What goes in to producing a Gransfors Bruk Axe?

When it comes to making high quality axes, nobody can question Scandinavian supremacy. Forging axes is part of their cultural heritage and it should come as no surprise that when looking for the best axe to suit your needs you will undoubtedly find what you are looking for in a Scandinavian forge.

The problem however is that there are very few traditional axe forges left in Scandinavian countries. Norway and Denmark have no large, traditional producers of axes left. At Nordic Outdoor we are extremely proud to stock axes from one of the last true Scandinavian forges; Gransfors Bruk AB.

Small Splitting Axes and Large Splitting Axes

History

Gransfors Bruk take their name from the village in Sweden were their forge is situated. The first concrete evidence of a forge in Gransfors dates back to the mid-1800s. The company now known as Gransfors Bruk AB was formed and chose this location for its forge in 1902. At the time the largest and most well-known axe forges were further south. Why is it that Gransfors Bruk have outlasted their early competition and are still going strong a century later? The answer may seem obvious, but it is this simple. Quality.


Production

Quality has always been at the heart of everything Gransfors Bruk do. It can be seen in a variety of their early decisions as a company and continues to be a core component of what makes these axes the very best in the world.

Gransfors Bruk hold true to a set of five core tenets to ensure their axes remain at the top of the ladder.

1. An axe is only as good as the accumulated skills of the people who forge the axe
Gransfors axes are made by hand by expert craftsmen. The people who put the work into forging these axes have a wealth of experience and expertise. Every step from the forging of the head to the shafting of the axe is overseen by experts in this field.

2. Smarter production requires fewer natural resources and imbues a product with better quality and a longer life.
A longer product life decreases the overall consumption of natural resources and reduces waste.

3. Every unnecessary step in axe production should be stripped out.
Gransfors cut out many of the unnecessary production steps decades ago. You won’t find resin handles or unnecessary polish in a Gransfors axe.
Unnecessary grinding, polishing, painting and use of epoxy adhesive for the handle has been eliminated. This makes for a better working environment, lower energy consumption and less of an impact on nature. It also gives the Gransfors axes their distinctive look and feel.

4. Gransfors Bruk have unlimited responsibility for Total Quality.
Gransfors take full responsibility for their product. Not many companies offer you a 20-year guarantee against defects on their products. Each Gransfors axe is stamped with the initials of the person who forged the axe, adding both a personal touch and a guarantee of quality.

5. Sound knowledge of a product increases its value and life.
A product isn’t much good if you don’t fully understand how to use it. Gransfors take a number of steps to ensure the customer knows their product inside and out. The first is the axe book provided with every Gransfors Axe. This tells the customer everything they need to know about the steps they can take to ensure their new axe is properly cared for.
Other steps include a range of courses and tours offered at the forge itself. For a price the company will allow you to come out and forge an axe of your own!

 

Now that we’ve went over the considerations Gransfors keep in mind throughout the design and production process it’s time to move onto the production process itself.


There are five key stages that take place when producing a Gransfors Bruk axe. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to the production process below.

Forging

All gransfors axes begin life as a piece of specially alloyed steel with a high carbon content. This steel is heated to a sweltering 1200°C before being cut to size.  Once the smith has a piece of the correct size, they bring the piece to the press. The Gransfors press operates at a rate of 80 strikes a minute with a force of around 180 tonnes per strike. The smith must work quickly and skilfully to shape the head correctly.
Once the correct shape has been achieved the smith stamps the head with the Gransfors Bruk logo   and their own initials.

Forging Process of a Gransfors Axe

Grinding, Hardening and Annealing

After the forging process the focus turns to grinding and sharpening the edge. Unlike other axe companies the rest of the head is left as is. There is no need for any other part of an axe head to be polished or grinded and therefore Gransfors have cut this part of the process out. As mentioned before this allows for more time to focus on the important things and helps give Gransfors axes their distinctive, natural look.

After the coarse grinding stage, the next step is to harden the edge. This is achieved by quickly heating the steel to 820°C and then rapidly cooling it in water. This process makes the steel extremely hard but also brittle. In order to remove the brittle qualities, the axe head must go through a process called annealing. Steels hardness depends largely on its carbon content but also on the temperature it is annealed at.
Gransfors Axes are annealed by placing them in an oven at 195°C for 60 minutes.

Grinding a Gransfors Axe

Tumbling and Sharpening

After the hardness of the axe has been taken care of the heads are tumbled with small ceramic balls. This removes any production marks and burrs from the surface of the axe and helps it to become more resistant to rusting. Following this the steel is tested to ensure that the axe head is neither too hard nor too soft.

Providing that all of the above processes have been completed correctly the axe head passes on to the final stage of its production. The edge is sharpened and polished to a razor edge and is ready to be attached to the shaft.

Gransfors sharpening

Shafting

Once the axe is sharp enough to shave with, it is dipped in a water repellent, rust resistant oil. After this has dried off it is pressed onto a specially selected hickory handle. Hickory is a perfect wood for axe heads due to its long fibres and sturdy nature.

Shafting a Gransfors

Quality Control

Every Gransfors Axe goes through rigorous testing before leaving the factory. It is this attention to quality control that allows Gransfors Bruk AB to be confident enough to offer a 20-year guarantee on all their products.
Once they are sure of the quality of their product, the axe is packaged up with it’s axe book and leather sheath, ready for shipping.

 


With these 5 steps, Gransfors ensure that their axes are the best quality possible. However, it’s not just the attention they pay to quality in the production process that makes Gransfors stand out. They also take many steps towards ensuring their production process is as green as possible.

Many of the unnecessary steps, i.e. paints, tints and resins, that Gransfors have cut out of their production process make the forging of these axes much eco-friendlier. Every aspect of production has been optimised to use fewer natural resources and remain clean environmentally. Whilst a majority of axe companies cool their axes in lead or oil to save time and money, Gransfors still use water. This is just one of many green measures the company has taken.

Gransfors world

So there you have it. All the information needed to show you how the best axes in the world are made. Still have doubts about the quality of Gransfors Bruk? Take a trip to one of our stores and pick one up for yourself or order one online here. We guarantee you won’t find better.