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Production Wootz from Finland

Oct 3, 1998

Production wootz! Ultra-high carbon forged steel. Maybe like those old Indo-Persian swords that nobody has known how to make since the 17th century, the stuff that Al Pendray has been reinventing. In the form of production hunting knives, done up Finnish style.

I followed up a lead from a Markku Huttunen, a Finnish participant in these forums, with whom I had been discussing puukkos and such, visited the Roselli page at
www.roselli.fi and ended up with an e-mail from one of their people who referred me to the following page in the Finnish section of their site:


No, I can't read it either, except that the steel is 1.7% carbon, and their prices for the first 100 numbered pieces convert to $290 and $365 for the medium and large knife. There are or have been, available only from the company, in Finland.

Regular production will presumably go for less than that, but more than their current line. They say these knives will hod an edge
a lot better than conventional carbon steel.

Heimo Roselli is of the school that believes that polishing and finishing don't make the knife cut any better, but the Grandfather Special with the arctic birch and reindeer hide sheath has a certain barbarian charm about it.

Besides its very high carbon content, wootz steel is known for its patterns, that are formed by carbides in a softer steel matrix, and not by pattern welding. The unlike the rough and ready standard forged carbon steel Roselli knives, their wootz knives will be given some polishing and acid etching to bring out the pattern.

They have not yet established retail or dealer prices, or made any arrangements for distribution of the wootz knives outside Finland, but expect to have production going some time in late 1999.

Not for everybody's taste or budget, maybe deliberatly anachronistic, but something I'm coveting.


What is the Wootz steel? I've never understood the difference between it and other steels.
Well, you got me interested. Are you going to try to carry these knives? I looked on the Finnish site and I couldn't even FIND the knife you show.
Did they say if they got the wootz from meteoric iron, or using the 'old' traditional clay pot and wool technique? Or is that just an 'old wives tale'? And why am I assuming that you are any better than I am at reading Finnish?


Here is a URL about different types of steel, including traditional Damascus, or 'wootz' steel:

Here is what they have to say about wootz:

These blades are directly forged from a small cake of heterogeneous steely iron which traditionally was produced in India. The steel, which is called wootz, was produced by heating iron ore, charcoal, and vegetable matter in a crucible for a prolonged period of time. This would produce a fairly high carbon steel, indeed sufficiently high carbon that special handling was necessary in forging the blade if fractures were to be avoided. The above close-up of such a blade shows a wavy pattern of shiny and dark steel. These patterns are made up of networks of steel showing different metallographic structures (globular cementite in a matrix of pearlite per Maryon (1960)) and extend through the full thickness of the blade. Again, a pattern is exposed when final grinding occurs and this natural heterogeneity of the steel is exposed. Customers for sword blades in the Middle East reputedly particularly valued a type of pattern referred to as kirk narduban or the ladder of the Prophet. In the close-up photograph above, you can see several "rungs" of such a ladder which are alterations in the background pattern running perpendicular to the length of the blade. While many explanations have been put forth in the literature for how this was difficult to achieve, a simple solution discovered by modern bladesmiths is that such a pattern is achievable by the mechanical manipulation of filing notches into the incomplete blade perpendicular to its length at regular intervals before final forging; essentially the same technique by which activity can be added to the pamor of the Javanese keris, again producing an alteration analogous to geographical contour lines.
Hope this helps, Walt
Here's a link to one short-form explanation of Wootz steel:

And another article, which discusses Wootz along with the more familiar laminated Damascus steels:

Wootz is one of the reasons why a lot of modern knifemakers and smiths HATE "trade secrets." Once upon a time metal working techniques were closely guarded secrets, perhaps because they were military secrets. When some smiths in India died a few centuries back without training apprentices, their trade secrets died with them, and it's taken a lot of research and work to re-invent the stuff.

The Wootz knife isn't in the English section of Roselli's web page. I wouldn't know about it but for Mr. Huttunen's lead. And I can't read Finnish. Fortunatey, Roselli has a guy who sends e-mail in English. I hope I can carry them. We'll see.


James, keep us informed on price/availability of all sizes of this Wootz series. Anything 5" or longer is gonna get my attention *fast*. If you can get blade blanks of 4" or greater, EMAIL ME ASAP. I mean it.


Jim March
I don't expect any of the Wootz knives, let alone bare blades, to show up on this side of the pond for several months at least. And 4" is a fairly big knife to the Scandinavian market. However, in their existing rough-finished carbon steel line, Roselli offers a Lapp Leuku, with about a 7-1/2" blade. No guard. It's for cutting on the pull stroke, not poking into things.
www.roselli.fi/eng/products/LE.html I've handle their smaller models, but haven't seen that one up close yet.


If there was a 7" Wootz at anything like affordable, I'd buy it and have Alan Folts totally disassable it and remount the blade as a tactical.

Jim March
I have a Roselli erapukko (large hunting knife, about a 4" blade) which I had the good fortune to use to skin and butcher a moose this fall. It's the standard high carbon steel, deceptively simple design, very light and very tough. Holds a great edge. Have to admit I'm drooling over the new wootz steel, though; unfortunately, tuition will have to come first.
Roselli's puukkos are available all over the world. You can find the closest dealers from their web-site ( http://www.roselli.fi ). And if there is no dealer near you, there is also a order form and e-mail address. The puukkos with wootz steel are already available in very limited quantities and as I understand only in Finland. The price is high compared to their normal puukkos. The first puukkos available in wootz are Hunting Knife and Carpenters Knife.