Which Is the Best Carving Axe on the Market? Top 3 Picks

A lot of people want to know about the best carving axe for woodworking and shaping wood. When it comes to the world of bushcraft, most folks buy a Gransfors Bruks axe because of how it serves as the jack of all trade. Still, that also means it’s the master of none, and there are better options on the market. Axes have a tendency of working in two fields. You have the two-handed axes, which measure 30 to 33 inches, and you have the short, one-handed axes, which measure 14 to 16 inches.

a large slim carving axe

#1. Gransfors Bruks Swedish Carving Axe

Price: $199.

a large Gransfors carving axe

An axe designed by the Swedish master craftsman Wille Sundqvist, this axe has one purpose, and that’s one-handed carving. Still, it does everything. For example, you can split firewood, fell a tree in a pinch. It has 30 to 33-inch handle, and it excels above and beyond carving objects and curved spoons. In addition, it works well at hewing a flat surface to craft a beam. If you gave this axe enough time and wood, you could construct a house with the contents taken from this axe.

The Gransfors Bruks Swedish Carving Axe does have three key cons that might turn away the most lionhearted axemen. First, the $199 price tag might send most woodchoppers running into the trees looking for a less pricey axe. Second, you need to have reasonable forearm strength if you will swing it effectively.

Unfortunately, Gransfors Bruks does not offer a lighter version. Third, Wille made this axe with a bevel that looks a little long when you look at the left side. This helps to control the carving. You can, however, get the bevel completely flat, but most axemen will favor the beveled version because it has fewer difficulties in carving out a concave area.

#2. Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet

Price: $145.

a small yet powerful Gransfors carving hatchet

Another highly rated axe, the Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet costs $145, but the 14-inch handle sits quietly in your backpack without a problem. The head weighs about one pound, and almost any individual will have no trouble with swinging this axe. You can limb or even give a tree its last words, “Timber!” as it crashes to the ground. This makes for the perfect light carving axe because you can do work like tent pegs and spoons.

Whenever you choose an axe, we suggest swinging a heavier axe when possible. This does twice the work in fewer strokes because you don’t have to swing as many times. You can also make smaller cuts and remove wood as needed like how the larger ones might do. However, a lighter axe will have the advantage of swifter and more precise smaller cuts to take off wood.

#3. Husqvarna Hatchet

Price: $42.99.

a small robust Husqvarna carving hatchet

One of the cheaper axe choices, the Husqvarna Hatchet only costs $42.99, and it comes with both a sheath and a sharpened edge. This is a fairly heavy steel hatchet, and it does a good job of carving as needed. For the price, you have top-notch steel, and while it does not come razor sharp out of the box, you can sharpen it. One of the biggest gripes about this axe relates to the handle. It would be nice if they had made a better handle for this axe because it feels awkward in hand.

In terms of alignment on the head, you have a precise setup that makes swinging as easy as any axe can be. A little word of advice, however, on buying a carving axe or any axe for that matter, never buy an axe with a varnished handle. That’s a good sign the manufacturer doesn’t know how their tools will be used. The handle on this axe comes with a light oil but not varnish.

You may want to do a few rounds with linseed oil because this makes the hatchet feel nicer in your hands as you’re swinging it. You can de-limb small trees with this axe to make it much better. Do you have a better carving axe out there? Sure, for an extra hundred dollars, you could upgrade to the Gransfors Bruks Swedish Carving Axe or the Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet.

Choosing the Right Axe for You

The right axe for you depends on your budget and how much you plan to use it. Every person will have to choose on his own. For example, it’d be a mistake to buy the more expensive axe if you don’t work with wood too much. In that case, the Husqvarna Hatchet will probably serve out its intended purpose as a carving axe without you having to pay much.

Meanwhile, the Gransfors Bruks Swedish Carving Axe will do a better job if you plan to use it heavily, and you want something that does a more than adequate job at removing wood with accurate precision. It works well at hewing, but not everyone can afford the $199 price tag. You will also need stronger forearm strength, but if you’re a seasoned axe swinger, you may already have that muscle built up.

Finally, the Gransfors Wildlife Hatchet makes sense if you want to go into the woods and carry it in your backpack. The axe also gives you no trouble in swinging it, and in terms of use, this makes a good axe for tent pegs and carved spoons.

Drawing to a Close

The question of which carving axe you should choose will depend on your individual circumstances and how much time you spend in the shop woodworking. For those who do a lot of woodworking, it makes sense to splurge a little extra cash on a quality carving axe because the wood crafts will look better in the end.

You can save cash by sometimes looking around at your local car boot fair to see if you can pick up an ax for a lower price. Do you have a favorite carving axe that we didn’t mention? If so, leave a comment below. We’d also love to hear any tips or tricks you might have with woodworking.

Image sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Pamela M. Slocum