Tag Archives: Nilakka

Pekka Tuominen’s Puukko —Terävä Marvel

At the FICX 2019 I have bought one of Pekka Tuominen’s Puukko to replace my Spyderco Puukko.

The husband of Pekka’cousin, who was also exposing as the Paris Knives Show told me: in my country, to “taste” a knife we just hold it in our hand without to loot at it: to feel its balance and if it suits us.
Holding that marvel of a Puukko in your hand is something to experiment. First, the handle is made of birch’s bark, which feels like a hard cork from a seasoned wine bottle. It is soft under the thumb but also grippy in the palm.
Pekka assured me this kind of handle are indestructible! Just some soap and water.
This handmade knife is a display of the highest craftmanship. Everything is perfect.
With that kind of handle, you need a pommel.

As you can see the mirror finish on the nicorros pommel is “melting” with the showing tang’s end. Look closer, there is some microscopic lines ! This is the level of craftmanship you are encountering with Pekka’s knives.

Now the blade being made of RWL34 and mirror finished, it is not easy to picture it without reflections.

RWL34 has been used in the Lil’Nilakka I have reviewed here.
Pekka used his own Spyderco version to cut leather for his sheaths. But I have also seen a video where he use the same puukko as mine in his workshop.
For record, RWL34 is some kind of powder steel version of ATS34: with a very very fine grain and an easy to put a mirror finish on.

A puukko is not a real puukko without its sheath.
I remember 4 years ago, Pekka talking with Sal Glesser about the sheath of the Spyderco Puukko version. There were testing prototypes of the sheath and Pekka was adamant in what retention he was asking from it. It a sheath with wood inlays inside encapsulating the blade, the traditionnal puukko scabbard is very elaborated.

So here are my main Pekka creation, the Nilakka which is my sharpest Spyderco ever.
“Ned” which is a “Urban Hunter II” with carbon fiber and titanium and the new Marvel.

You can notice the pure and clean lines of their edges.

Pictures wise, I will meet Pascal who has bought a Hunter with the same finish as my Puukko. Those marvels encounter will be photographed.

Having harvest a piece of chestnut wood, dried under the summer sun, I have put the new Puukko at the test.

The rounded spine makes it an ideal thumb pushcutting’s friend. The blade goes deep like in butter. In fact it beats the Nilakka and the Hunter in terms of spine confort and for an unknown reason it was just cutting like the proverbial lightsaber. The experience is putting a grin on my face.

To get the blade to the razor sharpness I really wanted , I have used white ceramics for 20 minutes and then leather stropping for another 15 minutes as Pekka has advised.

Yes it is now a razor with the same caress found on the AEB-L Urban.

Now, I’m going to use it also in the kitchen, which is some kind of battlefield where the Puukko will ne

Some pictures from Pekka’s Facebook page:

67270012_2580940811956868_4830865277648371712_nA picture of my Puukko by Pekka. The handle is like a finger print. 🙂

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A tactical version which I loved too.

46782264_2196982117019408_1857255772753231872_nA sistership with brass bolster.

 

48891712_2246541792063440_2784894109402267648_nThat could be Pascal’s hunter.

 

51345914_2293930640657888_6713102130678333440_nA Hunter and a Puukko.

 

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9684_491301550920815_1854478392_n

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And the last one with a strong French flavour is “Ned” my Hunter.

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Getting my S30V Nilakka back to Zero Grind.

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As you can notice, my Nilakka was developping a gentle convexing ground since JD had the patience to give a decent edge to it two years ago.
But since, JD has sent me another video showing how tough well heat treated S30V can be and knowing how forgiving my Nilakka and my Wolfspyder were after sharpening beyond factory edge… I have decided to put the blade flat on on diamonds and grind it until the convex bevel disappearance. In fact I was very encouraged with my various experience with that Wolfspyder.  S30V heat treated by Spyderco is now back as a friendly steel in my book.

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So for one hour I have work on that using a new Double Stuff 2 which I have discovered thanks to Howard Korn from the Knifecenter who gently add it in my last parcel.
The new diamond surface is quite abbrasive and soon the blade was a mess.
But continuing in the same way made the scratches all going in one direction and both side of the Nilakka blade soon were acceptable in term of esthetics.

20171109_153932-011005452034.jpeg There is a lot of matter to remove and by hand, it takes some time.
But eventually I was able to get some sharpness back with not pressure on the edge while sharpening but an even pressure on all the side of the blade.

After all the Nilakka was made that way, the angle of the thicked stock blade was designed by Pekka Tuominen to be a zero ground edge, with no bevel.

There is still a micro bevel but I’m almost there.
My idea for future refreshing of the Nilakka edge it to do like with my Wolfspyder: like scandi sharpening shown in Ray Mears video…. only using the flat of the blade as guide.

For now I got a razor able to make hairs jumping and been harvested with only one caress.

But also it can stand whittling in hard wood: no chipping or edge warping.
More to come very soon, as I will erase definitvely that microbevel, but I need more time…
“I need more time to make good on the promises I made to the world
When the world was moving slower…” Justin Sullivan.

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Spyderco Lil Nilakka Edge rolling out fixed and used.

On my Lil Nilakka You can see the damage on the edge. Dry bambu cutting…

It looks spectacular but it’s just a matter to realign the edge.

It hurst on a new knife !!… Ouch !


In fact I also use diamond to remove some material.


15 minutes later, it is back for more.

Simple tools…

30 minutes later on leather;
Convexing gives a little more material behind the edge. No more stability issues.
And it’s not giving up on performances.





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Slysz Bowie versus Nilakka – Push Cutting Contest

Slysz versure Nilakka

One my favorite test for my blades is cutting through a plastic bottle bottom. It’s not as easy at it seems as the thicker part (at its center) is surrounded by a ring of softer plastic which can collaps and get crushed before the edge bites and cut through the center.
So of course the sexy Slysz was put into that testing and was able to cross the bottom but it was not better than the Nilakka which was able to do with more ease.
Why ?

After one year of constant use, I have slightly convexed my zero ground Nilakka and for ten months this folder has never warped or chipped its edge. It’s my sharpest knife with my BRKT Canadian Special in CPM3V. Also the thick spin and thick handle help for transmitting strength into push cuts.
So the gorgeous and thin Slysz is not as confortable for push cuts even with its rounded blade spin and concave titanium handle. Also its excellent factory thin edge is no match for the Nilakka’s.
I will do the test again after some gentle convexing of the Slysz Bowie and then we will see if the Nilakka loses his throne.

Slysz and Nilakka

Spyderco Serrata – Cast Steel Bush Knife


A beautiful knife with dangerous curves !

The Serrata is a beautiful massive short fixed blade designed by Stuart Ackerman and released by Spyderco and manufactured in Taichung Taiwan.

Holding that knife in your hand is the only way to feel how sexy this tool is.
Sexy is the term. It almost feels like it has been grind in a broken Iron Mistress. So go figure !

This knife got almost a 1 centimeter thick blade. The slabs on the handle look out of proportion. This is massive. But then it is perfectly balanced. The handle sits in your palm with authority and confort. Despite the lack of guard I have never felt like I was going to cut myself.
The leaf-shaped blade is nicely tapered to the point where the Serrata is almost a delicate knife.
Yep almost for such a brutal cast steel beast !

This is not a bushcraft impact edge tool like the Spyderco Bushcrafter or the BRKT Canadian Special, actually the Serrata is a knife for meat and fibrous material processing. Stuart Ackerman even does not advise to use it for batoning as the steel is not “made” for that.
The edges on the blade back are smooth and there is no lanyard hole. So if you want a knife to use hard you should invest in something more shock proof. but I will use it for like chopping as the weight will help it a great deal. The nice belly should bite deep on gentle impact. I will compare it to my Fallkniven A2 which I was able to keep unchipped after a decade of use.

But the Serrata really shines when you need to cut into fibrous materials.

OK let’s put everything in perspective, the Serrata is a solid knife though but it is performance oriented. It would be a perfect companion for a hunter and a cook.
Let’s understand the process to create that knife: it has been “made by casting 440C stainless steel-a process that creates dendritic (“tree-like”) crystalline structures”.
And God this is dangerously sharp! The meat of my thumb can feel that hungry microscopic toothy edge waiting to draw blood.
My Dutch friend JD has provided me some old catalogs from the initiator of Cast 440C: David Boye. He’s famous for posing next to huge pil of 3000 pieces of 1″ hemp rope cut (without resharpening) with his 8 inches knife.

Reading “Dendritic Blades” an excellent article from Michael O’Hollaren published in Knives Illustrated Magazine in Summer 1994 (Page 8,9,40-43, another piece of great information provided by JD!) I have learned that it was a machinist friend of Boye (Don Longuevan) who has suggested him that casting blade might reduce grinding and fabricating time which would be a majo help when it comes on stock removal. The idea became a challenge for Boye. And by 1982 he started to cast his blade with Larry Veenker of Intermoutain Precision Casting on Lindon, Utah. then Boye built a drop hammer to reduce and refine even further the pattern of his 440C cast blades.
According to Boye, at first he “did not realize the carbid crystal structure of cast steel contributed to better edge-holding.” But soon he found that “when edges were prepared identically, the dentritic steel consistently outperformed forged steels used in the testing.”
He found that forging was breaking up and reducing the size of the microscopic carbides in the original ingot. Paradoxically with forged steel the smaller the grain size the sharper the blade can theoretically get but the less “bite” it will have.
The carbyde crytals of the dendritic steel are rooted in the steel matrix hence the long last aggressive edge. They form a fern like network throughout that 56-58 HRC steel matrix.

To cast steel you need to turn it into a liquid state and pour it into a mold. This is a century old technic known in jewelry. So first you create a mold by pouncing a hard knife between two blocks of aluminium with a drop hammer, forming a cavity in the shape of the blade. Then hot wax is shot into that mold and when it cools it is removed as a wax model of the knife. The wax blades are “ganged” together to form a tree which is dipped into porcelain slurries. Between each slurry dip, sand is applied to the wet slurry, each sand dip a little coarser than the previous one. This make the mold stronger, thicker, and able to support the heavy molten steel.
The mold is left to dry three weeks to guaranty there is no moisture left in the porcelain.
Then it’s placed in oven to burn the wax out.
With the wax burned out the hot mold is ready for the molden steel which must be poured when the mold is still red hot !!
As the poured steel cools the carbide crystal network forms through the blade.
The porcelain is broken away and the individual blades are cut from the “tree”, trimmed, annealed and straighten.
Boye stated that this method is more expensive pound-for-pound but it is well worth it in the long run.
Thank you Michael O’Hollaren of Knives Illustrated, my English seems much better when I copy your article. 🙂

Anyway, do you remember the film “Conan” and its beginning credits ?

So back to Stuart Eckerman. The man looks like a character from Wilbur Smith’s South African saga: a veteran from the Rhodesian wars and there is some “aura” of high adventure in the design of his knife. Like a call for the hunt…
The Serrata is a knife you should bring in a Safari if you want to process the meat in the field.
now I do not advocate murdering animals just to please the Safari Club, a long shot lens camera is a much better companion than a rifle IMHO but there is something about Hemingway in the Serrata. Something wild.

On hard matters, like dry wood, the Serrata is good, but not as good as a CPM3V thin convexed BRKT Canadian Special or a zero ground Nilakka. But I still got the factory edge on my FB32 and I’m planning to thin it later for a full convex edge.
On the two last pictures of this post you will notice how the wooden chip forms on the Serrata and the BRKT. If had noticed that the grain of the steel changes the texture of wooden chips. The smoother the chip, the finer the grain. Best results were obtain by comparing ATS 34 AFCK with M2HSS AFCK, the second was almost polishing cut wood. (There is a reason why the best wood chisels are made from M2HSS Speedstar).

In the kitchen the Serrata is incredibly good on tomatoes ! This is another great test as tomatoes got a elastic skin over a tender flesh. Cutting tomatoes gives you a lot of information on your edge. The Serrata has a very thin micro serrated edge which cut in vegetable like a dream. And it cuts just with the weight of that massive knife.

I will update that article soon as I need to prepare some rabbit next week.
So stay tune for more experimenting with the Spyderco Serrata.

(Oh and with a steel like that, there is no need to strop it on leather as you want to keep some kind of natural coarse edge.)

Cheese duty for serrata

SPYDERCO NILAKKA ~ C164GBN – Round 2 – Hard Use Folding Puukko

I could not imagine that a knife with a 4.5mm thick stock blade could be considered as some kind of safe queen ever. A delicate collection folder destined to open letters (and clean nails). The Nilakka is from Pekka Tuominen for God’s sake. He is a exmilitary, a countryman, a masterbladesmith and a gifted knifemaker who is also genuinely “tool oriented” (even if he also loves precision and is “attention to details” driven). So. No safe queen. Let’s use his Nilakka like it deserves it: hard. Everyday. In all conditions. And it has to be successful ! I’m a grandson of a farmer which used to clean his knife on his trousers, drink like a hole, spit on the ground, and fart loudly to make his point. I will use the Nilakka like he would have use it.

But before, I needed to change some details to have that gorgeous folder fitting my personal tastes. First thing to be tuned was the clip. This a great deep pocket clip but this one was going to eat my pants pocket faster than a porcupine in love. Also, it was so tight, the Nilakka was not a fast drawing tool at all. Easy peezy lemon squeezy, some sanding with sandpaper (600 grit) and the handle is now soften as a hedgehog neck. And also, the Nilakka is much easy to pocket (in and out). I need to have my tools out of the way as fast as I need them to be drawn.
Second important personal tuning: the back of the blade is just too sharp for my delicate thumb. It would be a blister magnet to keep it with all those sharp angles that way. Again, some elbow grease and some sandpaper were able to fix that and… now my thumb can push the blade with confidence. this is important for power and control of my cuts.

Like I had noticed it, My C164GBM is from the second generation Nilakka: it is not a zero ground blade. There is a tiny tiny bevel.
Anyway, that knife does pushcuts into hard wood with an ease which is simply unreal! The Nilakka is by far one of the best wood cutters in my collection if not the best. Even my CPM Cruewear Military with its now impoved with a thin convexed edge is not a match for the S30V blade of the C164GBN. Into wood, the Nilakka goes deep, steady and makes big chunks of wood. It’s so easy. It’s so fun ! It’s so reliable on the long run.

Oh, I’m so disappointed: I was not able to have my edge ruined !! I was expecting to have some damages by cutting bambu, hard plastic and bones… Nothing. I was able to dull it and I have also able to use ceramic and leather stropping to maintain the edge on a very keen level. In 2 minutes, S30V (which is not my favorite steel after using CPM M4, CPM3V…) is back to high level of sharpness and more stropping can make it a true razor able to whittle some hairs.

The handle is strange, isn’t it ? Diamond shape. But once you know how to palm it it is very comfortable to use despite all its sharp corners. And yes I have grind the corner with sand paper too. Why it’s so confortable in use ? It’s certainly because the handle is fat and in “3D”. This a particular shape you can find on Finnish fixed blades (Tapio Wirkkala’s design and Sisu’s version of Cold Steel named the Finn Bear, it’s the same diamond shape handle…). It’s very effective even when my hands are wet. If I need to stab anything I will rest the handle’s butt in my palm. (Sanded sharp corners…) Anyway, such a thin edge doesn’t need too much force to cut deep in any hard materials. I even cut into aluminium cans. I wanted to see how S30V would behave if I was using it like a CPM Cruewear blade. Spyderco excellent heat treatment and micro bevel is the key of success. The Nilakka’s edge is now reliable.

So far so good. We still got a thin point blade which makes look the Military as a crowbar. After drilling some holes in chestnut wood, I have lost half a millimeter of that thin needle pointy point. In fact, I had noticed it after drilling a dozen of holes, twisting the blade again and again… No big deal, there is still enough point sharpness to pop any balloon around. I had the same with my Spyderco Ronin, Dodo and Yojimbo and it was not a big deal. It’s relatively easy to regrind by hand and the new point is much more sturdy.

The kitchen is my main battlefield. You need to be able to process, flesh, bones, tomatoes,plastic bottles, cardboards, cling but also aluminium. Again as thin as it is, I was not able to damage the Nilakka edge. OK, I did not try to hammer the Nilakka through a concrete block just for the sake of breaking it. This would be (pardon the pun) pointless. But this is not a safe queen !
And I had used my folding puukko like my grandfather or my father in law would have use it.

Now, the Coke bottles are one of my favorite test and many famous knives were not able to cut through the hard plastic bottom center. This is the thicker part of the plastic. Try that on your favorite knives and you will be surprised. Try to cut right in the middle of the butt. Here, the Nilakka was able of miracles. The same kind of powerful push cuts a sharp Opinel can provide. You know, thin ground blade Opinel are really kings in pushcutting hard materials. Try any of them on plastic and you will be really surprised. The Nilakka is in the same league. It is even better than Urban II, the Hunting knife from Pekka Tuominen I carry in my bag. This is something that many “tactical” knives makers are forgetting. (Mad Dog knives or Striders are not the sharpest tools for that…)
I was really surprise in how the S30V thin edge behaved on the long run. No more chipping, no bending, no more damage (but the point). I was really impressed.

Through all the holidays, the C164 has been rinse after use but not oiled (I use Nano Oil than I get from Isidore in Armes Bastille) and the Nilakka is as smooth as the first day. The lock has not moved. I was not able to have lock failure. The knife is easy to clean and shows no rust despite its use for cutting lemon without real cleaning.
The absence of guard on that design is not an issue if you know how to adapt and how to use a knife. There is plenty of ways to choke up the blade for delicate work and the absence of the usual Spyderco choil did not bother me at all.

Something, I have noticed and that I love about that blade’s shape: it starts like a sharp wedge and ends like a needle. This is unique and radical in design. And you can find many use to it. The penetration power is tremendous and the slashing power at the top of my records.
I was not even able to notice any wears or scratches on the metal spacer.
So it has kicked my Millie from my pocket. And I will continue to EDC the Nilakka for the coming months until it fails me. Which is not certain.
I’m really surprised in how the mechanism is reliable and easy to rinse but most of all the keen blade is a pleasure to use and put all my other knives under a new perspective.
For example my Gayle Bradley seems like much duller knife compared to the easy deep cuts provided by the Nilakka geometry.
Also Pekka’s design is so unique and beautiful, open and closed… it’s really “sheeple friendly”.
So the test will be continued in round 3.

Nilakka Nemo Sandman

Nilakka Nemo Sandman
Stropping the blade is the best way to keep it to razor sharp level. It’s easy and quick.

O
One of the most beautiful back in the folding knives industry. A steel spacer, a thick blade and a thin point. Unique !
Edit August 2017: Since then a Lil Nilakka has born !

SPYDERCO NILAKKA ~ C164GBN – Pekka’s Folding Puukko is a North Star !

Pekka Tuominen Nilakka

I have had the chance to meet Pekka Tuominen two years ago at the SICAC (Paris Knifeshow) but six month before I was handling a prototype of his Folding Puukko at the Amsterdam Minimeet.
The design was very ZEN. For me it was like a Japanese hidden blade in a bambu handle. I was also impressed by the smoothness, the thickness and the profile of the blade.

For me, it was an object for collector. A tour de force, including the famous hidden stop pin.
Also the final choice of choosing S30V for a zero ground blade was really disturbing. I was hoping CPM3V or CPMM4 or even O1. But my experience with S30V has never been extraordinary.
Frankly S30V is not a steel which gave me good results even with the knives of the people who introduced that steel in the first place… I prefer VG10 for exemple which is not a powder steel but at least a reliable edge on thin grinds.

Anyway a folding Puukko in S30V was like a bushcraft knife in S30V. Why not. But I was not very excited by that choice…
Then I heard and read on Cliff Stamps forum how the burned edge was rolling. I was not surprised as S30V would have not been my steel of choice. Now perhaps the thickness of the stock available was the reason it was chosen ?
It was a shame as everything in Pekka design was oozing quality and his quest for excellence. It is also a very very clever mechanism. He is a perfectionnist. I remeber how he was inspecting the prototype of his Spyderco (not folding) Puukko’s sheath. He wanted everything to be perfect. And he knows his business about Puukkos.

I had experience with thin stainless grind blade rolling on very pricey folders too. My Rockstead was an example and since I have been able to hone a secondary bevel and the de-stress the edge for excellent results.
Then I got the honor to receive a gift from Pekka: his Nilakka, second generation.
I immediately tested on hard bambu and the edge did not suffered.
There is a micro bevel which now strengthen the edge. So there is no reason not to use it hard.
Again, the folder is smooth like Normandy butter. The heel of the blade is very thick when the blade point is thin like a needle. You find yourself contemplating, trying to understand how the tappered design works. The large gap between the liners on the back of the handle is not an issue when you know how to switch your grip (like I did on my Lionspy) to avoid hurting your palm during cuts on hard materials.
What I love in the Nilakka is how original, practical and radical the design is. Closed it is wonderful to handle and manipulate. It’s an absolutely non threatening design. The gentle curve of the handle give a very natural look to the package. Open, it’s real Puukko. There is no hint, no axis, showing this is a folder. (The axis screw is hidden under the G10 slabs!)
It is a pleasure to take on hike and use in the forest. The open design makes it easy to clean by blowing air and rinsing it. The choice of a stainless steel blade gives confidence to mechanism maintenance. There is no reason not to EDC and use that knife in the wild like it was designed. It is not a safe queen curiosity anymore. (A first generation after some work on the edge would have been the same anyway.)

Looking at Pekka official site and it’s easy to find other eye candy !
His blog: http://www.puukkopekka.com/ is a feast for the eyes !!!
Living in Finnish countryside, Pekka is a colossus with a great sens of humour. You can feel in every details of his Art that he has blown passion, intelligence and a special pinch of that natural cleverness from farmers and pragmatism of soldiers. His knives need to be reliable and beautiful. Also he needs to have fun while making them. From the design, to the forge, to the heat treatment, to the choice of materials, to the different type of sheath, Pekka does everything !

So eventually the Nilakka in its second incarnation is a very unique and practical EDC. It is also a great conversation starter because this folding Puukko is a great ambassador to modern and traditional cutlery. Mine is going to be used on a EDC basis and I will complete that review later.