Tag Archives: Federico Buldrini

Ryynänen and Jaakonaho Puukkos Review


By Federico Buldrini

These two puukkos were crafted by Jani Ryynänen, residing in Kullaa and Pasi Jaakonaho, residing in Inari.
Ryynänen is a hobbyist maker, part of the newer generation of rising knifemakers whose work is current as well as utilitarian in style.
Jaakonaho is one of seven Finnish puukkoseppämestari or master bladesmiths. Being a teacher of Sámi crafts and devoting much time to the construction of silver jewelry and wooden artifacts, knife making is mostly a hobby for him as well.
Both handles are fixed by tang peening and oven heating.

(Both puukkoseppäs have been profiled on this blog, see the Index Page.)

Jani Ryynänen

length 95 mm
width 22 mm
thickness 3 mm thick at the spine; 5 mm at the bevels
tang 7×4 mm
steel Krupp 80CrV2
bevels flat
edge angle 20 °, with small micro bevel
hardness ~ 60 HRC at the edge

length 110 mm
width 29 mm max.
thickness 21 mm max.

knife 115 g
with sheath 152 g




The blade was forged with hand held hammer from a bar of 80CrV2. It has a rhombic section, slightly tapered in height. After annealing and normalization it was heated in the forge, quenched in oil and tempered in an electric oven. During the quenching the tang and the spine were kept off the oil so to make them softer than the edge. The bevels are brought to 20 °, polished by hand and the edge has a small micro bevel.

The handle is made of birch bark flaps compressed between two 5 mm brass plates. It’s sanded to a fine grit, it’s slightly tapered in height on both sides. The thickness, however, diminishes clearly from the center towards the blade. The section is almost oval in the first 2 cm near to the pommel and then gradually becomes a teardrop.

The 3 mm thick leather sheath, is hand sewn and holds the knife tightly. Inside there is a birch liner. The belt loop is fixed with a brass ring which, compared to the triangular ones, slightly loses in stability of the sheath during the carrying, but without becoming boring. The loop itself it’s closed by a brass rivet.

Pasi Jaakonaho

length 97 mm
width 20 mm
thickness 4 mm at the spine; 5.5 mm at the bevels
tang 5×3 mm
steel Böhler K510
bevels flat
edge 20 °
hardness ~ 60 HRC

length 104 mm
width 25 mm max.
thickness 18 mm max.

knife 100 g
with sheath 140 g




The blade was forged with hand held hammer from a bar of Böhler K510. It has rhombic section, slightly tapered in height. After annealing and normalization it was quenched in oil and tempered in an electric oven. During the quenching only the tang has been kept out from the oil, the blade is thus uniformly hardened on its entire height. The bevels are ground to 20 ° and polished by hand.

The handle is made of birch bark flaps compressed between two brass plates, 3.5 mm the collar and 5 mm the pommel. It’s sanded to a fine grit and has a hint of taper in width and thickness, in both directions. It has an acute teardrop section and its proportions are pretty slender and thin.

The half-tanned 1.5 mm thick leather sheath is hand sewn and holds tightly the knife. Inside there is a birch liner. The belt loop is fixed with a brass D ring so the knife is still very free to swing on a belt, a bit less than with a round ring, but still more than with a triangular ring. The loop itself is closed by a leather string.

In use

Out of the box the Ryynänen puukko was sharp, but not perfectly shaving sharp. I then touched it up with DMT 1200/8000 and stropped with Bark River black and green compound. In ten minutes it was hair popping sharp.
The handle, in spite of being stocky, responds well and I didn’t felt it “stiff” due to the greatly executed gradual section transition.


The first thing that struck me in the Jaakonaho was the handle, much shorter, thinner and with a much stronger section compared to what I am used to. After an hour of carving on elderberry, just to get familiar with it I found some microchips near the front bolster and on the edge belly. They were reduced with a couple of minutes of stropping with green compound, thus adding also a hair of micro bevel.

During the carving of the elderberry spikkentroll, the Ryynänen showed good bite and penetration. However, because of the blade wide proportions, I felt like if it was slightly suffering during the pull cuts during the first phase of finishing. Comfortable handle, nothing to report. At the end of the work the blade had a few rolls in the central part of the edge and shaved with some effort.

During the spikkentroll carving the Jaakonaho has been very aggressive and at times the penetration was such as to get the blade slightly stuck. During the roughing cuts I felt the handle a tad small. At the end of the work the blade had lost some bite, still shaved but with some effort.

During the carving of the silver fir spatula, on the other hand, the Ryynänen proved itself more agile than what I expected and a very balanced performer, with good bite, good nimbleness and accuracy both during roughing and finishing. I perceived no bite loss during use, it always was easy to achieve tiny tight curls and the knife has always left a glossy finish on the wood. At the end of the work I detected three microrolls at the center of the edge and only its curved section was still shaving. The flat section didn’t shave anymore, but was still biting.

During the carving of the spatula, the small measures of Jaakonaho’s handle were much more perceivable, but without being insufficient, conveying the feeling of a minute but very lively knife. The blade, on the other hand, got often stuck during roughing cuts due to its own thickness and bite, making the work more strenuous. During the finishing cuts, though, it showed all its potential allowing great working speed, creating extremely fine curls and leaving a high gloss finish on the wood. I perceived no bite loss. After the work I found some rolls along the edge, which still shaves but with some effort.



Let’s sum it up.
The Ryynänen, showed very homogeneous performance, being more comfortable on medium sized jobs. Its proportions and dimensions are a bit over sized for very small projects, but given the agility demonstrated it’s easy to get used to. Its very size makes it probably more appreciable by those with large hands.
The steel tends to roll rather than chip. 80CrV2 at 60 HRC doesn’t have an exceptionally long edge holding, but still plenty enough, gaining in resilience and ease of sharpening.

The Jaakonaho has instead proved to prefer smaller jobs. Not surprisingly its proportions makes it preferable to those with small hands. The handle, although thinner and shorter than what I’m used to, was never uncomfortable, but its small size were absolutely perceptible.
The blade, combining great thickness with a very acute edge often acts like a wedge, thus tending to get stuck. A thickness closer to or slightly less than 5 mm would have been probably better. The steel tends to microchip more often than rolling, has a bit superior edge holding compared to 80CrV2, and still resharpen easily.




A Visit To Finland

When my friend Federico Buldrini told me he was going to Finland to visit Pasi Hurttila I asked him if he would take some photos and write something for Nordiska Knivar. Here is his report. Thank you Federico and also to his brother, Fabrizio Buldrini for taking the photos.


 We’re going to hike in the Hammastunturi wilderness area. This area, spreading within parts of the three provinces of Inari, Kittilä and Sodankylä, was declared protected in 1991, after having been for centuries a wintering ground for reindeers bred by Inari Sámi and having being the scene of one of Lapland’s gold rushes, in this case from 1868 until the 1920s, with a few gold diggers still present today.

Pasi parks the van, we take our backpacks, he puts Pyry on the leash, makes Kumu wear a radio collar with GPS and we hit the trail. Actually there are no trails in this part of the reserve, so we proceed in a straight line on peaty soil, dotted with moss and streams and surrounded by pine trees.


Moist, clean air, cloudy sky. Kumu runs away and after a while we hear him barking and yelping. When we reach him, he’s frantically digging and biting into the ground, where we find the remains of a lemming. Kumu has a bloody lip: the rodent hasn’t reached Valhalla without a fight.

Bogs, mosses, lichens, streams, pines, birches.



While we continue the ascent we reach a clearing. A rusty saw hanging on a branch, a plastic sheet on the ground, strainers, pans, blankets and thermal trunks scattered.        It’s a local gold digger that has made his camp here.

We skirt a small river, we continue to ascend, and after half an hour we find a good place to make camp in a small clearing, a few meters from the stream. We are on top of a fell and within a circle of pines.






Feathersticks and the fire flares up.


While we eat it starts to rain softly and the wind rises, but the softshell and the raincoat are more than enough; the rain also doesn’t last more than fifteen minutes. Again on the trail while the sky clears and the sun rays fall.


After half an hour we reach the summit, and we dominate a solitary and majestic landscape, sprinkled with birch trees and glacial erratics, kissed by the grazing light of the approaching autumn.






The temperature rises slightly as we begin the descent. Bogs, streams, birch and pine. We are now in a slightly marshy valley, surrounded by forest and tunturit.



After a woad we walk again among the trees, but the soil is still peaty and kind of elastic.



We continue to go down, each one absorbed in his own thoughts…


and around 6 p.m. we reach the road and the Toyota parked nearby. While we are loading the van with backpacks, collars and so on, with perfect timing, it starts to rain again.



 As decided yesterday, today’s program includes a visit to the Sámi Siida in Inari and a second hike.


Upon entering in the museum you are greeted by the ticket office and the gift shop: books, plush, silver jewelry, knives etc. We walk along a ramp and reach a room with a chronological table that tells the prehistory and history of the Sámi, next to known major events of the rest of the world.


The main room is divided in two and the themes are addressed through large explanatory panels, artifacts and some simple dioramas. On the outside it explores clearly and in detail the geology, flora, fauna and climate of Lapland, also illustrating the variations in hours of light, temperature and landscape throughout the year. In the inner part it explains crafts, hunting and fishing – conducted separately and exclusively by distinct Siidas (or tribes) the different costumes between a geographical area and another, the transition from nomadic to sedentary life. All this is achieved in a simple but very accurate way and, above all, without ever falling into the false “touristic” romanticism that the topic could easily inspire.



Outside there is the original museum, composed of both originals and reconstructed buildings, which tell the life changes after the resignation from the nomadic life. Houses, farms, a court, a food storage cabin lifted off the ground, which was also the first installment of the museum at the time of its foundation, in the 50s. A little afar there are also few medieval looking traps for fur animals.


After the visit we go back to Pasi’s cottage, we take our backpacks and step into the woods. The weather is grayer and more thoughtful than yesterday. Again we walk on a path covered with sphagnum, moss and peat areas. The forest here is a bit more disordered than on the Hammastunturi and on a couple of points the march is hampered by fallen pine trunks. The terrain itself is frequently wavy.


After about an hour and a half, we pass yet another ripple and arrive on the shores of Lake Saarijärvi. Long lake, with jagged shores covered with sphagnum and dotted with small islands in the distance, hence the name. Everything is wrapped in a light mist. Autumn is breathebly in the air.



We collect a bit of wood, we light the fire and prepare some tea with strawberries, embraced by the sweet moist and silent air of the taiga.






Shortly before leaving, while the fire is dying out, we pick up a beer bottle that is already colonized by mosses, a clear sign that it has been abandoned there for several months

We keep up the ascent and get over the ridge of a hill.



Pasi plans to continue in the forest to the cottage, but shortly after Kumu starts to chase something, maybe a fox and ends on the road. We follow him, and when he makes the move to even chase a group of reindeers that roam the forest edge, Pasi calls him back and decides to stay on the road

We conclude the hike walking the last stretch on the road.



Ilkka Seikku Maasepän Puukko Review

Ilkka Seikku Maasepän Puukko Review by Federico Buldrini


This puukko was made by Ilkka Seikku, native of Ulvila, but now living and working in Sastamala, 50 km west of Tampere. He’s a full time blacksmith, old style craftsman and wilderness guide. He has recently dropped the use of electric tools for the crafting of traditional knives, while keeping their use when making full-tang bushcraft knives.
A fundamentalist conservator of old traditions and willing to preserve them for the generations to come, he aims to craft tough and effective tools. “Performance” is the key word, everything else comes after. Also a booster of materials recycling, he forges puukko blades, fire steel strikers etc from old files.

(Visit Ilkka’s very interesting blog at http://rautasarvi.blogspot.fi/  and his website at http://tuluskivi.suntuubi.com/  )






Technical data

All the measurements I’ll give are just of this specimen, since every puukko is individually made measures will change slightly.

length 81 mm
width 19 mm
thickness 2 mm at spine; 4 mm at thickest point
steel W2
flat grind
edge angle 16°, with convex edge
edge hardness ~ 60 HRC

length 102 mm
width 25 mm max.
thickness 16 mm max.

knife 40 g
with sheath 70 g


This puukko was completely made without power tools. Following the oldest tradition the blade was forged with a hand held hammer, recycling an old file, into the Finnish trademark rhombic section. Out of the box it wasn’t hair popping sharp, but plenty sharp for woodworking. I personally don’t keep woodworking puukkos shaving sharp, as it wouldn’t last on seasoned wood. It’s also worth knowing that Ilkka hand sharpens all his puukkos with a slate wetstone and this was no exception.
As for all Ilkka’s knives the heat treatment was made completely on the open fire of the charcoal forge, following the steel colour changing. Blades first get a quick water quenching followed by a longer partial oil quenching and by two temperings. Water quenching makes the sharpest edge, while oil gives added strength.

As for old time maasepän puukkos, the handle is nailed into the sharp end of the tang. The blade-handle junction shows an old trick to increase sturdiness in the construction and to keep the tang tight: two small wedges at the sides of the blade.
The handle is made of a single piece of spalted birch. Spalted woods were attacked by fungi and show characteristic wavy patterns, often reddish or greenish. Ilkka didn’t sand it to a very fine grit, to allow a good grip, but took away every bit of roughness.
The handle has a slim, flattened, oval section, perfect for the knife size, but not abundant by any means. Even if rather tiny it fills good a mid sized hand.

The sheath was hand stitched on the back from 2 mm thick cowhide and the leather of the mouth is folded inside so to increase the friction retention.
Inside there is a two sided protective liner, carved with this same puukko. The side facing outside is made of spruce for good moisture dissipation, while the side facing the user’s hip is made of birch to give solidness to the structure.
The belt loop is made with a twisted leather string, closed with a knot, attached to the sheath with two holes made at the sides of the seam.

In use

Due to its slim constitution and small proportion it’s devoted to pure whittling. Even though very light it feels bit heavier than what it actually is. Just to explain its lightness this is a real “phantom puukko” on the belt, a puukko that weights like an Opinel n°8.
The belt loop braided next to the mouth gives steadiness during walking, but leaves also the sheath the agility to move away easily when needed.

I don’t like carving on green wood for two reasons: it’s useless to harm a sentient living being just for the fun of some wood working and, moreover, you can’t really understand edge holding and durability just by cutting fresh wood.
So, let’s see how the puukko holds up carving dry wood.
I took  piece of oak that had seasoned for four years with fibers perpendicular to the future whittling direction. I sawed off a 40x35x5 mm piece with the saw of a Vixtoinox Equestrian and smoothed the oak piece with the puukko.
Then I drew a willow grouse silhouette, Ilkka is a ptarmigam bow hunter, and sawed off the exceeding material near the tail, the back of the tarsiers and the rump.

After carving the back part of the bird I inspected the blade and found confirmation to what I already felt during work: the central part of the edge was slightly rolled. I partly restored it with some stropping on black compound then completely restored it with few licks of ceramic stick.
This done I proceeded to carve the head of our ptarmigan. This went absolutely nice and clean.
I sawed off the last two bits of wood and went to work on the breast, belly and front of tarsiers. After having carved the beak, the chest and having roughed out the final shape of the legs I touched up the blade again with the ceramic stick to put the bite back. The edge didn’t show rolling or wear anymore, it just lost some bite due to the hardness of wood.
Then I finished to shape the legs and refined the all bird. To conclude I gave it a bit of sandpaper and few more refining cuts when needed.


I wasn’t able to detect any rough spot all along the carving. The handle, despite being thin, is comfortable and absolutely secure, allowing a really quick and intuitive control over the blade.
I had to touch up the blade twice during the all process, but I was positively impressed with its strength. Keep in mind this is a 16° edge, the wood was hard, but above all, I always carved against perpendicular fibers. At the very end of my work the puukko is still plenty sharp and ready for another round. Being narrow, tapered and not that thick it proved not surprisingly to be extremely agile in detailed whittling, keeping enough mass for the power cuts needed in the first stages of rough shaping. I have to say the blade’s rhombic section was perfect for tiny spaces: a flat section blade hasn’t that quickness nor can achieve that preciseness due to its very geometry.

oak block

oak block

grain of oak block

grain of oak block

Oak block and Victorinox saw blade

Oak block and Victorinox saw blade

oak with drawing

oak with drawing

puukko and grouse

puukko and grouse

tail and rump carving

carving the tail and rump

carving the head

carving the head

last bit of sawing

last bit of sawing

roughing in the front

roughing in the front

chest finished

chest finished

roughing in the legs

roughing in the legs

carving finished

carving finished

Emännänveitsi – Woman’s Knife

This post is about a style of knife that I’m sure most of you are familiar with, the emännänveitsi or woman’s knife. I have also seen it called a hostess knife and Viking knife. It is a simple and practical knife that is attractive none the less. I like it because it comes in various forms decided on by each puukkoseppä, because of it’s humble beginnings and it’s place in history.

Federico Buldrini has been researching the emännänveitsi and has written an excellent summary for Nordiska Knivar. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

Federico Buldrini:

Hand forged all steel “blacksmith’s knives”

“Since they are often referred to as “woman’s knives” there are actually debates about them being used only by women, while they were most likely simple and rather inexpensive working knives: the amount of metal is just a bit more than for an equally long blade, while the amount of work is much less then what’s needed for crafting a complete knife with wood handle and leather sheath. The price was low also because they were often forged from iron, instead of then expensive steel, this allowing them to be forgotten over a fire without spoiling the heat treatment.

The exact origin of this knife pattern is lost in the fog of the centuries, but certainly the oldest specimens are dated to the Iron Age (500-12 B.C.) and are related to Celtic and Germanic tribes living in central Europe.
The first specimens coming from northern countries are from Denmark Iron Age burials and already show many of the style variations existing today.

A few more specimens dated to the Viking Age and Middle Age come from Gotland island (Sweden), Tensberg (southern Norway), Pielavesi and Saarijärvi (central Finland).

This knife pattern was most likely exported to the Fennoscandic peninsula, together with the Germanic metallurgic and smithing knowledge, during the Migration Period (400-700 A.D.) not only by the tribes sailing north, but also by traders that were increasing their power during this age of movements and contacts with other populations.
During the Viking Age (700-1066 A.D.) these knives probably spread, thanks once more, to trading due to their handiness in daily household duties and their low price coming from their easiness to be crafted.
Both in Scandinavia and Finland women also had their own, smaller, sheath knives but that’s another story.

Let’s give some background:
During the Migration Period Danes sailed from Jutland towards Sweden, some settled down in Scania and there was actually a time in Danish history, during XI century where Denmark, Norway and England were ruled as a single reign, for almost twenty years, under the power of Canute the Great.

During the Viking Age, from Swedish colonies some tribes moved to Norway and, subsequently, created additional colonies on Fær Øer Islands, Iceland and Greenland. It may seem impossible, but actually do exist, in Greenland and Alaska, very few specimen of Inuit iron ulus looking much like some of the Iron Age Danish specimen which have the tang completely bent over the slightly curved blade.

On their part Swedes moved, explored and traded towards Finland, Russia and Orient all the way down to Constantinople. As for the rest of Nordic countries, the Iron Age started in Finland around 500 B.C. From about 50 A.D. we have proof of trades with Baltic and Scandinavian tribes; commerce with Vikings started during the VIII century and by 1157 Finland was under the crown of Sweden. This signified also the beginning of Finnish written history.

There are only few Middle Age museum specimens of blacksmith knives, leading some to doubt their authenticity, but the explanation is probably more simple than expected.

In Dark Ages Fennoscandia, mounds burials were very scarce and only for very wealthy men and women. Also, for some time dead were only cremated, with their entire outfit, so burial findings show mainly jewelry, amulets and weapons, with very few exceptions.

Daily tools were most probably reused by the other family members or reforged into something else. Also, being usually forged from iron, the harsh conditions they may have been put to in the burial mounds could have been enough to destroy the majority of eventual buried specimens. Danish Iron Age specimens were, on the other hand, buried in bog like soil that, being almost completely anoxic, is perfect for conservation.

You may find these knives called in bit different ways around Fennoscandic peninsula, but all names are fairly translatable as “woman’s knives”
Denmark: kvinderkniv
Norway: kvinnekniv
Sweden: kvinnokniv
Finland: emännänveitsi

So, who were those Viking women?
Among Norse clans the wife of a free man usually wore an ankle length linen under-dress, with the neck closed by a brooch. Over it she wore a shorter woolen dress suspended by shoulder straps fastened by brooches. From these brooches hung a few chains to which were attached a pair of scissors and the keys of the chests where family heirlooms were kept. A pouch and a belt knife could be carried on a thin leather belt or hung from another of the chains.

It’s also worth knowing that, even if Vikings accepted the fact that a rich man could have a wife and a few concubines at the same time, and politics was essentially a man’s duty, the families usually had extremely tight bonds and it was a recognized fact that the house and family fate was largely in the women’s hands. While men were taking care of politics, trade, crafts and agriculture, women had to take care of children, house duties, making clothing and, if the husband was away, they had the right to take charge of the family business too.

In addition very strict laws existed concerning respect for women, some forbidding men to beat them. A slapped wife had the right to ask for divorce and plenty of economical compensation, since marriage agreements were considered just another kind of trade. All this allowed Viking women to have a great influence in the family decisions and have a much stronger role in the society compared to what it was like in the rest of Europe during the same period.

Finnish women’s clothing fashion was quite similar to the one described above. Though, instead of the woolen dress with shoulders suspenders, Finnish women used to wear an apron with decoration on the lower part, and a short cloak fastened by fibulas. There was also the same habit of using chains to carry jewelry and tools.

In the beginning Finnish population was fragmented in various tribes without a single law system. Their contacts with Scandinavian people influenced Finnish society that started to have regional governors to administrate the law, instead of the annual Viking “Thing” meeting, until the advent of Swedish domination.

As in Viking society women were subjected to the father or the husband, while keeping a remarkable liberty and free will for the time. Caretaker of hearth and home, nurses for the children, they were highly respected,
while expected to be faithful wives and loving mothers. Men on their side were expected to be kind and protective. There wasn’t a real law against violence on women, but house violence has been always very strictly disapproved in Finnish society. Beating a wife was accepted only in very religious families and only if she demonstrated to be particularly rebellious, disrespectful or unfaithful. Still beating was used as a very last remedy.

The basic shape and style of these knives have remained rather the same during the centuries.The blade has a flat section and may have either a sharp point or a blunted one. What makes this pattern immediately recognizable though is the variously bent tang. You may see specimens with just a ring at the end, some others with tangs bent upward or downward and others with the end of the tang itself reconnecting with the blade’s heel.

In Finland woman’s knives had almost always been flat pointed and the ring at the end of the tang was curved upward. The specimen with sharp point and rind downward are called viikinkiemännän veitsi (viking woman’s knives) due to the more Scandinavian style. Those are small details but they were part of the old Finnish style. From this basic shape every smith can add any metal twisting his inspiration may call. The dimensions change in relation to the intended purpose; the bigger knives being for bread and meat, the smaller ones for basic kitchen and domestic duties.

Sheaths too can be very different. The smallest knives are usually carried around the neck in a small leather sheath while bigger ones can have either a leather or birch bark strips kind of belt sheath. In the end, everything depends on the smith.

A special thank you to Illka Seikku for his help in preparing this article. F.B.”

Thank you Federico and all the puukkoseppä!

A selection of contemporary emännänveitsi:

Sami Länsipaltta, Finland

Sami Länsipaltta, Finland

Pekka Tuominen, Finland

Pekka Tuominen, Finland

Pasi Hurttila, Finland

Pasi Hurttila, Finland

Pasi Hurttila

Pasi Hurttila

Ilkka Seikku, Finland

Ilkka Seikku, Finland

Ilkka Seikku

Ilkka Seikku

Martti Malinen, Finland

Martti Malinen, Finland

Jani Ryynänen, Finland

Jani Ryynänen, Finland

Heimo Rasimäki, Eino Hell, Antti Mäkinen, Finland

Heimo Rasimäki, Eino Hell, Antti Mäkinen, Finland

Tuomas Tolmala, Finland

Tuomas Tolmala, Finland

Aulis Aho, Finland

Aulis Aho, Finland

J-T Pälikkö, Finland Pattern welded damascus.

J-T Pälikkö, Finland. Pattern welded damascus.

Drawings of some of the Iron Age Danish specimens from burials.

Drawings of some of the Iron Age Danish specimens from burials.

Aage Frederickson, Denmark

Aage Frederickson, Denmark

Poul Strande, Denmark

Poul Strande, Denmark

Poul Strande

Poul Strande

Steen Nielsen, Norway

Steen Nielsen, Norway

Anders Fredin, Sweden

Anders Fredin, Sweden

Göran Enoksson, Sweden Replica of a Gotland finding.

Göran Enoksson, Sweden
Replica of a Gotland finding.