Be Careful with your Kukri

At I write this there is finger-tip bandage over the end of my pinky finger. I cut off part of its tip with a kukri.  How did I do that?  I picked it up, in its sheath, upside down.  They do not put a holding strap on a kukri.  In fact, making a holding strap yourself, even if you have done some leather work, is hard, because of the shape of the handle.

You need to be aware that a Kukri blade takes a razor-sharp edge.  That is part of its strength.  Let me be a little graphic, a kukri blade is used in war to cut off body parts.  What makes you think it won't cut off yours?

Whenever you swing a kukri, you need to be aware of where it is going to land when it cuts through what it is hitting.  Otherwise, after it has done its job, it will cut into, or through, you.  Enough said?  


Strap was made from an old section of belt, and a snap kit bought in the sewing section of a department store.  Sewn into belt loop, and very tight.  Stretched it on, in fact, when the leather was wet.  When it dries, it should hold its shape.  Has to be very tight to work on a Kukri.

here are a couple of articles:


Taken from:

Safety Considerations        

Safety Thread: Be safe, not sorry!

   (original by Harry, revised by 'Gonzo Beyondo' )

1. A kukri is a tool which has a sharp blade. It can and is used for many useful tasks. It is not a toy. Treat it with the respect that it deserves.

2. Take the time to learn how to handle a kukri properly. You'll find that your use will be more efficient and enjoyable.

3. Always handle and use your kukri with safety in mind. If you are not 100% dedicated to safety, you have no business using a kukri.

Below are some examples of things not to do and consequences:


And this is an example of the damage a kukri can cause.

4. Even when a kukri is being sheathed and unsheathed, safety should be kept in mind.

Notice how the user keeps his hand away from the edge area.

And the wrong way to unsheath/sheath a kukri...:

The fellow handling this kukri was lucky to avoid serious injury to his hand. He could have ended up like this:

5. Watch out for the sharp chape!! (this is the sharp brass thing covering the tip of the scabbard) Take a file and round it off or remove it completely.

Maintain your kukri. Keep it sharp and make sure that it fits snugly in its scabbard.
If it needs repairs, consult Uncle Bill and the kukri experts at the Himalayan Imports Forum for advice.

If you are allowing others to handle your kukris, make sure that you instruct them on how you expect them to handle them.
This is for their safety and yours. If any doubt exists as to safety, do not let them handle your kukris.
After all, what responsible kukri owner/user would give a sharp knife to an idiot? Remember, you are responsible for your kukri.

8. If you see another person using a kukri in an unsafe manner, stop and instruct them in safe kukri use. You, and they, will be glad you did.

9. Once more, a kukri is NOT A TOY!!! It is a sharp tool that can hurt you and others if not used with safety in mind.

10. The pictures and information above were provided by Uncle Bill Martino, Tom Marker, Russell Slate, MauiRob, Howard Wallace's Kukri FAQ, Terry Sisco and other responsible kukri users.

The author of this safety thread is not responsible in any way if you misuse a kukri and hurt yourself in any way.
You, and you ALONE are responsible for your actions. No exceptions.

Controlled safe cutting principles... By Ferrous Wheel

As per a request, I'm adding this to the safety thread. Think of it as prevention...

Consider these principles when or before attacking some unsuspecting lumber with your kukri:

1 - Controlled Striking with the primary cutting edge:
Before cutting hard targets, it is best to practice controlled striking (with the hardened area--have to determine that as well) on softer targets, like 2x4s and limbs. You can tell you're ready to move on to harder targets once you can always hit with the hardened area of the kukri (you can tell this by looking at marks on the blade made by cutting wood--they should mostly be in the primary cutting area).

Conveniently, the Center of Percussion -- the 'sweet spot' -- of each HI kukri is the zone that is hardest. It is no accident that this is the primary cutting area of the kukri, and will deliver the most efficient cut.

2 - Controlling force and depth of strike:
When you swing the kukri at the target, do not think of striking at the surface of the target--but through it or many inches into it. Try cutting plywood edge-on to master this technique. You can draw a line 3-4 inches down on the side of the plywood, and aim for that depth of cut. This also makes you conscious of blade control--by cutting TO the line, not through it or above it, you learn to stop the kukris downward descent so that it does not exit the target out of control and into one's leg or arm or rocky also get a feel for the strikes that are too weak or not perpendicular to the target. As you must initiate the swing, so must you terminate the swing in a controlled fashion.

3 - Ignore the Point (or tip) of the kukri:
When using the kukri for cutting, realize that the tip (meaning the part of the blade that extends past the sweet spot) is really not the cutting area--The point is the secondary cutting area of the kukri. Most folks when swinging a sword or long blade for the first time want to strike with the point. This is not the sweet spot, and delivers an ineffective cut with no mass behind it (and using the softer tip, also a no-no).

Basically, the last few inches of the kukri are there to put mass further out past the sweet spot, which is mass that converts to a more forceful blow. The tip is there to roll the blade through the target without snagging.

When test cutting, ignore the tip of the kukri--act as if the kukri stops right after the hardened area. You will be surprised how well the tip of your kukri will hold up when it not used as a primary chopping edge.

4 - Think in arcs:
Unlike a spear, arrow, or bullet, a kukri does not travel in a line. It and other swung objects travel in an arc. When you swing your kukri, be aware of the start and finish (and everything in between) of the arc. Be aware that anything that gets in this are is subject to being cut. Check the path of the arc by envisioning the swing, and make sure there are no obstructions.

5 - Cut away from yourself:
This basic rule for all knife use is paramount in kukri use, as they have two deadly ingredients --- mass and sharpness. When thinking in terms of arcs, the kukri arc should always start closer to you than where it ends up. If you are swinging an arc that goes away from you but comes back close to you as well, you must rethink this arc or you risk injury. We all know that a kukri goes slicing thru most target materials much faster than we think it will, so do not assume that the target will miraculously stop the kukri dead.

If you practice for a while, master blade control and can use your wrist in conjunction with the swing to 'snap' the blow into the target, You will be ready for safe and effective cutting.


_ _ _ 

Chopping Felled Trees

Here's one for all the kukri lumberjacks out there. Let's say you just felled a nice tree with your chainsaw, and now it's time to draw the trusty kukri and set about de-limbing and such. Be dad gummed careful of any small saplings the tree might have fallen across. They'll be bent over storing energy just like the pole in a good snare setup. A large kukri will lop through a wrist thick sapling with one good lick, suddenly and violently releasing the energy stored in that bent sapling. A sapling of that diameter will recoil with enough force to put out an eye, crush a windpipe, et cetera. So what do you do? Don't cut either end, cut in the middle of the arc of the bent piece of wood, and only enough until the wood cracks, releasing most of it's energy. Same deal for limbs that are supporting the weight of the fallen tree, they're storing energy too.

Before you ask, no, it's never happened to me, and I'm sure plenty of you out there already knew about it, so I thank you for your patient indulgence. It just occurred to me that there's a lot of brand new kukri users popping up on the forum, and some of them may be new to chopping trees down/up. I've been through several hurricanes and seen a lot of folks hurt trying to deal with fallen trees. They can be very dangerous and entirely unforgiving.



AND PLEASE.....!!! From Kismet

1. Contain your initial enthusiasm.

2. Go slower when you are tired, and be more deliberate in your actions.

Stop before the accident. The job will stay there until you are rested.


Copyright (c) 1999-2001  by Howard Wallace, all rights reserved.; 2002-3 Himalayan Imports.
This FAQ may not be included in commercial collections or compilations, or distributed for financial gain, without express written permission from the author.  This FAQ may be printed and distributed for personal non-commercial, non-profit usage, or as class material, as long as there is no charge, except to cover materials, and as long as this copyright notice is included.



Blade Safety, by Singularity


Basic precautions to handle and work with big blades in order to avoid accidents.

Type of blades

The same considerations practically apply to axes, hatchets and big blades, parangs kukris, goloks, klewangs, machetes...

Profiles of wood chopping blades of any kings vary from convex (goloks, felling axes) to flat V (axes, parangs), saber grinds (leukkos, parangs, kukris) to hollow grinds (limbing axes, some big knives, kukris), with all kind of mixes between the genres (generally with a convex edge), depending on the specific purpose of the tool and the culture that resolved the problem.

While it seems that convexes are good for shaping and control, Vs for going straight, and hollows for limbing and penetration, things differ in dense or soft woods, and thick or thin saplings.

And I have not taken into account weight, length, geometry and balance!

Basically, I am telling you that it is worth trying your blades carefully, as you cannot know how they will behave by just looking at them.

Type of sheath

Some sheaths are more secure than others. Sheaths can be made from all sorts of material, including wood, leather, plastic (Kydex, Concealex), cordura, etc. Most will be easily cut or split by the edge, should an impact occur, or just when sheathing or unsheathing. 17 " of razor blade can cut a wooden sheath easily if is not properly done. Some sheaths do not have a retension system of the blade, invent one! I hate being tied all the time to a big blade, because there are time I need to be free from it. Climbing a tree is an example. So the system could be disposable. A baldrick is fine by me.

Sheathing and unsheathing

A general principle, while holding a sheath with a big blade, and drawing the blade from or into the sheath, is to hold the sheath firmly, the hand well away from the mouth (so that the edge cannot cut you), in a vertical position (if there is no retainment strap, or if it has been released). The fingers should not at any time be on the sheath part that is under the cutting edge (you hold the sheath using a U of your hand, palm on the side of the sheath that holds the spine of the blade -- an alternative is to hold the sheath in a way the edge is up, and unsheathe the blade, letting the spine rest and slide against the sheath, like you’d do for a katana). The main principle is to never trust the sheath.

Secure sheathing / unsheathing, note the open hand over the sheath and distance of the holding hand from the mouth. the main disavantage is an usecure grip, and that the edge may cut through the sheath with gravity and time. But anyway it is worth describing, as at least it saves your fingers.

The katana way, sheath and blade up-side down, edge up, you let the spine rest on the wood/material of the sheath. You do not change your grip on the handle, just flick the wrist up. Same thing for unsheathing, you hold the handle in the right position from the start by flicking the wrist. Again, note the distance of the holding hand from the mouth. This is probably the best method ever, it saves the scabbard, the edge, and the fingers.

Chopping and machete work

My preferred position: hitting away from me, with a movement from the left to my right side (the wall in this case !) [1]. This has the advantage that the arm cannot close around me like in an embrace, and therefore, in case of deflection, the blade is less likely to come back towards me, my legs or bust [2]. Also it allows me to hit with the arm in extension, therefore the blade is at the maximal distance I can get from me when it impacts. It also allows getting more speed, as the position is safer. If you need to angle the blow at say some 45 degrees from vertical, you’ll need to take more care again, as bouncing back due to a glance or a deflection is always possible.

These blades where sunk in the banana trunk using the exact movement I just described

There was a glance on this one. I did hit at 30-45 degrees, but giving a lot of energy, and the blade ended vertically stuck. The tree is soft and large, so it stayed there, but it could have been bad on different wood, as it could have bounced back, after taking a chip...

Length of blade or handle

Shorter blades if they get deflected are more likely to come back to you.

If a felling axe gets deflected or glances, it will not cause a problem to your safety, because the head will hit the ground. If a hatchet gets deflected and comes back to you, it will hit you at knee level , as the handle is not long enough to allow the ground to protect you.

The same considerations apply for longer and shorter machete type blades.


It is obvious that for any wood cutting or chopping task, any tree felling or limbing, a well sharpened blade will work better. Not only it will make a better job, but it will be much less tiring, and more easily controllable, as it requires less energy to perform the same tasks. So my advice is to keep the edges well sharpened and polished. It is always a good idea to carry a burnisher steel and some sharpening tools with you.

The downside of this is that a well sharpened tool will also cut you just as well, so it deserves even greater respect.


There are a few things that can be dangerous when using a big blade:

  1. Glances:
      A Glance is when the handle tries to turn in your hand while hitting the material. It often shows that you were probably applying too much force to the blow, but can also come from the design of the knife. The blade can turn in the material, and the trajectory be modified to a point it comes out of the material, and back to you or another person at the same speed it came in. Beware of kukris regarding this aspect. Generally, blades whit a lot of forward curve are prone to glances, the same way hatchets are, for the reason that the cutting edge is under the dynamic axe created by the arm, thus in an unstable dynamic balance, hand and handle.8 stitches in my big toe, down to the bone, and 10 on my shoes  can attest of this.
  2. Draw cut or sabre effect:
      This is encountered on backward curved blades that look like sabres (golok, parangs, sabres...). When you hit the material, it tends to push in your hand towards you. If you pull the blade, at that moment, thus taking advantage of the natural tendency, the blades goes slicing the material, as well as push cutting. All users of goloks have noticed this, the problem is that when you think the blade will get stacked in thick material, it goes through. It could be very dangerous if a part of you, or another person is in the way. Goloks are likely to do this. Do it once, and you will quickly understand why the saber was a so feared cavalry weapon ! This is why being right handed, I hit from left to right, away from me, and not the opposite.
  3. Shearing effect:
      This is encountered on forward curved blades that look like khukuries (bolos ...). When you hit the material, it tends to pull from your hand. If you take advantage of the natural tendency, by giving a small rotation forward, the blades goes slicing the material, as well as push cutting. It is like the draw cut, but going away from you. The effect is the same, and this is a reason why khukuries are so valued by outdoor people.
  4. Deflections:
      The blade hits something unexpected, or something expected at a wrong angle, and is deflected from its expected trajectory. It could be messy if you, or anybody, are in the trajectory. Try to avoid movements that would cause the blade to pass too near or too parallel to your body.
  5. Loose blades in sheath:
      The blade is loose in the sheath, meaning it does not stay in the sheath when the horizontal level is passed, this is a danger, you go with a huge blade in it’s sheath on your belt, securely, then bend to pick something on the floor, and ZZZZZip you get 17 inches of razor sliding out, and getting in an unknown direction just near you, because you passed the horizontal level. Avoid the reflex to grab the thing!. I always secure my big blades, by adjusting a piece of leather in the mouth of the sheath, which holds the blade by friction. When you do this, you must take care to adjust the leather thickness, in order to avoid splitting the scabbard. It does not need to hold in an up-side down position, but a good 30 degrees is a lot of safety added.
  6. Energy from the material cut:
      Bouncing saplings. Branch falling towards you. Bent sapling releasing it’s energy in your guts or face. Tree falling an unexpected direction. Fruits falling on your head. Dead branches suddenly deciding to fall. Base of the tree kicking terrain hump, or bouncing because of the trunk curvature. Barber chair tree because of bad undercut... These things arrive, learn about proper axemanship and related safety before felling and limbing a tree.
  7. Unsafe tool:
      The handle is cracked, or is becoming loose. For axes and hatchets this can sometimes be fixed by soaking the head in linseed or tung oil. For knives, machetes, goloks, parangs, it needs a repair adapted to the assembly type.

Basic precautions of use

  • Other people must be outside the reach of your tool when the arm is extended, in front, on the side and behind you. Be aware of their position, they may come closer to see what the hell you are doing with this HUGE blade. Warn them not to approach.
  • Cut away from you , this also mean extending the arms, if needed.
  • Take the time to learn the blade first using moderate blows.
  • Do not rush, do not run with an unsheathed big blade, axe or hatchet, think your movements carefully. Be stable on your feet, or put the blade back in the sheath if not.
  • When carrying, remember to keep it straight in the sheath, or put a friction pad. Sliding blades are a danger to you and others.
  • Do not handle the bare blade to someone else, sheathe the blade first, handle the whole lot.
  • Avoid if possible full force blows, let gravity work for you. This is not always possible, but avoids glances and tiredness. Keep blade well sharpened.
  • Try to make the trajectory of the blade as straight as possible.
  • Avoid the edge entering the material at an angle different from the angle of the blow. This avoids glances.
  • When tired, stop, breathe, rest. Most accidents happen when tired. Recently a friend cut his knee (just 2 stitches, he was lucky), because he was tired, and did not control the blade well enough anymore.
  • Observe, think and choose. Carefully select the place where you intend to work, clear it, check the possible dangers of the work you want to do (inspect the tree’s high branches, etc).
  • Protect yourself. Gloves, glasses, steel toes shoes, thick pants are not that stupid. Kevlar gloves and pants exist for gardeners and workers, and are not that expensive. If you are not protected, act accordingly, being much more careful and less precipitated.
  • Loose or cracked handles must be repaired prior to use.

Using a big blade is a bit like using a charged and armed gun, except the range is closer, and it can hit backwards and on the sides too.

Any questions, please contact the Administrator.