Mini Belt Gransfors Bruks Small Hatchet
By: Gransfors Bruks
Gränsfors Bruks, making the finest axes since 1909! Gränsfors Axes are forged by very professional smiths. The proof of this professionalism is that they are able to forge axes with such precision that no supplementary work to hide mistakes in the forging is needed.
The distinguishing feature of the Gränsfors Hand Hatchet is its short handle relative to the size of its head. It is extremely practical to carry in your rucksack on forest walks, or to keep in the car as it takes up very little space. The Hand Hatchet makes an excellent scouting and camping axe. Despite its short handle, the axe can be used to fell small trees. It is also great for limbing and for splitting kindling and firewood.
Canoe camping guru Cliff Jacobson introduced us to the Mini Belt Hatchet!
"The mini-belt ax is built like every other Gransfors model—solid! The high carbon Swedish steel blade is hardened to 57Rc, which is nearly as hard as a good knife, and much harder than most store bought axes. It comes from the factory shaving sharp, and with a good-looking, full-grain (one-eighth inch thick!) riveted leather sheath. These hatchets are extremely difficult to make; forging the huge hole in the small head requires great skill—akin to forging (not laser-cutting) a knife with a giant cut-out in the center.
The head is secured to the handle in a unique way: It is driven in tightly (form fit) until it protrudes about one-eighth inch beyond the head. Then, a wooden wedge is driven in. The wedge expands the handle and the part that protrudes, in effect, producing a reverse taper (similar to the handle on a tomahawk). Then, the two wide metal “cheeks” (lugs) on the head are pounded tightly to the wood. The result is a metal-to-wood bond that should never come loose. There's no need for epoxy or metal wedges to make up for sloppy workmanship.
Grasp it lightly just behind the head and you have an Eskimo ulu—one that will chop chicken salad and slice meat and vegetables into wispy strips. It will even cut cheese into respectfully thin slices!
Choke the handle as above but reverse the blade and you have a powerful draw knife that wisks through kindling. Hack away in the usual manner and it splits wood better than many axes that are twice its weight and size. The secret is the fine, knife-like edge that tapers progressively to the fairly beefy (.625") poll—this is not a simple "wedge grind"! Note that the end of the handle is cut at a 45 degree angle ("chopped tail") to facilitate a two-hand hold. The little axe will slash through large logs fast if you power with both your arms.
It is also a surprisingly effective wood splitter: I can easily split foot long, five inch diameter maple rounds by setting the axe head lightly into the end grain, then pounding the head on through with a chunk of log. Try that with a typical thin-bladed hunter's hatchet!
For go light trips where you don’t need to produce a shedful of firewood each night, the little mini belt ax can’t be beat."