Who likes Gransfors Bruks?


April 7, 2013, 10:19 PM
These tell a story, but I'll tell it later.

For now, just images of fine axes on a river in Maine.







If you enjoyed reading about "Who likes Gransfors Bruks?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
April 7, 2013, 10:22 PM
Nice pictures!

April 7, 2013, 10:29 PM
Thanks, John. :)

Great axes (as I learned here) in a great place.

April 7, 2013, 11:04 PM
Great photos. That skillet meal made me hungry. I'm learning to use a GB hatchet to rough out carvings. It's a fantastic tool: sharp, comfortable and easy to control. I wouldn't hesitate to get another one if needed.


April 8, 2013, 01:37 AM
So what exactly would you use that mini-hatchet for? Could you not just choke up on the other? Forgive my ignorance.

Zak Smith
April 8, 2013, 02:43 AM
I dig their splitting axe.

April 8, 2013, 03:27 AM
They`re called Fiskars now, right?

( runs and ducks for cover!! :D )

April 8, 2013, 05:26 AM

I found the shorter handle gives me more control. I do choke up on it when I need to be precise. That's for wood working/carving. For general outdoor use or even defense, I would go for the bigger hatchet. I suspect someone with more skill and training could use the larger version for all their needs.

I have found the GB edge holds up MUCH better than the inexpensive Fiskars hatchet.


April 8, 2013, 08:54 AM
A great tool you seem to have mastered and put to good use.
Nice pic's!

April 8, 2013, 10:46 AM
I never did - that is, right up till seeing them for the first time in this posting... Nice!
I like the content shots as well.
Did they come with any sort of scabbard/cover?

April 8, 2013, 12:45 PM
I have one. the thing is sharper than most knives.

April 8, 2013, 12:54 PM
Right after posting this last night and a quick follow up to John's post, I hit the sack.
Just checking in for now before starting work for the day.

Today and tomorrow are super busy for me - tomorrow (Tuesday) is a huge pivot day (a board is voting whether to support a major funding proposal for my work; if yes, it's going to make my life easier for the first time in over five, long, hard years).

But I promise to return with thoughts, ideas, experiences and more pictures. (Thanks for your complements! :) )

Oh, just for now, re the small hatchet. It's not a 'mini' - that's a different beast entirely that I probably won't own (too small for my taste). That short one I have is called their 'hand hatchet' or - the name I prefer - Kubben, which is Swedish for carving axe (or something similar).

It's the same head as the Wildlife Hatchet mounted on a 10" adze handle. (WH is 13.5").

The shape of the kubben handle is radically different from the WH. It's made for one thing: carving, and it does that deliciously. Confession: I'm a total novice newby lower than low when it comes to axe carving. I've only messed around with it so far, just exploring what various grips (choke up, rotate, etc) will do, angles of chopping, etc, mostly on scrap wood or 2 - 4" sapling sized dead wood.

It's hard to explain in words just how much difference that Kubben handle makes for handling the same head. One would think one could just choke up more on the Wildlife Hatchet (henceforth, WH) and do the same. Well, you can, but trust me - it's different. That adze handle adds a couple of dimensions that the WH is missing, including weight redistribution, and that missing extra 3.5" makes a difference in terms of maneuverability. If your project is a one-time, 20-minute camp job, forget it. If you're going to consider serious carving and many projects, for me, it's worth it. That little swelling on the neck - the humpback - makes a world of difference in the grip when you're choking up.




I can do camp chores (kindling, tent stakes, shelters, etc) with kubben (I call it 'kub') in a pinch, but it's the same weight as the WH, so I just carry the latter hiking, and leave kub in the studio for carving time. For the record, I cut wood with a Sven saw, then split with a hatchet.


I'm also adding scandi carving knives to my kit: Spyderco Bushcraft on the long end, Helle Nying and - most recently (came Saturday) a Mora 2/0 (3") that is the sweetest little detail carver I've ever handled. My point is, I've always liked carving, but now that I'm getting older, I want to explore it more deeply, both in terms of small figurines and larger stuff like a life sized statue and bowls and spoons and stuff.

Here's a couple of pics of my first try over the weekend.
First is roughed out (90 min), second is 90 minutes more.
Not sure where it's going.

I'm already seeing a bigger version of something like this on a log with my kubben as the main cutter.



April 8, 2013, 12:56 PM
I love GB axes. I used the big ones a lot out in the sticks, and keep some of the small camp axes now.

April 8, 2013, 01:14 PM
PS: forgot to mention, I no longer have the small forest axe pictured in the OP (marked with initials "AS"). I traded it for my wildlife hatchet, which meets my camp needs fine for warm season. I'll probably add another small forest axe for bigger wood duty next winter. The hatchet is a bit small for winter wood up here where a long fire with lots of 4' logs feels good on a winter night.

Speaking of initials, of smith names, I have a few things to add about Gransfors Bruks as a company, including their philosophy as espoused by their current owner and CEO, Gabriel Branby. But I'll save that for a later time.

April 8, 2013, 05:34 PM
They sure are sharp. I recently got a small forest axe and I love it. It's the best axe I've ever handled.

April 9, 2013, 08:31 PM
^ Yes, they are indeed very sharp, and easy to keep sharp - even for blade sharpening challenged people like me. :D

I've got a minute or two while dinner is heating to respond to a few posts (been a busy couple of days with very disappointing result today - back to the salt mines tomorrow, no easy buttons for Nem. :( )

MP7, yes, Fiskars and Gransfors Bruks are equivalent. :D Funny you mention that, my first Maine axe - purchased during a desperately poor time for me last winter when I had to have an axe for a project but could not yet afford a GB, was a Fiskars X7. For $26, I can't complain. It's worth $26. But it's no Wildlife Hatchet; not even close. Not even in the same league.

BikerDoc, thanks! Not mastered yet, though. Still consider myself an axe grasshoppa, even at 60. Worked with them a fair amount in my teens and twenties (well, hatchets back then) and an axe a bit in my 50's. This time, I'm doing it right, actually studying axecraft (studying Kochanski, for example) and studying proper use and techniques. I'm amazed I haven't lost a limb in years past; better proper learning late than never.

ApacheTodd, yes, they all come with a well-made leather sheath (?) with a strap that wraps around the neck and snaps in place. I like them a LOT better than plastic.

Here's a pic of mine before it got to me. The dealer took a pic of it for me to make sure I got the handle I wanted (dark with rich grain, I said).


April 9, 2013, 09:27 PM
I dig the open nature and leather construction of that cover.
What an outstanding companion that would make in form and function to my "Canadian Trapper" Grohmann.

I see a knife under the hand axe looking a lot like my David Andersen Bunad knife. Is it so?

April 9, 2013, 09:32 PM
Never owned one but all I have ever heard is they are great.

April 10, 2013, 06:33 AM
I see a knife under the hand axe looking a lot like my David Andersen Bunad knife. Is it so?Apache, you mean the Wildlife Hatchet, right? Their 'hand axe' is what they call their Kubben on the street.

So I assume you mean in that dealer photo just above.

If so, it's probably a Helle knife (http://www.helle.no/products/knives/). I see several of them in the glass case under the hatchet, including a Helle Fire. I own their Nying (gifted to me recently; amazing little scandi).

The dealer is Appalachian Outdoors (http://www.appoutdoors.com/), so you can contact them about your question. Great people, great service, great prices (in my experience, $1 more than AmaBig with free shipping and 100X better service), so they'd be happy to respond. All three of the GB I bought are from them.

April 10, 2013, 12:24 PM
Cool, hand axe/wildlife hatchet... I like the distinction. You caused me to go to their site only to be overwhelmed by the broad range of sharp 'n hards.

Yeah, I was referring to those Hellas I guess. I didn't note the price tags and assumed they were yours.

April 10, 2013, 12:38 PM
Real quality axes.
I have a wildlife hatchet that rides in my hunting pack. I also have a hunters axe which I bought first. I once shot a deer that dropped dead on an extremely steep slope of an old gravel quarry. I used it to cut saplings and wedged them into stumps to make a "ladder" so I could get down to where the deer was, and then used the axe to quarter the deer so I could get it out.
If I had bought the wildlife hatchet first, I probably would not have the hunters axe. I have tried the flay poll for skinning but I can't make it work better for me than a sharp knife.
I once shaved my face clean with the hunters axe just to prove I could. They really are that sharp.

Jeff White
April 10, 2013, 01:36 PM
I wasn't aware of these before this thread. Thanks Nem! Looks like just what I was looking for to put in the vehicles.

April 10, 2013, 04:22 PM
They come sharp as hell but if you strop one on a sheet of 600-800 grit wet/dry oxide paper on top of a piece of leather, and then strop on the rough side of the leather alone, you can get a downright scary sharp edge on a GF hatchet.
Note:These are hand forged high carbon steel and will rust easily if not treated properly.

April 10, 2013, 05:15 PM
Found another use for the Kubbin. I was given some pieces of boxwood by a friend. The bark is extremely hard to remove and the branch shapes make it difficult to use a draw knife. Turns out the hatchet works great at the removal without gouging the wood. And it's safer. Using these hand tools has another benefit: they teach patience.

Good choice with the Mora knife. I have several. Probably the best value on a fixed blade out there. If you want to stay with a Nordic theme for carving, check out the traditional Norwegian carving of Harley Resfal. He does it all with a single knife in what is called flat plane carving. I'm trying to learn the technique. It would probably help if I had some ability. :rolleyes:

Love the curly birch handles on the Helle knives. What a beautiful wood.


April 10, 2013, 07:43 PM
I wasn't aware of these before this thread.


That was a GB that was riding around in the back when you came down to visit.

April 10, 2013, 09:38 PM
KingCreek, interesting story about deer retrieval. I can almost picture that. Must've been a heck of an adventure. I've read about people using that rounded poll on the hunters axe for skinning. From what Gabriel Branby says, it was more popular for skinning moose in Sweden, and that German hunter's also understand it.

And yes, I strop mine on a field strop usually after light touch up on a fine stone. Haven't tried the sand paper yet, but will.

Jeff, I'm sincerely delighted that I could teach you something for once. :) I've learned a lot from reading your posts here over the years. 'Bout time I gave something in return. You owe it to yourself to pick up one of these jewels of the axe world. Not many other makers do it as well. Wetterlings is well known, and I'm pretty sure that GB now owns them (even though Julia Kalthoff is still CEO; I keep sending her mails asking her to come live with me, but so far, she's ignored me. :rolleyes: ).


Kidding aside for a second, she's a great representative for her company. I sent them a question about an axe I was interested in (and still may add at some point) via their company email (info@) and she responded. We exchanged several mails. Found her very cordial, and told her I was impressed with the fact that the boss responded. She said, "Oh, we're a small company, so I do a lot of the correspondence." I thought that was very cool.

Hultafors (http://www.hultafors.com/products/about-our-products/axes-forged-with-tradition/) is a much older company (17th century, IIRC) and reportedly approximately equal quality, but they don't distribute in the US due to (reportedly) concerns about liable. (I mean, they make axes, not EBR's, but we have that reputation for litigation.) You can order them through Canada, but I went with GB instead. No reason not to.

BullRun, I found Mr. Refsal's site (http://harleyrefsal.com/). Wow! What a treasure. I've bookmarked it for study at a less busy time. (Right now is insanely busy for me, and about to become even more so for a while as I attempt to create a new company of my own... I know I'm insane, I know I'm insane, I know I'm insane, what am I thinking? What am I thinking? What am I thinking?) Interestingly enough, these tools will be involved in that company - but that's a story for another day.

ETA: I just went back to Mr. Refsal's site to explore. I'd found some other sites with his work on it, and was glad to find his own, but there appears to be nothing there but a home page. I find no menu, and his "about" page loads nothing. Am I missing something? :confused:

And Hso, I have to acknowledge your role in me becoming a Gransfors Bruksaholic. Last year, in one of my threads around here, I was contemplating buying some large chopper knife. I think it was the Ontario SP-53, which I bought and have since sold.

You posted something like, Why don't you just buy a Gransfors or Wetterlings? and I responded that as a kid, I'd grown up with machetes, using them in the woods more than an axe. So, I wanted another big blade chopper, thinking it'd work better than a hatchet, which I viewed as heavier and less flexible as a tool than a large blade.

Annnnnkkkkk. <Obnoxious game show buzzer indicating wrong answer> I was wrong. I kept the SP-53 for maybe six months ,and tried using it in various projects here on the southern edge of the northern forests (that extend up through northern Maine through Quebec and up to the tundra), and it just sucked at it. So, I sold it and started buying axes.

Had never owned an axe of this quality before - always cheapos in the past, including Fiskars (which is worth exactly what you pay for it). But I'll never turn back now. Once you've used a GB, there's no going back.

Hell, even once you've handled one, there's no going back. :D

April 11, 2013, 01:16 AM
...as a kid, I'd grown up with machetes, using them in the woods...

You moved around enough and have had your view of the "ideal" evolve because of your changing environments. What worked fine in W.Tn didn't exactly work in the PacNW and neither of those fit in perfectly in the woods of Maine. The most common woods tool around any given place is very often the evolutionary line forced by the environment and the needs it puts on those that survive in it.

Heck, I used to swing an old Collins machete too, but then I found saws and crummy axes and good knives and ... Now my GBs get used less than my mutant Finnish brush hook/hatchet around E.Tn, but the GBs shine when things get too heavy for the hook (and that's right around 3+ inches). (Becker sneers at my hook and wouldn't let me chop with it in a knife rodeo at his place because it wasn't a "knife" and it was "unfair":evil: Duh!)

The right tool for the job makes the job so much easier. ;)

April 11, 2013, 01:26 AM
LOL, fair, that's funny!

April 11, 2013, 04:20 AM
I agree, Hso.

As extreme ends of a spectrum, we might compare equatorial Brazil with northern Quebec. I'd venture a bet that machete would be the preferred tools in the jungle realms - and for good reason, of course, whereas a scandinavian forest axe (at least) would be the proper tool of choice up north. No debate there.

Yet I know people up here and in Michigan who swear by machete. Of course, I suspect they tend to be more farmers or animal raisers than bushcrafters, and that matters. If I spent most of my time in some of the thickets up here, I'd carry a machete, too. A friend of mine owns a small knife company up here, Baryonyx (http://www.baryonyxknife.com/index.html), who sells mostly other brands, but has designed his own machete (http://www.baryonyxknife.com/baryonyx.html). Right tool for the job as you say. Yet at least one I know is a bushcrafter, and he still claims he prefers a machete over an axe. Go figure.

For me, there's also been a shift in my perception of how to use a tool properly, guided by those - like Kochanski, Mears, Branby - who actually understand how to do so. I've come to realize that so much of my tool use in my youth was learned on my own, and it was often incorrect. I had no blade mentor. My dad wasn't a blade sort of guy - he had other skills, instead, and wasn't an outdoorsman like me. So, I'm late to the game in terms of proper use.

So, to my point: knowing what I know now, and looking back at what I was doing with that machete as a youth in west TN, I know that if I'd known then what I know now about the differences of axes and machetes and how to use each properly, I'd have chosen an axe instead of a machete. I wasn't cutting vines, shrubs and brambles, I was processing wood to either build things or for fire.

Of course, I'd have added a saw to the tool kit back then, also. What an amazing difference it makes in cutting a 4" log. I can cut through it with my little Sven saw in a quarter to half the time and work (depending on the wood) it'd take to chop it, even with a small forest axe.

Pete D.
April 11, 2013, 07:02 AM
I have two GB hatchets - the Kubbin and the mini hatchet.
The mini remains my favorite....probably because I have had it longer.
Rides in my Upland vest, in my belt, in the carving box.

April 11, 2013, 07:12 AM
Pete, what tasks do you use the mini for most?

Pete D.
April 11, 2013, 09:02 AM
Tasks. Shaping that kuksa in the picture. Also for shaping stick bows that I make. Very sharp as others have mentioned, I carry it hiking and use it for knife tasks and splitting wood/ kindling for a Kelly Kettle that I carry.
Still learning to handle the Kubbin, which I may end up liking as much.

April 11, 2013, 03:26 PM
I know is a bushcrafter, and he still claims he prefers a machete over an axe. Go figure.

Probably because he doesn't need to break down anything large enough to require an axe in his bushcraft approach and has other uses for the "big knife". Not every bushcrafter follows the same approach to bushcraft.;)

BTW, LOVE the Sven saw.

April 11, 2013, 05:31 PM
Not every bushcrafter follows the same approach to bushcraft.
So I'm learning. :D
BTW, LOVE the Sven saw.It's a sweet little tool. I got the 15. Meets my needs well, but I can see the 21 would be superior for serious winter wood. Need to buy an extra blade for it. I put a pic below of mine on footbridge building duty a couple of weeks ago. Notice I wrapped that little wing nut in orange tape so I can find the dang thing when I drop it - easy to do with cold hands in subzero as dark approaches.

I'm also planning to add a folder to the kit for summer. The Sven is great, but if you only need a couple of pieces cut for a project, it's a bit of hassle to assemble it. Worth it for a winter night's worth of wood. But for summer, I think a folder will do fine for less hassle.


April 11, 2013, 10:28 PM
They are very fine. I have 1 myself, don't use much, probably be the last axe I ever have to buy.

If you enjoyed reading about "Who likes Gransfors Bruks?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!