(More) Axes We Love

by ziggy on January 3, 2018 -- 1 comment -- Follow

toronoto blacksmith custom forged axes

Tools are what make any craft or trade physically possible. You cannot make a house, spoon, basket, or sweater without certain essential tools. And a quality tool makes the experience more efficient, enjoyable, accurate, and safer. As I’ve stated before, I have a particular fondness for using axes, for whatever reason. A few years ago, I wrote Axes We Love to highlight some of the high quality hand-forged axes being made out there in the world. In my second entry in the Axes We Love series, I want to highlight a few more of the talented blacksmiths who are hard at work producing custom forged axes and other tools we need to do our best work.

(More) Custom Forged Axes We Love

This is just a theory based on casual observation, but there appears to have been an increase in demand for hand-forged tools over the past few years, especially sloyd axes and bowl adzes. Some tools from the makers in my first Axes We Love post are extremely difficult to find right now. Namely, anything from Hans Karlsson or Svante Djarv. Also, the popularity of the Northmen tools (formerly John Neeman) has never once waned, it seems. In fact, they’ve expanded their operations significantly over the past two or three years.

I’ve been learning about other new(er) blacksmiths over time and I’d like to highlight some of these lesser known makers. Many of the blacksmiths below are very small operations and produce custom forged axes and other tools for woodworkers. I think that the ultimate lesson I want to convey here is that there are skilled blacksmiths in all corners of the world and you shouldn’t fetishize any one over the other. I love a good tool and certain qualities speak to me, and you will likely find yourself drawn to a particular maker or pattern. Check out some of these makers and consider supporting their small businesses. It’s refreshing to think that more blacksmiths are finding a supportive niche out there.

stark raven hand forged axe

Stark Raven Studios

This is a small outfit composed of husband and wife duo Dan Roesinger and Saga Erickson, who live on a Finnish-inspired homestead in northern Wisconsin. They have a small line of woodworking tools, including a few axe designs. (They also make and sell a very sweet looking stock knife, too — a tool used for making wooden clogs. This is of particular note since these tools are very rare.) Since everything is made by hand, the wait time appears to be fairly long. However, the prices are quite reasonable for the apparent quality. See the full line of axes here.

hoffman carving axe

Hoffman Blacksmithing

This young fellow has a nice story. I’ll just pull directly from his About page here: “I began blacksmithing in the fall of 2008 at the age of thirteen, starting out with nothing but a pit fire and a trailer hitch for an anvil. Over the last few years I’ve worked my way up by purchasing new equipment one machine at a time and learning about the craft and science of moving steel. My parents have been extremely supportive in helping me pursue my passion. They gave me a push start by building a small brake drum forge for my fourteenth birthday. My dad took on the project of building my 200 square foot shop over a two-year period. Once this foundation was established, I had my business well under way before graduating from high school.”

Hoffman’s website has a few kinks in it, but it appears that axes and tools are made to order. One can assume there’s a bit of a wait. There’s a bigger selection in the gallery than the actual sale page, so take a look around the whole site for the full scope. There are some gems in there. I myself don’t care for the “fancy lad” curly handles and that kind of stuff (handles take a beating, just give me a good solid straight grain piece of hickory), but the axe profiles look really nice. If you’re into knives, have a look at that gallery as well.

 Paul Krzyszkowski toronto blacksmith

Toronto Blacksmith

Paul Krzyszkowski is another young blacksmith based in Toronto, Canada and his shop is filled with a surprising variety of axe patterns, including camp, carving, Viking, and felling axes. There’s also some of the elusive bowl adzes for sale through his shop. I can see his workmanship improving over the years and will be following his work into the future to see how his business evolves. I’m impressed with what I see and would love the opportunity to try out some of his tools. It’s great to see such young individuals starting business of their own and continuing a long-lived tradition. (Be sure to check out the brief video on his about page for his backstory.) Note too that Krzyszkowski also offers blacksmithing classes.

black bear forge axes

Black Bear Forge

Black Bear Forge is a husband and wife team, John and Janet Switzer based in Beulah, Colorado. A few years ago, Black Bear Forge began to emphasize forging tools for woodworkers. They have a small catalog of tools, including some fan favorites like a small carving axe and bowl adzes. There isn’t a large stock of items for sale at any one time, since everything is more or less custom forged. The prices are reasonable, especially since it’s just a team of two working on the business. If you’re in the market for carving tools, I recommend that you check them out.

 

hults bruk akka axe

Hults Bruk

This maker is in a different category than the blacksmiths mentioned here but I wanted to include it anyway. Hults Bruk is a long-lived Swedish manufacturer that’s been in the business of forging axes since 1697. Knowing that many of the businesses above have potentially long wait times, I figured I’d throw in one manufacturer whose tools are more readily available. Their product lineup includes similar but fewer tools to what you would find from the likes of Gransfors Bruk and Wetterlings — felling axes, splitting axes, and hatchets. They have both “Premium” and “Standard” lines, all of which are hand-forged, but the “Standard” axe line has a less high-end finish. All of the tools are competitively priced, especially the Standard line. Hults Bruk represents a respectable choice for someone who wants a high quality tool without a long wait or difficulty in sourcing.


Do you have any other blacksmiths you’d like to recommend for another edition of ‘Axes We Love’? Let me know in the comments.

Image credits: Images sourced directly from respective makers, links provided in each profile.

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  • Fearghus Thesoundfarmer

    some great axes there.I only have very old ones belonging to my Dad.

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