Tag Archives: maasepän puukko is the oldest and simplest of the puukkos styles and most likely has its origins in the Early Middle Age. Basically used for everyday chores such as fashioning wooden household tools,

Maasepän Puukko Review by Federico Buldrini

Introduction

As explained in a post dating back to September 2012,  https://nordiskaknivar.wordpress.com/2012/09/15/1026/the maasepän puukko is the oldest and simplest of the puukkos styles and most likely has its origins in the Early Middle Age.
Basically used for everyday chores such as fashioning wooden household tools, preparing snares and traps for small game etc., it can be found in a variety of shapes all similar yet so different.
Here I’ll show and compare four different maasepän puukkos made by four different smiths, each of whom have a profile on this blog. (See the Index Page to learn more about these four puukkoseppä)
On my request they are all in the closest size range possible, but the makers had full liberty to choose materials and grinds following their preferences. All have a folded birch bark blade cover, a solution as old as the said puukko style and extremely practical for carving knives that don’t have to be carried on the belt.

Mas group

Mas group 2

Mas group 3

The smiths are listed in alphabetical order by surname.

Pasi Hurttila

blade
length 90 mm
width 21 mm
thickness 3 mm at spine, 4,5 mm at thickest point
steel Böhler K510
grind flat
edge angle 20°, with tiny microbevel
edge hardness ~ 60 HRC

handle
length 108 mm
width 29 mm max.
thickness 21 mm max.

weight
knife 85 g
with sheath 100 g

Overview

The blade was forged with a hand held hammer from Böhler K510 into rhombic shape, slightly tapered both in height and thickness. The heat treatment was made completely on the open fire of the charcoal forge, following the steel colour changing. After annealing and normalization the blade got a partial oil quenching followed by two temperings. Out of the box it was hair popping sharp.

The curly birch handle is simply epoxy glued over the tang. It fills the hand well. It’s slightly tapered toward both ends and is sanded with a medium grit, however avoiding any kind of roughness. It has a quite marked teardrop cross section.

The blade cover is crafted from 2 mm thick bark, simply folded and wrapped by a strip of the same material that keeps everything together tightly. The lightly scabrous surface of both the bark and the blade sides ensures excellent friction retention.

 

Martti Malinen

blade
length 85 mm
width 20,5 mm
thickness 3 mm at spine, 4,5 mm at thickest point
steel Ovako 100Cr6
grind flat
edge angle 20°, with tiny microbevel
edge hardness ~ 62 HRC

handle
length 112 mm
width 29 mm max.
thickness 22 mm max.

weight
knife 80 g
with sheath 85 g

Overview

The blade was forged from Ovako 100Cr6. The steel was flattened with power hammer then forged into shape with hand held hammer. It has rhombic section, rather strongly tapered in height but little in thickness. After annealing and normalization the blade was oven heated to 820° C, received a partial quenching in 60° C oil and was then oven tempered twice for two hours at 200° C. Out of the box it was shaving sharp.

The curly birch handle is glued over the tang mixing epoxy with some wood dust. It’s finished with a rather fine grit, it’s very lightly tapered towards both ends and fills the handwell. It has a very subtle teardrop section.

The blade cover is crafted from 1 mm thick bark, folded and wrapped with a strip of the same material keeping everything together. The lightly scabrous surface of both the bark and the blade sides give excellent friction retention.

 

Jani Ryynänen

blade
length 90 mm
width 22 mm
thickness 2 mm at spine, 4,5 mm at thickest point
steel ThyssenKrupp 80CrV2
grind flat
edge angle 18°, with tiny microbevel
edge hardness ~ 59 HRC

handle
length 110 mm
width 30 mm max.
thickness 21 mm max.

weight
knife 70 g
with sheath 75 g

Overview

The blade was forged with hand held hammer from 80CrV2 into rhombic shape with a hint of taper in height, while being extremely tapered in thickness. After annealing and normalization the blade was heated on the charcoal forge, received a partial oil quenching and was then tempered in an electric oven. Out of the box it was hair popping sharp.

The handle, made of curly birch, is epoxy glued over the tang in place. It’s finished with a quite fine grit, it’s very slightly tapered towards both ends and fills the hand well. It has rather chunky proportions and a very subtle teardrop section.

The blade cover is crafted from 1 mm thick bark, simply folded and wrapped by a strip of the same material that keeps everything together. The lightly scabrous surface of both the bark and the blade sides gives good friction retention.

 

Ilkka Seikku

blade
length 88 mm
width 21 mm
thickness 2 mm at spine, 4 mm at thickest point
steel W-Nr 1.1645
grind flat
edge angle 19°, with convexed edge
edge hardness ~ 61 HRC

handle
length 109 mm
width 27 mm max.
thickness 18 mm max.

weight
knife 75 g
with sheath 100 g.

Overview

This puukko, unlike the others, was made completely without the use of power tools.

The blade was forged with hand held hammer recycling an old feather file, the steel involved being a W1, into rhombic shape, quite tapered both in height and thickness. The heat treatment was made entirely on the open fire of the charcoal forge, following the steel colour changing. After annealing and normalization the blade got a quick water quenching, followed by a longer partial oil quenching, then tempered twice. Out of the box it was hair popping sharp.

The handle, made of cross cut curly birch, is hammered on to the sharp end of the tang and epoxy glued in place. Within the steel and the wood there are two birch bark strips, so to tighten even more the fit. It’s finished with a medium grit and fills the hand well, being more on the slimmer side, though. It tapers towards both ends and has a marked teardrop section.

The sheath, made from 1 mm thick bark, follows the same principle of the other blade covers, but goes almost all the way up the handle and has a birch double sided liner giving it strength. Good friction retention. This style of birch bark sheath is usually known as “Sami sheath”, but is actually widely used all around Finland.

In use

Having Jani’s puukko the thinnest edge of all, it suffered from some rollings quite easily during the first uses, so I decided to give it a tiny microbevel to avoid an unfair comparison; it was neatly done with DMT #600, #1200 and #8000, then stropping with both black and green Bark River compound.

All the puukkos were used for various tasks on different woods. As example I’ll show and comment here about how each one carved a white spruce butter paddle using only wood from a single plank.

Pasi: during the rough shaping I felt some light resistance when hollowing the handle belly
I had no problems during the rest of the work, even though this piece of spruce felt a bit more sticky than the ones I used with the other puukkos.
All the refining cuts were very smooth and produced nice and long curls.
Engraving was quite easy too.
At the end of all the edge was perfect and shaving, having only lost a little bit of aggressiveness.

Martti: during the rough shaping I felt some minor resistance when hollowing the handle belly. I had absolutely no problems whatsoever during the rest of the work.
All the cuts were very smooth, producing tight and long curls.
Engraving was quite easy as well.
At the end of all the edge was pristine and shaving, having only lost a little bit of aggressiveness.

Jani: during the rough shaping I felt some very minor resistance when carving the pommel and hollowing the handle belly. After this I checked the blade and could feel with the nail some kind of small rolling in the center of the blade, though it still shaved well. One minute of green compound fixed it
All the refining and smoothening carving was no problem at all, producing nice curls; at the end the edge was in the same condition as after the roughing and stropped again.
I wasn’t able to do engravings since, to avoid excessive weakness, the very tip is slightly rounded.

Ilkka: during the rough shaping I felt some minor resistance when hollowing the handle belly, while I had no problems whatsoever during the rest of the work.
All the refining cuts were very smooth and produced very tight and long curls.
Engraving was very easy, due to the tip geometry.
At the end of all I could detect four tiny microchips along the edge. I could feel them running the nail along the edge, but I couldn’t see them in any light. They were absolutely irrelevant during the work, the blade was still shaving sharp and everything was fixed with stropping.

Conclusions

What follows is a summary of the practical characteristics and general performances I got from each puukko.

A note on resharpening. All four puukkos were easy to sharpen using mainly DMT #1200 and #8000 grits, then stropping with Bark River black and green compound. I needed to use #600 grit only when adding the microbevel on Jani’s puukko.
None of them never took more than 20 minutes for a complete resharpening, more than half of this time being dedicated to stropping.
For me the easiest to work was 80CrV2, then W1 and K510 basically identical, then 100Cr6, slightly harder to grind due to the higher Cr content.

Pasi: excellent handle, with no problems whatsoever. It’s not too chubby nor too slim and has great liveliness in the hand.
The blade has an aggressive and homogeneous bite, sporting also a very good wood wasting power and a good resilience due to the tiny microbevel. Every cut has a clean and smooth finish, though generally the work piece may result just slightly faceted..
The tapered shape of the blade allows a very refined preciseness.

Martti: excellent handle, with no problems whatsoever. Even though being on the big side keeps a great agility in the hand.
The blade has the most aggressive bite of all, nevertheless keeping also an excellent wood wasting power and a good resilience thanks to the slightly convexed edge. As always with convex, it also gives a very smooth finish to every cut.
The tapered shape of the blade allows a very refined preciseness.

Jani: excellent handle, with no problems whatsoever. Despite its generous size it’s nevertheless very agile in the hand.
The blade has a very aggressive bite. Given the thin geometry it has a pleasing edge holding and stability: 80CrV2 resilience paid off and the microbevel did its job without taking away bite. The very acute geometry also tends to invite a generally faceted finish to the work piece.
Generally speaking the blade allows precise cuts, though sometimes its acuteness bites a bit too deep in the first place.
Maybe this puukko is a hair too light and the bevels are a bit too acute for fast and effective wasting of big amount of material, though the deep biting much compensated the light weight.

Ilkka: very good handle, with maybe a little too sharp belly. I only felt a bit of pain when using the chestlever grip during a massive wood wasting process, having quite a bit of material resisting the cut.
Apart from that the handle gives the puukko an extreme liveliness in the hand.
The blade has a very homogeneous bite, not too aggressive but very effective. Its acute geometry, paired with the convex bevels, gives a perfect balance between resilience and bite and, also, a very smooth finish to every cut.
The very shape of the blade allows a particularly refined preciseness and, last but not least, despite the light weight the convex grind allows great power during wood wasting.

DSC00772

 

DSC00770DSC00767 (1)

DSC00769

Advertisements