The cheese slicer – Osthyvel Posted by on Feb 1, 2012 in Culture, Living in Sweden

Do you know what this is? In Swedish it is called an Osthyvel.

It’s called a cheese slicer. This is in fact a Norwegian invention by Thor Bjørklund, who in 1925 is said to have been given cheese on a slice of bread for lunch. The had cheese melted before he had had a chance to eat it. Since he wanted to have thinner slices he looked around his carpenters workshop. The first attempt was with a knife, but to no avail. He then tried using one of his planes and it did the job, but he couldn’t store it in the kitchen and it was hard to use as well. So he made it smaller therefor becoming the inventor of today’s indispensable cheese slicer.

This kitchen tool is used every single day in Sweden, by millions of Swedes. Many are faced with a sort of culture shock when abroad and find their favorite way of eating cheese not available.  Many Swedes probably can’t even imagine cutting cheese with a knife. If you know any Swedes, ask them if they could even consider the thought?

The cheese slicer, even though it wasn’t a Swede who invented it, is a brilliant present for Swedes to give international friends as a thank-you for letting them stay at their place 🙂


Tags: , ,
Keep learning Swedish with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. Rutger:

    Its an awesome invention indeed but not only used in Sweden today. In Holland we also use it already for a long time, not so weird in a cheese country like ours 🙂

  2. Tess:

    I discovered this wonderful utensil during a visit to Sweden and searched in vain for one at home in the UK. But recently we got a Clas Ohlson in my town so i finally have my cheese slicer!!

  3. Judy:

    I still use the one I bought in Sweden 30 years ago. And, it still works perfectly!

  4. Allison:

    I thought everybody used these… interesting little bit of history though!

  5. Tânia Mello:

    I am from São Paulo, Brazil and many people use this here,so much so that it is easy to find it. I have one !

    Tell your Swedish friends that they can come to Brazil, for they will find a ‘cheese slicer’ with no problem here !

  6. MichiganLady:

    We always had one around. . .

    What I want to know is, what are good gifts to give TO my Swedish hosts, my distant cousin and his wife, when I go there?

    • Katja:

      @MichiganLady I’ll see if we can take up the subject of presents to Swedes as well, good thing to know 😉

  7. Judy Jones:

    Michigan Lady, I’ve given gifts like baseball caps, t-shirts, towels, handmade craft items, Christmas ornaments, and such. All have been pretty well received.

  8. MichiganLady:

    thanks much, Judy!

  9. Luke:

    Almost bought one when leaving Stockholm 😉

  10. Andy:

    When I first saw an osthyvel as a foreign exchange student in Sweden 35 years ago, I tried to cut cheese using the side of it, like a knife. They laughed and laughed. It has been an indispensable tool to me ever since.

  11. Elizabeth:

    We’ve had an osthyvel for over 20 years and use it every day. (No one in our family likes the taut-wire cheese slicers that most people use here in the U.S.) Thanks for teaching me the proper name for it; we always just called it the cheese plane.

  12. Robert:

    For some reason this fine tool of the kitchen appear not not be available at IKEA in the UK, however there is a Swedish specialist grocery shop in central London that sell them.

    Personally, I tend to buy one at any ordinary grocery story while on a visit to Sweden. I currently have five, and they all see their fair share of use. They are great not only for cheese, but also for all kinds of food that needs slicing such as cucumbers and such.

  13. Sally:

    Other good gifts for your Swedish hosts are wild rice (hard to get in Sweden) and blank note cards with photos from where you live.