The Yakutia region of northern Russia is home to a unique style of knife. Developed by people who carve an existence out of the frozen tundra, these knives are the end result of centuries of refinement of use by people who depend on them for their survival.
In Yakutia, they call these knives the ‘third arm’ of local herders and hunters. They’re used to kill bears, cut wood – and shave – based on a technology that has been tried and tests through many centuries.
Alexander Gogolev, 41, spoke as he forged his latest creations, deploying methods handed down through time.
‘Our knives are manufactured in line with old traditions, we forge the blades in such a way that no one can copy its shape,’ he said. ‘People understand why this shape of blade is good but cannot figure out how we make it.’
He explained: ‘Our knives are made in the old tradition. They are forged. Previously, there were no machine-tools, so everything was hand-forged with small hammers.
The most noticeable feature is the extreme fuller on one side of the blade. It is flat on the opposite side, with a single grind. This leads to very low surface contact with the material being cut, and thus extremely low resistance. The smith says the steel is not hardened to a particularly high Rockwell rating, for ease of sharpening in the field.
If not for the fuller and single grind, they seem similar to the blades of Scandinavia. There is something about a compact blade such as this that is ideally suited to life in the woods of northern Europe.
The photography in the piece is very well done and if you have a couple of minutes, it is worth a read.