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Oct 4, 2021
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“From the age of five I already had a hatchet”

65-year-old Ivan Skomoroshchenko, or, as his students call him, Uncle Vanya, is a hereditary Siberian carpenter. Over the years of his carpentry career, he cut down about a hundred houses, not counting a huge number of other buildings for a wide variety of purposes.

Ivan Skomoroshchenko is the founder and curator of the world’s only Ax Museum in Tomsk, as well as a jury member of the annual Ax Festival.

According to him, for ten years he had been hatching the idea of ​​building a bridge based on a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci and made all the calculations himself. It was built in one of the ecological reserves of the Omsk region.

Now the bridge is included in the Russian Book of Records as the largest wooden bridge in our country, built according to drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Its length is 13 m, height – 3.65 m, width – 4 m.

Synergy effect

– How did you get the idea to build such a bridge?

– I saw a sketch on the Internet. I started to collect from matches – it does not work. After that, he experimented for a long time, made trial versions from boards, from sticks, from everything. And finally it worked.

– Did you have to change anything regarding the sketch by Leonardo da Vinci?

– Yes. Leonardo has a seven-span bridge. But a seven-span it does not work under any circumstances: then additional supports are needed so that the logs do not slide out. And I made a five-span one.

– How did you decide on the size? They are not on da Vinci’s sketch. Have you been looking for blueprints?

– Drawings do not exist – only a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci.

There would have been drawings, for a long time such bridges would have been piled all over the world! It is necessary to count it.

First, I made a structure on a scale of 50 cm. Then I multiplied it by 10, and I got the length of the bridge – 13 m. Width – 4 m. In the fall, I made piles.

– What is the uniqueness of this structure? What attracted you to this design?

– Synergy effect. One element enhances the action of the other. The bridge turned out to be self-supporting. Each element carries itself at the expense of the subsequent log, holds itself. This is what makes it unique. Of course, there are certain limits on how long it can cover. And this was also in the calculations. Now I know that both 20 m and 30 m can be covered.

– How many days did it take to build the bridge?

– One day on the piles, five days the team collected the spans. And already the sidewalks and everything else – I did this alone for about a month. So that people walk, do not fall, so that there are railings.

– There are also decorative elements on the bridge, Leonardo da Vinci was not provided for?

– Yes, the bridge was stylized with the sculptural composition “Mermaid and Rusalata”. They were made by carpenters from Voronezh – Alexander Ivchenko and Alexander Alferov. They took part in the “Ax Festival” and took first place the year before last.

– How was the bridge opened?

– First I had to try everything – it worked, it didn’t work. The bridge must be safe. There were tests: I was standing under the bridge, and people were walking across the bridge, about 50 people. And everyone shouted: “Uncle Vanya, let’s take a picture.” I answered: “No. If the bridge remains intact, then we will take photos. And if it fails, let it kill me. To not be ashamed. “

– How did you come to the profession of a carpenter?

– Somewhere from the age of five I already had a hatchet. And my brother has even earlier, because he is the firstborn. He already had a hatchet at the age of three. It was from there, from my father, that the study began. A family business, it turns out.

© Photo from personal archive

– Tell us more about your childhood and family.

– I was born in the village of Lesnoy, 80 km west of Tomsk. The father was a carpenter. He was disabled, almost blind, but he did carpentry, he worked almost to the touch. The father became blind after he had had measles in childhood. There have been no vaccinations yet. The disease caused complications in the eyes: a thorn was formed on one, and the other eye saw 4%. Mother worked as a milkmaid. There were five of us children in the family. I was born fourth, but remained the youngest. After me there was also sister Natasha. She died at the age of three and a half from whooping cough. Our village was deaf: no electricity, no school. And in 1961, the parents moved to the regional center – Shegarka. There I went to school and studied until the seventh grade. We moved to Shegarka together with the house: on a sled 9 km we dragged our hut 6 × 4 with a tractor. We put it up, and around the father cut down more rooms. We spun right there, helped, walked around to tear up the moss, laid it out at the joints.

And then the parents moved even closer to Tomsk, to the village of Mirny. After finishing the eight-year period, I went to Tomsk to a vocational school. I was not 18 when I graduated from it and received a specialty gas electric welder, according to which I went to work in Seversk. And after two and a half years he left there as a volunteer.

– Why volunteer?

– From Seversk they did not take to the army, because it was a closed city, and I had a reservation until I was 27 years old. I had to literally attack the recruiting office. I was sent to the air defense forces. How not to serve? Who, then, will defend the Motherland?

– What did you do after the army?

– I learned to be an installer. I passed it to the welder, the sixth grade. He worked as a foreman at Tomskneft. I had a communist labor brigade, 24 people. Awarded a medal for distinction in labor. I worked there for eight years. Then Khodorkovsky got it all. We were not given any shares to the workers.

– How did your ability to wield an ax that you received from your father at the age of five began?

“My brother was four years older than me. And here’s how we mastered the ax, father shifted the chopping of wood to us. My father helped when he came across healthy gnarled lumps that even my brother could not cope with.

Then, as my uncle began to build in Shegarka, we all gathered in a hamuz. In Lesnoye, before everyone lived like a community, they always helped each other. In the regional center they were angry with us, they envied us: “Get out, foresters. They start building a house for someone again. “

30 men get together and build a house over the weekend. Next Saturday and Sunday – the roof is ready. With doors, with windows, with floors. Four days – and the house is ready. Come in and live. If only they gave a plot.

– What do you specialize in as a carpenter?

– Mainly in the felling of houses. Now I have become a little wiser with age, I put only log houses.

– How many houses have you built in your life?

– 92 houses are standing, the 93rd has not started yet. We will reach a hundred – there you can lose track of the account and start over again.

– What is your house? Something special?

– I have an ordinary cedar. It has been in the village since 1989. There is nothing special about it, except perhaps the size of the logs: the house is 2.8 m high and assembled from only seven rows of 40 cm thick cedar.

– Is there someone to transfer the case to?

– I have four children. Three daughters and a son. Two daughters received an economic education with a degree in accounting and auditing. One daughter received a degree in family psychology. The son works as a car mechanic. There are five grandchildren. Two of them are spinning around. I don’t know, maybe Vanyushka, my granddaughter, will pick it up. He lived with me for two summers, I trained him on the sly. He has already begun to do something, and now something has cooled off. This is the age of the Internet. He is always on the screen. Now they don’t even go to the toilet without a smartphone. To pull them out of there, you need to ignite something. So far, they do not seem to deny, and do not burn. Like this.

“I will go to Kulibin”

– Do you have plans for what you will do next?

– I am now involved in the movement to preserve the Tomsk antiquity: I teach volunteers how to work with a tool. We have already rented two houses after restoration. Our movement is called “Tom Sawyer Fest Tomsk”. It originated in Samara, went to different cities, and now it came to Tomsk. They found me, persuaded me, but I didn’t resist for a long time, I came to the very origins of the movement in our city. We restore stucco molding, platbands.

House number 17 on Belinsky Street in Tomsk, restored under the leadership of Ivan Skomoroshchenko. © From personal archive

In Tomsk, I have opened the Ax Museum. It is very important for me. I purchase all the exhibits for him myself. The most valuable of these is my father’s ax. And the most ancient is a primitive stone ax, it is 5-6 thousand years old. Bought it at an antique store.

– Is there anything else in the plans of Leonardo to embody?

“No, I don’t want to go back to Leonardo. I’ll go to Kulibin. He had an unrealized idea – to put a wooden bridge across the Neva in St. Petersburg. But he was not given. This self-supporting bridge, without a single support, can cover up to 300 m. Now I am looking for a place first of all. After all, you have to put it through something. This time.

I haven’t gone into the depth of the structure yet, I haven’t experimented. But there is an idea, I start to chew it. How I turn this Wishlist into a goal, then the dream will come true.

This bridge also only has sketches. We’ll keep thinking. There is more Pythagorean, capital strength, it is necessary to make calculations.

– Young people can envy your energy.

– Yes, let them catch up. I do not mind.

Anna Kruglova



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