Saku Honkilahti is a pukkoseppä with a keen appreciation for history and traditional design. From the beginning, Saku has been a great help with this blog, providing me with information, obscure facts and bits of history. I am pleased to say that I own one of his very fine puukkos. It is a knife to be proud of. Here is a quote that Saku sent me that sums up his aesthetic ideal; "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
Thanks to Saku for writing this piece and for his willingness to answer my many questions over the past several months.
“I have been always interested in old habits, lifestyle and tools, especially edged tools: knives, axes, saws etc. I also like to make all kind of handcrafts, mostly from wood. There is some serious do-it-yourself men in my family: tailors and farmers, but not really smiths.
My puukko making really began in autumn 2005. I had a long time desire for a good, hand made puukko. But at the same time I absolutely didn’t have the money to buy that kind of puukko. So I went to a knife making course, where a local mastersmith taught me the main principles of puukko making. First and most important lesson is puukko must be a user.
It’s pointless to polish or decorate before being able to make puukkos with an excellent quality blade, handle and sheath. I must admit that the first time with forge, anvil, hammer and a piece of steel hit me really hard. Obviously the first blade and puukko weren’t so good, but after that moment I never looked back. Puukko making took place in my heart and soul. Immediately I also started to collect the necessary tools and materials to make more knives.
I have to admit that I have learned most of my skills by trial and errors. There have been times during which I practically lived in my workshop. Naturally I read all the material I can find, both in books and on the internet.
Puukko making is a special hobby for me and I do mean “special”: it’s a real passion. Seriously speaking, I’m not sure if I’ll ever want to do this as a full time job as I want my heart and soul to be along with every single puukko I make. The world is full of mass produced knives, with some nice details and even good quality. But at the same time this kind of knives are somehow boring. So I want every single puukko I make to be individual and unique. Of course, there is my own style and hand mark, still every puukko is a little bit different.
I live in Jalasjärvi, a municipality in western Finland, really close to Kauhava and Härmä that, as you know, in old times gave birth to really significant puukko models, smiths and even industry. In Jalasjärvi we have also our own model, with a really long tailed sheath. This particular puukko is still a little bit mysterious, but I’m doing reasearch on it.
My main sources of inspiration are ancient and present puukkos: pekanpää puukko, Tommi-puukko and all those old maasepän puukkos. I want my knives to be first and foremost usable for dealing with wood, meat, fish and all that stuff you need for real living.
I think my mission as puukko maker is to bring part of ancient days technology and knowledge to today’s modern world. I respect all those old masters who made user puukkos and I’d want to show that also modern men can make serious puukkos with simple but modern tools. For example I use a gas forge instead of a charcoal one and an electric powered grinder and belt sander instead of pure elbow grease. I want to do serious and honest tools meant for hard everyday use, not for a glass cabinet. I also want to do something unique, simple and with a long heritage to leave to modern world, where people consume all so quickly, way too quickly. Mobile phones, tablets, all that virtuality… they all come and go. The puukko will live and work today as in the future.”
Some photos of Saku and his work.