keskiviikko 29. helmikuuta 2012

5 Leukus from Finland

So,  people...

Heres the first part of the leuku review that ive been talking about. It took this long to post it, as first i had to (naturally) wait for the makers to have time to make leuku for my use, and then, the problematic time of year struck me, with storms right after x-mas and never ending snow  pouring over electric lines and it caused daily electric cut-offs. Really, almost every friggin day weve been strugging  more or less, with electrics, that also breaked my computer....and it wasnt the first PC to die, in time when ive had this blog. So, sorry for the delay.

First of all, i want to show my gratitude and thank the knife makers very much, for their surprisingly positive attitude with this project of mine. I hope, that they  are happy to my work after its done....This is the first part, you know. Next one, part two, will be about use of leuku, and this is the prologue.

In this review, i am showing you the works of :

Ilkka Seikku

The way i see leuku, is that its a bigger knife, that was born in hands of saame people, who were back then, living a travelling life, and their knife was a about the most important tool, as it was expensive to get, as well as difficult to make back then. They didnt have, in most cases, anvils, nor a way to transport one always, so the rare people who had skills to make knives, became important part of society as well as good tradesmen. Ive heard that with one grown male reindeer, you could get two leukus, or two leukus and one womens leuku, if uou could get a bargain. Steels, were hard to get ,too, and the price of it was naturally higher than its now. They did not order leukus, i bet, like we do, with a phonecall or through an email, nor did they buy it from webshops. You had to travels for huge distances, with trading goods, to meet blacksmith or someone else who sold or traded knives and blades. You could not replace it in the true wilderness either, because the postoffices werent invented, so you really really had to keep your possibly only knife in a good safe and try not to loose it as it might mean the end of your life.

Leuku has been used in wast range of tasks, even before it "came" familiar to southern Finlands people. Its been used to skin animals, prep hides, gut, slice, chop meat, sliver branches off from the firewood, to butcher reindeerd, to build traps for birds, fish and big game like bears. They used it to carve icy and wet snow from sleds, pulks and harness of reindeer. Its not a lie, to say that if anything, leuku was a multitool of northern people.

At some point, people from north Finland, started to approach their lands, to trade goods, and to cut off the forests, etc, and in those times, leuku´s were traded and brought to southern Finland and outdoorsmen started to like them, and naturally, to make their ovn copies and versions. But it took bit more of time, before southern people, started to wonder in the lapland, as a hobby instead of work, business and exploration related travelling. I think both parties, the laplands people, as well as southern people, were part of leuku´s change, when the tourism was born. Tourists, hikers and others, soon started to want that unique knife of lapland nation, and the laplands people tried to keep up with the demands. There sure was very good quality, really handmade leukus to offer, but evidently, they had money to get, and people wanted leukus, so i think even the northerns leukus went bit low on the overall quality and the effort was put to make nice exotic looking knives, instead of making em so good in use. Anyways, the southern men naturally wanted part of the cake and started to mass produce leukus too, with all the laplands scenery,reindeers and such, printed on the sheaths. And as the time went on, i think leukus decadence was reality. carbon steel leukus started to get rare, and overall, leuku´s turned in to mass produced souvenirs, instead of actual users....? The fittings of handle and bolsters, to the blade went worse, steels were brought from overseas, as cheap as possible at some point, and such. The most significant change however, in my opinion was that the tip of the blades, the curve went much bolder, steeper, duller, than the tip of the real leukus, that were capable to carve even more delicate things if man had to, but mostly, it was capable for gutting game. Tourists and hikers usually werent hunters, so the game handling ability was soon forgotten and the more "nasty" looking dull curve of the tip, sold better as it made the knife more exotic looking, compared to puukko´s blad tip. At this point, i have to say that leuku, is its own thing. Its not a puukko, its a leuku and nobody knows, what that word stands for. Sadly, the word leuku, nowadays is used in many cases when people see just about any big bladed knife...."wow, man, whats that huge leuku you have? "....when the guy holds up a parang, a rambo-knife or any broad, long knife.

Not so long ago, the lengths of leukus were something like 18 centimeters / 7 inches was womens tool and bigger ones were mens tools. Nowadays, among the remaining reindeerhurding  saame people, the 7 inch long is very common, if its guys only knife. You see, the culture among them has also changed in time, and the life of living in semipermanent shalters, that were hauled around the year, from place to another, isnt everyday life anymore. They still do it, but their basecamp, is now a real house, from which they do their scoutings. Days of making kota´s wooden poles, and repairing reindeer´s sleds, arent everyday life anymore. So its not so uncommon to see someone carrrying now a pair of leukus, that are about 15cm long and as a bigger one, they have something from 17 to 20 cm long blade. Still, i´ve seen the good old pairs, having clearly diferent sized knives, like a 15cm bladed as a smaller for calf marking and smaller, delicate tasks in meat handling and whittling, and as its pair, a big, 8 to 9 sized ones. Its still way good tool, the stuorra niibi, for any hiker and outdoorsman, who makes fires and shelter plus hunts. But, its all a matter of taste and mostly, needs.

Somehow i still also enjoy when i see people, buying leuku´s as they visit lapland and in other times. I am sad ´cause i cant really tell why leuku has the effect it has to people. I mean that just about everyone here, watches leuku´s with great interest and respect. Many people, who are starting their hiking hobby , list a wooden kuksa, and a leuku, as an important piece of kit, even today when they could do almost without any knife if they want to, as you can now carry lightweight ready shelters, ready-to-eat meals and such, that does not require no bigger knife that a swiss army pocket knife to open and use. Its something that you cant explain or draw diaphrams. LUCKILY its some primitivi-sh thing that still makes people to want leuku...... and not without a reason, as we know that once it was mans best tool in northern harsh conditions.

I asked, at start, from many makers, for leuku´s, within these lines:

- Length, from about 8 to about 9 inches if possible, but everything was accepted. I was interested to see "stuorra niibi" knives on the first hand, instead of the smaller leukus, that are often referred as "unna niibas".

-Simple, more raw tool-like finish. This was to get a knife, in which you Dont pay for time spent on any decoration that affects the price. If the decorating and smoother finishing would not affect the price, it was ok too.

-Price. 200 euros at max. This, was to keep the range of leukus similar, and because i want to show you knives that just about anyone could afford, instead of showcase pieces with 400+ euro price tags.
 Still, 200 euros isnt easy money, and most of these leukus arent close to that price,no, they are cheaper.

-Simple sheath. Same reason as with knife itself. No gimmicks, no expensive finishing / decorations if it affects the price.

-Appearance. I asked for knives, that makers, as well as everybody, would call Leuku, instantly. So, we wont see any full tang leukus, nor kukri´s with reindeer antler handles, and i think theres not even black coated tactical sharp-corner,hand chewing leuku´s either.

I have been thinking about philosophy of the leuku, as well as the tech-side of leuku pretty much for long time and i still cant say that there is just one way to make one. One kind of a major difference, between the old, "true" handmade leukus from lapland, compared to interpretation of leuku, from southern finland, as well as the difference between majority of old days leuku´s and today´s laukus, is the thickness of blade. In many, many books as in life, you see leuku´s that are from 3.5 to 4 millimeters thick. This i think, is due to the fact that in north, the wood material is so much thinner, that you simply dont need any bigger, and therefore heavier, blade, to cut your tiny, stiff grain birch. And in many areas, the pinewood there is thinner, compared to southern Finlands woods.  In south, people have to chop and split much thicker material, and often the big leuku is more than good replacement for small hiking & camping axe. Axes, by the way, excisted among sami people, but they were more like tools, used in stable camps, and transported in sleds, but maybe a sole man, didnt need an axe so often while doing his trips, as the wood materials used during hikes, isnt that thick and axes were used to build permanent lavvu´s and such, that had to be made from strong wood.

One thing, that occurred to my mind is the fact, that as the original users, the saame people, who travelled most of the year, after their reindeer herd, farming it, they also used their leuku´s as game handling knife, meaning that all the major butchering from opening and gutting to raw splitting of meat, was done with one leuku. This, is something that is usually all but forgotten in southern Finland. The fact that leuku was, is and will be good hunting knife, when the knife is done properly. I think that leuku, has evolved from reindeer farmers multitool, that made life possible in northern Finland, to bit sad state. People buy leuku´s because it brings the magical saame / lapland stories to their mind and they use it either as a souvenir,or as an small axe replacement only. And as the leuku´s original idea, of game handling capable machete-like utility knife, has been forgotten, few Finnish companies have stopped making carbon steel bladed leukus with bolder, "cat cheek" bevels, because "people want leuku´s that are shiney, easy to maintain and with whittling bevels and edge". So we have lots of eye-candy leuku´s , with whittling-puukko´s bevels, that are cant stand the tasks, in which leukus were originally made. Bit weird in my mind. Luckily, we still have company like Roselli, that still makes  , in larger factory scale, more rugged and simple, carbon steel leuku´s with better edge and more suitable for real field use. Thats a good alternative, for hand forged, custom made leuku, if youre in bit of hurry to get a leuku that you are about to use  and not just pose with it. In my opinion, when youre living on a budget, and desire a leuku, just stay as far as possible from stainless steel and then you have a good chance to get a leuku, that in theory if not even in reality, will serve you somehow, but always better that stainless ones :).

Naturally, stainless steel blade itself, is almost care-free and you only have to swipe it after use and sharpen it, but the quality of commonly used steel, in leuku´s is pretty soft and vulnerable, thanks to world of making profit and competition in business. Its more hygienic, too, yes but as the rolling stone wont get moss, the carbon steel wont rust easily IF you keep on using it. Even the cheaper mass produced carbon steel leuku blades from Finland, beat the nice and shiney stainless leukus 6-0 in the field, if you ask me. IF there would be stainless leuku´s made from better high-end steels, the thing would be maybe different, but at the moment, i see it like that. Soft 420 stainless and similar stuff, just wont handle the job.

Offcourse,originally back in the days,  the pure, traditonal leukus from western lapland, especially the "celebration use" models, had sheaths made from leather and antler, when the ones from eastern lapland had sheaths made from wood and leather, with either visible wooden liner, or fully leather covered. Also, ive seen examples of Really old leukus that were sewn with wooden liner, that was pulled out after it was ready and dry, so they did not have any liner at all. But this is something that is almost forgotten and you most likely wont ever even see one like that in use, nor  will people even remember that once sheaths were made like that too. the rarest sheath type i know of, was a weird mixture, or carelian sheath style. It had a sideseam and steel or brass parts along the sides of the sheath. Propably it was brought o lapland by ancient carelian trader or someone who wasnt saame people at first point. Nowadays, i think all along from 1900´s sheaths for real field use, using just wooden liner covered with leather. The bone / antler sheaths are pretty rare to see in the fied and they are used more in ceremonies and celebrations etc. The bone sheath is slow to make, heavy to carry and makes also noise if it bangs against another sheath or piece of other gear. But, its cant deny that.

In many cases, in late history,  determination of leuku has gone bit more narrow. And yet, there are findings from graves and old photos, enherited items, revealing that leuku, isnt so restricted when we talk about the looks of it.  They always try to say that leuku has a straight spine, when theres still evidence of slightly hunchbacked spines. They say that the blade is even, when also the lover edge of the blade, has also been made so that it slightly slopes downwards before the tip. By the way, Strömeng is still a living example of blades like these that i am talking about. But no, kukri aint a leuku, nor is a tracker-styled blade, and the bowie aint either. Leukus dont have fingerguards nor clip points. Slight drop point is ok as well as that straight spine. But the most significant thing, that your leuku has to have, to be able to call it a leuku at all (in my opinion and i am not the only one ) that the pommel, the backpiece of handle, tapers, swells around the handle quite evenly. Plain downward tipping pommel aint a leuku if you ask me, nor is a handles butt thats ball-like, round en without clear, spreading around the it. No, Ka-Bars large nut on the back, wont do it either. I do like diversity, and i like a lot, to se variations and i own a full-tang knife that looks like a leuku but theres a limit to that as well, how long you can call your knife a leuku. There arent usually any unsharpened choils, nor ground fingergrooves, on the handle or in the blade. The line from handle, to edge is in almost any leuku, very straightforward, there isnt any steep drops between front bolster and blade itself. Overall, leukus are traditionally quite sleek and streamlined, they start from wide pommel and end to simple tip without huge curves in between.


 Lets roll the dice....

The first leuku, is from Ilkka Seikku, who makes his products on daily basis, and i know that i am not wrong, when i say that Ilkka´s knives are rugged tool-like workhorses, that you can rely on. He sure can make very amazing bone carvings to your knives and polish to a mirrorlike finish, but still, the shiney ones, are as capable to serve in the field as well.

Anyways heres some specifications:

-Price : Ilkka makes large leukus, starting from 150 euros, including VAT 23%. Value of this particular, is bit higher though.
-Weight w/o sheath : 530 gr
 -Spine length: 231mm
-blade material : hand forged spring steel, oil quenched and forge annealed / tempered.
-Blade width: from 40 to 46mm
-Blade thickness : From 5 to 6mm
-Grind height: approximately 14-15mm
-Total length 363mm
-Bevel : bolder, so called cat´s cheeks, bit like convex.

-Blade material : Spring steel, hand forged shape and bevels, before grinding and sanding the bevels. Forge finish, wide tang, almost 5 x 10mm even on the riveted end of tang. So has to be pretty rugged if you ask me.

-Handle : Moose antler bolster back and front, and between a piece of curly birch with leather spacers. Wood part empregnated with oil.

-Sheath : Simple, from quite thick  wet molded leather, dyed in pitch black. Wooden, pretty thick liner. Cleverly attached wide stiff belt loop without stitching.. Seam on the back as they traditionally are supposed to be.

This leuku, is one of the many unique styles Ilkka comes up with and he does accept custom works and does also leukus from his own drawing board. This, he said to be his stock-model, something that customer may except if he orders a leuku from him if  cutomer doesnt tell any specific specifications. But designs vary, at the same pace, as the maker lives. In this one, however, you see that its actually very unique design. The handle, slopes some 3 millimeters smoothly, so its bent a  bit, downwards. Just a hint, so its not any dedicated chopping knife-type of handle that are very curved. The pommel, is roundish, not a flat from the back, and offers nice grip, when you use the 3-finger grip, in which only the thumb, and 2 next fingers grab the handle. The ball shaped pommel feels good in this grip as theres no sharp corners to chew on your palm. Small but good detail, this knobby butt. The handle itself, is quite flat, and offers a good feeling in the fist, as the flattish handle wont turn inside the fist, even when wearing gloves / mittens. The fronf bolster, is nicely fitted around the blade joint, no visible dings nor holes and gaps fro moist / dirt to swim inside the handle.

This leuku already, makes me think that it might have the greates chopping ability, as its thick and heavy, bomb-proof looking rugged tool, yet its also pretty damn good looking.

Blade, is also quite interesting as its the most different compared to others in this review. My interest towards the Strömeng´s leukus, makes this blade look very nice, as ive like´d  hunchback spined blades a lot for long time but i havent had a chance to use one really much yet. This kind of shape, in my opinion aint bad at all, more like opposite in fact. Blade is bit more narrow next to handle, which offers a bit better whittling capability, although leukus arent for making opaque whittlings nor pieces of jewellery. Then, blade drops 6 millimeters, as it goes towards the start of tips uprising curve. This, compared to blades slightly fatter thickness, at the same spot as is the widest point of it, means that this blade might have good hacking and chopping capabilities hidden in it, thanks to obviously greater mass in that part of the blade. We´ll see about that. The bevel is broad, very round sided, almost axe-like, which also suggest that blade might be good chopper and also, might be very durable. I dont like to call these bevels as convex as we call em "cat cheeks", and stubbornly i see them bit different. Ive seen pictures from knifesmith in lapland, sketches of the bevels crosscut, and its more like a broad angle V shape, that starts to turn more roundish, towards the actual edge, after the midths of the V´s sides. You say what you say, you have the right, as do i :).


The next leuku is...

From YP-Taonta, made by Antti Mäkinen. Their stamp, is still YP, referring to Yrjö Puronvarsi although its the younger man from the family who continues their old blacksmithing and blademaking business. YP-Taonta (taonta = forging ) is one of the leuku makers, who have succeeded in making profitable, yet affordable, but the most, rugged tool-like leukus, that you dont have to wait for long, after ordering one.Not any tourist crap, is say ! They do their blades in the house, ,from bars and blanks. In this leuku, the steel is Sten & co´s "leuku" from which i already have good experiences in way of one knife blade and one detail carving chisel, made from the same material.

The specifications :

-Price : In their web site, 108 euros, including VAT 23%.
-weight w/o sheath : 356 grams.
- spine length : 220 mm
- total length : 352mm
-handle material : birch
- blade thickness : appr. 4.5mm
-blade material : Sten & co Leuku.
-blade  width : 38mm
-grind height approximately 11 millimeters, in the midths of the blade.
-riveted tang with brass washer.
-Front bolster is pressed cup type and from brass. Most likely from Laurin Metalli.  No butt cap, nor bolster.
-Bevel : slightly convexed scandi.

-Sheath : dark brown,machine sewn  back seam, one sided plastic liner, twisted belt loop that chokes around the sheath to retain the leuku in its place. Simple decorations.

This leuku, in my opinion, is suitable for person with bit bigger hand, as its handle is bit longer and also, thicker, bit roundish than others in this review. However, i imagine, that you can also shape this handle easily, to suit your needs, but it might then require a modifications to sheath as well. The blade is made from Sten & co´s leuku, steel, which is welkl known for its good edge retention. Its very nicely smoothed to an even surface, with some nice forge scales left in it. The bevel itself is almost mirror polished without flaws of any kind. This is also lighter and therefore, easier to carry if youre weight watcher. Also, the blade is thinner, and maybe its bit more suitable for slash cutting as well as whittling-type of action, well see about that later in the field. Bolster is made from pressed brass, so its only one with  cup-shapep bolster in this post. Its simple and strong construction as the cupe prevents the handle from cracking well. In the handle, i noticed, that it has a semi-gloss coating, a lackuer of some type, maybe to prevent the knife from getting dirty so easily, but i recommend you to remove the coating from handle and bolster, and oiling and waxing the handle after youve bought yours. This is just a personal preference, to get better grip from the handle, and to allow the handles wood to breathe out and dry, the possible moist away from it. With waterproof clearcoat, the handle Might suck in water and when it cant find its way out, the handle might swollen, get soft and /or, crack the clearcoat at some point.  Anyways, this leuku, is as i said, a well built tool, with very good blade material indeed.  Simple traditional sheath with neck-choking belt loop, with calm decorations, suit in to everyones eye easily. Not too bright, not too shy either.


The third leuku looks to be....

From Pasi Hurttila, from Hurttilan Paja,in Ivalo.

Mr. Hurttilas blacksmith shop is one mans company, focusing on wide range of forged goodies, from gates to nails, from knives to latches and everything from between. I hear that he might be slowing down a bit, on knife production so i suggest you order yours now before waiting times get longer :). 

Here are some specifications of this leuku:

-Price : 155 Euros, including VAT 23%
-Weight w/o sheath : 428 grams.
-Spine length : 231 millimeters
- Blade width : 40 millimeters give or take 1 millimeter.
-Grind height : 9 millimeters.
-blade thickness : 4.5 to 4.7 millimeters.
-Total length : 352 millimeters
-Blade material : hand forged spring steel.
-Handle material : glaze birch, dyed in reddish brown.
- Bolsters : about 5mm thick brass. Riveted tang with two brass reinforcing screws on the butt cap. Thin liners between the wood and brass parts.
-Bevel : Scandi

This leuku, is very good example of leuku, done in traditional, blueprint-way. I mean that its like the pure form of leuku, as most people who know leukus, would describe a traditional leuku. Very sleek profile without any gimmicks in it. Very well done brass parts, with nice smooth sanding done on them, like a half matte, but more on the shiney side. The two brass screws on the butt plate, have been smoothed out, to almost invisible level, and in a quick look you wont even notice the bits at all. Peened tang end is nicely done as well, as the visible part of tang, left, is symmetrical, just in the middle of the butt plate. But plate itself is also almost symmetric, and it just gets bit tinier towards the down side of the handle as it should. Buttcap has even, smooth and gentle roundings so it wont do blisters in your hand. Front bolsters, fitting is as good as you migt expect , absolutely no dings or gaps between bolster and the blade. Handle which is made from nicely patterned birch, is dyed to brown color with some red in it. In my eye these reddish browns fit like a glove. Spine has been sanded & ground to plain, smooth and straight level. However it does not have sharp corners so it migh be not best with the firesteel, to those who are about to try that with it. Sheath of this leuku, is from thick leather, with wooden liner in it and has nice simplified paw marks as decorations. Beltloop is traditional type, that chokes around the sheath and handle of leuku. Its dyed with pitch black color.

If i was to give, as a gift, a leuku to a foreign knife anthusiast, i would not hesitate to give Pasi´s leuku to him as this is as i said, just like the leukus we all think of when we hear the name. Very nicely fitted and built, plus more than good overall finish, from handle to bevel.


Then its about time to show you the leuku done by Jani Ryynänen.

Ryynänen, makes knives and other handcraft forgings, as a hobby, unlike the others in this post, who make knives a an official job. Anyhow, his blog, in example, show that man has some good talent indeed. I got interested in his works, through Seikku´s tip, and in a relatively short perioid i got interested to get his leuku to this review too. But i have to say, that this leuku, soon turned out to be slightly customized to my own needs. So this is not his regular stock model, if there even s one, as he makes these by request as gifts and such.

Specifications :

-Price: 150 Euros, approximately, this is slightly customised version.
-Weight w/o sheath : 552 grams
-Spine length : 242 millimeters
-Blade width : 45 millimeters
-Blade thickness : 5.5 to 6 millimeters
-Total length : 360 millimeters
-Grind height : 22mm and 12mm plus a slightly sharper piece of bevel in the tip.
-Bevel: scandi part in front , then a cat-cheek, and in the tip, scandi.

-Handle : 4mm brass front bolster + moose antler + curly birch + brass butt plate with 2 brass reinforcing screws. Leather washers between parts.

-Sheath : neck choking twisted belt loop, sturdy wooden liner with bit of extended tip, thick brownish red / black color. Theres also "my" algiz  rune in the black part of the sheath.

I was curious to have few certain things:
-a short length of bevel, ground for better whittling ability, as i already have good experience with similar things, in two of my knives, if not even three. This little customisation, allows me better to carry just one knife if i have to or i want to. I can slice,chop, whittle a Bit of kindlings etc without having to change between two knives. Its still not a all-in-one tricky knife and it wont replace a good puukko, but helps maybe a bit, if not even more.

-Tilted, but just slightly tilted pommel and butt plate. This is merely for appearance, but might be nice in actual use too, as the pommels spine side, isnt so close to the gripping palm, and therefore might be very comfortable but still the grip is secure. The lower side of pommel is steeper and closer to fingers while gripping it, offering good guidance as well as grip. But as i said, i just wanted to try a tilted pommel, as a visual thing too. Tratitionally, tilted pommels are more rare, but nowadays, you see those in many many leukus, but sadly they are usually on the cheaply done tourist knives that tend to look nice when looked from a far, but arent made for real outdoor life.

- Combination of bone / antler, curly birch and brass, in the handle. And i really think that the handle looks neat as it is. Just after we had decided that the handle would have a brass front bolster, followed then by about inch long bone piece, and then rest of it would be curly birch, i saw one bit similar, but it was had a red handle. Well, so much for my idea of unique handle :).  Yet, i thinks its a beauty, and also, made sturdy.

-Tips curve was changed into sleek curve, instead of tight, bold curve and also, it was sharpened to be less steep, so i could use it for gutting and opening game,fish etc, if i´d want to. Rest of the blade, between the whittling part and tip, was done in more tratitional way, to axe-like bevel.

-Small notch in front of bolster and blade, in start of edge. This notch, allows me to sharpen the knife so that i dont have to hone the blade, so that the stone would also grind the brass bolster, and this way, the edge will still have a clear starting point. The notch, can also be used to cut small wires, if you want to. Just twist and roll the wire in the notch and eventually it will break in that notch, so you dont have to use the blade to cut small snare wires and such.

-Sheath, with clear color border and a weird ? looking tip. I just wanted a sheath with slightly peaked tip. Maybe i am studying, does the tiny "horn" in the tip prevent the sheath from rolling while its in belt and does it help, the sheath to "fold" away when you sit so it wont stick in to the ground or get stuck between you and mother earth. The old antler saame sheaths had a function like that with their long curvy tips. Also, the extended tip of sheath helps to get the knife out of the sheath while you wear mittens, especially if theyre all covered from snow and frost and are slippery. The mitten will stop sliding against the sheath, when it reaches the sheaths tip. I hope :).

All the fittings in this leuku, are, in my opinion nicely done, although Ryynänen says its just a tool-like finish, but i can only guess, that if he does a showcase leuku, it will be one hellova knife. You see, in this work-knife, theres no gaps, nor holes, the bolster is nicely fitted and all the surfaces in handle are smooth and half-shiney.


Last one of this bunch is a leuku from Tero Kotavuopio, who makes mostly knives but also other artifacts, in his blacksmithshop, located in Karesuvanto.

Specifications :
-Price: 200 Euros.
-Weight w/o sheath :342 grams
-Spine length :198 millimeters
-Blade width :38 millimeters in front of bolster, and then slowly gets more narrow as it goes.
-Blade thickness : 4 millimeters
-Grind height : 11 mm.
-Blade material: hand forged spring steel, salt water quenched, oven tempered for hours, approximately 60-61 hrc.
-Scandi, with just a hint of convex. 

-Handle : strongly dyed, dark red & brown curly birch, oiled and waxed, polished. 5mm thick brass bolster in front, mirror polished. Butt plate is 4mm brass , mirror polished. Tang is rounded, but square, symmetric and about 4 x 8mm in size. Tero´s tangs, i know, already to be quite massive. Thats not bad at all.

-Sheath : dark, reddish brown, thin wooden liner, simple twisted belt loop. Hand sewn back seam, and Tero´s "trademark" spruceboughs, pressed and engraved as a decorations.

This leuku, is the smallest of my review. Tero already asked if its the wrong size but i think, its more than good, that theres big leukus, in their various lengths. As you might know, i already uown and use his knives, just as i do own and use knives from Seikku. But i havent ever used a leuku from either. Already i knew that Kotavuopios finishing in knives is very very nice, and even though this was supposed to be rugged tool-like knife, it  has mirror polished bolsters, spine is smoothly rounded and almost mirrorlike polished, as well as the bevel is clear mirror-like.  The bevels, the edge, by the way, is almost scandi zero, with justa hint of convex in it, and as this is relatively thin blade, and the grind height is also greater, this might be most suitable for also delicate work, due to its puukko´ish blade shape and bit smaller size. However this aint the womens knife, no, this is a commonly used sturra niibi, but on the smaller end of definition. Tero´s leuku, is good example of leuku-type, that he often refers to. You see, not all leukus have a common, straight edged blade profile and he has told me that there has been, and still are, leukus like this, meaning a blade thats like a big puukko blade, in which the edge starts to curve towards the tip very soon after the front bolster. Its also a drop point shaped, as the spine drops after the midths of the spine, towards the tip itself. Fitting of bolster is gapless, flawless as usual. Somehow, i could easily imagine that id use this, quite a lot, as an replacement for any bigger puukko as this is not that heavy and i think its shape, makes it good all-around tool in the bush.


Well, to offer you a very easy way to compare these knives, heres a group shot of them:

I n this picture, you´ll see that although they are, for sure, true leuku´s in their design, still theres a variety of different styles. And i can say, that if you show, any of these, to any Finnish person, they say immediately that " thats a leuku". As they all are beautiful in my mind, still they are "just" users, and you can get extra decorations and customised details if you are interested, and willing to negotiate about them, as well as pay, for custom job.

Oh, heres one shot i took at home, to show you the 2 most different blade shapes of these 5 :

I put the knives, so that the front bolsters would be in same vertical line, to show,  that leuku can be done in very different styles, and yet, they both are looked as traditionals.

 Heres a picture i took, to show you the shapes, of pommels / buttcaps. Theres no identical shapes,but youll figure out, that still they all bear the mushroom like, flat and spreading,almost symmetrical shape around the butt. In this picture, you also see the reinforcing screws in few leukus, as well as the massive peened tang ends. From left to right : Hurttila, YP-Taonta, Seikku, Kotavuopio, Ryynänen.

And as i started to show shapes, heres another view:

 All of these 5, share a relatively flat and thin handle, just next to the spine, from which they start shaping up to bit fattier, so that midths of the handle, fits comfortably in the fist. Then they get thinner again, before the spreaded pommels. My personal preference is a quite flat handle,from this point of view.
From right to left : Ryynänen, Kotavuopio , Seikku , YP-taonta , Hurttila.

Now, i can only hope, that all the leuku makers in this review are happy to see what i came up with, as well as hope that you, my readers and visitors, got some info about leukus overall as well as about these 5 Finnish ones. I wish you could send me comments, as the sequel of this review, will follow as soon as theres a sunny day, so i can take better pictures while start to actually use these knives. Ill be using antler, wood, cordage, meat, and such materials to test and show, how each knife works. No, this isnt going a bladesport "test", sorry , as i am interested to see the capabilities of these knives, in work that they are meant for. If you have ideas of what i should do and photo requests, you can send em in comments too, and i will try to work it out for you.

The next part will also include atleast two guest posts, from guys whos opinions and approachings might be nice to read. I hope i will get few pictures from my guests to to with em as well. I was going to attach the guest post now, but another of them isnt finishhed yet and i think that this review with all my other writings, is long enough already, hehehe....

Thank you, for this time, soon to be continued ...!

....To lighten up the topic a bit, heres a music video from tv-series "Märät Säpikkäät / Njuoska Bittut", posted by the show makers Youtube channel. Its very much leuku-related....sad that u might not get the jokes in it, as its in sami language and translatios in finnish, but its a cover song, now with lyrics telling about the never-ending argues, between saame families, fighting over their right to use different places for their reindeers, the border lines and such.

Hey,  you bushcraft & knife forum people, if you liked the review, and perhaps want to show it in your favourite forum, you can do it by using links and codes , i am sure that you can do it without copying my own pictures in to your hard drive and then posting em as your own property . In any case,  i  really would like, if you encourage your forums people to also write comment while they visit here. That would be nice and polite.  Just stealing my pictures and then using them without links to the original post, is something i would not like to see. Pictures have my blogs copyright markings anyway.

maanantai 20. helmikuuta 2012

Wooden DIY / MYOG Sled / Ahkio / Pulk ?

Heres a few shots of my latest woodcraft. Its just a wooden pulk, or an "ahkio" as we call em that i did to try out few ideas before making one from good materials for my knifemaker friend, so this is more like a prototype but it migh just work ;).

All the wood / plywood is recycled, the bottom piece i took from an old wooden bed, the sides are from big tool chest, and the back piece is taken from a paint shops garbage can. Pretty crude, but still i had to remove whole load of nails, screws, paints and gold glue stains and such.

All the hardware is from my bilion-box and from our only gas stations selections, so there aint much of fancy stuff used, as i did not have lots to choose from. The steel wire will propably get changed to paracord or something when i find a good piece of usable cord...

                                          Floors back corner is rounded as much as i could, so i can reverse a bit too without ahkio jamming instantly when backing up. By the way, all the screws are with T15 torx head, so you need only one tool to rebuild / repair this, and theres not a single drop of any glue either to make repairs easy. I have scrubbed in the plywood, some 5 deciliters of some wood furniture oil, thats how much it took, when i started to pour the oil inside the ahkio and waited and waited till it sweated through the bottom. So i think its pretty well impregnated now.  I will add,during next week, a pair of narrow "ski´s" on the bottom as well, to make the ahkio keep its direction well.

Li´l bit of seat in it, if someday it has to be used to transport a person with injured leg etc. Two of the 5 hooks are there too.

The sidewalls have 10 degrees cutting, i would have made more angle but my side pieces are so shallow that more degrees would have made the sides too low and useless.

Front part narrows just after the crossmember of the floor, approximately 8 centimeters to keep the ahkio better to keep its direction an to just travel easier in the snow. It was bit troublesome to fit the sides with angles, all together tighlty with nose that gets narrow towards the tip, and in a way that the bottom piece still would have an even tight fit against the floor part, so i used the rasp to fit em as well as i could in a limited time. All together this too some 8 hours to accomplish to the point where it is in the pictures,after i managed to bend the tip, which took about 10 hours of keeping it all throughly wet and bending it slowly with rope and wooden block as a mold.  in which it still misses a few details, like the attachments to the poles used to pull this thingy etc.

                                        It has a narrower fron part. Not much but a little bit.

This isnt that huge at all, i made this kind of a light and compact, keeping in mind that i wanted to be able to stuff this inside our car, instead of having to attach it in to the roof of it. Its merely 1,40 meters long and 43 centimeters wide at its widest point. The sides are appr. 12cm tall and the nose is appr. 25cm high, and very curved to make it easy to "climb" on top of snow, so it would not dive in the snow as many ahkio´s sometimes do.

 Does not look so awlful to be junkyard material ?

I had some deciliter of wood-oil that i mixed with small amount of paint in juniper-named colour, it turned out to be pretty nice solution, and made the ahkio look a bit like camouflaged....i wish i would still had a hint of snow white paint, to make the ahkio two-tone, with gree & white in it. cant win everytime, with wallet like mine.

          Smoothed corners dont eat cord / bungee cords that fast and arent so vulnerable either.

All the important edges are rounded, as are the holes  too, and all the screws are in holes that i counter sunk at first, except for few screws that will be changed before use, but they will have reinforcings of sometype, similar to the ones that they now have....the snap button washers :). Good old trick.

I screwed in a few hooks inside the ahkio too, so i can use some cord or bungee cord with em, to ease the secure packing of ahkio. The tools used to make this are jigsaw, saw, puukko, drill, rasp, file,hammer, screwdriver,and thats about it, nothing special.

Thats about it for now, during next week i think i might get it all ready if the snow storms and winds dont interrupt our life too much as they do now.

Wood materials : 0 euros, allf rom trash pile.
Metal hardware, screws etc : 7.6 euros

All the rest from my treasure chest :)

lauantai 11. helmikuuta 2012

Some woodwork, a wheel restoration

Heres just a snapshot of an old horse wagon wheel that i have been repairing. It was mostly so rotten that only the hub and steel rim could be saved and the rest i had to do again. Its goin to serve as a gate´s decoration, though, not to be bolted under any wagon anymore.

Back on line.

After X-mas ive been struggling with the never-ending electric cut-offs made by either storms,winds and mostly, heavy snow loads on wires and trees that crack and fall on the lines, breaking phonelines, web link towers,and at home, my computer.... But, now today i got a "new" computer and i am installing some photoshops in it, and such to be able to make the leuku review real, as during last week, the last of the 5 leukus arrived and in fact, if tomorrow we have clear sky, i will be goin out to play with the leukus and take pictures and such, as ive been now writing the topic already.

Please DONT steal my pictures. I´ve noticed some pics that are mine, on websites that i have nothing to do with.....capish :) ?. Othervise ill stop adding pictures or i´ll add a bright copyright-mark and my blog address in middle of every picture that i post here.  If you want to use my pictures, you sure can do it thru IMG/URL codes,that direct the reader to my blog, or just add a link, that guides the reader here too. Thats when we both get something good out of it.

Well, as the electrics are a necessary evil related to many things in modern way of life, i havent been able to forge my own leuku or do much at all, as the black smith shop is at the end of one line, and its not a primary target to all i can do is waite till theres a stable electric current so i can continue my forging hobby.

One day i went and made a small needlecase, and thats about the only sense making item ive been making at home in a long run.

But, actually, its kind of a...well...more than good that when theres not computer, no easy web acess and you dont want to star to watch ovie at home as the electric cutdowns will most likely make movie a hell to watch when you have to put the machines on, and statr to watch the movie again and again....that makes you want to go out, and just walk and wonder, sit around fire and ice-fish, and other outdoor things. And thats, what it all should be about,goin out.