khukuris cont.

Cliff Stamp

Oct 5, 1998
The other thread:

was getting a bit long so I'll add my comments here.

Cobalt, in regards to handle sizes I tend to like slimmer handles for precision work as I use a tight grip. When I am doing heavy work I like a thick handle like the MD TUSK. It allows me to use a more open grip which while having slightly less control, fatigues my hand a lot less. In any case I like all my handles really long, I would prefer even on folders to have the butt extend out past my hand as it makes for a more comfortable grip.

Rusty, looking forward to having a go at the Ontario products. For those interested I will be taking a look at their bolo, khukuri, and a couple of bowies. All durability testing will be done last. As for posting the details we worked out in email - feel free to add more detail to what I just said.

Craig, looking fowards to giving it a workout.

To those interested my new TUSK arrived so that will be in the mix as well. Also a very interesting tool, the Uluchet :

which if the lock holds, would be an excellent addition to any camping equipment finally making hatchets preform decently over a broad range of applications. And of course a commonly used tool, a 26" camping axe by Estwing, as a reference. It has a nice thin face that performs well. The steel is fairly lously but it only like $35 so what do you expect?


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 20 March 1999).]
Cliff, I feel the same way about handles. The smaller ones give me a lot of control, while the larger ones are more comfortable and allow more shock absorbtion. So it's a tradeoff. For example the Hanuman handle is both confortable and offers a lot of control. It is the best compromise and in the perfectly sized blade. But they will all do. I have never been one to prefer any one style of anything. I'm perfectly at home with almost any grip or blade shape there is and can make do with it.
The handle on my Gurkha House khukuri, the horn portion is 4.25", from end of butt cap to front of bolster it is 4.875". The H.I. horn section is 4.5".

To get around the short handle problem, I grip part of the front bolster and hook my thumb over the bolster.

Cliff your new review should be interesting.

I sharpened the Gurkha House khukuri and obtained much better edge performance when chopping 2x4’s. After a disappointing start I examined the edge before resharpening. The edge chipped quite a bit from my first test, pecking on a wood dowel and chopping up some 2x4’s. Even though the knife was quite dull the chips on the blade enhanced cutting and tearing ability on many materials such as leather and paper.

I wanted to try resharpening the knife to see if the chipping was only surface deep. Perhaps it got too hot during sharpening and the edge became brittle. I do not know the answer to this puzzle. I tired the sharpmaker on the knife but it gave poor results, this is not surprising. Next, I free hand sharpened the edge with my Lansky stones. The thin stones in the Lansky are great for following the curved profile of the khukuri. The course stone was used first to file away the edge so that the dings did not show. Then I used the fine (pink) stone to put an edge on it and finished with by using the Sharpmakers fine ceramic stone as a file. Finally the edge was shaving sharp.

While in my apartment I pecked at my wood dowel. Unlike my initial experience the edge did not chip or become misalign. The next day I took the khukuri out to repeat my test on 2x4’s. Instead of the typical 2x4 in a vise arrangement I use I went outside and chopped up pallets (constructed from 2x4’s). This time there was no chipping or misalignment.

The control for the first test was a Himalayan Imports BAS. Chopping performance was identical and the edge was not damaged in any way (no chips or misalignment). As a control I received a used a reject Ang Khola from Himalayan Imports in the second test. The control knife was not very sharp. I used the Spyderco sharpener and got a razor sharp edge without any difficulty. It performed the same chopping task as the test knife and the edge was not damaged. The Ang Khola chops much better but it is also much heavier, over 100 g heavier or 20%.

Damage suffered by the knifes from chopping. All of the horn handles received hairline cracks. This seems to be normal for them. The cracks generally stop and handle performance is not affected. The blades were not damaged in the second set of test. The Gurkha House khukuri butt cap became loose (barely noticeable) in the second outing. A bit of epoxy should fix that.

The Ang Khola -reject- has a short deep crack in the blade near the tip. There is also a similar crack in the blade of the Gurkha House khukuri near the spine about 2" from the start of the bend.

I discovered using the bolster as part of the handle is really poor practice. It works fine until I accidently poked the tip against a piece of 2x4. My hand almost slid up the blade.

My preliminary, opinion on the Gurkha House No.1 service khukuri has changed from junk to a fairly good knife. I still do not believe it is near the quality of Himalayan Imports but the price is much lower. I would rate it as much better than a Cold Steel LTC and AC khukuri. I am looking forward to doing some real tree and bush chopping in the near future, and then I can find out how this knife really performs.


[This message has been edited by Will Kwan (edited 20 March 1999).]

[This message has been edited by Will Kwan (edited 20 March 1999).]
Glad to see it is working out better for you Will. I would be concerned about the crack in the blade though, hope its not a problem for you. Looking forward to your field testing.

Cliff, at the time I said I would post our private messages I was concerned about a very recent addition to the forum possibly trying to play games. I did respond to him right under his last post in the kukri thread part one. He has not posted since. As he hasn't, I see no need to clutter up the forum. (( added by edit 09:34 PM / Besides which, your reports always address such info that is pertinent anyway.)) If anyone remains interested, feel free to send my private responses to them off the forum. Actually, I never considered asking you first if I could post your private messages to me. I should have done that and I always try to give others the courtesy of asking first. I was just so hot at the time that checking with you didn't occur. If someone asks me, I will forward them the private messages unless you would rather I not do so. It's just been my experience that when someone tries to play games, you immediately make sure all involved know what is going on all the time, and that usually ends the gameplaying quickly.(( added by edit 09:34 PM / It's just a fetish I picked up on the job to document everything just in case I had to testify about it in court)).

Russ S

[This message has been edited by Rusty (edited 21 March 1999).]
Send away whatever you want Russ.

I meant to mention this in my previous post. It is really informative to see a multiple round review like the one you just posted Will. As you have shown, sometimes a little work can really turn the performance of a poor performer around.


Here is another review on the Ghurka house service khukuri. I'm not done testing this one, but wanted to give an impression from the initial 2 to 3 weeks of testing. I ran out of wood so the tests will continue soon.

First, I like the thickness of this blade, it being in-between the BAS and the 15" AK. It is exactly 15.2 inches long. The handle diameter seems good, but the handle length should be a little longer to provide a better grip option. These are minor points and comments only.

I have been chopping a lot of wood with it for about 2 weeks now. On the first day of chopping the Butt cap came loose and then came off. The remainder of the grip is still very solid. I think the buttcap is more for cosmetics than strength anyway. I have been chopping on logs for fire wood and noticed the knife edge to chip. But the chipping I got was more than what Will appears to have gotten. I have one chip about 1 inch from the point and another chip were the blade starts to curve up towards the handle. I have used diamond stones to remove the chips but they are large and I have not been able to do so. I figure this will eventually go away as I sharpen more often.

The edge appears fairly hard and holds an edge well. Two hairline cracks have shown up on the handle starting at the spine of the blade. These are only 1/2 inch long and have not traveled any further. The handle is still solid. The blade is definitely to thick to bend so it will pry well. I also jammed the blade into logs, put my free hand on the back(spine) of the blade and pried the knife sideways out of the logs with no damage to the edge. I did this several times one day. Overall the knife has performed quite well and I consider it about 60% to 70% of the quality and strength of the HI. I have been chopping with the HI much longer and have not been friendly to it. I used it to throw into a big log, digging holes, chopping wood, chopping plastic drums and shaving wood chips all with no damage to the edge or blade or handle. Also, the butt cap never came off the HI.

The scabbard on the HI's is also better. I would say that the scabbard on the Ghurka house khukuri is probably again 60% to 70% as good as the HI scabbards, same goes for the tools.

Using my sharpmaker, I was able to put a very good edge on the blade.

All in all the Ghurka house khukuri appears to be worth the money. My only concern is the way the edge chipped so easily on this one. I wonder if the edge is hardened just a little to much on this one. Also, I feel that the butt cap should not have come off so easily. I lost the little retainer diamond shaped brass piece when the butt cap came flying off. I'm going to do some more chopping with it over the next several weeks and will try to remove the chipping.

I would recommend this khukuri to anyone who cannot afford the HI khukuri, but wants the most for their money in the under $100 zone.

One thing I really like is that the thickness of this blade puts it right inbetween the BAS and the AK. This gives an excellent combination of strength and speed, all other things being equal.

I'm not done working on this one or the HI for that matter and will continue to post when I have done more work with them.
Will / Cobalt, how do they compare in regards to comfort during heavy chopping?

The chipping concerns me as if they have difficulty with wood, you might see excessive damage on harder materials. Maybe as was the case with Will its just the very edge that's a little too hard and performace will increase with use as the edge wears back.

About the buttcap, I would just get a good epoxy and put it back on. Regarding durability, Bill noted awhile back that his models that do not have buttcaps (Hanuman) should have them put on before heavy use is considered.

Cliff, the only thing is that I cannot find that diamond shaped small retainer so it will not attach to the taper tang. Also, I'm going to wait until I have done enough testing to see how it holds up before I put it back on, simply because If I was in the middle of nowhere, there would be no real good epoxy for this or I may have lost the cap altogether. But I will need to figure something out afterwards.
Hello everyone. Glad to see you all are putting my knives through some pretty hard tests.

Hopefully, the blade chipping will slow down or stop as you continue to hone the blade. Also, would you mind telling us how big the chips are? I've never seen one develop on the knives I've tested, but then again, I may not know what to look for, and am not a very thorough tester compared to you all.

As for the slight fractures in the horn handles, do you think that a brass handle would serve the hard user a little better? I'm going to be introducing a line of brass handled khukuris if people think that will improve the handle durability. If the brass is too slippery, one could always add some good grip-tape to the handle. Just a thought.

Cobalt should be receiving a World War model (slightly larger than the Service Number One) very soon if not already. Let us know if the added length of the handle and blade help make the knife easier to use.

And for all of you testers out there - if during your rigorous testing process, you degrade the knife so that you are unhappy with it's condition, remember the lifetime warranty. When I first started selling the knives, I had a "normal use" clause in my warranty. But I quickly learned (on the forum) that that is no way to do business, especially if you want people to actually use your knives.

That's all from Gurkha House.
Brass handles? Interesting! Does anybody have any experience with brass handled knives. I think the current handles are plenty strong. But brass would be interesting.

The blade chipping is about a little over 1/8 inch deep and about 3/16 along the blade.. The one near the tip of the knife is smaller.
Brass would be stronger and you could wrap or cord it to provide a decent grip. I would be concerned about the weight of the handle throwing off the balance of the knife and personally I really dislike metallic handles or large exposed pins as its fairly cold here and I don't like to wear gloves unless it gets really cold, and while my hands will normally keep warm under exertion, they will not if they are in contact with metals.

For something stronger you could try hardwoods as they should be much more durable than horn/bone. If you really wanted to corner a market - blend the old with the new and have the kamis (or someone else) put decent synthetic handles on the khukuris, something like G10 or G11. That is much more expensive to work - however I would imagine that you don't get problems with ruining handles like you do if the kamis are drilling out horn/bone/wood.

Cobalt, do you mean a piece about 1/8" by 3/16" broke away from the edge? That is a very large piece of metal. I had assumed that you meant that you could feel irregularities in the edge if you sort of scraped your thumbnail down along it.

We need a BladeForums knife glossary.

Cliff, Actually after using my diamond hone considerably I got it down a bit to about 1/8 inch wide and 1/16 inch deep. Like I say, I think this blade was hardened just a little to much.
Great review Cobalt. You gave the Gurkha House khukuri a much harder workout than I did. Dead or live trees are tougher than 2x4's and 4x4's.

In a way I am glad you had chipping on your blade. It hard to believe that wood could chip the blade. I am glad you confirmed that it does happen. The larger chip size you have is probably due to the heavier work out. I would be curious if it continues after you sharpen it. Edge retention is extremely poor while the edge is chipping. The initial razor sharp edge crumble away. After I sharpened it and ground away enough metal so that most of the chips did not show, edge retention improved.

The handle was good in that it did not abrade and absorbed shock. Due to its length and thickness the handle is extremely poor for control or grip. Due to the thin handle I did not tend to grip the knife tight enough and my hand would slide towards the butt. A few times the knife almost slid right out of my hands. This tends to happen when I strike at too shallow an angle and the knife skids along the wood. In contrast the H.I. Ang Khola had much more violent (mainly due to its weight) skidding but remained securely locked in my hands. Fatter and longer handle.

I am glad that the handle did not come off with the butt cap. Movement developed in my butt cap as well. It was distressing to find that the blade cap tightened up during chopping and loosened during light poking. This indicateds that the horn handle may have come loose. When the butt cap lets go so will the blade. Cobalt has the epoxy been applied to the tang, is there good coverage?

Cobalt if you the handle lets loose .... duck and cover ..... It is very dangerous, at least with the peened on butt cap there is a backup attachment.

Craig what Cobalt is doing is normal duty for a khukuri and what I am doing is considered light.

I would not want to see a metal handle on a working khukuri. The horn handles can get slippery enough with sweet and grime. Wood handles give a much better grip.

Cliff, I recently saw a handle made of marine epoxy.


[This message has been edited by Will Kwan (edited 22 March 1999).]
Cliff, I missed your question on how the handles felt. I think Will covered it well. It felt the same for me. Although the thinner handles provide more control for swinging and general handling, it's alot easier to grip with a thicker handle like the AK's have. I gues it just takes getting used to.
Note in the other thread

Craig mentions that he can order "custom" khukuris with larger handles if you want. Craig how much would this alteration cost?

One thing to note is that if the kamis put a larger handle on the khukuri they will of course need to make the tang longer and this plus the longer, thicker, and therefore heavier handle will draw the balance point away from the blade towards the handle. You might be better simply going with a larger model like the WWII. I would expect the Service #1 model to have a much smaller handle than an Ang Khola to keep the balance point in the blade about the same.

Will, expoxy is great stuff, Cougar posted awhile ago how he let some set and then took a hammer to it. I was curious and then did the same thing. Even really cheap epoxies set up really tough. About the handle looseness can you move it at all? If you lodge the blade in something can you get the handle to move if you grab it in both hands and twist or torque on it? Were the chips that developed in your blade comparable in size to Cobalt's?

Actually my H.I. BAS handle is longer and slimmer than my Ang Khola handle. When I get a chance I will measure the perimeter.

As for chips, mine were about the same size as Cobalt's smaller chip. I had them at about the same location.

Bill mentioned the tip was softer than the chopping zone on real khukuri's. I can see this causing the edge to roll over but I don't think it can explain the large piece missing from Cobalt's blade.


[This message has been edited by Will Kwan (edited 23 March 1999).]
That stuff I took the hammer to was Miracle Weld, a kevlar-filled epoxy putty. That would be *great* for filling a large gap between handle and tang. Or you could make a whole new buttcap out of it, or a whole new handle.

When I first bought it I mixed up a lump and stuck it to a piece of galvanized steel I had lying around. The next day I went at it with a hammer, tapping lightly at first but working up to full power bashes (16 ounce (.45kg) carpenter's hammer). I was able to mar the surface a little but couldn't break it off the steel.

It's available at auto body stores and some hardware stores. You can stain it black with magic marker and it doesn't rub off. It looks and feels more like fine-grained ebony wood than anything else.

Enough to make a big khukuri handle would cost $um buck$ but one $6 stick would be enough to make two buttcaps.

-Cougar Allen :{)