Traditional craft: the sledge maker

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Davos toboggan sled driver Andreas Weber

The Davos toboggan sled is produced in many small steps by hand. It owes its name to its model, a transport carriage from the well-known health resort of Davos in Switzerland. The sled builder checks his work for the last time when he is docked

The winters on the mountains of the Rhön are long, cold and snowy. Every year a white blanket wraps up the land again - and yet it takes some residents far too long each time until the first snowflakes fall. At the end of November, visitors visit the workshop of Andreas Weber. Small hands thump on the door of the sled maker of the village Fladungen. Behind it, the wood shavings fly and a milling machine fills the air with a loud humming sound. But the village children do not just come to watch the craftsman at work. They want to get tips for the best toboggan runs and know how to build a ski jump. Because those who build children's sledges also know the best runs in the region.

The workshop is already in its third generation

Sledge builder Andreas Weber

Andreas Weber is one of the last German sledders. The grandfather founded the business in 1928. Even the father sometimes helps with today. Andreas Weber once learned the trade from him

In an old brick building on the shores of the gently babbling Leubach Andreas Weber makes every day several toboggans. In his guild he is one of the few who still carry out all the steps by hand. Already in the third generation, the knowledge is passed from father to son in the Weber family. In the past, wooden skis were also made in the workshop. No wonder that the sleigh builder is not only familiar with winter sports equipment: "As little boys, my friends and I made a science out of clinging to the snowy slopes behind the church, pouring water over them and inaugurating our new toboggan run the next morning with great zeal."

For a sled it takes a good sense of proportion and a lot of care

Sledge builder Andreas Weber Kufen

With the help of an iron mold, the craftsman bends the strips to runners. Later iron fittings are attached. They let the skids glide easily through the snow

Andreas Weber had already built most sleds in late summer in order to be prepared for the season. But of course there are also reorders. Then the sledge maker heats the oven in the workshop and gets down to work: First, he cooks robust ashwood in an old sausage kettle until they turn into skids. Then he adjusts it to the correct length and smooths the sides with the planer. When the ends are rounded, he halves the skids lengthwise with a saw. This increases the stability of the carriage, because both runners now have exactly the same curvature. Once the matching mortise holes have been milled in, the craftsman can apply the prepared support sheets with a few powerful blows and glue. On these slats come, which later form the seat. So that the children can drag the vehicle behind them, the sledge maker fastens a pull iron and ironed the runners with iron.

The whole village looks past the workshop

Andrea Weber sledge farmer Wekstatt

In the workshop you will find traditional tools such as chisels, betel, hammer and planer, in addition to modern machines

Finally, the sled receives a brand sign. If Andreas Weber has produced enough specimens, he repairs aged single pieces, such as the friend's nearly 100-year-old steering carriage. In between, familiar faces can be seen again and again: the father, an uncle, a horde of children. The whole village takes part in the action. "The workshop never stays empty, that's how it used to be," says Andreas Weber with a laugh. "And that's why the craftsmanship stays in the family - my nephews are just as woodworms as I am!"
Further information:
From mid-November, you can buy the sledge for about 50 euros each. Upon request, the vehicle is also sent home.

Andreas Weber
Rhönstr. 44
97650 Fladungen-Leubach
Telephone 0 97 78/12 74 or
01 60/94 68 17 83
[email protected]

Video Board: Meet the Toboggan and Sled Maker.

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