Juhana Salonen Puukko Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was hand made by Finnish knifemaker Juhana Salonen, living and working in Jämsä, a town 90 km east of Tampere.

Technical data

blade:
length 97 mm
width 21,5 mm
thickness 2,8 mm at spine; 4,2 mm at bevels junction
tang 3×6 mm thick at peening
steel ThysseKrupp 80CrV2
grind flat
edge angle 20° with tiny microbevel
edge hardness ~ 62 HRC

handle:
length 105 mm
wideness 27 mm max.
thickness 19 mm max.

weight:
knife 92 g
with sheath 140 g

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Overview

The blade was forged by hand held hammer from a bar of 80CrV2. It has a rhombic section, tapered in height and sporting a dropped point. After annealing and normalization it was heated in the gas forge, quenched in oil and tempered in an electric oven. The blade is hardened so to leave the spine softer. The bevels are ground to 20°.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between bronze bolsters, 4 mm front and 5 mm back. It’s sanded to a fine grit, giving the handle a very smooth and soft feel. It’s slightly tapered in height and very little in thickness towards the blade. The section is a marked, almost triangular, teardrop and fills the hand well

The sheath is crafted from 2 mm thick leather. It’s hand stitched, with the mouth folded inside holding the knife tightly but not so much as to be difficult to unsheath. Inside there is a birch liner, carved and than sanded. The belt loop is fixed with a bronze ring. The belt loop itself is closed by a seam.

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In use

When the puukko first arrived it was shaving sharp, but I also detected few asperity on the edge, that I eventually fixed with a few light passes on #1200 stone and few minutes of stropping with green compound.

During my usual spikkentroll carving, again from a dry piece of plane wood, it was necessary to cut through a knot during the roughing. Nothing in particular to signal during the roughing nor the finishing cuts. The puukko had a good and quite deep bite when roughing and a gentle flick when finishing. The handle, though shorter and a little bit slimmer than what I’m used to, is really comfortable and quick in the hand. At the end of the work the edge was pristine and still shaving.

During the silver fir roughing carving the puukko had a regular and homogeneous bite, leaving a glossy finish. I found this puukko particularly inclined to gliding cuts. The handle proved again very comfortable, firm and quick. At the end of the roughing the edge was pristine and the bite just slightly diminished.

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No particular problems also during all the finishing cuts. A couple of times it had a bit of struggle to engage the wood when cutting against the grain and once I felt the spine a bit painful during a thumb push to support a pivoting cut. Again it proved very agile, quick and easy in the hand. At the end of the work the edge was pristine and the bite wasn’t decreased in any detectable manner.

Conclusions

In the very first days of use I saw a slight tendency to microchip, that disappeared after few stropping sessions. It might have a been a very last residue of burr.
Generally speaking the heat treatment, geometry and handle ergonomics are all well executed. The steel performed how I expected it to and the handle, though, as already said, slimmer and shorter than what I normally use, was always graceful to use.

Also, since it has a rather marked pommel I used the chest lever grip a lot to test eventual problems. It indeed lodges itself in the wrist-arm junction, but despite all my good efforts I wasn’t able to detect any annoyance. I just felt its presence.

Its proportions and light weight make this puukko a very great carver, with a keen eye on style and clean form, without loosing practicality or comfort, something really positive, given the trend seen lately to go for thinner and slimmer proportions every time, searching for the coolest and most polished style.

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Henri Tikkanen

“I’m from the rural area of Southern-Savonia,the former municipality of Virtasalmi, that is part of municipality of Pieksämäki nowadays. Usually, puukko is a very common tool in daily tasks in the Finnish countryside and young people are taught to use it at an early age. My first memory of puukko, that has been imprinted on my mind as a small child, was a miniature puukko from Kauhava my father showed me. He had gotten it as a gift when he was a child. It sure pleased the eye of a young boy with its shiny blade and noble looking horse headed rear bolster. When I was 6 years old I got my first knife, a small folding knife and that was probably the first knife I tried whittle with. When I reached age of 14 I started hunting and that’s how I got more familiar with the puukko and, instead of casual whittling for fun, I also got to experience handling game with it and so on.

My true interest in Finnish puukkos started when I was studying in artisan crafts school in Mikkeli. I found out that forging steel was my “thing” because what could be a more interesting object to forge than a blade, I developed a passion for making puukkos. My first puukko blades however resembled something like a cross between screwdrivers and butter knives, but as time went by, my skills started to improve. When I was 17, I got my own gas operated forge in my home.

In the third year of artisan craft school, when students got more chances to do their independent projects, I specialized in forging and my views toward puukkos and their shapes got more detailed. I’m thankful for my teachers Mr. Murto and Mr. Piiroinen who taught me the many ways of handling steel as an material.I also received very important information and details from well-known puukko smith Mikko Inkeroinen, who was a regular visitor in our school’s workshop. Thanks to him, I developed a special interest in traditional shape of puukko blades.

I live in town of Pieksämäki today, but I still visit my childhood home almost daily where my workshop is located as well as my main job in father’s company of canning and smoking game meat.

Most knives I’ve been making now are Tommi, maasepänpuukko, karjalanpuukko, housewife’s knife and kuosmalanpuukko. Karjalanpuukko is one of my favourite puukkos, it’s based on early 20th century’s eastern-karelian knives in the collection of The Finnish National Museum. As far as I know, I’m the only knife maker in Finland to make them today. Kuosmalanpuukko carries the name of my home village Kuosmala. It’s designed by me as an tribute for Kuosmala, there is no previous known puukko model in this area, so I’m proud of having created one.

I’ve also started to gain more interest toward factory made puukko design of the 1930-1950’s era. I make my blades mostly from old files and springs, like black smiths in the countryside of Finland traditionally used to do. But just like in everything, it’s good to broaden our views, so I’m planning on testing synthetic materials for grips in the near future.

As a knife maker, my goal is to improve my skills and learn more and more as well as expand my knife making, which is the thing that keeps the passion high.”

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Henri Tikkanen

 

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Tommi Mäkelä Puukko Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was hand made by Finnish knifemaker Tommi Mäkelä, who works full time for Lauri Metalli Oy in Kauhava.

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Technical data

blade:
length 93 mm
wideness 19 mm
thickness 3 mm at spine; 3,25 mm at bevels junction
tang 5×5 mm thick at peening
steel Thyssen Krupp 80CrV2
grind flat
edge angle 17° with tiny microbevel
edge hardness ~ 64 HRC

handle:
length 105 mm
wideness 28 mm max.
thickness 21 mm max.

weight:
knife 96 g
with sheath 152 g

Overview

The blade is a modified Lauri PT blade, so to give it a very subtle rhombic section. It isn’t tapered in height nor in thickness, while the sides are lightly sanded towards the spine and the bevels are thinned down to a more acute angle. As for all PT blades, the bevels went through induction hardening so to achieve 64 HRC at the edge. The bevels are ground to 17 ° and the edge has a tiny micro bevel.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between bronze bolsters, a Lauri made 3 mm thick front one and a self made 4 mm back one. The handle was then heated in oven so to allow the bark oil to glue all together. It’s sanded to a fine grit and it’s tapered in width and thickness towards the blade, with the pommel higher than the bolster and the thickness diminishing from the center towards the blade. It has an subtle teardrop section, and fills well the hand.

The sheath was hand stitched from 1.8 mm thick cowhide. It has a birch protective liner, the blade slot was carved then the outer shape was sanded. The belt loop is fixed with a bronze ring, The loop itself is closed by a brass rivet.

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In use

When it first arrived it was hair popping sharp, though, since I felt the edge was slightly rough in few points I stropped it a little with both black and green compound.

Let’s start with our usual spikkentroll, this time from a piece of plane wood. There isn’t much to tell about this, since the puukko had always a great bite for roughing cuts and good nimbleness for refining ones. Nothing to say about the handle other than just plain comfortable. At the end of the work I felt two very tiny microchips in the first half of the edge, which also lost some bite, but still managed to shave. I just gave it a quick strop with green compound.

During the carving of the silver fir spatula the puukko again proved to have a great attitude as a wood carving machine. Again I experienced a great deal of bite, a good nimbleness and precision. Surely it’s one of the fastest carvers I have, the only moment in which it struggled a little was when finishing the roughing of the belly between the spreader and the shaft. No problem with the handle whatsoever. At the end of the work the edge was pristine, the bite was lower but still able to shave.
Same feelings during the finishing cuts, though the loss of bite was perceivable when doing planing to adjust the thickness and wideness of the shaft. At the end of the work the edge was still pristine and was still able to shave, but needing more pressure to be applied.

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Conclusions

Given the rather thin stock, the acute edge and the very high edge hardness it’s not surprising that the edge is slightly prone to microchips, though I got some only when carving though knots. Generally speaking I was extremely positively impressed by the resilience and edge holding this combination of geometry and heat treatment managed to pull off. The edge holding is comparable to the one I have on other puukkos in the same steel, but with a 20-21° edge and a final hardness of 62 HRC.
The handle, though a bit shorter, but not slimmer, than what I’m normally used to is very comfortable and allows the puukko great agility and nimbleness. Plus it’s tapered towards the blade starting from a rather generous pommel, allowing for a good deal of power and effective leverage when carving with chest lever grip.
So, to sum it up, this puukko is smaller than the majority I’ve tried and handled and, being so much carving oriented, I don’t really see it as a single tool for bushcraft, in its most recent concept of searching for a “one tool option”. But it will get you plenty covered for anything wood working related, being a spoon or a pot hanger.

 

Teemu Häkkilä: TH-Puukot

Teemu Häkkilä – TH-Puukot

“I am a 25-year-old full-time knife maker from Finland, from Nivala in Northern Ostrobothnia. I have made knives for almost 10 years already. Knife making has been my job for a little bit over than a year now, after I graduated Engineer of Industrial Management. Knife making is my passion and that is what I want to do. I make lots of other products too, for example fishing lures, leather belts, cheese slicers etc. But knives are my main product. Most of my knives are Puukkos but sometimes I make for example Leukus, chef knives, kiridashes etc. Nowadays most of my knives are custom ordered and waiting time is about 1–2 months. I don’t have much time for my hobbies – fishing and cross country skiing – because knife making takes all my time.

We haven’t had knife makers in our family but we all have been very handy. My whole life I have always made something with my own hands. I became interested in knives when I was in eighth grade. We made one knife at school and I liked it so much that I started to make knives at home too. I just read lots of knife making books and watched videos online. So I am pretty much self-taught.After I practiced knife making more, people started to ask if they could buy some knives from me. A few years later it was time to start my own company.

First I had only hand tools but then I bought more and more machines and tools every year. Now I have a pretty well-equipped and large workshop where it’s good to make knives as well as other wood, metal and leather works. I make all my blades myself and I like to use lots of different steels. I use carbon steels and stainless steels and I have programmable ovens for heat treating. I also make damascus blades with different patterns. I sell blades separately too and many times blades are made after customer’s wishes.

One and a half year ago I became interested in wood stabilizing. I bought all equipment for stabilizing and started to use my own woods in my knives. First I stabilized blocks for my own use only but then I started to sell blocks too. Now many makers use my woods in their knives and I have gotten very good feedback for my blocks. Stabilizing is a very interesting technique because I can use for example many beautiful spalted woods after stabilizing them. Stabilized wood is my favorite material for knife handle because it’s beautiful, easy to finish and strong material which stands the test of time.

In my area there are not so many traditional knife models. Only one that I know is Kalajokilaaksopuukko. But I have not made any of those because that knife style is not my cup of tea. Instead, last year I designed a puukko model for my home town when it turned 150 years. It’s called Nivala-Puukko.

I believe I have my own style in knives which people can recognize. My style is pretty simple. I don’t like to decorate too much and I like straight lines in my knives. I don’t make any traditional knife models. Traditional materials are always good but I like very much to try something new and test different materials and new shapes too. My goal is to make high quality knives for my customers with my own style. And I always try my best and try to develop my skills and working methods. I believe you are never ready as knifemaker because there is always something you can make better.”

You can find more of my works at my websites thpuukot.com, Facebook and Instagram.”

Teemu

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Teemu Häkkilä

 

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“A puukko model for my home town when it turned 150 years. It’s called Nivala-Puukko.”

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Saku Honkilahti Puukko Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was crafted by Saku Honkilahti, in his own words “the captain of the rehabilitation squad in my company” and knifemaker for passion, living in Jalasjärvi, a town 80 km south of Kauhava.

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blade
length 104 mm
width 23 mm
thickness 3,5 mm at the spine; 4,5 mm at bevels junction
tang 7×4 mm at the pommel
steel ThyssenKrupp 80CrV2
bevels flat
edge angle 23°, with tiny microbevel
hardness ~ 62 HRC

handle
length 113 mm
width 31 mm max.
thicknes 23 mm

weight
knife 150 g
with sheath 200 g

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Overview

The blade was forged by hand held hammer from a bar of 80CrV2. It has a bland rhombic section, slightly tapered in height and sporting a clipped point. After annealing and normalization it was heated in the gas forge, quenched in canola oil and tempered in an electric oven. The blade is hardened on its entire height and half way down the tang. The bevels are ground to 23°.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between two 5 mm bronze bolsters. It’s sanded to a fine grit, giving the handle a very smooth feel. It’s tapered in height and thickness towards the blade. The section is a bland and smooth teardrop and fills the hand well.

The sheath is crafted from 2 mm thick leather. It’s hand stitched, with the mouth folded inside and holds the knife perfectly. Inside there is a birch and pine liner, carved then sanded. The belt loop is fixed with a steel ring, which, compared to triangular ones, slightly loses in stability of the sheath during the carrying, but without becoming annoying. The wide belt loop itself is closed by a seam.

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In use

The first impression was that of a quite big and heavy puukko. When it first arrived the edge was a bit rough and the last 3 mm of the tip’s edge was thick enough to reflect light. So I sanded the tip with #2000 grit to thin the profile a little, then completely resharpen the puukko with #180, #325, #600, #1200 grit followed by stropping with black ad green compound. I heve also slightly sanded the spine corners since I felt them a bit too sharp for carving.

While carving the usual spikkentroll, from a plane wood branch, I felt the blade struggling a little to engage the wood in the very first cuts, I think also due to the steeper edge compared to other puukkos. Once established the cuts are clean and smooth. No problem during roughing nor in finishing. The handle, despite its proportions, didn’t feel stiff or too big. At the end of the work the edge was pristine, but the part closest to the handle, used the most, had lost the majority of the shaving bite. A quick stropped fixed it.

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At the beginning of the silver fir spatula carving the puukko had the tendency to slip and not bite that much when I was planing to get an even thickness on all four sides of the spatula. But again, after having established the cuts the bite was good. I felt the handle a little too big for my hands only when I was roughing the concave junction between the spreader and the shaft, with pull strokes using the thumb as fulcrum. At the end of the work the edge was pristine and the bite untouched.

All the refining procedure was surprisingly flawless and swift. Again good bite and the handle didn’t feel too big, during this part. Abundant, but not excessive. Nevertheless comfortable and allowed a good liveliness to the knife. Changing slightly the incidence angle to which I placed the edge I was able to improve also the performances on concave surfaces. At the end of the work the edge was still pristine and still shaving, though needed some more pressure.

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Conclusions

This is surely rather big and heavy for a puukko. Powerful, but less precise than others ground thinner. Its proportions make it more for general woods use rather than carving: it’s diametrically opposite to the Tommi Mäkelä puukko I tested in the same days, but it’s  comfortable and handy. The steeper geometry, which is actually only 1° steeper than Marttiini Ilves puukko, gives a lot of steel behind the edge, enhancing the resilience. I wasn’t able to roll or chip it so far and the edge holding is on par with other puukkos in the same steel and with the same hardness I own. The only issue I’ve noticed with this geometry is its struggle with “surface” cuts which needs a bit of time to get right. If a lot of work is to be done with the last portion of the edge close to the tip a stronger taper could improve the performances, but obviously loosing something in sturdiness. The handle, as said, manages to be handy and agile, despite its proportions and I think those with bigger hands would be able to exploit it even more.

 

Jari Liukko WIP

Kauhavalaisen korupuukon valmistus

Watch the step by step creation of a magnificent puukko by Jari Liukko:

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Jari Liukko Puukko Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was crafted by Jari Liukko, son of Arto Luikko, living and working in Savonlinna, in Southern Savo region, on the shores of Lake Saimaa. Both father and son are puukkoseppämestari.

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blade
length 99 mm
width 22,5 mm
thickness 3,5 mm at spine; 4,6 mm at bevels junction
tang 6×3 mm at the pommel
steel ThyssenKrupp 80CrV2
bevels flat
edge angle 19°, with tiny microbevel
hardness ~ 59 HRC

handle
length 110 mm
width 31,5 mm
thicknes 21,5 mm

weight
knife 108 g
with sheath 140 g

Overview

The blade was forged with hand held hammer from a bar of 80CrV2. It has a subtle rhombic section, tapered in height and thickness and sporting a slightly dropped, but acute, point. After annealing and normalization done with a blow torch, the blade was heated, again with blow torch, quenched in oil, then tempered once in oven. The blade is hardened so to leave the spine and tang softer. The bevels are ground to 19°.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between two 5 mm brass bolsters. After being peened it was put in oven at 100° C for an hour, getting rid of all the leftover moisture and using the birch oil as glue. It’s sanded to a fine grit, giving the handle a very smooth and velvety feeling. It’s tapered, rather strongly, both in height and thickness towards both ends. The section is a marked and kind of flattish teardrop that fills the hand well.

The sheath is crafted from 2 mm thick leather. It’s hand stitched and has a two sided liner, hand carved from black alder. The very first mm of leather is folded inside the mouth, giving a very strong retention, but not difficult to manage. The belt loop is fixed with a brass D-ring. The belt loop itself is closed by a brass button, sporting Liukko initials.

In use

Out of the box it was hair popping sharp, but I detected few asperity on the edge, so I stropped it with black and green compounds to get it perfectly smooth.

Let’s go with the usual tests. During the twig troll carving, from a dry piece of plane wood, the puukko was comfortable, precise and showed a good bite. While roughing out the hat I had to be careful not to cut away pieces of the top due to the very deep and aggressive bite. On the contrary, when cutting away the feathers just created the blade felt a little bit lacking on mass behind the edge, something I’ve experienced also with the Kullervo, which has a similar edge angle. When freeing the troll from the branch I had to cut part of a knot and when planing the actual base I either had to cut through the remaining of the knot or against the grain. Anyway I felt no problems, given the acute edge that bit always consistently. At the end of the work I could clearly feel three rolls trailing the nail along the edge portion that worked the knot and against the grain. This part alone wasn’t shaving anymore and was quickly fixed with some stropping with green compound.

Now, while carving the usual dry silver fir spatula, again I felt the puukko very comfortable, sporting a very good bite and being quick in planing cuts. While roughing out the sides with the chest lever grip I found out I couldn’t perform extremely long cuts: the edge tends to bite so deep it got stuck a few times, plus the bevels are so high the blade couldn’t really wedge the wood, if it’s gone too deep. Anyway, rocking the blade allowed me to get the blade free and getting back at removing wood. While working down the curved belly of the shaft, pulling the knife using the thumb as fulcrum, I was pleasantly surprised by the extreme quickness the blade had gliding in the fibers. At the end of all the roughing work the edge was pristine and still well shaving.

There is basically no story to tell about all the finishing cuts. The puukko has been comfortable, very fast, precise and effortless in every aspect.
At the end of the work the edge was still pristine, the first half cm next to the handle felt like it had lost some bite, but was still shaving anyway, like the rest of the blade.

Conclusions

Let’s start with a couple of necessary notes. This puukko has the finest looking and cleanest made sheath I’ve ever come across. Also, despite the bevels are slightly asymmetrical at the tip, I wasn’t able to notice it in actual use.

When I first held this puukko I was slightly dubious about the handle, due to its strong taper in both directions and rather flatted teardrop section, but it proved me wrong. Never had hot spots or discomfort during use and the strong tapers, paired with the flatter section, actually lead the puukko to melt particularly well in the hand. Also, the flatter section makes the knife impossible to rotate in the hand, something that can occur with a more oval section.

Plus, the combination of the chubby center and the slim ends, allowed for a particularly graceful transition from power cuts, exploiting the center, to nimble finishing cuts, gripping with the annular and pinkie finger the slim pommel end.
Speaking of blade performances, it was quite homogeneous. It sported a good capability in power cuts combined with a delightful nimbleness for finer works and finishing cuts. In power cuts, though, it was a bit less powerful compared to other puukkos with a little steeper edge and thus able to wedge more when necessary,
The steel had a slight tendency to roll, but I haven’t managed to chip it and so far stropping was plenty enough for maintaining it. I may just strengthen the microbevel a little in the future. I also have to add that in use the loss of bite wasn’t really perceivable. Given steel, geometry and hardness the resilience was like I expected it, while the actual edge holding was superior to my expectations. Top notch heat treatment.

So, let’s sum it up. This is really a particularly classy and elegant package, that some users may find excessive or even snobbish, depending on their own tastes. Given its acute edge I don’t see it suitable as a “one tool option” as trendy in modern bushcraft right now. I’d pair it with an hatchet and use it as a dedicated wood working knife, as puukkos are, after all.

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