keskiviikko 3. lokakuuta 2012

Simple restoration of Marttiini leuku.

Heres a  few pictures of the Marttiini´s leuku that i wrote about, a few days ago. So far, ive understood that its propably from year 1967, give or take 2 years, but most likely my dad received it as a gift from his dad and uncle at that year, since they thought that it would be more than needed and suitable outdoors gear for my father who was a scout back then.

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.

It has a quite good tang, thats pretty beefy from the start and tapers slowly, not a straight thin stick-like tang that you sometimes see...

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 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 ;)

maanantai 24. syyskuuta 2012

Leuku of my father,and his father.

At first, sorry for the weak picture. But its the best i have in my hands right at the moment.

Every year, i have mentioned my fathers old leuku while we´ve had been over the phone, like in every chat over these last 12 years or so. Today, about 30 mins ago, i received an multimedia message to my phone from him and i was what the heck....and when i got it open i was like what the hell. He had  all of the sudden gone  through his boxes and carage and while doinf that, came across this old leuku. Its the frigging same that i always wanted from him when i was  kid. For what i can remember, my grandfather owned this first, and gave it to my dad as a birthday present when he was teenager or under 20 for sure. At some point, the leuku found its way back to my grampas possession to serve as his hiking knife, during tenths of trips around the eastern and northern Finand, just as it did on my dads belt as well. Well in any case, last years this leuku just serves as memorabilia, in my grandpas trailer, as he had a stable summer place where they lived in the trailer for some 20 summers with my grandmom. The leuku just hanged from a hook along with other decorative stuff and they never gave it to me....well i was justa tiny kid back then, 10 years or so, maybe 12.....24 years ago maybe. When my grandpa died couple of years ago, the leuku was given back to my dad and he didnt use it ever. He liked it but hes old man and settle s for small puukkos in his fishing and camping trips, which he still seems to like, and i dont wonder as he had a loooooong life in the scouts,all the way from puppy to instructor / leader and i think i went to scouts myself, automatically, kind of, as he had been there for ages, as well as my grandfather. Oh anyways, i am soooo glad to see that the leuku made it to these days, and in that poor quality pic, it seems to be doing pretty fine , and still its used as all around knife once. Maybe it has survived in decent condition because it was turned in to more decorative item, so long ago, so it has rested for over 20 years in warm dry conditions. If i really remember right, and i am remembering the same exact knife, this leuku might have a small brass compass sunken in its butt plate. Hopefully i remember right, as as a kid, i remember, that some of the knives either my grandpa or my dad had, had a brass butt cap, with tiny compass. Well....even if it has, its pretty sure that its broken after all these years, as welll as the fact that it was a everyday user before it got retired. If it has the compass, i want to contact to the factory that made it, and ask for the manufacturing year and such.

Well...rigth now, i donno, should i keep using this after doing the repairs that have to be made, since id like to restore this, instead of raping it with any creepy mods like tearing off the fishtail of its mod that i dont understand with leukus that originally had often the fishtail, that also has and still has a function. The only mod i think ill be seeing reasonable, is to remove all the clear finish off from the handle, as it would only do good to the handle and offer a good grip.

I dont have yet, a slightes clue about the age of the knife but i do know that it was clearly looked as an old knife, at early 80´s, and that it had served for very long time before eighties. Maybe its from early seventies, as it would fit to the age of my dad when he received it.

Well, as this old leuku arrives to me, ill be taking more pics and telling about it. Yes, i do know that its "just a factory made leuku", but back in those days, even the tourist leukus werent so bad as some are nowadays....shiny blade that attaches to magnet is also a good detail ;).

perjantai 24. elokuuta 2012

Little shelter update

Heres a few quick snapshots of my shelter progress. The cloth is -due to my lack of money- just made out of two tarpaulin pieces.  BUT, i did NOT settle just to throw the tarpaulin over the frame, no sir, the squa shaped cloth just wont ever fit so well to cone-shaped shelter. So i cut the pieces to proper shape to make it fit a Lot better than it would be in square shape.

The cloth isnt ready yet, ill be reinforcing and cleaning the ends of it and such, so ill take it once more off the frame, to finish it a bit, then ill make a door thingy in to it as well.

There will be dew-cloth, fire place, and all kinds of small details, to make.

Stop by, to see how it goes....loads of stuff to do, to get it all ready and comfy for the upcoming fall rain as well as for winter use.

perjantai 17. elokuuta 2012

Simple Kota / Lavvu interpretation, part 1.

As the fall arrives without a doubt, and it comes with grouse hunting season and other activities , i started to make a new shelter. Its sadly not made like , nor to be any "real" saame/saami kota nor lavvu, its just a simple hideout in that vein.I am still thinking of converting this quite a bit to make it more "real", though.. But, i think, that as its made out of birch, and it stands surrounded by relatively small birch ( compared to other birch areas in this part of Finland ), and that i made it all the way with just one tool, my leuku, made by my good buddy TK, from lapland, it reflects a bit of that norhern style already ?. It was hellova stuff to chop off all the birch trunks with that leuku as its the lightest and shortest that i have.

 I do need more of birch still, to make reinforcing pieces, bedding items, some pieces that i can tie in the upper part of the shelter, to make a horizontal, triangular shaped part  that i can use to hang my pots, wet clothing and to cure meat with smoke maybe.

 The ends of birch poles, i sharpened in a crude way, and then threw the end in to campfire, to burn the bare birch ends, so they get a good coal on em, as coal really stands against time. So the ends wont rot so easily at all, when driven in to the ground, as they have burnt well.

You know, in many cases, archeologists find remains of old log houses etc, that were burn, and not so much remains of un-burnt structures...I was going to strip away all the bark from the poles, so the wood would dry pretty quick , but as i did have limited time to make this stuff today, i just used leuku to peel off an inch or so, wide strip of bark, of every pole, for the entire length of em. This way, the wood will dry too, but slower, but its important, as wet, fully covered by bark, birch would start to rot inside the bark...not good, i say. Its just a small detail to make the poles live longer and harder. The shelter is just tad over 4 meters in diameter, so its very ok size for three grown men to nest inside, sleep and hang out, and its bit over 4.5 meters tall to the joint of poles. I used  a 2.1 meter rope, with two nails tied on the ends of rope, to draw the ring, in to the ground, and to make sure that its circular shaped. I just stuffed the other ends nail in to the ground, pulled the rope tight and used the other tied nail as a scraper or a pen. then i whittled some dozen sticks, and pushed em in to the ground so te circular shape was more visible.

 Then i  tied the first three poles that were the thickest ones, together , and lifted the tripod that was formed up, and adjusted them, in to the drawn circle, so that the distance between them was somewhat equal. Then i kept adding three poles at a time, between these first three, so they are pretty well tied together now, and as i have time, ill tie em all together with a thin welded chain, that has long loose, hanging end too, to be used as a pot hanger.

But, this is how it is now, and ill write more, when i get it done more and more. I sure would like to spand overnighters and time in this, especially during winter.....winter, my favourite part of year.

sunnuntai 29. heinäkuuta 2012

Tar making and few misc. pics

What i am learning, is the making of tar in a pretty old the traditional Finnish way. During next week, ill be having an over nighter watching and ...well...smelling the "tar grave" smouldering and finally giving some of that black gold, made slowly and carefully, watched and taken care of, over a week, around the clock by group of approximately 20 voluntaries who are interested in old methods of the "old world" that still are worth learning and passing on, even today in this modernized busy world in which there is factories to make tar if man wants some. Well, my opinion is that learning the past, is the only way to see clearly to the future.

                                         Man, even the houses were a lot nicer and to my taste ,back then.

Ill be taking more pictures, of my overnighter and the tar grave as it changes as time goes, and at next saturday i think the making will be ending, the final drops of tar are in the wooden old barrels, and the grave with its fine charcoals...that  crave for, to get some in to my blacksmith shed, naturally...are covered to reassure that there will not be anything causing forest fires. I think ill take just some old fashion gear along with my simple tarp shelter, and have a good time.

But, heres a few shots i took.

"Ships were wooden, men were steel", is what i think !

 Can you make your own vessels for containing fish, meat, milk ? With your own hands, from wood without electric machinery ? Are you willing to travel LONG distances to buy salt, though the winter, lets say with kick-sled ? Can you make your own quilts and mats `? I can not, and i am ashamed of it a bit.

 Do you save your own tools, are they here after 50-100 years after you have passed away ? Did you use em every day, to earn your bread and milk, to heat up your selfmade log house ?
 We can ust grab our wheat and bread, from shop and microwave it and such....they could not.
  A small reminder of days when even whetstones, used for scythes and puukkos, were used all the way till they wore out,both the blades and the stones. We buy new diamond rods just like that. Weird , aint it ?
 We dont have to saw, whittle and carve our lanterns to have lights on our carages.
This was an luxury item once. Now its collectible, luckily.
 The place of cleansing, birth, healing, social gathering. Sauna, a smoke sauna, to be exact.
Luckily, i can bath in smokesaunas just as They did back in the days.
 Scythes, with manmade handles. Functional, reliable, economical, ergonomically beautiful. Compare to soul-less injected plastic
 `To keep the tools edgy. These were used till the end, and worth a lot. Some made their own stones too. We and our electric,bought sharpeners ? This is truely an item that i like, as its made to maintenance the tools that were and stilla re to many, precious and useful tools, and in their plain simple style, they represent a variety of skill levels men had. Some TAHKO´s are like jewellery, and some are very crude, but they all work, which was the point of the whole tool after all.
 Wooden tar bucket, and an " tukkinkeksi".  Bucket, was handmade, to carry handmade tar, and mayb its made from the same wood, that the wood handling hook & spike was made from too, who knows. Anyways, these also represent the importance of forest, wood material and also the crafting skills required to live mostly off the land once.
Making nets from cotton/wool material thread..... almost forgotten skill,sadly.

And heres the tar making pics that i got before batteries went surprising. I was originally going to the tar burning crew but my neck issues are making it a bit tough to kneel and move in a certain way for a while, but i am still putting up my camp next to the site and harass the crew and take pictures, who knows if i can do little bit of task too. I noticed a familiar face in the crew so i might still get a chance, no matter what the doc says :), so stay tuned, in next sunday i migth be posting more about this thing and how it went. I am also planning to fish and craft few things at the trip. Surely, i could use some company there too, but its also very nice to spend time alone too, i dont have a thing against some solitude.

The "tervakset"...... wood that contains a lot of resin....old stumps of pine, and such.

These are carefully laid in certain form to make the "tervahauta", the "tar grave" or a "miilu" as we call em often. The wood is laid on a  hard packed clay base , dug in the sandy soil, thats like funnel, that directs the tar as it starts to form, in to the hole in the bottom of the funnel.  On top of this circular shaped wood pile, is  tight cover layer of moss, clay and sometimes stuff that covers swamps. This cover has to be watched all the time, and fixed, so that the grave wont catch a huge fire.

It has to be hot and smouldering, but not in open fire, as the tar is formed by heat that squeeses, kind of, the tar out of the wooden material, between some 160 to  320 degrees.

As the tar runs through the hole, its then guided through a wooden channel, running under the grave, so that in it can be collected, from the end of this tunnel, in to the tar drums, buckets and such.