For some people, finding the right axe is a bit tricky, especially if they don’t know what they will use it for. A big or a small one? One that’s a good all-around axe to keep within reach or one for adventures in the woods?
To me, picking an axe always meant I had to weigh out the pros and cons, as well as look at the features objectively. So in this review, I’m going to do just that on a tool I’ve already tried and tested: the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe.
First Things First — The Build Quality
This axe comes from a long line of high-quality handmade axes, so I expected the build to be top-notch. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed in this case since the axe looks and feels just like a medium-sized chopping tool should.
The overall length of it is 19 inches if I take into account both the handle and the head. Meanwhile, the weight of this axe is about 2 pounds. Therefore, it’s not one of those axes that would be hard to handle on a day when I feel like my hands are about to give up.
When I got this axe, the first thing I noticed was the fact that its head was rather slim. Usually, this could spell trouble, as it could mean the axe won’t be able to chop great amounts of wood nor be able to last for many years to come. But I was wrong about this aspect, as this axe proved it was high-quality. The design is just a bit slimmer than usual.
Also, if anyone is looking for a medium-sized axe they can easily pack in their bag, then this one could be a good choice. Although it’s best for chopping softwood, it doesn’t mean it’s not durable. In fact, the company that makes these axes is famous for testing them thoroughly.
What I noticed immediately about this axe is that it looked more refined than some other axes I’ve tried. The handle, which is made of hickory, is smooth and perfected. What’s more, it comes with a nice curve that’s great for steady handling. That way, my hands don’t get too tired nor too painful after using it for some time.
The palm swell on this axe is also a nice feature. It’s big enough to use, yet not really noticeable when I lay down the axe. The grip is excellent as well; my hand just glides over the handle and stops before the palm swell, but there’s no discomfort at all. It also has a hole that I found quite convenient, as it meant I could pull a string through it and hang my axe somewhere in the garage.
Now, one of my main concerns about the axe’s handle was if it would break. Due to its small size and the fact that the head of the axe isn’t big either (L: roughly 6 inches, W: about 3 inches), I thought I wouldn’t be able to use it for a very long time. But its build and the way the grain of the wood goes in the right direction — that gives this axe enough power to easily chop branches, but not get broken during the process.
Overall, its appearance reminded me of some hatchets I used to use, but this axe isn’t quite as small as those. Moreover, it’s not like a felling axe, as it’s not that long. It’s somewhere in the middle, but strong and beautifully made for a variety of activities.
The blade on this axe is a sight for sore eyes, as it sports the classic shape we all love about Gränsfors Bruk axes. It’s also very thin yet sharp enough to take away the hair off the arms.
The blade, or rather the head of the axe, is made from high carbon steel, so it’s very robust and durable. However, some users said that it could rust if it gets wet. So if you decide to get it, make sure to maintain it properly with some mineral oils. That’s what I also did with it, as it makes the blade still look fresh. I also sometimes use some oil on the handle as well, to spruce it up a bit, but I don’t go overboard with it. Some oils can darken the handle, and I want to avoid that.
Another thing I also noticed is that the manufacturer had fitted the blade tightly on the handle. So there is no real chance it will fall off anytime soon. There’s no room for it to move at all, as there are no gaps.
When I ordered this axe, I also got a leather sheath to protect the blade when it’s not in use. The company used high-quality vegetable tanned leather to make it, and it has a strap that goes around the blade to keep it in place.
For some, this is a marvelous addition. In my opinion, I do think this sheath should have a slightly different design. You have to hook the blade into the sheath rather than slide it into it to keep it safe. But from what I’ve seen so far, this has made some tiny cuts inside the sheath. So I believe that, at some point, it might even fall apart.
Still, in terms of the quality of the sheath, I don’t have complaints. The axe serves me well, and it’s still in great condition. Hence, this tiny flaw isn’t a real problem for me.
So Is It Worth the Money?
Overall, I would say that this axe is worth the money because I’ve found I can use it for various chopping activities, both in my home and in the woods. I would recommend it to people who are looking for an axe that’s slightly larger than a regular hatchet, but not that big so that they cannot take it with them.
- Length with handle: 19 inch, Comes original Gransfors "Axe-book"
- Weight: 2 lbs
- Sheath in vegetable tanned leather
- Perfect for splitting small sticks or cutting limbwood
- The Small Forest Axe is excellent for felling trees and limbing
One of the best perks of this axe is that it’s small enough to fit into a camping backpack. This would make any camper’s life a lot easier since not having a small enough axe to chop some wood for a fire could spell disaster. And since it comes with a sheath, it’s unlikely anyone would hurt themselves if they left it somewhere in the house. Moreover, it won’t damage the inside of the rucksack if taken camping.
What might influence someone’s decision to buy this axe are the pros and cons. These are the conclusions I’ve come up with.
- Razor-sharp right from the box, so I didn’t need to sharpen it before use
- Nice curve on the handle that makes the axe easy to use
- Robust design, perfect for a variety of chopping actions
- Good-sized blade, made of steel
- On the higher end of the price spectrum, although worth the money
- The sheath could be better; it’s likely it will get cut up after a while since the axe is very sharp
- Not suitable for hardwood
- Not great for splitting chunks of wood; it can do it, but that is not what people should use it for, as this can easily dull the blade.
When to Use It
Finally, I would like to address all the situations in which I would use this axe.
Considering its design, it is best to leave splitting firewood and taking down thick trees to some bigger axes. Generally, smaller axes obviously cannot do that, especially since it would require them a lot of time to do it.
If I were to use it for firewood, I would have to rely on my own muscles the most, as the axe is just not big enough to exert enough power over the wood. I did try it once, and it worked, but as I mentioned above, it can easily dull the blade. Given the fact that the blade is very sharp when it comes, it sort of seems like a waste to use it for more complex jobs.
But what I have discovered while using this axe is that it’s a good overall forest axe. Its size is perfect for cutting branches and wood limbs. If a tree is, for example, not that thick, I can use it for chopping the tree down as well. But do know that it’s best to take some of the bark off first. That way, you can get a precise chop.
When limbing wood, this axe is certainly the star of the show. It sort of seems like that is its primary use. I didn’t have any problems removing limbs of wood precisely and without having to repeat the strokes often.
Overall, small tree felling is not a problem for this axe. It’s small enough to give the user enough power to chop the tree without breaking too much sweat. What’s more, since it’s good for camping trips, you can even cut tinder with it, as well as use it for kindling.
Final Thoughts About the Gränsfors Bruk Small Forest Axe
In general, when picking an axe, you ought to keep in mind that its overall durability is only as good as the craftsmanship behind it. Luckily, Gränsfors Bruk is famous for the quality of their axes. In this aspect, their small forest axe is no different from other ones.
I particularly liked that it came with an ergonomically designed handle that gives me enough comfort when using it. The sharpness of the blade is what makes this axe a mighty little tool as well. In fact, someone could even take off their leg hair with it.
It even comes with a nice manual. There, the manufacturer explains how to use it, as well as who made it. The initials found on each axe belong to the maker, so you can find out who made your axe and make the whole experience that much more special.
The only real flaw I found was in the sheath. I would prefer something with a better design that would last me for as long as the axe stays in use. However, given that this doesn’t affect its performance, I would recommend this axe to camping enthusiasts, and even those who are on the lookout for their first axe ever. But if you do get it, remember to keep it in mint condition, as it has the potential to last for decades.