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Thread: Valiant Golok : intial impressions, mainly descriptive

  1. #1
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    Valiant Golok : intial impressions, mainly descriptive


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    I think this blade is the Survival Golok L, I have to check the length. It is 590 g and balanced 9.5 cm in front of the handle, 10.5 cm in front of the center of my index finger. This translates to a decent amount of heft, about the same a a large blade heavy bowie for example. It can be seen on the following page :

    http://www.valiantco.com/java1.html

    The primary grind is dual tapered convex, with a false edge. The primary convex taper runs to a very acute edge. Specifically the edge is at ~10 degree per side until the blade hits about 0.056" in thickness, at which point it sweeps back even faster. Here is a shot of the entire profile :

    http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sstamp/im...iant_golok.gif

    Here are the numbers for those interested (inches ) :

    0.000 0.000
    0.006 0.017
    0.028 0.070
    0.056 0.155
    0.097 0.320
    0.133 0.510
    0.175 0.987
    0.170 1.200
    0.000 1.382

    This was taken about the middle of the blade, the knife has a significant taper thus the profile will be slimmer than this towards the tip, and thicker towards the handle. The polish on the primary grind is decent, but some heavy scratches can still be seen, as well as one forge mark, plus there are "waves" in the bevel which can be felt by running your finger tips along the grind.

    There are also a few other issues, some purely cosmetic like the fact that the false edge is skewed to one side. But some are more serious like the fact that the tang isn't fully seated into the handle, about a mm of gap is seen, and on one side the tang is formed with a very square transition. This is the worst place to have a stress risor. If this was a work blade and not an evaluation piece I would grind that out.

    The NIB sharpness ranged from decent to poor along the blade. The first four inches were very dull, less than 1/10 of the ability of a freshly sharpened blade. There was a sharp spot of about two inches long in the middle and about six inches back from the tip was sharp as well. These two regions were from 1/2 to 1/3 of optimal. They could for example slice paper, but would tear it in sections. The top edge is very dull, can't catch on fingernail for example. It also has a visible file mark along about five inches of its length.

    The handle is very smooth and I was concerned it would not be functional because of a lack of security. However the contours do allow a firm grip and I had no trouble on grass, weeds and even some scrap. I then used some chicken skin to grease up the grip and repeated the cutting. While the handle did move around some, I still was in no danger of losing control. The end swell also obviously prevents this in extremes, but my grip never slipped that far.

    The blade bit in decently on the wood, definately above average which you would expect given the profile. On grass it did well near the tip, but the other blunter regions mashed the grasses and lighter leafy vegetation around rather than cleanly cut them. This is just a matter of sharpness and will be fixed shortly. The cutting ability for this task looks to be very on par with a couple of Martindale machetes, and it moves more freely in the thicker wood.

    Using just CrO on leather to polish the blade (30 per side), the edge went down to within a few percent of optimal for all but a few inches of blade, can shave decently for example. So it was just a matter of a little edge burr for the most part, which was verified by checking the edge under magnification which reveals the the grain structure clearly.

    Outside of the square transition on one side of the tang, the blade looks very solid and it will be interesting to compare it to a few Martindale blades, khukuris, plus a very similar custom that I had made last year, among others.

    -Cliff

  2. #2
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    Cliff, I look forward to read your review.

    The handle is I agree, a very pleasant factor for tough use.
    Mine had not tang gaps.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Singularity; 07-04-2002 at 12:29 PM.

  3. #3
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    Time to empty your mailbox, Cliff - I just got returned email.

    As with Singularity, the tang on mine was flush fit.

  4. #4
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    I hope to be getting mine soon
    Chad

  5. #5
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    Hi Cliff:

    And I tried again:
    Reporting-MTA: dns; priv-edtnes28.telusplanet.net
    Arrival-Date: Thu, 4 Jul 2002 11:25:29 -0600
    Received-From-MTA: dns; p9t3t9 (66.183.201.118)

    Final-Recipient: RFC822; <[email protected]>
    Action: failed
    Status: 5.1.3
    Remote-MTA: dns; mail.mun.ca (134.153.2.130)
    Diagnostic-Code: smtp; 553 5.3.0 SPAM 2002-07-03/001

    And what's this little SPAM word I see....

  6. #6
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    Cliff, I'm very impressed with that blade cross section, especially in so inexpensive a blade. We've had one report on some pretty hard use, so another will help clarify the first. I'm especially skeptical of the handle configuration so I look forward to your report.

  7. #7
    I'm looking forward to getting one, too. Ordered it a few days ago.

    Joe

  8. #8
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    Matthew: You may want to look at the outdoor survival forum over at the other place where I put my findings. I've just been too busy to put them here - not a "Come to our place thing" for sure..

    Joe: I'm sure looking forward to what you make of the steel and hardening!

  9. #9
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    Cliff:

    My Survival L has the gap, too. It looks like the maker tried to fill it with laha/epoxy.

    The Survival's done well against some hard, dead spruce branches that did for the edges on two of my khuks. We'll only see what time has to say.

    S.

  10. #10
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    The wide tip machete referred to in the following is the #32L from Martindale, 445 g, balance points of 12 cm (to grip) and 16.5 cm (from middle of index finger). It is the second from the bottom in the following picture :

    http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sstamp/im...ndale_long.jpg

    This blade tapers distally, and the edge grows more acute as well. Measurements of the edge profile were taken near the handle, in the middle and in the tip :

    0.080 x 0.085 -> 25.2
    0.060 x 0.090 -> 18.4
    0.035 x 0.085 -> 11.6

    Near the tip, it approaches the profile of the Golok, but grows more obtuse further back. The traditional machete referred to in the below comment is the #23L from Martindale (last one in the above picture). It has a 61 cm blade, weighs 630 g, and has balance points 23, and 29 cm. Its edge measurements :

    0.061 x 0.115 -> 19.8
    0.075 x 0.123 -> 17.0
    0.051 x 0.118 -> 12.2

    It is a little more obtuse than the Golok near the tip, and significantly more as the edge runs back along the blade. The details of the other blades used, Tramontina Bolo, Busse Battle Mistress, 18" Ang Khola, 20" Sirupati, etc., can be found in the various reviews. The Battle Mistress was modified by me again late last year, so its edge is now ~20 degrees included. Otherwise the other blades are as described previously. All knives were sharpened before the cutting, usually on waterstones + CrO, and could readily shave and slice paper, unless otherwise noted.

    Grass :

    When the main body of the blades was used, few did well and a lot of grass was mashed rather than cleanly cut. The optimal method for such blades was to use the tips in sweeping motions, generating a slice through the tips, a lot of wrist action. Obviously when standing this doesn't allow much height to be cut (with the exception of the long traditional machete), so you have to sort of kneel down and "duck walk", to trim the grass close to the ground.

    The Battle Mistress is the only blade to be able to push cut the grass. Using a flat grip, thumb on blade flat, I can wrist flick through the grass and cleanly cut along the entire blade. This is just due to the very high sharpness as the last time I sharpened it I was experimenting with seeing just how far I could go, and the edge can catch hair above the skin. The 18" Ang Khola is next, as it has the next best sharpening job. It doesn't do as well as the BM, but is clearly ahead of the other blades.

    Next is the wide tip machete. It can't do the lopping of the first two, however the expansive tip allows the most productive sweeping stroke. I would pick the traditional machete for extended use of this type, as I can just stand up and cut the grass while walking. It does some tearing, but even with its lower edge finish, it is still a lot easier than bending over and using the shorter blades. Of course it could also be given a better sharpening to the BM "hair popping" level, to raise its performance.

    No problems with handle security or comfort, obviously the 18" Ang Khola is overkill for grass, and a scythe would be more productive than any of the above blades, many to one.

    Leafy vegetation (hollow stems up to 3/4" thick, apple like consistency) :

    The Golok is clearly ahead in terms of cut resistance over the Martindale machetes. Its not due to the thinner profile, or back swept edge, as the 18" Ang Khola was just as smooth, and the BM slightly better. Again sharpness is critical. For extended use, I would again pick the traditional machete as it allows full cuts to the ground with no bending. Next would be the Golok, as even though it cuts as well as the 18" Ang Khola, it isn't as heavy and why burden yourself. However, if I was doing the cutting on unworked ground, the 18" Ang Khola would be a lot more forgiving to whacking the edge off a rock which I did twice during the cutting (both with Martindale machetes, edge impaction only). After doing some limbing with the Golok (couple of hundred impacts) I again repeated this work, and even the small difference in sharpness was easily noticable (compared to the 18" Ang Khola again which didn't see any wood cutting).

    Techniques:

    The BM was held by the rear talon to get maximum reach (short 10" blade), a lot of wrist action was used. Not that comfortable of a grip, but the resistance is so low there is little hand strain. The Golok also ran with mainly wrist snip, but using a full grip on the handle just behind the blade. The wide tip machete was used in a similar manner, however the traditional machete got a lot of elbow and shoulder action. The khukuris of course were using in a similar manner, as wrist snapping on these heavier blades generates a rather high rate of fatigue.

    Soft and small wood, < 1/2" Alders (softer than clear white pine) :

    All of the blades were used on the wood just after the soft vegetation, so none had been significantly dulled (except for the Golok near the tip, more on that below), and all were still very sharp.

    The thicker blades like the 18" Ang Khola and Sirupati could cut all the Alders in one stroke, even the thickest ones, however there was a lot of shock transferred to the plant as the thicker blade wedged through the cut. A significant difference could be seen when repeating a cut on the same piece of Alder with one of the blades with a thinner edge cross section. This difference would of course be amplified on thicker Alders, they grow to about 3" thick at maximum around here. The Golok and BM were similar in cutting ability, significantly smoother than the khukuris. The greater reach of the Golok would have me pick it over the Battle Mistress. I could also get a much more comfortable grip on the fuller handle of the Golok, though again, this work is so light grip comfort isn't a real factor. The machetes are very close in performance, though slightly under, and again, the extra reach of the traditonal machete would lead me to pick it for extended work.

    Slightly bigger and denser wood, limbing white pine :

    The stiffness of the wood is drastically increased, and thus a heavier swing with the khukuris can take advantage of their greater mass and blade heavy balance. The 18" Ang Khola is an excellent limbing blade, though it does take more force to achive the same level of cutting ability as the Golok, which can do the same cutting with a light wrist snap. The machetes are of similar cutting ability, but there is a lot of vibration induced, and this will start to generate strain effects on your grip with extended use. The Battle Mistress is rather low on the list here simply because it is so short, though its cutting ability easily with the top blades. The Golok was the only blade to take damage during this light limbing (working from the base to tip always along the trunk on live limbs).

    Thick and soft wood, 3-6" white pine :

    A huge difference can be seen here comparing the blades with the primary grinds to the flat stock machetes. The penetration is actually pretty similar with all blades, however the way in which they work in the wood, as well as the shock that you feel is drastically different. The Golok for example matches the raw penetration of the Tramontina Bolo (its at 92 +/- 5% though 13 sections of wood), however the Golok is favored a large time advantage as well as a lower fatigue rate as it doesn't bind nearly as much. The Golok is also strong enough to pry out chips when knots prevent the wood from clearing while the Bolo just bends. The khukuris are the leaders here as they don't bind at all, and readily clear chips out. I'll get a few numbers to estimate the binding when I repeat the chopping a few times (forgot my watch on the above run). Again, similar to the above there is a drastic difference in technique. The Golok gets wrist snaps, while the heavier and thicker blades get more powerful swings with a lot of heavy wrist drive in the cut. Several knots where cut through, no damage noted.

    Edge retention and durability :

    None of the above was enough to induce andy blunting outside of the rock impacts and the odd behavior of the Golok. In detail, a light file test indicates that the primary edge on the Golok seems to be at least as hard as the Martindale machetes, maybe even harder, the sharpened back edge is very soft. However the edge rolled even on the light vegetation (some stalks were dry and hardened), and took visible dents on the rather light limbing (up to 1 mm or so deep ~0.030" thick), yet handled the knots fine and remained shaving sharp through ~200 chops in the pine. The reason for the contradiction - the forging has left scallops out of the edge in places so it is in fact hollow ground, and these hollows extend up to 1 cm in height. The edge is very weak at those points and easily dented. The very tip is also either underhardened or left that way intentionally as it keeps rolling under very little impact. All four outings so far have left the tip with visible rolling for 1-2" or so reducing its light cutting ability to basically nothing. The blunt patch in the middle of the blade has been reduced to ~1/2" in length after three complete sharpenings (which were what revealed the hollows) .

    Handle :

    The grip on the Golok is one of its strong features. It is secure and comfortable, though some might find the carvings abrasive. It however cracked during the pine bucking, right through to the back of the handle, which propogated down about 1". The tang appears to be left squarish, which isn't good for shock absorption at the tang/grip juncture.

    Lots more to come, including more thick chopping, pine as well as some larger Alders, heavier limbing as well as various more precise cutting and some edge retention work.

    -Cliff

  11. #11
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    Good points, Cliff!
    I was doing a bunch of work with the parang lading yesterday and performance went from very low on thin soft stuff to extremely high after sharpening well. It sort of hurt to mark up that beautiful damascus blade, but I'll learn to re-etch.. I expect far more when I get it really sharp - as you say performance on small stuff is directly related to sharpness. It takes a while to get the edge into shape on a hand hammered blade. The big thing here is user safety when confronted with the sort of jungle that's taken over here in logged off swamps. Everyone has to remember that the first hit on a leg with a razor sharp blade will probably be the last one if you are far from help.
    It's great that you brought out the fact that sharpening the golok takes time, due to the hammered blade being of variable thickness. I think that people will learn a lot about the blade by sharpening. The fast way of course is to use a small belt grinder, but a coarse honing stone with handle for $9 CAN works well to straighten things out, for later polishing up. Once things are straightened out - edge holding goes up dramatically.

    Along the same lines - I haven't had any problems with handle cracking on the two blades I have - despite a lot of cutting. Watch out for that crack and flying blades! I can have my spare to you in a few days if you want. We want to be talking to you, not about you! On the heavier stuff there's going to be a lot of torque on the blade.

    Due to the method of zone hardening with clay, hardening the tip would probably be a detriment for people who hit stones and such while cutting. It's probably better left softer for most users. I'm with having it hard because I'm pretty careful - and it would be simple to make it that way.

    Wandi has offered to get some test blades made up, and I'm seeing possible modifications even with the review thus far - and with what I've done. The parang has the advantage of being tip heavy - but the extra few inches of blade length counts for a lot too, in getting through small stuff. Here I have the problems of wanting to cut paths through some soft but very thick vegetation (you can't push through it)and still needing the capability of chopping some much thicker and harder wood.
    I'm wondering about the handle. A full tang leads to a lot of shock coming back through the handle. The cast aluminum handled Barteaux I have may be indestructible - but a day's cutting with it toasts my arm, and I'd suspect most wouldn't make a day's cutting. As I've said, I haven't had any problems with handles so far - but I pretty quickly came upon the technique of letting the weight of the blade do the work - and it's pretty darned effective with a drawing cut. I'd suspect that wandi is going to be puzzled with handle cracking - and it may be that most users have either been using the blades for casual use - or even with heavy duty choppers - using the blades with a very different technique. Then again horn is a natural material and must vary. Singularity has done a lot of chopping with a number of blades too and it'll be interesting to hear what he's got to say.
    So remember the offer - we want to see you finish this!

  12. #12
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    Jimbo :

    I'm wondering about the handle.
    I have used six HI khukuris without a crack, but others have had multiple cracks in a row. It is a factor with natural materials used for high impact work. As I noted, it can be repaired without too much trouble, so just make sure to inspect the handle on a regular basis and take care of any cracks as quickly as possible.

    On the heavier stuff there's going to be a lot of torque on the blade.
    Yes, on some of the pine, there were knots in the middle of the chop, which prevented the wood from clearing, so I just broke them out with a twist of the blade. The crack is on the side which you would expect the force to concentrate. This is the worse way to do this of course, it is far more sensible to use another chop or two, to clear out the knot directly. This was just a worse case type of use. It is what beginners
    tend to do.

    ... I pretty quickly came upon the technique of letting the weight of the blade do the work - and it's pretty darned effective with a drawing cut.
    Yes, there is no doubt that I was using more force than necessary for what I was doing. If I wasn't trying to compare two blades, but rather just buck up some wood I would be using far less force, simply because the fatigue rate is much lower, and control is better. It is just hard to compare at a set let of force which isn't the maximum, as that is obviously fairly easy to set. Plus again I wanted to examine the effect of very heavy use, again mainly a concern when loaning the blade to an inexperienced person who over hits.

    I spent a couple of hours yesterday with the Golok and the Tramontina Bolo with the intention of getting some specific numbers on the effect of binding. Of course Murphy stepped in and I could not bind a blade at all. Binding is generally maximized when your cuts are not inline, and I could not miss yesterday, which then stuck me as really amusing as I was getting frustrated with a lack of technique problems.

    I then intentionally made some really bad chops to see how the blades fared. One of the worse miss hits, in regards to wedging, is to miss your line and cut directly into the cut path on the other side. Doing this with the Golok the balde could still be readily worked out, just a second or two delay. However the Bolo would wedge that strongly I had to brace the wood and take it out. Thus the Golok has a many to one advantage and you can one or two extra hits with the Golok while you are working the Bolo out (which also requires more effort), and thus on very binding wood (knotty spruce), the Golok would pull ahead in regards to time.

    As an extreme case, if your cuts don't break out the wood (knot in the middle), and you follow your lines and deepen the cut going under the knot, you can induce binding so greatly with the Bolo that it can't be worked out. The blade cuts about 2" deep on pine which is further than its width, so on the second cut, the blade will have 2"+ of pine on top of it which will press in over the spine and wedge it tight. The only way to remove it, short of chopping it out, it so brace the wood, put a large flex in the blade to work the spine free, and pry it out. The wood can't catch on the Golok in the same way because of the nature of the primary grind - dual convex.

    After one of the above binding tests I went back to regular chopping and noticed the performance of the Golok had seriously degraded. I then switched chopping impact location and worked out near the tip. The performance shot back up, so I figured that I had worked through some very bad bark. It was getting dark so I could not check the edge, it felt ok though. When I got home I checked it out in detail and the reason for the performance loss was that the blade had a large bend.

    I put the blade across my knee and pulled on it to induce a slight bend. The blade had little spring qualties, and retained the bend which was quite extensive and basically throughout the body of the blade. I managed to straighten it out by working it back and forth until it was back to true. I would guess that not very much of the blade is hardened beyond the edge, so a lot of it is at the hardness of the spine which is fairly low. It is still a lot stiffer than a 1/8" machete, but no where near as springy. I would vastly prefer a spring tempered back. Jimbo if you could pass this along I would be interested in any manufacturer comments.

    Just a word about the profile, as it can't be stated strongly enough. This is the highest perfomance geometry I have seen in a production wood working blade and will in fact easily outcut many small folders which are regrded as high performance cutters. It is the equal of the ABS bowies like what I used by Ray Kirk. The cutting performance will be many to one over something like the Cold Steel Trailmaster. If you have not done any extensive edge modifications yourself, you will be in for quite a shock when you compare the cutting performance of this blade to the common "tactical" profiles on current large fixed blades. There are some durability concerns though with harder wood working, as well as inclusion impacts, which I'll look into shortly comparing it to some other blades (Tramontina Bolo and Martindale Machete), I have some light cutting to do first though, wood whittling and rope cutting.

    There are some problems, such as they are likely to require an initial sharpening to bring out the full cutting performance, and a more extensive shaping to remove any hollows, but once this is done, the performance will be very high. The only real concern is if you get a large hollow right in a spot where you tend to chop, so after your sharpening take care where these points exist and try to work around them. The other problems like edge chipping as reported by Glen Jones ( <a href="http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=205701&perpage=20">ref</a>) and the handle problems I described, are I would expect just QC issues, not standard. If the shallow hardening as on this one is standard, that would be a concern for heavy chip removal in dense wood (or other dedicated prying of course), but otherwise, no chopping is going to induce a bend.

    As a side note, the sharpened top edge strikes me as very odd. It can't effectively chop anything, as it is too obtuse (same performance as the Cold Steel shovel) , and the metal is so soft that it would get chewed up badly on rock type contacts for really heavy work like root chopping (look at this later to verify). What is worse is that it gets into the way preventing the use of the blade as drawknife, or splitting, or just pressing on the blade to work through some food prep. The first few inches of the blade also don't have the edge formed and this part would be useful for precision cutting such as preparing tinder, or any light shaping.

    -Cliff

  13. #13
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    I'm guessing that you like the golok... The main point that you 've shown so clearly though is that when something doesn't feel right - usually something bad is going on. A tool is just one part of the situation - user - tool combination. We often cut in poor light, dangerous stuff, whatever - and sometimes the "feel" of the tool or what you are cutting is what's going to save you. While it's important for you to continue with the example that you are testing, It's important that most people never work with a tool with handle cracks (even fixed) or blades that have bent. So same offer to you and a warning to everyone else, because I doubt that many have your cutting experience. You don't get survival insurance with a survival golok or any other blade - but even an inexpensive blade that you have the "feel" of will give you more of an advantage than many would believe. To let a defect like a bent blade compromise that is not good and why I promote inexpensive tools, that are easily replaced.

    Up until now, I guess wandi's customers have mainly been collectors and martial artists. He's been very straight up on asking for heavy duty tests and honest comments. He's also very busy right now with customs (I can just guess the fun of being a dealer in martial arts blades and dealing with customs), and new computers. That's why I did most of the information stuff on knifeforums by emailing him and posting his replies. He's also pretty flooded with orders since Singularity fired things up.
    The bottom line here is that he's marketed a new design of golok and had to wait for lots of input to see how it worked out. Being a pretty proud guy in trying to sell the best product at the best price, I'm sure that he's going to take the suggestions here to heart.
    It's just going to take a while to get the whole story on blade metal, etc - while he straightens things out over there with computers and such. when I think I've got it tough here with a lot going on - I think of what it must be like for him!

    Blade sharpeness is a huge issue because if the goloks are to remain inexpensive people have to be prepared to sharpen them, themselves. It's the Mora knife issue all over again. As with the Moras you might just get a scary sharp blade. Generally though the sharper it is the more likely the edge won't hold. A LOT of work is required to straighten the edge and remove old bevels. If a person takes a common sanding pad with some fine emery cloth and polishes the grind marks on just about any knife - lots of defects will show up. The amount on more inexpensive blades will boggle the mind. But - it just takes a lot of work to get an edge that impresses with both sharpness and edge holding. I'm very happy with the goloks that I've sharpened (most would say a major reprofile job) but a $9 (Canadian) Mora is what really shows what can be done.
    I'm sure that some will be laughing about the grass cutting with a kuk and golok - but on survival blades where you might need to harvest a whole bunch of reeds ferns etc with similar characteristicas in being difficult to cut - it's a test of vital significance. It's also where large blades show potential over a hatchet. Harvesting a bunch of fir branches for stripping and making a browse bed is also easier with a very sharp blade. It's hard to cut the branches safely with a less than very sharp blade.
    I'd doubt that wandi is going to want to make the 2" next to the handle really sharp, due to safety and inexperienced users - but it's well worth the owner doing so. It's a major job unless you have a belt grinder, but you absolutely need an acute sharp bevel to get good curling fuzzy sticks. The golok works surprisingly well when properly set up - so it might be that wandi will see the use of proper profiling even if he doesn't want sharp edges close to the hand.
    Over here, a flat back is just as effective for knocking off dead conifer branches, and would make the blade a lot more practical for other uses. The back on mine is obviously harder than yours - and that's also a QC issue to be worked out.

    I can beat you on bent blade experiences. I've had a 3 3/4" laminated Mora for some time. After some heavy duty sharpening I got beyond the chipping edge problem and even batoned it through seasoned wood. And I've used it extensively. The other day though I noticed that it was bent when I took it out of the pack - very bent. I was very puzzled as to how it could have got that way until I used a crack in a log to straighten it. I've never seen anything take so little force to straighten! Obviously I have never seen the need to pry with that knife - and now I'm really puzzled as to how well it stood up to batonning.
    The point here is that I've never thought to check the springiness or lack of it on the goloks, since all has worked well in chopping and removing chips. Good point to bring up! Strangely mine appear springy as I just did some very minor tests... We'll have to get a bunch of people to check this out - to get a large sample!

    I'm amazed, Cliff. You've brought out more solid issues in a short time than we've been able to. Wandi should be very pleased in having some solid recommendations in making up a set of samples - as he's offered to do.

  14. #14
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    Cliff,

    I did not answer before because I was sick and occupied by some other projects:

    http://www.knifeforums.com/ubbthread...c=1&PHPSESSID=

    Thanks for a lot of valuable information !
    I sure like this blade, and it seems it did you a good impression. Sorry to hear for the handle, surely a QC problem, as the gap in the beginning was already bad news.

    I confirm the sharpening is very important, as well as making the profile right (check the Hitam review in the (Golock vs khukuries thread)

    Talking about QC, I have not seen any problem in all the blades I got, the tangs were level with handles.

    To continue with all of this, I'll check the hardness of the spine again, it did not seem that soft on mine. I used the false edge to trim bamboo banches from the trunk, brilliant, as the other edge would just bite and make a mess. I also splitted bigger pieces with no problems...

    Wandi has some with flat backs...

    more later...

  15. #15
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    Occupied! I'll say!

  16. #16
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    Jimbo :

    Blade sharpeness is a huge issue because if the goloks are to remain inexpensive people have to be prepared to sharpen them, themselves.
    Yes, and I think this is more than reasonable when you consider you are getting a hand forged product with a cutting profile of similar class to ABS bowies in the $300+ range. Most high end sharpening services will cost you a large part of what this blade does. With some work to smooth out the major hollows and grind a fresh edge you will have a blade that will pretty much sets a standard for cutting performance. I am not saying that the profile is at its limits, however to go much lower would restrict its usage too much for the general market. Right now it is at a level where you can be a little sloppy and abusive as I noted in the above and still do little harm to the blade.

    I'm sure that some will be laughing about the grass cutting with a kuk and golok ...
    Yes, no doubt. On the end I used my 22" Ang Khola and repeated the grass and light vegetation cutting. This is quite a large blade, 3+ lbs. It is at the extreme of the point I was making in the above in that it could still do all the cutting well as it was freshly sharpened, a little above the 18" AK actually, but the fatigue rate was very high due to the fact that the vegetation didn't do much to slow the blade down so you had to stop it at the end of the swing which takes far more energy than starting it. The Golok would have a many to one advantage here as you would be stopping constantly with the khukuri to allow your strength to recover.

    As you noted there are lots of reasons why you may want to cut a lot of very light vegetation and thus you would want to chose your blade accordingly. I generally don't go into a lot of details like this is that I would prefer the reader to think about the performance, what they need, instead of me telling them what they should be looking for. I just give some performance information and they have to decide out of all of it what is relevant to them, what they want a blade to do. This of course means you need to know this which is where experience comes in. And this is where these threads come into play as we can get users feedback along those lines and had out what blade would be preferred for what kinds of general use.

    It should be stated again that there is a large difference in the swings used in a khukuri, bowie, hatchet and the golok, and thus different body types (and physical abilities) will prefer different blade types so the chopping performance could vary quite a bit from the above. This is something that could be discussed in great detail in and of itself.

    It's also where large blades show potential over a hatchet.
    I knew there was a large hole that I left out. A quality hatchet is a tremendous performer on felling, limbing and bucking wood. For shelter sized wood, plus what you need for burning, you can equal the cutting performance with a decent knife (the above Golok easily does), however on larger wood the hatchet will pull ahead strongly (many to one), though cutting down wood of that size is both dangerous and of course wasteful, so I would avoid it unless necessary. The hatchet of course makes a better makeshift maul and splitter. Where is really lacks is the light vegetation cutting. It is not because the cutting ability is low, but that the edge length is short so you are far less productive, plus of course it is far more blade balanced and fatigue will be high unless you grip right under the head which doesn't give you much reach.

    I'd doubt that wandi is going to want to make the 2" next to the handle really sharp, due to safety and inexperienced users - but it's well worth the owner doing so. It's a major job unless you have a belt grinder, but you absolutely need an acute sharp bevel to get good curling fuzzy sticks.
    Yes, there is a decent amount of material that needs to be removed, however I would agree that the performance would increase significantly when this is completed. You can just go further out on the blade, but this induces a leverage disadvantage, and why strain your wrist when you don't have to. What I have been doing is simply concentrating in that region when sharpening, 5:1 over the rest of the blade, so the sharpened part is moving down at a decent pace. I will fully sharpen it once I take it to the sander to remove the hollows, the critical part here is actually going to be not increasing the curvatue, so you will have to go very light.

    The back on mine is obviously harder than yours ...
    Yes, I would expect variance here, you just want to set a tolerance level. You are only going to see the effect of this on harder wood working where the user is vigerously twisting the blade, or of course wants dedicated prying ability for what ever reason. I'll get the blade RC tested from edge to spine after I finish working with it. It will need to be destroyed to do so as the convex profile will have to be removed to get flat surfaces.

    [laminated mora]

    I've never seen anything take so little force to straighten!
    The outer parts are basically unhardened steel so you are just bending the center core which is about as thick as as the blade in one of those snap-off cutters. I bent one such blade just by whittling very hard on plastic. They do cut very well though I prefer the fully hard forged blades for durability reasons. The japanese also use very soft outer laiminates, again lateral loading there isn't a concern because the blades are never used in a manner in which this would happen.

    Singularity :

    I'll check the hardness of the spine again, it did not seem that soft on mine. I used the false edge to trim bamboo banches from the trunk, brilliant, as the other edge would just bite and make a mess. I also splitted bigger pieces with no problems...
    To clarify, the false edge on this one doesn't seem to be spring tempered, it is still much harder compared to any material you are likely to cut. I did some limbing and general hacking with it with no problems, but considering how robust the profile is on this one, this isn't likely anyway. The lack of hardness is of practical significance in the lack of spring, and overall stiffness. I might trim it down on the sander to get a decent level of cutting ability, about 15 degrees per side gives enough robustness for the hardest limbing on blades of 45+ RC so I'll see how this one holds.

    -Cliff

  17. #17
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    Things are still pretty busy around here, but a few thoughts as I find time.
    One the large survival goloks that I got a few days ago, the edges are variable. On the one I took out ot use, the edge was able to slice paper for its whole length - and I noticed when looking closely that it had a slight secondary bevel. I've been trying this one on thin vegetation to compare with a parang. It did very well. I'd started to sharpen by hand - but got busy yesterday and so took the belt grinder to it to remove the secondary bevel and straighten things out. Obviously as you make the edge more acute, performance shoots up on thinner stuff as the material gets cut before it can flex.
    I am puzzled though on how well an edge with medium polish works. I've used a scythe and conventional wisdom has always been that you need a toothy edge to cut fine vegetation with a sweeping cut. I'm not quite old enough to have used a wooden scythe hone which is a block of wood covered with grease and sand - but scythe hones now are just the coarse "garden hones". I'm finding that with the golok, that the more the edge is polished, the better it works on a variety of thin vegetation. It's probably just due to the speed of the swing of the blade compared to the slow swing of a scythe. Any thoughts on this?

  18. #18
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    The critical question here is how are you cutting the material. If you are drawing the blade across it, inducing a large slicing motion, they you can benefit from the sawing action of a coarse finish. Of course the material has to be stiff enough to allow you to saw it. This is why you can't shave very well with a coarse finish, as hairs are not stiff enough to saw well.

    On the other end, some materials are that dense that they don't saw very well with teeth of the size of a hone finish, most woods for example. You can't lay a blade on a piece of Pine and just slice across it and expect a very deep cut, but the same action will cut through a head of lettuce with greater ease than a push cut.

    Scythes are still used around here, not a lot but you will find them on occasion. About a dozen or so in a small town (1000 people). The edges are usually not sharp enough to push cut grass, but can only cut it when the grass is drawn along the blade. Of course due to the curvature this is the action that is induced when the scythe is used, similar to sickles such.

    I tend to run bush blades at a very high polish because this is what works best on woods which is the main thing I cut, and if the profile is very fine, and the blade very sharp, the same finish will work very well on lighter vegetation. A more coarse finish just allows you to be sloppier and get a decent level of cutting ability on such.

    That being said there are all manner of vegetation and thus it isn't hard to imagine types that would not be well cut by a push and need an aggressive slicing action thus would want a lower grit finish. Something with a very stringy rope like consistency, we simply don't have anything like that around here.

    -Cliff

  19. #19
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    I finally finished up the hardwood dowel cutting with the Golok last night. It took on average 7.3 +/- 0.5 slices to point the dowel. This is very high cutting ability, approaching the level of light use hunters, which you would expect as the profile is very fine. The main thing that limits the performance is the unsharpened region in front of the handle. You have to cut further out on the blade and this creates a torque disadvantage. If this region was fully sharpened, the cuts would be reduced to below five I would estimate.

    I used a belt sander (40 grit ZO), to remove all the hollows and put a smooth convex profile on the blade. The hollows were concentrated in the region I saw denting during the limbing in the above, which is what I expected. It took ~20 minutes to completely smooth out the profile, but it was only this long because I had to go very light as otherwise I would increase the bevel curvature and thus lower the cutting ability. I had to lean into the spine of the knife in order to run it flat enough to match the profile. I didn't actally decrease the width any amount, so in fact I ended up thinning the profile just a hair. I took some measurements and they were slightly under the above.

    I forgot to mention in the above, that as expected, the corrosion resistance is fairly low. I just tend to oil the edge and the flats took a patina rapidly. The good thing about full convex bevels though is that you are constantly polishing off any rust as it forms.

    -Cliff

  20. #20
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    Cliff:
    You're absolutely right on the edge coarseness for softer stuff. The problem around here is that all plants are in competition for light in regrowth areas. I saw some common hedge nettles that were higher than I could reach with an extended arm. Some stuff relies on the support of the plants around it, and so the stems stay soft and can be sawed. Other stuff like the devil's club develops a hard outer layer to support heads of huge maple like leaves. It has stems that run along the ground for up to 15' then when sufficient daylight is present just shoot up in the air for up to 10' You wonder how the stems could be tough and stiff enough to resist the stresses - until you try cutting it.
    That first couple of inches on the blade is critical - and well worth profiling to be really useful. I've been trying to remember who first posted the point of marking a long blade with permanent marker of blueing - then seeing where the most wear took place. It's very critical around here that you can make fuzzy sticks with fuzzes that curl (just shows they're really thin) out of any dry wood. I just continue reprofiling until the golok does that. For larger kindling I just take a long branch, start the cut with the first part of the blade, and then take a long slice with the blade at 45 degrees. Works fast and easy. The length of the blade allows very long slices so you end up with a bunch of kindling in a hurry.
    I have to reluctantly agree with what you said about hatchets. I was busy dropping alders for firewood last night, and I'll only use a long axe for that now. Some trees are so likely to springboard that just because you could drop them with a hatchet, doesn't mean that you are going to survive very long. I've been meaning to revise my pages about batonning because that really is far more hazardous even than using a hatchet.
    I have a lot of work to do to see exactly what's needed in a long blade to rival the efficiency of a hatchet in splitting dead lower conifer branches of about five feet. This is critical in winter here, and is so fast and safe with a hatchet.
    Off to look for good Iltis axes! That's a task about on par with seeking to find Excalibur.

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