Osmo Borodulin

“Living in Finland, The Land of the Puukko it’s very natural to make a puukko at school but I never did. So it was my turn to try my first puukko knife back in January 2010 without any reason but curiosity. I learned all the information for my first puukko project on the internet. I have never been to any puukko making courses, later I learned some tricks from fellow knife makers and took their advice. Thanks to my wife and her nice feedback I made another one and so on.

My approach to knife making is a bit different. I have never done blade blanks nor black smithing work. All the knife blades in my work comes from professional blade makers like Roselli, Puronvarsi, Laurin Metalli (Lauri blades) and many others. I have also customized some knives like Fällkniven, Mora etc. by mounting the blade on a new handle and making a sheath for it. With my knife works I can show that not everybody has to have his own forge but you can use retailer blanks.
Then I started making YouTube videos about puukko making. It took two years until I made my first puukko making video for YouTube on my channel thetopicala. Don’t ask what this nick name means. I should have been more careful with it. Very odd and difficult name to advertise it. Since then I have made close to 300 YouTube videos basically on knife or sheath making. I have got another channel too where I have recorded other types of videos, finnvagabond.

Puukko making is a hobby for me. I’ve had my daily job for almost 30 years and this is good change for me. I have made my best studies in knife making by searching other knife makers and their works using Google and pictures, visiting other knife maker’s sites was a really good lesson. I’m a good listener and if someone says his opinion I try to consider that. The best teacher is the feeling, how does it feel to in your hand. Also I like to collect different handle materials from all over the world. If it’s colorful or exciting wood grain, I’m interested!

In Finland we are lucky to have domestic wood species like the birch and especially curly birch. I have made many knives from that material. Even if it was not stabilized it tolerates the harsh environment during the winter and endures a lifetime if you treat it from time to time. We all have our favorite oils and treatments for the wood and there is not one and only option for a wooden knife handle. The structure of curly birch is very burlish. The grain is very vivid and it does not split like normal wood. It’s almost impossible to cut with an ax. Due to this structure it is a very strong handle material, light but strong.

Making a leather sheath was a great challenge for a long time. Making stitches and using leather was totally new to me. In my case it takes even more time to make a sheath than the knife. There are so many working stages in it. That is why I have great respect for good looking sheaths and leather work.

Social media. I must thank this social media for being known at all among puukko enthusiasts. It spreads the awareness of me as knife maker very effectively and makes the connections easy and fast. There have been numerous times I have been discussing a knife with the purchaser in messenger while I’m making his knife. I think I would have made only couple of knives if there was no social media serving us. I have made contacts all over the world and made some cool journeys in Europe and met great guys. I have spent some nice time among Swiss, German, and Austrian friends and held puukko and leather sheath making courses in the German forest for great a audience a couple of times. How does this sound!

Hunting knife, Lapland knife, leuku, saami style knife, whittling knife, fish fillet knife, mushroom knife, fultang knife, hidden tang knife, rat tail tang knife, you name it and I have tried to make it. The puukko I sent to Federico at Nordiska Knivar is a traditional rat tail tang knife out of birch bark. I collected the birch bark for it myself. I bought two birch trees, the bark for the knife handles and the rest of it for our stove for winter evenings.

Finally I want to thank friends Tommi Makela, Saku Honkilahti, Kari Loippo of Roselli and Tapio Syrjala and many others for the great moments among knife makers.”

Osmo
www.thetopicala.fi 

Osmo Borodulin

 

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Jussi Kallio/Anniversary Puukko

I am interested in posting puukko that have been made to observe the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence which is December 6, 2017. The first one I’ve seen is by Jussi Kallio.  Jussi has been making knives since 2012 when he took a course at an adult education center in Lapua, where he lives.

If anyone has any anniversary knives, even of earlier anniversaries let me know and I will post them before December 6. Contact information is on the Index Page.

Jussi Kallio:

“Arja Gräsbeck taught me the basics of knife making. He was a really good and motivating teacher. The blade making I have learned myself. The Facebook page, Puukko Areena has been a lot of help to figure out how to make blades. Thanks to all those who have guided me.

I try to make a knife for what I like, what pleases my eye. I like to use good steel blades. On the handle I like to use my imagination. I use rubber, brass, plastic, birch bark, birch wool, acrylic and many other materials. I try everything new and different. I even use some recycled materials in the handle of the knives.”

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“My favorite knife, it has a hockey puck handle. The handle is blue and black, on the side of the handle is a silver lion. The blade is made of 80crv2 steel.”

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Some more of Jussi’s knives:

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Jussi Kallio

 

Tommi Mäkelä

Tommi Mäkelä:

“When I was young I had zero interest in anything that had to do with crafting by hands – I was more interested in working with computers.

After the military service I worked 6 years a salesman at a computer store and then moved to be a project manager for almost 7 years. In 2014 I moved to Kauhava and went to work for my father-in-law at Laurin Metalli. Laurin Metalli is a company turning 100 years old next year, specialized in making products for the puukko industry, supplying puukko makers ranging from one man shops to big ones with several, even tens of thousands of knives made per year. We at Laurin Metalli make somewhere between 150 000 to 200 000 knife blades per year and on top of that everything else related to puukkos; ferrules, bolsters, plastic liners. In the last few years we have been very fortunate to get to work with the company Varusteleka and being the co-designer and manufacturer for their highly successful Skrama and Jääkäripuukko.

I started working in June 2014 and I think it was September when I first got really interested on using the stuff that I work daily with. And thus my journey making puukkos began.

I am fortunate that the Kauhava area is filled with puukko makers and when I was starting, I got a lot of help from them, namely Harri Merimaa of Woodsknife. I had the blades and other parts, but as we don’t work with wood, I had to turn to the makers and to get my journey started. I started putting puukkos together using premilled handle pieces and experimenting with different blades from our product range. It didn’t take me long to go online and start buying different types of materials from one of our retailers, Brisa. At first I made just puukko after puukko without any sheaths, but soon got interested in completing the job with them. All of the puukko makers here use the industrial way of making sheaths, cutting certain patterns from leather and sewing them with a sewing machine and then hammering in the lesta and the puukko. Obviously, this wasn’t the method I was interested in.

I believe starting to get to sewing sheaths, especially the traditional ones with a back seam, I stumbled across an article on the web written by Saku Honkilahti (who actually has since then became one of my best friends, both in the puukko world and off it). I didn’t make the lestas from wood by hand up until much later (summer of 2016) but used our company’s range of plastic liners instead. Also the YouTube videos from (nowadays another very good friend of mine),  Osmo Borodulin / thetopicala were a huge influence to me. I studied the techniques Osmo used and really admired his work.

 I browsed the internet for a lot of different knife and puukko types and tried to take something out of each one and combine them to my work in my own way. But the most influential makers for me are definitely Saku and Osmo.

 I am 95% self taught, never been to any puukko making courses or other trainings, but searched for information on YouTube the internet. A lot of the basics I picked up from the makers around the Kauhava area.

 I don’t generally have a favorite type of puukko. I like to do a little bit of everything. As much as I like the traditional barrel/teardrop shape of a puukko handle, I enjoy making bigger hunting knives and leukus.

 As widely known, I use 95% of our company blades in my puukkos, but sometimes I buy a blade or two from Saku Honkilahti and create something different with those. It’s refreshing to work with a whole different type of blade. I have made a few blades myself from stock, but I prefer to slightly modify our existing blade range – making a little different changes to the shapes and altering the geometry of the blades a bit here and there.

 For the handles I use everything. From basic natural curly birch to acrylic. Some people have called me a rebel in the puukko scene, since I like to for example make unna niibas saami style influenced puukkos completely out of plastic materials, acrylic and corian. Probably my favorite handle material is stabilized wood, it looks awesome and is really easy to maintain. I usually put my handles together using multiple pieces, whether it is a combination of different materials or just a stack of metal spacers. Very seldom I have a basic bolster-handle-bolster build.

My sheaths are 1.8mm thick vegetable tanned leather, which I dye to my liking. Lestas are carved out of wood. Lately I have been making more and more sheaths with the bottom part exposed, made from curly birch in most cases. But I do use Corian in the bottom parts sometimes as well

My philosophy is ”Make it usable”. No matter what crazy materials I make puukkos of or use unorthodox shapes, I always keep in mind that the puukko must be usable. Doesn’t matter if it is a ”mini” version for 3 fingers made from acrylic or a 220mm huge knife with a walrus head on top, you can still use them – so they are not merely decorations.

When I am not working or making puukkos, I spend my time with music, movies/tv series or disc golf. I have been playing the guitar for 15 years and do a lot of home recording just for fun.”

Tommi Mäkelä

Tommi Mäkelä

 

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Danijel Haramina, Malanika Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was crafted by Danijel Haramina, a Croatian knifemaker living in Tuhelj, a small village 54 km north of Zagreb. Currently he works mostly by stock removal, but can do forging on request. Danijel was featured here in January of 2016 and his profile can be viewed at  Danjel Haramina

He normally uses and personally heat treats 80CrV2, 52100 and n690co, the last soon to be replaced by D2. In addition he can use also some powder steels, 3V, 4V, 10V, M4 and Cru-Wear. All these, but 4V, are heat treated by Peters’ Heat Treating in Meadville, Pennsylvania. 4V is heat treated by ZL Knives in Sisak, Croatia.

The birch bark used for this puukko comes from Bryansk area, in the Russian Federation.

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blade
length         96 mm
width          21 mm
thickness    2 mm at the spine, 4,3 mm at bevels junction
tang            9×4 mm at the pommel
steel            ThyssenKrupp 80CrV2
bevels          flat
edge angle   19 °, with tiny microbevel
hardness      ~ 61 HRC

handle
length         115 mm
width          27 mm
thickness    19 mm

weight
knife             105 g
with sheath   150 g

Overview

The blade was ground free hand  from a bar of 80CrV2. It has a rhombic section, slightly tapered in height and thickness. After annealing and normalizing it was heated in oven, quenched in oil and tempered twice in oven. The blade is hardened so to leave the tang softer. The bevels are ground to 19 ° and the edge has just a hair of microbevel.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between two 5 mm brass bolsters. It’s sanded to a fine grit and it’s slightly tapered in both directions in width and thickness, with the pommel slightly higher than the bolster. It has a teardrop section, slightly flat on the sides. It fills the hand well, though being a bit on the slimmer side.

The sheath is crafted from 2 mm thick leather. It’s hand stitched and holds the knife perfectly. The leather of the mouth is folded inside. It has a pine liner. The belt loop is fixed with a steel D-ring, The loop itself is closed by a steel rivet. As always the D ring is a good compromise in steadiness and freedom of movement.

In use

When it first arrived, the edge wasn’t absolutely smooth. I could feel with the nail few asperity along it, though they weren’t absolutely noticeable during use. The knife was shaving sharp, with little effort. Stropping with black and green compound solved the issue.

Now to the usual tests. While carving a dry cornel spikkentroll I felt some resistance when roughing  and thinning the hat portion, due to the acute geometry working to separate the fibers. I did the refining cuts on the hat and the push cut to gouge out the notch standing for the face, pushing on the spine with the left thumb. I felt the spine was a bit painful due to its squareness. When doing the last refining cuts pulling the knife and using the right thumb as fulcrum I felt the handle just a hair slim  right next to the front bolster.

After this I detected a tiny asperity in the flat section of the blade, which was still hair popping sharp.

Next I did the usual dry silver fir spatula. The puukko proved excellent when planing away wood along the grain, now really exploiting the geometry. During this kind of roughing cuts it was extremely quick and the slightly longer handle allowed great leverage. When I roughed out the concave portion, using the belly of the blade and applying force with the thumb on the spine, I felt the knife was straining again.

During the refining cuts the impressions were basically the same. Great planing ability and some strain when using the belly with or without push cuts, both on concave surfaces and to smoothen the flats of the spatula.

At the end of this work the edge had the same asperity, which hadn’t enlarged, while the shaving bite was almost gone. Some stropping with white compound (#12000 grit) reduced the asperity and got the bite back in one minute.

 

Conclusions

This puukko very much follows the style of Tapio Syrjälä.

Generally speaking it’s a very quick and agile worker, even though, as I’ve already said, it strains with some type of cuts.

Its strength is the planing ability, that will appeal more to the outdoorsmen rather than the carvers, which searches for a higher general versatility. The handle, even though a bit slimmer, is very intuitive and easy to get used to.

The heat treatment is spot on. I know this steel quite well and I’ve used it in various grades of hardness, ranging from 58 to 63 HRC. In this case too it performed like I expected, given the geometry and hardness.

Danijel

Danijel Haramina

Saku Honkilahti

I have recently been corresponding with Saku Honkilahti, a friend and contributor to this blog since the beginning. Saku has provided information that I needed for several posts, not only is he knowledgeable but he makes a very fine puukko. I am pleased to own one that he made for me several years ago.

I asked Saku to write down his thoughts on knife making for this post and here is what he had to say.

Saku Honkilahti:

“I have been making puukkos for over a decade. In that time I have slowly developed my own style.

Number one is SH-stamped hammer finished hand forged blade. I have a very efficient grinder and a very good steel source but almost stubbornly I want to hand forge all my blades. Of course there are many theoretical writings that say modern steels don`t need forging. Maybe true, but for me it is an important part of knifemaking. And I want that it can be seen, so my blades are hammer finished.

My second trade mark is simple materials. Materials that look and feel genuine. I use basic carbon steel, 80CrV2 is my favorite blade material. For bolsters I like to use brass, bronze or nickel silver. And for handles birch bark and curly birch are my two favorites. I have done some handles from micarta and other industrial materials too, but they just don’t feel right. I must admit, stabilized woods are here and maybe, just maybe, there is something nice and easy in them.

The third trademark in my puukkos are simple and strong lines. It must look like a puukko and it must feel like a puukko in hand. Even when it is dark at night, the handle shape tells you every time where the blade is. You can use about ten different holds on puukko and good handle must enable all them. If there is some finger guard, holes or too much sharp curves, you can´t take all these ten holds. And it must feel strong, powerful, but not too burly or cumbersome.

Fourth is a simple leather sheath with a two sided wooden insert, the lesta. The puukko must stay in the sheath when you sit, run or even do a hand stand.That is why I handsew my sheaths from wet vegetable tanned leather. So a puukko and a sheath is always a matching couple.

Maybe I am little bit old fashioned, but I believe that there is no need to re-invent the classic Finnish puukko, it is good as it is and real do-it-all kind of knife.”

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Johannes Adams Puukko Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was crafted by Johannes Adams, a young German bladesmith living and working in Hatten, 50 km W of the Hanseatic city of Bremen.

Since the steel featured is seldom used on puukkos it’s worth spending few words on its origin, at least in Germany. 1.2516 was firstly produced in the 70s for paper sheets cutter blades, but due to its high production costs was subsequently discontinued and substituted with 1.2210, the current K510.
Adams sources the steel from an old warehouse owned by a friend.

Compared to K510, 1.2516 has way less chrome, but 1% of added tungsten, which should form tighter and harder carbides, hence giving more wear resistance and edge stability.

The birch bark used comes from the Espoo area and is provided to the maker by a Finnish contact.

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blade
length 95 mm
width 22 mm
thickness 2 mm at the spine, 4,5 mm at bevels junction
tang 7×2 mm at the pommel
steel W-Nr 1.2516
bevels flat
edge angle 20 °
hardness ~ 62 HRC

handle
length 99 mm
width 31 mm
thickness 22 mm

weight
knife 110 g
with sheath 160 g

Overview

The blade was forged by hand held hammer from a bar of 1.2516 (K405). It has a rhombic section, slightly tapered in height. After annealing and normalizing it was heated in the forge, quenched in boiling oil and tempered thrice for 30 minutes at 200° C in oven. The blade is hardened so to leave the spine and tang softer. The bevels are ground to 20 ° and the edge taken to virtually zero.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between two 6 mm brass bolsters. It’s sanded to a fine grit and it’s slightly tapered in both directions in wideness and thickness. It has a subtle teardrop section.

The sheath is crafted from 2 mm thick leather. It’s hand stitched and perfectly holds the knife. Inside there is a pine liner. The belt loop is fixed with a brass D-ring, The loop itself is closed by a brass rivet.

In use

The puukko is roughly the same size as Victorinox large locking models.

Out of the box I detected few tiny asperity along the edge, quickly reduced with stropping. While I was whittling to get the feel of the knife it proved nimble, but lost the sharpest bite quite easily. Thus I added a hint of microbevel, and the steel was just a bit longer to sharpen than K510 at 60 HRC or 52100 at 62 HRC.

Now to my usual documentation. This time I carved the twig troll from hornbeam, a hardwood comparable to hickory. I felt a light resistance while cutting away chips and during roughing cuts, the acute geometry perceptibly divided the fibers. No problem during refining cuts. After this the shaving bite was gone in all the flat portion, but the edge was nonetheless completely pristine.

I stropped the puukko to get the shaving bite back and up we went with the dry silver fir spatula. Again I felt some resistance during roughing cuts due to the acute geometry. The knife had a very good bite anyway, felt agile, balanced and intuitive. The trickiest part to carve, as usual, was the junction between the spatula and its stem: it’s all endgrain. I felt some bite loss towards the end of the work, though the edge was still leaving a shiny finish on the wood. At the end it barely shaved.

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Conclusions

Two words on the steel performances.
I’ve noticed that the other carbon steels I’ve tried on puukkos (K510, 80CrV2, C75 and 52100) even after stropping with a #12000 compound, all have kept micro toothy edges, in different degrees. While this 1.2516 gets absolutely smooth and toothless. I felt like this extreme edge finesse may have caused the faster shaving bite loss I detected.

Generally speaking I found the sheath to be slightly bulky. Shaving the liner down of a couple of millimeters per side might be better, but that’s just a personal preference. The puukko has proved to be slightly more resilient than 52100 at 62 HRC and K510 at 60 HRC, given the same geometry. Edge holding was just a hair inferior, due to the edge finesse I wrote about earlier. The handle is slightly shorter than what I’m accustomed to, but due to its generous wideness and thickness, it doesn’t really feel small at all. It was also pleasantly agile, despite its wide proportions.

Yakut

By Federico Buldrini

The Sakha Republic or Yakutia is a 3 million square kilometers territory located in Oriental Siberia, within the Russian Federation. It’s characterized by extremely cold winters and is covered for the most part by coniferous forests, favouring hunting and fur animals breeding.

The soil is extremely rich in reserves of oil, gas, coal, gold, silver, tin and diamonds. In Sakha live mainly Russians, Ukrainian and Yakuts, the indigenous people. Yakuts have a northern Asian body type and can be roughly divided in two groups. The northern one is composed mostly by half nomad reindeer herders, hunters and fishers, much like the Sámi, while the southern one live mainly from horses and cattle breeding.

Sakha also called Yakut, one of the major peoples of eastern Siberia, numbered some 380,000 in the late 20th century. In the 17th century they inhabited a limited area on the middle Lena River, but in modern times they expanded throughout Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in far northeastern Russia. They speak a Turkic language.

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The Yakut knife is the Siberian counterpart to the Finnish puukko, the Swedish brukskniv and the Norwegian tollekniv. Though, unlike its Fennoscandic cousins, it’s highly specialized in the processing and preparation of fish and meat, rather than being also a wood working knife.

Its origin is unknown, various legends and theories exist, though mostly speculative since the majority of the old knowledge and tradition of this knife was lost during the communist regime: the Yakuts themselves started to study it only in the 1990s.
One unlikely theory suggests, for example, that its asymmetrical blade is a steel version of the prehistoric bone knives: if a long bone is splitted the outer side will be convex, while the inner side will be hollow, once the marrow has been removed.
On the other hand a common legend says that the blacksmiths learned the art of forging this knife from the Hell’s gods themselves.

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A yakut by Johannes Adams.

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Another disputable theory states that the blade’s particular geometry was developed not only for its performance, but also to use less steel for each blade.
While possible to save a little steel by forging the fuller, is unlikely that was the primary reason and it’s much more probable the geometry was essencially purpose driven.

On the practical side, a yakut knife is essentially a three piece knife: a monolitic wood handle, an asymmetrical blade and a leather sheath.
The handle is generally crafted from birch burl, is untapered and has a flattish oval section.

The asymmetrical blade usually has a left convex bevel and a right flat one, sporting a more or less deep fuller in it.
The knives coming from the northern area of Yakutia tend to have a more tapered blade, as opposed to the southern ones sporting a slightly broad blade.
The side stitched sheath is traditionally made from cow tail hide, has a wooden liner and grips the knife halfway up the handle.

Roman

A yakut by Roman Kislitsyn.

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As said, the Yakut knife is optimized for slicing push cuts and can be commonly seen cutting curly flesh stripes from frozen stiff Coregons to prepare the Stroganina, a Yakutian dish. The flesh is served raw, still frozen, with a touch of salt and black pepper in ice cold bowls and eaten with the hands. Everything is usually paired with vodka.
Stroganina can also be done with sturgeon, reindeer meat or frozen fresh mare’s milk.

Here is where the fuller comes into the game. In addition to lighten the blade and give the knife a handle heavy balance, it also dramatically reduces the surface of outer contact, making slicing easier.

The Yakut knife is thus a good wood planer with push and pull cuts, the latter with the flat bevel in plain contact with the cut surface. Though, unless you tilt the blade at an angle, the wood shaves will be fairly flat.

On the other hand, the asymmetrical grind is not that great when doing pull cuts without the flat side being in contact with the wood or when cutting off shaves engaging the wood perpendicularly, because it has very little material behind the edge and not enough mass to separate fibers by geometry alone.