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In regards to failure phenomena

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by Karda, Jun 24, 2012.

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  1. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    I've been pondering and discussing these things with experienced people and the concensus seem to lie somewhere in the middle on this issue.

    Granted that during Dashein festival season we've had problems in the past and by the nature of this beast some manufacturing defects may slip thru our quality control. H.I. has often given the kamis time off before the season to mitigate problem in this area and has tried to mitigate any problems in this area as much as possible. Part of the problem has been getting supplies of the specific coal necessary for heat treat, all coal supplies have been in short supply and it has been a difficult task to deal with the problem. With that said, i feel that things have gotten better in that regard.

    Still i think the other mitigating circumstance should be addressed, It came up in a discussion here :

    and i recently found more supporting evidence for the idea i put out in that thread here (which also discusses the topic of bone chopping) :

    Please realise and understand that i'm not saying all failures can be attributed to user error, surely we do take responsibility for manufacturing defects, but we also realise that all failures may not be attributable to manufacturing defects and ask that our users be aware of unsupported chopping phenomenon and consider this before claiming that the H.I. quality control has slipped and that our khukuri are not the same quality as they have always been.

    Please discuss and ask questions. We are more than willing to help our customers understand.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  2. Gravelface

    Gravelface Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    I recently read a thread where a fella stated he more or less guides the Khukuri to the target, but allows the knife momentum to do the chopping, is this "unsupported chopping phenomenon" or does the UCP refer to a firm grip only. Also, is there a way to determine if damage is a result of equipment or user?
  3. Shinook


    Apr 2, 2012
    I would think it would be more about what you hit with what part of the blade rather then how you hold the knife.
  4. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    I think that UCP relates to follow thru more that anything, as i stated in hollowdwellers thread. I think it has more to do with the stresses on the blade from side to side movement when chopping, which would increase proportionally in relation to the hardness of what you're chopping. Basically it boils down to a steady follow thru, not using a khukuri you've honed to razor sharpness with it's thinner edge to chop hardwoods. Careful usage and proper maintenance, really. Sort of the reason why i advocate so vocally about not oversharpening and keeping a convex edge on your khukuri, as it's all related.
    I wouldnt think that guiding the khukuri would be the problem, but lax or wild follow thru would.
    The only way to really tell if it was a heat treat problem would be microscopic analysis of the breakage to see if any brittleness is presented. This wouldnt show, of course, if the steel is underhardened or unhardened. It's a quandry and a pain in the whatsis.... one we always do try to give our customers the benefit of doubt on.
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012
  5. shortwinger


    Apr 7, 2010
    Unsupported Chopping Phenomenon :eek: :barf: :confused: :eek:

    The kukri is a farm tool and any reasonable person would expect it to last and perform [no better and no worse] than any other farm tool. It seems like the kukri was able to keep up 100 years ago, 10 years ago, 8 years ago, 5 years ago and even 3 years ago; its only recently that there have been a rash of "issues."

    For the last 6 months - a year ago there have been "more than a usual amount" of hardness issues, this is a manufacturer problem not a user problem or an "unsupported chopping phenomenon" problem. From what I hear this is partly from lesser quality metals, less experienced kami and the "more grinding; less hammering phenomenon."

    I can only speak for myself but if I ever have a problem with any knife and see "unsupported chopping phenomenon" for an excuse, I will be out of the "buying from them business" quicker than crap through a goose! I would shelf that phrase as quick as possible or even delete this entire thread before it is the brunt of every knife joke for the next year or two!
  6. arbiter


    Jun 4, 2011
    Frankly, I think dishonest claims and carelessness are behind more damaged blades than many would like to think. Certainly,on occasion,a case of bad heat treatment may get out,but these smiths know what they are doing as can be demonstrated by every blade I have purchased from HI-even those made by "new" Kamis. Zero failures,even chopping at full strength into seasoned hardwood logs.Discernment is the key-when someone claims to have damaged a blade,and posts pictures of a cutting edge that is virtually destroyed with a log support made of T fence posts in the background,one needs to give some pause for thought before blaming the knife. Some may not like this posting,but truth can sometimes be unpleasant. Food for thought.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  7. jdk1


    Apr 21, 2010
    My personal issues have been related to blades being too soft, or softened through machine use. I've also seen this first hand with a friends HI khuk. I have to agree with Bill on the fact that these extremely thick and heavy blades should handle heavy chopping on wood without issue. Ultimately, if a Tramontina machete, SOG machete, ESEE Junglas, and CS Gurkha (these blades cover the hardness and thickness spectrum pretty well) can handle the same wood and technique, a heavier and thicker HI should as well. I can see exacting and cautious technique being all important if batoning a Mora, but it's hard to understand it as a factor when using two pound HI khuks for chopping. This is especially true when the user is an experienced khuk wielder like Hollowdweller. HI khuks MUST be able to withstand the same use as the above mentioned blades to be competitive. Period. Most of us own multiple HI khuks and can compare them on the same medium and with the same technique. This without a doubt can show a difference in manufacture. That's how I knew unequivocally my M43 was too soft.

    Unfortunately, these things point to QC and heat treat issues IMHO. HI and Yangdu have always made good on any issues I've seen or heard about, but it's a shame she has to deal with this. I think we all understand that with the techniques the kamis employ, historic/primitive, there will be occasional issues. That's where the great customer service comes in and makes the difference. But I think some things could be done to mitigate the problems in the first place. Namely:

    - Very careful and judicious use of any power tools, as over polishing/sanding has been an issue IMO. My ASTK seemed to have this issue also and it is a villager, which surprised me. Once sharpened, it was strong and hard, but the edge seemed a little soft before that.

    - TESTING prior to shipment. I strongly believe every field-rated HI khuk should be thoroughly tested prior to leaving Bir Gorkha. They should go through the testing regimen Uncle Bill so strongly recommended. Namely: the flex test, whack test, and chopping test. This would give the kamis and shop manager immediate feedback, which I believe is crucial in this case. Once the blades cross the ocean it's too late to salvage them. Plus, having the shop manager take a blade from a kami and hand it back to him after five minutes of testing with chips/rolls/bends/cracked bolster/etc. would be a strong incentive for them to get their act together. It would also help identify poor quality metal which could otherwise slip by unnoticed.

    I appreciate the opportunity to openly discuss these issues. I can't really see technique being the main factor with failures. I must confess I'm still learning about khuks and the proper ways to use them though. Still, I believe many folks here will think of the absolute abuse shown on BF every day in video and pics when this theory is brought up. ESEEs and Beckers are beat mercilessly without regard for angle or support, as well as being batoned into one another, and chips or severe damage seems rare. The success of HI is something we all want, so I feel all angles should be evaluated. Again, I'm glad we're discussing this as user feedback is paramount IMO. Thanks.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  8. jdk1


    Apr 21, 2010
    I also questioned this damage until a friend had something very similar happen with his ASTK. It was very odd. Take care.
  9. DiscusMan


    Jun 30, 2011
    Every blade I've owned but one has a chip or dent on the edge. Not an issue for me personally. I managed to torque my Farm Knife made by Tritha 10 degrees to the right, end half of the blade. But I twisted the blade while extracting it from a 12" x 12" block of cedar. Completely my fault, no complaints there. But it did BEND, not snap. I straightned it out no issue. I shouldn't have been chopping that with a Farm knife, but I knew that when I started. Any tool that you use will get dents and chips, hence the word "tool." I'm not saying it's all user error, but honestly some of it is user error. Every knife is different, has different strengths and weaknesses. I have never returned a blade to Yangdu due to a chipped edge or dent. Unless it developes a huge chip or snaps in half I won't. Frame a house with a $100 framing hammer and see if it isn't worn a little by the finish. Tools are tools. User error. But thats just my humble inexperienced opinion, no offense meant to anyone.
  10. Duzzy


    Sep 1, 2009
    I don't think a chipped edge should be considered normal "wear and tear" if it happens during a function the knife is designed to do. If my kitchen knives chipped out while chopping carrots I would be pretty upset. If they get ever so slightly duller after every few carrots that is a different matter, and I would consider that acceptable wear and tear. It also shouldn't matter what angle I choose to slice through those carrots with or whether or not I support the knife while cutting carrots. Any damage that happens should not come from the carrot (or any food product)--it should happen when the edge slams into something that isn't food because I was behaving like an idiot.
  11. crimsonfalcon07


    Dec 27, 2010
    I've never returned a blade. Have had a nice chip taken out when my wife snuck a glass bottle into the cardboard box I usually like to dice. But that's in the order of user error. That being said, I have seen a lot more threads about flaws, and I think it's definitely worth mentioning that my Beckers don't chip out, even hitting rocks or steel, which I'd think would be a lot tougher than a relatively fragile glass bottle. And the first HI that I got, my WWII, is a heck of a lot more durable than the newer ones. Holds an edge longer, etc. That speaks to me that there's been changes in the manufacturing process that aren't necessarily good. Heck, I've made knives that can hold up to unsupported chopping, etc, without chipping and rolling out.

    I still love HI, but I've been holding off on buying anything new until I am sure that these problems are sorted out. The chip on my UF, while it was definitely due to hitting something hard and unexpected, also doesn't exhibit nearly as fine of a grain structure as I think it probably should. I agree that a lot of failures are due to user error. But then again, I'm not convinced that the blades are the same quality as they used to be either.
  12. Howard Wallace

    Howard Wallace . Moderator

    Feb 23, 1999
    QA has been a challenge since the start. HI made it's rep when Bill and Kami Sherpa were individually checking out each knife, choosing only the best from what they could find in Nepal. Formal QA is somewhat of a foreign concept in Nepal. Bill took some stabs at implementing such, but they never took hold for various reasons. A search will probably turn up discussions in the archives.

    Proof testing, like with fine English shotguns, along with proof marks, is an idea I talked to Bill about several times. It should consist of at least a basic whack test, and a few chops to identify any dreadfully bad heat treat. This could be done prior to final finishing, overseen by an old and respected master kami who can no longer work the forge, and implemented by a burly young assistant. Of course, there would still be variations in heat treat, due to the traditional method used. Some of that would just need to be understood as acceptable variation.

    As I mentioned, something similar has been tried before and has not worked out. The challenges within the culture are non-trivial. I think this still remains as an opportunity for HI to go where no Nepalese manufacturer has gone before.
  13. tikkidaddy


    Jan 1, 2012
  14. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    I believe the problem is with the weight of some of the blades. HI tends to produce khukris which are far larger and thicker then traditional examples. As the size increases mass grows in three dimensions (length x width x thickness) while strength grows in two dimensions (the width and thickness of the cross section). So the larger the knife the more stress accumulates on the cutting edge until the cutting edge collapses. The solution would be to come up with better materials and heat treatments to absorb the extra stress or to reduce the thickness of some of these knives, or improve the skills of the user so that they consciously use these knives within their limitations rather then constantly apply full force blows which will damage the knife. Given that available heat treat is traditional and rudimentary and that HI uses 5160 of the equivalent "truck spring steels" I do not see an easy fix for improved materials. The best solution may be to put some of these knives on a diet, to shed excess weight which may be mostly useless since the edge cannot handle the additional strain anyway.

  15. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    I realise that this topic may bring up some controversy, some may feel uncomfortable and still others may feel that this is accusatory.
    That is not the intent, the intent here is to discuss the possibility of chipping/shearing because of lateral stresses during the act of chopping.

    Anyone taking the opportunity here to take potshots at H.I. are off base and should be a bit ashamed.

    H.I. has always been readily transparent and honest with it's customers, perhaps somtimes too transparent, as some of you seem to have an idea that you know more than you actually do about the goings on and processes at the shops. Those of you refraining from buying because of a run of failures that were acknowleged and replaced are truly missing out on some nice pieces and good deals due to perception/perspective and conjecture.
    As you should be aware, by the nature of this business, there will be a few failures. There is just no getting around that one, no matter how stringent our processes or QC can be. When we have a run of failures, such as we had a bit ago, we do take stock and step up to the plate to try to insure that it does not continue. As always our customers have been taken care of in these cases and the failures replaced.
    To say that at least some failures are not attributable to user error or poor/lax technique,UCP, neglect or other means is wishful thinking and fallacy. I probably have at least a few of these returned khukuri in my user roundup right now, which i've repaired and use, at least one of which i've beat the snot out of processing firewood. So far on these pieces i've yet to see more than the normal scuffing and damage attributable to such usage. I am quite judicious in my usage, i try very hard to make every stroke a proper shot and proper follow thru. I try very hard to minimise any wild strokes or hitting foriegn objects, rocks etc.... I always try tp follow the highest useage and care practices i can, when enjoying my khukuri. I respect my tools always, and always err on the side of caution during usage. I expect them to perform as a normal traditionally made khukuri.... Old Skool. I don't expect them to perform as anything more than that and i wouldnt be so crass as to compare them with anything other than a blade of comparble stature and materials or processes of manufacturing.

    With that said, i think the fact that i can use a returned khukuri as my own with no problems from it says something... and that is what i wish to discuss. Quite frankly, aside from that run that had everyone upset, there have been relatively few failures in the grand scheme of things and those problems we've had have been addressed.

    I fully believe that design, sharpness, usage and care....and technique are all intertwined in this matter. One cannot always blame manufacturing defect for these problems.

    The topic i wish to discuss is the idea of UCP (not my choice of monikers for this phenomena), because honestly, i find the idea does have merit, especially put in context with everything else.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  16. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    I know i addressed your email, but i would like to also state it here.....

    "No you arent making any mistake by buying H.I......
    We do everything we can to make a fine khukuri and in the event of problems take care of our customers wholly (as long as it's not user error or abuse). We always try to give our customers the benefit of doubt if user error or abuse is unclear. We are honest with our customers and choose to think that they are with us. (i can tell you that isnt always the case)
    Don't let the naysayers get to you, i try not to.... As with handmade items of this nature, there will be variation and also some failure, such is the nature of this business. We do all we can do to mitigate problems and stand behind our product. I hope you understand and choose to see for yourself, no matter what anyone says."

    I hope you all understand that we value each and every one of our customers and do our level best to take care of you.
    I hope you see that by posting this on forum for discussion that we also value your input when it concerns the product or perceptions of it.
    Try having this discussion with any other khukuri manufacturer......
    But i do feel that discussion needs to have proper perspective and one must look at the whole picture and not just base assumptions on what they see in a fraction of the grand picture.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2012
  17. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
    This is a different phenomena than i'm talking about, but one i've had questions about also.
    I'd call it the bigger, better, badder phenomena, for lack of a better term.
    It brings to question the expectations of users in regards to what is proper usage....
    Back in the day, when i first came here to BFC, there was alot of "tactical" and destruction videos touting the merits or lack thereof, of batonning and chopping wildly on things you really shouldnt subject your cutting tools to. Which leads most people to doing dumb things with high expectation of success and disappointment when the knife fails. Who is automatically blamed is the manufacturer, when it all actuality it is the end user at fault.

    What i see in this particular phenomena is that the kami's have given just what the customers requested.
    People wanted the biggest, baddest khukuri to also be laser sharp out of the box. Thick spines and laser sharpness are two things that arent necessarily a good thing to have together in one piece.
    Then we have the phenomena of people modifying their edges to other than what they came with and making them scalpel sharp, which is also another discussion in itself.

    I've often wondered if we shouldnt just give the kamis the ultimate decision to match dimension and sharpness according to their experience and knowledge. But the again we end up in the quandry of proper usage......
  18. Gravelface

    Gravelface Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 8, 2005
    About the edge modification, I have read several threads about folks whose edges are too hard and brittle so they have to grind the edge back to a "softer" temper area, then just the opposite with folks whose edges are too soft and have to grind back to expose harder material. How are folks to keep the "factory edge" if the "factory edge" is faulty? While I never had an issue with the blades I purchased (granted all of them were in 2007-08 ) I always had problems with the natural handle materials.....

    The idea of testing blades prior to shipping seems the most logical and easiest thing to do. I've never had a problem with a custom knife...the maker usually sends pictures of the knife in action prior to shipping. And the only issues I have run into were with production blades that don't get the personal love that hand made knives get. With HI products and ANY other product that claims to be of any quality "UCP" sounds more of an excuse. Have I just been unnaturally lucky with the hundreds of knives I've owned.....I've never had a knife fail on me due to my technique?

    I greatly appreciate open discussion of a taboo topic such as this.


    Jan 16, 2012
    "We do everything we can to make a fine khukuri and in the event of problems take care of our customers wholly (as long as it's not user error or abuse)."

    how do you determine " user error "?
  20. jdk1


    Apr 21, 2010
    The problem is that's all most people have to compare them to and that's really what people WILL compare them to in performance and integrity. The only other traditional khuks are made by Tora and the khukuri houses. All of us here know there's something special about HI khuks, but performance is performance. Also, in using returned khuks you just have to be sure you are using them on the same sorts of wood. It seems many people here on BF chop pine. Pine is quite soft compared to what I have around me, so that could be an issue with others as well. Enough on that.

    UCP. I don't know. They way I always understood is that a loose grip letting the momentum of the blade do the work was proper technique. The blade is not forced into the medium, but sort of propelled. Brought down by the shoulder, the elbow then takes over, and it's finished by a flick of the wrist. I only recently really understood this and used it to any effect. It works great, but sounds like what is being questioned. Having a few fingers around the pommel with the rest loose is how I chop now. This works well, but I'll never say I'm an expert on khukuri use. I don't see how this could cause a problem myself, but I'm always open to new information.

    Tikki, it's not a gamble dealing with HI. A refund or replacement is only an email away for a defective product. Take care.
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