Puukko

“A knifeless man is a lifeless man.”  Nordic proverb.
I recently bought a set of puukko knives.  The set has the curious name of Double Big Hunting (Knives) and was designed by Harri Merimaa.  Harri is from Bothnia, a providence of western Finland and is a third generation knife maker.  I think they are very nice knives and I’m very happy to have them.  Nice job, Harri!


Harri Herimaa
Double Big Hunting Puukko set

The blades are high carbon steel, the smaller knife is 84 mm (3.3 inches) while the larger is 154 mm (6 inches).  Both rest in a single brown sheath.  It’s the handles I found especially interesting.  Each handle is chiefly dyed curly birch capped with elm wood.  The rakish cut of the handle butt provides a stop to prevent your hand from sliding off.

Nordic Scandinavian Finland knife set


Puukko knives are so characteristic of Nordic countries, it’s hard to mistake them for any other knife.  Surely you recognize them?  Most puukkos have a slight shoulder but no ricasso because where the edge ends and the handle begins is where most power can be applied.  The blades have a long flat edge with no secondary bevel.  To sharpen, the bevel is place flat on the stone and then polished.



Puukko knives

Nor do puukkos typically have a guard to protect your fingers.  A puukko knife is primarily a cutting and building tool and not a tactical weapon. 

A classic blade would be the width of your palm, but you’ll find them 90-120 mm (3.5 to 4.7 inches) long.  This creates a market for both men’s and women’s puukko knives.  Women’s, (hey, it’s a sexist world) are typically shorter bladed for ease of food preparation.

In the Nordic countries, the puukko is an everyday knife that is used for everything from hunting, fishing, and garden work to opening boxes in the warehouse.  Despite being an everyday item, receiving a good puukko as a gift is considered a great honor in Finland.  Both Boy and Girl Scouts consider the puukko their scouting symbol as well as a handy tool.



In 1977 Finland banned carrying knives in public because, (wait for it…) they could be used as a weapon!  This law appears to be seldom enforced.  In my opinion, any law that depends on the personal outlook of a police officer is discrimination.

As an aside, the puukko is the only civilian item which can be openly worn as a part of a soldier’s combat gear without breaching the regulations of the Finnish Defense Forces.  Because puukkos are traditionally considered to be very personal items, the military does not supply conscripts with them, and most bring their own with them.  It’s hard to imagine basic training with knives, but what do I know?