If you look at the oldest part of the workshop, you can still see where the great skill and knowledge came from.
Karl Widmer the younger was a cartwright and wheelwright. He’d learned to work with wood as part of his trade of making and repairing wagons and carts, ploughs and harrows, wheels and shafts. His father had been a carpenter. So the workshop originally revolved around woodworking.
Carpenters work mainly with straight timber such as boards and beams. By contrast, wainwrights work with naturally grown wood that is curved and has the strength required for their purposes.
Several pieces of equipment have survived from the early days of the workshop: a band saw for woodworking that’s over a century old, a grinding machine to sharpen the band saw, and a grindstone to deal with blades and knives. The massive old carpenter’s bench is also part of the original inventory.
But gradually, the workshop switched from wood to metal. A hacksaw for cutting strip steel provides evidence of this shift.
What’s really amazing is that all the machinery is still operational. It’s all driven by hydropower, which is transmitted via the transmission belts. Each individual machine is linked to the power source by pulleys and shafts. Once the belt is on the appropriate pulley, things can get under way! The workshop’s most distinctive feature is still the jumble of belts on the ceiling, which only appears chaotic if you’re not in the know.
All depictions: © Gemeinde Fricklingen