Tommi Mäkelä

Tommi Mäkelä:

“When I was young I had zero interest in anything that had to do with crafting by hands – I was more interested in working with computers.

After the military service I worked 6 years a salesman at a computer store and then moved to be a project manager for almost 7 years. In 2014 I moved to Kauhava and went to work for my father-in-law at Laurin Metalli. Laurin Metalli is a company turning 100 years old next year, specialized in making products for the puukko industry, supplying puukko makers ranging from one man shops to big ones with several, even tens of thousands of knives made per year. We at Laurin Metalli make somewhere between 150 000 to 200 000 knife blades per year and on top of that everything else related to puukkos; ferrules, bolsters, plastic liners. In the last few years we have been very fortunate to get to work with the company Varusteleka and being the co-designer and manufacturer for their highly successful Skrama and Jääkäripuukko.

I started working in June 2014 and I think it was September when I first got really interested on using the stuff that I work daily with. And thus my journey making puukkos began.

I am fortunate that the Kauhava area is filled with puukko makers and when I was starting, I got a lot of help from them, namely Harri Merimaa of Woodsknife. I had the blades and other parts, but as we don’t work with wood, I had to turn to the makers and to get my journey started. I started putting puukkos together using premilled handle pieces and experimenting with different blades from our product range. It didn’t take me long to go online and start buying different types of materials from one of our retailers, Brisa. At first I made just puukko after puukko without any sheaths, but soon got interested in completing the job with them. All of the puukko makers here use the industrial way of making sheaths, cutting certain patterns from leather and sewing them with a sewing machine and then hammering in the lesta and the puukko. Obviously, this wasn’t the method I was interested in.

I believe starting to get to sewing sheaths, especially the traditional ones with a back seam, I stumbled across an article on the web written by Saku Honkilahti (who actually has since then became one of my best friends, both in the puukko world and off it). I didn’t make the lestas from wood by hand up until much later (summer of 2016) but used our company’s range of plastic liners instead. Also the YouTube videos from (nowadays another very good friend of mine),  Osmo Borodulin / thetopicala were a huge influence to me. I studied the techniques Osmo used and really admired his work.

 I browsed the internet for a lot of different knife and puukko types and tried to take something out of each one and combine them to my work in my own way. But the most influential makers for me are definitely Saku and Osmo.

 I am 95% self taught, never been to any puukko making courses or other trainings, but searched for information on YouTube the internet. A lot of the basics I picked up from the makers around the Kauhava area.

 I don’t generally have a favorite type of puukko. I like to do a little bit of everything. As much as I like the traditional barrel/teardrop shape of a puukko handle, I enjoy making bigger hunting knives and leukus.

 As widely known, I use 95% of our company blades in my puukkos, but sometimes I buy a blade or two from Saku Honkilahti and create something different with those. It’s refreshing to work with a whole different type of blade. I have made a few blades myself from stock, but I prefer to slightly modify our existing blade range – making a little different changes to the shapes and altering the geometry of the blades a bit here and there.

 For the handles I use everything. From basic natural curly birch to acrylic. Some people have called me a rebel in the puukko scene, since I like to for example make unna niibas saami style influenced puukkos completely out of plastic materials, acrylic and corian. Probably my favorite handle material is stabilized wood, it looks awesome and is really easy to maintain. I usually put my handles together using multiple pieces, whether it is a combination of different materials or just a stack of metal spacers. Very seldom I have a basic bolster-handle-bolster build.

My sheaths are 1.8mm thick vegetable tanned leather, which I dye to my liking. Lestas are carved out of wood. Lately I have been making more and more sheaths with the bottom part exposed, made from curly birch in most cases. But I do use Corian in the bottom parts sometimes as well

My philosophy is ”Make it usable”. No matter what crazy materials I make puukkos of or use unorthodox shapes, I always keep in mind that the puukko must be usable. Doesn’t matter if it is a ”mini” version for 3 fingers made from acrylic or a 220mm huge knife with a walrus head on top, you can still use them – so they are not merely decorations.

When I am not working or making puukkos, I spend my time with music, movies/tv series or disc golf. I have been playing the guitar for 15 years and do a lot of home recording just for fun.”

Tommi Mäkelä

Tommi Mäkelä

 

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One response to “Tommi Mäkelä

  1. Cool post from Tommi!

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