I have recently been corresponding with Saku Honkilahti, a friend and contributor to this blog since the beginning. Saku has provided information that I needed for several posts, not only is he knowledgeable but he makes a very fine puukko. I am pleased to own one that he made for me several years ago.
I asked Saku to write down his thoughts on knife making for this post and here is what he had to say.
“I have been making puukkos for over a decade. In that time I have slowly developed my own style.
Number one is SH-stamped hammer finished hand forged blade. I have a very efficient grinder and a very good steel source but almost stubbornly I want to hand forge all my blades. Of course there are many theoretical writings that say modern steels don`t need forging. Maybe true, but for me it is an important part of knifemaking. And I want that it can be seen, so my blades are hammer finished.
My second trade mark is simple materials. Materials that look and feel genuine. I use basic carbon steel, 80CrV2 is my favorite blade material. For bolsters I like to use brass, bronze or nickel silver. And for handles birch bark and curly birch are my two favorites. I have done some handles from micarta and other industrial materials too, but they just don’t feel right. I must admit, stabilized woods are here and maybe, just maybe, there is something nice and easy in them.
The third trademark in my puukkos are simple and strong lines. It must look like a puukko and it must feel like a puukko in hand. Even when it is dark at night, the handle shape tells you every time where the blade is. You can use about ten different holds on puukko and good handle must enable all them. If there is some finger guard, holes or too much sharp curves, you can´t take all these ten holds. And it must feel strong, powerful, but not too burly or cumbersome.
Fourth is a simple leather sheath with a two sided wooden insert, the lesta. The puukko must stay in the sheath when you sit, run or even do a hand stand.That is why I handsew my sheaths from wet vegetable tanned leather. So a puukko and a sheath is always a matching couple.
Maybe I am little bit old fashioned, but I believe that there is no need to re-invent the classic Finnish puukko, it is good as it is and real do-it-all kind of knife.”