Eskilstunasteel Garanti & Esteel Chisels

Eskilstunasteel was founded in Torshälla, Sweden in 1936. Torshälla is one of Sweden’s oldest towns. It is located north of the city of Eskilstuna and belongs to the Eskilstuna municipality. Torshälla is well known for steel manufacturing which revolved around its Nyby Bruk steel mill.

Torshälla_Map_WP_550px_21

Information on Eskilstunasteel is sparse. It seems that it never became a large manufacturing facility, like Berg or Jernbolaget. At their peak, it appears that they employed around 24 people.

The owner of the Eskilstunasteel in 1955 was Gösta Petersson. He may have also been the original founder in 1936.

Records in the Eskilstuna city archives indicate that Eskilstunasteel had a trade union that was active from 1944 until around 1960. This makes sense, since Bahco bought Eskilstunasteel around 1960.

The Eskilstunasteel factory made edge tools including chisels, wood carving chisels, plane blades, metal bench planes, leather knives, rubber knives, and linoleum knives.

Eskilstunasteel had three recognizeable  brands — “Eskilstunasteel Garanti”, “Esteel”, and “Gensco”. This post will focus on Eskilstunasteel Garanti and Esteel brand chisels. I will cover Gensco chisels in a separate post.

I’m not sure what distinguishes the Eskilstunasteel Garanti brand from the Esteel brand of chisel. There seems to be some overlap, although I get the impression that Eskilstuna Garanti may have been Eskilstunasteel’s earliest brand of of chisels.

Here is an Eskilstunasteel Garanti tang chisel with a decal on the handle (the one in the middle). This is the only example I’ve seen of an Eskilstunasteel Garanti decal so far. The photos below are small, but it is clear that the chisel is the typical Swedish style.

Eskilstunasteel Garanti Decal a1

Eskilstunasteel Garanti Decal a2

 

The chisel handle appears to be plain birch. Most of the Eskilstunasteel chisels that I’ve seen with wooden handles are made of masur (curly) birch. The hoop at the top of the handle is pierced and has a replacement nail crudely pounded into it. The decal is rectangular and very plain. It says “ESKILSTUNASTEEL” at the top, “GARANTI” in the middle, and ESKILSTUNA-SWEDEN” at the bottom. The bottom stroke of the “E” in “ESKILSTUNA” is elongated and extends beneath the “S” and the “K”. The frequent use of “Eskilstuna” apparently refers to the municipality of Eskilstuna and not the city since the manufacturing facility was in Torshälla.

Eskilstunasteel Garanti Decal a3

 

I do not have a photo of the blade stamp on the chisel above. However, the typical Eskilstunasteel Garanti blade stamp for a narrow chisel like that looks like this.

Esteel Garanti Small Blade Stamp 600px a1

 

The Eskilstunasteel Garanti blade stamp for a chisel with a wider blade looks like this — essentially the same as the decal on the handle shown above.

Eskilstunasteel Esteel Decal 600px a3

 

Here is an Esteel tang chisel in mint condition. The handle is a beautiful piece of masur birch.

Esteel Garanti Decal 600px a1

 

They got a little sloppy with the shellac at the factory.

Esteel Garanti Decal 600px a4

 

The decal is crisp and clear and reads “ESKILSTUNA STEEL” (top), “ESTEEL” (middle), and “MADE IN SWEDEN” (bottom). The steel hoop at the top is pierced and had two small nails holding it in place.

Esteel Garanti Decal 600px b1

 

The brass ferrule at the bottom of the handle is knurled with two rows of fine diagonal stripes leaning to the right.

Esteel Garanti Decal 600px b2

 

The blade on this Esteel chisel has the “Eskilstuna Garanti” stamp on it.

Esteel Garanti Decal 600px a6

 

These two Esteel chisels looks a lot like the one shown above, although they are longer and show more wear. They also have the plain “Esteel” stamps on their blades.

Esteel 2 Tang Chisels 600px a1

Esteel 2 Tang Chisels 600px a2

Esteel 2 Tang Chisels 600px a3

 

These chisels show the two common variations of the Esteel blade stamps, one for a wider chisel (top) and one for a narrower chisel (bottom).

Esteel Blade Stamps 600px a1

 

While working on this post and examining  numerous chisels, I started noticing a few variations in the Esteel and the Eskilstuna Garanti chisels. I put 4 of my own chisels side-by-side for comparison and made a few notes.

Eskilstunasteel Compare 4 600px a3

 

The first three handles (L to R) are masur birch, but the one on the far right is beech. All three steel hoops are pierced and held in place with small nails. All three decals are transfer-style Esteel decals.

Eskilstunasteel Compare 4 600px a1

 

The knurling on the brass ferrules vary considerably. From left to right: fine vertical, very fine left diagonal, coarse right diagonal, and coarse vertical. I found this same sort of variation in ferrules in my boxed set of 8 Esteel chisels, so I suspect that it’s not related to date or blade stamp (i.e. Eskilstunasteel Garanti versus Esteel stamp).

Esteel compare 4 600px b1

 

All four blades have fairly deep ridges ground into them (both front and back) from being aggressively ground across the blade.

Eskilstunasteel Compare 4 600px a2

Eskilstunasteel Compare 4 600px a5

 

From left to right the blade stamps are Eskilstunasteel Garanti, Esteel, Esteel, and Eskilstunasteel Garanti.

Esteel compare 4 600px b3

 

I put together this little chart to summarize my findings.

Style Handle Hoop Decal Ferrule Blade Stamp
Tang Masur Birch N/A N/A Brass – 2 Verticals Fine Eskilstunasteel | Garanti | Eskilstuna-Sweden
Tang Masur Birch Steel, Hole, Nail Esteel, 80% Brass – 2 Diagonals Left Very Fine Esteel | Sweden
Tang Masur Birch Steel, Hole, Nail Esteel, 20% Brass – 2 Diagonals Right Coarse Esteel | Sweden
Tang Beech Steel, Hole, Nail Esteel, 60% Brass – 2 Verticals Med Eskilstunasteel | Made in Sweden

 

So far, I have only seen one style of wooden boxes for housing sets of Esteel chisels. Here is an example, a boxed set of 8 Eskilstunasteel chisels with Esteel decals on the handles and Eskilstuna Garanti stamps on the blades. This box has seen better days, although the Esteel decal is good and almost complete.

Esteel My Boxed Set 600px a3

 

The chisels on the right side of the box are held in place by a sliding wooden bar. This helps when opening and closing the box … a bit. 🙂

Esteel My Boxed Set 600px a1

 

The wooden bar is slid partly aside here.

Esteel My Boxed Set 600px a2

 

All of the handles are made from beautiful masur birch. Most of the decals are still present, with a few being 100% intact. All of the steel hoops are pierced and held in place with small nails. The knurling on the brass ferrules varies considerably. From left to right the knurling is: very fine right diagonal, very fine right diagonal, coarse vertical, coarse vertical, fine right diagonal, very fine right diagonal, coarse right diagonal, coarse right diagonal.

Esteel My Boxed Set 600px a4

 

All of the blades are stamped with Eskilstunasteel Garanti stamps, most of which are clearly legible. There are no deep ridges ground into the blades as was seen earlier. They are much shallower and less noticeable.

Esteel My Boxed Set 600px a5

 

Esteel 8 Set Blade Stamps 600px b1

Esteel 8 Set Blade Stamps 600px b2

 

Here are the two variations of the Eskilstunasteel Garanti stamps. I included the blade in the middle because that particular blade stamp was etched rather than being pressed in.

Esteel My Boxed Set 600px a6

 

Esteel Brand chisels with tangs appear to be more common than the socket type. Below is a nice example of an 8-piece set of Esteel socket chisels. A couple of things stand out right away. First, the handles appear to be beech rather than masur birch or plain birch. Second, the decals on the handles look smaller than the decals on the the Esteel tang chisels. I haven’t seen this set in person, or another other complete Esteel socket chisels either. That makes it hard to draw any  general conclusions at this time about them.

Esteel 8 Sockets 600px1

 

As an aside, I notice that the wooden boxes for the sets of 8 Esteel chisels are the same as this wooden box used by Jernbolaget.

Jern 8 Piece Box 600px a1

 

I do have one Esteel socket chisel blade with no handle. This chisel has the squared-off socket lip at the top as is often seen on socket chisels made in Eskilstuna.

Esteel Socket Chisels 600px b1

Esteel Socket Chisels 600px b2

Esteel Socket Chisels 600px b3

 

Eskilstunasteel also made mortice chisels. The photos below show a 1/8″ mortice chisel with a beech handle and a Eskilstunasteel Garanti blade stamp.

Eskilstunasteel Garanti Mortice 600px a2

Eskilstunasteel Garanti Mortice 600px a1

 

Esteel eventually went over to the dark side and began producing chisels with plastic handles. Here is an example of an Esteel chisel with a reddish yellow cellulose acetate handle. This is the only example that I have seen so far, so I suspect that these chisels are not common. There appears to be some paint on the handle and the color and transparency of the plastic may have changed with age. It’s hard to know precisely what the handle looked like when it was new.

Esteel Plastic Handle TL 600px b4

 

Other than the color and the clarity of the plastic, this handle looks like the clear yellow plastic handle below it on the Gensco chisels that Eskilstunasteel introduced in the early 1950s.

Esteel Plastic Handle TL 600px b3

Gensco Yellow Plastic 600px a1

 

Here we can see “ESTEEL” imprinted on the plastic handle in raised letters. I don’t know if the white paint is original to the handle or not.

Esteel Plastic Handle TL 600px b2

 

The chisel tang appears to be squared off and tapered — wider at the bottom than the top. The tang and the bolster both look sturdy. There is no sign of fracturing in the plastic.

Esteel Plastic Handle TL 600px b1

 

The blade stamp is the typical Eskilstunasteel Gartanti stamp.

Esteel Plastic Handle TL 600px b5

 

Eventually Eskilstunasteel began producing Esteel chisels with the common red plastic cellulose acetate butyrate handles. They didn’t copy the Berg handle design, although perhaps they should have.  Although I have never tried using Esteel chisels with this handle shape, they look very clunky to me.

Esteel Red Plastic 600px a1  Esteel Red Plastic 600px a3

 

This photo shows the Esteel blade stamp laid out on chisels of varying widths.Esteel Red Plastic 600px a2

9 comments on “Eskilstunasteel Garanti & Esteel Chisels
  1. Randall Nelson says:

    Terrific job, Glen. A lot to think about- it looks like Eskilstunasteel was the company name and Esteel was just the shortened version of the same thing. Any sign of the yellow handles that Berg and Gensco were using being used on Esteel chisels? Geographically,have you been able to get any idea where the Esteel brand was being pushed? In 30 years, I had never seen them until 2 years ago when several lots appeared on Ebay. I’m guessing that’s when you got your boxed set. I have several of the blades, stamped Garanti, but none with an original handle or sticker. Thanks for the hard work.

    • Birch says:

      Thanks, Randall.

      I haven’t seen any Eskilstunasteel Garanti or Esteel chisels with yellow plastic handles yet. A day later, I saw photos of a reddish-yellow plastic (cellulose acetate) chisel handle with “ESTEEL” stamped on it in raised letters. The chisel is owned by our friend Thomas in Denmark. I have now added photos of this chisel to the above post.

      Almost all of my Eskilstunasteel Garanti and Esteel chisels come from Canadian sources, including one from a local garage sale. They seem quite common in Canada. Gensco chisels, however, seem much more common in the US.

  2. Russ S says:

    Hi Glen. Nice post and fantastic attention to detail!

    I can add just a few things.

    The owner of Eskilstunasteel in 1955 was Gösta Petersson (I think we must have seen the same site!). I have some Eskilstunasteel guarantee chisels with the rectangular yellow label with a black border. I bought a set of eight in a finger-jointed (not routed) wooden box from the great grandson of the original owner, who I was told worked in the 1930s. I also think the yellow/black border label is older than the gold octagonal decal.

    The (probably) newer label was established at least by 1957, as the original owner of an Esteel #5 plane (w/ red plastic handles) with that emblem told me he received it when he finished his carpenter education that year.

    Eskilstunasteel also made mortice chisels, at least in four sizes up to ½ inch with beec handles, the newer label and ‘Esteel.’ I’ve only ever seen one set of these, so I think they are uncommon. One has to wonder why they made mortice chisels in the 1950s – I don’t think many people were chopping mortices by hand by then. Maybe they were sold as lathe tools.

    Eskilstunasteel maded Bailey-style planes at least in sizes 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 75 and 78. One type has ‘Esteel’ cast into the lever cap in a rectangular recess just like a standard Stanley plan, with brown handles. Another type (probably from the late 1950s) also has Esteel cast into the lever cap, but in a broken diamond-shaped octagonal recess, similar to the gold-colored stickers on some Esteel chisels. This type has a glittery-shiny red handle, the same color as the Jernbolaget plane handles from the late 1950s. The 75-size rebate plane is painted light blue and has the newer-looking gold broken diamond emblem sticker.

    In addition to the brands you name, Eskilstunasteel also made the ‘Handy’ brand of planes and chisels. I’ve seen a #3 plane box marked ‘Eskilstunasteel, Torshälla” as well as “Handy”. But ‘Handy’ in 2013 is also a brand belonging to the Finish company Hackman, which sold chisels in Sweden starting in the early 1960s under the Hackman and Woodpecker labels. But maybe the current ‘Handy’ brand from Hackman has nothing to do with Handy chisels from a half a century ago.

    My Eskilstunasteel and Esteel chisels are basically identical to Berg chisels.

    Cheers!

    Russ

    • Birch says:

      Thanks, Russ.

      If you ever have the opportunity and the inclination, I would really like to see some photos of your Eskilstuna Garanti chisels with the yellow labels and black borders.

      I found a couple of photos of a Eskilstunasteel Garanti mortice chisel and have added them to my post. I’ll continue to keep on the alert for Eskilstunasteel mortice chisels.

      I had a couple of Esteel metal bench planes pass through my hands before I knew anything about Eskilstunasteel. I wish that I had kept them now.

      That is very interesting information about Handy chisels and planes. I’ll remember that when I do a post on Handy chisels.

      Cheers!

  3. Russ S says:

    Hi.

    Yeah, I’ll send some photos when I have access to my tools again, which unfortunately won’t be for a while. But the one picture you have tells the story well. I have a few stickers in better condition, but I could almost swear they had a black border, not blue. I spent a long time inspecting them. But memory can be a tricky thing. I’ll get back to you.

    Best regards,

    Russ

  4. Randall Nelson says:

    Glen: Do you have any Gensco chisels with wooden handles? If so, would it be possible to take a picture of them beside the Esteel and Eskilstunasteel chisels you already posted, for comparison of the design of the handles? Also- the small Esteel tang chisel with the Beechwood handle- that is a Solliden style handle. So easy to spot, once you know what to look for! That same source is also where all the ferrules with course vertical knurling came from that they used for some of the chisels in your boxed set. Hopefully someone will know where they came from, eventually!

  5. Birch says:

    I have one Gensco chisel with a partial handle made of very gnarly masur birch. It isn’t a very good example to compare. When I get a better one, I’ll be happy to do that comparison.

    Yes. That beech handle on the Eskilstunasteel Garanti mortice chisel is definitely Solliden style.

  6. James Milne says:

    Hi,

    I recently purchased two Esteel chisels with yellow plastic handles and the Eskilstunasteel Garanti blade stamps you mention (one the thinner blade and one the thicker – though the thicker is very faint). If you send me your e mail contact I would be pleased to send you some photos for your page.
    Best regards

  7. Birch says:

    Thanks. It would be great to see photos of the two Esteel chisels.

    I sent you an email with my email address. It can also be found on the “Contact” page.

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