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Festive Puukko

Aiden CC

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Puukkos are definitely my favorite small knife, so I'll be making one for this KITHmas. Today I forged the blade from a piece of 1" x 3/16" 80crv2. It seems like a lot of people here like puukkos, so I figured I would show the process I use to forge them.



First, I forge down the stock to be narrower and a bit thinner. Then I forge the tang in with only one shoulder. It's pretty short, since the style I'm going for has a hidden tang and no bolsters. Finally, I cut the blade off with a reverse angle for the tip.



Next, I forge in the tip and the establish the taper in the blade. Important to note: the curved side will be the spine.



Next, I forge in the edge and spine bevels, creating a rhombic cross section with the thickest part being the line between the two bevels. This also reverses the tip to curve the right way.



Then I refine the profile and bevels a bit then forge on the bevel on the tang which makes it curve backwards. This is a good thing, you'll see why.



Finally, I forge in the shoulder on the edge side, this straightens out the tang. Then I clean everything up and leave the blade to anneal.


Thanks for looking!

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Since I forged it pretty close to final shape, grinding only took ten minutes or so. A lot of traditional puukkos have rounded spines, but since some people like to use knives to strike fire-steels, I leave mine sharp and flat. I also like the look of scale on the flats though it isn't traditional either.




I thermal cycle three times and quench in canola oil. The blade is currently in the toaster oven to temper.

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After heat treat, I grind the blade to a zero edge at 80 grit and then go up progressively up to 320 grit on the sander. Then I start the hand polishing/sharpening process. Doing this right is important for a puukko that is easy to use and maintain. I had time this afternoon, so I put on some Doc Watson and got to it.


120 grit.jpg

I start out diagonally with 120 grit paper on a surface plate to remove the grinder marks and make sure the bevels are dead flat. If I just sanded it with a sanding block, the edge would be uneven and convex, meaning that sharpening the knife later will be tricky. This way, the knife can be sharpened easily with flat stones.


surface plate.JPG

Next I sand horizontally with 220 grit. In this picture you can see how I hold the blade while I'm doing this. You can do it just holding the tang, but you'll catch some nasty blisters.


final stone.JPG

After this, I move on to stones. First a 320 grit oil stone. Then 1000, 3000, 4000, and 8000 grit, all synthetic water stones. I don't alternate directions with the stones, I'm not really polishing. I give each side an initial "polishing" and then just sharpen. I like the somewhat flatter finish this gives, if I did this "properly" the blade would have a mirror finish by the last stone. You can see it sort of does but not quite.



Between 120 and 220 grit passes, I burned the tang into a pretty piece of birdseye maple. I've seen a lot of people use jigs like this for hidden tangs. For knives without bolsters it can be hard to get a fit with the shoulders dead level, so you can "cheat" with a little screw press like this and crank one side down further than the other to even things out.


Tomorrow I'll shape the handle and start the sheath (I'm thinking a bit of holiday themed tooling).



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That is the ticket!


great work!


The fundamental cause of trouble is that the stupid are cocksure, while the intelligent are full of doubt. -Bertrand Russell, philosopher
follow me on Instagram @raggedravenforge

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Love the blade, but I am more impressed with the idea of using an 80g belt on a grinder to go down to zero edge. How the smeg do you do that without overheating the edge....

Short answer: very carefully :P. More detailed answer: grind barehanded (I pretty much always do anyways), the knife will burn the hell out of your fingers before it can get hot enough to ruin the temper, so you will instinctually pull it off the belt (or drop it :blink:) when it starts to heat up; dip frequently in water; finally, you want to "sneak up" on the final dimensions and be patient. It takes a bit of time especially at the base of the blade, but if you rush it you risk overheating or wrecking the profile. Where I've had the most trouble is at the higher grits (120 and up) and at the tip of the blade.


Wes: I think your knife is a really cool idea! The only festive thing about this is going to be some fa la-la, la-la tooling on the sheath.


Gabriel: Thanks! More than half of the knives I've made are puukkos, so I've done a lot of work to refine my process


Now, onto some more progress!


handle ground.jpg

I use a coping saw and grinder to rough out the thickness and handle geometry. There is still a ways to go by hand (I've picked up an appreciation for files and rasps from some of the Professor's WIPs).


butt end.jpg

You can see here how I like to start the teardrop cross section of the handle. The back two corners are broken at 45˚ while the front two more like 30˚


handle rasped.jpg

It's hard to see (phone was in a plastic bag for dust), but this is it after all the flat planes have been rasped down. I get them almost to their final dimensions and make sure the sides that need to be parallel/perpendicular are.



Here it is! Missing steps are breaking the corners with a rasp, using a strips of emory cloth to "shoe-shine" sand it, taking it up to 600 grit, burnishing and oiling. I really like the way the teardrop fits in your hand (I think it's one of the most well-indexed handle shapes). Birdseye maple is also growing on me as a handle material.


Also, every knife needs a sheath...

Edited by Aiden CC
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I'm a bit rusty with my puukko sheaths, so this one gave me some trouble. There are a few glitches, but I like how the tooling turned out.


block split.JPG

The first step is making a wooden blade liner. For this I use birch, it's hard and straight grained but nor excessively hard to carve. First I cut out a block and split it with a knife.


recess carved.JPG

Next I use a chisel and knife to carve a recess for the blade in one side. Then I clamp and glue the other side to it, and when it's set, shape it with the sander.


leather cut.JPG

I use a pattern to make belt loops. For the main body of the sheath, I measure around the widest part of the handle and add 3 cm, then use the blade knife and liner to measure the length. I wrap the knife in plastic wrap and put it into the liner.


stitching started.JPG

I soak the leather and wrap it around the knife and liner, then use an awl to mark three or four spots along where I want the seam to be. Then I go through with an overstitch wheel to connect the dots, fold the leather in half and punch all the holes. Usually it works very well, but this time, the last couple of stitches where too low. I ended up chasing that mistake through the rest of the sheath after that point.


back seam.jpg

Here is the less than gorgeous seam. You can see how the leather crinkles when you stretch is around the curve of the liner. As you go you need to stretch the leather or the seam will want to curve the wrong way and you'll get in trouble (ask me how I know).


back seam done.JPG

The seam is finished by sanding and burnishing. Then the sheath is dyed. I'm not exactly sure what went wrong with this one, the handle is a bit slimmer than I'm used to, that might have been part of it.


knife out.JPG

finished sheath.JPG

Somewhere in there I may have added a bit of holiday cheer...

Thanks for looking!



I'm probably going to make a new sheath

Edited by Aiden CC
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It hurt a bit, but I cut out all the stitches to pull out the liner/belt loop. I thinned the liner on the sander (that was part of the problem with the first sheath), then remade the whole thing. I'm much happier with it now, it looks much nicer and will also last a lot longer (no stitches rubbing on the handle).


Total weight with sheath is 3.7 Oz, OAL of the knife is just under 7"

It's not exactly a neck knife, but the sheath would lend itself to tying on a lanyard. Some folks like to wear puukkos that way with heavier winter clothes.

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