How do you get a shaving sharp edge on a khukri?

Discussion in 'Himalayan Imports' started by EDCguy, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. EDCguy

    EDCguy Banned BANNED

    Jan 6, 2010
    Hi. I've been in intrested in these Himalayan import khukris for a while now. The only thing that keeps me from getting one is that I'm not really sure how I'd get a shaving sharp edge on it. If I remember correctly, they come with a file, but I'm sure that wouldn't get you anything but a utilty edge. Wouldn't it take forever with stones? Would a diamond rod work?

    I'm sure this has been beaten to death, but how do you get a shaving sharpe edge? I understand you could probably get a convex grind with a benchgrinder, but I'm looking for a more portable way to sharpen a khuk.
  2. Dave Rishar

    Dave Rishar

    Oct 25, 2004

    The mousepad/sandpaper method will do it (and is how I learned), but it's not quick. A belt sander can go from zero-to-shave in minutes (or less) if you have the belts and the skills. Mousepad and sandpaper? Not quite as fast.

    Before you embark on a quest that many of us have embarked upon and eventually abandoned, ask yourself why a shaving sharp edge is required on a tool of this sort. I can (and have) made these and other chopping instruments shave in the past, up to and including a splitting maul. I'd like to imagine that they worked a bit better like that but honestly, the wood probably did not notice. Is that level of sharpness really necessary here?

    I don't think so, and I haven't used my belt sander to sharpen cutlery in years. Fortunately it's still very handy for woodworking. :)
  3. EDCguy

    EDCguy Banned BANNED

    Jan 6, 2010
    Well then how do you keep it sharp?
  4. Karda

    Karda Banned BANNED

    Jun 1, 2007
  5. killa_concept


    May 19, 2009
    Well I convex my khuks to 1000grit using the mousepad/sandpaper method and yes - it can be time consuming. Nicholas here on HI said it took him about 6 hours (not in one sitting of course), but it was his first time with that method. The first time I did it on a khukri took about 2-3 hours to get just right - but that's with previous experience using the method on smaller, relatively straight blades. I've since shaved (pardon the pun) that time down to about 45 minutes to an hour from factory edge to shaving sharp convex all throughout.

    While I agree with your "diminishing returns" statement when it comes to axes, it's much different with a kukri. Whereas you only have one 4-6" sharpened area on an ax meant purely for heavy chopping, you have perhaps four different sharpened sections on the kukri - only one of which does heavy chopping if you use it right.

    Refer to this post of mine for my explanation of kukri sharpening ideology and usage.

    Leather strop + .3micron chrom oxide (optional) generally does the trick for me if I've only been chopping lighter vegetation. If I'm doing heavy chopping though, the rolled edge can be a bit more difficult to straighten. Usually though, a couple quick passes with the chakma followed by the sandpaper method using 1000grit and finished with the strop + chrom oxide will put a shaving sharp edge right back on it (10-15 minutes tops)
  6. kronckew

    kronckew Basic Member Basic Member

    Aug 17, 2003
    they do not come with a file.

    the khukuri usually comes with a small utility knife, the karda (which also may need sharpening) and a chakma which is a smooth burnishing tool used similarly to a butchers steel, it has no teeth like a file, does not remove metal, but is used to effectively push, or work, the edge slowly back into shape. further work with abrasives as per the above suggestions will normally be required as well if the edge is dulled.
  7. Billy516

    Billy516 Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 30, 2007
    Here's my $.02 on the subject. First, as has already been stated, for their most common intended purposes (chopping, rough cutting, etc.) they most certainly do not need a shaving sharp edge. If you want it strictly or kitchen use, fine utility work or SD, then I can see why you might want it to be shaving sharp.

    With that said, I'm slightly OCD with regards to all my edges and really prefer them to have a shaving edge, no matter what their intended purpose is, plus I find it fun to use a really sharp khukuri in the kitchen sometimes. :D

    So, with my khuks, I buck the general trend of convexing and use my Spyderco Sharpmaker and can get them shaving sharp with just the brown stones, from my 9" Baby AK all the way up to my 18" M-43. With some of my khuks that came with slightly thicker edges in places, I first hit them with a medium mill bastard file to remove steel, then went to work with the SM.

    As always, YMMV, but that's what works for me.
  8. EDCguy

    EDCguy Banned BANNED

    Jan 6, 2010
    It seems I'm just going to have to suck it up. I don't really feel like buying a belt sander, or sending my knife into anybody. Once they are convexed you can start stropping them back to sharp in the field right?
  9. Cpl Punishment

    Cpl Punishment

    Jan 28, 2006
    I use a Smith's diamond hone Coarse/Fine to sharpen mine. I hold the blade still and use the sharpener like a file. Doesn't give quite a shaving edge, but is plenty sharp to cut fine grasses and such.
  10. hollowdweller


    Sep 22, 2003
    The first thing I do is look at the edge all over.

    Often the angles change, there are high or dull spots or areas where the angle is too steep.

    I use a file or coarse diamond hone to fix these first. Some khuks don't have them but some do.

    Then I have an adjustable strop. There is a picture of it here

    I put 4 to 600 grit sandpaper on the strop and loosen the tension and sharpen the khuk.

    Then I use 1500 grit then just the leather. This will put a really nice shaving sharp polished convex edge on.

    I have a belt sander too but unless if the edge is way too thick I have a tendency to take too much off with it.
  11. Steely_Gunz

    Steely_Gunz Got the Khukuri fevah Moderator

    May 9, 2002
    You don't HAVE to have a belt sander;) I have well over a bushel basket of khuks and HI knives in my collection, I have never sharpened one up (even one that came particularly dull) with anything more than stones, strops, and sandpaper. It does take time, yes. However, I rather enjoy the bonding process.

    Also, as others have stated, unless it is an exercise in practice for skill or fun, don't sweat it if it doesn't shave:) These big brutes are choppers. Once I get a uniform edge on mine, generally any khuk over 14" long (blade length) gets nothing more than a few swipes with the chakma, a few licks with a butcher steel, and finally MAYBE a date with a stone.

    Of course, I'm guilty of making many of my non users razor+ sharp from tip to cho for fun:)
  12. C.S. Graves

    C.S. Graves

    Jun 13, 2006
    A belt grinder is actually a great investment if you ever find yourself needing to reprofile or sharpen very dull blades. They're not terribly portable, but once you've used one to power through the more tedious work, you can easily use manual methods of maintaining the edge. In my case, I establish the profile/initial edge I want, and finish it off with wet/dry sandpaper glued to a paint stirring stick and ceramic stones. Last step is stropping on the leg of my jeans. If you give the khuk or what have you a few strops or strokes of the ceramic after use, it won't need any major grinding again for a while... and of course one can always whip out the sandpaper sticks for jobs the ceramic would be too slow for. Most of my blades stay hair shaving sharp. Like Dave said, this isn't completely necessary for the kind of work big khuks are meant to do... it's just a funny little psychological bug I have. :D
  13. MrMike


    Jan 22, 2006
    It took me several weekends to put an acceptable edge on my Sher CAK.
    Started with 600-grit paper, then worked up to 1500-grit. I now use the 1500 for touchups. I used to strop with 0.5 micro chromium oxide. Don't bother any more. The bite from the sandpaper puts a really nice working edge on. Neither my CAK or Bura Siru are razor sharp. The Siru is a true fighter and can easily cut with the edge maintained by 1500-grit sandpaper.
  14. Nicholas


    Apr 1, 2009
    I've gone up tp 1500-grit, as well, but it still won't shave. I may have to go even higher...if I can find it!
  15. Andrew Colglazier

    Andrew Colglazier

    Sep 14, 2006
    If you want to use your khuk to any degree, I suggest you invest in a belt grinder. As an example, I've been using my Bamboo Cutter these last few days quite a lot, and as a result, I've dinged the edge in several places by swinging it into the ground and hitting a rock or two, or a piece of wire or two.

    Ordinary sharpening using sandpaper or similar hand methods would take quite a long time to remove those dings, but a belt sander can have the edge back in an intact state in just a few passes. I normally then just run a steel, then a ceramic rod over the edge a few times to bring it up to shaving.

  16. hollowdweller


    Sep 22, 2003
    This is true. I once chopped my chainsaw out of a tree that had sat down on it with a Ganga Ram. The edge kept hitting the chain and it took forever with a file.

    I didn't have a belt grinder back then but it would have taken a few min tops to get the chips out.
  17. hollowdweller


    Sep 22, 2003
    On the whole whether you need a shaving edge or not.

    I don't think it needs to be shaving, but having it really sharp helps cutting small stuff.

    I like the tip to be really sharp but a little bit steeper than the sweet spot because stuff like low growing greenbriar I usually strike down at the base and hit the soil a lot. The part where it hits the wood when you chop I like that really polished out if I can do it. Then the curve that's not well tempered I usually have that real sharp and thin for bark stripping.

    Some khuks I have had even fast thin bladed ones were too steep. I'd end up beating small branches off.
  18. Nicholas


    Apr 1, 2009
    Luckily, that's about how mine came: steep at the tip, and getting shallower towards the recurve.
  19. Dave Rishar

    Dave Rishar

    Oct 25, 2004
    These days? I generally just use a file. It's a pain in the ass with a few of the harder ones but it works well enough.

    Admittedly my sharpening needs aren't as great as they were a few years ago. If I went back to a job that kept me in the woods all day, I'd probably go back to the belt grinder. ;)
  20. Robin Shooter

    Robin Shooter

    Jan 12, 2003
    Could I get a pic of someone actually shaving with a Khuk? :p

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