KULLERVO REVIEW by Federico Buldrini
This puukko was hand made by Finnish blacksmith Veikko Hakkarainen living and working in Tapio, a small locality 40 km north of Rovaniemi, on lake Tuhnajajärvi. A very reserved man, he doesn’t really like to talk about himself except for strictly business related matters. A fourth generation blacksmith, he used to forge agricultural tools before specializing in puukkos in the ’80s.
All the measures I’ll give are just for this specimen and have to be taken just for it. Since every puukko is individually made measurements will change slightly.
length 93 mm
wideness 19 mm
thickness 3 mm
tang 6 x 5 mm at peening
steel W-Nr 1.1750
edge angle 17°, with small microbevel
edge hardness ~ 58 HRC
length 109 mm
wideness 29 mm max.
thickness 21 mm max.
knife 105 g
with sheath 145 g
The knife comes in a feathersticks filled wooden giftbox, made by the same man that supplies also Marttiini Oy, together with a certificate of authenticity written in Finnish. The name Kullervo comes from the ill fated Kalevala character I previously wrote about.
Due to the hermetic character of the maker I have no precise information about the actual crafting, so I had to search around and mainly went with guesswork. The flat section blade was probably forged, just with hand held hammer, from W-Nr 1.1750 carbon steel, equivalent to US 1075. I wasn’t able to obtain a word about heat treatment. Bevels are slightly concave, ground to 17°, with a small microbevel; shaving sharp out of the box. The tang is quite thick and gives the all knife a good balance.
The handle is composed of birch bark flaps, compressed between two brass bolsters, the front one 7 mm thick, the back one 5 mm thick; as usual with birch bark handles it has a plush and smooth feeling, remaining very grippy. As already said in a previous review birch bark is waterproof and provides a very firm grip whatever hands are tired, bloody or moist.The handle has a subtle teardrop cross section and fills the hand well.
The sheath was machine sewn on the back, with a hand operated Singer, from 2 mm thick cowhide. The edge of the mouth isn’t folded inside and there is actually some space between handle and the back part of the mouth itself, leading to a just decent friction retention, but nothing incredible. Inside there is a one sided plastic protective liner. The twisted leather belt loop simply slides into a vertical cut before the stitching, much like on leukus and on old maasepän puukkos.
Honestly speaking, though, this sheath is quite poor compared to the quality of the knife.
Weighing, together with the sheath, just a hair more than my Martti Malinen Koivumäki, the Kullervo is still an extremely light belt knife.
Now to the test. Keeping up with my usual bird carving I sawed off another piece of that four years seasoned oak and thinned it down of a couple of mm. Then I drew the profile of black woodpecker head and cut off the extra wood. I roughed out the general shape then started the finer work: I thinned the throat, the chin, the beak, then the forehead and finally the crest and back of the neck. I concluded as usual with a minute of sandpapering. All the carving went rather smoothly and without particular difficulties.
A great handle for sure. I wasn’t able to detect any rough spot all along the carving and the size is just what I prefer: slightly larger so to be comfortable in prolonged use, while providing intuitive and quick blade control.The blade showed a very nice bite and good handiness both in tiny spaces and in power cuts. Being a quite thin blade it lacked a bit of mass when cutting away wood feathers using only the tip. With a rhombic puukko tip I can do it in just one go. During carving I also generally perceived a little resistance from the wood and actually felt the blade penetrating and separating fibers, while a rhombic blades usually feels like if it’s really gliding in the wood.
This is anyway not really appreciable by someone not used to rhombic section.
I was very positively impressed with edge strength and durability: at the end of the work it was absolutely perfect with no rolling or nicks of any sort. It had lost a bit of sharpness and wasn’t able to shave hair almost anymore, but that’s fine.