My name is Janne Kilpinen and I am a 34 year old knife maker from Finland. I live in a northern Ostrobothnia city called Oulu where I was born. I have a beautiful wife and we have two beautiful kids. We live in a detached house in a neighborhood called Jääli and I make all my knives here in my own garage that I turned into workshop. I like to make puukkos, hunting knives, kitchen knives and many kinds of leather products.
I have been making knives for 7 years and the last 3 years more and more on a professional scale. My biggest achievements are 1st place in kitchen knife series in Finnish championships 2019 and exhibiting twice at The Helsinki Knife Show.
Puukko has been a fascinating object to me since I was a little boy, maybe because there’s a little danger and also you can create things with it quite easily. I think I got my first puukko when I was 6 or 7 when I was in scouts. That puukko was made from carbon steel, curly birch and reindeer antler. I have always liked natural materials. I think that’s one of the most fascinating things in knife making, you never know what you will find inside those interesting wood blocks. Also I think that there’s not many hobbies where you need as many skills such as metalwork, woodwork, leatherwork, design, photography and many others. That’s why I think I will do this for the rest of my life.
I started knife making about 7 years ago when I asked my father to join me at a local puukko making course. Those courses became more and more interesting and I always looked forward to Mondays, class day, eagerly. There was a teacher named Jorma Heikkinen who made really nice hunting knives and he gave everybody the freedom to do what they wanted. To me it was fine because I like to do many kinds of things and not just one kind of traditional knife.
I went to the classes again and again and finally when I had been practicing for three years I started to get orders. That was when I started to think that this might be a part time profession for me someday. Three years ago I founded my own business called Kilpi Custom Knives & Leatherworks and since that day I have had orders of puukkos or other kind of knives or leather products. As I was sewing sheaths for puukkos I fell in love leather as a material. With leather you can make a lot of useful things that you need in everyday life. I’m making not just knives but also belts, wallets and things like that.
I like simple puukko and my favorite types are maasepänpuukko and kokemäenpuukko. I have to mention simple birch bark handle puukko because birch bark as a material is so nice. First when I started making knives I tried to add many kinds of material in the handles and tried to decorate sheaths in many ways but now I’m more into simple knives. In every kind of work you just need time and patience and I believe that the result will be fine if you just don’t hurry. My philosophy about puukko is just to keep it simple and enjoy it. I’m not that serious a person so the main thing in knife making and almost everything is that it should be fun.
Most of the knives I make are made from carbon steel but every now and then I make also stainless steel blades. I like to use all kind of natural materials like curly birch, birch bark, antlers and leather. Today its also possible to use stabilized wood blocks which maintain the look of natural wood but is much more durable than soft wood.
There’s lots of really talented knife makers in Finland but I have to mention one who I was influenced by when I joined knife making groups on Facebook and started to look what kind of knives others made. He has a simple and natural style and also is one of the nicest guys I know. He’s always helpful and he treats people with respect no matter how talented they are and where they come from even if they are not from South Ostrobhotnia 😉 This guy’s name is Saku Honkilahti.
Besides knife making and leather work I have some hobbies like playing guitar and singing and I also play ice hockey and floor ball just for fun and to stay in some kind of shape. Music is very important to me, I need music that I can relax with and make things at the same time. I like old style and rock music and many of my friends say that I’m mentally 70 years old what comes to music and interest in old times when everything was more simple.