Monthly Archives: November 2016

Seishi Oizumi; Bush n’ Blade

Seishi Oizumi:

For a long time I thought I was the first one in my family to become a knife maker or any kind of professional crafter. Recently I have discovered that my great grand father on my mother’s side was blacksmith in Finland, so I do have maaseppä in my background and perhaps, that blood drew me in to this profession. However, I enjoy knife making very much and I am thinking about it 24-7.

I am interested in making things with my hands and have no fear of DIY so, I started as self-taught and that went on for quite a long time. I only started to become interested in getting a teacher when I realized that I wanted to do this professionally. It was also about the same time I was reaching the limit of being self-taught, especially in the area of traditional puukko making. Luckily, Mr. Taisto Kuortti was teaching traditional puukko making nearby, so I started to take his courses for his teaching.

Knife making tradition… I am not sure, but tradition of living with blades, YES.
Those of you who know me probably know that I am Japanese. Born in Japan and grew up in Japan. But not many know that I have a Finnish mother. I grew up hearing and seeing about Finland and its culture through her.
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When I was child I was naturally surrounded by Japanese bladed tools and a culture where the blade has special value and role. Raised with how to respect the blades, not just because it is an important tool or could be dangerous, but because it is a tool that has soul.
Well… it does sounds cheesy and too dramatic to say so, but that was how the elderly generation around me treated the blades and that is how Japanese blade smiths are creating blades.
As for the Finnish traditional blades, my first fixed knife was Finnish puukko. I was interested  how the knife was carried and used daily in Finnish old days. Hearing my Finnish grand father’s stories and so on, I remember fantasizing myself back there and carried around knife in my local woods to make use out of it even it actually did not needed.
My biggest source of  inspiration is traditional Japanese and Finnish crafts.
When I get inspiration, I try not to just copy the look, it is important for me to learn its back ground as much as I can. The history, the culture, how it is done, the tools used etc. and often that background gives me a much more wide range of inspiration.
IWG model for example
It was inspired by Japanese indigenous Ainu peoples’ knife. The original one is called Makiri. When I saw it, I started to think how to bring it in to Finnish style knife. As I researched, I started to see the similarity in saame style knife in its look, use and culture.
From that IWG leuku was borne. Since then I have been making different versions of this knife and the latest one in the picture received first place in modern puukko at SM puukko kisa this year.
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I am not much of fashion person, but think would be so cool to have a knife hanging that tells others who you are.  In city life, people dress up, wearing all kinds of accessories to make oneself unique. Decorate oneself how you want to look. So I started to make knives because I wanted the knife that does the needed job in the woods and does look nice.
If you think of knife as just a tool, then perhaps a wild looking straight out of the forge blade with what ever works on the handle does the job. (do not take this wrong way, I am not criticizing that. in fact, I love those style and I do make them as well) But if you look back at the history of knives, the user/maker has been decorating the tool blades in some way and it had some meaning to the user.
The bottom line is a knife is a tool and it must do the job. But at a same time, it is not just a tool to get the job done. It also should have meaning, culture, history, character… and I think that makes a knife interesting. If/when I manage to create a knife that says that to some one, then I could say I have accomplished something.
It is difficult for me to separate hobbies and work because in a way, my hobby/passion got out of hand and it became my profession. Other than knife making, I am also a wilderness and nature guide, so again not completely a hobby but I love spending time in the woods. Taking nature photos has been of interest and a hobby since I was child. One of my new areas of interest is birds. It is such a easily seen wild life yet easily missed if not paying attention.
Here are some of my works. Many are puukko based models but I think there is always some taste of Japanese in it. My good friend named my style “Scandiasian”. I think the name describes it well of my work and myself.
Please visit https://sites.google.com/site/bushnbladeshop/home for Seishi Oizumi’s Bush n’ Blade website.
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YP-Taonta Review by Federico Buldrini

YP-Taonta is a small company, founded by the old master Yrjö Puronvarsi, located just outside Härmä, a town 24 km south of Kauhava. Since 2006, the torch has been passed to his grandson, Antti Mäkinen, who continues the family tradition, keeping both his grandfather’s punch and style, while adding a few personal touches. Yrjö, however, continues to forge every day as a hobby, in spite of being 88 years old. Most of the production is focused on iron objects and on blade forging. See this post for more information on YP-Taonta:  yrjo-puronvarsi-blades-yp-taonta

 

Yrjö Puronvarsi and his grandson Antti Mäkinen at work at YP-Taonta

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Technical data

blade
length         106 mm
width           20 mm
thickness     4 mm at the spine; 5 mm where bevels start
tang             3×3 mm at the pommel
steel             C75
grind           concave
edge angle   21 °, tiny convex microbevel
hardness     ~ 60 HRC at the edge

handle
length         120 mm width           29 mm max. thickness     20 mm max.

weight
knife             100 g with sheath   150 g

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Overview

The blade is forged from C75, European equivalent to 1075. It was first roughed out with power hammer, then finished with hand held hammer. It has a rhombic section slightly tapered in height. After annealing and normalization it was heated on the forge, quenched in oil and tempered in an electric oven. It came shaving sharp. The common birch handle was machine roughed out and then finished on belt sander. It is sanded with a medium grit; it’s slightly tapered towards the blade in both height and thickness. It fills well the hand and has an oval section. The collar and brass rivets are made by Lauri Metalli Oy. The 2 mm thick leather sheath, is made by the Kari Rämäkkö factory, which also supplies several other Finnish companies that produce knives on a large scale. Machine sewed, it has a simple plastic liner inside. The belt loop is the usual twisted strip of leather. To improve retention a small leather strip was added in the inside of the mouth.

In use

When the knife arrived the first 3 mm of the blade’s heel were chipped out, forming a clear half moon shape. This probably happened when hammering the handle onto the blade. So I completely resharpened the puukko with DMT #600, #1200, #8000 and stropped with BRKT black and green compound. The steel proved quick to sharpen and the chip is now reduced.

Now a couple of tests to sum up my impressions.

Firstly I carved a small gnome, in the style of Norwegian spikkentrolls, from a seasoned maple twig. During the carving I felt some resistance from the wood when doing roughing power cuts: the concave bevels bite deep, but have little mass behind the edge to separate the fibers. While performing refining cuts, pulling the puukko towards myself, holding the blade there were no problem and I was able to get tiny curly spirals of wood.

At the end of the work all the edge was still shaving, though it had lost some bite.

After some time, so to avoid enhancing eventual fatigue and without touching up the blade, I carved a butter paddle from seasoned silver fir.

As for the gnome I felt some resistance during roughing push cuts. Also, I was gripping the knife very close to the blade and I had my nails clearly digging in the palm, due to the tapered handle.

During refining cuts, especially in the concave joint between the handle and paddle, the puukko was quite precise, though I felt like the point was slightly too big for the purpose.

At the end of the work I detected three minor rollings in the straight portion of the edge and only the last curved third was still enough sharp to shave hair.

Conclusions

It is not the most precise wood carver, due to its geometry and to the untapered tip, but fair enough for general use.

The handle of this particular model can be a little too slim when grasped near the blade, if working a lot with power cuts or for those with larger hands.

The steel is quite resilient and rolls rather than chip. It doesn’t have a ludricrously long edge holding, but sharpens quick and easy.

A good option for those interested in trying rhombic section puukkos, without going custom right away.

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