Pasi Hurttila is a smith in Ivalo in Lapland in the far north of Finland. He has written a previous piece for this blog about the leuku and has agreed to share his thoughts about his work and the culture of the puukko. Pasi sums it all up with this statement: “For cutting and carving you need a blade, blade needs a handle and the knife needs a sheath. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less, a puukko.” A very simple statement on the surface but to create knives that capture the essence of a puukko is not so easy. Pasi’s work does that as you can see in the photos. You can visit his website at:
Pasi’s excellent article about the leuku may be seen here: https://nordiskaknivar.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/leuku-part-two-by-pasi-hurtilla/
Thank you Pasi for sharing your thoughts and work here!
“For me it has always been interesting to be able to make usable items by myself. I forged my first knife blade in 2001. In 2002 I went on 3 month ancient/traditional crafts course, which can be said to be a real “fire starter” in becoming a craftsman. On that course we also had 2 weeks of various forging, taught by Martti Malinen. Right after the course I started collecting blacksmith’s tools, as forging was something I really wanted to continue doing.
For me in crafts the first place always goes to items that really have a use. Knives, tools, fireplace tools, hinges, latches, various interior stuff such as wall hooks and candle holders, the list is almost endless. Works can be simple and plain, or quite decorated too, as long as they have use. I really admire the work of village smiths from 18th to early 20th century, at those times craftsmen were really needed and their skills appreciated in everyday life. The omplete opposite of modern world, where a basic tool or a pair of hinges is worth nothing, throw it away and buy a new one mentality.
After I started practicing forging, my goal was to be a full-time craftsman in near future. I worked as a wilderness guide for several years in Lapland, forging and making knives stayed as a hobby. In 2007 I turned it into full-time work, which I do not regret. For the first 3 years I had my workshop in Leineperi, south Finland. In the beginning among iron stuff and knives I also made wooden bows, arrows, and shaman drums for sale. But after a while I concentrated more on forging. In 2010 I moved back to Lapland, as I being a hunter and fisherman, really enjoy to be surrounded by large wilderness areas. Most of my hobbies connect to nature; skiing, canoeing, hiking, and just generally enjoying and learning from nature.
Nowadays my workshop is a 12 square meter cold shed with dirt floor. The only electric tools I have are a belt sander, hand held drill, angle grinder, and a welding machine. So not that far from a village smith’s workshop 100 years ago. In future I’m planning to stop using electric tools, and go back to more traditional ways still. I find interesting, and also important, to preserve traditional working methods and ways. Not just to make traditional works, but also to make them in traditional way.
I have made several knives that could be said not to be traditional Finnish knives, but after all I always found myself liking to make so called traditional Finnish type knives. I can’t really explain why is that, maybe it’s simple clean shapes combined with the feeling of Finnish tradition that keeps me interested in them. For me the beauty of a puukko lies in the fact that it has been an important part of a Finnish man’s life. And still is for many. For cutting and carving you need a blade, blade needs a handle and the knife needs a sheath. That’s it, nothing more, nothing less, a puukko.”