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. 🙂

44900247_2158925284158425_6274309846309273600_n

40061662_2077625665621721_2176571228112814080_n
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.

 

539010_446597628724541_641352881_n

9684_491301550920815_1854478392_n

430917_499278760123094_789927031_n

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

1006284_596433383740964_252417189_n

Getting my S30V Nilakka back to Zero Grind.

20171109_151902-01861321636.jpeg

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.

20171109_142525-01673358995.jpeg

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.

20171109_154643-01285377020.jpeg

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.





20170724_124624-0120170729_171500-0120170729_171439-0120170729_171301-0120170729_171539-0120170729_171546-0120170729_171651-0120170729_170954-01

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