By Federico Buldrini
This puukko was crafted by Jari Liukko, son of Arto Luikko, living and working in Savonlinna, in Southern Savo region, on the shores of Lake Saimaa. Both father and son are puukkoseppämestari.
length 99 mm
width 22,5 mm
thickness 3,5 mm at spine; 4,6 mm at bevels junction
tang 6×3 mm at the pommel
steel ThyssenKrupp 80CrV2
edge angle 19°, with tiny microbevel
hardness ~ 59 HRC
length 110 mm
width 31,5 mm
thicknes 21,5 mm
knife 108 g
with sheath 140 g
The blade was forged with hand held hammer from a bar of 80CrV2. It has a subtle rhombic section, tapered in height and thickness and sporting a slightly dropped, but acute, point. After annealing and normalization done with a blow torch, the blade was heated, again with blow torch, quenched in oil, then tempered once in oven. The blade is hardened so to leave the spine and tang softer. The bevels are ground to 19°.
The handle is made of birch bark discs compressed between two 5 mm brass bolsters. After being peened it was put in oven at 100° C for an hour, getting rid of all the leftover moisture and using the birch oil as glue. It’s sanded to a fine grit, giving the handle a very smooth and velvety feeling. It’s tapered, rather strongly, both in height and thickness towards both ends. The section is a marked and kind of flattish teardrop that fills the hand well.
The sheath is crafted from 2 mm thick leather. It’s hand stitched and has a two sided liner, hand carved from black alder. The very first mm of leather is folded inside the mouth, giving a very strong retention, but not difficult to manage. The belt loop is fixed with a brass D-ring. The belt loop itself is closed by a brass button, sporting Liukko initials.
Out of the box it was hair popping sharp, but I detected few asperity on the edge, so I stropped it with black and green compounds to get it perfectly smooth.
Let’s go with the usual tests. During the twig troll carving, from a dry piece of plane wood, the puukko was comfortable, precise and showed a good bite. While roughing out the hat I had to be careful not to cut away pieces of the top due to the very deep and aggressive bite. On the contrary, when cutting away the feathers just created the blade felt a little bit lacking on mass behind the edge, something I’ve experienced also with the Kullervo, which has a similar edge angle. When freeing the troll from the branch I had to cut part of a knot and when planing the actual base I either had to cut through the remaining of the knot or against the grain. Anyway I felt no problems, given the acute edge that bit always consistently. At the end of the work I could clearly feel three rolls trailing the nail along the edge portion that worked the knot and against the grain. This part alone wasn’t shaving anymore and was quickly fixed with some stropping with green compound.
Now, while carving the usual dry silver fir spatula, again I felt the puukko very comfortable, sporting a very good bite and being quick in planing cuts. While roughing out the sides with the chest lever grip I found out I couldn’t perform extremely long cuts: the edge tends to bite so deep it got stuck a few times, plus the bevels are so high the blade couldn’t really wedge the wood, if it’s gone too deep. Anyway, rocking the blade allowed me to get the blade free and getting back at removing wood. While working down the curved belly of the shaft, pulling the knife using the thumb as fulcrum, I was pleasantly surprised by the extreme quickness the blade had gliding in the fibers. At the end of all the roughing work the edge was pristine and still well shaving.
There is basically no story to tell about all the finishing cuts. The puukko has been comfortable, very fast, precise and effortless in every aspect.
At the end of the work the edge was still pristine, the first half cm next to the handle felt like it had lost some bite, but was still shaving anyway, like the rest of the blade.
Let’s start with a couple of necessary notes. This puukko has the finest looking and cleanest made sheath I’ve ever come across. Also, despite the bevels are slightly asymmetrical at the tip, I wasn’t able to notice it in actual use.
When I first held this puukko I was slightly dubious about the handle, due to its strong taper in both directions and rather flatted teardrop section, but it proved me wrong. Never had hot spots or discomfort during use and the strong tapers, paired with the flatter section, actually lead the puukko to melt particularly well in the hand. Also, the flatter section makes the knife impossible to rotate in the hand, something that can occur with a more oval section.
Plus, the combination of the chubby center and the slim ends, allowed for a particularly graceful transition from power cuts, exploiting the center, to nimble finishing cuts, gripping with the annular and pinkie finger the slim pommel end.
Speaking of blade performances, it was quite homogeneous. It sported a good capability in power cuts combined with a delightful nimbleness for finer works and finishing cuts. In power cuts, though, it was a bit less powerful compared to other puukkos with a little steeper edge and thus able to wedge more when necessary,
The steel had a slight tendency to roll, but I haven’t managed to chip it and so far stropping was plenty enough for maintaining it. I may just strengthen the microbevel a little in the future. I also have to add that in use the loss of bite wasn’t really perceivable. Given steel, geometry and hardness the resilience was like I expected it, while the actual edge holding was superior to my expectations. Top notch heat treatment.
So, let’s sum it up. This is really a particularly classy and elegant package, that some users may find excessive or even snobbish, depending on their own tastes. Given its acute edge I don’t see it suitable as a “one tool option” as trendy in modern bushcraft right now. I’d pair it with an hatchet and use it as a dedicated wood working knife, as puukkos are, after all.