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Puukonrankoja kädellä ahjon loimussa. Terällä - Puukkomestarit -näyttely Suomen käsityön museossa keväällä 2023. Image Pasi Jaakonaho

The Finnish knife is the source of legends, and each knife has the looks of its maker and customer. On The Edge exhibition presents knives made by four master bladesmiths.

The notion of a bladesmith is usually associated with an forge and the clangour of hammer, but the work is also strongly involves knowledge of materials and planning. Even a visually pleasing blade or knife must be usable. The simpler the knife, the more accurate the proportions and the more the materials must harmonize with each other.

Jukka Hankala, Pasi Jaakonaho, JT Pälikkö and Pekka Tuominen were among the first knifemakers in Finland to obtain the specialist vocational qualification of master bladesmith in 2009. The qualification, as defined by the Finnish National Agency of Education, requires a broad range of manual skills, a good knowledge of materials and the use of tools and machinery. In addition to technical skills, the design and manufacture of the knife and sheath requires good knowledge of culture, visual aesthetics and ergonomics. The actual forging of the steel is, in the end, only one of the many steps involved in making of a knife.   There are currently around fifteen master bladesmiths in Finland.

In addition to independent design work, the master bladesmith's work also includes customer service. 

 - You have to be able to turn the wishes and ideas presented by the customer into a feasible and functional product so that the customer feels that he is getting what he wants, but still so that the work also meets the smith's own criteria, says JT Pälikkö.

The exhibition gives a comprehensive picture of what kind of products are created in the hands of master bladesmiths. In addition to traditional knives, the exhibition includes a wide sample of knifemakers' own favourites: folding knives, collectors’ knives, art knives and daggers, hunting knives and one sword. The knives are made of wide range of materials. The blades are made from damascus steel, recycled carbon steel or stainless powder steel. Different types of wood from around the world have found their way into the handle of the knife, and the leather of the knife sheath is decorated with different patterns. Silver rivets, reindeer bones and ray skin create their own wonderful look. Every knife created by a master bladesmith is different and beautiful in its own unique way and tells its own story about the craftsmanship of the maker. 

Master bladesmiths

Master bladesmith Jukka Hankala (b. 1946, Ikaalinen), learned to work with his hands at a young age while doing farm work, creating everything from axe handles to rake spikes. Even later, while farming, the forge was still hot and before long, knifemaking became a second profession. Hankala has made, for example, a mission candelabrum for the church in Ikaalinen. In addition to knives, Hankala also makes folding-knifes, of which the Piili has ended up in industrial production.

Master bladesmith and designer Pasi Jaakonaho (b. 1971, Inari) designs and manufactures high-quality and durable products. He wants to contribute to sustainable development and tries to use mainly domestic natural materials and recycled materials in his work. Often a knife is made twice: once inside the head and once in the glow of the forge. Nevertheless, the material and shape can surprise even the most experienced bladesmith.

Master bladesmith JT Pälikkö’s (b. 1965, Helsinki) path to becoming a master bladesmith began as a young man making miniature swords in a cold forge. At a blacksmithing course in Kuhmo, Pälikkö learned not only the basics of forging and knifemaking, but also the Japanese-style method of clay hardening of blades and damascus steel forging. He also uses embossing of leather, as a special technique in his work, as well as carving various bone materials. In addition to knives, he also produces swords and spears at his workshop in Suomenlinna. 

Master bladesmith Pekka Tuominen (b. 1970 Keitele), focuses on form in his works. He makes simple but linear knives with minimal decoration. Tuominen's knives are entirely handmade from steel to sheath, and he also forges his own damascus steel. Tuominen makes all kinds of knives, mainly to order, including puukko-knives, folding and hunting knives, chisels, daggers and kitchen knives. Delivery time is approximately 2 years from order. Tuominen has also designed knives for Spyderco in the USA. 

On The Edge – Master Bladesmiths Hankala, Jaakonaho, Pälikkö and Tuominen 

Sales exhibition at the Window Gallery of the Craft Museum of Finland 7.1.-12.3.2023

Craft Museum of Finland
Kauppakatu 25, 40100 Jyväskylä.
Museum is open Tue-Sun 11-18. Exceptions on holidays. 

More information

Mikko Oikari, senior curator, Craft Museum of Finland, tel. +358 50 553 3880, 

Suomen käsityön museo