I have recently become acquainted with Tapio Syrjälä through Sami Länsipaltta’s Facebook group, Puukkolareena. Tapio has been posting photos of some very nice puukkos with curly birch handles so I sent him an email to find out more about him and his work.
Tapio lives in Aura, Finland and has been making puukkos for less than a year. He appreciates the traditional puukko and is able to capture its unique qualities in his work. He’s created a shop in a converted sauna in the yard at his house and he’s come a long way in less than a year. I’m pleased to feature his work here and I hope he’ll be a frequent contributor. Thanks Tapio, very nice work, you’ve got a great future ahead of you!
To contact Tapio (before his waiting list grows too long!) visit his website at http://tsyrjala.blogspot.fi/
“I have always used and been interested in knives. I remember that I had my first Swiss army knife when I was about 5 or 6 years old. I started knife making last spring (2013), when I had a puukko with a very bad sheath, so I started to search the web on how to make a better sheath for that puukko. When I was searching for some kind of guide to make a sheath, I found some blades from one web store, so I thought I’d like to try to make my own puukko! First I ordered blades, but that is not for me, so I had to start to make my own blades, first in the yard, but now I have indoor space to practice knife making.
I´m self taught, still learning and I have a lot to learn. I take a little bit here and there depending on what suits the way I work. In most cases, I have to come up with a suitable way to work. When I started to do my first puukko, I really didn’t have any influences, but now I try to make simple and fine looking practical tools which are traditional puukko design with some kind of a pinch of me.
I really like traditional materials like curly birch, birch burl, and all other types of Finnish wood. Also, brass is my favorite material for fittings, all the brass I use I smelt by myself from old scrap metal. For the blade, I think the best material is carbon steel. Now I use 80crv2 steel. It’s basic carbon steel with 0.8% carbon and light add chrome and 0.2% vanadium. Now I have some silversteel but I did not test that enough yet to do a blade from it. I really want to do my own blade metal, like wootz. I have one friend nearby who practices this kind of work so… maybe that is the next story?
While I don’t have a favorite type of puukko, I like simple and practical puukkos. Where I live in Aura, Varsinais-Suomi, near Turku there’s no traditional style of puukko. Maybe some day will be? I really hope that also ordinary Finnish people start to understand the culture of puukko. I think that modern people have forgotten why a knife is such an important tool.
I never did make the sheath for that puukko, but I am still on that same road to make my own puukkos. This is a hobby for me now, but I really hope that someday I can make knives for living.”