Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kauhava ~ Puukko Making Capitol of Finland

Kauhava is "the puukko making capitol" of Finland.

It is located in the province of Western Finland and is part of the Southern Ostrobothnia region, 280 miles NW of Helsinki and on the main railway from Helsinki to Oulu. The municipality has a population of 8,080 (2003) and covers an area of 486.13 km² of which 2.32 km² is water. The population density is 16.6 inhabitants per km².

Knife making is a traditional industry in Kauhava, and many Finns recognize the name of this small town because of knives made there. At one time, as many as five different knife-making enterprises were underway in the town... today there is only one knife manufacturer- Iisakki Järvenpää OY, which has been making knives in Kauhava since 1879, but several individual custom knife makers like Antti Rannanjärvi, Harri Merimaa, Matti Koski, Mika Heikkilä and the last but not the least Altti Kankaanpää.

Puukko (one of the styles of Finnish knife) made in Kauhava are sometimes referred to as being in the Ostrobothnian style.

Each June sees the Kauhava International Knife Festival, lasting a couple of (very sunny) days and including knife exhibitions, knife making and knife throwing.

As with many Finnish localities, there are museums in Kauhava (Kauhava-Seura). One in the center of town features both the knife making tradition as well as the local textiles, which are striking. An out-of-place fishing lure is one interesting feature of this museum. Another museum on the outskirts of Kauhava features the 19th century home and farm of Iisakin Jussi. It provides an accurate view of late 19th century life in Western Finland. The Iisakin Jussi House in not open during the winter months.

The surrounding country is flat and well suited to agriculture, alternating between fields and forests. The town probably takes its name from the small river which passes through it.

Kauhava is also the home of the Finnish Air Force Academy.


Anonymous said...

Just wondering, what are the knife
brand names (other than Jarvenpaa)
that the makers listed use?


American Finn said...

Woods Knife, Puukkojunkkari, Kauhavan Puukkopaja, those 3 are all from Kauhava... there are quite many puukko makers around the country, and most of them don't have any "brand name" or even mark their knives in anyway. Usually you will know the maker when you see the puukko :-) Everyone have their own style and after a while they will be know just for that... is that Finnish modesty, I don't know?!

Anonymous said...

After a lot of searching, I found
names to associate with various

Puukkoseppa (Marko Tihula)

Woods Knife (H. J. Merimaa)

Lapin Puukko (Esa Silvola)

Kauhavan Puukkopaja (Matti Koski)

Wood Jewel (Kauko Raatiniemi)

Liukko Puukko (Arto Liukko & Jari Liukko)

Puukkojunkkari seems (?) to be
a company with no specific maker
or designer that I see on their


Juhku said...

It’s great that you are spreading the information about the Finnish puukko culture. Keep up the good work.

American Finn said...

Rich... The man behind Puukkojunkkari is Mika Heikkila. I will write a little info about him also in a few days.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on Puukkojunkkari. I'll add it to my
tag on the knife.

Do you know who is behind the
Karhunkynski (Bear Claw) brand?
I know they are made by Lappitoute Oy.
But who runs or makes the knives?


American Finn said...

Karhunkynsi is made by Lappituote... and as far as I know is still hand assembled, but not handmade by certain individual. Lappituote is a big souvenier maker in Finland and knives are just one small part of their production. They have really cool souvenier stuff, but with knives I stay with "true knife makers".

Anonymous said...

When a vintage knife has Kauhava carved on the blade and a name (Looks like A. Teeeha)in the blood grove, does that second name signify the particular knife maker and would he have worked at a factory in the town? OR does a name in the blood grove mean the knife was made by an individual, and NOT commercially?


American Finn said...

That's a good question. The funny thing about old Finnish or Scandinavian knives is that most of the maker's never signed their knives... or they might have been made for someone and have the owner's name or initials on the blade, not the maker's. I have not heard name A. Teeeha as a maker. Are you sure about the spelling? No Finnish or Scandinavian word (not even in names) have 3 letter e in a row... I bet it's pretty hard to read it if is old. I wish I had a picture of it, could tell you a bit more... If you have one, you could send it to

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the offer. I have e-mailed you with the best photo of this tiny name, that I could get!

American Finn said...

I'm not sure about the maker, but it made me curious and I sent those pics to someone in Finland that knows more about puukko knives than anyone else. I will keep you updated what he says. I think the name is the maker's and most likely from 1920's. For me it looks Leuho or Leuha... So called "blood groove" first time appears in 1905, but didn't become popular until 1920's and 30's. At the time there were over 100 puukko makers in Kauhava! This is a true "Kauhava Horsehead", there is no question about that!

I'll keep you updated.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for the info you e-mailed me! It is great to get some history on this knife..and I really appreciate the time and effort you have put into this!

I was really OFF on the name, heh heh, but since it was old and small writing, and I do not know much about the Finnish language, I'll use that as an excuse....

Ed Fox said...

I have just found a nice knife with buttonhole sheath that I know is Finish. It is signed "Made in Finland". That part is easy to read. I believe I can make out the City name of Kauhava. Can anyone help with makers name on this knife. It is 5 5/8" over all length. I can send pics.
Thanks for any help.

American Finn said...

Ed, you can email me some pics and I can take a look at it... cloudberry11 (at)