The Knife Edge: Finnish Delight

I recently picked up a lovely dual Finnish puukko set made by Iisakki Järvenpää Osakeyhtiö. The puukko set is a traditional dress knife pair with a painted red handle and brass fittings. The two blades are engraved with the founder’s signature, Iisakki Järvenpää.

I have recently discovered an interest in puukkos. I admire the refinement and practicality of a knife designed to survive in the brutal arctic environment.

A puukko is a general-purpose belt knife with a single curved cutting edge, solid hidden tang, and usually a flat spine.  Military models of puukkos have been popular in the Russian criminal underworld under the name “Finnish knife” or finka since the 20th century.

Puukkos don’t have a ricasso (a section of the unsharpened blade nearest the handle) because this is where the most power can be applied. While finger guards are uncommon (it is a cutting tool, not a stabbing weapon), puukkos intended to be used in wet or slippery environments will have some form of guard or grip enhancement carved into the handle.

The short knife is 5.75 inches long, while the larger one is about 8.5 inches. They occupy a leather and brass sheath. The front is partially painted/coated in red to match the knife’s grip.

This set appears to be part of traditional ethnic dress, needing only a Helavyö belt. The Helavyö is a leather belt decorated with several metal plates (or “hela”s). The belt is an accessory worn by men and women in traditional garb but only by men in non-Karelian attire.