Marttiini Lynx Lumberjack Knife
By Gary Zinn
Founded by blacksmith, preacher and Christian author Janne Marttiini, Marttiini of Finland (www.marttiini.fi) has been making knives of the Finnish puukko and Saami types since 1928. In 2005, Rapala VMC, the fishing and outdoor gear conglomerate, purchased Marttiini Ltd. from the Marttiini family. Marttiini produces knives bearing its own brand name and for over 50 years has also made Rapala brand knives.
Marttiini knives are divided into seven categories, six with fixed blades and one group of folders. In the fixed blade categories, those labeled Outdoor and Traditional are mostly puukko and Saami style knives, while the Hunting knife category leans toward more contemporary designs.
Marttiini knife offerings range from utilitarian to fancy. I chose a no frills utility knife for this review, a model called the Lynx Lumberjack Carbon Small (pictured above). This knife follows the traditional design of puukko type working knives.
Blade, handle and sheath
The carbon steel blade has a 3-3/8 inch sharpened edge and is 5/8 inch wide by .079 inch thick. The blade has the distinctive scandi grind, with a narrow secondary grind (micro bevel) forming the sharpened edge. The blade has a straight spine, with a very shallow clip point.
The flats of the blade are unpolished and have a nice blackened patina. I cannot tell if this is oxidation from heat treating, or the result of a separate operation to create the patina. Whatever, the blade has a traditional look, which is part of the reason I chose this knife.
The patina helps protect the flat portions of the blade, but obviously not the ground portions, from rust. Those who have experience with carbon steel know the common sense things to do to keep their knives from rusting. Anyone unfamiliar with carbon steel care should bone up before investing in knives with carbon steel blades.
Here is a mini course: Carefully clean and thoroughly dry the knife after use. Wipe a very light coat of a nontoxic protectant (e.g., mineral oil or pure canola oil) onto the blade; pay particular attention to the ground portions of the blade, since these are not protected by a patina. Store the knife in a low humidity environment. Never leave the knife in a damp sheath.
Marttiini does not provide much technical detail about their steel. They state that their carbon steel contains 0.75 percent carbon and three percent chromium. Without the chromium, the steel used in this knife would be 1075 type plain carbon steel, not a preferable choice for conventional knife blades. The chromium, though, boosts the toughness and wear resistance above that of plain steel with the same carbon content. I believe that Marttiini has been using this steel for a long time, so they must be satisfied with its performance.
The handle is stained birch wood. It is 3-7/8 inches long and one inch wide by 3/4 inch thick at the middle. The only hardware on the handle is a brass ferrule at the front and a brass nut pressed onto the end of the rattail tang. The downward curl of the handle butt is seen throughout the various Marttiini Lynx model knives and also appears on some other models.
A deep pouch leather sheath completes the package. It is shaped to hold the knife securely, with a plastic liner inside to prevent the blade from slicing or puncturing the leather. A twisted leather thong serves as a belt loop. The "boot toe" shape of the bottom of the sheath is a nod to traditional puukko and Saami sheath detailing.
The knife weighs a feathery 1.9 ounces per my digital postal scale and the sheath adds 1.2 ounces to the carry weight. This slender, lightweight knife is similar to what makers of classic American hunting knives would call a Bird and Trout knife.
Fit, finish and function
I have already discussed the blade grind and finish. The unvarnished handle is sanded just to the point of leaving enough surface texture to provide a secure, nonslip grip. The ferrule is unpolished. All together, the finish of the blade, handle and ferrule are appropriate for a working knife.
There is not much to fit together on this simple knife, but the tight fit of the ferrule around the base of the blade and its even junction with the handle surface speak to good fitting of parts. The one minor glitch I found was a very small burr on the end of the tang, where it mates with the brass retention nut. A few swipes with a diamond sharpening plate corrected this.
Turning to function, the handle is shaped for a comfortable hold and is adequately, but not generously, sized. Gripping the knife with the last finger in front of the drop at the butt of the handle leaves the forefinger of my medium size hand close to the base of the blade, which lacks a finger guard. Moving my grip back one finger width was more reassuring, while still giving a secure grip with the last finger around, rather than in front of, the drop at the end of the handle. I soon found myself grasping the knife this way without thinking about it.
This is one of the smaller Marttiini knives, with the handle sized in proportion to the blade. Knives with longer, heavier blades have handles both longer and with a bit more girth. For instance, the Lynx Lumberjack Carbon with a four inch blade has a handle 13/16 inch longer than the knife reviewed here.
I have a qualitative ranking system for describing the sharpness of knives. My ranks are NS (not sharp), SE (sharp enough), VS (very sharp) and ES (extremely sharp). Out of the box, I expect the factory edges of most knives from reputable makers to be at least SE, with an edge keen enough to do routine cutting tasks.
The factory edge on my Lynx Lumberjack was Extremely Sharp (ES). I do not give this rating lightly and I have seen very few production knives that attained it out of the box. A series of test cuts that included slicing coated paper and corrugated cardboard, whittling wood and cutting rope and webbing confirmed that this was, indeed, a very sharp knife. I was impressed.
Given how thin the blade is, I became curious about the angle of the blade grind. I dusted off my old trigonometry skills and worked out that the angle of the primary grind is about ten degrees on each side of the blade. From this, I am guessing that the angle of the micro bevel that forms the actual cutting edge is no more than about fifteen degrees.
These bevel angles go a long way to explain why this knife can take such a sharp edge. It also suggests that this would be a great slicing knife, which it is. I confirmed this by using the knife to break down some large cuts of beef for the freezer.
ES edges on knife blades usually do not stay that way for long, if one does much serious cutting. However, the edge on my Lynx held up to my initial test cutting routine without losing any sharpness that I could discern.
After some more use, the edge has faded a bit, but I still rate it as VS. Given that the blade is tempered to Rc 55-57, I expect it to be easy to sharpen when the time comes to do so. Meanwhile, the edge is proving more durable than I expected it to be.
The Lynx Knife family
The Lynx Knife model was one of Marttiini's earliest designs and has been a featured product line ever since. Currently, there are four Lynx Lumberjack variants, all with stained birch handles. Three of these have carbon steel blades and one blade is stainless steel.
Another set of nine Lynx Knives features unstained birch or curly birch handles. Most of these knives have stainless steel blades with polished brass ferrules. These knives range from plain work knives to spiffed-up dress knives with elaborately detailed sheaths.
The dressiest model is the Lynx Knife 132, with a highly polished blade and ferrule, varnished curly birch handle and embellished sheath. This is a presentation/collection grade package. In addition, Marttiini makes several knives similar to the Lynx series, except with Lapp (Saami) style handles.
The Lynx Lumberjack Carbon Small is a neat lightweight field knife, suitable for everyday use in the field, camp, or around the house. It would be inadequate for really heavy work (for which several Marttiini knives with longer, heavier blades would be better), but most of us have more occasion to use a light duty knife than a heavy one. I am definitely keeping my little Lynx knife and I expect to carry it a lot and use it frequently.
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