Swedish chisels from E. A. Berg

Vintage chisels from Sweden are usually quite exceptional due in part to Swedish steel. Some of the most common Swedish chisels found in North America are those manufactured by Erik Anton Berg (E.A.Berg) manufacturing company, founded in the town of Eskilstuna. The company was founded in 1880, and made straight razors. In 1896 a catalog shows the introduction of woodworking tools such as chisels, knives and plane irons. Eventually the company was bought by Sandvik. In the 1950’s the chisels were being cold in the U.S. under the “Shark Brand” by Sandvik Saw & Tool. They were advertised as being “genuine Swedish charcoal steel hardened and tempered”. The company was sold in the late 1950s to Swedish company Bahco, and which was itself bought by Sandvik in 1991. Eskilstuna was the home to a number of tool manufacturers. Unfortunately little can be found in English relating to the historical Swedish tool industry.

Here is an example of the label usually found on a E.A.Berg chisel. When the company first started, the logo was apparently a Wels catfish, although it later changed to the ubiquitous shark shown below.

bergLabel

An example of the blade markings of an E.A.Berg chisel (left), and that of another manufacturer from Eskilstuna – EskilstunaSteel.

bladeTM

A comparison of various E. A. Berg logos can be found on Kim Malmberg’s Flickr site. Compared side-by-side the chisels look very similar. They both have brass ferrules, although that of E.A. Berg has more refined offset knurlings, versus the vertical knurlings of the EskilstunaSteel chisel.

brassCollars

Brass ferrules of E.A.Berg versus EskilstunaSteel

The handles are extremely similar. It is said that the higher end chisels had handles manufactured by a company that used birch, and the cheaper chisels by a company that used beech. The cheaper looking ferrule on the EskilstunaSteel chisel may substantiate this somewhat.

chiselHandles

Cost-wise, Jim Bode Tools has a number of sets for sale, with a 6-piece set ranging in price from US$500-700.

NB: Here is an ad for chisels in Post magazine, circa 1953.

adLife1953

A good progressive study of E.A. Berg plane irons can be found here.

 

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7 thoughts on “Swedish chisels from E. A. Berg

  1. Michael Hogg says:

    Sir,
    Interesting article. I have found a plane which has an AE Berg cutter in it – and the lever cap of the plane has ornate markings (shield shape) on it with a capital “E'” in the centre. I cannot find the Make/ brand anywhere on the plane (other than on the blade and the lever cap) and was wondering if it is an EA Berg plane made in Eskilstuna. I have not found any reference anywhere to EA Berg manufacturing Planes – only plane irons. Since you have done a bit of research on the chisles – I was wondering if you haven’t come across reference to an Eskilstuna or EA Berg Plane??? Any clues would be helpful.

    • spqr says:

      Hi,
      E.A.Berg made a lot of tools, including pliers. There is an article on wkfinetools, which shows some plane cutters, so I imagine they manufactured them. However, I have not seen any planes from E.A.Berg. They were likely the supplier of blades to other manufacturers. A good example is JPBO (Johan P Bendixen, Odense), a Danish manufacturer of plane bodies – there was no steel production in Denmark, so they obtained their blades from Sweden and the U.K.

      An example can be found here (on eBay of all places!)

  2. Ian Boersma (Tasmania) says:

    I have just purchased a set of 5 matching E A Berg chisels with the blue label intact and legible on each, but the brass ferrules are of the two different sorts as pictured. So I don’t think it is true that E A Berg’s handles always had the fine patterned ferrules.

    • spqr says:

      It’s possible they didn’t. That’s the problem with doing these studies – there is very little information out there on some of the tools, so sometimes you just have to speculate based on the information at hand. It is possible such information is available in Swedish somewhere???

  3. Kim Malmberg says:

    E:A Berg never manufactured hand planes. They made plane irons for all kind of planes, knives, leather working tools, both cutters, splitting wedges, pliers, straight razors and chisels as well as some specialty tools for the army.

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