Monday, 29 April 2013

Review: Gransfors Bruks Wildlife Hatchet

It is fair to say that Gransfors Bruks make the best widely available axes out there. One of their most popular models is the Wildlife Hatchet. Here's the description from their site:

A small, light axe wich can be easily carried, masked with its leather sheath, inside your pack or on your belt. Even with a small axe you can manage a lot: cut branches in the back-yard or chop and split sticks for a camp fire. This little hatchet awakes in many of us memories and dreams of exciting camps and adventures.
The hatchet has a 3" face and a 13 1/2 " hickory handle and the head weighs 1 lb.
It comes with a grain-leather sheath.
I've had my GB hatchet for about four years now. It has the initials of the fellow that made it stamped into it - MM - which belong to Mattias Mattsson. This personalisation is a reflection of the philosophy of an "unlimited responsibility of the Total" taken at Gransfors Bruks. It's nice to know that there are successful companies out there which view themselves as responsible for the lifetime of their products. I've been fortunate enough to visit the Gransfors Bruks factory and the pristine countryside it sits in is a testament to the care they take to preserve the environment, whilst creating quality products.

Near the Gransfors factory
It's been in my backpack to over five countries. I've used it to fell small trees, limb fallen trees, split small rounds of fire wood, hammer in tent pegs and even to open walnuts. However it is most often used for carving.

Sugar maple with more work to do

For spoon carving it is a great axe. The small, relatively light head means it's easy to use for extended periods of time. I've found that it holds its edge very well and the hickory handle is very comfortable. Most of the time I'm using the axe 'choked up' - with my hand very close, or partly holding, the head. This allows for very fine carving, useful for quickly getting spoon blanks into a shape that doesn't require so much knife work.

Recently I've been trying my hand at bowl carving. At this endeavour there is a slight drawback to the lightness of the axe - wasting large amounts of wood can be tiresome. A heavier axe with a longer edge would be useful.

If you are looking for a good all-rounder then this axe is fantastic. However there are several axes out there that are more specifically designed for sculptural carving, but I have yet to try these. Once I do, I'll be sure to let you know my thoughts on the matter.

If you've used the GB Wildlife hatchet it would be great to hear your thoughts on it in the comments section below.

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