Monday, July 11, 2011

1st Puukko

Ive always wanted to make a puukko; forge, harden, heat treat and grind the blade and make the handle and sheath from scratch. Ive read a ton of books about said issues, but a few years ago I got a rare opportunity to work under the supervision of a professional puukko smith (said smith is nowadays one of the four "puukko-masters" in Finland).

I figured there might be a lot to learn about this topic, but still I was surprised how much knowledge and skill goes into making a traditional puukko. A knife like this looks simple, but it's actually far from it. Almost all factory knives, and even most of the handmade custom knives are not forged, they're simply grinded or stamped from a flat piece of metal. This is true with most puukkos too. Forging however isn't important just because of tradition, it changes the structure of the steel, and is essential for a good blade for this type of knife. For a professional, making a puukko takes about 12 hours. For me, it was more like 30-50 hrs, but it was so intresting and fun, that the process could hardly be called "work".

For purely traditional values, I made the handle mostly out of curly birch. However, being this is my  very first puukko, I just had to add something extra to the handles. There was plenty of exotic woods to choose from, but I couldnt bring myself into using some psychedelic Amazonian neon-wood for a puukko, so I chose red rose wood (it actually grows in Finland too). The slabs between the pieces are birch bark. The blade is forged from 0,8% carbon steel, and the ferrules are grinded from brass. The shape of the knife is as traditional as possible; the style is mostly copied from Tommi-puukko, but of course I measured it to fit my own hand.

Here's a couple of pics from different stages of the process.

After some ~20 hours of training and work, I had two nice blades, ready to go

Fitting the ferrules was a lot of work; there should be no gap between
the blade and the brass

Assembling the handle.

Almost there...


Overall lenght ~7", the blade being a little under 3,5". The handle was treated with danish oil and bee wax.

The sheath was surprisingly easy to do, but it still took me some 4-5 hours to sew, decorate and dye it. The sheath has a wooden liner in it for shape and safety. The overall design is from tommi-puukkos sheath.

Making this knife was a lot of fun and extremely educational knife-wise. If you're ever given the opportunity to make a knife of any kind with professional supervision, I strongy recommend it!

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