Monthly Archives: December 2015

Tapio Wirkkala Axe

Some time ago I wrote about the Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala (2 June 1915 – 19 May 1985) and the puukko he designed. ( see Tapio Wirkkala )

I always liked his design and was able to get one of the puukkos made by Hackman as a Christmas present to myself this year. I recently found out that he designed an axe too that was never put into production. If anyone has any additional information about this axe and upcoming production, please let me know. Special thanks to Kimi Niityniemi for his help with this article.

wirkkalan kirves

Tapio Wirkkala Axe Article

Here is a translation of that article:

“The architect Tuomas Toivonen presents an axe prototype designed by Tapio Wirkkala. The axe is a rarity, because just a few specimens exist, three of which belong to Wirkkala / Bryk Foundation and are in possession of the designer’s family.

Wirkkala had written a note about the axe designed in the mid-1970s: ‘For a forest-person – Multi-purpose axe – Unable to locate a manufacturer.’ All the manufactured individual axes were prototypes made by hand.

‘I like the axe, it is well balanced, and the grip is accurate. Thanks to the narrowing blade shape it can also be used for carving’, Toivonen says.

Toivonen and partners of L’esprit de l’escalier book publishing company plan to release the latest edition of the axe. The publisher is special in that its publications are rarely on paper.

For this purpose, forms of the axe have to be maintained and preserved. Prototypes are all different and they are made of flat steel by machining and by filing. Blades will be produced by precision casting. The casting molds are made by using ‘reverse engineered geometry’.

Industrial designer Mika Ihanus has scanned the axe form by using optical hand scanners and modeled it again. This very impressively designed axe sets quite high requirements for scanning and post-processing than, for example, a simple part of an engine.  Scanned models are always ‘just about there’ models. The person in charge of the process must have a strong vision of what you are doing and be familiar with the industrial area, Ihanus says.

Ihanus displays the scan results. The surface is a little wavy and the different halfs are not symmetrical. Post-processing of the scanned object normally takes more time than scanning itself. Scanning took an hour, finishing two.”


Tapio Wirkkala

Wirkkala axe


Puukko designed by Wirkkala and produced by Hackman.

Also see: Tapio Wirkkala Website




Hervé Hueber

It is rare for me to feature a smith who doesn’t live in the Nordic countries since the primary focus of this blog is of course the puukko, the national treasure of Finland. This post features a puukkoseppä who lives in Normandy, France. I saw the work of Hervé Hueber on where he goes by the name Totem2h. If you would like to contact him, he can be reached at

I was intrigued by his sense of design and his choice of materials. His work is very down to earth yet unusual and attractive. Hervé forges his own damascus steel which he uses for many of his blades. Here is a link to a very good WIP he produced for another website: 

I wrote to Hervé to see if he’d provide some background about himself and his work and this is what he had to tell me:

Hervé Hueber was born in Madagascar where he lived for 6 years and after that moved to French Guiana in the north of Brazil where he stayed for 12 years until earning his baccalaureate. In 1989 he moved to France for his studies. Before making knives Hervé enjoyed woodturning. He started to make knives eight years ago by pure happenstance when he found an anvil. A friend of his who was salesman of wood working tools bought an anvil for the son of one of his employees, but he never took possession of it. Hervé was fascinated by this big piece of metal with an incredible crystal sound and bought it. He decided to use it and to make knives because he always liked knives as long as he could remember. He now has a collection of 23 anvils.


In the beginning, the first anvil.

Hervé has no particular influences, but was always interested in Nordic art; knives, wood working, style of life with the nature. For instance he made his own Kuksa that he uses to drink his coffee. He is self-taught and reads a lot of books, learns from the web and learns by trying, and trying again.

To quote Hervé : “I like a simple puukko, to be used as a tool. The knives of Joonas Kalioniemi are for me perfect. I did a collaboration with Joonas. I made the Damascus and he made a knife, beautiful as usual. I like to use Damascus that I forge myself. Stainless steel for the guard and the pommel, and most of the time I try to use a piece of wood burl. I like ebony too, even if it’s not Nordic. I like to use metal too for the handle where I melt some copper or brass. That makes a very rustic style. I like a simple knife that’s useable every day.”

Here is a look at some of his work, I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Thank you Hervé!


Hervé Hueber in his workshop.


One of my favorite puukkos by Hervé, the blade of 8.5 cm forge from piece of carbon steel (Steel with 0.75% of carbon) The handle is made with 2 pieces of brass, 6 layers of black and red fiber, and 6 pieces of marine plywood.



Hervé’s personal puukko, the one he uses.



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Elm burr

“The 12 cm blade is a sandwich of old iron coming from an abbey of Normandy and with a sharp edge in C130 (Carbon Steel 1.30% of carbon).”

Elm burr 2


“A ‘Gabonese / Norman’ puukko of 21 cms. The blade is a damascus of carbon steel and of nickel steel with C130 in the sharp edge. Its length is 10,5 cms. The handle consists of a guarding and a knob in stainless steel, intercalary red and black in fiber, two pieces of ebony of the Gabon and a piece of burr elm of Normandy.”



“A knife which tries to ally the synthetic material and the natural material, the G10 and the ebony. The total length of the knife is 21 cm. The blade is 10 cm. I forged it with 33 layers of carbon steel (110WCV5) and nickel steel (60Ni20). The handle is made with stainless steel, orange G10 and ebony from Gabon.”




“The total length of the knife is 22 cm. The length of the blade is 11 cm. I forged it from a piece of twist of carbon steel (XC75 : 0.75% of carbon) and pure nickel on which I welded a sharp edge reported of 6 mm in carbon steel (C130 : 1.30% of carbon). The 11 cm handle consists of a guarding of 6 mm in stainless steel and a piece of Ziricote.”



“A small knife of 20,5 cms. The blade is a gradation of carbon steels and nickel steels until pure nickel. The sharp edge is in C130. It’s length is 9,5 cms. The handle is 11 cms and it made with a piece of stainless steel and a piece of locust tree burl.”




“A small 20,5 cm knife. The blade is 9 cms. I forged it with carbon steel 110WCV5 and with nickel steel 60Ni20. The handle is made with a piece of stainless steel, intercalary in black and red fiber and finally a piece of deer hunter antler of New Caledonia. The sheath is made in a leather of 3 mm, sewing with a red wire, which I molded on the knife.”

deer 3

Deer 4


“The length of this knife is 18,5 cm. I forged the blade with 2 pieces of old iron and a sharp edge in carbon steel C130. Its length is 7,7 cm. The handle is made with 2 pieces of stainless steel and a piece of elm burl.”


“A simple folding knife. The total length is 16,5 cm. I forged the blade with 110WCV5 and 60Ni20. Its length is 7,5 cm. The handle is a piece of pure iron where I melt copper.”

fold 2

fold 3

fold 4


“The total length of this puukko is 21,5 cm. The length of the blade is 10,5 cm. I forged it with various nuances of carbon steel, nickel steel and pure nickel. I tried to obtain on the blade a gradation of the dark grey to the white of the pur nickel. The length of the handle is 11 cm. I used stainless steel and a piece of old oak burl.”

gray 2

grey 3

greay 4


“A knife different than my usual scandinavian realizations. The total length of the knife is 21,5 cm. The blade length is 10,5 cm for 3,5 cm of wide et 4 mm of thickness. I forged the blade with pieces of 110WCV5 and 60Ni20 and obtain at the end a laminated of 132 layers. I made the handle with 2 pieces of red fiber and 2 pieces of ebony. The sheath is made with a 3 mm black leather closed with a snap fastener.”





K1 (1)