Monthly Archives: August 2018

Saku Honkilahti Puukko Review

By Federico Buldrini

This puukko was crafted by Saku Honkilahti, in his own words “the captain of the rehabilitation squad in my company” and knifemaker for passion, living in Jalasjärvi, a town 80 km south of Kauhava.

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blade
length 104 mm
width 23 mm
thickness 3,5 mm at the spine; 4,5 mm at bevels junction
tang 7×4 mm at the pommel
steel ThyssenKrupp 80CrV2
bevels flat
edge angle 23°, with tiny microbevel
hardness ~ 62 HRC

handle
length 113 mm
width 31 mm max.
thicknes 23 mm

weight
knife 150 g
with sheath 200 g

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Overview

The blade was forged by hand held hammer from a bar of 80CrV2. It has a bland rhombic section, slightly tapered in height and sporting a clipped point. After annealing and normalization it was heated in the gas forge, quenched in canola oil and tempered in an electric oven. The blade is hardened on its entire height and half way down the tang. The bevels are ground to 23°.

The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between two 5 mm bronze bolsters. It’s sanded to a fine grit, giving the handle a very smooth feel. It’s tapered in height and thickness towards the blade. The section is a bland and smooth teardrop and fills the hand well.

The sheath is crafted from 2 mm thick leather. It’s hand stitched, with the mouth folded inside and holds the knife perfectly. Inside there is a birch and pine liner, carved then sanded. The belt loop is fixed with a steel ring, which, compared to triangular ones, slightly loses in stability of the sheath during the carrying, but without becoming annoying. The wide belt loop itself is closed by a seam.

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In use

The first impression was that of a quite big and heavy puukko. When it first arrived the edge was a bit rough and the last 3 mm of the tip’s edge was thick enough to reflect light. So I sanded the tip with #2000 grit to thin the profile a little, then completely resharpen the puukko with #180, #325, #600, #1200 grit followed by stropping with black ad green compound. I heve also slightly sanded the spine corners since I felt them a bit too sharp for carving.

While carving the usual spikkentroll, from a plane wood branch, I felt the blade struggling a little to engage the wood in the very first cuts, I think also due to the steeper edge compared to other puukkos. Once established the cuts are clean and smooth. No problem during roughing nor in finishing. The handle, despite its proportions, didn’t feel stiff or too big. At the end of the work the edge was pristine, but the part closest to the handle, used the most, had lost the majority of the shaving bite. A quick stropped fixed it.

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At the beginning of the silver fir spatula carving the puukko had the tendency to slip and not bite that much when I was planing to get an even thickness on all four sides of the spatula. But again, after having established the cuts the bite was good. I felt the handle a little too big for my hands only when I was roughing the concave junction between the spreader and the shaft, with pull strokes using the thumb as fulcrum. At the end of the work the edge was pristine and the bite untouched.

All the refining procedure was surprisingly flawless and swift. Again good bite and the handle didn’t feel too big, during this part. Abundant, but not excessive. Nevertheless comfortable and allowed a good liveliness to the knife. Changing slightly the incidence angle to which I placed the edge I was able to improve also the performances on concave surfaces. At the end of the work the edge was still pristine and still shaving, though needed some more pressure.

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Conclusions

This is surely rather big and heavy for a puukko. Powerful, but less precise than others ground thinner. Its proportions make it more for general woods use rather than carving: it’s diametrically opposite to the Tommi Mäkelä puukko I tested in the same days, but it’s  comfortable and handy. The steeper geometry, which is actually only 1° steeper than Marttiini Ilves puukko, gives a lot of steel behind the edge, enhancing the resilience. I wasn’t able to roll or chip it so far and the edge holding is on par with other puukkos in the same steel and with the same hardness I own. The only issue I’ve noticed with this geometry is its struggle with “surface” cuts which needs a bit of time to get right. If a lot of work is to be done with the last portion of the edge close to the tip a stronger taper could improve the performances, but obviously loosing something in sturdiness. The handle, as said, manages to be handy and agile, despite its proportions and I think those with bigger hands would be able to exploit it even more.

 

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