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Roselli Hunting Puukko UHC

Discussion in 'Knife Reviews & Testing' started by attej, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    Looky looky what Santa brought me this year; a Roselli Hunter! Ive been wanting to try one of these for years and Ive been curious about the all-Finnish high carbon steel (UHC) also. I've used an old Roselli Grandfather on many many hikes, and I really like the handle, so I suspected it's big brother would fit my hand too.

    Roselli puukkos have a nice rough finish. Ive actually met Heimo Roselli and he is kinda making a point there; according to his philosophy, a tool should not be over-decorated. Works for me, even though I do appreciate the beautiful decorations of Tommi puukkos and such, as long as the decorations do not affect the functionality.

    Comparing old and new Roselli


    Comparing the new Hunter to the old Grandfather knife some differences are apparent immediately. The old knife is sturdier, the blade is more rugged and has clearly visible forging marks. Also, the structure is "rat-tail" full tang, the tang is riveted to the end of the handle. The new UHC Hunting knife has a hidden tang. By looking at the pictures of plain Hunter edges (also sold by Roselli) it looks like the hidden tang is long and wide enough to make the knife plenty strong. If modern epox glues are used, I suspect the hidden tang structure might even be stronger than the rat-tail.

    The upper-ferrule, ie the ferrule between the blade and the handle seems to be fixed size with the Grandfather, meaning that the handle was made to fit the ferrule. With the hunter, the ferrule seems to be sanded with the handle. I prefer latter, since it gives a flawless result as far as the fit goes. The Grandfather knifes handle is sturdier, though that might be an individual difference more than a design-one. The difference in the quality of the arctic curly birch used is painfully obvious, and almost disturbingly poor on the Hunter. For a few extra euros, Roselli could have bought higher quality birch, giving the knife an entirely different look. It does not affect the toughness or quality of the knife itself, but come on Roselli; if I buy a ~120 EUR puukko that is advertised to have an arctic curly birch handle, I expect the wood to be high quality.



    The leather sheath is widely considered to be poor, and I both agree and disagree on this. It's actually a nice sheath, the leather is adequate, and the design, even though not traditional, is ok. Its not possible to make a traditional tight "click" fit sheath to this knife due to the handle design, but like with the handle, I would expect some sort of hand picked fitting on this pricepoint. The sheath I got is actually so loose, that the knife will fall off on its own weight. Even though this problem is easily solved by soaking the sheath and letting it dry (this is what I did), or by e.g. glueing a small piece of leather behind the belt loop, it is unacceptable for a ~120 eur knife to have a dangerously loose sheath. This is not the right place to be saving with the production costs! Id pay 10 EURs more for the knife if it would include a hand picked well fitting sheath.



    Ok, enough ranting. What about the knife itself? The UHC (Ultra High Carbon) steel is marketed to be a "super" steel, and the method of processing this steel is developed by Heimo Roselli himself. Its has a high carbon content, over 1,5%, and should keep an edge exceptionally well. The blade has a really nice finish (maybe some sort of acid treatment?) to show off its distinctive titanium-gray texture. I really like the way the blade looks, it just screams "SHARP!". The blade was not super-sharp out of the box, but a few passes with a diamond sharpener made it shaving sharp easily. I made some cuts with the knife through hemp rope, cardboard, frozen moose meat and a few other materials and checked the blade with a loupe to see if there was any minor (or almost microscopic) wear. The UHC steel seems to keep an edge exceptionally well and the knife really cuts! To have this kind of steel in a form of a sturdy puukko is just awesome. I cant wait to get to use this knife in the woods!

    I've heard rumors that the high carbon steel might be somewhat brittle due to its hardness ('round ~65 HRC) but Ive yet to hear a confirmed story of a UHC blade failing. It is apparent, that this knife is no pry-bar, but lets be honest: thats not what a puukko is. I did use the knife on light battoning, something a puukko should be able to do, and I have no complaints. Roselli advertises that UHC steel is both edge-keeping and hard, but also more "sitkeä" ("resilient" might be a good enough translation?) and I have no reason to doubt this claim. So, I will assume that the rumors of the blade being brittle are just rumors based on the announced HRC, and use the knife as it was meant to be used. If it breaks, I'll send it back and proceed by whining about it in this thread, so if your reading this later on, and the thread is whine-free, the knife is tough enough :D


    The handle is heat-treated and oiled birch, and is a bit on the large side as far as trad. puukko handles are concerned. I personally really like it; it fits the hand. This is, of course, something that everyone has to try and decide for themselves.

    Fit and finish

    The grind is even, the blade is flawless, and the knife is straight and nicely fitted in every way. The handle is pretty roughly sanded, but it kinda fits the overall appearance of the knife. Like stated above, I like the Roselli philosophy about knife being a tool rather than a piece of jewellary. This means that the knife will be used without worrying about it too much.



    A great blade, great design, but corners cut on few issues. That's how I see Roselli today. I have to admit I am dissapointed about the minor issues I explained above. They do not affect the functionality of the knife itself in any way, but a little extra effort would rise this knife "to the next level". If your looking for a functional scandi bushcrafter with an exceptional blade, but you're not ready to pay for a hand-forged custom, this knife might be for you. A collectors item this is not - not with this finish, handle-material and sheath. All that said, Im am excited about the blade, and this knife is definately gonna see some bushcraft-use in the near future.

    + Blade!
    + Design
    + "user" -look

    - Sheath too loose
    - low quality curly birch
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  2. Ravaillac


    Feb 14, 2005
    People assume that higher hardness and high carbon content mean brittle.
    It is generally true with common steels when it comes to "common" steel but powder metallurgy and modern "super-steels" have been able to forgo some of the "rules of the game" to some extend so it might be resilient enough. 1,5% while high is only half what ZDP189 C content and ZDP while not very tough is still quite usable steel.

    That said it would be easier to believe those claims if they were clearer about their steel: where do they get it from? which manufacturer? what are the actual figures...
  3. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    Heimo Roselli mentioned in a Finnish magazine article, that the UCH steel is made in Kuhmoinen, Finland. The method of processing this steel is designed by Roselli himself.

    Roselli is a respected blacksmith and metallurgist, so its not hard to believe that he has been able to design a blade using high carbon steel ideal for especially puukkos. That said, I too would like to know a little bit more about the steel.

    But, the most important thing is that it cuts well! :)
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  4. TheGame


    Sep 24, 2008
    Might want to put some in-use pics so this doesn't get moved. Aside from that, nice review. Thanks for posting it up :thumbup:
  5. untamed


    Jan 7, 2003
    Many thanks for posting (just subscribed it) ^ Yes, some wood crafting shots would be nice as well to keep it here.

    I first heard about H. Roselli's knives from the old Outdoors Magazine forum some years back and they were/are still highly regarded.
  6. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    I'll post some action-pics later (too dark now), hopefully the mods will let this stay on WSS for now :eek:
  7. Shotgun


    Feb 3, 2006
    That bottom one looks like a mini version of my Koyote Stead knife. I disagree with Mr. Roselli though. Knives can be functional pieces of art and IMO, the best kind of art.
  8. kgd


    Feb 28, 2007
    Excellent review and information!
  9. PatriotDan


    Jan 6, 2007
    Two things...

    1) Kuhmoinen is the municipal where Roselli's factory is situated. If the steel is said to made there it probably means he makes it in his own factory. (Im using the term factory here on purpose)
    2) Roselli's UHC steel is based on the work that can be read from the 2000 article "Reproduced Wootz Damascus Steel" from Dr. Juha Perttula. It was not Roselli but Dr. Juha Perttula that "reinvented" the Wootz used in Roselli blades.

    (Please note that Im not trying to discredit Roselli's work. Just trying to clarify some details.)
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010
  10. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    PatriotDan, intresting info. Reading about the UHC from Rosellis own homepage more closely, it does say that "Following years of research and experiments, H.Roselli developed his own way of processing ultra high carbon containing bladesteel (1,5 - 2,0 %)", so the statement in the 1st post about Roselli "inventing" the steel itself is misleading. Ill edit it :)
  11. Ravaillac


    Feb 14, 2005
    Well I was a bit curious about what was that UHC carbon thing.
    As I said when it comes to "advanced" steels chemical mixture doesn't tell the whole story. There are various others processes that can involved in the making of a steel like powder metallurgy, electro-melt steel, forging/rolling that would make a difference.

    Generally those process are invented for industry and knife makers just happen to pick them for their own use. Obviously knife blade making is no longer important to the point it can justify important Research and Development on its own, at least compared to "serious stuff" like die making or automobile industry. Roselli probably knows his job but he's still probably short compared to the whole Hitachi metals research department.

    I was wondering if it was either:
    * some sort of proprietary steel "hacked" together by him like adding more carbon than usual to a pretty well known mixture
    * or something more innovative: that needs some deep technical capacities, Busse has pretty strong academic background and despite the fact Infi is an original "designer" product is still questionable to me.

    I've already read on some forums that UHC was related to some historical research on wootz but never seen conclusive evidence about the link, but since:
    * they also make wootz knives
    * from picture it seems to display a wootz like surface pattern
    that would be a plausible explanation.

    To be honest labeling simply it as "ultra high carbon" is kind of downplaying their product. It probably somewhere in between wootz and "classic" steel.
  12. John G

    John G

    Jul 4, 2008
    Thanks for the review! Both are good looking knives, and I lose more willpower every time I visit Ragweed Forge. I might have to pick up a Finnish blade.
  13. ChapmanPreferred


    Oct 7, 2006
    I dig them both.
  14. DennisStrickland

    DennisStrickland Banned BANNED

    Jun 24, 2009
    the scant info i've heard on the uhc alloy of rosselli seems to indicate a long cuttin steel with high abrasion resistance. only whispers here & there but possibly some formite may do some sisal cutting with it.
  15. nozh2002

    nozh2002 Banned BANNED

    Jun 9, 2003
    UHC is pretty good performer it is on 6th place (among 43) in my manila rope testing:

    1. Spyderco Bob Lum Chinese ZDP-189
    2. Dozier heat treated D2.
    3. Spyderco Manix II Carpenter Tool Steel - XHP
    4. Spyderco Endura ZDP-189
    5. Jody Muller 1095.
    6. Roselli UHC

    this group is too close to the top and almost identical. All other steels behind


    Hunter and Carpenter from Rossely are my favorite knives:


    Thanks, Vassili.
  16. nozh2002

    nozh2002 Banned BANNED

    Jun 9, 2003
    UHC and Roselly wootz two different steels. UHC is good performer while his woots was a failure. It was quite a few who claims reinventing woots, but it was only Ivan Kirpichev whose blades considered to be identical to old Persian blade by Iranian old wootz expert.


    Thanks, Vassili.
  17. PatriotDan


    Jan 6, 2007

    As far as I have read from Dr Juha Perttula's articles in science journals and Roselli's own words in his website(www.roselli.fi), they are the same. His UHC (Wootz) came out the same time as did Juha Perttula's work on making Wootz. Please provide references saying otherwise if you can.

    (If your biggest concern is by who and when was Wootz first reinvented or who's is the most or the only genuine one, I really have no information of that, Im solely commenting on Roselli's work)
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  18. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    I think Roselli could be a bit clearer about the steels he uses. Here's what he says about the UHC in Finnish:

    "UHC-teräs (Ultra High Carbon) pohjautuu legendaariseen wootz -teräkseen. Rosellin oman menetelmän mukaan valmistetun yli 1,5 %:n hiilipitoisuuden omaavan UHC-teräksen erinomainen leikkaavuus johtuu sen kovuudesta ja purevista karbideista."

    I'll try to translate this as accurately as I can:

    "UHC steel (Ultra High Carbon) is based on the legendary wootz-steel. The excellent cutting performance of the UHC steel made by Rosellis own method and containing over 1,5% of carbon is the result of its hardness and biting carbides."

    So the UHC is not Wootz, but rather based on it. On this page it is referred that the Roselli Wootz is actually Roselli damascus -steel.

    "The Roselli Wootz has a attractive surface pattern composed of swirling patterns of etched regions on a dark background Apart from the correct steel composition, the forging operations require proper temperature control .Wootz cuts like UHC-steel - outstanding! "

    Ive been curious about the UHC and it has been quite difficult to find any decent info about it. This thread is turning out to be a lot more intresting and informative than a mere knife review. Thanks guys! :thumbup:
  19. PatriotDan


    Jan 6, 2007
    But he's really answering so little. His damascus is in appearance pretty much like pattern welded damascus and the UHC has only a hint of the historic dendritic(carbide cluster/band forming?) appearance of Wootz. I think he's got a point in saying it's based on Wootz since Wootz is a historic term and anything Wootz should resemble the historic info available with certain accuracy. Calling his steel UHC sounds good in that respect.

    I did first read about this, must have been ten years ago from a newspaper article. I remember it explained the relationship between the University work and Roselli. but cannot find it online...for that reason alone (cannot fact check, cannot refer to) I don't want to go any further into this. Not enough data. The review is well done, I have UHC Hunter also, so all's cool! :thumbup: :D
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2010
  20. attej


    Jan 9, 2006
    That article would have been informative, no doubt. Shame it cannot be found no more. I agree 100% that theres no reason to go further into wootz etc, but if anyone knows more about the Roselli UHC steel currently used, all additional info is more than welcome :thumbup:

    Thanks mate :) I've used the knife for a week now, and I really like the way this knife feels. Its really sturdy for a puukko, but still handy and versitile. Im going on a night-hike tomorrow to greet the new year, so Ill get to test the knife in some winter hike conditions. Cant wait :thumbup:

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