Götz Breitenbücher – Götz Iron Works

Götz Breitenbücher:

“As far as I know I’m the first in my family to become a blacksmith. In 1991 I quit studying veterinary science to become a ferrier and started looking for a place to learn it, following the German apprentice system. An old ferrier told me: ‘Don’t do it: you`ll see four hooves for the rest of your life. Become a blacksmith first, then you can go for horses any time you want.’ That was indeed the best advice I’ve ever received.

During my three years of apprenticeship it turned out that I had talent for forging, so I started in Northern Germany with traditional forging; railings, stairs, roses – you name it. Then I also decided to teach myself blademaking. One day I attended a Viking re-enactment event and was hooked. Since then I mostly forge early medieval stuff. Mostly blades, but also tools and kitchenware etc.

I use a number of different steels, depending on the customer`s wishes and expectations. Tool steel like 2842 (K720 or O2), nickel/iron, sometimes meteorite. I do make a lot of steel myself and have come to like that best, even if it does not produce the same “showy” results, or perhaps because of that.

I do like to recycle steel and iron. We have here an abundance of absolutely lovely old steel (mining chisels, 18th century) and also “real” iron, often bloomery, from the 16th century which looks exactly like my own iron. Consequently I need to use a broad variety of heat treatments. I use a gas forge for that and, depending on the steel, oil or water. Anyway the old fashioned steels are generally water hardened.

I like to temper knives to a medium Rockwell hardness, about 57 HRC, unless more is required for particular uses, like kitchen blades that are usually around 60 HRC. I really prefer easy resharpening and advise customers not to fall for the harder-is-better trend. Needless to say, no stainless or damasteel in my forge!

I do have most authentic materials at hand, from bog oak to curly birch, ivory, antler, and so on – I’ve had about 25 years time to collect stuff. Lately, though, I like to focus as much as possible on the forging itself, providing blades to other craftsmen, rather than making knives myself.

My other interests and hobbies are silver smithing, fishing and, most important of all, sailing and beer brewing. Very important!”

Go to Gotz Iron Works website.

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Martti Malinen

Here are a few new pieces from one of my favorite smiths, Martti Malinen of who lives in Puumala, Finland in the middle of Lake Saimaa. While known for his very fine axes, he is a smith who makes  puukkos, tools and just about anything else anyone may need. Martti has been featured on this blog in the past, please see the Index Page and his website;  Martti Malinen

Martti Malinen:

“I like to keep the Finnish blacksmith tradition alive. It´s somehow important to offer services for locals if they need a blacksmiths help. That’s why I accept many kind of orders, not only knives and axes. I don’t want to fill the world with my knives but if the neighbor comes to me and asks me to forge the candle holder I make it gladly. My duty is to be the smith in the local community.”

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An earlier piece.

Martti’s damascus is made from 1070 and UHB15N20 steel.

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Martti Malinen

 

Knife making at the Nilakan comprehensive school in Keitele, Finland

This post is about a subject that has interested me for a long time. I am fascinated and more than a little envious that Finnish students have the opportunity to make their own puukko in class. The students in Keitele get to make theirs under the guidance of one of the great puukkoseppä, Pekka Tuominen no less.

My thanks to Pekka for writing about his course for me. He has been a great help with this blog since the very beginning. 

By Pekka Tuominen

In Finland we have a nine grade school system plus pre-school before the first grade, students spend total of 10 years at school. Handcraft studies start from the first grade with their homeroom teacher. From 3rd to 7th grade they have about 2 hours a week obligatory handcrafts with a special teacher. In 8th and 9th grades handcraft is an optional subject. We also have a handcraft club for free time after school for 7th to 9th grade students.

In Nilakan comprehensive school students can use also machines, if the family has given permission and the teacher has instructed them. They must plan what they’d like to make themselves and then normally design it on paper. After that the teacher looks at the plan to see if it is correct and possible to make.

When I was chosen to be the temporary handcrafts teacher at Nilakan comprehensive school some years ago, the students already knew that I’m a blade smith for my main work. Several students asked if I could teach them how to make a knife. So, it’s not mandatory to make knives, but I’m happy that many of the students wish to make their own puukko-knife.

For me knife making means that you make blade, handle and sheath. Knife making is a varied craft, because you must learn to work with steel for the blade (forge, grind and heat treat), how to use precious metal for bolsters, wood etc. for the handle and leather for sheaths. So, when you make one object you must use many materials and many techniques also.

Because we live in Finland, we mostly make our traditional knife, the puukko at school. Almost everybody makes their first knife, the model is very simple, but it includes all parts of a puukko-knife. The first thing to learn is, what is a puukko-knife, how you separate it from other knife models etc. Then they start to make blades with forging. For that we normally use 80CrV2-steel or similar simple carbon steels.

After forging the blade, it is roughly free hand ground before heat treating. After heat treating comes the last grinding and finishing of the blade. When the blade is ready, they will make bolsters and a handle for the blade. As soon as the blade and handle are together and finished, they carve the wooden insert for the sheath and after that hand-sew the sheath from leather. The last thing is to make a belt loop for sheath and colour and wax the sheath.

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Blades after forging.

A2 blades after grinding

Blades after grinding.

A6 sheaths before dying

Sheaths before dying.

Some student made puukko. 

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Pekka Tuominen

Vyacheslav Kharkov

My name is Vyacheslav Kharkov. I like Northern knives. The area in which I live is not considered northern, but we go on winter wheels for 5-6 months a year. My city is called Tolyatti, also known as Togliatti, is a city in western Russia by the Volga River.

When asked how I became interested in knives, I’m not sure, but for a long time there was a strong desire to make a knife. I wanted to make myself a knife for everyday use. I began 10 years ago, and every time I try to make a knife as if it is for myself, not paying attention to the time spent.  If I plan to make a very good knife, an expensive knife, it will be spoiled and thrown into the box under the table. This is verified repeatedly.

Hunters and fishermen in our area mainly use knives that look like weapons, with guards, long blades. I needed a small knife, suitable for use both at home and in nature, which you can absolutely legally carry with you every day. One that does not scare neither women nor the police. Thus, I my attention was drawn to the northern type of knives. It totally suited me. I was amazed by the variety and unique northern style. For a whole year, I read the forums of knife-makers, assimilated the techniques and methods of building a knife. I watched and collected photos.

I made the first knife for myself from the shop blade of Lauri, Karelian birch and antler. He also taught me how to use new techniques, and he still serves me. After a couple of years, it was time to decorate my work. I received all my knowledge from the Internet. A lot of information on Sami carving has appeared, but at that time there was almost none.

Special thanks to Igor Barutkin  for his tutorial on making the Sami knife. Also I am a frequent guest at kniver.blogspot.com and nordiskaknivar.wordpress.com
I tried to start carving several times and threw it away because of failures. Then I came back and tried again. I still consider myself a student in this matter. I don’t have any art education, I don’t draw very well and look for any information on Sami carving.
Often I use traditional patterns of the Sami people to create the most authentic look of a knife. In addition, there are so many Scandinavian masters with their unique styles and ornaments, from which I also want to learn something.

The Sami ornament reminds me very much of the munnharpe, or jaw harp, melody. The beauty and diversity of the refrain never seems excessive. And one color, as well as one note, can express a huge variety. I like it so much that sometimes I am not sure that I will use it in the right place. In knifemaking, I met a lot of friendly, enthusiastic people. We sometimes meet and discuss our work, new materials and much more. But I am fond of carving alone.

As far as materials I always prefer natural. I believe that the tool should not only have utilitarian properties, but also aesthetic along with them. Birch, its burl, birch bark and Karelian birch are especially fine. They have a magical material. The worst sort of Karelian birch after coating with oil turns into a unique sample of the natural fantasy of the tree. So is horn. In the photographs, it looks white, but in reality its marble look sometimes does not want to be hidden by a pattern. Deer horn is a “lively”, reliable and pleasant material.

My favorite type of knife is the Finnish type of puukko. It is an unsurpassed universal tool. In Russia, it appeared more than a hundred years ago and will always be used. With this type of knife it is very important to learn how to work with leather, the secrets of which are still open to me.

As other hobbies, I am interested in Slavic languages, trying to learn how to play Norwegian munnharpe.

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Vyacheslav Kharkov

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Helsinki Knife Show

The Helsinki Knife Show was held at Vanha Ylioppilastalo, The Old Student House in Helsinki on January 4 and 5. Here is a collection of photos featuring the prize winners and some knives made by frequent contributors to this blog. Photos are by  Ilari Mehtonen.

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Jukka Hankala, Best of Show

 

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Markku Parkkinen, Best Fixed Blade

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Tapio Syrjälä, Best Folder

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Waltteri Ryjenko, Prix Special

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Jukka Hankala, Markku Parkkinen, Tapio Syrjälä and Waltteri Ryjenko

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Anssi Ruusuvuori

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Arto Liukko

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Eero Kovanen

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Jani Ryynänen

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Jari Liukko

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Kay Vikström

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Mikko Inkerionen

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Otto Kamppainen

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Pekka Tuominen

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas/hyvää joulua Photo Gallery

Please enjoy the finest work from puukkoseppä and loyal contributors to Nordiska Knivar! hyvää joulua and Merry Christmas! Check back throughout the month, I’ll be adding more photos occasionally.

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A special thank you to Osmo Borodulin, our Santa Claus or joulupukki this season!

Tapio Syrjälä

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Saku Honkilahti

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Pekka Tuominen

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Otto Kemppainen

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Anssi Ruusuvuori

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Jukka Hankala

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Arto Liukko

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Jari Liukko

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 Markku Parkkinen

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Johannes Adams

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Jani Ryynanen

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Tero Kotavuopio

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Teemu Häkkilä

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Ilkka Seikku  

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Mikko Inkeroinen

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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.