I’ve had a fascination with axes for as long as I can remember. I own several and carry one with me anytime I’m traveling more than a few miles from home. A good axe is versatile – it’s a tool for cutting firewood, preparing shelter, processing fresh game, and even for defense among many other tasks. In the construction world, it’s particularly useful for removing roots and clearing overgrown areas around work spaces. The Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Axe accomplishes those tasks while being much more than your average axe.
For Hults Bruk, creating an axe isn’t just production, it’s an art form. Founded in 1697, Hults Bruk still runs Swedish steel through the axe presses by hand. This process allows a pair of blacksmiths to work in concert as a hammering machine helps manipulate each axe head into the shape and density required while keeping a trained human eye on the quality of the process.
Hand tools are a bit more special than power tools – they’re a throwback to days before electricity changed the world. Despite the lack of electrical power, some of the most impressive structures were built using nothing more than the power produced by the human body. A good hand tool can be effective for decades and holds a prestige that no power tool can hope for.
When I opened up the Hults Bruk box, I knew I was holding a multi-generational tool in my hands. The weight, the balance, and the look all struck me as something that is as much a work of art as it is a tool to take to work. The head shows the imperfections that come from hammering steel by hand. The Hults Bruk logo, head weight, and “Made in Sweden” are stamped into it as well.
A 24-inch American hickory handle is used for gripping. Rather than coating it with a lacquer, it remains finely sanded and treated with linseed oil which preserves the ability to feel the grain of the wood, A lanyard hole is drilled in the base of the handle. The Hults Bruk logo and obligatory safety message are found here as well.
Carving Out a Niche
Head of the Class
Essentially, the Hults Bruk Akka is a carpenter’s axe with longer handle. That opens up some possibilities while staying true to the carpenter’s original design intent.
The edge has been honed relatively sharp for an axe. The Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Axe was designed for controlled carving and splitting rather than the heavy chopping that many people associate with an axe. The 1-1/2 pound carpenter’s style head with sharp edge and longer beard are the giveaway. Choking up on the handle, you’ll find a perfect grip with your thumb on the butt for carving wood. At the same time, the thin, sharp head design gives you the ability to sink the Akka well into the grain for splitting or smaller felling duties.
Handle Your Problems with Ease
Normally on a carpenter’s axe head, you’d expect to find an 18-inch or maybe even a 12-inch handle. These tools are relegated to the lower leagues because it’s tough to generate enough power to split the wood that heavier heads are asked to chop. However, the 24-inch handle provides additional leverage and gives you the ability to handle tougher tasks.
Because of the length, I’m able to use two hands when I need to. On the other hand, the hickory handle and beard balance the axe beautifully when one-handed control is required for carving.
CYA: Cover Your Axe
The Hults Bruk Akka maintains its classical roots with a leather sheath for protection. The dark brown leather slips over the edge and is then tightened by pulling on either side of the strap. Being a soft leather, there’s no need to tie it off and of course, there’s nothing like the smell of leather.
Hults Bruk Akka Performance
I almost didn’t want to cut anything with the Hults Bruk Akka. It’s such a gorgeous design that I didn’t want to mar the way it left the box through use. Still, tools are made to work.
When it comes to felling and chopping, the Akka is a pleasure to use. With a two-handed grip, it’s like you’re swinging the most perfectly balanced baseball bat – it feels good in your hands and you can generate real power without too much effort. The beauty of using a lightweight axe is that you’re not fatiguing as quickly when it comes around to game time.
I’ll admit, I’m not a professional carpenter, but that didn’t stop me from trying a hand at the Akka’s secondary purpose. I went around carving on a variety of materials from pressure treated pine to oak.
If you’ve never used an axe for carving before, one of the joys is that the mass and density of the head lends itself to removing more material than you can whittle with your pocket knife. The sharp edge allows it to slice through wood instead of relying on merely a chopping action.
Of course it’s still a rougher process, so you won’t be making a chess set with it. However, it does make a great rough cut tool, so you can get the general shape of your pieces more quickly before you turn to detail work and sanding.
The Hults Bruk Akka Forester’s Axe is now a part of my every day carry assortment of tools whether I’m on the job or in the woods.
For the professional on the jobsite, it’s your go-to root and brush cutting axe with a lot more class than others. For the carpenter who prefers hand tools over power tools, it will help you through the rough cutting processes until you’re ready for the detail work. For the outdoorsman, it’s an indispensable tool for everything from trail clearing to fire and game prep. As a tool, it’s extremely versatile.
The style of the Akka and history behind Hults Bruk make it a piece you’ll be proud to own and should stand the test of time to be passed on to the next generation. The Akka falls in the premium axe category with a $189 MSRP, but you can find prices online running closer to $159.