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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Jari Liukko

Jari Liukko is a very talented puukkoseppä who has learned from his father Arto Liukko one of the seven puukkomasterei of Finland, master of the rautalammi  puukko. It was my pleasure to present a piece about the history of this style of puukko written by Arto in February 2013, rautalammi puukko

Jari Liukko:

“I must have craftmanship in my blood, since it has always intrigued me. I was born in 1983 and already during the late 80s and early 90s I used to be at the forge with my father, making wooden toys, like airplanes and swords. I forged my first puukko in 1999 with the help of my father and then participated to the Fiskars national knifemaking championship, in youth class, and happened to win. That really kicked me into knifemaking and I’ve been making knives ever since.

I was taught puukko making by my father and then I also spent some time on the internet lurking what other makers were doing, thus discovering and learning some other different techniques and styles.

My goal as a craftsman is to be the best of course! But I’m not trying to beat the world or anything, and the fact that I have a day job, drastically diminishes my possibilities. So I guess I could say, that my goal is to become as good as I possibly can in my area of expertise.

Speaking of traditional puukko styles, here in the eastern part of Finland, we only have one. It is called the Rautalampi-puukko. It was developed in the very early years of 1900 and had two famous makers, Ivar Haring and Emil Hänninen. It would actually be an understatement not to include my father as well among the great makers of Rautalampi, since the whole style was concidered lost until my father laid his eyes upon a picture he saw in a book. That awoke his interest and in 1994 it was almost like a new birth for the Rautalampi-style. That of course caused a ruckus, in a good way, among the experts.

Besides knifemaking, I’ve been playing drums since I was three years old. My hobbies also include fishing, some hunting, reading and keeping in shape (floorball, cycling etc). I really don’t have any winter activities so it’s the best time for me to make puukkos and knives!”

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Jari’s Work Shop

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Jari Liukko

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Markku Teräs Puukko Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was hand made by Finnish blacksmith and craftsman Markku Teräs, living and working in Ylinen, a town 20 km west of Tampere. To learn more about him: Markku Teräs

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Technical data

blade:
length 100 mm
width 23 mm
thickness 3 mm at spine; 4,7 mm at bevels junction

tang 4×5 mm thick at peening
steel some kind of W1
flat grind
edge angle 19°
edge hardness ~ 65 HRC

handle:
length 116 mm
width 34 mm max.
thickness 23 mm max.

weight:
knife 135 g
with sheath 190 g

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Overview

The blade was forged with a hand held hammer from an old Viiala file, the steel having 1,3% C. It has a rhombic section, just slightly tapered in height. After annealing and normalization it was heated on the forge, quenched in water and tempered in oven for 3 hours at 160° C. The blade is hardened so to leave the spine and tang softer. The bevels are ground to 19 ° and the edge is micro convexed.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between two moose antler bolsters. The tang was peened with a brass rivet and the handle was then heated in oven so to allow the bark oil to glue it all together. It’s sanded to fine finish 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 oval section, filling  the hand well. Though quite massive compared to the majority of puukkos the handle doesn’t feel chunky,

The sheath was hand stitched from 2 mm thick cowhide and the leather of the mouth is folded inside so to increase the friction retention.
It has a one sided pine protective liner, which was carved with puukko and chisel, then sanded.
The belt loop is fixed with a brass D-ring, The loop itself is closed by a brass rivet. In this case I found the D-ring to be extremely stable, due to the friction with the leather in constant contact.

In use

When the puukko first arrived it was hair popping sharp, while the bark looked and felt quite dry, so I applied a couple of coats of bees wax. The blade is not perfectly in axis with the handle’s belly, thus having the cutting edge shifted slightly to the right. We’ll see if this will be noticeable in some way.

Now to the usual sample tests.

First the twig troll from a piece of dry chestnut. During the carving the knife was a bit slower than others, due to its big proportions. The handle felt big for the purpose, but not stiff or cumbersome. Due to the convex edge the bite was slightly less aggressive than other puukkos I own and the first cut that engages the wood seems “harder” to pull out, while the subsequent ones are smooth and easy.

Generally speaking the puukko homogeneous performances during both roughing and refining cuts. At the end the edge had a couple of rough spots that were not roller nor chipped, but that had just a hair less bite than the rest of the edge.

I then stropped with both black and green Bark River compound and started to carve the usual dry spruce spatula.

The roughing process was surprisingly quick and effective, also when working on end grain. The convex edge, as already seen, doesn’t bite really deep and if necessary it needs more pressure, but it proved to be a great and precise planer on push cuts. When doing pull strokes and when using the thumb as fulcrum, however, the big proportions again came into play and the puukko felt a little stiff, while still working properly. At the end of the roughing process the edge was pristine.

Due to the big proportions finishing cuts were a bit more straining to perform, especially when I had to thin down the spatula cheeks and the edge was prone to slipping rather than engaging the wood. This was probably the only time I felt like the tilted blade made the work a bit more difficult. Again push cuts were easier than pull strokes.

At the end of the work the edge was still pristine and bite was virtually untouched since the stropping.

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Conclusions

The bigger proportions make this puukko mostly an outdoor knife, rather than a carver. It can surely carve fair enough, but will work best in the forest processing game and working green wood.

The handle was always comfortable and agile enough although, again, the proportions make it more suitable for certain cuts more than others. It does feel big, but not excessive, at least for my medium sized hands.

The heat treatment is absolutely spot on and this puukko has actually set my new bench mark for edge holding. I was also very pleased by its resilience, despite the very high hardness and C content, that was surely enhanced by the convex edge.

 

Taskupuukko

I’ve recently seen a new growing trend in crafting taskupuukko, small “pocket” puukkos that will work in the same range of duties of folding penknives and EDC folders: opening letters and packages, some food preparation, small wood working etc.

The origin of small and stylish pocket knives in Finland is probably trackable back to the 19th century, while small and rustic wood working knives have been around since the Middle Ages.
During the 19th century these stylish pocket knives were produced both by craftmen and factories and could be both simple and decorated. The more fancy and decorated models were either completely hand crafted by a knifemaker or a goldsmith could be asked to decorate a more basic knife.

Given the great popularity they had there isn’t a single style, but generally speaking, the most common characteristics were and still are a three fingers handle, more rarely a four fingers one, and a blade no longer than 6 cm, with a mostly straight edge and just a slight upsweep close to the tip.

Federico Buldrini

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Pasi Jaakonaho

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Pasi Jaakonaho

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Arto Liukko

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Arto Liukko

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Arto Liukko

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Arto Liukko

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Mikko Inkeroinen

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Mikko Inkeroinen

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Mikko Inkeroinen

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Mikko Inkerionen

jani ryynänen

Jani Ryynänen

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Antti Mäkinen

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Antti Mäkinen

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Otto Kemppainen

 

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Lauri Karjunen

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Lauri Karjunen

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Saku Honkilahti

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Saku Honkilahti

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Harri Merimaa