Over more than 100 years, Gränsfors Bruks AB has built up a business based around handcrafted axes and axe expertise, with a focus on quality and environmental responsibility. Today, 30 people work here in production and sales. 80 percent of the production is exported to 30 countries.
When it comes to the quality and feel of the axes, much depends on the experience and skill of the individual craftsman. Each axe is signed with the smith’s initials as a guarantee of quality.
The company is located in the Swedish village of Gränsfors in northern Hälsingland, around 10 km west of the E4 motorway, between Hudiksvall and Sundsvall. The forge sits at the heart of the village and you can hear the rhythmic pounding as you approach.
The first concrete evidence we have about an axe forge in Gränsfors dates from the mid-19th century. In 1868, scythe smith Johan Pettersson (JP), aged 33, moved with his family and his brother Anders Pettersson (AP), aged 18, from Älvdalen to Gränsfors and set up Gränsfors Scythe Forge. Johan Pettersson probably also made axes in his scythe forge, which he ran until 1900. In 1871, younger brother Anders Pettersson bought another scythe forge in Gränsfors, which in 1902 formed the basis for Gränsfors Bruk’s Axe Forge. Anders also forged both scythes and axes.
The latter part of the 19th century marked the start of large-scale logging operations in northern Sweden and demand for forest tools, above all axes, exploded. Around 400,000 people worked full- or part-time in the forest at the peak of the logging.
By the end of the 19th century there were around ten axe factories in Sweden turning out large quantities of axes. The most well known axe forges, from the south of the country upwards, were in Forserum, Kölefors, Åby, Arvika, Säter, Storvik, Gävle and Edsbyn. Although axe exports were high from an early stage, the biggest demand remained up north, which is how the idea came about to build a new axe forge north of the existing ones. The chosen location was of course Gränsfors.
Lets have a look in the forge.