There are few places in the world where knives are more central to the daily life and culture than Finland. The national epic myth, the Kalevala, contains a story of the first 'smith, and to many people the Puukko is synonymous with Scandinavian knife.
Iisakki Järvenpää is one of the leading suppliers of traditional knives in Finland. The knives are of high carbon or AISI 420 stainless and tempered to 57-58 on the Rockwell Scale. Iisakki Järvenpää combines traditional styles with modern production methods to provide outstanding values. The blades are well ground and they are supplied with sturdy functional sheaths.
They are often ground with a very slight secondary bevel. This gives a stronger edge, but one which is not as keen as a single bevel. For general work this is ideal, but if you like your knives really sharp, you may want to sharpen it before use. Just follow the sharpening instructions until you can no longer see the glint of the secondary bevel. This is a chore, but you only have to do it once. These knives are so good, and so reasonably priced, that it is well worth the effort. On the other hand, if you are a hunter, and may be cutting cartilage or other tough materials, you may want a slight secondary bevel.
The traditional Lapland Puukko is the all-purpose utility knife of the Sammi people. As a nomadic people in a harsh environment, they have refined the style over centuries until there is nothing superfluous. The elegant result is a real demonstration that form follows function. The classic Nordic blade is narrow enough to penetrate, has a straight section for slicing, and enough curve at the tip for light skinning chores. The wide, flat pommel allows the use of the off hand to add force to the point. The deep leather sheath is an indication of how serious a lost knife can be in the wilderness. The sculpted handle of curly arctic birch gives excellent control for the draw strokes that are favored when the hands are gloved or numb with cold.
There are three sizes:
#1244; The Aito Puukko is one of my personal favorites. The handle is built up from stacked layers of birch bark with solid ends of red bronze. There are also bronze and Black fiber decorative spacers. The handle is polished and oiled, rather than Varnished, and is more common. This improves the grip, and is much more comfortable. It’s about 4 1/8” long and fits my small to average sized hand perfectly. It has just enough shape for control without restricting you to any single grip. The blade is unpolished carbon steel of a useful size and shape. It’s about 3 3/8” long, 7/8” wide, and 1/8” thick. The tang of the blade extends the full length of the handle and is visible at the pommel. The sheath has a plastic insert and a brass reinforcing band at the top. The suspension strap is attached to the band with a ring. I can see the whole outfit lasting several generations. The knife and sheath weigh a bit over six ounces. $139.
The name Aito has a double meaning. There was a man named Aito Järvenpää who worked at the factory for about fifty years. He was both skilled and well liked. The word itself means something like “genuine” or “original” in Finnish.
The Leuku is the traditional camp knife of the Saami (Lapp) peoples.
It combines the functions of knife and machete, and is the constant companion of
this northern nomadic folk. It is used for gathering firewood, butchering
reindeer and similar tasks. These are supplied with curly birch handles and
nickel silver trim. They have the same flat pommel as the Lappland
puukkos. Again, the leather sheath takes almost the entire knife. The
Leuku is about a foot long with a blade just over 7 inches long and 1 1/4" wide.
The factory offers many models with either natural color sheath, or dark brown.
I think the brown looks better, but the natural is more traditional.
#5229-b, carbon steel blade, black except for the bevel, about .127" thick,
$95 Out of Stock
A combination of the 3 7/8" puukko and the 7" leuku in
a double sheath.
#5629-b; in carbon steel (shown) with the sides of the blade left black, (Out of stock)
#1156-o; One of the oldest styles of Puukko, with rounded brass pommel
and stacked birch bark handle. The handle is particularly comfortable.
The tooled leather sheath has brass trim at the throat and tip.
The stainless steel blade is just under 4 inches (10cm) long, and the
overall length is 8 inches. This is one I could happily live
with for my own use. A true classic at $89
#2156-o; The famous horse-head puukko. These have a nicely detailed cast horsehead and stacked birchbark handle. The stainless steel blade is a useful 10 cm (just under 4"). The length of the knife overall is about 8 1/2". The sheath is nicely detailed, bound in brass, and should last a couple of generations. (Out of Stock)
#2251-o Miniature horsehead puukko with a stainless blade of 2 3/16" (6cm). The length over all is about 4 1/2". This would make a neat neck knife! (Out of Stock)
#2756-o; A combination of the 10 cm. and 6 cm Hevosenpääpuukko in one
sheath. The small blade adds almost no weight,
and can be kept razor sharp for delicate tasks. Both knives have stainless steel blades. $135. (One in Stock)
#4216; Hounds are not forgotten either. The comfortable pommel of this knife is the head of a hound dog. It comes with a carbon steel blade of just under 4" (10cm) for $89.
Traditionally, Scouts in Scandinavia use knives with guards, often in snap style sheaths. These are cataloged as Scout knives, but the blade shape seems more suited to the dedicated hunter. They all have carbon steel blades, about .120" thick, stacked leather handles with aluminum guards and pommels. The tangs run the full length of the handle, and are visible at the pommel.
#3445; This is the smallest, with a blade length of about 3 5/8". The handle has only about 3" between the guard and pommel, so it's suited for children or smaller ladies. The knife and sheath weigh about 3 3/4 ounces. $44
#3447; The midsized version seems the most useful to me. The blade is about 4 5/8" long and 1" wide.
The handle has about 3 3/4" between guard and pommel and is very comfortable in my average sized hand.
The knife and sheath weigh just under 5 ounces.
$49 Out of Stock
The sheath of the medium size no longer has the metal guard shown in the picture.
#3449; This is the largest of the three. The blade is about 5 7/8" long and the handle has 4 7/8"
between guard and pommel. The grip is fairly small in diameter, so it's still suitable for average sized hands.
While the use of aluminium keeps the weight down to just over 4 1/2 ounces, much of the weight is
in the blade. It's suitable for light chopping and general camp chores, as well as butchering large game.
The knife and sheath weigh about 6 3/4 ounces.
$64 Out of Stock
If you are really getting a knife for a school child, you might want to consider one of the models with safety grips shown above. One of the Mora knives with a cross guard would be good choice as well.
This is a no-frills utility puukko in a kalevala style flat
#6316, 3 7/8" (10 cm) carbon steel blade, $37.
#6229-o, A basic fish fillet knife with a thin flexable blade. The stainless steel blade is about 6 1/4" long and tapers both in width and thickness. It measures about .050" at the center. $45
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