…And My AXE!!!

A proper set of axes is an important part of any woodsman’s arsenal, but also the wood burning sauna owner. Here’s a gallery of Finnish and Swedish axes including Gransfors and Fiskars… plus some a bit more… unusual.

A proper set of axes is an important part of any woodsman’s arsenal, but also the wood burning sauna owner. Here’s a gallery of Finnish and Swedish axes including Gransfors and Fiskars… plus some a bit more… unusual.

More photographs follow below.

To be clear: I am hardly an axe expert or woodsman. What I am, is interested in learning about the best ways of chopping, preparing and storing wood for sauna as it slowly becomes more of a default lifestyle. I grew up with a dad who had been in the logging industry for years, and so much of my childhood was spent chopping and hauling wood from out in the boreal forests of Canada to our home for heating in the winter. Being more of a technology oriented kid, my interest was never really actively there until much later.


And so I’ve picked up the basics by now, like how to position the wood on the block so as not to chop yourself in the leg. Always nice. The trick is of course, to put it toward the rear. That way, if you miss, the axe blade goes into the stump and not you. Again, just basics. Somehow I managed as a kid, even without any real explanations (or maybe I was so ADD I just tuned it all out). Maybe some things are instinctual for a Finn. Still, learning it all on a logical level is a good idea, and better late than never I suppose.

A few years back I made my first real purchase, and by that I mean, up until then I’d just been using whatever we had laying around, some crappy old thing that might have even come with the house when we bought it. My new model was nothing fancy, just a standard 25 inch Do-It scandinavian forest axe, with something like a 1.75 lb head I suppose. And genuine hickory, at least. But it’s no Gransfors. Still, there’s no feeling like the ritual of chopping wood you’ve hauled from the forest yourself, with your own axe, for your own sauna.

It was a true eye-opener at the Gransfors production factory and museum in Bergsjö, getting to see all the many types of axes which have been used for equally as many purposes, from ancient times until today, and how the craft has been refined. What I show here barely scratches the surface, as I didn’t have the opportunity to get too in depth, and in fact it was all a bit overwhelming for an amateur like myself. At least, I got to appreciate both some fine craftsmanship from my own countrymen, and even a bit of odd humor.

With that, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking from here.

Stone Axes: where it all began.
The bearded axe, used since viking times, functions both as a weapon and wood carving tool, allowing a grip directly beneath the blade for finer work.
As the illustration in bottom left shows, this unusual elongated blade was commonly used in boatmaking.
A fine example of Gransfors’ craftsmanship, I would guess it’s a more modern example of a carpenters axe based on the rounded blade.
Mid 20th century examples of Finnish forest axe blades. The caption states: “Billnäs 1300 w/Birch Handle. Manufactured in Billnäs Finland, today known as Fiskars, this was bought at Erikssons Iron in Bergsjö in the early 1960s.”
Perhaps one of you can enlighten me on this.. It seems like a shaping axe of some kind, but as you’ll see in the video, it requires a very odd technique.
And last, but not uh, least. I wish I had a better explanation of this one, but alas I doN’t. What I can say is, it’s not how long the blade is, but how you use it.

If you haven’t already, check out the above video for the more complete tour, and a look at how they create their axes today! Much of it is still a handmade process, which is nice to know in this age where almost all manufacturing seems automated. Til next time.

Can’t get enough sauna related material? “Like” Sauna Tribe on Facebook to get your fix!