TOPS Tanimboca Puukko: A New Take on a Classic Design
Mike the Mook
TOPS Knives, more known for their tactical fixed blade designs, has produced a knife of the puukko style in collaboration with Goran Mihajlovic. The puukko is a traditional Finnish knife design which spread throughout Scandinavia in the 19th century. It sports a thick, round wooden handle and what is known as a Scandinavian grind on the blade.
This grind, sometimes shortened to Scandi grind, starts below the halfway point and has no secondary bevel on the edge. Scandi-ground blades are ideal for whittling, woodworking, and bushcraft. The high bevel was desired so that the user could keep an eye on the wood grain while carving. There are no choils or finger guards on these knives, which allows them to be cost effective and efficient to make while allowing the user to get their hand as close to the cutting edge as possible.
TOPS collaborated with Goran Mihajlovic on the design of the Tanimboca Puuko. Mihajlovic owns a nature reserve called Tanimboca in Columbia and forges his own knives at his forge in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. With his experience in the Amazonian bushcrafter’s paradise, Mihajlovic prefers the puukko due to its history of performance.
The TOPS Tanimboca Puukko has a traditional Scandi grind puukko blade with a very slight clip point. TOPS ground the spine at 90 degrees for scraping tasks. Instead of wood, TOPS went with rounded Tan Canvas Micarta handles with red liners to improve durability and maintain the original look of the puukko. They didn’t stop there, either. Most, if not all, traditional puukkos are assembled with a stick tang in a round handle. TOPS went with a full tang design to make the knife that much stronger.
We can’t remember if the Finnish Valmet “Puukko Bayonet” was full tang or not, but it was an exceptional bayonet.
Like a traditional puukko, the Tanimboca sits deep in the leather sheath which can be worn on the belt or optionally attached to a dog-tag chain or paracord for a neck knife effect.
Puukko’s are more of a carver than a chopper and the Scandi grind requires frequent stropping to maintain its sharpness. Using any other type of sharpener will ruin the edge or at least change the grind by adding a secondary bevel.
We put this one to use shaving down rounds of seasoned oak firewood for use in our smoker over a period of several weeks. It saw some service trimming fat from meat and even some slicing duties. Edge retention has been excellent.
Having married a Finnish beauty twenty years ago, I’ve grown to appreciate the puukko blade over the past two decades. Prior to that I had seen many mediocre puukko knives as a knife collector, and the vast majority struck me as semi-disposable while some of the fancier ones were works of art in steel and wood.
The TOPS Tanimboca, on the other hand, is the first I would consider a serious working knife.
Knife Type Fixed Blade
Overall Length 7.75″
Blade Length 3.63″
Cutting Edge 3.50″
Blade Thickness 0.130″
Blade Steel 1095 RC 56-58
Blade Finish Tumble Finish
Handle Material Tan Canvas Micarta
Knife Weight 5.1oz
Weight w/ Sheath 7.6oz
Sheath Included Yes
Sheath Material Brown Leather
Sheath Clip Belt Loop
Designer Goran Mihajlovic
Find it here online: https://www.topsknives.com/tanimboca-puukko
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About the Author: Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of a dick and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson.