Monday 16 April 2012

Wetterlings Axes

World renowned Wetterlings Axes

High quality, well-made hand tools hold a place of honour in any craftsman’s toolbox! So when I moved from Sweden to North America in the 1980’s my toolbox contained a few tools I didn’t want to leave behind; a trusted Wetterling sloyd axe, an old Hults Bruk camping axe, a Isaakki Jarvenpaa puukko and a drawknife, tools I still use almost every day in my canoe building business and around my home. A couple of years ago I lost my old Wetterling. To replace it a friend gave me his Gränsfors Bruks hunting axe. A wonderful present in itself, it has been well used, but it was not exactly what I was missing. To make a long story short, this led me to contact Wetterlings Axes in Storvik, Sweden and to carrying their axes for sale in my canoe and outdoors gear store.


Wetterlings has been making hand forged axes for more than 130 years, making it the oldest axe maker still operating in Sweden. The company was founded in early 1880 in the village of Bäckefors Bruk, by Sven Axel Wetterling. In 1882 his brother, Otto Wetterling, returned home from the USA where he had studied industrial axe manufacturing. To be closer to railroad transportation and therefore easier access to raw materials the brothers moved the company to Storvik in 1885. The brothers, there created a piece of legendary Swedish industrial history, using the knowledge and experience of Sven-Axel and the new ideas and technical knowledge of Otto.

With the death of Otto Wetterling in 1915, Sven Axel Wetterling decided it was time to retire. He sold the company in 1917 to a former competitor and old friend, Magnus Liljeblad. The factory was expanded and its machinery and equipment were modernized. 

Vintage Wetterlings Axe Labels

In 1950 the ownership of the now world renowned company was passed on to Gustav Jungefors, a nephew of the owner. The company had grown to employ 40 workers and had also expanded into making their own axe shafts through the purchase of Söderhamns  Axe Shaft Factory. During the postwar era, Wetterlings enjoyed a growing export, and among others, Argentina and Brazil had become important new markets. In the best year ever, Wetterlings produced 160 000 axes. Almost one third of the production was made for Sandvik, which for many years had been an important customer, but also Husqvarna and others purchased Wetterlings axes for re-sale under their own brands.

The late 1970’s came with hard times for the world’s axe makers. The chainsaw had already taken a good part of the market and with the latest innovations in forest machinery such as harvesters and processors, the axe had taken a definite backseat. Sweden had in the early 1900’s more than twenty axe manufacturers. In 1966 there were only three left; Wetterlings, Gransfors Bruk and Hults Bruk.

Today, it’s not commercial loggers using axes, its people like you and me; homeowners, campers, woodworkers, hunters etc. To meet the demands of this market segment, Wetterlings changed back towards old production methods based on craftsmanship. A new assortment of axe models were developed many based on old re-designed and improved models from the company’s early years.

In 2007, Gabriel Brånby (former owner of Gransfors Bruk) purchased Wetterlings and together with new CEO Julia Kalthof, restored this legendary company back to its former glory.

Vintage hammer presses                                             Forging in the power hammer

For a casual observer and visitor to Wetterlings today, it seems almost as if time has stood still. Wetterlings forges and shapes each axe by hand using old hammer presses and tools, some almost 100 years old, followed by hand finishing the final details on the traditional anvil. This is a task that demands patience and time and is totally dependent on the skill of the blacksmith.

Forging                Finishing the final details by hand               Axe heads               Edge grinding

The forge is still in Storvik, twenty kilometers west of Sandviken, an area in Sweden where people since the time of the Vikings have worked with iron. Today, ten people proudly continue the tradition of producing Wetterlings world class axes.

Wetterlings Axe

Hand forged traditional axes made by Wetterlings, the oldest existing axe forge in Sweden. Made from high grade Swedish steel, hardened and tempered to Rockwell 57 – 58. American hickory handles. All axes supplied with leather sheaths.

An axe from Wetterlings is made to last. With a little care, your axe could be passed on from one generation to the next. With a Wetterlings you have not only an axe, but a friend for life.

Isn’t it time for you to get a Wetterlings axe?

 Order online, over the phone or purchase directly in our store;

Buckhorn Canoe Company
1887 Lakehurst Road, Buckhorn, Ontario, K0L 1J0