The craze began in the mid- 1990s, when we were introduced to a Swedish axe made by a company called Gränsfors Bruk. These were (and are) axes as they used to be—made by hand, beautifully finished, finely balanced, and sharp as sushi knives. I wrote at the time that a Gränsfors was to a hardware store axe as a Porsche Turbo was to a school bus. When you whacked wood with one, a hunk the size of a Double Whopper with cheese rolled away.
So, you axe, where are we now? Well, we still have hardware- store axes. But what if you want something that will really cut? That means artisanal axes, the ones built either by hand, one at a time, or in very limited production. And of those, I’ve not found any better than these four.
1. Wilderness Ironworks Great Northwoods Axe
The Great Northwoods axe is the product of one man, a Pennsylvania wilderness survival and primitive-skills instructor named Robert Burns, who took up blacksmithing at the age of 13. The axe has a 3 1 ⁄3-pound head forged from 5160 steel, and a 26.5-inch hickory handle, which is toasted with a blowtorch to make the wood harder and give it an antiqued appearance. It falls in size between a camp axe and a felling axe and is meant to be light enough to use onehanded but powerful enough for felling.
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Volume 125, Issue 2 - 2020