If you’re looking for an American hand forged axe you’ll probably pay high prices for a custom-made tool, but if you’re in Sweden just stop in at Gransfors Bruks between Gnarp and BergsjÃ¶, about 350 km north of Stockholm. The Gransfors Bruks company began hand forging axes over a hundred years ago, and a small cadre of professional smiths at Gransfors Bruks still does, one axe at a time.
The Gransfors Axe Forge began operation in Sweden in 1902, supplying axes to individual craftsmen and to professional loggers. When forestry companies became the major customer, axe manufacturers like Gransfors Bruks competed for contracts by supplying tools of consistent quality and appearance. Any sign of hand craftsmanship had to be smoothed out and painted over. In the 1960’s when chainsaws became the industry standard, many axe companies closed for good. Gransfors Bruks survived by making axes fast and cheap and cutting costs, including wages.
In the 1980’s Gransfors Bruks changed, stepping back to older methods and environmentally sound processes and paying their smiths an hourly wage instead of commissions by the piece. Gransfors cut out the paint and the polish, depending on their employees to do good work and be proud of it. The quality of the axes returned to turn-of-the-century standards and production costs dropped, making Gransfors Bruks hand forged axes once again available to the homeowner, farmer and craftsman at a reasonable price.
Gransfors Bruks manufactures many styles of axes, hatchets and splitting tools. Whether you’re a hunter, camper, or log home builder you’ll find the specialty axes you need at Gransfors Bruks. This company also produces a full array of completely functional replica axes in traditional patterns from Northern Europe — bearded axes, broad axes, trade tomahawks, and more, in the styles preferred by frontiersmen of old America, or by Viking raiders. Every hand-forged axe receives a maker’s mark when finished, sporting the initials of the smith who brought the axe through forge and anvil to you.
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