Puukko Knife Making, by Traditional Crafts of Finland (1972)


Many of us carry small knives throughout the day, or at least tuck them away in that kitchen drawer with extra twist ties, paperclips, and batteries of questionable functionality. While they’re handy and useful, we rarely think twice about them, and we never see them as a source of pride. This isn’t the case in Finland, though.

A puukko is a traditional Finnish hip knife, used in everything from hunting and fishing to gardening and housework (like opening brand new DVD box sets). The small, handy knife is a part of Nordic pride and an essential component of the national costume. And even though carrying a knife in Finland is ostensibly outlawed, it’s not uncommon to see the tool hanging from the occasional belt around town.

The beauty of a puukko knife is in its no-frills simplicity. It’s just a short, straight backed blade no more than 4” long, with a similarly sized handle. It’s in the latter where a Finn really shows off the pride in their cutter: handles are made in various ways, but the most traditional way is to layer and glue slats of soft wood, before carving it into the desired shape.

They say that a good puukko knife is “equal parts artistic expression and tool”. When watching a master at work, making a puukko from start to finish, we can easily see what they mean.