Hults Bruk Kisa axe
Review by Coy Starnes
Update:July 19, 2020
I was very pleased with how well the Kisa axe performed. I used to cut a lot of wood when I sold firewood but would do most of that with a chainsaw. However, I would use an axe occasionally just to keep up my axmanship. Anyways, since I haven’t been doing a lot of axe work lately my skills were rusty, but after a few minutes I started hitting where I aimed for the most part. I cut several limbs that were about 6 inches wide and a lot more much smaller limbs. Once I got down to limbs about an inch wide I usually cut them in one swing if I placed them across a solid wood support. On the smaller limbs I liked that I could easily hold the limb in my left hand and use the axe in my right hand, something that is not easy with my big double bit axe. It took me a lot longer to do the limbing with the axe than I could have with my chainsaw but was very satisfying. It’s hard to explain but much like riding a bike is very slow compared to going somewhere in a car, the bike ride is more fun and provides great exercise. Here are a few photos of my work.
Before getting into the actual specs of the Kisa axe I think it would be good to briefly look at a history of the company and about axes in general. Hults Bruk is a Swedish foundry that has been in business since 1697. In other words, they are a well established company. They started making axes in the 1730s and over the years have modernized production, but the axe heads are still hand forged.
The axe is a tool that has shaped human history. It has been used for clearing forest for farms, building homes and ships, and as a weapon for battle. It has even been used for murder… ever hear of Lizzie Borden. Many famous people used an axe. In America alone Daniel Boone, George Washington and Abe Lincoln come to mind. In folklore Paul Bunyan is a well know lumberjack who wielded a giant axe. Since chainsaws now do most of the work once relegated to an axe, good axes became scarier than hens teeth. However the resurgence of bushcraft has resulted in a renaissance in axemanship of sorts.
Which brings us to the Hults Bruk Kisa. If you look at the Kisa online you will find it in the premium collection of axes and is classified as a medium felling axe. I considered it an all purpose axe, not very heavy so it can be carried camping, but big enough to do some serious cutting. The website even mentions that it is designed to cut and split medium sized wood but doesn’t give a size. The Kisa is a single bit axe with a poll (sometimes called butt) on the opposite side of the cutting edge. While the poll is not intended for striking metal objects they offer that it is well suited to driving tent stakes. My tent stakes are metal but driving them into the ground is usually not real difficult.
The head of the Kisa is listed as 2 lbs on the website and the stamping also indicates it is 2 lbs, however, the pamphlet attached to the axe list the head as 1.75 lbs. Either way, it is a fairly light axe. The total weight is listed as 2.85 lbs or 2 lb 13.6 oz and this was exactly what mine weighs with the sheath attached. The axe alone (with handle) weighs 2 lb 11 oz. The handle is American hickory and 26 inches in length. It is slightly curved in an elongated s shape with a nice swell at the grip end. There is a hole drilled into the end as well. I guess a lanyard could be attached but I’m guessing it is more for hanging the axe on a nail or something similar. The axe is approximately 7 inches from poll to bit (cutting edge). The bit is approximately 3 1/4 inches wide and the thickest place on the axe is the eye which is exactly 1 inch across. The sheath is made of heavy leather and is secured with a simple leather cord that relies on friction to stay in place.
When I first took the Kisa out of the box I was stuck by the beauty of the axe. This may seem like a silly thing to say but I have a soft spot for axes. I have used an axe nearly all my life but when we quit using a wood heater when I was about 30 I stopped using one as often. I still remember cutting firewood as a teenager and watching my grandpaw process the smaller limbs with his axe. It was a big double bit axe and he often used it one handed, feeding the limbs across a stump and usually cutting big 2 inch limbs with one stroke. He would let me use it occasionally and often would comment, you’re supposed to hit the limb in the same place. Eventually I became pretty proficient and my grandmaw gave me the axe after he passed (I was 18 years old at the time). It is one of my most prized possessions. I still like to get the axe out and clear dead trees or a fallen logs etc. Last summer I did just that with a dead tree that was in danger of falling. What would take a few minutes with a chainsaw took about half an hour but I enjoyed the physical labor and was reminded of those times with my grandpaw. The one downside to this old axe is that it is really too big for a camping ax.
Which leads back to the Kisa. I am impressed with the sharpness of the blade. I decided to see if it would shave my arm hair and was surprised that it would. The hairs didn’t jump off my arm and there was quite a bit of pulling but it did shave. I like the heft of the axe as well. It is much smaller than my double bit axe which has a 35 inch handle so I’ll have to adjust my swing but it feels good in my hand using either a single or two handed grip. I decided to take the axe out for some photos for this report. First order of business was finding out if I could attach the the axe to my pack, especially since I need hiking poles when hiking for my bad knees. I found I could pass the handle down through the ice axe loop and then twist the axe up. This tightened the loop enough to hold the axe and I used the side compression straps to keep it held in position. I went on a short 2 mile hike and it stayed in place unless I took the axe off, which I did to take a few photos. I didn’t cut anything and will save that for my next update. Below are a few photos of the Hults Bruk Kisa.
That’s all for now, stay tuned for my next update to see how the axe performs.