Otto Kemppainen

I am pleased to present this post about Otto Kemppainen, the youngest puukkoseppä to be featured on Nordiska Knivar. Read his story and take a look at his work, I think you will be as impressed as I am. You can follow him on Facebook at KEMP KNIVES

Thank you Otto, keep up the good work!

Otto Kemppainen:

“I am an 18-year-old custom knife maker from South Karelia. I made my first sheath knife in 2012 at my school’s technical work lesson. The blade was bought in a store. Then in 2015 I forged my first blade and I haven’t used anything different since. I have always liked hiking, fishing, hunting and other outdoor hobbies. I think I have got my interest in knife making from my hobbies. Additionally, I have had great technical work teachers who have encouraged me in my knife making. I have also gotten great tips and support from older knife makers in my projects. Still, I am mainly a self-taught knife maker. You need many skills in knife making. The work’s diversity really impresses me. Metallurgy, woodwork, leather work and goldsmith’s skills have their own dimensions. The most fascinating things are metallurgy and goldsmith’s work in my opinion.

I’m currently the first knifemaker in the my family. My distant relatives in Hyrynsalmi had made Tommi puukkos during old times and I have made only one Tommi puukko. My brother is 13 years old and he made his first knife last year.

As said I am mainly self-taught. I have read many knife making books and texts about knives. Watching other makers work in person and in pictures can teach you a lot. It is important to understand aesthetic design and the best way to learn is just to make knives. My friend Tapio Syrjälä from Aura has given me the fantastic opportunity to make knives when he gave me his great belt grinder in spring 2016. I am really thankful to him for this support. Tapio´s grinder gives many new ways for grinding facets, which is really useful. I have sometimes visited Lappeenranta folk high school’s knife making soirees. The soiree is full of South Karelian knife makers. There you can hear the freshest knife making news in the area. Especially making old Kauhava sheath knives is very complicated. There are so many variables in the making process that careful familiarisation is really important. Jari and Arto Liukko from Savonlinna have helped me a lot with Kauhava sheath knives.

There is no regional model where I live. “Lemin puukko” is my own design for my home village. It is recognized for Lemi’s coat of arm decoration in the handle.

Someday I want to start my own company. I prefer the global market to the Finnish one. Additionally, I would like to win Finnish championship in Fiskars knife making competition and join the Finnish knifemakers’ guild. I will really work for my dreams.

I have always been an avid walker in the wild. There are not many hobbies in a secluded small village. My bushcraft hobby gave me my interest for knives. Especially hammock hiking, hunting and fishing are the best hobbies that I know in the wild. I have made handcrafts my whole life. Wood carving and other crafts were really important to me before I went to school. In the knife making I am most fascinated by metallurgy and decoration methods. In the case of metallurgy, Damascus steels and stainless steel are particularly fascinating. I have built a heat treating oven to temper these steels. It is interesting to learn how to decorate a knife in different techniques. Sami carvings and sorkoupotus I have already tested, but I would like to develop my expertise in metal engraving and scrimshaw technique.”




Otto Kemppainen



Otto and his Finnish Spitz “Nekku”.


One response to “Otto Kemppainen

  1. This is some beautiful work for such a young man. I would love to help him start on his way to a global market by getting one of his knives over here in Florida. All this at 17, I can’t wait to see what he does at 18. LOL

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