Yrjö Puronvarsi Blades / YP Taonta

The subject of this post is Puronvarsi blades also known as YP Taonta (YP Forging) under the current smith, Antti Mäkinen. Antti is the grandson of Yrjö Puronvarsi who was the smith for many years. Not only have they established a reputation for excellent, beautiful blades but Antti has a  selection of forged items including puukkos, axes, tools and decorative items. Please take a greater look at his skill at his site, http://yp-taonta.fi/

Thankyou once again to my friend Federico Buldrini for his many contributions and to  Antti Mäkinen for the photos and information.

A Puronvarsi blade from Brisa,  www.brisa.fi/

A Puronvarsi blade from Brisa, http://www.brisa.fi/

The Puronvarsi Story

By Federico Buldrini

What I’m about to tell you is the story of a Finnish family who has devoted many of its members to the art of forging.

In 1809 tsar Alexander I conquest took Finland from Sweden, in the hope of expanding the southern borders of Russia unto the Danube, and for the next fifty years the authorities of the Grand Duchy of Finland will work tirelessly to convince the Russian court of the loyalty of Finland.

Our story takes place in Härmä, a small town 24 km south of Kauhava, the historic “puukko capital” in western Finland.
We are in 1850 and it’s in this year that a man from the Puronvarsi family starts his own business as a blacksmith. The son, Matti, following in the footsteps of the parent, learns and passes the craft on to one of his descendants, Esa Puronvarsi.

In 1927, in an independent Finland, Yrjö Puronvarsi is born, who in his youth, along with his eight brothers, learns the art of forging from his father and uncle. He will be the only one to carry on the job, although there will be a period in which twenty family members will work as smiths at the same time.

Yrjö has three children, two boys and a girl. Neither of the sons was ever interested in the family job, while the daughter, Ulla, in the early ’80s, became the mother of Antti Mäkinen. Antti begins his smithing career in 2006.

We’re almost to the present day. Yrjö, the blacksmith who worked longer in the family, passed down to his nephew his knowledge to create his heir. Today, being 85 years old, he doesn’t forge anymore full-time, but still works six days a week, for the love of it and for exercise.

Yrjö and Antti at the Finnish blacksmith competition at Petäjävesi, Finland.
Yrjo3

Antti2

Yrjo4

Some photos of YP Taonta:

The smithy is quite small (20 m²) and in the spring will be probably extended or even replaced with a larger one.

The smithy is quite small (20 m²) and in the spring will be probably extended or even replaced with a larger one.

AP2

Outside are two emery grinders.

Outside are two emery grinders.

A 40 kg Jupiter air hammer...

A 40 kg Jupiter air hammer…

and a self made grindstone.

and a self made grindstone.

The 70 kg Lokomo anvil has more than a century and has been used by four generations of smiths.

The 70 kg Lokomo anvil has been in use for more than a century and has been used by four generations of smiths.

What follows is a photo essay about the forging of normal sized puukko blade by Antti Mäkinen:

Let's starts from a bar of 1070; it's cut...

Let’s starts from a bar of 1070; it’s cut

so as to obtain a piece of steel of 80x25x8 mm.

so as to obtain a piece of steel of 80x25x8 mm.

that is then heated on the forge.

that is then heated in the forge.

The tang is flattened and stretched with power hammer

The tang is flattened and stretched with the power hammer

and then finished with hand held hammer.

and then finished with a hand held hammer.

Then the blade is stretched out.

Then the blade is stretched out

so as to obtain a steel bar 10 mm high and 9 mm thick.

so as to obtain a steel bar 10 mm high and 9 mm thick.

The bevels are roughly forged with power hammer

The bevels are roughly forged with the power hammer

and then finished with hand held hammer.

and then finished with a hand held hammer.

The blade is finally touched up with Jupiter air hammer.

The blade is finally touched up with the Jupiter air hammer

and stamped with the makers mark.

and stamped with the maker’s mark.

Forging is completed: now starts polishing and heat treatment.

Forging is completed, now starts polishing and heat treatment.

The blade shape is now finished on the emery wheel

The blade shape is now finished on the emery wheel

and on a grindstone.

and on a grindstone.

Next is sanding with  #120 grit.

Next is sanding with #120 grit.

The blade is now ready for heat treatment.

The blade is now ready for heat treatment.

Annealing, normalization, heating and oil quenching.

Annealing, normalization, heating and oil quenching.

Now blade is sanded to  #150 grit

Now the blade is sanded to #150 grit

and has tempering cycle in electric oven.

and has the tempering cycle in an electric oven.

After the heat treatment is done the final polishing with steel wire

After the heat treatment is done the final polishing with steel wire

and #180 grit.

and #180 grit

and bevels are mirror polished with felt wheel.

and bevels are mirror polished with felt wheel.

The blade, here next to a piece of steel such as the one that generated  it, is now complete and ready for use

The blade, here next to a piece of steel such as the one that generated it, is now complete and ready for use.

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7 responses to “Yrjö Puronvarsi Blades / YP Taonta

  1. A good read as always, Mike.

  2. Excellent read, thanks for uploading it!

  3. I have three Yrjo Puronvarsi’s and love them! Keep it up!

  4. Just received a set of three blades from Antti which will be used for saami style knives. Fantastic work. A small household knife, a long puukko and a Leuku blade for outdoor activities. My boyscout dreams are coming true.
    I can´t stop staring at them and grinning like an idiot. 🙂
    The days when new blades arrive are always the best days of the year.

  5. Beautiful blades especially at the price. Great photos too.
    Bill McColl Canada

  6. One of the best blades i own,great balance holds a great edge, i only have to strop it and it stays razor sharp. Great craftsmanship these blades are art and a genuine pleasure to use.

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