Tapio Wirkkala Puukko

Tapio Wirkkala (2 June 1915 – 19 May 1985) was a Finnish designer who was trained as a decorative carver and sculptor. He graduated in 1936 from The Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki and in 1955 and 1956 worked for the famous American designer Raymond Lowey in New York.  He was very versatile and his work is known throughout the world, especially his  glass,  some of which is still in production today. He would often carve the molds for his work by hand and designed his own version of the puukko. The Tapio Wirkkala puukko was made by Hackman Cutlery and marketed by Brookstone in the U.S. in the early 70’s.

Wirkkala’s puukko is unique and stands out by the shape of the handle. It is an iconic design that has been popular throughout the years and the originals are now sought after by collectors. The knives were  manufactured by Oy Hackman AB, Sorsakoski, Finland in two sizes. The larger version had a 4 inch blade and the smaller one a 3 1/2 inch blade.  The blade was made from stainless steel, the bolster and pommel were brass and the handle was black nylon. The leather sheath was embossed with a bear paw print had a plastic lesta or insert.

It’s about 50 years since Tapio Wirkkala designed his puukko, although he didn’t use traditional materials I think he captured the essence of the puukko and created a classic that is appreciated and collected by museums and knife enthusiasts alike.

A Tapio Wirkkala puukko in teh collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y.

A Tapio Wirkkala puukko in the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, N.Y.

Wirkkala end

Wirkkala stamp

Tapio Wirkkala (Courtesy of Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation.)

Tapio Wirkkala (Courtesy of Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation.)

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One response to “Tapio Wirkkala Puukko

  1. Congratulations for your very interesting website.
    As a field naturalist in Quebec-Labrador and South American Andes, I use only scandinavian knives and axes. My favourites are a finnish leuku made by Pasi Hurttila, axes from Fiskars and Gransförs Brucks and various Helle knifes (Norway). I lost this puukko of Tapio Wirkkala some years ago hunting wild geese with a friend Montaineer Indian from La Romaine (Olomane Shipu). Jumping down a rock, the knife slept from the sheath (at my belt) and dropped in the krummholz (thick prostrated bushes of spruce, firs and birch). When I realized it quarter of an hour after, it was too late. I never recovered it. Now it lies somewhere in the taïga of the nutshimit, between a pond and boulder. It was an excellent knife, sharp and strong, stainless, with a perfect blade length and a beautiful, smooth black handle. Never wear your puukko at your belt, only keep it inside your backpack.
    Best greetings. Pierre-Olivier Combelles (France).

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