Forging the Swedish Carpenter’s Axe

Swede B 320

Since watching Mattias Helje forge a beautiful, traditional carpenter’s axe in Sweden in 2015 I have done several trials of forging this axe myself.  At first I concentrated exclusively on the eye and socket – the hardest part of the axe to understand.  Recently I began to forge and understand the axe as a whole.  In the forging process all of the features of the axe are interrelated, and these relationships have to be understood just as well as the forging techniques.  This takes a LOT of practice.  Numerous axes were started to answer just a single question about a measurement or choice of technique, and there were many questions to answer.  At last it looks like I’m getting close to my goal – there are only a few points to clear up about the forging of this piece before I get ready to demonstrate it in April for the California Blacksmith Association.

This axe is 7.25″ long, has an edge length of 4.75″ and weighs 1270 grams.  The body is mild steel and the edge and poll are 1075 steel.

4 Responses to “Forging the Swedish Carpenter’s Axe”

  1. Bob Burgess 26. Feb, 2016 at 7:36 pm #

    Great work James – it takes time and great skill to reproduce from scratch the tools from a different time and place… Scandinavian axes are so very different from those found in the UK and the USA. I am very envious of your ability, and wish that I had the time to attain a similar level of craftsmanship…

  2. Matt 27. Feb, 2016 at 2:14 am #

    Amazing. Looks simple but I know better 😉
    Each step leads to the next. Mess up one and the whole project goes awry. Nicely done.

  3. Higgs Murphy 27. Feb, 2016 at 6:54 am #

    Just beautiful is all!

  4. E.dB. 07. May, 2016 at 4:56 pm #

    Wow wee that’s a beauty, one form I have grown fond of calling ,”The Larsson Axe” for it’s prominence in the Carl Larsson painting.



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