The Puukko

In October I had a ton of orders piling up and it started getting stressful balancing time between my photography gigs, music, and woodcraft.

It's also easy to run down your body with these hand tools when carving in production mode.

So I decided I wanted to have something custom made sort of as an end of the year gift to myself.

For the past couple of years I kept hearing about Joonas Kallioniemi's puukkos and decided to finally contact him with some of my ideas.

I've always had an attraction for hidden tang knives, and especially ones that can be warn as a neck knife. Joonas comes from a long lineage of Finnish bladesmiths, and already early in his career, he's creating some of the most amazing knives I've seen.

[This isn't a review. I don't really understand how those are  relevant or appropriate since a tool is different in any man's hands.

How can one really know how well a tool works just by opening the box it came in? I feel much time is needed to build a relationship with the tool to discover it's qualities..good and bad.

This is just my thoughts and visual ramblings as a tip of the hat to Joonas.]

We had some good conversations and I joked that I found it impossible to find photos of his knives with some use and wear. I have friends that are professional knifemakers and a large percentage of customers rarely use them. They're collectors.

I wanted to see what how these puukkos worked as tools rather than a display piece.

So after looking thru my website and craft he said he was excited to be making a puukko for someone that will put it thru vigorous daily use.

The knife finally came and I instantly threw on my jacket and pack and hit the woods behind the house.

A huge patch of Buckthorn. My secret stash for carving. Also some of the toughest wood out here.

The Wild Beast joined me. She's been digging around trees for moles and things knocking about the wood.

A good friend Randy from the NorthWest - USA - braided me this great cord for the knife.

It's completely adujstable, and will fit over my winter gear, or can be shortened to  be worn tight over just a shirt.

I really think this puukko was just meant for this type of carry. Thank you Randy for such a thoughtful and well put together gift.

Curly Birch Handle on  Black Birch

This is usually what I carry on a walk about. A small axe, a saw, enough room in the pack for some water, a snack, a book, and room to bring home spoon blanks. I like to rough them out in the woods sometimes, and finish them up in the shop.

Joonas also does his own leatherwork, which is a whole different craft to master. Im really impressed overall. A lot of attention to detail, and done with finesse and style.

The blade is hollow ground, and a rhomboid shape which really makes a powerful and tight radius cut.

Alright... something I've seen being bickered about on forums and such.. and I've decided to give my two cents on the subject.

I don't understand the fear mongering about hidden tangs, hollow ground blades, and wooden scales being a weakness.


These knives are have been around forever and have been  a trusty companion on the woodsman's side.

We're talking about the Sami people living in arctic conditions year round where they herd reindeer everyday.

They use them to build improvised fences, pens, shelters, cleaning game, cutting thru bone, carving eating implements, and much more.


If they saw certain "Knife-Model-A' as superior...wouldn't they  be using that? Or do a lot of the options seen in knives today a little over the top for most daily tasks?

Do real people in a real survival situation really remember to bring their synthetic adamantium steel knife with krypton scales, and unicorn walrus tusk pins anyways?

Don't get me wrong, I see some of the benefits of micarta and stainless steel. I think some of it is really nice looking too.

Some of my knife making friends love it and do good business with it. I'm of course poking some fun as I do own some 'Knife-Model-A's.

I also don't think one is necessarily better than the other, but I bring this all up because word on the street is wood is inferior and I beg to differ.


If you bust scales off a knife, or chip half your blade off most likely you need to work on some of those skills used while the error happened.

I don't think I've ever heard of an instance where someone on a camping trip broke their knife from 'proper' use.

If you baton your knife with poor aim and a 30lb slab of granite, I'd expect some of the wood to chip off. But not bust an entire scale clean off.

I've been there with MP and have photos to demonstrate this strong wood phenomena.

I've never had a knife like this fail, not to mention a hand made knife.

Use your tools within their boundaries. If you need an axe for a chore, use an axe.

[I won't speak for production grade knives, if those break within normal use... invest more than $23 in a daily use tool.]

I see very few blades with such nice fitting  hardware. No gaps, everything is seamless to the eye and hand.

Some quick specs:

His first knife in 01 Tool Steel. Usually he works in Silversteel.

Brass hardware

Curly Birch Handle

The finishing touch that completes this puukko is the inlaid rivet which I believe has become his signature. Very clever, and really seals the deal.

I brought this camping over the weekend and really put it to some use splitting up 3" rounds of hardwoods for fireprep in zero degree (f) temperatures so I'd say she's a keeper. She carves exceptionally well, and can keep up with any woodcrafting tasks whether it's fire prep or shelter building.

So I took the time to photograph this puukko and talk a little about my thoughts on it to say thank you to Joonas.

I don't 'doll things up' with props or up doctor an image by cleaning things up. I wanted to shoot this knife how I see it and in the dirt.

It's still practically new so just wait til you see what I put it thru.

We're already talking about our next project for this summer... something different, and even more special.

I look forward to working with him again.


Alex YerksComment