By Federico Buldrini
This knife and sheath are crafted following the general style used in Northern Europe from the 7th to 13th century circa, with Baltic sheath decorations.
length – 96 mm
width – 21,5 mm
thickness – 5,5 mm
steel – ThyssenKrupp 125Cr1
bevels – flat
edge angle – 14,5°, tiny microbevel
hardness – ~ 60 HRC
length – 102 mm
width – 25 mm in the centre
thickness – 18 mm in the centre
knife – 62 g
with sheath – 107 g
The blade was forged with a hand held hammer recycling the steel of a Viiala file, with 1,3 % C. It has a triangular section, slightly tapered in height and thickness. After annealing and normalization it was heated in the gas forge, quenched in oil and tempered in the oven. While the bevels were dipped in oil the spine was tilted out so to be left softer. The bevels are ground to 14,5°, with just a hint of microbevel.
The handle is crafted from a piece of carelian birch. The tang is glued with epoxy and has two little wedges at its sides to make everything the tightest possible. It’s sanded to a fine grit, giving the handle a very smooth and soft feel. It’s strongly tapered in height and thickness towards the blade, it has a teardrop section and fills the hand well.
The hand stitched sheath is crafted from 2,5 mm thick bark tanned leather. As it was the custom in the Middle Age there isn’t a wood liner. The belt loop is a simple knotted leather strip. The retention is excellent, without becoming excessive.
The knife has neutral balance and feel slightly heavier than its actual weight. Out of the box the edge had a couple of asperity, so I gave it six passes, with circular motion, on DMT #1200, then stropped twenty times on black (#3000) and green (#6000) Bark River compound.
After a first project on three months seasoned hazel I felt another asperity, thus I gave the knife a complete sharpening session with Work Sharp’s #600 stone, ceramic and stropping compound (#32000).
Let’s start with a couple of three months seasoned hazel owls. No problems whatsoever during both roughing and refining cuts. There has been only mild resistance when planing the bases, while the tip, despite the thickness, proved itself good at working on facial discs and ear tufts. At the end of the work the shaving bite was just a hair less aggressive, but present all along the edge. Three passes on Bark River white compound and three on Work Sharp green compound.
Let’s continue with two seven months seasoned plane wood spikkentrolls. Before starting carving the first hat I trimmed a lateral shoot and flattened the knot. No resistance during roughing cuts, even though during the very first cuts, pressing the thumb on the spine I felt its corners a little too marked and annoying. No problem then in finishing cuts and carving the face notch. A minimum of resistance only while leveling the base.
After the first troll the edge was pristine, but the shaving bite was gone in the first two cms near the handle, used heavier. Thirty passes on BRKT white compound and twenty five on Work Sharp one.
While carving the second troll there was resistance only when cutting the top half of the V notch of the hat, then a minimum when notching the face, whose wood was in correspondence of a knot on the opposite side of the stem, and a minimum while I was leveling the base.
At the end of the work the edge was perfect, while the razor bite was almost gone in the first two cms, like before. To speed up the tuning I gave it eight passes on fine ceramic and fifteen on Work Sharp compound.
After smoothing the spine’s edges with the SwissTool file and sanding for a minute with #120 and #180 grit I continued with the usual wizard, but having run out of poplar, I carved it from a much harder beech branch. No resistance when roughing the two main facets, even when planing two knots away. Constant and good bite in creating and working around the three V, bases for the features. The spine thickness was not perceived when engraving the nose profile nor when working the lip. No more problems with the spine edges. The only real resistance came when notching around the stem to thin it down and free the wizard. Nothing serious, but definitely perceptible, then no problems to level the base.
At the end of the work the edge was pristine, while the shaving bite was gone almost completely. Thirty passes on the black, green and white BRKT compound, ten per compound, followed by twenty on the Work Sharp one.
Let’s finish with the eighteen months seasoned silver fir spatula. On the piece of wood that I used there was knit 2.5 cm long and as wide as the blank. The roughing, despite the removing of the knot, was actually faster and easier than I expected. Easy to imagine this was the only real resistance, though significantly lesser than expected, and only while I was working to eliminate the knot and create the curve of the rear part of the spatula. At the end of the roughing the edge was perfect and the bite unchanged.
Nothing to report on the finishing cuts, quick and easy to do. The knife has always remained comfortable and agile, maintaining a rather aggressive, but still very controllable bite.
At the end of the work the edge was still pristine and the bite just a hair less aggressive, but still capable of shaving without pressure. Ten passes on Work Sharp compound.
I used the knife extensively on hazel, plane and beech, including the trimming of knots and the only wood that has actually influenced the bite the most was indeed beech, but the acuteness of the edge, cutting also by simple geometry, makes for a very little perceptible bite loss.
In a previous review I already had the opportunity to test the 125Cr1, on other geometries and with a much harder tempering, so I already knew of its edge holding ability, while even with such a thin edge it was also able to maintain a remarkable bite and a surprisingly good resilience. Praise to the heat treatment.
The section and tapering of the handle are particularly well executed and flow perfectly into the blade making the knife extremely intuitive and, among the three Tikkanen knives that I have, undoubtedly my favorite and the most comfortable.