Getting the Kobra out of its den (or in)


Mar 28, 2001
I just received the 20" Sanu Kobra, a beautiful piece of workmanship. the blade balances very nicely and is very quick as others have noted.

I am having to use an extreme amount of force to sheath or unsheath it however (read hold the sheath against the ground w/one hand and pull w/the other). This appears to be due to the blade shape relative to the sheath, i.e. the edge og the blade at the bend and the point are hitting at the same time causing a bind. Any thoughts on improving this are appreciated.

"A man who chops his own wood warms himself twice"

Greg Z. 4/12/01
Do a search on tight sheaths. This seems to be a common problem due to humidity differences between Nepal, Reno, and your location.

I have not tried the more extreme remeadies as I have not had a really tight sheath. I find that oiling the blade and working it often is sufficient to loosen the scabbard. Also, using a leather conditioner such as lexol (with heat) or Neat's foot oil will relax the sheath enough for me.

Yeah, like Will Kwan said. Also please be sure that the back of the khukuri (spine) is
making solid contact with the inside of the
scabbard, NOT the blade edge contacting with the inside of the scabbard as you withdraw
the Khukuri. Remedial tip, I know, but an
important one...

Here is a link with a 'quick draw lesson':
Trimming the leather on the inside of the scabard mouth worked just fine for me on the 2 khuks of mine that were difficult to draw.
My old pal and customer who has 800 khukuris actually made a special tool -- long piece of flat stock, about 1/8 inch, and equipped with very coarse sandpaper on each side -- for routing out tight scabbards. I guess when you have 800 it's worth making a special tool.

It's wood and leather adjusting to environment and there is no easy way around this.

Blessings from the computer shack in Reno.

Uncle Bill
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The sandpaper on a stick is working out very well. I have it just about right. I also liberally doused the sheath with Lexol so that should help some too.

Thanks for the input. Greg Z. 4/13/01

"Attack where they are unprepared"
Yeah, I just got my 25" Kobra today and am having that same problem. This really doesn't seem like a humidity problem. I just don't think this sheath was made to accomodate this blade. If you just hold the blade up to the scabbbard, it is obvious. The scabbard is way too tight around the curved part. It's amazing I didn't destroy the scabbard pulling this blade out and I can't imagine ever getting it in again without a hammer.

I can't imagine that water, wedge or oil will make much of a difference here so I suppose I'll try taking a dremel to the spine-side of the mouth. I can't ruin what I would only throw out anyway. I don't think sanding the inside will really make a difference since this is more an issue of angle, rather than tightness. And quite frankly, I think that a loose scabbard is far better than a tight one. There are a million ways to secure a blade in a loose scabbard whereas a tight scabbard just makes the blade useless.

If I order another blade, in the future, does anybody know if I can request I loose sheath? My 15" Ang Khola's scabbard has a real nice fit but I'm really disappointed in the Kobra because of this. I know, it's the blade that is important, and that does seem nice, but now I either have to shell out more money or more time and I don't want to do either. I'm also kind of disappointed that I paid for a Kumar Kobra and got Kami with no name instead. I read a post, after I ordered, that said this might happen but this is my second blade that I can't associate with a specific Kami. Part of the reason I got the Kumar Kobra was so that I could do this for comparison's sake if nothing else. Oh well, my AK is a cooler knife anyway. I'll just concentrate on that for now. Maybe I'll get a custom job someday with a longer handle, loose sheath and perhaps, a smaller cho. But that's months down the line right now. All I can say for now is that any 2x4s better think twice before robbing my house!


With regards to getting a Kobra made specifically by Kumar, Uncle Bill can't really help you there. Kumar is no longer with HI and has gone on to seek greener pastures. The kamis left are Bura, Sanu, Durba, and Mr. No Name. They are all top notch so you should have no worry.
Just a word of caution, fellas . . . when I got my 20" sirupati it took hard pulling with both hands to get it out of the sheath, after a week under the bed it was tight but manageable, and two weeks later it was about perfect. It felt just like the channel at the bend wasn't wide enough to let the knife turn around it.

I'm not looking at the sheath so it may just be grossly deformed, but I'd suggest you don't underestimate what a change in climate can do to a sheath made of natural materials . . . give it a little time before you make too many major mods; you might get left with a rattly sheath and that will probably be a harder fix.
As suggested, I'd give it a couple of weeks, Mal. They do tend to stabilize after they get all mixed up from the long journey here. If it is still too tight for your liking send it back and we will fix it here or send you another. And, we'll reimburse you for shipping expenses.

And, the kami with no name is actually a team of three kamis who work together on a part time basis at BirGorkha. They tend their farms as needed and work for cash when they can. We can get their names if need be.

Blessings from the computer shack in Reno.

Uncle Bill
Himalayan Imports Website
Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Archives (33,000 + posts)
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[This message has been edited by Bill Martino (edited 05-17-2001).]
Originally posted by Bill Martino:
It's a take your time proposition. Too much is no good either. Has to be just right.

I got my 25" Kobra about the time of the original post, and have done nothing but oil the blade, and a periodical attempt to sheath-unsheath, backing off if the force required seemed too great. The sheath has lain in the den now for most of a month, and I just tried it again on re-reading this thread (I swore I'd leave it and forget it, rather than get yancy and screw it up). The fit is tight at the curve, but not excessively so, and the blade sheathes and unsheaths very smoothly - there does not seem to be any pressure on the edge, at least not to the extent that it is cutting. This was not the case originally, as just a few more pounds would have (I think) done some damage. The difference over this time is dramatic. The results as they stand would be a useable eath, but a little tight. Another week or so may see it clear up entirely. The sheath, tooling, stitching, tip and all are _very_ well done and it would have been a crying shame if I had screwed it up for lack of patience.
Well, I'll wait it out a bit for now. It is a rainy day here but I live in a very dry town (Colorado Springs) typically, so it may never stretch enough. It's nice to know that others have had this same problem and that it can resolve itself over time.

Since I can't get the blade back in at all, I'll just leave it in as far as it will go for now. I'll try to push it in a little further each day.

Bill, thank you for your generous offer. I make a decent enough salary but I find I don't often buy things I want because I don't want to deal with the shoddy service of most companies (airlines are a prime example). It just becomes too stressful. You're always so good with service that it was a large part of the reason that I bought from you. I don't like to abuse a good thing and as such, I tend to not take advantage of good offers like yours unless the blade was broken in two upon arrival, but thank you for making it anyway. It's good to know that there are people in the world who make me less cynical and not more.

As for the Kami with No Name, I just wanted to be sure that I wasn't getting some first time Kami who is in training. I can see from the posts that this is not the case. It just kind of reminded me of when a director puts Alan Smithee as his name on a film because he doesn't want to be associated with it. The blades are real nice though and quality seems as good as advertised.

Thanks all for you advice!


I only have two questions about the Kami With No Name (s), and they don't concern quality (my 12" AK is as good as could be hoped for).
Anyhoo - do these guys show up as a group and gang up one one K at a time, or do they just share one Nepali "timecard" amongst them? On the cracked cho thread, the bowl of the butter lamp is blank. On my AK, there is a "/\" on the bowl, but the mark is otherwise identical. Inquiring minds (heh) want to know.
The best I know is the kami with no name guys show up as a team as they are neighbors and travel together. And, they work as a team sharing a single time card so to speak. If they mark their own blades it's a pretty crude looking butter lamp. If Bhimsen marks the blades for them the lamp looks like it has been done by a professional engraver -- which it has. They are good and know what they are doing.

Mal, there's a last ditch effort to stretch the scabbard by soaking it in water and then putting a wood wedge in it to stretch it out while it dries but before I did that I'd try shooting a generous amount of WD-40 down into the scabbard and see if that helps. This method sometimes works in Reno where it can get pretty hot and dry. The journey getting from Nepal to Reno is very stressful on both handles and scabbards. Once they get somewhere that is fairly constant in heat and humidity and not going from 99% humidity 100 degrees in Bangkok to 0% humidity and -50 in the airplane they stabilize some and tend to return to their original shape and size. But the offer to take care of the problem still stands and don't hesitate to use it if need be.

Blessings from the computer shack in Reno.

Uncle Bill
Himalayan Imports Website
Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Archives (33,000 + posts)
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My 20" Kobra was the same when I got it. Really tight where the bend is in the sheath.
I stripped the black Nepal shoe polish off with cotton balls and alcohol and then treated the entire sheath with baseball glove oil. I then let it sit overnight with the blade shoved as tightly in the sheath as possible.
Try doing this for a few nights to loosen it up.
If you want you can then leave the sheath as a cool dark brown color (because it has been stripped) or you can use KIWI black shoe creme and polish to put a really nice finish back on the sheath. I prefer the black... a little more water proof.

My 12" AK gave me no problem in this department... I think it is only a Kobra problem. Has anyone else had snake problems out there?