to make it pliable.

Click any image to view a larger version.

Place the tapered end of the band at the form’s start point and wrap counterclockwise. Clamp the band on the form and allow it to dry for three days.

Mark the fingers and and cut them out.

Glue the band together. Use spring clamps first. Then install narrow cauls and C-clamps.

Pin the bottom with square toothpicks cut in half.

Shape the horses with a rotary tool. Contour their backs to fit the curved tine. Then glue them on.

Shape the lid with a belt sander.

Two pins fasten the lid. Drill a slightly oversized, stopped hole in one horse and an angled hole through the lid and the other horse.

Weave the decorative lacing using natural cane, which is readily available and easy to weave.

Tines of all shapes and sizes.

Norwegian artisans made tines one at a time to meet specific needs. Shaker box makers used a set style and sizing system for their oval boxes and sold them all over the world. My tines combine elements from both traditions. I make them one at a time, and I make them in several styles and sizes, using my own numbering system. Notice that tine B uses a different method for attaching the lid. Snap tines have two fixed pins in the lid, which is held in place by friction between the pins and the decorative ends. To open these tines, you push one end of the lid against the opposite end of the box, and lift.

Norseman tine. Cherry and maple burl.

#5 Fjord horse snap tine. Birdseye maple and maple burl.

Oseberg tray. Walnut, maple and cucumber magnolia.

#4 Fjord horse tine. Walnut and cucumber magnolia.

Sugar box tine. Birdseye maple and maple burl.

#3 Fjord horse tine. Cherry and maple burl.

#4 Fjord horse tine. Birdseye maple and maple burl.

#2 Fjord horse tine. Birdseye maple and spalted maple.

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker December/January 2009, issue #139.

December/January 2009, issue #139

Purchase this back issue.

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