Hults Bruk - A Personal Favorite Rooted in Rich History
Dating back all the way back to 1697, Hults Bruk has been proudly producing fine tools meant to be used. Located just North of the Swedish city of Norrkoping, they make use of the active stream and abundant forest. Very proud of their history, Hults Bruk continues its process of creating tools through its different forging processes. Throughout this article we will take a closer look into their history, their forging processes, and the differences between them, and then finally brag about what makes them so special.
Originally, they made use of the stream to power their waterwheel which turned the whole facility. The water driven power hammers that were used in the hand forging process allowed the workers to begin fabricating nails and iron bars which were then quickly followed by hand tools such as spades and axes. From its foundation in 1697 all the way into the 1820s, the facility was owned by absentee wealthy nobles. Then, around 1820, the family Ekelund took over the complex. Three generations of the Ekelund family ran Hults Bruk for over 100 years. During their entire ownership, the family payed personal attention to it, even living on-site. In the late 1870s, the owner and ironmonger Gunner Ekelund made the decision to make axes according to the new state of the art American production method. He traveled to America to study the industrial methods and but more modern machinery. Later, in the late 1880s, Hults Bruk axes would be sold in the United States for the very first time.
The next big milestone in the company’s history came in the 1930s when there was a push in development to forge an edge that would better maintain its sharpness. The breakthrough in production and materials that occurred have endured and are still evident in todays product line. Hults also made great strive in improving the social standards among its workers including building a school on site.
Hults Bruk moved around ownership over the coming years. In 1944, the paper company Holmens Bruk purchased Hults. The facility was then sold off to Tors Hammare in 1988. Then, finally, in 1992 the present owner The Hultafors Group purchased the facility. Currently there are over 20 people working at Hults Bruk where over 100,000 heads are hand forges every single year.
The Difference Between Premium Axes and Standard
As you may have noticed while stopping into the store or browsing their online catalog that Hults Bruk makes their axes in two different finishes. They have a line of Premium Axes and a line of Standard Axes. Like us you may be wonder what the difference between them is.
Both axe lines are forged from Swedish Axe Steel. They are both stuck multiple times to ensure density and therefor durability. Their heads are both constructed in a way that creates a tempered zone designed to hold a very sharp edge even after many sharpening’s and uses. They also both come with leather sheaths and have hickory handle pre-treated with linseed oil. Where the difference really shows is in the head itself. The main difference between the two is the time spent finishing the axes.
These axes are hardworking pieces of art. They are meticulously hand finished to both increase their durability as well as enhance the beauty of the natural materials. They use several stages of hand grinding to produce an absolutely shaving sharp edge. Then, they sand and oil the American Hickory handle with a coat of linseed oil to condition and protect the wood. From there it is fitted with its leather sheath and then sent off to be sold.
These axes still offer the same excellent quality as the premium line using the same steel, leather, and American Hickory but with a more rustic and unrefined finish. These axes are still superbly designed and perform incredibly well yet represent a large value to anyone who wants a quality Swedish tool at a competitive price. Each standard series axe comes with a leather sheath.
If you have held a Hults Bruk axe in your hand you already know that they are built far and above a lot of their competition. They have been building heirloom quality axes for years and will hopefully continue to produce tools that can be passed down for generations. If you haven’t taken the time to appreciate them up close, please stop into the store and take a look. No matter what outdoor tasks you have in mind, Hults has something for you.
Obviously I can sit here and tell you all about the history of Hults and their process of manufacturing, but let me tell you why I choose a Hults hatched as my go-to axe for work around the house as well as a backpacking axe.
Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be gifted a Hults Bruk Almike, one of the premium hatches they offer. This beauty has a 1-pound head with a highly polished cutting edge. It sits on a 16-inch American Hickory handle. It comes in at a total of 1.75 pounds and comes with their nice leather sheath that has a belt loop built in. At the time, I had admired them from a far. Obviously, the price had put me off but at no point did I ever doubt their quality. However, I did not truly understand them until I took it our for the first time.
Growing up we had a wood fire stove that sat encased in brick in the center of our ranch house. When roaring in the winter, it kept and radiated heat holding the inside air temperature around 70 degrees. This was amazing when it came to keeping us warm as well as our heating bill down. Unfortunately, this meant many cold days spent outside with inadequate tools chopping and splitting firewood. We always held a mentality that all axes performed the same so why buy expensive. You could beat the snot out of one, break it eventually, then just buy another. Luckily now, I know better.
The very first thing I did with my brand spanking new hatchet was to take it out back, and burry it into a log. Boy did that edge bite deep! Of course I pulled it out and immediately inspected its edge. Still had its mirror polish and was razor sharp. Was one cut ever going to deform an edge? No probably not. But who doesn’t stress the little things when playing with a new toy?
Over the next couple of years, the Hults Bruk Almike would be my one constant companion on all my outdoor trips and chores. I have taken it on road trips camping in New England, cabin campouts in Pennsylvania, backpacking trips all over, and of course out chopping in the back yard. Now, I always leave the hatchet in my car just so I always know where it is when I need it. I find myself pulling it out for countless chores and take joy in its beauty and performance. Rarely do I have to do any kind of sharpening to it because of its amazing edge retention, but when I do its just a couple quick passes with my stone and then its back to work. I have added a few other axes to my tool belt over the years but the Almike remains my ever favorite.