Product Review: Karesuando Knife Kit

John Fenna tries his hand at knifemaking with the Karesuando Knife Kit.

I have to admit to a certain "thing" about Scandinavian knifes, and to building my own knives from bought-in blades etc., so when I was offered a kit from Karesuando Knives in Swedish Lapland to try out, I leapt at the chance.

Coming in an attractive box, the kit contains all you need to make a handsome knife: blade, brass bolster plate, reindeer antler spacer, curly birch wood handle block, leather for the sheath, thread to sew it, a plastic sheath liner/cut guard, a strip of leather to make a belt hanger and two pages of illustrated instructions.

Karesuando Knife Kit
Karesuando Knife Kit

The instructions are fairly clear and straightforward (if crudely drawn and copied) and use a quaint version of English obviously translated from the original Swedish by someone with a functional, but basic, command of the English language.

These instructions take you step by step through the stages of putting the knife together, starting with "planing" (filing) the "tongue" (tang), down to fitting the brass plate, drilling the "horn" (antler) sinking the hole into the handle to take the tang, and so on, until you have the knife complete.

To make the kit into a knife you need only basic tools - most of mine came from pound shops - though a cheap bench grinder (or grind stones set into an electric drill) will speed things up somewhat when it comes to "planing" the "tongue" and shaping it to fit into the handle. You may have difficulty sourcing 75mm long 2.5mm drill bits and a clamp long enough to clamp up the handle while the glue sets. I used a little Heath Robinson improvisation successfully, but I would recommend you track down the appropriate bits and pieces.

Karesuando knife blade   Karesuando sheath leather
Blade and sheath leather

No recommendation for glue is offered in the instructions. I used 5 min Epoxy as I do for most of my knife making. Nor is there a recommendation for a finishing oil polish, and here I use a mix of teak oil and beeswax.

The sheath liner/cutguard seems a little over long and in a misunderstanding of the instructions, I deliberately cut it down and reshaped its throat, though I later realised the instructions only say to ensure that the knife bolster and cutguard throat are matching in size! I used contact adhesive to join the two halves of the cutguard and clamped it during drying.

The sheath making instructions are clear enough, though the illustration of double needle "saddle stitching" could be clearer.

Karesuando reindeer horn spacer   Karesuando brass bolster plate
Reindeer horn spacer and brass bolster plate

Having followed the instructions carefully, and used a little bit of the knowledge I picked up in making other knives, the end result is a very handsome knife indeed. The quality materials come together to give a functional and good looking cutting tool with an ambidextrous friction fit sheath of traditional Lapp style.

Curly birch is one of my favourite handle materials and the reindeer antler is tough and function as well as good looking. The kit is available with either stainless or carbon steel blades, the kit I received having a carbon steel version of the 3.5" "Scandi" grind utility blade, which took a superb edge when I sharpened the finished knife.

Overall, I find the kit excellent, despite the quaint English of the instructions, and if not perhaps suited to a very first attempt at knife making, it would be ideal for someone who has a basic idea of the skills needed for home making cutlery. Knife making is a hobby with a growing following, and this kit can only encourage more to take part.

The Karesuando Knife Kit with the carbon steel blade costs £20.95, and the version with the Sandvik stainless steel blade £23.95. Both will provide hours of enjoyment in their construction and you end up with a totally unique, personalised, and very handsome and practical knife that will be a joy to use.

This article appeared in the September 2007 issue of Gun Mart, and is reproduced here with permission.

You can buy the Stainless Steel Knife Kit, the Carbon Steel Knife Kit and beeswax directly from this site.

Do you have anything to add to this article? Let us know