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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Congratulations To The New Puukkoseppämestari

Congratulations to the newly certified puukkoseppämestari; Tapio Syrjälä, Eero Kovanen, Jari Liukko and Mikko Inkeroinen. They are the first new master bladesmiths confirmed since 2009. They had two years to prepare for the final exam, making two knives for the jury. One a “user” and the other one a collector grade piece. They join the seven other puukkoseppämestari;  Pekka Tuominen, Jukka Hankala, JT Pälikkö, Arto Liukko, Markku Vippola, Mikko Haverinen, Pasi Jaakonaho as master bladesmiths certified by the Finnish National Agency for Education.

Each of the four has been featured on this blog, please check the Index Page to learn more about them and their work. Again congratulations on your achievement!

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Tapio Syrjälä

 

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Eero Kovanen

 

Jari

Jari Liukko

 

Mikko

Mikko Inkeroinen

Wille Sundqvist 1925 – 2018

In the wake of the passing of Wille Sundqvist, on June the 3rd 2018 at the age of 92, I wanted to write a few words about the man.

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Wille Sundqvist 

He is the one that lit the spark for the new Wood Culture that has been spreading so much in recent years and has generated so many talented wood carvers and wood turners around the world. His book “Swedish Carving Techniques” first published in 1990 and now back in print is THE textbook of Swedish slöjd and spoon carving.

In addition to his work of teaching he was also the adviser for many of the wood carving tools we now take for granted. He was behind the design and proportions of the Gräsfors Bruks carving axe, he helped perfect the Hans Karlsson slöjd axe, he was the adviser for Frosts and KJ Eriksson wood carving knives and, together with his son Jögge and fellow carver Beth Moen,  worked to improve the geometries of their factory made spoon knives.

As a leasure time wood carver and former depressed I can confirm, like JoJo Wood stressed many times, of the therapeutic effects that carving has that leads to peace of mind and thus I try to pass that message on. I also try to expose the fun of wood working as a pure leisure to my friends that have kids, since, as Wille himself said, carving is a great way to train muscles and coordination between your brain and your hands.

I wish Wille a good journey, may he rest in peace and I send my thoughts to his son Jögge and his family.

Federico Buldrini

 

 

Veijo Käpylä

A special thank you to Veijo’s daughter Tiina for all her help in obtaining and translating this article. Veijo’s work can be found on Facebook at VK-Puukko.

Veijo Käpylä:

“I have always been interested in handicrafts and have early childhood memories from my great uncle’s workshop. There have been many smiths in the family, but they mainly did all kind of blacksmithing like tools, hunting gear, kitchen utensils from metal, wood and other materials. From my mother’s side come the smiths while from my father’s side come the shoemakers. Shoe making of course is an interesting craft for a knife makers as well, as all the knives need their sheaths. The crafting of leather sheaths and of leather shoes have plenty in common. Also my father’s grandfather was a pretty famous maker of wooden tubs, hogsheads etc. and he as well was a shoemaker. My mother’s brother Heikki was a very good gunsmith, specialized in many kind of weapons, but given the importance of hunting in Finland he was particularly skilled in shotguns.

Another example is Matti Lahti, a cousin from my mother’s side, who was great a inventor. He designed, build and made unbelievable things, from small everyday items to tractors, and everything in between. Two still active family members are  Johannes Lahti and Matti Vilminko , who work with all kind of machines, tools, conveyances and so on. They are both self taught as is typical for our family: you find something interesting, then you find your way to work with it. People count on Matti’s skills especially with all the big machines, hydraulics and like. Johannes is quite a wizard with computers but he is one of those persons who can do what ever they want to.
So my interest for all the crafts, and thus knife making, has definitely come through the family.

I am the first professional knife maker of the family, but my brother Esko has made some knives as well. As said there have been many smiths and craftsmen in my family in many generations. Mostly it has been based on need, things are made if they are needed, from all kind of tools to hunting gear and household items. My background is in the rural Finnish countryside, where every bigger house used to have its own forge and workshop, where family made and fixed everything they needed. Knives were just one the necessities.

I’m self taught as a knife maker, but of course I did learn a lot about using different materials and tools from family members when I was a kid and youngster. Having being active with every kind of handicrafts all my life, my background has given me a good base to build knowledge and skills in knife making as well. I just started knife making when, so to speak, the opportunity arrived. I had a suitable place, had a chance to buy some gear for my own forge and so on. Of course my family had its own handicraft business for 30 years or so and I made knives professionally for over a decade. Now that I’m retired and making some knives and more fishing supplies are my hobbies.

There isn’t any particular puukko tradition in my area. Kalajoki is pretty near by and there is a special “Kalajoki puukko” but it doesn’t have much impact on my home site. Of course I have made many traditional Finnish puukko models, like for example the Tommi Puukko which is famous and popular all around Finland nowadays, even if it’s from Kainuu region. These old traditional puukkos are kind of a national heritage, no one owns the models and everyone can make them.

Most of the knives I have make are my own designs and models. I consider design a very important part of making any kind of items, but especially knives. So I have designed some VK special knives, some VK leuku and my own hunting knives collection, the VK eräpuukko.

I always had high quality standards about my work. Making beautiful, stable, well designed knives has been my goal in every knife project I have finished. Usually puukko is either for use or for a gift and collection, so all my knives are both good looking and always suitable for heavy use too. But as a craftsman I just like doing things I enjoy. Inventing and designing my own models, testing them and so on is just interesting, fun and meaningful for the people who have been doing something with their hands for all their life.

Another hobby of mine is collecting, fixing and taking old Massey Ferguson tractors to an annually held exhibition of old machines, the Waeteraani Konepäivät in Oulainen. Most of the years I am also contributing to this veteran machinery exhibition, since it’s fully volunteered and is one of the biggest events of this kind in Finland. I’ve also finally found more time for sport and trap shooting now that I’m retired but I’m not competing, at least at the moment. I just enjoy them as a nice and social hobby with my friends to keep up skills and improve my self as a shooter.

Of course, Finnish nature is offers many kinds of activities during the year. Fishing and especially ice fishing and making the crafting of fishing gear is one of the most important hobbies I have. Some hunting also, mostly wild birds like pigeons, wild ducks and some years black grouse as well. And berry picking is also an important hobby: we live in the middle of a great berry lands full of wild blueberries, lingonberries, cloud berries, arctic bramble, wild raspberries and so on. The whole family has a berry picking hobby.”

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Veijo Käpylä

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Workshop pictures were taken by Teemu Käpylä, Veijo’s nephew. The young lady is Arjene Kerkhoven, a knifemaking student of Teemu’s.

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Veijo engaged in some of his other hobbies including vintage tractors, fishing and making fishing gear.

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