Leuku knife

In keeping with the History quest, According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sami_knife the Leuku also known as a Sami knife (Samistuorraniibi = “big knife”, Finnishlapinleuku or leuku), is a large knife traditionally used by the Sami people.

As best as I can tell by my research, these knives are about 1/8″ – 3/16″ steel and when 9″ long about 1 1/2″ wide. Most examples taper slightly back to the handle. Mos have a slight bulge at the butt of the handle.

  • Blade – 9 1/2″
  • Overall — 14 3/4
  • Handle – stabilized maple
  • 1/8″ – 1095 steel

Knife 64 - Leuku

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To make the brass pieces I clamped a straight edge across the back of the drill press table. I set the bit as short as I could to help avoid wobble. I used a bit 1/16″ smaller than the tang to allow some room to bring it back to straight if it was off a bit.

Knife 64 - Leuku

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It’s a little off center but the brass is big enough that it will not matter.

Knife 64 - Leuku

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I used small files to finish cleanup.

Knife 64 - Leuku

I used a hack saw blade I had narrowed the end to cut out some of the brass.

I discovered on the very last piece I had a small dremel cutter that worked to help open it up

Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku

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I’m tapering the opening a little so the back is more open than the front. I can press it on that way for a tight fit, but a small gap in the back will allow for some epoxy, JB weld or solder. I will probably use epoxy. The blue marking on the back is to make sure I don’t confuse what is front and what is the back.

Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku

Filing the brass flat. Here i am using sand paper on the dmt. The dmt just provides a nice flat surface and the grit helps hold the sand paper in place.

Knife 64 - Leuku

Using a ball peen hammer to give some texture to the guard.

Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku

At this point i decided to make another. I need to stabilize some handle material anyhow, along with being out of propane. I made the second one out of a piece of 3/16″ 1084 and made it about an inch shorter.

Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku

The Leuku knife

Stabilized maple handle with brass guard and pummel

Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku

The Leuku knife

Knife 64 - Leuku
Knife 64 - Leuku

This Knife 8 – Riggers Knife / Sheep’s Point with a sheep’s foot design is made from 1/8” 1080 high carbon. This knife is similar to Knife 10 – Riggers Knife / Sheep’s Foot

I struggled with the plunge line at this point. My grinder was not variable speed yet and I was determined to use it beyond my skill level. This knife came out well, but I would have saved myself a lot of work if I had switched to hand sanding earlier (or made sure my grinder was variable speed).

Being able to slow down the belt speed greatly enhances ones ability to “feel” the grind and helps avoid mistakes. It also makes mistakes much smaller and easier to fix. Lastly, when a small mistake happens it forces you to regain focus.

I was also using belts I bought of the internet but not from a reputable knife maker supplier. Good belts make a pretty big difference. I strongly recommend you try different kinds of belts and find one that fits your style.

This is a great mid level design for a newer knife maker. It adds a few components like a racasso and a choil. Being a sheep’s foot design it simplifies grinding a bit since you do not have the curve in the bevel to worry about.

The sheepsfoot blade Sheep’s Foot is traditionally a sailor’s knife. The sheep’s foot blade allows a rope to be cut on the deck without skinned knuckles and the sheep’s foot stopped a sailor from stabbing another (or himself I suppose) in rough seas and on board an unstable surface .

This style knife is a good kitchen knife and a good everyday carry (EDC). It works well around a camp as well. It can be made thinner in the kitchen style or heavier for a camp style knife.


Knife 7 – Small EDC / Small Game Knife

I really like this style knife. It’s easy to make (relatively speaking) and fun to use. I carried a knife like this for a long time.

This knife is made from 1/8” 1080 steel with Cocobolo scales. The pins are brass. I choose 1080 because of it’s simplistic qualities. As I said in “My Journey into Bladesmithing” my recommendation for the first few knives is start with a few pieces of known steel.

When you’re just beginning to make knifes, this style is great. A simple design, but fully functional. There is some elegance in the simplicity. This style knife can be made in many different sizes as well, making it even more versatile.

The edge geometry is also easy to work whether you’re working it by hand or with power tools.  It’s simple enough make even with a handheld grinder.

Hand Sanding

This is a great knife style to begin hand sanding on. All you need is a piece of scrape hardwood about 12” long and 1 ½” to 2” wide. Wrap the sandpaper around the wood and hold it with you thumb and finger. I typically begin sanding with 80 or 100 grit. Progress through the grits. At 600 grit you’ll start to see some “polish”. You can sand through 3000 grit if that is the desired look or you can stop at any point you think you’ve reached what you like.


This is not really a knife, but close. A kindling froe is used to split kindling wood. This was made from a piece of old implant tine. Foolishly I made this by all stock removal without forging it first.

This is one of those times that I believe forging the bevel would have really saved time.

It has ash scales with brass pins.

It was not heat treated as froes typically do not need to be that hard or that sharp. They split instead of cut.

Knife 5 – Mini Clever or Whacker was made from a leaf spring. I used the forge to straighten the spring, but the rest was completed with stock removal. In retrospect I probably should have forged the blade, but I didn’t. The wenge scales were attached in the usual way with brass pins.

I also decided to add a maker’s mark after heat treating and tempering. The results were the stamp flying across the shop and taking out my window. Lesson Learned. I now make sure the stamps are clamped in vise grips and I try to not stamp hardened steel.

Looking out the shattered window!
Vise grips holding the clamps. Here i am using a block of oak with a hole to help protect from a miss guided hammer blow

Straightening a Custom Made Knife after Heat Treating

As you can see, this knife didn’t work out so well. I certainly should have known better, but you simply cannot bend a knife like this after it’s been heat treated.

Lesson learned!

It’s possible to Straightening After Quench. Immediately after hardening, while the blade is still warm to the touch, it is remarkably flexible. After a while that goes away and you have a hard, brittle blade.  See page 48 for more straightening tips.

See Straightening a Custom Made Knife after Heat Treating

Design Note: The clip point blade and the drop point blade are the common types of hunting knives other than the skinner. The clip point knife is versatile enough to be used for general camp chores and specialized hunting jobs, including field dressing and skinning. This is a good all-around knife. The drop point knife is often considered a specialized hunting knife. It’s used to dress the animal and skin it, but shouldn’t be used to cut rope or twigs, or do other general camping-related chores. The drop point is designed to use the entire blade when skinning. Using the entire blade not only speeds up the process but reduces the risk of damaging the meat. Because it doesn’t have a distinct point, you’re less likely to tear into the meat while you’re skinning the animal.

As a hunting knife, A Clip Point style of knife is great for the occasional hunter. It has a defined point on the end and will perform all the tasks needed for the occasional hunter. The clip point style blade will do everything that the drop point will do but it may just take you longer to do it with the clip point as the point is not as strong as the drop point.

Why I let this happen I’m not sure. It would have been an easy fix before it was epoxied into the handle

Knife 3 – Utility Type Knife from a File

At first I though “This knife could probably use a little more bevel. Maybe it needs a ricasso and probably a choil but after doing this for a while i realized some knife designs have these attributes intentionally.


Some knives (like a Puukko or a carving knife) is actually designed to the blade is sharpened right up to the guard. The thought being when carving, the most force comes from the closest spot ahead of the handle. And, since the ricasso on a modern knife is basically just for looks, it’s a matter of personal preference whether or not it should be there.

Puukko


The chiol makes a nice stopping point for sharpening, but is by no means a requirement. It does make a knife a little easier to sharpen and it serves as a visual termination for the blade, but in cutting, it serves no other purpose.

With a shallow bevel, the edge should be a bit stronger, so it will stay sharper longer. The drawback is it will not be as sharp. It’s a trade of in the design. Both ways are right, it depends on the use of the knife. Not every knife needs to be scary sharp to perform it’s intended purpose.


Design Note: Wearing gloves works best with a longer and thinner handle. Remember that an eighth-inch difference in handle diameter means approximately a 3/8-inch difference in circumference.

Knife 3 – Utility Type Knife from a File

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Knife 2 is another attempt at turning a leaf spring into a knife. This was strictly stock removal with an angle grinder. Then some filing and hand sanding.

It is quite thick and very heavy. It came out quite decent for a heavy knife. It would work as a knife for splitting kindling and other camp chores. Constant smacking with a mallet or chunk of firewood will not harm it. It still takes and hold an edge, so it will be a good edge tool. It was good practice. I used the same heat treatment as here.

I’d love to say I made this knife as a heavy camp or Bush Craft type knife. But the truth is, I really didn’t plan it that way, it just came out that way.

It will work as a skinning knife as well, although it will be a little heavy. Chopping through bone with some mallet persuasion does not scare it at all.

It’s just some added proof you do not need a lot of tools or equipment to make a useful knife.

The sheath is a little crude, but certainly serviceable. It was made with some recycled leather and not very many leather working tools at all. You will see my leather working skills today are much better than when this knife was made. Not only has the practice helped, I’ve acquired additional tools that help as well.

I made this first hunting knife as a gift. This really isn’t the first knife I ever made, but it’s the first one after thinking I might want to actually make knives as a hobby.

This knife was made out of a truck leaf spring. It was a heavy spring, so it was too thick.

I cut the spring to length on the band saw and then heated it and flattened it. I had already started dabbling in blacksmithing, so I had the forge, I just wasn’t ready to start flattening and thinning a piece of metal, so, I cut the piece in half on the bandsaw and cut the rough shape. It was shaped with the belt sander and I did some filing and hand sanding.

Heat treating was done the way I described, and it seems to work. The scales were made from hophornbeam. It’s one of the hardest wood’s native to New England. It doesn’t grow very big, but it makes great tool and knife handles. I’ve grown up knowing this wood as hardhack.

This knife shows what can be done with minimal equipment.

This is the piece of steel after it was cut to length, width and cut down to thickness by cutting the spring in half.
After shaping on the belt sander
Completed

I gave this knife as a gift. It was instrumental in skinning a white tail who’s antlers became part of the series You can see the knife in a future post.

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