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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is an Esteel tang chisel in mint condition. The handle is a beautiful piece of masur birch.
They got a little sloppy with the shellac at the factory.
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.
The brass ferrule at the bottom of the handle is knurled with two rows of fine diagonal stripes leaning to the right.
The blade on this Esteel chisel has the “Eskilstuna Garanti” stamp on it.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
All four blades have fairly deep ridges ground into them (both front and back) from being aggressively ground across the blade.
From left to right the blade stamps are Eskilstunasteel Garanti, Esteel, Esteel, and Eskilstunasteel Garanti.
I put together this little chart to summarize my findings.
|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.
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. 🙂
The wooden bar is slid partly aside here.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Eskilstunasteel also made mortice chisels. The photos below show a 1/8″ mortice chisel with a beech handle and a Eskilstunasteel Garanti blade stamp.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The blade stamp is the typical Eskilstunasteel Gartanti stamp.
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.