Maintain Ur Kukri
Khukuri of the Month
- Kukri Maintenance
Know how to maintain/use your Khukuri properly
Learn how to maintain your kukri knife. How to remove rust from kukri blade? How to look after khukuri/kukri blades properly. How to fix your knife/knives. How to sharpen khukuris/kukris knives properly. Khukuri/kukri blade/sheath/ sacabbard/ stand maintenance tips.
How to maintain your Kukri?
- Apply machine/gun oil on the blade at least once a month or/and every time after use. Make sure not to leave any fingerprint on the blade.
- Incase rust develops on the blade, first clean the blade with some petrol/gasoline then rub the rust off with fine sandpaper; wipe it off with a clean cloth and apply oil. A wheel-shiner machine may be used to re-shine the rust infected area.
- Use shoe polish for the leather case, furniture shiner for the wood, Brasso (brass polish) for the brass fittings and Silvo (silver polish) for silver cases once in a while to keep your khukuri fit and fine.
- Scrub the carved (Dragon) blade with a hard brush (tooth brush) soaked in petrol and wipe it with a clean cloth before display.
- Both sides of the blunt chakmak can sharpen the blade. However, a sharpening stone is recommended for better and faster result.
- While on display, make sure to often clean the dirt particles, insect waste etc on the khukuri surface with a soft dry cloth and always keep away from water.
- Before khukuri is put out of action for a long period of time; oil the blade properly, wrapped it in a plastic or polythene bag and keep it out of the scabbard. Same for the two small knives.
- Always store/keep khukuri in a dry normal temp room.
Care should be taken not to expose the khukuri scabbard into the sun for a longer period of time as heating may help it to shrink a bit, and hence making the blade difficult to insert.
Using the blade on metallic surface and stone etc. should be avoided.
- Keep away from water and fingerprint.
- Khukuri is not a throwing knife so must never be thrown.
- It is also not a hammering tool.
- Over working on the bevel or sharp edge area while maintaining or repairing should be avoided as heat generated from it can spoil/loosen the temper of the blade.
- Guidance and supervision is essential before use and must always be kept out of reach of children.
- Always maintain your khukuri in a timely manner so that its life can be prolonged.
- Using khukuri in extreme conditions should also be avoided
How to unsheathe your Kukri? (Off belt position)
Do not encircle the scabbard with your fingers while drawing out your khukuri. This may cause injury as the two wooden frames used to make the scabbard leave a small elongated gap that only gets wrapped/covered by leather. Therefore hold the upper edge of the scabbard firmly with your palm and fingers but making no finger is placed on the front edge; thumb stretch out over the back edge then draw the weapon out slowly. It works better if the blade’s back edge (spine) somewhat touches the inner back edge of the scabbard while drawing out (same while inserting in). Always make sure to keep the khukuri away from body, scabbard holding-hand stretch out, khukuri’s sharp edge facing opposite to your body and slightly downward/angular while taking out for easy execution.
Too Tight or Too Loose:
The buffalo hide used for the khukuri scabbard is sensitive to some extent to the outer weather and conditions. It can shrink a bit in hot temperature where as expand a bit in cold temperature thus treatment is needed as necessary.
“Too Tight”; because of too hot surrounding temperature, leather can shrink giving extra pressure to the inner wooden frame of the scabbard resulting into narrowing the blade’s room and thus making drawing in and out difficult. In a case like this, oil the blade sufficiently and then completely tuck in the blade forcefully if needed. Hit the front edge of the scabbard close to the throat and the back edge several times with one hand while the other holds the khukuri handle firmly. Then draw the blade in and out a few times and repeat the hitting action. Lastly tuck in the khukuri completely and firmly push the blade forward against the front edge of the scabbard and then store in a cool dry place for few days.
“Too Loose”; very cold temperature can extend the leather, widen the blade’s room and thus make it loose (this is very rare though). To avoid this, put the khukuri scabbard (only) in the sun for few hours (2-4hrs) to dry. The sun will heat the leather and thus contracts narrowing the khukuri room. Khukuri blade can also be prevented from wobbling inside the scabbard by pushing the blade forward towards the front edge of the scabbard. It is also recommended to glue a piece of leather from inside on the upper surface of the wooden frame as a washer to tighten the blade in the scabbard. In loose cases, always make sure to keep the blade and scabbard separately when storing.
What are Kadra & Chakmak?
Most kukris come with two small knives at the back of the scabbard to make the set complete. The small knife with sharp edge is called "kadra" or an extra knife especially used for skinning purposes or as paper knife. Another knife accompanying kardra is the "chakmak" or the sharpener. The traditional method of sharpening a kukri is done by using the chakmak against the edge of the blade to and fro. However, a sharpening stone is recommended. Traditionally, chakmak was also used to ignite fire by generating sparks by striking against selective stones found in the hilly regions. Khukuri Knives issued to the Gurkhas during world wars did not have the two small knives however standard issue khukuris at present have both "Karda and Chakmak". Most khukuris from the ancient times also had
the two knives along with an extra pocket (Khalti) to store small survival kits.
How to sharpen by a file?
Caution should be taken while sharpening a kukri blade.
Hold the kukri firmly against a fix object facing the edge towards you and slightly up (angular). Take a flat smooth file and hold in an angular position (45-60*) to the edge. File in a to and fro movement from the notch towards the tip for several times. Flip the blade and repeat it on the other side until the edge gets sharpened. Forcefully filing against the blade in a steep angle will give quicker results. However over doing it may ruin the blade and its temper.
The tip of a khukuri is pointed and sharp but thin at the same time. It can be used for stabbing but this isn’t risk free. Since there is very little mass there is a chance it might bend or break. Therefore care should be taken when handling the tip. After stabbing into any hard object, take out the knife gently by moving the knife up and down with alignment with the panel/body of the blade and NOT left or right. The tip will not be able to handle the pressure if done the opposite way and hence can bend or break. This is why makers slightly soften the tip to avoid breakage but support bend as this can be mended easily. This is a very common practice in Khukuri Making.
Some kukris’ sheath are freshly made. In order to protect it from rusting the blade is packed separately (not tucked in) and shipped. In a case like this the blade may pierce a hole in the packing, get exposed and thus get bent in transport. If such happens then please follow the following steps to correct it.
Take a smooth file. Hold the kukri in an angular position facing its edge towards the body. Position the file parallel to the floor and start filling/scrubbing to and fro from beyond the area of bent and gently towards it (following the curve) with some reasonable force. Use more force if required at the stiff bent section. Slightly move the kukri’s angle up and down as you are filling. Make sure to cover a distance of 1-1.5 inches up and down from the actual bent part when filling.
Flip the knife to the other side (opposite towards the body). Follow the same steps as above.
Special handcrafted "Kukri Wooden Stand" can also be bought for display purpose. This double rack mounted stand is handmade by using only conventional domestic tools. It is made out of treated wood called Ashna, famously known in Nepal as “Seesau”. The process of making a single stand is very slow and laborious. It is as time consuming as making a Kukri, costing almost a complete day to finish one.
All wooden stands are made in Kathmandu where skill craftsmen work around the clock to give quality and quantity. All stands are made foldable (hands come apart) so that they can be carried and transported very easily. They are also completely break-free since they can be swiftly dismantled. These wooden stands are made in different sizes to suit the different sizes of Kukri. The upper pair of hands is designed to hold the scabbard and lower pair for the blade. Stands are also sold separately and made customary. Prices vary from US$ 3.00 to 10.00.
:: Some of the basic but unknown facts of the khukuri ::
Because of the high tension created in the blade within the carbons while tempering (extreme temperature variation) the edge may twist a little. This is natural.
|The tip of the blade is less hardened (tempered) to facilitate the making process (to avoid chipping off when fixing butt cap in a straight down position) hence it could bend/twist slightly when struck hard. This is normal and done intentionally, and can be fixed easily.||See “Bent Tip”(above)|
|The inner wooden frame of the sheath while fitting leaves a narrow gap which is later covered by leather. Thus in carefree handling the sharp blade may cut open the leather and get exposed. This happens.||Carefully glue together the open cut using some dust (iron dust recommended). Then seal the cut area by a thick leather patch and use duct tape around the sheath to fix it.|
|In most cases, the leather sheath tends to shrink a bit and may cause difficulty in drawing in and out - The frog may also come loose because of this. This is natural.||See Too “Tight or Too Loose” - Slightly lower the frog from its position then put glue all over in its original position in the sheath and pull back the frog. Let is dry. OR completely take out the frog, stick two pieces of leather patches to the inner rounded walls of the frog and let it dry. Put back the frog to its original position (forcefully if needed)|
|The kukri edge can bent (twist) occasionally if stroke on very hard surfaces. This is actually good sign as this mean the temper is well balanced (not too hard). This is fixable.||Hold the kukri firmly against a fix object facing the edge towards you and slightly up (angular). Take a flat rough file and file the bent portion until it levels to the original level of the edge. Filing is recommended in a to and fro movement and from before the area of bent and beyond it. Repeat it on the other side as well. By doing this the twisted steel will come off and the new tempered steel will expose.|
|Sometime the wood used in the handle can shrink a bit due to the natural surroundings and may expose tang (in full flat tang version). This is natural and fixable.||Take a rough flat file and file (use some force if necessary) the exposed tang until it comes to the level of the shrunken wood. Once leveled, use a smooth emery cloth (sandpaper) to scrub both the tang and wood to further level closely and get the finishing.|
|A Kukri is not a throwing knife so should never be thrown.||Don't throw|