Fire by hand drill

Fire by hand drill

Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Leuku Part 1

I have been given permission to present this article by my friend at

And This guy makes some amazing traditional knives, check it out!!

The Leuku part 1.

At first, we dont call em here in north,as leuku too often, its usually some twisted pronouncication from word "stuorra niibi", (many ways to write it,though) which in sami language means big knife,nothing more.Leuku is a later name but its ok too. The smaller leuku is called "unna nibas",which means small knife,and those usually have some 5 to 7 inch long blade.

Double-leukus are totally a creation of southern marketing man. Reindeer folk havent carried two knives in one sheath,and dont do that nowadays,except for very very few exceptions.

Leuku ( the larger, popular one) is usually with a blade ranging from 7to 10 inches,sometimes even more closer to 12 inches. Bevels are NOT knife-like. In tourist leukus they are like in puukko+s but in real leukus,no way. Bevels are ground to what they call as " cat cheeks".
So its a more convex-like. In some 5 millimeter thick and 40 millimeter high blade, you find bevels to be from 15 to 17 millimeters high and its NOT,again a V profile,no. Its close to convex thats  like magnifying lense with 2mm radius .  It starts from up,as a V but it turns,towards the edge it self,to very round. Similar to axe sharpening,kind of,as they have two bevels usually,here, but in leuku the border of bevels is very rounded and not so visible. Well, if i say its very rounded convex,you might get it.

Common thickness in real leukus, is form 4,5 to 6 mm. And the blades tip, its originally more closer to shape of traditional puukko,meaning its more pointed in real leukus, since it can be then used well, for gutting and sknning. The more dull shaped leukus are also creation of businessmen, who wanted leuku to be more exotic looking and maybe more mean too. But you cant do leukus wide range of tasks with a dul tip shape.

Its use in foreign countries is bit awkward in our eyes often, People compare them to hatchets and axes and it wrong. Leuku is used in task more suitable for billhook,rather than any axe type.

In lapland, a tree thats over 15 centimeter thick,is more like rarity, and usually most trees are bush-like, thin birch,that grows slowly and is bended in every directions. Leuku fits more than well,for felling and processing wood like this. Traditionally it used for about every task there might be,from building rendeer fences, shelter poles and pieces, reindeer bone chopping and splitting, reindeers sled pulling gear making,ad such,so its actually an ancient multitool :).
Its still common to see man treat a reindeer,from skinning to putting meat in parts in 15 minutes with just one leuku,you know. They dont need dedicated several butchers knives...

More to come.........................

1 comment:

Karl said...


I have heard many times from friends in the north woods that the axe is king and that a large knife like tool is useless there... howevere, like a parang/machete in the jungle a leuku is far more useful.

I do believe there is a bias against the large blade among European bushcrafters, they are trying to distance themselves from the 80' "Rambo" survivalist image, where one large blade did everything...

I love my parang, golok & khukri, I never travel without one, and much like the leuku they get used for every task under the sun, from trap building to food and game prep... I would love to get my hands on one of the traditional leuku's, I think it would be perfect for a lot of what I do...