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How to Sharpen a Ghurka Kukri - Traditional and Modern Kukri Sharpening Methods

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Because of the unique shape and design of the Ghurka Kukri it is important to know how to sharpen it correctly. There are both traditional sharpening and modern sharpening methods and tools that you can use to get a fine edge to your blade. Thankfully, the Ghurka Kukri is made of relatively high-carbon content steel which is great for getting and maintaining a sharp edge over and over again without compromising the strength of the blade. Be forewarned - sharpening your Kukri right will take a bit of work but it will be worth it when you have a great tool that can cut easily. 

Let's take a look at some of the traditional and modern sharpening methods for the Ghurka Kukri. 

British-Ghurka Style Kukri
Traditional Kukri Sharpening With the Chamak

Traditional Ghurka Kukri come complete with two smaller utility knives. One of these, the Chamak is used for sharpening and honing the Kukri. The Chamak is used in a similar way to most modern honing steels but because of the unique shape of the Kukri blade the Chamak is worked from the tip of the blade to the notch rather than from the hilt to the tip as with many other blades. 

To sharpen your Kukri traditionally first rest the tip of the blade on a wood surface. Then, using the Chamak you start at the tip with a shallow angle and work your way back into the curve, gradually increasing the angle of the blade until you reach the notch. The reason for changing the angle like this is because the weighted end of the blade is used for heavier work like chopping wood while the inner curve is used for finer work like cutting plants. Having a shallower angle on the end of the blade will also help prevent severe damage to the blade like chips and bends when cutting harder materials or in the event of accidentally striking stone. When using the Chamak make sure you apply a fair bit of pressure.

Honing with the Chamak is laborious work. It would typically be done after the days work and could take a few hours to get a perfect edge. Honing with the Chamak after every use is ideal as it will reduce the time needed to bring the blade back from a very blunt state.

J.A. Henckels 9-Inch Poly Sharpening Steel
Sharpening With a Honing Steel

When sharpening with a modern honing steel you should use a similar method as with the Chamak. Start at the tip and work your way back to the notch, brining the honing steel towards yourself as you go. You do not need to apply as much pressure with a honing steel as you do with the Chamak. Again, make sure the tip of the Kukri is resting securely on a wooden surface.

Pictured Right: J.A. Henckel's 'Lifetime Guaranteed' 9-inch Poly Sharpening Steel, the highest rated sharpening steel on Amazon. 

Lansky Dual-Grit Sharpening Puck
Sharpening With a Stone or Puck

To sharpen the Ghurka Kukri with a sharpening stone or puck you must use a different technique for the end of the blade and for the concave section of the blade. The benefit of using a stone or a puck is that it is possible to sharpen a much more blunt Kukri more easily.

Pictured Right: The Lansky Dual-Grit sharpening Puck, one of the top-rated sharpening pucks on the market.

For the concave you must rub the stone or puck back and forward lightly along either side of the blade, paying careful attention to keeping a consistent angle. If you are using a puck it is best to use the smaller, angled surface of the puck.

For the end section of the blade use the large, flat surface of your puck or stone and rub the blade in a circular motion.

How to Sharpen a Completely Blunt or New Kukri

Many Ghurka Kukri come quite dull for transportation reasons, if this is the case you will need to start sharpening with a fine to medium metal file. Simply start sharpening the blade by rubbing the file back and forward at an angle until the blade starts to come to a point. Create a steeper angle on the concave of the blade and a lesser angle on the heavy end of the blade. Once the Kukri has a decent angle (it should start to feel sharp) switch over to a stone, puck, honing steel or the Chamak and hone the blade the rest of the way.  

A good test for sharpness is to try cutting a piece of paper from the edge of the paper to the center. A sharp blade will grab the paper and slice through it. A dull blade will simply fold the paper over.

Tips for Protecting the Kukri's Blade

  • Avoid leaving the blade wet for extended periods of time. Traditional Kukri are not made from stainless steel and they are prone to rusting. Make sure you wipe the blade dry with a cloth after use. 
  • To clean the blade use turpentine or kerosene and a cloth. This will help remove rust and sap more easily.
  • After cleaning applying machine or gun oil to the blade will help protect it further. This is especially recommended if you live in a humid area as it will stop the blade from rusting.
  • Make sure the Kukri's sheath is clean and free of dirt that could damage the blade. Oiling the sheath will make it softer and will make it easier to insert and remove the Kukri without damaging it.

Safety Warnings

  • Make sure that the tip of the Kukri is secured firmly when sharpening and that you have a firm grip.
  • Never sharpen with wet or oily hands. 
  • Ensure that any kerosene or turpentine is dry before sharpening top avoid starting fires.
  • Make sure that you store your Kukri securely in a locked cabinet or out of reach to avoid it getting into the wrong hands.

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I hope this article has helped you learn how to effectively keep your Ghurka Kukri sharp. Cutting with a sharp Kukri is an amazing experience. The design of the blade and the strong edge make it such a great tool. Thank you for reading, please consider leaving a comment below!

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