The following article has been taken from our Meet the Suppliers section, an area dedicated to some of Woodlore’s most important bushcraft kit suppliers. Alongside Gransfors Axes, we also feature profiles on New Zealand-based company Swazi Clothing, the Swedish knife-maker Julius Pettersson, and S. Djarv Hantverk, a family-owned Swedish company who produce traditional woodcarving tools, such as the Spoon Knife.
Gransfors Bruks is a family-owned company, situated amongst the mountains and valleys of the beautiful Halsingland countryside in Sweden. A modest team of only twenty-five people, the axe forging is taken care of by just five highly-skilled smiths. The Swedes are often referred to as the world’s greatest axe enthusiasts, and Gransfors Bruks is one of their finest forges.
In the 1960s, the chainsaw became the tool of choice in forestry work, and the humble axe was forced to take a back seat. Axe forges and factories were hit hard by the huge slump in demand and careful steps had to be taken by manufacturers in order to keep afloat. At Gransfors, they chose to focus on their knowledge and the function of their axes, while paying close attention to the effect their production processes had on the environment.
A conscious decision was made to revert back to the traditional forging methods of years gone by, discarding the brash, colourful branding and lengthy processes used to cover mistakes in manufacturing, that were now common in axe production:
“The restructuring was based on the belief that when all unnecessary steps are taken out of the production process, you end up with a more functional and environmentally sane product, and at the same time a more appealing one.”
Gransfors have continued along this path of quality-before-quantity ever since, and in 2002 they celebrated their 100th year of business, marking a century of axe forging. A grand achievement by any standards, but they were quick to dispel any notions that the age of a company holds a direct link to the quality of their products:
“Age is not the important factor, what one can learn and how one uses that knowledge is. We all share in the responsibility to harness, use and protect the knowledge we obtained. Now it is the future we must look towards.”
We feel that the ethos of Gransfors holds many similarities with that of Woodlore, and as our business relationship gathered strength, Gabriel Branby, then owner of Gransfors, shared with us the following in 2008:
“In a fragmented world, it is often difficult to see the connections and to focus on the whole perspective. But the activities undertaken by Gransfors are good examples of continuity and wholeness. In an apprehensible way, Gransfors demonstrate how actions, people, education, knowledge, objects and the environment can combine forces to form an entity.
Old knowledge and culture cannot only preserve a living industrial site but also are a requirement for success. In Gransfors, the old traditions are allowed to combine with new knowledge and techniques, and so contribute to a harmonic and economically sound development.
In the small village of Gransfors we live in contact with the surrounding world. Every year thousands of visitors from far and beyond visit the Museum of Axes and the Axe Forge; some as participants in courses, some as interested spectators.
Today the axes forged in Gransfors are delivered to more than 20 countries. Information and merchandise flows in and out of Gransfors. Different languages and distant cultures constantly mix within the Halsingland countryside.
Gransfors Bruks has an aim to be the Centre of Axe Culture of the World and is taking responsibility, together with a huge network, to keep and spread knowledge of the Axe and its culture. A living production and the qualifications of our 25 co-workers are vital to that cause.”
To summarise, Gabriel feels that those at Gransfors “are gardeners and scientists at the same time.”
Ray has been a loyal user of Gransfors’ axes for many years now, incorporating their use into his various expeditions both in the UK and overseas. From felling trees in boreal forests to shaving feather sticks for kindling, Gransfors’ range of axes provide Ray with an array of tools fit for almost any situation.
It is this strong belief in their products which led to Ray and Woodlore working together with Gransfors to stock an exclusive range of axes, featuring the Ray Mears Bushcraft logo embossed on each handle. We feel very privileged to be the only company world-wide to have our logo featured on Gransfors’ axes. These fantastic axes can be found in the Gransfors Axes section of our Online Shop.
The best way to learn how to use an axe is to attend a relevant course. The safe use of cutting tools, including the use of axes, is covered in our Camp Craft course.