The range of hand forged axes includes forest Axes, splitting axes, log-building and carpentry tools, double bit axes as well as ancient axes. High carbon alloyed steel is heated to around 1200°C before press work. After forging the axe head needs grinding and sharpening. After coarse grinding, the edge is tempered by heating it to 820°C and then rapidly cooling it in cold water. The tempering makes the steel much harder, but also rather brittle. To remove the stresses in the steel caused by the forging and tempering, the steel needs to be annealed, which involves keeping the axe heads in an oven at 195°C for an hour. The hardness of the steel depends chiefly on its carbon content, but also on the annealing temperature.
There's something about cutting and chopping firewood by hand that is sublimely pleasurable, and after all, whomever cuts firewood warms themselves twice. Good tools are always worth investing in, and time and time again experience shows it's often cheaper to spend more initially! We're loving the awesome quality of Gränsfors Bruk axes, made here in Sweden and sold internationally. Hand made, individual craftsman marked and guaranteed for 20 years, these are tools we can highly recommend.
We have also been using a Fiskars moulded axe, a new range of modern axes with one piece moulded handles. It has an interesting blade geometry and we've been impressed with how well it splits. It's definitely rugged and feels great to use, however, one downside is that eventually when the handle does break there is no way to re handle this yourself. Thats a shame, as handling up old tools is fun as well as a skill worth having. It's also worth noting that car-boot sales and garage sales often turn out very good old steel blades, so if you have the knack for handling you can build up a collection of different purpose axes for less than the price of one of these new ones...
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