On a new Hults Bruk's Kisa axe, the cheek isn't entirely smooth and has shallow indentations in it. The blade is nice and sharp, whole thing feels sturdy.

Where do these indentations in the cheek come from? Are they a sign of issues with quality, or is it normal to see imperfections in the cheek in hand forged axe heads?

Here are some pictures: Picture 1 of fissures and shallow indentations in axe head Picture 2 of fissures and shallow indentations in axe head

2 Answers 2


That just looks like forge scale. Those axes are hand forged and during the process oxides build up on the surface of the metal and if flakes of scale get picked up on the head of the hammer (probably a power hammer in this case) they can get driven into the surface of the steel making a shallow indent.

You can also get texture where the scale falls off in some places but not others.

Axes are pretty overbuilt in terms of material thickness so shallow indents like this on the surface won't make any difference to its performance, strength or durability, especially considering that the stamping is a lot deeper than those pits.

A lot of the steel in an axe head is there to make up weight and provide the correct geometry, in fact in many traditional styles use a 3 layer laminated construction with the bulk of the head made up by wrought iron or mild steel to economise on tools steel which was, historically, very expensive.

  • Overbuilt in terms of metal strength yes, they are far too bulky to split apart, but not overbuilt for their use. The amount of metal is for driving the wedge deeply into the wood you are cutting. You need that bulk to to drive it.
    – Escoce
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:52

Looks like scaling to me, the way scaling is dealt with when forging depends a bit on the composition of the metal and the heat that is used (lots of heat=lots of scaling, you can eat away a lot of the material just in scaling if you work too hot). Normally after you acquire practice working scaling wont be a problem. These days "hand made" forging doesn't necessarily mean a guy hammering away on the piece over an anvil. Its usually open die forging: the guy moves the piece from one hydraulic hammer to the other, as each has a different shaped head and the metal can spread at the sides, until the final shape is obtained. That's opposed to the close die forging where there is a die with the final product shape and the metal is formed into it by one single hammer and this one can be all automated. They both are forms of drop forging but the first one often falls into the "hand forged" just because there's a worker moving the piece to shape it.

While scaling can be just a surface thing, so it wont matter much and can still be removed by you (and btw, some can be left on purpose as hand made sort of aesthetic reason), what would worry me is what is visible in your first picture, right at the back of the ground edge, forming a sort of C, it seems like the edge of a rather big chip (unless its just the picture that fools the eye). Can be that is somehow fused or a proper crack, its hard to say on the ground side because grinding moves the metal over a bit but it shows the depth of it.enter image description here

Also the darker corner (up and left) on the edge would make me think that they started grinding there and it got too hot while doing the rest. Others might have different opinions on that.

  • Thanks for the keen eye about coloration on the grind. The darker corner is just the picture fooling the eye iirc, reflecting something in the room on the edge. The highlighted circle might be a chip or crack however, I gotta take another look and I'll let you know what I find.
    – cr0
    Apr 11, 2016 at 1:39
  • What looked like a big chip is not - it is smooth. There is a dark streak in the ground edge, which some of your arrows highlight, but otherwise it feels good in that area and the rest of the edge is fairly uniform in color/texture. Good detailed eye anyway, thanks!
    – cr0
    Apr 13, 2016 at 20:22

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