by Nathan Harley GareauLast updated: April 18, 2023
Every Canadian deserves a hand-made axe; I consider it a birthright. For those of us fortunate to live in such a beautiful, heavily forested country with seemingly endless space, an axe represents potential. An axe represents the potential to work with your hands, to build your own fire. For those ambitious enough, it can represent the potential to build your own home. Regardless your ambition, all of those are jobs can be difficult to accomplish without the best tools.
Since 1697 the blacksmiths of Hults Bruk have been forging by hand with Swedish steel, the way their viking ancestors did since the 9th century. Over the centuries, Hultafors has carried on the tradition while also including modern forging equipment and top-grade Swedish carbon steel. Now one of only two axe-makers remaining in Sweden, Hultafors proudly makes its way to Kent of Inglewood with their Premium Line of axes, with styles named after famous blacksmiths and regions of the area surrounding the historic forge.
Hultafors Premium Range
The Hultafors Premium range includes updated versions of their old range, with two welcome new additions: The Hult Splitting Axe designed for sheer power with a handy leather sheath, and the Aby Forest Axe which is lightweight and built with a “beard” on the blade to protect the hands while doing bushcrafting work such as feathering sticks for starting a fire, cutting kindling and general woodwork. The classic Qvarfot Felling Axe is the 'jack of all trades' of the collection, perfect for folks who want something basic for backyard work and car camping. If you want to impress your friends with a truly mighty blade, you could always upgrade to the Arvika racing axe, designed for competitive felling.
Hultafors also makes a range of small but mighty hatchets. The Hultan Hatchet is quite versatile and packable, while the tiny Agelsjon is an excellent carving tool. Speaking of woodwork, the Stalberg Carpenter's Axe is a mighty carver with a straight edge and beard for protecting the knuckles. The Ekelund Hunting Axe is the perfect balance between a hatchet and axe, able to fell trees, split wood, and even skin a moose in the right hands.
The steel in these axes comes in at 59 Rockwell Hardness, meaning they keep an edge incredibly well and are sharp like a razor, but won’t be excessively delicate and fussy. The American Hickory handles allow for comfort in the hand due to their shape and shock-absorbent nature, and their durability means they can last decades with proper care.
Another great addition to the lineup is the Circular Grinding Stone; a combination 180/600 grit sharpening tool that can be used to re-edge your axes and hunting knives in the field. The two grits offer the perfect combination of sharpening speed and smooth-finish and only need water to work. The stone comes in a protective leather pouch to keep the stone from breaking while being packed around a rough forest environment.
This I know: My grandfather, John Martin Gareau, bought a Hultafors 2.5lb Felling Axe several decades ago, and it still works to this day. A few years ago, I replaced the original handle and sharpened it here in the shop, and I reckon the axe has another 100 years of serving my family as a functional tool. Not only does the axe looks beautiful with its new hickory handle and worn face, but it keeps an edge like the day it was first forged. I plan to add the Hult Splitting Axe and the Hultan Hatchet to the family collection next, for versatility and because you always need one more axe.
A famed cocktologist and axe man, Nathan opened the first Kent of Inglewood store in Calgary, and now spends his days writing most of what you are reading here and teaching straight razor shaving classes. Ask him about his world-famous Three Cherry Manhattan. In his spare time Nathan can be found sharpening his axe, making fermented foods, or practicing his amateur butchering hobby. He doesn't slur his words, he speaks in cursive.