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Markus Fischer




Location: Germany
Joined: 14 May 2020
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb, 2021 7:34 am    Post subject: Quality Khukuri Manufacturers         Reply with quote

Hi

Can anyone here recomment a khukuri house that makes good quality khukuris?
I am aware of Kailash Blades, Tora Blades and Khotang Khukuri handicrafts, but I am sure there are more.
By quality khukuri I mean that they dont sell those 850gramms 10mm thick chopping instruments, but rather well balanced, light and overall nicely made khukuris.

Thank you
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Adam Simmonds





Joined: 10 Jun 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb, 2021 8:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Markus,

Not something I know much about but see the YouTube review below as it may be useful to you. Apparently Windlass Steelcrafts are still making decent Khukuris to the same blueprint they've used since WW2. According to the below however (I've not held one myself), they are on the clunkier side:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVZHzz7wB8k

If I were you, particularly given the description of the type of Khukuri you're looking for, I'd look at antiques. One can find examples at a relatively good price which are very well made and in my opinion often much more charming than most modern made examples. I guess it does depend on what you intend to do with said Khukuri however, as you may not want to subject an antique to heavy use.

By way of example I'm posting a picture of a lovely Khukuri from the late 19thC / early 20thC with decorative blade work, bone handle, two fullers and brass bolster and pommel cap which I found on eBay for circa £100 GBP.

Best regards,

Adam



 Attachment: 139.35 KB
Khukuri.jpg

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Markus Fischer




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Thu 25 Feb, 2021 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you very much for your kind suggestion.

But I think that windlass is not a good option, as I am not very interested in WW2 Khukuris. They are very simplifyed in order to be cheaper to produce and have much western influence, which is not what I am looking for in a khukuri.
As far as antiques go, they often are quite expensive, also they mostly have tangs that don't go all the way through the handle, which makes them not very well suited for hard use (which I indeed plan to do). Also the heat treat is often quite poor on these to be honest.
In the nepalise tradition the Kami (Smith) just heats up the blade to approximately 800 °C and then let's water run across the edge. This has the massive disadvantage that only the edge is hardened, but the rest of the khukuri remains soft.
Also this little amount of water doesn't have the necessary thermal capacity to harden the blade deeply enough, which basically means, that you'd reach soft steel after some years of sharpening it.
A lot of modern, quality makers of traditional khukuris offer a modern oil quench, which is superior to the traditional method.

However I highly appreciate your suggestion.
Thank you very much!
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




Location: Michigan, USA
Joined: 08 Mar 2004
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PostPosted: Fri 26 Feb, 2021 11:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

While I don't post here too often, oddly enough I've been looking at these type
of blades myself, and a few gents in another forum swear by this maker of said
blades ....

https://kailashblades.com/

Haven't got on myself yet ...
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Gregg Sobocinski




Location: Michigan
Joined: 21 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2021 8:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Judging khukuri vendors can be tricky, and quality can change over time. I sympathize with your difficulty. Since khukuri are used for such a wide variety of tasks, you in particular may want to bias your search toward terms such as “sirupati, officer’s, or fighting khukri”. You are also probably going to want to look for fullered blades and those with deep, flat or hollow grind edge profiles.

Otherwise, I can’t help much. I have searched a lot of khukri, but have minimal handling and purchasing experience. Do not judge on spine thickness as much as overall weight to length ratios. I disagree about shorter tangs being weak. Unless the handle comes unglued, I have read about few failures at the tang. I would be more worried about excessive heat treatment, as the blade needs to flex at the narrow part of the blade.

Good luck.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Sat 27 Feb, 2021 11:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Markus Fischer wrote:
But I think that windlass is not a good option, as I am not very interested in WW2 Khukuris. They are very simplifyed in order to be cheaper to produce and have much western influence, which is not what I am looking for in a khukuri.


Markus Fischer wrote:
As far as antiques go, they often are quite expensive, also they mostly have tangs that don't go all the way through the handle, which makes them not very well suited for hard use (which I indeed plan to do). Also the heat treat is often quite poor on these to be honest.
In the nepalise tradition the Kami (Smith) just heats up the blade to approximately 800 °C and then let's water run across the edge. This has the massive disadvantage that only the edge is hardened, but the rest of the khukuri remains soft.
Also this little amount of water doesn't have the necessary thermal capacity to harden the blade deeply enough, which basically means, that you'd reach soft steel after some years of sharpening it.
A lot of modern, quality makers of traditional khukuris offer a modern oil quench, which is superior to the traditional method.


Hi Markus,

I have a feeling you are contradicting yourself a bit here. Are you looking for a traditional khukri? Apparently not. But at the same time you feel that the WW2 model has too much Western influence.

My opinion is that traditional tools are made the way they are for a reason. It's not like they didn't have oil in the past, so their differential heat treatment method probably made sense to them. The same with the stick tang. It does bring benefits in terms of balance and shock absorbtion.

Cheers,
Paul
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Markus Fischer




Location: Germany
Joined: 14 May 2020
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2021 12:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Paul Hansen wrote:
Markus Fischer wrote:
But I think that windlass is not a good option, as I am not very interested in WW2 Khukuris. They are very simplifyed in order to be cheaper to produce and have much western influence, which is not what I am looking for in a khukuri.


Markus Fischer wrote:
As far as antiques go, they often are quite expensive, also they mostly have tangs that don't go all the way through the handle, which makes them not very well suited for hard use (which I indeed plan to do). Also the heat treat is often quite poor on these to be honest.
In the nepalise tradition the Kami (Smith) just heats up the blade to approximately 800 °C and then let's water run across the edge. This has the massive disadvantage that only the edge is hardened, but the rest of the khukuri remains soft.
Also this little amount of water doesn't have the necessary thermal capacity to harden the blade deeply enough, which basically means, that you'd reach soft steel after some years of sharpening it.
A lot of modern, quality makers of traditional khukuris offer a modern oil quench, which is superior to the traditional method.


Hi Markus,

I have a feeling you are contradicting yourself a bit here. Are you looking for a traditional khukri? Apparently not. But at the same time you feel that the WW2 model has too much Western influence.

My opinion is that traditional tools are made the way they are for a reason. It's not like they didn't have oil in the past, so their differential heat treatment method probably made sense to them. The same with the stick tang. It does bring benefits in terms of balance and shock absorbtion.

Cheers,
Paul


Youre right. I have choosen my words badly here.
The features I dislike about WW2 khukuris is that they are simplified and have full tangs.

But concerning your other points I heavily disagree.

The traditional way of heat treating is NOT better than modern oil quenching. It is much worse in fact.

First of all traditional tools are not always perfect for their intended purpose.

I am unsure if they had access to oil, but even if they did, that doesnt mean that they knew how to use it for hardening.
And even if they had known, they probably would have continued to use water, as it is their Tradition.
It is a tradition, because some guy who made the first khukuri hardened his blade by pouring water over the edge....and therefore everybody else did it like him...and they probably wont change their way of doing it, even if they knew that there is a better way, because their ancestors have done it like that.

Concerning the actual performance of those traditionally hardened blades, I have seen a lot of khukuris been tested, and the " pour water over the edge " method often rolls or chips.
The big issue that you might not be aware of is that they do not temper their blades after they have been hardened with water, which makes them very brittle.

The second big issue is that because youre only hardening the edge, the rest of the blade stays soft.

This is not a big disadvantage to most khukuris of modern day khukuri houses that still harden their khukuris the traditional way, because these often have very thick spines and therefore dont have to be hardened all the way through to stay straight.
The very negative effect of this is though, that they are more of a pry-bar than a knife, and therefore perform poorly when used.
For this reason a lot of new khukuri houses that have been founded in the last 10 years have started to offer oil hardening on their blades, because they have recognized that it is necassary to increase the quality of their product to compete with the big, old khukuri houses like KHHI.
Thats because a good oil heat treatment allows you to grind your blades thinner, which makes them more lively and perform much better.


Concerning the handle construction, youre right that these partial tangs are a lot more solid than one might think...but even still it is clear that a tang that goes all the way through and is then peened over a but-cap is more solid.
It doesnt really improve the balance, becasue it would just make it even more frontheavy, which usally isnt needed on a khukuri.
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Paul Hansen




Location: The Netherlands
Joined: 17 Mar 2005
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2021 2:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess it comes down to what you expect of a blade.

I am willing to believe that a through hardened and tempered blade made from a known steel from a good manufacturer is probably better than a differentially heat treated blade made from a leaf spring from some old scrap car or truck.

On the other hand there have been numerous cultures where people have made very serviceable blades using a "substandard" method. I'm not a very experienced khukri user but I do have used a fair number of Indonesian goloks and other short swords which are also differentially heat treated former leaf springs. I have never encountered problems, although other modern, Western users / bushcrafters have reported blades taking a set because of the soft backs, but none have reported blades breaking. Likewise, I assume that most Nepalese are also fairly satisfied with their khukri's otherwise they'd probably have found different production methods as soon as they became available.

Anyway. If you want a tool for bushcrafting and like the khukri form but don't care about tradition, then you may as well buy a khukri from Condor or even Cold Steel etc. On the other hand if you want a completely traditional khukri, then the differential heat treatment is a given and the question is just who does it best. I've heard good things about Himalayan Imports but there are probably more good ones, and HI is incredibly expensive if you consider the cost of living in Nepal. If you want something in-between traditional and modern, then I've heard good things about Khukuri House. But I have no personal experience with either.
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

Posts: 599

PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2021 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Markus,

I have a few 19th century khukuris. These were definitely made for the domestic market and all have blades from nearly 8mm to nearly 12mm thick in the spine. They are also all partial, glued tangs. So if you are looking for a traditional khukuri, it will probably have these features. Despite this, at least one of the heavier ones has very obvious signs of hard-use, which is not surprising; people don't tend to use tools that don't work.

It is true that the tang could loosen in the grip over time, but simply reheating the adhesive and re-setting the tang in the grip should cure that. I also suspect that the metal is quite soft but, as I said, these have thick tangs with edge supportive blade geometry, and definitely better too soft than too hard for a chopping tool.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Adam Simmonds





Joined: 10 Jun 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2021 12:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Markus Fischer wrote:
As far as antiques go, they often are quite expensive, also they mostly have tangs that don't go all the way through the handle, which makes them not very well suited for hard use (which I indeed plan to do). Also the heat treat is often quite poor on these to be honest.


Concerning the handle construction, youre right that these partial tangs are a lot more solid than one might think...but even still it is clear that a tang that goes all the way through and is then peened over a but-cap is more solid.
It doesnt really improve the balance, becasue it would just make it even more frontheavy, which usally isnt needed on a khukuri.


Hi Markus,

I don't know much about various methods of heat treatment but traditionally made khukuris have been used as heavy duty tools (and weapons) for a number of centuries. This combined with their on-going popularity seems clear evidence of their effectiveness.

Also - I'm not sure what you mean by 'partial tangs'? Many antique examples such as the late 19thC example I posted above have tangs which run the full length of the handle and are then peened over a butt cap. What came later are tangs which are the full width of the handle. I believe the Windlass example made for troops from WW2 onwards features this.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2021 1:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I bought mine from Himalayan Imports around 20 years ago and it has seen a lot of use as a bush machete. They are still trading today, which is a significant point in their favour - especially in this industry.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
Joined: 27 Nov 2007

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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2021 4:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam Simmonds wrote:

Also - I'm not sure what you mean by 'partial tangs'? Many antique examples such as the late 19thC example I posted above have tangs which run the full length of the handle and are then peened over a butt cap. What came later are tangs which are the full width of the handle. I believe the Windlass example made for troops from WW2 onwards features this.


Hi Adam, I'm not an expert but most of the antique khukuris I've seen have a fairly small, tapered tang which is completely enclosed by the handle and held there by an adhesive (made of lac I believe), and perhaps by a ferrule. This is what is meant by partial tang; it does not extend all the way through the handle.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Markus Fischer




Location: Germany
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Feb, 2021 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think some might be missunderstanding the point I am trying to make.....
Of course the khukuri was a usable tool in history.
For example the high weight made it very effective as a chopping tool.
But it also had some bad characteristics.....the poor heat treat, the high weight and therefore the thick edge geometrie which limits the performance, and the small tang, that may be quite solid, but could still be enhanced.
In addition to that one must mention, that the khukuris sold by a lot of khukuri houses are even thicker and have even fatter edge geometries than the historical examples.

The idea is now to improve the khukuri in a way that safes as most as possible from the traditional khukuri, while effectivly improving the bad characteristics, which are heat treat, weight and edge geometrie.

Thats were we came to the khukuris that are made today by the new khukuri houses, which understand that the only way to compete with the big, old houses who still make their kind of traditional but not very good khukuri at a very low price, is to improve the quality.
So in the end you have a knife with all the charm of a traditional khukuri, but it is lighter and cutts better while being tougher.

And thats what I am looking for. Makers that produce, or at least are skilled enough to produce this type of traditional, yet modernly improved khukuri.
I am aware of Kailash Blades, Khotang khukuri handicrafts and Tora Blades (while ive heard that tora blades still harden with water).

But I would like to know some more if there are any.....
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B. Stark
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Mar, 2021 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tried to stay out of this but here we go. First, the hardening process utilized by traditional makers is the method used for hundreds of years. My impression is that you are desiring a traditional "looking" kukri that is manufactured with modern heat treat and construction methods in mind. Short of contracting with a custom maker or the like I do not see you having the opportunity to get what you are after from traditional nepal kami.

To the point of modern construction methods. While stick tang construction seems to have been the standard practice if you go back far enough, through tang methods were also used though likely less so on "villager" kukri. I am not sure why you have this aversion to a tried and true method used by the culture in question for 200 plus years. Through tang, profile tangs and any other method can fail. As can stick tang methods. However, based on your stated desire a Mk2 full profile kukri is probably the method that would most meet what you are after.

I agree with you that many "khukhuri houses" grossly over build their products. I do not know where this idea was initially generated but is a common issue with what is available. It reminds of swords made in the US in the 1980's. As for the heat treat method? Frankly it is proabably the most appropriate method given what kukri are used for. A fundamentally differentially hardened blade. I have two kukri that use this method and never had issues with edge retention or lack of durability. Quite the opposite. Both are Toras and are by far the best I have encountered.

To answer you real question....to my knowledge there are no kukri makers that meet what you are seeking. Hence my suggestion is you are after a modern made kukri using modern construction methods and modern steels with modern heat treat. To that end you will have to seek a knife maker for a custom request.

"Wyrd bi∂ ful aræd"
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Adam Simmonds





Joined: 10 Jun 2006

Posts: 160

PostPosted: Tue 02 Mar, 2021 10:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ian Hutchison wrote:


Hi Adam, I'm not an expert but most of the antique khukuris I've seen have a fairly small, tapered tang which is completely enclosed by the handle and held there by an adhesive (made of lac I believe), and perhaps by a ferrule. This is what is meant by partial tang; it does not extend all the way through the handle.


Got it, thanks for clarifying Ian. Given that Khukuris are only vaguely situated in my area of interest I haven't studied many historical examples. As mentioned, the example I currently possess has a 'through tang' which is peened over a brass plate at the bottom of the handle. I do have other antiques (Middle Eastern and European made daggers and Bowie knives etc) which have 'partial tangs' but feel very trustworthy nonetheless. As others have pointed out, while there seems to be a modern preference for large and weighty tangs, many alternatives have stood the test of time and I suspect there are pros and cons practically speaking (in addition to stylistic preferences), which accompany the various iterations.
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Adam Simmonds





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PostPosted: Tue 02 Mar, 2021 10:28 am    Post subject: Re: Quality Khukuri Manufacturers         Reply with quote

Markus Fischer wrote:
Hi

By quality khukuri I mean that they dont sell those 850gramms 10mm thick chopping instruments, but rather well balanced, light and overall nicely made khukuris.

Thank you


Hi Markus,

I know that you aren't interested in antique examples but the parameters you mentioned made me curious about the dimensions of the article I posted a picture of earlier. For what it's worth, this antique example is 500gm (without the scabbard), 8mm thick at its widest point on the spine, 46cm in total length in a straight line from its point to the base of the handle (of which circa 37cm is the blade) and balances circa 10cm up the blade from the top of the handle.

Regards,

A
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David Hohl




Location: Oregon
Joined: 07 Feb 2011

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PostPosted: Mon 08 Mar, 2021 1:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the question that in particular needs to be answered is; are you looking for a fighting knife or a tool? You've mentioned that you want a thinner lighter blade, but that is going to make a worse tool for cutting and splitting firewood; a big khukri is better than a hatchet, but will beat up your wrist if you're using it on something else, so pick the size for the use.

As far as manufacture, you'll probably do well from one of the bigger Nepali factories; the steel is almost always salvaged from truck springs, which ought to be good enough for rough use. I say big factories because they usually have bigger more consistent ovens and get a better heat treat.

I also just want to emphasize that outside of a military context, these are vernacular tools, and made one at a time where every one's different, and that's part of the appeal. These days they usually have a bigger stronger tang, either all the way through the grip, or with two fat rivets near the bolster, or both. It's a small grip so the force is going straight from your hand to the blade; pretty strong. As for the dimensions, there's a huge variation, so get on a big website and browse the individual knives they have, you can pick any level of size and ornamentation you like.
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Mick McCoy




Location: North Carolina
Joined: 06 Oct 2020

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Tue 09 Mar, 2021 6:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you familiar with GGK (Great Gurkha Khukuri)? Forgive me if he's already been mentioned.

GGK has an excellent reputation, on par with with Kailash. They do traditional, modern, and custom orders (scimitars, gladius, xiphos, kopis, falcata, etc). Purna is the guy behind it, and he still makes the higher end stuff himself, though he farms lower end orders out to his apprentices. Obviously their bread and butter is khukuri's.

I own one of his blades. Plenty of people have recommended him to me, and I can vouch for him. Here's the model I intend to get from him next - "stick tang 12 inch Light Superfast". 320-340 grams, 6mm spine. There are reviews of it to be found on YouTube.

https://www.greatgurkhakhukuri.com/shop/military/12-old-army-khukuri-new-version/

-M
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