There are some puukkos scattered throughout various threads but I thought it would be good to have a thread devoted to them. I've been familiar with them for a long time but have been just recently come to appreciate the beauty and history of this Nordic knife. They are beautiful in a lean and timeless way.
If you have any puukkos please post them here?
Here is a definition of the puuko from Theo Eichorn's excellent blog puukkomies.posterous.com. Theo is an American who has moved to Finland to study and make knives. Also see his site at http://web.me.com/acornknives/acornknives/Welcome.html
"The word puu in Finnish is wood. The puukko is seen as a knife for wood, or a woodsman, and at this it excels, for many reasons.
These are some general rules about what makes a puukko recognizable as such. Of course, like any rules, these are often broken and one can find many variations.The Puukko is a belt knife. That is, it is carried in a sheath (tuppi), hanging from a belt. The puukko is generally a modestly sized knife, the blade being about as long as the distance across a grown man's palm, with a handle of more or less equal proportion (8-10cm, or 3 1/2-4in.) The blade is more or less straight. The handle is in line with the back of the blade. Similar knives with curved backs and handles are usually of a more Scandinavian origin. (Finland, while being Nordic is not technically part of Scandinavia.)
The puukko will have a single bevel from the thickest part of the blade (the spine) to the edge. The thickest part of the blade is usually about a quarter to a third of the way down from the back. This single bevel creates a steeper angle than most knives we Americans are used to, that have a secondary bevel just above the edge. This edge geometry is much like a chisel, which is part of what makes this knife work so well when carving wood. Most puukko also forgo a ricasso, allowing the use of this "power spot" for carving wood. The further out from the hand down the blade you work, the more stress is put on your wrist, due to the forces of leverage!
Puukko do not have guards. Sometimes, if it is felt that it needs one, they will carve out a recess behind the bolster or ferrule. A guard on a knife, in the mind of a Finn, denotes a fighting knife. It protects the hand during a stabbing motion if the blade contacts something hard, such as bone. During skinning there is no need for a stabbing cut, the finger rests behind the blade for opening an animal and care is taken to avoid bone. During wood work you use a cutting motion, and a guard will only get in the way. Therefor, a guard is considered superfluous on a puukko.
There is also a major difference in how the knife is carried. In America, most right handed people will wear a belt knife on their right side, for a straight draw with their right hand. A puukko is carried (for a right hander) on the left side, for a right handed cross draw, the sheath being grasped with the left hand. This is why sheaths are of the "dangler" variety. It also allows for the knife to be easily pushed out of the way when sitting and to be easily drawn while in this position.
So, that basically covers it. The puukko is a work knife for the woodsman, of modest dementions and generally percieved as a tool, not a weapon. It has a long history, many examples pulled from graves a thousand and more years old. There are many traditional forms, from the simplest to fancy festival models."