Axe Brands – Everything You Need to Know
This page is meant to shed light on the many different brands of axes. Whether you need a quality camping hatchet or you’re a long-time woodsman, I hope this guide is able to introduce you to some brands you’ve never heard of. Before we get into all that, I need to set the mood; so we’re on the same page, so to speak…
The whole angle of Timber Gadgets (this website) is geared towards woodsmen and forestry. It’s all about the tools needed to fell timber, process firewood, prune branches, and saw trees. It’s not about using tactical weaponry. Having said that, there are some brands on this list that make tactical throwing tomahawks and hatchets. I’ve included these brands to appeal to every person in search of the different brands of axes.
Please be understanding that this list of brands is not geared towards survivalists, bushcraft, or related groups but I’ve included some tools which are popular in those communities for the simple fact that they, like every other brand on this list, make and sell axes! So, with that being said, let’s get into it.
- 1 Axe Brands
- 1.1 High Quality, Hand-Forged
- 1.2 Mid-Tier
- 1.3 Tactical, Survival, & Throwing Axes
There are quite a few different brands developing an assortment of axes. I won’t go into detail on the main types of axes or parts of an axe but suffice to say, there are more than a few. Also, because this is such a large topic I won’t go into great detail about each company. Instead, I’ll provide a link to their website so you can learn more about them.
High Quality, Hand-Forged
The brands listed in this category are the companies still hand-forging their axe heads. Whether they’re buying the heads from another company and rebranding or they’re drop-forging themselves, these companies make some of the best axes available.
With well over 100 years of experience, Gransfors Bruk continues to make axes with the best materials. They’re hand-forged in the Swedish village of Gransfors and hung with American hickory handles. There are many interesting facts about this company but one of my favorites is their openness to visitors. Gransfors Bruk opens its doors to visitors on weekdays from 9 AM to 3 PM. You can watch the entire process of making an axe; forging, sharpening, tempering, and hanging the handles.
As for their axes, they have the reputation of being the best of the best. If you’ve spent much time learning about quality axes, you’ve probably heard about this company already. Here is a list of the items they make.
- Felling Axe
- Splitting Axe
- Splitting Maul
- Carving Axe (Broad Axe)
And that short list doesn’t do them justice. You see, they have three different hatchets, four medium-sized axes, lots of wood-shaping axes and tools, etc. Gransfors Bruk makes over 25 products; at least 12 of them being some type of axe.
They have a USA Distributor in Summerville, SC and their axes are available in various retailers across the states. If you don’t live near one of their distributors or you simply want to buy online, you can do that too.
The Wetterlings company is another brand similar in comparison to Gransfors Bruks; they are a Swedish brand making some of the best axes and forestry tools in the world. It all began in 1880, with a man by the name of Svan Axel Wetterling. As he began developing broad-axes and bark shovels, his brother Otto planned a trip to America. Once there, he began studying industrial axe manufacturing. This was during a period of time when the forest industry was thriving.
Eventually, Otto came back home and the forge was moved to the town of Storvik. Moving to Strovik would be a smart move as the town was situated by a railway; a railway which transported the raw material the brother needed for running their company. Their forge was built using a simple watermill and employed just three blacksmiths. Their annual production was nearly 20,000 axes per year.
Fast-forward to today and the company is still running in Storvik, although they’ve updated and modernized some of their tools. A press hammer was acquired and they employ a few more workers. The quality of their axes remains head and shoulder above other brands. Their lineup includes the following:
- Splitting Mauls
According to their website, the edge hardness of their axes is 57 RwC (Rockwell C). Finding their products in a store can be difficult nowadays but you can buy them online.
This is another Swedish axe making company. Built north of Norrkoping, Sweden, Hults Bruk took advantage of their location by building a water driven forge and it all started in 1697. The founders were wealthy nobles until 1820 when the Ekelund family took over. Three generations lived on-site during their ownership until the 1870’s when Gunnar Ekelund decided to develop axes according to American production methods.
Over the next 100 years, the forge was modernized into what it is today. Currently, there are 20 employees produce roughly 100,000 axe heads annually. Hults Bruk is one of the world’s best axe brand and they carry a line of hatchets, axes, splitting mauls, and wedges.
Helko Werk is another top-tier brand still hand-forging their axes today. They are a company out of Germany but they have a North American branch as well. It all began in 1844 in Cronenberg, Germany with the Helsper family. Originally their company was named “Helsper Tool Factory.” They made a variety of woodworking tools and distributed them around the local area. In the 1930s, a new partner joined the enterprise. A partner by the name of Kotthaus; this is when the company changed names to Helko.
Over the next several decades Helko Werk continued to improve the quality of their products. Today, they’re known for creating some of the world’s best axes. They have several lines of axes, hatchets, and splitting mauls, including classic and traditional designs. Hulko also carries a new line deemed “Vario 2000” with some innovative concepts.
This is brand outsources some of its tools. Hultafors sells a variety of devices likes saws, hammers, knives, tape measures, and levels. As for their axes, those are one of the tools they outsource. According to their website, all Hultafors axes are made at the Hults Bruk forge. You may remember reading about them earlier, as I’ve already listed and covered some basic information about that company. Suffice to say, since Hultafors gets their axe heads from Hults Bruk, they are still considered top-notch products.
One thing some companies are doing nowadays is buying the hand-forged head and hanging them with a cheaper quality handle. I don’t know for sure whether or not Hultafors is doing this, but it’s a method used to lower the overall price of the tool. With the lower production cost, some of the savings are passed on to the consumer.
Most people know about Husqvarna. Whether it’s from their tools, lawn mowers, or tractors, this brand is well-known through most of the world. What most people don’t know, however, is that Husqvarna offers incredible value for their top-tier, wooden handle axes.
They truly are, in my opinion, the best for the money. Now, Husqvarna offers a line of composite-handled axes which are likely machine-made; they’re decent tools, I’m sure. But those are the axes I’m talking about it. Husqvarna sells wood handle axes that are hand-forged by another company. They acquire the axe heads and hang them with a cheaper handle. The reason they use a cheap handle is to reduce the cost and pass the savings on to the consumer. They sell these hatchets and axes for almost half the cost of a Wetterlings or Gransfors Bruks. Their lineup includes:
- Hand-forged, wooden handle
- Machine made, composite handle
- Axes, Hatchets, & Splitting Mauls
As for which company forges the heads of their axes, I’m not sure. In all my research I’m unable to find an official answer from the company. Their splitting axe may give away that answer, though. It shares a remarkable resemblance to that of Helko Werk splitting axe. This, of course, is just speculation.
Ochsenkopf is Germany’s oldest axe forge, according to their website. They’re another top-tier axe crafter with a reputation for excellence. Their company was established in 1781 in Remscheid. Ochsenkopf prides itself on using C60 steel for the head and hickory for the handle.
As for its products, well, they make axes, splitting mauls, wedges, sappies, and more. They even make competition axes if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.
Most people know the Stihl company by their chainsaws. It’s true, they make some of the world’s best chainsaws but they also make other products, including axes. Like all their products, Stihl uses the best materials to make the best tools.
They carry a whole range of axes from hatchets to felling axes to splitting mauls. The only downside I can see is they’re hard to obtain unless you happen to live near one of their distributors. I don’t know a whole lot about their hatchets and axes but it’s my understanding they are rebranded from Ox Head (Ochsenkopf).
This section contains the brands which fall short of the highest quality. That doesn’t mean these are bad axes. The greatest difference here is the process in which the axes are crafted and the materials used.
Council Tool is what I consider a mid-tier tool company. They produce great, high-quality products but they cut a few corners to pass along some savings to their customers. The price of a single-bit axe from Council Tools, for example, is less than half the cost of one from Gransfors Bruks or Wetterlings.
Founded by John Pickett Council in 1886, Council Tools is one of the few brands still made in the United States of America. They manufacture a number of devices from forestry tools to sledgehammers and wrecking bars. Today, the company employs over 100 people in Lake Waccamaw, North Carolina.
The Fiskars brand has a lot of history, too. They’re a Finnish company founded in the year 1649. Fiskars is probably most known for their orange scissors but they produce much more than that; pruning shears, axes, hookaroons, rakes, reel mowers, saws, and more.
Almost every top-5 list I make includes one Fiskars product. That’s because their products are reasonably priced and the quality is fair. I recently wrote a review on Fiskar’s X7 hatchet. The hatchet cost me $25 and, in my opinion, it was worth it. Not only was it cheap, it held up to my testing. In fact, I propped the hatchet on a piece of cement and ran it over with my vehicle. The composite handle bent slightly but it didn’t break. It’s still usable.
Fiskars tools are perfect for people looking for decent, affordable tools. The hatchet, for example, is great to take on the occasional camping trip. Anyway, Fiskars products are available and many big-box stores, home improvement stores, and online too.
Founded in 1923, the Estwing company has a good history of manufacturing quality tools for craftsmen. They are known mostly for their steel-handle tools. Most of the tools, including their axes and hatchets, are all one piece; the head and the handle. In 2001, Estwing introduced a new grip designed for shock reduction. As for their hatchets, you can find them in various hardware stores and online as well.
Since 1961, the Gardena brand has been growing into a common household name. Since their small beginnings as a garden tool trading coming, they’ve come a long way. They make shears, rakes, sprinklers, robotic lawn mowers, and, of course, hatchets and splitting axes. Their axes have nice-looking composite handles. In fact, they share a similar appearance to those of Husqvarna’s composite handle axes. Given Husqvarna’s reputation for outsourcing quality products, I would guess Gardena is the company making them but I don’t know that for certain.
Tabor Tools, like many other brands on this page, are in the business of creating tools used in the garden industry. From shears and loppers to shovels and axes, and everything in between. I won’t go into great detail about the quality of all their tools because that’s not the reason you’re here; the hatchets and axes are our own concern right now. They offer a hatchet, “chopping axe” and splitting axe. All of which have fiberglass handles. I consider Tabor Tools one of the more affordable brands, similar in price to that of Fiskars. What their axes lack in quality they make up for in price.
Tactical, Survival, & Throwing Axes
All the brands listed in this section are either tactical weapons or geared towards survivalists. Again, I’m not an expert on the subject of tactical weapons, throwing tomahawks, or survival gadgets but I’ve included these brands in case you’re interested.
This is a brand well-known for their knives and other hunting and outdoor devices. Gerber was founded in 1939 and they’re based out of Portland, Oregon. They’re responsible for some well-known products like the Bear Grylls collection. As for their hatchets, well, Gerber has a collection similar to Fiskars but they also manufacture tactical tomahawks and other survival-related hatchets. Gerber products are available in many big-box stores and online.
Like Gerber, the SOG company is known more for their knives than anything else. Knives are what started this company, in fact. Inspired by the bowie knife the MACV-SOG special ops unite used in Vietnam, Spencer Frazer set up to recreate it. He did such a good job at recreating the bowie knife he went on to develop a whole line of similar tools. As for their axes? Well, they’re more tactical than anything. Throwing tomahawks, etc.
Cold Steel Inc was founded in 1980, gaining a reputation for making quality knives. Knives aren’t the only thing this company makes, though. A quick glance at their website reveals a large assortment of devices like spears, machetes, swords, walking sticks, and tomahawks. As for the axes and tomahawks they sell, I feel comfortable saying they are more for survivalists. Their Trench Hawk Clampack looks like a tactical weapon more suitable for throwing.
MTECH is a brand I know very little about. I looked for their website but couldn’t find it. I won’t comment on their quality because I’ve never tested one. Tactical tomahawks and hatchets seem to be their forte.
Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) is one of the youngest brands in the industry. They were founded in 1994 and based out of Portland, Oregon. CRKT makes knives but has a few related devices in their lineup. They, like SOG and Gerber, are more of a tactical weapon company. I have to say, out of all the tactical weapon brands listed here, CRKT is one I’m actually excited about. They’re an American company making some nice, innovative tools and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds for them.
Shrade is a brand from Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. This company has other brands which make knives, shooting supplies, saws, and more. If you already know about Shrade it’s probably because of their knives. They make hatchets, too. Most of which are geared toward survival and tactical enthusiasts. This is certainly a brand to consider if you’re into that type of equipment.