The puukko is a highly valued knife, perfectly small enough to hang from your belt and to use for any outdoor activity. You can find it in various form and sizes, some are authentic pieces of art and some are simple kitchenware. But above all, the puukko is an everyday tool.
To get your first puukko is considered a symbol of adulthood in Finland. The only difference between the puukkos for boys and girls, is the size and that the female one is often more suited for working with food. It was sometimes called “Mummunhammas” (tooth of granny) because it has been sharpened so many times the blade has become shorter.
Some of the characteristics are:
It is a simple knife, with a straight carbon steel blade which is usually the same length as the handle. The handle could be made from various materials but the most common are of birch, reindeer horn and nowadays also plastic. It is always designed so that it can easily be pulled out of its sheath.
Most puukkos have a slight shoulder but no choil to protect your fingers, so one has to be careful.
The type of blade, called scandi, doesn’t use a secondary bevel. This means that you sharpen it straight to the edge following the same angle as was given by the smith, which makes for much easier maintenance.
The sheath covers the entire knife, including most part of the handle, but still allowing it to be drawn with ease. The sheath, made of leather, is tight so knife is held in place by pressure. The seem can be found on the back, where it can’t be seen, and it has a leather hoop so you can wear it on your belt.
Maybe it is the simplicity which makes a puukko so beautiful, but is also valuable for what it symbolizes and for it’s historical importance.
As a Luther and a Finn I like to use my puukkos for cutting and carving, well, almost anything.
The one I use most of the time, is a carving knife made in Mora, Sweden. It has a thin extremely sharp blade, which makes detail work a blast.
The other puukko I have, made by Marttiini, is one I was given when I was 15, so it’s been with me for a long time. It’s more of an outdoor kind of a puukko, so I usually carry it with me when I go to the forest or when I’m collecting branches to make some bows (the bow for a Jouhikko is usually made from a branch of Rowan).
If you still are curious, or would like to buy one for yourself, here are a few links that might interest you: