Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Suuri leuku knife

I have been working on knives here at Naali Knives, and after the holidays were over I decided to make a knife that as a little different than most of the others I have previously worked on. I got a gift certificate for Thompson's Scandinavian Knife Supply for Christmas and have always wanted a leuku, so I tried my hand at making one.
One thing I wanted, aside from using a very large blade, was to use Scandinavian arctic curly birch. I love this wood. It is easy to work with and shape, sands to a smooth finish, and requires little oil to bring the beautiful grains. I also wanted to use reindeer antler. I have used this combination in knives before, but especially wanted to use these materials for this knife, since it needs to have a solid, beautiful, traditional handle.
Leuku knives are traditionally used by the Sámi people of Lapland, and the name is a Finnish word for a Sámi knife. It is also called "stuorra niibi", or "big knife" (in the Sámi language). For more information and some wonderful photos of leuku knives, check out Nordiska Knivar blog. It is an excellent blog, one I highly recommend.
As I am not a puukkoseppämestari (master knife smith in Finnish), I invariably ran into trouble making this knife, albeit not very much that was ultimately noticeable. First, when drilling the hole for the knife tang, I made it a little too long and thus had to leave the handle longer than I wished. Still, no major problem, except for the fact that the handle is longer than most leuku knives, but all in all it looks great to me. Another thing I wished I had done is simply cut the tang to a shorter length to avoid this altogether. Live and learn.
I had some extra pieces of arctic curly birch from other projects, so I decided to use them as well. As you can see, I used three separate pieces of wood, one piece of reindeer antler, and several red fiber spacers.
For the blade, I chose a Kankaanpää 138x27 mm carbon leuku blade. Kankaanpää is the name of the elderly knifemaker who hails from Kauhava, Finland in Southern Ostrobothnia, which is historically a top knife making area of Finland. For some interesting reading about this area, Google this term - "puukkojunkkari". It translates to "knife fighter", and was a common term given to troublemaking Finns in this region.
To top it off, I made a leather sheath complete with Viking runes on the sheath. I have been doing this for several knife sheaths I have made recently, and I think it adds a nice touch. Let me know what you think as well. Here are some photos of the finished product: