New this year is a sampling of Scandinavian inspired knives and sheaths. Each features Damascus steel and all-natural handle materials. Several models feature a unique safety strap-and-ball security system that I first saw on a small hunting knife that my dad gave me when I was a boy. Made in Norway, I kept it for several decades until it was lost on a hunting trip in Ethiopia where I once lived and worked. The loss of that knife nearly 40 years ago is directly responsible for the knives shown here and elsewhere on this web site.
Similar to those shown here, small, lightweight, and highly effective Scandinavian style knives date back a thousand or more years, and have changed little since they appeared throughout Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and in Iceland. Viking explorers traveled and raided as far east as modern-day Kiev, Ukraine which it is believed they founded. Nearly everywhere along Europe’s coasts, and as far west as North America where they settled temporarily, the Vikings were all about greener pastures and far-away populations ripe for exploitation. It is accepted in some circles today that their presence as far south as the Tennessee Valley pre-dates Columbus’ arrival by perhaps five hundred years. In England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, Vikings who raided and explored these areas in the 10th century were eventually assimilated into local populations through marriage and political maneuvering. Elements of their languages – predominantly Old Norse – are still spoken throughout the UK, more than a thousand years later. Their legacy includes technology in construction, ship building, farming, and metal working which, at the time, was sorely lacking. This is especially true regarding weaponry and tools.
Today, Scandinavia remains a focal point of much of the world’s high-tech manufacturing, R&D, and its never-ending thirst for discovery. Handmade Scandinavian knives, especially small utilitarian styles that are easy to use and carry, exemplify the meaning of “hand made” items of exceptional form and function. Each is a treasure to be admired, used, and above all greatly appreciated as an essential part of technological advancement.
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Scandinavian Style Sheaths
The sheaths pictured below are, like many Scandinavian items, simple by design and cleverly made with the fewest number of parts. The main body of the typical pouch style sheath is one piece of leather, wet-formed over the knife and sewn down the back. This method eliminates the need for a welt. The flared tip is functional; Its primary purpose is to permit air to circulate and dry the blade. The simple belt loop also is made from one piece of leather, cut, shaped, and woven to form a loop that eliminates sewing. Two “swallow tails” are woven through two sets of three small holes set vertically on each side of the sewn seam. No adhesive or stitching is necessary, another ingenious example of simple geometry and physics developed by clever folk to great advantage more than a thousand years ago.