In Stjernsund in the province of Dalarna, Christopher Polhem designed and manufactured a type of padlock that became very famous. Elsewhere in the same province, and at the same time, an ingenious farmer experimented with an unusual padlock concept.
Professor Carl Linnaeus (1707–1778), mining counselor Sven Rinman (1720–1792), and topographer Abraham Hülphers (1734–1798) did all their travels in Dalarna in the mid-18th century. They write in their travel stories about how common ironworking is in Dalarna. Here, as in many other parts of the country in the 18th century, farmers and their families often had additional occupations besides farming. During the times of the year when the farm did not require much work, the families produced other crafts for sales. The difficulty was obtaining permission from the Royal Board of Trade in Stockholm, which monitored quality.
After his journey in Dalarna in 1734, Linnaeus wrote:
Above the Church in Älvdalen are forged 200 sickles or thereabouts; but those living below the Church, well-nigh 200, make barrels, which they take south to sell or trade for money or grain. But to buy the sickles people come from Norway, Härjedalen, Hälsingland, Jämtland, Eastern and Western Dalarna; that which is left over is taken into the country to great Tuna, and there they hold their market at Pentecost.
A similar example in this context is the manufacture of an old-fashioned type of iron door locks. They were made by a family of blacksmiths living in the parish of Lima in Dalarna. They were also farmers with their own farms. The locks were used for a common type of storehouses that were raised up on pillars.
The great advantage of handicrafts was that they could be done in the home, usually in collaboration with other family members. The alternative for many was to migrate to other parts of the country to work in the ironworks, with timber, log driving, and fishing.