The leuku had a tiny tiny compass when it left the factory, just as i remembered. But last time that i saw the leuku as a kid, in early 80´s, it still had the compass, and now i know that it was broken already at that time. When tis knife arrived to me few days ago, it didnt have even the remains of the compass anymore, as it had fallen off, when the soldering that held the compass sunken in the butt cap, had cracked.
Who know where the compass is now, propably my grandfather had dropped it in the forest of something. Anyways, there was only the hole for the compass left. My grandpa had put in the place, a tiny red plastic cap upside down, held i place with stubby small wood screw, yanked in to the lead in the handle. "whatever works" attitude i guess.
Well, as i figured out that i´d like to do a small restoration to the knife, before i decide, whether id keep it as a user, or put it in my treasurebox with all the other old things with sentimental value, i started to put the knife in pieces. After removing the beaten buttcap, i had to use all sorts of minidrill bits to grind away the lead inside the handle. You see, its actually pretty clever old school method to lock in the tang this way especially in my leuku´s case, as it does not have a fully protruding tang, as it had the sunken compass in the handle. The tangs hole, is circular, about 11 millimeter diameter, and it goes do depth of about 30 millimeters, and there it joints, to the tapered shape hole, that comes from the blades end of the handle. And when you first assemble the bolster / ferrule to the handle, then you press in the blade.
In the end of tang, theres a few notches, that reach to the drilled circular hole, and when the blade in its place, you turn the knife upwards, tip down, and pour in the lead, that runs all the way to the tang, locking itself to both , the handle material, as well as the notched area of the tang.
Its actually one hellova rigid and durable as the lead wont crack easily at all and sure takes an effort to remove the blade, the lead keeps it in the handle like a chewing gum in your hair.
Well after grinding, i finally could pull out the well seated blade off the handle. I was very keen to see how the wood had managed to exist under the ferrule, and it was pretty ok, although the ferrule was loose. In older days, the glues werent like they are now, and hey, this knife is already relatively old no matter how you look at it, so it wasnt surprising that parts are letting loose, since this was once a user, owned by persons who didnt give much mercy to any of their knives. You figure out this, when you see old marks of hammering, in the buttcap and once the point of tip, had cracked so the blade is like 5 millimeter shorter than originally etc.
By removing parts from each other, i had much better chance to fix the knife and make sure that the tang is still in one piece, and also to make sure that all the parts would be then put back in reliable way. I could have easily just grind away the clear coat of the handle and sand the metal parts to make it look good, just as i could inject a tiny drip of epoxy to remove the rattes caused by loose ferrule ad butt cap. But as i was interested to learn the way of how the tag was held in place by factory, i wanted to go this way.
I have seen a good few similar old leukus from Marttiini, in few sizes and with carbon steel blades, about same age, and i have to say, that only one of em all had a cracked tang and i think, it was not about the quality of material nor the build, as they had been beaten, batoned, with wood and hammers, etc, and i see it as a damage caused by mistreatment. I would baton my stick tang knives only in case of life and death or similar, not along a dayhikes and general outdoors life. Offcourse, if you have a very long ferrule, very good handle material and truely robust tang, it would be maybe a different case but ersonally, i see that kind of thing as a abuse. Any stick tang, will get loose, and any ferrule cup will get loose in time , even if not batoned i believe..but without batoning, it might be like 10 years of use, with batoning it might be about few days only...
Oh, back to the subject.
I ground and sanded away the old marble like cracked clear coat off from the handle, and then i sanded it using 60,80,100,120 and 240 sandpapers. Its still clearly on the rough side, but its that on purpose, to give a better feel and grip, yet its not coarse by any means.
Then i started to clean the front ferrule cup, and i scratched the inside of it, to get a good surface for the epoxy to attach. Also, i used a simple polishing wheel, made from felt, with automotive chrome bumber polisher on it, to clean the visible side. I say "clean" as i only cleaned the metal parts, since in all the nicks, scratches, dings and such, lies the lifestory of this knife. Its offcourse, because this has also a sentimental value to me. If this knife would have been from anonymous stranger, i would have sanded and smoothed it out much more, and then it would have looked more like a new knife, but this was my way of doing it in this case. To leave the marks of knifes life, instead of resetting it :)
The butt cap, that had the small hole, left by missing compass, was next. I only used brass brush and felt wheel to it, so it would be clean but also show the marks of its life in it. I used a 0.2mm thin/thick brass plate piece and a very very thin small piece of moose leather, glued on top of the brass piece, to make a cover plate, to block the compass hole. If i ever find a suitable compass to the buttcap, its easy to remove the block plate and put the compass back on its place. I own one broken leuku, that would be a good donor, of butt cap, without compass hole, but then again, it would not be so unique and same knife anymore, after swithching parts from other knife.
Then i looked the blade ,and washed it, then used a #1000 sand paper to give it a hint of better, even look. All the marks of its life are still there though , and if i would have started to sand the blade all the way, it would have been enormous task to make it like a new, and in the process i bet i would have ruined the old etched decortions as well. then i sharpened it a bit, and smoothed out the spine, so it does not have so strong hammer batoning marks anymore, and also....it now has sharper edges, the spine, to be used for scraping and firesteel use if i get tempted to use this knife.
Then i used slowly drying epoxy, to glue the front ferrule in its place, and smeared the epoxy in to the tang, and yanked them in their place . After they dried, i melted shotgun ammo lead, and poured it, in to the handle so that it would swim around the tangs notches and lock it in its place as it was originally done.
Then i only put back in, the the butt cap with it new hole covering plate gimmick, let it all settle and dry ad after a good while, i started to brush the wood oil to the handle, time after time and when it stopped to suck in the oil, i rubbed away the excess oil, let it be for a few hours and then rubbed in some hard bees wax, that i slightly warmed, and rubbed & polished with an old wool sock. How sophisticated and dedicated tools !
Now, i know that the tang is ok, not broken ,just as i know that the tang is well attached and in its place as well as i know that the ferrule is well and snugly fitting, fixed in its place as is the buttcap too. So i think that i can somewhat trust the knifes build again and if theres something going wrong, its my fault and due to my own job with the knives restoration.
The sheath was pretty ok, for its age. The belt loop is perfectly fine and i sunk in a lot of leather oil to it to keep it all healthy, and i rubbed the sheath with beeswax too, after it was througly oiled with leather oil. One nice old detail in the sheath was that t has a wooden liner, made out of some wet molded (?) plywood, instead of any type of plastic. The fishtail, seems to wear i all sheaths of these leukus, at this age. Mine is still somewhat intact but very worn and if it drops away, then it drops, but i sure wont cut it off, time will, if anyone.
Oh boy.... this knife sure takes me down the memory lane, to the days when i was kid and life was all about reading the first Woodchucks guide books ever seen in Finland,making bows and arrows, playing with your first knives and stealing your dads matches for making campfire with your buddies...
Well thats about it for now i have been enjoying the time while studying the build of this leuku, and giving it some some more days to exist.
..this wont be the last of its kind in my possession ;)