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Hand forged axe shopping

So I am looking at buying a hand forged axe for myself. Mostly for a heavily wooded yard that well needs cleaning up and some big trees fell a while back that I need to clean up. I have a larger more of a splitting axe but cheap store bought and beats the hell out of me as it is heavy junk not even a wood handle.

I know everyone likes the Gransfors burks but the largest of that line is the felling axe not the style or size I want and the next size down is the Scandinavian forest axe which I am afraid maybe a bit too small.

So trying to get a feel for if it is to small or if I want a different brand. They all seem close in price for size to me.

I was looking at the Helko Werks traditional Hessen woodworkers axe seems a bit heavier than the GB SFA and is 3" longer, but don't see a lot about them. I looked at a bunch of others but seem to be coming back to these two.

So any input or other options would be helpful. I do want to stay with a hand forged axe though and some of the cheaper ones I see have a habit of snapping.
 
I dont believe its hand forged....but have you ever tried a Fiskar's X27 splitting axe?

I used cheap plastic handled/heavy chinese axes for years...until my hands couldn't take it anymore. The x27 is a light weight composite hollow handle, designed to not tear your hands up so bad with the impact. It's got an OLD school 19th century Flemish axe head type...first time I swang it, almost flew out of my hands, so lightweight....but its powerful.

Dow
 
I've got the Gransfors Bruks SFA, and just reading the title it was the one I was going to suggest. In terms of size, it's my wife's axe -- I jokingly said that I bought it for her, and she has NEVER let go of it. She loves it and we're planning a trip to their factory in Sweden; wherein I will buy one for myself and probably a spare in case something happens to hers or mine. It's an awesome axe -- sharp as can be and great for felling small (up to 10 inch diameter trees). Mostly we use it for limbing and bucking when the tree is down. Prior to getting a chainsaw (which is pretty much all I use for anything over 5 inches in diameter), that axe was all that we had. It may take a few swings, but it's not heavy and did I mention it is incredibly sharp? The other thing I've done is located several forged axe heads in flea markets and a couple in yard sales -- the handles were either trashed or gone, but getting a hickory handle isn't difficult and neither is hanging the head -- something you may want to consider. The one thing I'll say is that those 'old timey' axe heads definitely had some weight on them, and I can't swing it as hard or as long as I can the Gransfors. Plus it's definitely more work restoring than purchasing an axe -- but I'm an old school guy (both in razors and cutting tools), and I tend to prefer vintage or incredibly well-made items.
 
I have looked at vintage. Unfortunately around here for years people want way to much for just a head that would require too much work and may not even be good to try. I definitely like the hand forged and Swiss and German seem to have the best over all look fit and finish. There is also a cheaper end Italian Rinaldi hand forged Italian forest axe. Light but large head and 35" straight handle. Might be too big and odd for my use not sure.
 

Acmemfg

Contributor
Ambassador
98B4C17E-4EDE-401C-B78E-4AEB9634BF2B.jpeg Hults Bruk (a.k.a. Husqvarna) good quality and reasonably priced.
Council Tool (NC) is an exceptionally fine axe made in the USA. Don’t know about the hand forged part though.
 
Oddly, no brand names come to mind. Just keep in mind that a splitting ax is made for a different job that an ax for cutting. A splitting ax will have a broader wedge, while an ax for cutting will have a more slender wedge shape. A full sized ax, of course. Have never been a fan of the colt foot handle ends, but in this day and age of epoxying the heads in, that's probably not an issue.

Am torn between fiberglass and wooden handles. Fiberglass exteriors can break down if exposed, but wood will rot. Obviously it's not a good thing to leave an ax in the weather, anyway. My father insisted on wooden handles for tools to have the grain running perpendicular to the striking surface.

The best recommendation is to keep your ax sharp. It doesn't have to be as sharp as a pocket knife, but a sharp ax makes thing a whole lot easier.
 

Dcaddo

Moderator Emeritus
The GB SFA is a really sweet little axe that cuts much better than you’d think. I’m not familiar with the others that have been mentioned here.
 
I’ve tried gransfors bruks, hults bruks and council tools out the the 3 gransfors bruks is the best it cost more but it is well worth it for the fit finish and quality hults bruks is good steel but the fit and finish just isn’t as good council tools makes good tools but the edge on there axes tends to be softer and roll i keep a gransfors bruks sofa with me in the woods you should look at there website to find the size you want also of note if you want something about the size of the small forest axe that is in expensive check schrade scaxe2l good luck with what ever you choose
 
So in looking and reading as much as I can find on these axes I came across something that I had wondered about since reading the info on the Helko website and watching videos from the other makers. This was on a review of a helko hatchet compared to a Gransfors burks. What I really like about Helko is that they are honest about the production process of their axes. Unlike companies like Gransfors Bruks and Wetterlings, who claim that their axes are hand made, even though they are clearly open dye drop forged, Helko outright states that they are drop forged. That doesn’t make for an inferior axe, it just makes for a more honest company.
So none of these are truly hand made. They are hand forged by drop hammer on open dyes.

So I guess my only question left is the Rockwell hardness. What is the best # for an axe. The Helko seems to be between 53-56 while the Gransfors is around 57.
 
I have the gb splitting maul the gb 31 inch American felling axe and the gb Scandinavian forest axe.

All are amazing. The felling axe is a beast of an axe. The longer handle was too long for me since I’m a little short but you really can’t go wrong with it.

Used all three of them recently when I had some maple trees fall in my yard. Forest axe was great for limboing, used the felling axe for bucking and splitting. The maul helped break up huge rounds.
 
Forgot to post the axe pics! No pics of the handles but the grain is always straight and perfect!

If you really want vintage American check out Vintage Axe Works


All restored vintage American axes. Has a cool Instagram too where you can see all his work.

72404B08-9448-40BE-99E2-F55A4FFDFBB2.jpeg 974BE528-234D-40C6-A981-6B761FE42838.jpeg 6F6FC1B4-E76E-45A5-81A5-219372957ECE.jpeg
 
Ok so went back and forth and based on a few things size vs job at hand price and accessibility. In the end I could get the GB SFA for the same as the larger Helko weeks Hessen but the Hessen was on Amazon prime and I had a gift card and got a stone for it too. Plus Helko is one of the largest axe makers in Europe and been making them since 1844. They just were not available in the US till a few years ago because Helko didn't want liability lawsuits. I liked the style of the blade too so figured I would go and try something different.

Will report back when it arrives.
 
Nice looking forward to hearing what you say about it! What are the specs?
From their website.
The Hessen Woodworker is a midsize, traditional German cutting axe, light enough for any user to handle comfortably. The 2 ¾ lb Rheinland pattern axe head has a sharp, slim, wide-bit blade that will outperform most American pattern felling axes at cutting work. The pattern is named after Germany's famous Rhein River Valley, a heavily forested region where cutting axes like these have been in use for centuries.
(Total weight listed other places says 4.5lbs)
Specifications

- Head Weight: 2 ¾ lbs.
- Total Weight: 4 lbs.
- Bit Length: 5 ⅛ in.
- Handle Length: 28 in.

Head
- Handmade in Wuppertal, Germany
- German C50 high grade carbon steel
- Open face drop forged, heat treated, and oil-hardened
- Helko crown hammered into cheek 53-56 HRC (Rockwell Hardness)

Handle
- Crafted in Switzerland
- Sustainably sourced Grade A American hickory
- Individually selected for grain orientation and density
- Boiled linseed oil finish, 150 grit smooth sanded
- Hung with hardwood wedge and notched steel ring wedge

What's Included
- 1 oz. bottle of Axe Guard protective oil
- Vegetable tanned Leather Sheath
 

Bhugo

Contributor

From their website.
The Hessen Woodworker is a midsize, traditional German cutting axe, light enough for any user to handle comfortably. The 2 ¾ lb Rheinland pattern axe head has a sharp, slim, wide-bit blade that will outperform most American pattern felling axes at cutting work. The pattern is named after Germany's famous Rhein River Valley, a heavily forested region where cutting axes like these have been in use for centuries.
(Total weight listed other places says 4.5lbs)
Specifications

- Head Weight: 2 ¾ lbs.
- Total Weight: 4 lbs.
- Bit Length: 5 ⅛ in.
- Handle Length: 28 in.

Head
- Handmade in Wuppertal, Germany
- German C50 high grade carbon steel
- Open face drop forged, heat treated, and oil-hardened
- Helko crown hammered into cheek 53-56 HRC (Rockwell Hardness)

Handle
- Crafted in Switzerland
- Sustainably sourced Grade A American hickory
- Individually selected for grain orientation and density
- Boiled linseed oil finish, 150 grit smooth sanded
- Hung with hardwood wedge and notched steel ring wedge

What's Included
- 1 oz. bottle of Axe Guard protective oil
- Vegetable tanned Leather Sheath
This axe is perfectly sized for carrying in the woods. My favorite is a 2.5 lb head and a 30” handle. I cannot remember the name on my camp axe head, but it’s old. It holds an edge well, but is a bear to sharpen if someone mistreats it....

I also love the Fiskar line for general use.
 
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