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Charpentiers d'Europe et d'ailleurs
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Axel Weller, Carpenter from Saxony

Axel Weller carrying his pit saw, Normandy, 2006. Axel Weller cuts down a piece of wood using an axe (Bundaxt), 2006.

Axel Weller was born in Hoyerswerda (former East Germany) in 1968 in a underprivileged environment. He became an apprentice maintenance carpenter within the framework of a state-owned coal Kombinat: the Braun Kohle Kombinat Schwarze Pumpe. Thanks to an instructor who was opposed to the prevailing professional practices under the East German regime, Axel discovered the pleasure of working in wood, and the art of building curved staircases. In this grey and industrial setting, he developed a taste for working by hand, for direct contact with one's materials and for the environment. He became active in an banned ecological movement, he became a deserter and barely escaped capture several times by the Stasi. Both access to compagnonnage and travel outside the country were completely off-limits to him.

His apprenticeship took him travelling, and he travelled all the way to the Himalayas.

He taught himself the trade, through contact with older workers and by personal experimentation.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Axel finally achieved his goal – to wear the uniform of a Wandergeselle, an itinerant compagnon in carpentry.
For nine years, he travelled around both Germany and Europe, and then decided to continue us apprenticeship on a much wider scale.
He travelled to the Himalayas, working with master carpenters in Bhutan, Nepal, India, Ladakh and Kashmir.
With the help of colleagues, he organised three international conferences in Germany and the Czech Republic involving Japanese master carpenters. Since 2005, he has worked on the architectural heritage in Normandy. In 2008, accompanied by a Norman colleague Fabien Marécal and under the leadership of Régis Martin, senior architect for Historic Monuments, he carried out the exemplary restoration of a 16th-century manor in Hautot-Mesnil (Seine-Maritime). In this structure, he achieved an unparalleled degree of perfection in grafting timber-frame structures onto corbelled buildings.
A tireless traveller, in 2009 Axel decided to travel overland from Germany to Japan, but without using a car. The goal of his journey will be to live in Japan for a year, perfecting his knowledge of Japanese woodworking techniques.

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Saxony, Germany
Saxony, Germany