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Wedged Handle Puukko


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I have recently working on a short video about knife making, and to get footage have made a couple of puukkos. The blades are forged from o1 (which I'm steadily becoming more aware may not be a great steel for this type of knife). The original intention was to make one knife for wood carving and one with a more general purpose blade.

 

Broken Tang.JPG

The knives are in the maasepän style with the tang nailed in and no bolster. The tang on this one was hardened a little further up than I thought it was based on how far the blade went into the oil during hardening (a lot of manganese is not always good). That and a slight asymmetry in the tang meant that my "less than gentle" whacking on the handle block with a 2x4 to drive it that last laborious millimeter onto the tang resulted in a broken knife and a "till death do they part" union of tang and handle blank.

 

Wedges Carved.JPG

I decided to avoid that problem with the second blade, so I made a wedged handle. I don't know how traditional my method was, but I drilled a 3/8" hole, burned the tang in to form a tight fit, whittled two wedges out of a pine board, filled the cavity with epoxy, and drove the wedges in until they were flush.

 

wedge final.JPG

Overall, I'm happy with the result. Overzealous and somewhat rushed belt sanding lightly nicked the blade near the handle junction, but I may be able to fix it with some sharpening.

 

wedged top.jpg

 

Comments/critiques are welcome, and I would be interested if anyone knew much about this construction of knife. I've found a little online and some information about how to make it in Bo Bergman's book. I am also wondering what US steel alloy would be better for making puukkos than o1.

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Hi. It looks great. I looked a book "puukon historia" (history of puukko) and found few really old wedged handle puukkos. It would be great to have this book in english (two books). About 1000 sites most of them old and some modern puukko pictures.

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80CrV2 is my personal favorite puukko steel, followed by W2. Good edge holding, and they are really tough. You would not think one would need a very tough steel for such a small knife. However, the blades are so thin, any tendency to chip or break can be problematic.

 

I like O1 for many knives, but puukkos get called upon to do such a wide variety of chores, that I think a slightly tougher steel is better. This allows for that really thin blade that we love!

 

heck with it, if wedges aren't historical (I guess someone probably used them at some point, they are a good idea). Use the wedges as a design element. It looks like you took a cylinder of wood and cut it in half to make wedges. I like it. It gives a cool change in color and texture. I think you may be able to run with this idea (other shapes essentially inlaid into the front of the handle, other colors and textures).

 

If you wanted to, you may have a new design element to play with. At least, these are my opinions. Hope you don't mind. I am often sort of out in left field.

 

kc

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)
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The problem with O1 is it has a tendency to air-harden, and is very difficult to fully anneal without a kiln. It is also a PITA to forge and benefits from a long soak before hardening, but it makes a great knife once you get past its quirks. You may be better off with 1084, which is 90% foolproof, or 80CrV2.

 

Very cool knife, I too have seen a few puukkos that used wedges... it is a surefire way to get a good tight fit, and if the tang is thicker than the blade it makes for a very strong joint.

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Interesting idea on the wedging. Seems like a sensible way to do it if you are burning or drilling the tang slot. I personally tend to split my handle material and mortice the tang for a very exact fit and then re-assemble. But maybe I will play around with this method on simple handle puukkos....

 

I'd love to see that book!

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I use O1 a lot, from 1/2" round for puukkos and like George said it can be quirky. Mostly for the 1.0% carbon I get. And I've had quite a few break on me with just a soft straightening tap or two.

But when finishing hardening and tempering, I get a hell of single bevel edge and holds this edge well also.

 

Gary T

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80CrV2 is my personal favorite puukko steel, followed by W2. Good edge holding, and they are really tough. You would not think one would need a very tough steel for such a small knife. However, the blades are so thin, any tendency to chip or break can be problematic.

 

I like O1 for many knives, but puukkos get called upon to do such a wide variety of chores, that I think a slightly tougher steel is better. This allows for that really thin blade that we love!

I actually have some 80crv2 and W2 around for other projects, so I'll have to try using them next time I make puukkos. I have mainly used O1 because it was easily available in drill rods. I didn't think about O1 not being good for thin cross sections, that's a good point. Even more so with the possibility of air hardening. And a steel that's more hard than tough would be a bit easier to sharpen in a high scandi grind as well.

 

 

Very cool knife, I too have seen a few puukkos that used wedges... it is a surefire way to get a good tight fit, and if the tang is thicker than the blade it makes for a very strong joint.

Thanks! This might be my favorite way of making a hidden tang now. It makes it fairly easy to get a good looking/gap free transition from blade to handle due to the compressibility of the pine, without the difficulties of fitting a bolster.

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i dont remember ever seeing that type of construction before.

now im excited to try it out.

thanks for the inspiration.

 

couple thoughts...

seems like having a ferule would eliminate the chance of splitting your handle when tapping home the wedge and make for a stronger joint.

are you at all concerned about the stability of the pine in weather swings? does dry weather ever loosen the construction?

if so, what materials would be more stable?

 

cheers

-p

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i dont remember ever seeing that type of construction before.

now im excited to try it out.

thanks for the inspiration.

 

couple thoughts...

seems like having a ferule would eliminate the chance of splitting your handle when tapping home the wedge and make for a stronger joint.

are you at all concerned about the stability of the pine in weather swings? does dry weather ever loosen the construction?

if so, what materials would be more stable?

 

cheers

-p

I'm glad this post has been useful to a few people, there isn't much information (in english at least) about this sort of knife. Along with that, however, I am far from an expert about this type of handle (I'm far from an expert about any type of handle, but this one more so). That being said, due to the fact that the wedges are made from a wood much softer than the handle, I think there isn't much of a risk in splitting the handle when driving them in. However, I'm sure a ferrule couldn't hurt and would strengthen the knife overall/be an interesting design element. With how tight the tang is friction fitted into the handle, and the amount of epoxy, even without the wedges, I think anything short of heating up the handle with a torch or grinding it off wouldn't pull it apart before the tang broke/wood split. However, this knife is intended for indoor use as a utility knife in my workshop, so it likely won't go through too much stress.

 

As to the stability of the pine, I do live a mile high, and have seen noticeable shrinkage of wooden handle components (and my interior wooden doors, which with any luck will start closing properly again in a little while) during late fall and winter when the climate gets dryer, so soon I'll know how the wedges respond. If you wanted to make them more stable, a denser wood might shrink a little less, but would be harder to carve and less forgiving in terms of fit. Just some thoughts. Good luck.

 

-ACC

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Aiden, Paul,

 

That ferrule does not have to surround the outer wood but only needs to surround the wedge..say a 5/8" thin walled tube, glued into the handle ...having the wedges and the blade tang firmly grasped. Wedges may then be made of a hardwood.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein
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I'm glad this post has been useful to a few people, there isn't much information (in english at least) about this sort of knife. Along with that, however, I am far from an expert about this type of handle (I'm far from an expert about any type of handle, but this one more so). That being said, due to the fact that the wedges are made from a wood much softer than the handle, I think there isn't much of a risk in splitting the handle when driving them in. However, I'm sure a ferrule couldn't hurt and would strengthen the knife overall/be an interesting design element. With how tight the tang is friction fitted into the handle, and the amount of epoxy, even without the wedges, I think anything short of heating up the handle with a torch or grinding it off wouldn't pull it apart before the tang broke/wood split. However, this knife is intended for indoor use as a utility knife in my workshop, so it likely won't go through too much stress.

 

As to the stability of the pine, I do live a mile high, and have seen noticeable shrinkage of wooden handle components (and my interior wooden doors, which with any luck will start closing properly again in a little while) during late fall and winter when the climate gets dryer, so soon I'll know how the wedges respond. If you wanted to make them more stable, a denser wood might shrink a little less, but would be harder to carve and less forgiving in terms of fit. Just some thoughts. Good luck.

 

-ACC

 

i was talking to my brother-in-law who does hardwood floors about this.

hardwoods would be more stable because they have tighter pores and natural oils help to prevent moisture.

however, he agrees with you about pines compressability and being easier to work. so maybe using hardwood is overkill.

he suggests if we kiln dry the wedges immediately before assembly, theyll be dryer than they ever will be again. they may expand with humidity but wont ever shrink smaller than when putting the handle together.

finishing the handle with oil or wax would help too.

 

-p

 

btw, are you in denver?

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i was talking to my brother-in-law who does hardwood floors about this.

hardwoods would be more stable because they have tighter pores and natural oils help to prevent moisture.

however, he agrees with you about pines compressability and being easier to work. so maybe using hardwood is overkill.

he suggests if we kiln dry the wedges immediately before assembly, theyll be dryer than they ever will be again. they may expand with humidity but wont ever shrink smaller than when putting the handle together.

finishing the handle with oil or wax would help too.

 

-p

 

btw, are you in denver?

 

Good to know. And an interesting idea with the kiln drying. I am in Denver.

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  • 9 months later...

Cool looking knife Paul! The layering with the antler, ferrule, and wedges is a really nice effect. I recently glued up a handle with wedges for the first time in a while, but I've put off shaping it for a few weeks now.

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That leuku is the very definition of rustic!

 

I love it!

 

Makes me consider doing a wedged handle knife, and leaving the wedges long as a deliberate design element.

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Saw a fella on You Tube who posts quite a bit and he was using this wedge principle and used a cylindrical peice of wood cut in half. I made a mental note as it appears to be less difficult than broaching and having a clean, tight, flush fit. I've spent a lot of time and sweat making a clean finish which I doubt anyone who has never made a knife would appreciate.

I like the way the stag handled knife looked at the tang junction.

 

Gary LT

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In central Siberia,along the basin of Lena river,exists an ancient culture known (properly) as Saha,(formerly Yakutia).Their very characteristic,regional knife was sometimes/often/always(?)....organics survive poorly in all archaeological finds...)...handled using the wedging principle.

 

Photos of the work of a good friend and associate from Yakutsk,a careful and systematic student of his cultural heritage,his knives are very close to many of the museum specimens...

post-11132-0-56087600-1467529039_thumb.jpg

post-11132-0-45326600-1467530522.jpg

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Photo by yet another Saha knifemaker showing the slightly different type of knife(all the different types,as well as details of the unique assymetrical shape of grind(and even the handle and the sheath),are all fairly strictly codified,as in far from incidental).

 

This type is thought to've been used for the drilling of the recess for the wedge.

post-11324-0-39123800-1465210886_thumb.jpg

post-11324-0-13784900-1465210892_thumb.jpg

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