Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mikko Inkeroinen

Mikko Inkeroinen is a puukkoseppä and black smith from Mikkeli, Finland. Mikko’s puukkos caught my eye early on when I first became interested in Finnish knives. His work is based on traditional forms using the age old materials and methods.  Mikko has said ” I think my mission is to show people that tools can be also beautiful.” I think he captures the essence of what the Finnish knife can be and does exactly that. Mikko also does all kinds of black smithing and his work can be seen at his website  http://seppainkeroinen.net/ Thank you Mikko!

Mikko Inkeroinen:

“I first got interested in knives when I saw my father’s collection of puukkos. When I was young boy I used puukkos often for wood carving and I made my first one in 1997.

I´m the first bladesmith in my family and in the beginning I was self-taught. Soon after, though, I got advice about puukkos, the most important ones of which I got from Olavi Kemppainen, the master of Tommi-puukko from Kuhmo, Finland. Then I studied and graduated as metal-artisan. Additionally my damascus master is Jean-Jose Tritz from Hamburg, Germany. I am also a bladesmith journeyman.

In my area black smithing tradition is really primitive: typically agricultural tools; on the other hand Finnish puukko culture is powerful and very old. The most important things in my works are beauty and usability. Typically my products have clean lines and simple design. My inspiration comes from the old and powerful culture and only a little from the new fashion.

I think my mission is to show people that tools can be also beautiful. That is the reason why I make knives. My motto is “form is more important than level of finishing”. My favourite knife model is Tommi-puukko.”

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Jani Ryynänen

This profile is of Jani Ryynänen from Kullaa in Southwest Finland.  Jani is  a friend and student of Ilkka Seikku and Pasi Hurttila whose work has been featured on this blog. I have enjoyed becoming acquainted with his work recently. I like  his very clean sense of design based in tradition and appreciate his statement “But if you keep your mind open you can always see and learn something, even from things you don’t like.”   I look forward to posting more of his work here in the future. Thank you Jani!

Please check out Jani’s blog at   http://keklut.blogspot.com/

Jani Ryynänen:

“I got interested in blacksmithing when I was about ten years old. My uncle was forging a few puukkos and I asked him: “Would you make me one?” He replied: “No, I won’t. Do it yourself.” So, few years later, I made my first puukko with a Lauri blade.

I really hammered for the first time about seven years ago, when I was visiting my friend Ilkka Seikku. Then he showed me how to make a “women’s knife” or emännän veitsi. I also forged and made my first puukko at Ilkka’s place. Lately I forged blades in my friend Pasi Hurttila’s smithy in Leineperi and made the rest in my home. Today I have my own forge and workshop at home.

So, I’m not completely self-taught: Ilkka Seikku and Pasi Hurttila showed me blade forging basics and lately Juhani Ahonen taught me damascus steel forging basics.

There is a long tradition of blacksmithing here. Nearby, in the village of Leineperi, there is Fredrikfors iron work complex, with a blast furnace and a bar-iron forge with water operated hammers, where steel and wrought iron were made.

It was founded in year 1771 and it’s a living example of the first stages of industrialisation in Finland. Nowadays it’s become a museum, but there is working blacksmith forge. In Kullaa we don’t have a personal puukko model, but I think that Kokemäen puukkos were used here too, as in old days Kullaa was part of Kokemäki municipality.

I’m also interested in wood carving and other woodworking. For example I make rifle stocks and carvings.  I don’t have a real source of inspiration. But if you keep your mind open you can always see and learn something, even from things you don’t like.

I think that my mission is to sustain the traditions of handicraft and keep craftsmanship alive. At the end of 2012 I received papers as qualified puukkoseppä, I would be interested in becoming a fulltime bladesmith, but it’s a hard way. Let’s see what comes.”

Jani's gold medal award winning kokemäen puukko in traditional and provincial knife series at 2012 the Fiskars Competition.

Jani’s gold medal award winning kokemäen puukko in traditional and provincial knife series at 2012 the Fiskars Competition.

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Jani puukko

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A traditional Finnish forest axe by Jani.

A traditional Finnish forest axe by Jani.

One of Jani's carving in progress.

One of Jani’s carving in progress.

Jani Ryynänen at work.

Jani Ryynänen at work.

Saku Honkilahti

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.

Saku:

“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.

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Saku Award puukko 1

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Jukka Hankala

I am pleased to  present a post by Jukka Hankala, one of Finland’s  finest puukkoseppäs. Jukka  is a master smith, one of the seven puukkoseppämestari, or master puukko makers of Finland.  His work is very clean and elegant and displays the highest level of skill and design. Jukka has been a smith for many years and offered these thoughts:

“I was born on my family farm and I grew up there, becoming a seventh generation farmer. Our farm always had a workshop, which was used for repairing and crafting new agricultural tools. That old smithy is now dismantled and only the anvil, the hammers and the tongs are left. In this area there is no special blacksmith tradition, there have always been blacksmiths in the villages and farms co-own forges. Farm cooperatives don’t have forges today, though.

As a young boy I have done repair works and learned from them. I also studied one year of metal work and worked for five years in a metal firm, then I returned to live on my farm. Later, I made a new workshop and put the modern machines. I started making knives in 1992 and nearly full-time in 1995.

I have always tried to achieve a simple design in my works, still it is not always so simple, as it displays errors easily. Also, I craft some jewelry for my wife, when I’m not making knives, as I was interested in jewelry when I was younger. I was also interested in drawing. I do not have a specific inspiration for my works, or if you think of it, the nature of this place gives me great ideas. I have named almost all of my knives with regional names.”

Some photos of Jukka, his shop and his work.

Jukka's Workshop

Jukka's Forge

Jukka Forge

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Jukka Tommi

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Jukka birch bark

Jukka puukko

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Jukka Harmaa

Jukka Humma

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Jukka Hankala

Jukka with net

Jukka Hankala at The Helsinki Knife Show January 2012

Jukka Hankala at The Helsinki Knife Show January 2012

Thank you to Jukka Hankala and Federico Buldrini for this post.  You can see more of Jukka’s work at http://www.hankala.com/

Kay Vikström

From Kay’s website ” I live in Purmo, a village about 500km north of Helsinki. Most of my time I make all kinds of blacksmith work as interior decorations for fashion shops, churches and private homes. But always when I get some time over I make knives.”   Kay Vikström is a master blacksmith with many interests, making puukkos is just one aspect of his talent. He does all kinds of metal work including fine art sculpture and is a musician as well.This is what Kay wrote:

“I lived on a farm all my life and used to do everything with my hands. I have always been interested in different kind of art: I have been playing drums and percussion for over 40 years and I have also been painting a lot, mostly oil on canvas.

When I started to forge, about 20 years ago, it was very close to what I had done before: I felt it was pleasant. The art of painting and forging are close, and I just added some percussion. I have forged a lot of different items such as church gates, candelabras, candle holders in all sizes and shapes and I’ve done restorations on old ironwork. Sculptures and art forging are maybe the most fun.

I attended some short courses about black powder guns, axes, sculptures, mosaic damascus, but mostly I have learned by myself doing all mistakes and learned from them. Some years ago I got my masters in blacksmithing.

Wintertime is slower with blacksmithing, overall, so mostly I make knives then. I live 30 minutes from Kauhava, but I guess most of my knives have more Nordic than typical traditional Finn style, maybe because here where I live, near the sea, most of the people speak Swedish as their first language.

When I started hammering, blacksmithing was almost gone, just some old men were still forging. It has been funny to be a part of bringing it back and see young craftsmen grow up. I am a lazy person. I like motorcycles and fishing better than work, but I get something done sometimes now and then…”

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Kay Vikstrom

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Some of Kay’s other work and interests:

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Kay with Fe'male

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Kay 6

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Cheers! And thank you Kay! Visit him at his website http://www.multi.fi/~kaitsu/index2.html