AR-puukot / AR-knives
Latest news (29.3.2016)
Wonderful news: Just got a message from my publisher that the German translation of my first book (History of Puukko) is now ready and will go to print this thursday. It will thus be ready for the Solingen Knife Show, held in 30.4. - 1.5. 2016. I will attend the show and will also hold a lecture on the history and developement of Finnish puukko. Can't wait to be there...
Pictured is my latest puukko I just finished. It's a hunting puukko I call "Big Mac" cause it's a it's a bit "fatter" than a typical puukko.
Since I broke my wrist and back a month ago, I have had ample of time to study my old knife pictures and to bring them up to date. I have hence replaced most of the pictures on this site and added some new work among them. Hope you enjoy them. But most of all: Happy Christmas to everyone!
A couple of new pictures have now been added to the picture gallery. Also three of my knives has been published in the new KNIVES 2016 book by Joe Kertzman. Check that book. It has a lot of fine pictures from the best makers around the world and I feel humbled to have been chosen among them.
Few weeks ago at the Fiskars puukko show 2015 (official Finnish championships of puukko making) I had the honor of being elected as the puukko-smith of the year. Thanks for the fellows at the Finnish puukko association. I truly appreciate this reward.
Here am I, trying to pose convincingly. Pictured "necklace" or the puukko smith of the year is given to the smith to be worn in official events of the puukko society of Finland for a year.
Check also a couple of new knives from the picture gallery.
Great news: The German translation of my first book is now in progress and the publisher (Wieland Verlag) hopes to get it ready by Christmas. The German version will be c. 250 pages long, instead of the original 704 pages, but the shortening will be made mainly by leaving out a large part of the picture section at the end of the book (one knife pictured and measured on a double page). This way the most important part of the book will remain intact and whoever is interested on the larger picture part can find them in the original Finnish print. (The original Finnish version is now out of print but I have a small reserve to offer for serious enthusiasts.) After the German prin is out, I hope to get a contract for an an English version also. I have the text translated already and only need a publisher. let's see how it goes...
Meanwhile I am keeping myself busy with organizing the next Helsinki Knife Show 2016. You can check the progress of the show from the link on the left or from the Show’s Face Book pages.
My background in knife-making
When I reached six years of age, my father though it was about the time to teach me and my brother how to handle a traditional Finnish puukko in wood carving and other tasks. We were staying at the time at our summer cottage far away from the big cities (and hospitals) and the story goes that my mother was so terrifies she locked herself in a closet for the rest of the day. Well, I ended up not killing myself, but instead started to learn steadily how to use the famed puukko in all possible ways, carving wood, making toys, building birdhouses, dressing fish and such.
In 1993 I was once again at my family's summer cottage and was trying to find something meaningful to do. I looked around all the plastic handled puukkos I have used for years and started to wonder if I could make a better grip and sheath for them. Being an architect and having always been keen on modern design, I started by sawing off the handle and then designing and building new "innovative" forms for the ancient tool. Of course I was way off and managed to design somewhat nice looking but cumbersome "designs" that couldn't cope with a traditional form. After many errors I did, however, find some new designs that were stylish and interesting enough to be elected to the "Young Forum 1996" exhibition held at the Design Forum center in Helsinki. (Design Forum Finland is an organization for promoting good Finnish design, and I have been privileged to have my knives on sale at their shop ever since.)
Some of the first knives from 1993 - 1994
After my "design phase" my work started to move steadily towards more traditional and functional form, although at the same time, I tried to incorporate a few new ideas to the old tradition: creating for example a streamlined "desk puukko", designing a new type of half wooden leather sheath and using some original details and materials on my knives.
Birch root, nickel silver, 2015
Since 1994 I have attended almost yearly at the Fiskars knife making competition, which has had the official status of national championships from the year 2000. After a few third and second prizes I won gold medal at the 2002 championships in hunting knife division. After that I have been invited to Fiskars competition as a judge for several times, but I also continue to enter the competition whenever I find the time.
My first knives had mostly simple factory made blades, but luckily in 1995 I met the now famous master blade smith Jukka Hankala, who agreed to make blades according to my designs. I decided to create two basic models. The first model was intended for a basic puukko and table puukko model, the other for "hunting puukko", with a wider blade and a moderate finger guard. I used mainly Jukka's blades for my knives until I started making my own blades in 2005, and since 2007 all my knives have had a blade forged by me (except for the damascus-blades). My blades are traditionally oil tempered with differential heat treating using mostly 1080 or 80CrV2 steel. Recently I have also started to use RWL 34. In my experience its very hard to beat a zone tempered 1080 carbon steel for wood carving and whittling, but for hunting and fishing knives high class stainless steel is certainly a good choice.
Puukko, snakewood, buffalo horn, blade model 1 made by Jukka Hankala, 2004
"Hunting puukko", moose antler, stainless blade model 2 made by Jukka Hankala, 2005
Besides the type of steel, the angle and shape of the grind (bevel), amount and angle of the possible second bevel and the final finishing of the cutting edge affect greatly to the final quality of the blade. To shape and sharpen a blade correctly isn't an easy task and it is quite easy to ruin a superb piece of steel with bad design and sloppy finishing. I have actually found that many of the Finnish puukko models, that have had an exceptional fame as good carving knives, owe their reputation at least as much to the fine original finish of their cutting edge (mouth of the blade) as to the blade material, heat treating or the shape of the grind. For this reason I have tried to be as carefull as possible in finishing the cutting edge of my kvives.
"Table puukko" from 1995 (curby birch)
I love working with different types of wood for handles. Every piece is different and sometimes you find a block of wood that just makes your day with its expressive forms and colors. I have used about 50 different types of wood for my knives and still find new interesting materials to try out. I have to confess though, that the traditional Finnish curly birch remains my favorite and I have used it more than any other handle material. Along with curly birch, one of the best knife handle materials, if not the very best, is definitely birch bark. It is practically indestructible, warm and soft to hold and beautiful. It is also very typical with traditional Finnish puukko, so I just got to love it.
Occasionally I also like to try some more unusual materials, like carbon fiber, mammoth tooth, ivory and stabilized wood. The right balance of the knife might be harder to obtain with heavy materials like mammoth tooth, but they certainly make a difference in appearance.
Mammoth tooth, nickel silver, abalone, 2014
I usually submerge the wooden parts of the knife (handle and lower part of the sheath) in mixture of varnish and wood based turpentine for a day, let it dry for at least a week and then polish it with beeswax or carnauba wax.
For the guard and butt cap I choose most often nickel silver, aluminum or brass, occasionally also copper, tin, carbon fiber, reindeer -, moose - or buffalo horn and sometimes moose shin bone.
My influences can be found mostly from the long traditions of puukko making in Finland. On the other hand, when it comes to designing a new type of knife, I guess my influences can also be found from the pure forms of traditional Japanese artifacts, modern design (like Timo Sarpaneva, Philippe Starck or Ron Araud) or even from the modern art scene. I think beauty can be found anywhere and it all affects how you look at the world and how you try to incorporate at least some of the beauty you have seen and experienced into your own work, be it architecture or knife making. Even music can be an influence. But in the end I it all comes down to an old phrase "Form follows function", and there is no better proof of that than the traditional Finnish puukko.
As for the workmanship I have to say I have been immensely impressed (and accordingly influenced) by the work of our modern master blade smiths, like Jukka Hankala, Arto Liukko and Pekka Tuominen to name a few. They all make beautiful, perfectly finished knives without ever forgetting the functional demands. Also I have to raise a hat to the great Bob Loveless. He really understood how to make a functional knife. I was also very pleased to learn, that he named one of his models as "puukko".
puukko made according to an old 19th century Finnish "Ilmajoki" model, 2007
Knives in combat
One interesting aspect of knives is their possible use in fights and combat. In Finland it is still not uncommon to witness a knife fight, although most of the "fights" tend to be among drunken idiots who end up killing their friends in the privacy of their own homes. Knives can still be a threat so it is a good idea to know at least something about how to defend yourself against them. Having studied martial arts all my life (mainly Wado-ryu karate, in which I attained black belt level in 1998), I try to teach at least basic knife fighting techniques to all of my students. Speaking of defending yourdelf against edged weapons, check the website of Razmafzar, an ancient Persian fighting art, studied and taught today by Dr Manouchehr Khorasani (link included).
Studying historical knives
After my back was badly insured in 2005, I had to stay in bed for a long while with nothing to do but read. It was then that I realised, that although there were several books written on Finnish puukko-knives, there were serious gaps in the history of the puukko witch no one had even tried to fill. After I was able to move a bit I started to contact our regional and national museums and collectors to study their collections. I was immensely surprised to learn that there were priceless collections of puukko in our regional and national museums, gathered for over 150 years that no one had seriously studied before. To cut a long story short, I spent the next four years photographing, measuring and studying several museum and personal collections. The end result was a 704 page book on History of the puukko (Puukon Historia, Apali Oy 2009) which was nominated in 2010 as one of the best Finnish science books of the year. The second part of this book, completing the study of all the possible puukko models and traditional knife belts of Finland, was published in 2012. In 2013 I translated my first book in English with the help of my American puukko smith friend Theo Eichorn.
The English print hasn't found the right publisher yet, but in spring 2016 Wieland Verlag published the German version of the 1. book. It has been shortened quite a bit to keep the price low, but the main text and the most important pictures are there.
Puukon Historia 1 and 2 (History of puukko) the first and second part
Das Puukko, Wieland Verlag2016
The studying of puukko also made me an enthusiastic collector. I now have in my collection over 360 historical puukko and about 170 other edged weapons from around the world (among them a mint condition 1980's Loveless drop point I'm glad to say).
I am a part time maker. By profession I am an architect and acoustic consultant. What makes me forge blades and build knives is an urge to do something totally different than my every day labor with computers, something with my hands, gladly something beautiful and useful. Also, as modern design has always been a passion of mine, I find it very pleasing to be able to first design something, then make it, and afterwards even use it to make other things. Sometimes I have carved a handle of a new knife almost entirely with a knife I have made earlier. I think that's kind of cool.
Also what makes making knives so interesting is that it is so damned hard. There is always some guy (or gal) who is better at it, someone who makes more beautiful knives than you and someone who makes everything look easy when you struggle. But still, as long as you keep honing your skills, there is a change to... well not to beat them, but at least be on the nearly same level.
puukko from 2009, oak burl, nickel silver
At the moment I am working on a design for a modern butterfly puukko (which type of construction still isn't forbidden by law, thanks god, in Finland). There is a tradition for these knives in Finland (the Hackman "Vietnam butterfly knife"), so i thought it would be nice to continue this tradition with a somewhat updated model. I had the first finished model in Helsinki Knife Show 2014 and it did raise some eyebrows.
"Butterfly puukko", prototype 2013
I have also worked on a new type of knife finishing involving pieces of photographs glued to the wooden core and sanded and varnished 8 - 12 times to obtain a smooth and durable surface (check the picture gallery for more photos).
"Table puukko" with photographs and "varnish job"
In the future I would also love to design knives for the knife industry: especially for the famed Fiskars factory, which at the time doesn't produce any puukko-style knives, only some cheap "builders knives" that doesn't meet the term. To design a beautiful modern puukko-knife series for them would be a real dream job.
Helsinki Knife Show 2015
address: Verkkotie 38, 21500 Piikkiö, Finland
Part time maker
Vice-chairman of the Finnish Knifemaker's Guild
Knives made: 200 + (prices from 200 eur to 1650 eur, typically 250 - 350 eur)
Production rate: around 8 - 12 piece a year.
National champion in knife making Fiskars 2002 + several other prizes during 1996 - 2015
Puukkosmith of the year 2015 (by Knife Association of Finland)
Knives on sale 1996 - 2014 at Helsinki Design Forum Shop, now only directly from the maker
all Helsinki Knife Shows so far (2010 - 2015)
Solingen knife Show 2014
Fiskars 2013, 2015
Teaching and other activities
Evaluator of the blade smith graduation in Mynämäki school of applied arts 2007
Lecturer and evaluator at the first Finnish Master Blade Smith graduation in Mynämäki school of applied arts 2008 - 2009.
Lecturer and evaluator of the blade smith graduation in Mynämäki school of applied arts 2012
Judge at the Fiskars Competition in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012.
Several puukko and knife related articles in Finnish and other magazines (Kaliberi, Metsästys & Kalastus, Puukkoposti, Matkaan, Raito, LAME d'autore etc.)
Several lectures on the history of puukko and other historic knives (National Museum of Finland, Tampere Hall, Turku Library etc.)
Puukon Historia, Apali Oy 2009 (History of the Puukko), ISBN: 978-952-5026-93-1
Puukon Historia 2, Apali Oy 2012 (History of the Puukko 2), ISBN: 978-952-5877-20-5