New / Old Viking Axe from Svante Djarv Hantverk AB

Little Viking Axe.

My interest in carving axes goes back my apprenticeship with Swiss cooper Ruedi Kohler in 1972. Since then I’ve used many – ranging from Svante Djarv’s wonderful Baby Axe, to my favorite American log cabin broadaxe with its massive 12-inch blade. Along this journey I’ve found many other favorites. But many others that weren’t suitable for serious use in the woodworking shop.

Earlier this year one of our customers placed a special order for two axes that I hadn’t previously seen – Svante Djarv’s “Viking Axe” and Svante’s “Little Viking Axe.” Because Svante is so busy, we had to wait several months for delivery, along with the regular Svante tools in our seasonal order.

Both Viking axes are beautiful. And of course well made, with elegant hammer impressions. And a handsome blackened finish. In trials I found the Little Viking to be all I had hoped for – with great balance, proper flat bevels, and a nice slightly rippled handle. The Little Viking weighs 28 ounces (about 4 ounces more than the Karlsson Sloyd Axe.) The blade length is 5-3/8-inches; overall length is 15-inches. We now have added these into our current order with Svante. We can start taking orders while waiting for an approximate delivery date.

The standard Viking axe from Svante is elegant, but quite heavy, coming in at 53 ounces. The blade length is 6-1/4-inches and the overall length is 16-1/2 inches. We won't be stocking these, but they will be available as a special order item.

S-32 Svante Djarve Little Viking axe
TV-10 Leather guard for the Little Viking axe

Axes are generally thought of as firewood and forest tools that also had historic uses for butchering and as weapons. In many pre-industrial cultures, skilled craftsman also used axes for hewing log and timber-frame buildings, and for carving farm and household implements that were made from wood.
Although axes appear to be simple tools, there are significant differences between various styles, makers and models. When an axe is swung at the work, various forces come into play -- balance, weight, handle comfort, edge configuration and details of bevel shape are all very important.

Drew Langsner was first introduced to using axes as a shop tool when he apprenticed with Swiss cooper Ruedi Kohler in 1972. Because we use hewing techniques in many of our classes we have always been interested in finding versions that have the characteristics we are needing for various tasks. After extensive use and testing we now offer a selection of 4 hand axes that meet these requirements. These are from 3 makers, all located in Sweden.

Important Notice: Axes are among the most dangerous hand tools. Instruction is recommended and safety precautions must be followed.

All of these axes are well balanced and have a satisfying, “lively” feel during use. All come with symmetrical bevels. S-31, H-166 and GB-01 have slightly ripple surfaced handles to help with getting a good grip.

SVANTE'S BABY. When Drew first saw one of these little babies, which are hand forged by Swedish toolmaker Svante Djärv, he thought it must be intended for children. However, while teaching ladderback chairmaking in Norway, Drew had a chance to try one and was surprised to learn that the Baby Axe packs some real punch. It’s extremely easy to control due to the light, but dense head, combined with the nicely balanced handle. The blade is 3” wide; the 13-inch handle is duplicator shaped with a rippled surface for an easy grip. The axe (head with handle) weighs about 14.5 ounces. For spoon carving, light sculptural work, and camping. And this is a perfect first axe for youngsters.

S-31 Svante's baby carving axe
TV-07 Leather guard

KARLSSON SLOYD AXE. When Hans Karlsson developed this model in 1990 he asked Wille Sun­dqvist to design the handle. In the current version Drew asked Hans to lengthen the blade by about 3/4” without changing the weight. Excellent for bowl carv­ers and other shop work. The bevels are flat. This is the mid-weight shop axe that we have been looking for; our most popular tool at the Country Workshops Store. An optional leather guard is available.

Forged from SS1672 alloy steel and tempered at Rockwell 55. This material is both softer and tougher than the ball bearing steel used in the Karlsson gouges.

H-166 Karlsson sloyd axe
TV-09 Leather guard


Gransfors Bruks axes are produced in a small Swedish axe factory, originally set up in 1910 in the Nordanstig rural district of Halsingland. Each axe is individually forged (and initialed with a hot stamp) by a master smith, then hardened and tempered to hold a keen edge. All Gransfors axes have a hickory handle, and are supplied with a leather guard. A complimentary copy of The Axe Book comes with each axe.

CARVING AXE. Wille Sundqvist – master craftsman, teacher and author of Swedish Carving Techniques, designed this contemporary version of a traditional Swedish carving axe. The Carv­ing axe fills a need for a well-balanced tool that weighs considerably more than the Karlsson Sloyd axe. An excellent tool for hewing bowls and other larger projects, including architectural work. A leather guard and The Axe Book are included.

SMALL FOREST AXE. This is the perfect single bit polled axe for light limbing in the woods, camping, splitting smallish firewood, and for cutting through cross fibers in large logs while splitting chair parts. With a touched up inner bevel (see the Shop Tip) it’s surprisingly good for hewing. The Small Forest Axe can be used single or double handed. With a hickory handle, leather guard and The Axe Book.

GB-01 Carving Axe
GB-04 Small Forest Axe


Axes from Gransfors Bruks come with slightly convex bevels. This is fine for camping, firewood and woods use. But axes for shop work and hewing are more efficient when they have a truly flat inner bevel. (If you are right handed, the inner bevel is on the left.) Flattening the inner bevel will improve hewing action by giving the edge more controlled bite.

To flatten the bevel, clamp the axe on a workbench with the inner bevel facing upwards. Use a coarse (220 or 325 grit) diamond stone, rubbing along the length of the bevel. (Do not work perpendicular to the edge.) Begin honing the center -- the highest area -- of the bevel. Stay at a consistent angle. When the full width of the bevel is flat, hone with 600 and 1200 grit diamonds. Do not create a micro-bevel on the inner face.

Note: It's not necessary to flatten the bevels on the Svante Djarv and Hans Karlsson axes. They are made that way and are ready to use when purchased.

How To Order
Tools can be purchased three ways: Order by phone (Office hours: 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Eastern Time) using your Visa/MasterCard for payment; order by mail, by clicking on Order Form (you can print the Order Form on your computer's printer, but we do not yet offer on-line ordering); direct purchase at our store and showroom.

Order Form

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Drew Langsner
828-656-2280 (Daily, 9-6 Eastern time)

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