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Using "Pretty" Khukuris?

May 18, 1999
In the thread Steven started, "Villagers Rule" Mochiman1 posted the below. The bold type put in by me hopefully.

I'll second that! And add that another great feature of the villagers is that you don't feel like a vandal when subjecting them to hard use. I keep my Bura banspati right here on my desk where I can admire it. When I have taken it out for some exercise chopping and clearing, I can't help but feel somehow as tho I'd purchased a Picasso and then used it as a table tray at a big messy dinner party. But maybe that's just me. I will say, however, that it outperforms my villagers. It's a monster chopper. But I find myself fretting over the resultant nicks and scratches, silly as that would no doubt seem to Bura and the other kamis.

When I first got my 27" Banspati I took it out back for some testing and found it very capable of doing its job. I don't like the brass handles because of the way they smell and rub off on your hands.
I brought it in and polished it back to better than new and I won't use it ever again. I bought the Bura Banspati for its beauty and craftsmanship and hopefully as an investment.
However if it was the only one I had access to I would use it for whatever task needed and by "testing" it I know it would never fail me.

The YCS is a different story though. Too me this is the most beautiful khukuri ever produced by BirGhorka in its lines and the deep fullers, the inlaid handles and the silver mounts.
And it is an absolutely fantastic
experience to use this khukuri because to me it chops like a heavier khukuri and is like an extension of my arm in the control I have with it. And yes, I am prejudiced because it's my design and I am proud it performs as well or better than I hoped.

To repeat myself in other posts I have made about it, I thought long and hard before I decided to make it a user. It has accumalated a few scratches and has had the gunk cleaned off after use which is just normal maintainance. The blade will eventually get the nice patina a beloved user knife has and I feel will become more beautiful each time it is used for the tasks it is designed for.

There is a certain satisfaction of being able to use a really beautiful custom knife of any kind.
I remember when the "custom knife" began to be popular and were actually bought to be used by people who were looking for a knife that had much more ability to hold an edge and yet be easily sharpened. Those custom knives made years ago had a much better fit and finish as well as enhanced abiities to perform than any factory knife made.
The custom knives of today have improved beyond anyone's wildest dreams in all the areas that make up the custom knife.

I think it's a shame that so many of the custom knives of today will never give their owners any satisfaction except by the pride of ownership and their appeal as "eye candy." And yet I suppose that's enough.

What do you think?
To Use?
Or Not To Use?


Each person's work is always a portrait of himself.

---- Samuel Butler.

Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Website

[This message has been edited by Yvsa (edited 11-26-2000).]

Somehow I doubt that I'll use mine for anything except looking at and showing to people. I've got enough Khuk's around now, of various sizes to use for most any job.

I see your point about using such a thing of beauty and grace, but I'll only do that if I get another!!

Yvsa--just a couple of thoughts.
I'm not saying my Bura Banspati and Ganga Ram Special will NEVER become real users, just that at this time I'm not ready to take that step. I'm still too in awe of their beauty. But maybe that'll change. I certainly believe you're right when you argue that part of their beauty must lie in their ability to do work.
There's an important difference between us, though. You are truly a master craftsman. I'm not terribly handy. If you bang up the blade on your YCS or do some enormous injury to its handle, you're perfectly capable of restoring it to as good as new. Heck, better than new, as you're an innovator. Me, I'm still mucking along trying to get the hang of such basics as blade sharpening and horn handle crack repair.
I can't say that I fully understand my reluctance to put the really pretty khuks to work, but I suspect that plays a part in it.
I'm with Jance, I've got a few blems for "chores", the rest are on the wall - not that I've got that many anyway.
One look at the users I've got & anyone would know that they're "working knives". Dark horn handle cracks filled with white epoxy, blade tips not straighten quite right, blade folds brought back but noticable - a horn & wood handle or blade repair expert I'm not.
The "users" still function well enough but I woudn't want the others looking like these, unless necessary.
Jance I know what you mean.

Actually I have a whole lot of admiration for you in putting those khukuris to work, even on a limited basis. You are at least experienceing some of the "magic" that khukuris such as these give one when putting them to the work they are designed to do. There's a lot of people that will never get that satisfaction.
Whenever I think about this subject I always recall the story that Uncle Bill tells about the man somewhere in the Carolinas or nearby state, can't recall exactly where, that ordered a Hanuman for general work. Uncle Bill tried to talk him out of it saying that it probably wouldn't hold up like any of the other khukuris that HI sold. The man was adamant however and Uncle Bill sent him a Hanuman model which is still in use to this day with no problems. That's saying something about the ability of a partial tanged knife to do serious work.
And I can completely understand the man's desire to have and use the Hanuman model. It's a good example of a very beautiful custom blade being put to good use.
The new Hanuman model is just too big for me, but I would love to have one of the old ones!!!!

And I do have the Hanuman Special which is the model the kamis got confused on and made it backwards to what Uncle Bill ordered. He ordered
WW II handle's with a Hanuman blade and got a WW II blade with the Hanuman handle. There are only 4 of these in the world.

I also checked out this khukuri and then cleaned it up. And like the Banspati it will not be used except in an emergency. Actually I feel more strongly about not using this one than I do the Banspati. It is a Very Special Khukuri to me and I know my Brother Rusty feels the same way about his. And so it goes in the choices we make as silly humans.

And yes, I can do a lot in fixing one of my knives no matter what kind it may be, however it would lose that initial "magic" I find intrinsic in every khukuri I have.
The as forged Chanpuri blade I finished, although it "feels" good to me doesn't have the same "magic" the kami completed khukuri's have.

And that brings up another subject about what khukuris as well as other knives teach us.
I have been playing with knives since I was about 8 years old. I did the "wooden sword" thing and then progressed to using bone for blades. I wish I still had the bone one I made when I was about twelve.
It would actually cut to a point on softer things. And then I progressed to steel when I was in my early teens. I still have an ugly old Kris style knife I made from the wide part of a framing square. It Will Cut You Badly Very Quickly!!!
I believe that's why I am so happy to be among so many people here, both male and female that love knives and other sharp edged tools.
It gives me the greatest pleasure I have ever had to be able to pass on what little I know and have

I told someone a little while back that Patience and Care can make up a lot for Skill and Knowledge.
And I know that to be true. I have torn up more things than anyone can imagine during the time it took me to learn that and some of those things were amost

And you all should know by now how come the NDN's are known to be so long winded.


Each person's work is always a portrait of himself.

---- Samuel Butler.

Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Website
My old hunting and shooting pardner, a crusty 75-year-old Maine guide, was dusting off the rafters in his hunting camp and found his father's old Mora Swedish hunting knife. His dad has been gone for 30 years, and the knife may have been lying on that rafter for years before that.
Tonite I was sitting here putting the last bit of 'polish' (stain reduction) with Scotchbrite on the cleaned-up and resharpened knife, and reading the HI forum at the same time. And this thread seems to be about knives like this inexpensive 'user' of a Swedish piece.
This was a user-knife of the most basic kind. Probably sold for $2.98 new, and would never have been of interest to a collector. It wouldn't be now, either.
The original sheath was gone, I'll have to make a new one. The carbon-steel laminated Mora blade was rusty and nicked, the birch handle was dry and without finish. The ferrule and blade base were still gummed with the dried fluids of the last deer or trout or other game it had cleaned.
Now it's clean, keen and ready to go again. Still not a beautiful thing in the eyes of those 'collectors of custom cutlery'. But as they say, beauty is as beauty does...and did. If this knife could talk...
So I ask, would it be worth more if it were store-mint, or as it is now: restored, with honorable use still showing how it served its owner so many years ago?


The sword cannot cut itself, the eye cannot see itself.
Ken,that knife is probably the kind of knife every swedish boy will cut himself with for the first time.That cut will be remembered by by us swedish boy as proof of how a cheap and very common knife can be the best allaround cutting-knife you can get.But I can't say that a Mora-knife will ever be valuable.It's only value is that its so cheap and common, and still the best you can get for that kind of money.As for the value in money,you can still buy perfecly good cutting Mora-knife for 2.98$(even cheaper sometimes),this means that most people just throw them away or use them to stir paint with, when they get dull for the second time.
I think I've owned atleast 25 of those.Today my taste for knifes is a little more exotic...But Idont really think the nepali will find a khukri exotic, so maby a non-swedish can find a Mora-knife exotic.It's all in our mind.

Best regards

boys newer grow up,it's only their toys getting more expensive....
This thread is a good example of the HI forum and forumites.

There ARE others out there who can feel the spirit is certain knives. They may even tell you of it, face to face. But they aren't willing to sound delusional in front of those who don't understand. The folks on the HI forum seem to understand there are inexplicable things not understood, and give others respect.

Uncle Bill has brought a very diverse group of people together in this forum, and many of them have expertise that untold til "their thing" comes up. Historians, Collectors, Smiths and Leatherworkers, Military, etc. I'm awed at the information some of you out there have, and your typical regard for yourselves not as "experts" but instead as "serious students".

Uncle Bill's attitude that "What does this have to do with khukuris? Everything!" lets us pursue the culture out of which the khuks come and give meaning to what we buy and treasure.

With apologies to Will Rogers, all I know (about khukuris)is what I read on the forum.

Regardless of what I learn of knives, the people on the forum have allowed me to see many things I didn't know before about living life. I'm far richer for it.

Thank you out there in the forum for accepting me, let alone keep an eye on the forum while Bill took his vacation.

And, of course Uncle Bill for setting and keeping this forum what it is.
What Rusty said.

I would absolutely love to have an old Mora knife or knives like the one you told us about Ken.

When I was in my early teens the Army & Navy Store in downtown Tulsa at that time had knives of all kinds that were very cheap.
They had a Puukko with a narrow long fuller and the laminated blades for $3.00 a piece, sheaths
No one liked them because they were so hard to sharpen once they got dull, but that was because no one understood that they weren't supposed to have a secondary
I bought one just like those a few years back and paid $15.00 for it at a flea market. It had been ground along the very edge, but not overly much.
I have worked on it over the last couple of years to restore the single beveled edge and finally, after the subject came up again, finished it over the Turkey Day weekend. The DMT hones made it a lot easier!!

My Gawd, But that thing is SHARP!!!!

The old Sykes Fairbairn(sp) knives were also sold for the same price of $3.00 and I bought one of those because it was a "cool" British Cammando Knife.

That was one Tough Knife!!!!
I threw it a lot and it would penetrate both steel walls of the old school bus that my grandpa stored his plumbiing tool's in.
I never broke the tip of that knife off severely.
It did lose maybe an 1/8" the first time it went through the steel walls of that old bus though, after that it was fine.
I really liked the way it would quiver when thrown into the old cottonwood tree in our backyard.

Another old beautiful example of a world class knife that I ruined by reshapeing the handles and such.
If I had it today in its original condition I would have it stored under glass in a velvet lined case.


Each person's work is always a portrait of himself.

---- Samuel Butler.

Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Website
double tap

[This message has been edited by Rusty (edited 11-27-2000).]
Hey bro: bout those commando knives? ( Since I don't think you can import that stuff into England - Tom Holt will have to help me here, I'm not sure if you can even buy the made in England ones there ) They apparently issue them only when there's a mission. Apparently after the Falklands War, they discovered there was a design flaw in the scabbard. About 70 or 80 percent of them "fell out" when the blokes weren't looking or had ended up being lost in action when it came time to turn them back in. Maybe even a bit higher percentage than that. ROTFLMAO
Sounds like some enterpriseing people were issued those knives.

The best I can recall about the sheath was it had a loop and snap affair. I know that's a common way of holding a knife, but I never have liked a loop with snaps because it's not "If" your going to cut them, but "When." And if you aren't careful the knives are easily lost.

I do recall the funny looking tabs sewn into the sides, seems that there were four of them. Being young I couldn't fathom the idea of sewing them onto a piece of clothing.


Each person's work is always a portrait of himself.

---- Samuel Butler.

Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Website
Yvsa - once again, you've hit the nail on the head.

The old-time British gunsmiths who made the immaculately-fitted and exquisitely engraved double shotguns of the late 19th/early 20th centuries used to say "engraving never killed a bird"; function is the first and overriding priority in any tool, implement or weapon. But it seems to be in the nature of things that something that works well also looks good - for example, the superbly graceful curve of the katana or the khukuri, at once supremely efficient and extremely beautiful.

To me at least, there's a direct and unbreakable link between utility and beauty; for some reason I can't begin to explain rationally, the tools and knives that look best seem to work best.

Throughout history, men have taken pleasure in tools and weapons that were both supremely functional and shaped and decorated with flair and grace; consider the swords of Japan or medieval Europe. Particularly with a weapon, utility is bolstered by confidence, confidence is increased by pride of ownership. A beautiful blade is a pleasure to use, and ought therefore to serve you well.

Rusty; last time I looked, they were still making & selling 'replicas' of the Fairbairn/Sykes, tho' the quality was pretty poor (too brittle...); it would of course be illegal under British law to sell them as 'combat' or 'fighting' or even 'commando' knives. Service issue F/S knives from WW2 command high prices at auction. AFAIK, the F/S is no longer British service issue.
Thanks Tom, I'd have loved to find a real one, but I can still get the old Ka-bar Marine F/U over here, and I've got a BlackJack copy of the Randall #1.

I'd been meaning to talk to Uncle about the utility/beauty aspect of his experience as a flight test engineer for Cessna. Even the Warthog has a sort of ambience to it, somehow being so ugly it's kinda cute.
I have seen the same Mora knife that I talked about in my post above, offered on Ragnar's web site: http://www.ragweedforge.com/
for $16. I remember a local sports outlet here in Maine in the '50's that sold the ones with crossguards for $2.98, and the ones with the simplest barrel-shaped birch handle and ferrule for just a buck. A few years ago, I found in a bin at salvage company a bunch of these Mora 'Frost' knives, selling for a dollar apiece with red plastic handles and plastic sheathes...but the blades were the same great laminated carbon steel of yore, and the 'full bevel' sharpening on that RC60-61 edge makes for a KEEN cutter. I bought a double handful of them and used the blades to make small gift knives. I still have one on my workbench as an all-round general cutter.
I kept that one because it was stolen from my car in the driveway, but apparently was too sharp for the thief, because he dropped it in my mailbox again the next night!

Also in the '50's, Rusty, I owned several S-F Commando knives...bought my last one about 1962 when I was in AF Language School at Syracuse. These were real-mccoy surplus knives of the third model ridged handle type, made in England and marked with the broad arrow of Brit ordnance. Yvsa: I broke the points off of at least four of these, throwing them at targets to hard for their steel. Brittle, they were...but that last one got me out of a tight spot one night in NY, and I still have a soft place in my heart for the intimidation value of short, double-edged daggers.


The sword cannot cut itself, the eye cannot see itself.
I have one of those Mora knives with the birch handle. My great uncle from Stockholm Sweden gave it to me when I was 12 or 13...let's see that's 30 years ago, and I have used it to do just about every task you can think of that involves cutting.
I have used it to dress more than a dozen Elk and countless deer. That little bugger holds an edge very well, and touches up in the field real easy with a pocket stone.

For the longest time I thought it was worth a lot of money or he wouldn't have given it to me. I think I was in my mid twenties when he died, and even after finding out how common these knives are,I couldn't put a price on it, I'll never part with it, and I'll use it until I'm too old to hold it in my hand!

Thanks Einar!

[This message has been edited by rdnzl (edited 11-28-2000).]
I find it, well I don't know, perhaps strange, funny(?), where we as aware, thinking beings find beauty.
One of my most favorite portrait's is of an old Indin lady that has so many very deep wrinkles in her face that a smooth place would be impossible to find. And yet she is one of the most beautiful examples of womanhood and humanity that I have ever seen.

I have a small river cane Flute that I made just to see if I could get it to play. It was a hurry up job and to the eye it is Very Ugly, however when the Flute is beig played it comes alive in the hearts and mind of not only myself, but to everyone who hears it.
I use it to help youngens and oldsters alike to realize that beauty isn't always in the _eye_ of the beholder.
When I have played for smaller audiences I most usually hold up the little Flute after some have remarked on the beauty the other Flutes have and ask them if
they think it is
Of course their answer is always a resounding NO!
Then I play it and ask them again and get smiles and answers of, Yes!
That's when I can relate the appearance of the Flute and People and that beauty can't always be seen and that you have to smetimes get to know someone "different" in order to see their beauty. Hopefully it gives the ones there a little different outlook on how they view beauty and people.

The current offering of all H.I. Khukuri's made at BirGhorka are some of the most beautiful knives in the world just as they are.
Then along comes the Kingly Kothimoda, the carved Banspati, the very beautiful carved handles representive of some of the animals of Nepal and the YCS all of which are even more beautiful.

I always have a regret when first putting a standard H.I.Khukuri to work and scratching up that beautiful blade and even more so with one of the really fancy
Tom described better than I could about using a really beautiful object for common work where a plain model would work just as well.
It is an experience that nothing else can come close too.

Then on the other hand knives like this little Mora brand and the H.I. Villagers, like my little Flute have a beauty that can't always be
Their beauty comes from what they can do and/or have done.
The 17" Steel Mounted Villager I have has that beauty, but to me it also has a classic beauty in its lines just like that little Mora knife.
I would hope that if I should have something dreadful happen like putting a large chip in the blade or breaking the handle I would feel as bad as if I had of done that to one of my fancy blades.
The 17" Villager I am so fond of didn't get a second thought about putting it to use.
However after using it a while I knew that it would get the same care and maintainance that my fancy
one's do.

The old Marine who found his father's Mora knife, after so many years I would think, also found it beautiful.
Something like that I would have to think as long and as hard as I did in decideing to use my YCS.
And if I did use it I would give it the same care I would any of my fancy pieces.

When I first posted this I didn't realize it was going to be so complicated.

I do hope this all makes sense.
I should've been in bed hours ago.


Each person's work is always a portrait of himself.

---- Samuel Butler.

Khukuri FAQ
Himalayan Imports Website
I usually decide before I buy the knife if I will use it or not. The kami put a lot of effort into making a "show" khukuri's and I would not want to destroy all that in a few minutes.

Saying that, I use all my khukuri's except my Hanuman. The Hanuman was bought more for decoration though I sure it is servicable (from the way it sharpened up).

I use my Ganga Ram Special made by Bura. It is a great felling khukuri.