Monthly Archives: January 2014

Veikko Hakkarainen

Veikko Hakkarainen is a full time blacksmith who lives and works in Tapio, a small locality a few km away from Rovaniemi, the “capital” of Finnish Lappland.

His great grandfather, grandfather and his father were also blacksmiths, but they didn’t craft knives for a living, though his father made few during retirement. Veikko was taught about blacksmithing basics by his father doing his forging on a charcoal fire, but he’s mostly self taught. In fact he learned puukko making by himself.

Before 1978 he used to forge agriculture tools, then he was asked by Lauri-Tuottet, a small souvenir company in Rovaniemi, to forge blades for them. That’s when he started to forge blades and make puukkos regularly. Since then he has focused on knives only and his Kullervo Puukko, named for a character in the Kalevala the national saga of Finland, is now a registered trade mark in Finland. ( Scroll down after the photos for the story of ill-fated Kullervo.)

His goal has always been to make the finest knives possible, as precise as possible, paying careful attention to details and giving the best of himself to every knife. In thirty five years of knife making for a living he has received major awards twice, even though this isn’t really important to him. In 1986 his Kullervo won a puukko contest in “Metsästys & Kalastus” (Hunting & Fishing) magazine and in 1995 he was chosen as the best Finnish knife smith. The most important thing, he says, is customer satisfaction, not the awards.

As long as his body will allow him, he’ll forge more puukkos and, after all, he plans to keep hammering for at least for another 10 years.

The Kullervo puukko is now available at Lamnia, http://www.lamnia.fi/items.php?lang=en&pid=8438

Veikko Hakkarainen:

”It is important to me that the tools I make, the knives, are as good and of the best quality as possible. Old, proven  methods are essential in my production, but I don’t hesitate utilizing new technology, methods and materials either.

Being a knifesmith in fourth generation I feel obliged to do my work in the best possible way. I have seen how tools can be made since I was a child and thus my began my interest in the profession of a smith.
I became a smith when I was a young boy. I find it very challenging and there is always something to learn.”

Veikko Hakkarainen

Veikko Hakkarainen

A Kullervo puukko by Veikko Hakkarainen.

A Kullervo puukko by Veikko Hakkarainen.

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The Kullervo puukko pictured above is owned by my friend Bill Lecuyer and he provided this information:

Blade:
length 85mm
height 18mm
thickness 3mm
tang 6x4mm thick at peening

Handle:
length 110mm
height 30mm max
thickness 21mm max

Weight: 97g

“The blade is hand forged from xc75 carbon steel and heat treated to 62-63HRC. The blade has visible hammer marks.The handle is oval shaped and made of birch bark pieces compressed between two brass bolsters, bottom bolster is 7mm and top bolster is 4mm. The birch bark handle provides a nice warm and comfortable grip in all conditions.

The sheath is made of 3mm leather with a nylon insert for protection and a leather thong belt loop.The puukko came in a wooden box lined with straw.The Kullervo feels really nice in hand and came razor sharp.”

The Story of Kullervo by Federico Buldrini

Here is the tale of Kullervo as told in the Kalevala:

Among Kalevala characters, Kullervo is the most tragic and negative one, archetype of the strong, ill-fated, brainless and impulsive lad. Jean Sibelius composed a symphonic suite about him.

 The two brothers Untamo and Kalervo have a fiery argument ending with Untamo going to war to Kalervo’s tribe. Untamo slaughters everyone but Kalervo’s pregnant wife, who he keeps as a slave.

Kullervo is born and shows immediately his furious temper. After three days he destroys the cradle, after three months he start to talk about vengeance towards the uncle.

Untamo tries to drown him in a river, Kullervo is later found fishing. It’s then tried to burn him, but Kullervo just plays with the ashes and fire. Finally he tried to hang him, but Kullervo, instead of choking, carves up the  tree.

Kullervo

Kullervo

Kullervo grows up and Untamo tries to put him to work as nurse for a new born baby, just to see Kullervo leaving the child to starve. When he has to care for a field he just destroys it. If he has to build a fence he creates it without an entrance. When he has to thresh the rye he destroys the harvest.

Finally Untamo sells him to the smith Ilmarinen. Ilmarinen’s wife puts him to graze cattle and, to make fun of him, she cooks him a loaf filled with a stone. While doing his duty Kullervo tries to cut the bread, but his puukko hit the stone and breaks. He’s filled with grief since the knife was the only memory of his family. Enraged he curses his mistress and calls a pack of wolves and bears for vengeance.

While Ilmarinen’s wife is milking the cows Kullervo stirs the beasts towards her. She’s bitten in the face by wolves and has a leg cut off by bears. She begs Kullervo for help but he leaves her bleeding to death.

This done Kullervo flees and wonders sadly in the woods. Here he meets an old fairy who tells him his family is still alive. He’s overcome with joy and searches for them. Once at home he’s warmly welcomed by the mother that then informs him that one of his sisters is disappeared in the forest.

At home Kullervo tries to work with less success than what he did when he was a slave. He destroys the boat, ruins the fishing net, splatters the fish. He’s now sent to pay tributes due to the tribe, but on his way back home he meets a maiden. He tries with no success to seduce her with words, but manages to attract her showing his jewelry and fine clothes.

Kullervo now lies with her without caring who she is. After he has satisfied his lust they talk just to find out to be brother and sister. She runs off in despair and drowns herself in the river.

Kullervo heads home, tells the tragic story to his mother and decides to go to war against Untamo in the hope to die in battle, giving at least a meaning to his own death. His mother tries in vain to convince him to remain with them, asking who will care for them if something happens. A hardhearted Kullervo wishes them all to die and prepares to leave. Only his mother seems to feel affection for him still.

While on his way to war he learns about the death of his father, brother and sister, but shows no interest or feelings for them. But when his mother dies he’s once again alone and embittered. He then gives dispositions for her burial.

Now to the war. He asks the the god Ukko his magic sword for a terrible victory and with that blade he slays Untamo and his tribe. Fulfilled by his revenge he heads home and when he finds it empty calls his mother spirit asking why she left him alone in this world. She replies from the grave telling he has his dog left for hunting.

Kullervo goes to the woods for the hunt but shortly after he finds again the glade where he dishonored his sister. Rage and desperation take him, he asks to the sword if it would kill him. The weapon has no problem in drinking sinner blood, as long as it often cuts innocent flesh. He then  thrust the hilt in the ground and impales himself on the blade.

The wizard bard Väinämöinen warns the future generations about raising children recklessly.

The death of Kullervo.

The death of Kullervo.

The wizard bard Väinämöinen

The wizard bard Väinämöinen

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Markku Parkkinen, Midnight Sun

Today I’d like to show a new knife by Markku Parkkinen. It’s called “Midnight Sun” and like all his knives is completely made by hand.  He has used goat willow root burl, reindeer antler, Böhler k510 steel, intarsia work with gold and bronze to create this beautiful knife.

To see more of his work go to the Index Page and also check out his site: http://markkuparkkinen.blogspot.com/

Thanks for the photos Markku!

7Markku

8Markku

3Markku

9Markku

2 Markku

 

Martti Malinen

This profile is of Martti Malinen who lives in Puumala, Finland in the middle of Lake Saimaa. While known for his very fine axes, he is a smith who makes  puukkos, tools and just about anything else anyone may need. He teaches classes occasionally at his place called Goose Meadow and is also an outfitter and guide for canoeing, kayaking and hiking expeditions.

I think you will enjoy Martti’s story and philosophy and the photos of his work. You can learn more at his website, http://goosemeadow.fi/en/hanhiniityn-synty/

Martti Malinen:

“My father is a carpenter and I remember his tool box from when I was 4 years old. The tools were really sharp and my father let me use them all; his knife was a Swedish Mora in a red brown sheath and that was my first contact with knives. I got interested in blacksmithing because of my hobbies, when I was a teen I used to spend all my free time fishing and hiking. At that time it was common to make your own gear at home, so I started to make knives, canoes, backpacks, lures, flies etc. I crafted knives with ready made blades but it didn’t satisfy me. In 1988 I graduated from the forestry college and bought a house. In the same year I got my first anvil and started to hammer blades.

I have studied hammering by myself mainly, but in the beginning I contacted old Masters and visited their workshops. Uuno Vedenpää made a big impression on me and mainly I still follow his methods in traditional Finnish type of blade making. At that time hammering wasn’t a common hobby, while now the Finnish knifemakers guild is a big association. In the beginning of the 90s I worked in Kuru at the Institute of Forestry as a teacher. I taught courses in log house building and taught survival skills for wilderness guides.

Log house builders needed lots of special tools and I had the anvil and the workshop at home, so it was natural for me to make axes and other tools for the courses. Soon students started to ask for the tools also. I started to sell axes and knives at that time as a side job. In 2005 I moved away from Kuru and started my own company in Puumala which has kept me busy.

I still give courses sometimes, but now they are in my own workshop and held in commercial way, I don´t want to go back to the teacher’s role and job, I enjoy the freedom that I have now. As my own teachers I still need to mention Hovard Bergland, a Norwegian blacksmith that taught some short courses in Finland. I learned a lot from him.

I like to keep the Finnish blacksmith tradition alive. It´s somehow important to offer services for locals if they need a blacksmiths help. That’s why I accept many kind of orders, not only knives and axes. I don’t want to fill the world with my knives but if the neighbor comes to me and asks me to forge the candle holder I make it gladly. My duty is to be the smith in the local community.

I get my inspiration from my own experiences from hunting and fishing trips. I carry the knife everyday on my belt and I use it too, but I never go for long trips in the wilderness without an axe. I could forget my knife but not the axe. Also Finnish tradition in tool making is important for me. We have a very rich culture in knife and other tool making because in old times people ordered tools from the local smith, and of course the local smith had his own models. Now we can copy the models from books and the internet and there is the risk to kill the small local traditions.

My mission as a blacksmith is hard to explain. I´m 50 years old and I still have many years to work. It was something like 25 years ago that I started to hammer blades and I think that after another 25 years I will still be hammering the same kind of blades and of course axes too… I feel I have found my life style and I’ll keep it.”

Martti Malinen

Martti Malinen

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malinen axe

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Here is some of Martti’s other work including scissors and work on vintage locks and latches:

Malinen Scissors

SAMSUNG

SAMSUNG

Martti's dog on a hunt in Lappland.

Martti’s dog on a hunt in Lappland.

Martti Malinen at work.

Martti Malinen at work.

 

 

 

Emännänveitsi: Part Two

More about the emännänveitsi… the story about the shape of the blade has been explained to me as it has been passed down through the years. It seems the man of the house didn’t want his wife to have a large knife with a sharp point. It could be used against him if he misbehaved. An angry wife could inflict much damage. I enjoy learning folklore like this, it’s not usually found in books.

Tuomas Tolmala:

“Emännänveitsi is one of my favorites, even if it is not a puukko. I really like to listen to the real blacksmith’s stories from history. So here is some extra info about emännänveitsi. At least some of this is more or less true;-) I have kept as true the story that originally Finnish emännänveitsi was “born” when a man’s knife tip broke and it was not suitable for work anymore. So the man severed the handle and re-forged the tang and what was left from the blade. The shape was light and more feminine,  so more suitable for the wife.  Another thing was that thanks to the shorter blade the man may sleep peacefully without a fear of getting stabbed to death by his wife.”

An emännänveitsi with birch bark sheath  by Tuomas Tolmala.

An emännänveitsi with birch bark sheath by Tuomas Tolmala.

Sami Länsipaltta:

 “Usually these knives don’t have the sharp tip on the blade. I don’t know if this is some kind of legend/story, but husbands didn’t want that their wife’s carrying a  sharp pointed knife so that’s why the knives don’t have that kind of tip (nirko).  I think that men were afraid that their own wife would stab them when they did something stupid, like being drunk or messing around.”

So there you have it! Although, the knives in this post look like they could do some serious damage to an offending husband.  Also, here is a WIP by Ilkka Seikku on how to make a tuohituppi for the knife. I’d like to tell more about the making of tuohituppis in the future, from the harvesting and preparation of the bark to a finished sheath. I think they are really nice traditional sheaths and would like to see more of them.

Here are photos from Ilkka showing him making a tuohituppi:

Ilkka 1

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Ilkka 2

Ilkka 3

Ilkka 4

ilkka 5

Ilkka 6

Ilkka 7

Ilkka 8

Ilkka 9

Ilkka 10

Ilkka 11