Review: Gränsfors Bruk Forest Axes
Gränsfors Forest Axes are made to be used in the forest for everything from felling large trees to limbing small logs.
While I'm reviewing products with a Nordic origin and/or ethos, I thought I would mention what I consider to be the gold standard in axes, Gränsfors Bruk. Of themselves they say,
"Throughout history, the axe has helped us source wood for our fires, build our houses and protect ourselves against enemies, and that’s just scratching the surface. For much of human history, the axe has meant the difference between life and death.
"Here at Gränsfors Bruk, we feel a keen responsibility to ensure that knowledge of axes and axe making is preserved for future generations. We strive to make the best possible axes, based on three different perspectives:
• We make axes with the best possible function for their particular area of use
• We make axes that have as little impact on our environment as possible
• We make axes with respect for the people who create them
"Making a good product based on the perspectives above is our way of showing responsibility towards everyone who buys and uses our products, towards our environment and towards our staff."
Gränsfors Bruk’s axes are divided into five different categories, based on their specific areas of use: Splitting Axes, Log-building and Carpentry Tools, Double Bit Axes, Ancient Axes (which unfortunately do not seem to be currently available), and what they call Forest Axes (some would call them bushcraft axes):
"Gränsfors Forest Axes are made to be used in the forest for everything from felling large trees to limbing small logs. The distinguishing feature of Forest Axes is a long, rounded edge, with a flat elongated axe head. Forest Axes are specially designed to cut across the grain of the wood fibres, for example when felling and limbing, in contrast to log splitting, where the axe goes along the grain of the wood fibres."
I am fortunate enough to be the owner of the Scandinavian Forest Axe. It occupies something of a mid-point between the Outdoor, Hunters, and Small Forest Axes (and of course, the even smaller series of hatchets), and the larger American Felling Axe:
"The various Forest Axes are designed to suit a specific function, and many of the models have been developed in collaboration with specialists and professionals. Hunters, forest workers, fishermen, hikers and survival experts have all had their input into the product development of these axes.
"Gränsfors Forest Axes come in different sizes, with a range of axe heads and handle. The smallest, the Gränsfors Mini Hatchet, is only 26 cm long and weighs 0.3 kg. This axe can almost be used as a filleting knife, as it has an extremely thin edge. The largest, the American Felling axe, is 90 cm long and weighs in at 2.2 kg. This is used to fell really big trees.
"The choice of Forest Axe depends entirely on what you want to use it for."
The Scandinavian Forest Axe is described as "a more professional axe, ideal for felling larger trees and for limbing a felled tree. The axe is forged to a curved bit, making it suitable for cutting into fresh, resinous wood such as spruce or pine." It is even capable of splitting small logs, as for a campfire, although an afternoon of splitting firewood for the winter would probably put more strain on it than it is intended to take – and the slim head is not designed for the wedging action such work would require, in any case.
Gränsfors Bruk axes are unmatched in quality of construction, from the individually-forged heads to the sturdy and well-shaped hickory hafts.
As the website notes, "When it comes to the quality and feel of the axes, much depends on the experience and skill of the individual craftsman. Each axe is signed with the smith’s initials as a guarantee of quality." They look good, they feel good in the hand, and they function superbly. The company also stresses ecological responsibility.
To quote the website once more,
"In the late 1980s, Gränsfors Bruk took a step back to a more traditional, craft-based system of production that had been the standard long ago. Knowledge about axes, their function and environmental issues became the guiding light for axe production. The restructuring was based on the insight that when you strip out everything that is unnecessary, you often get a more honest, eco-friendly and even attractive product."
They are not cheap! But quality rarely is.
I would never recommend anything I do not own, or have not used, myself; and my Gränsfors Bruk Scandinavian Forest Axe is truly among my most prized possessions. If TEOTWAWKI (The End of the World As We Know It) ever happened, whether through a Carrington Event or widespread social breakdown, it would be one of the first items I would grab. I can't recommend anything more highly than that!