Choosing an axe

We are often asked about what type of axe to choose. When making your choice, it is important to decide what the axe will be used for. Will it be used for chopping wood, out in the forest or to make a log house? The axe is one of mankind’s oldest tools and therefore comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

The main difference between axes is the edge. Most commonly, the edge faces the direction of travel, parallel with the handle, such as Gränsfors Small forest Axe. There are also axes where the edge is perpendicular, although these are less common. Examples include Gränsfors Bruk’s Straight Adzes and Gutter Adzes.

There is a big difference between chopping axes and carving axes. The shape and edge of a chopping axe are designed to chop away wood fibres and split the wood apart, while a carving axe has to slice into the wood.

A typical chopper is Gränsfors Bruk’s Splitting Axe, which has quite a thin edge but a much broader and thicker poll. This helps to split the wood apart. A prime example of a carving axe is Gränsfors Bruk’s Carpenter’s Axe. This has a long, thin and straight edge with a straight, pointed bevel face and a narrower poll, which makes it perfect for carving. The Carpenter’s Axe is not suitable for heavier work such as tree felling and log splitting. The pointed angle of the blade is not designed for that.

Nowadays, axes are used primarily as tools and form three main groups: Forest Axes, Splitting Axes and Log-building Axes. There are also some less common types of axe, such as the meat cleaver used in the kitchen, the ice pick used in mountain climbing and the fireman’s fire axe. Whatever use the axe is going to be put to, the key is to use the right axe for the right task.

Gränsfors Bruk has divided its range of axes into four different types, based on their area of use and on their history: Forest Axes, Splitting Axes, Log-building Axes, Double Bit Axes and Ancient Axes.

Forest 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.

Splitting Axes

Gränsfors Splitting Axes are, as the name suggests, made to split wood. The axes have a large and heavy head that is forged and ground into a concave shape with a relatively thin edge. The axes are made to chop along the grain of the wood fibres, in contrast to Forest Axes, which are made to cut across the grain of the wood fibres. The concave shape of the Splitting Axes ensures that the edge goes quickly and easily into the wood and then effectively splits it as the broader section pushes apart the wood. Its unique design also means that the axe head does not stick as easily in the wood, as would happen with a slimmer axe head.


Log-building and Carpentry Tools

Gränsfors Log-building and Carpentry Tools have been specially developed for use in log house building, carpentry and wood sculpting. These axes and tools have been designed in collaboration with expert woodsmen and carpenters. Each type of axe is designed for a specific function, hence the considerable variation in the shape and size of the axe heads. Traditional tools have provided a template for the models that Gränsfors Bruk now produces, but they have been modified and developed in partnership with specialists and professionals to meet the demands of today’s users.


Double Bit Axes

The Double Bit (double-headed) Axe was initially used as a forest axe, particularly in the American forests of the 19th and 20th centuries.
However, today the Double Bit Axe very rarely appears in the forest. Instead, it is now mainly used for the fun leisure pursuit of axe throwing, where the Double Bit Axe is thrown at a target. Swedish and Nordic competitions are organised by the Swedish Axe Throwing Society.


Ancient Axes

Since time immemorial, the axe has served as a tool, a weapon, a status symbol and a cult object. Gränsfors Bruk’s Ancient Axes are replicas of axes that were in common use several hundred years ago. However, this is just a small sample of the many axes that have existed over the years. In contrast to Gränsfors Bruk’s other types of axe, the Ancient Axes are not made to meet any particular function in modern society. They are more to show what axes looked like in the past. The axes differ greatly in their time and place of origin.

Gränsfors Bruk’s Ancient Axes date from the period between 500 and 1700 AD and most of them are of Nordic origin, although some axes from Central Europe have also been included. The replicas are based on archaeological finds and originals that can often be seen at one of our Nordic museums of history. The shape and size of the axes also varies greatly, depending on what the axe was used for once upon a time.