traditional scabbard --- wood wrapped in water buffalo leather -- frog, karda (small utility knife) and chakma (burnishing tool). Karda starts with a k, just like the word knife. That's an easy way to remember which tool is the karda. The scabbards are made by leatherworkers called sarkis.
Also spelled KARDATH and CHAKMAK there are many different shapes, sizes
and finishes. Above are a few examples from the Powell collection.
Kami Sherpa on adjusting a traditional scabbard
When I served in the Indian Army as a rifleman my tools were the Mark 3 and the khukuri. Sometimes I was in the Terai where it rains everyday. Sometimes I was sent to Rajhastan where it never rains.
My scabbard would change with the conditions. I and my comrades would loosen up our scabbards if they got a little too tight. Whittle a wood wedge and soak it in water. Then press it very firmly into the scabbard as far as it will go. Let it stand overnight.
You can also shrink your scabbard if you soak it in water and then
wrap it tightly with a belt or piece of rope. Let it set overnight.
I used a LOT of shoe polish on my scabbard when I was in the Indian Army -- and I still use it to this day. Today there may be better products but old habits have a way of staying with one.
This is the new HI super frog. No rivets.
Top picture is the basic tool kit of the sarkis. Bottom is the BirGorkha heavy duty sewing machine. Seated at the machine is sarki Govinda.
Govinda and Ashok (at the sewing machine) making HI superfrogs.
This is a scabbard Terry Cisco made for a khukuri that John Powell picked up somewhere. Terry started from scratch, fashioned the wood portion of the scabbard to fit the blade and then covered it with leather as shown. I have not seen this scabbard "in person" but it looks pretty decent in this picture and John Powell was pleased with it. So, if anybody needs a custom traditional scabbard you can check with Terry at the address below, or at his webpage. His prices are reasonable I hear and he gets the job done in good time.
900 W. Blue Starr
Claremore, OK 74017
phone number: 918-283-0022
BILL MARTINO 8/13/99
Replacing the tip on a scabbard
Just about any decent epoxy works well. Bill Martino
Superglue has been reported to melt the laha.
Barge contact cement is recommended by Cougar Allen and Ghostsix.
Caring for a leather scabbard
For waterproofing a scabbard forumites use various wax based dressings. Examples are: Rennasaince wax, Sno-Seal, and Nikwax. Shoe polish like Kiwi wax can also be used. It looks better but does not waterproof as well.
If you don't mind the leather becoming softer and looser oils can be used. Examples are neatsfoot oil and mineral oil.
Boiled linseed oil will cause the leather to harden after it dries.
Pecard Antique Leather Dressing has also been suggested. This seems to be a combination oil/wax.
A tight scabbard can be loosened by soaking it in water for 1/2 hour and inserting wooden wedges into the opening. Let the sheath dry with the wedges in and it will be looser when dried.
Historically, a number of small accessory tools were often carried in the scabbard. Pictured above are Karda (small knife), chakma (steel or burnisher), buttonhook, tweezers, chisel, awl. A pouch for dry tinder is often found on old style scabbards.
This photo is an example of the kukris found with a group of small knives
and tools. It is referred to as a "swiss army" or more correctly, a "trousse".
There are usually 8-10 pieces and the age is determined by what the makeup
of this array is. The later ones will have scissors and sometimes a little
saw with a saw type grip. The most common are white bone, then horn, then
wood, exotic horn (rhino, or like this example that is made of giraffe)
and finally ivory.
In the far reaches of Nepal you see people carrying khukuris about any which way they can -- whatever works for them.
In Nepal, I observed people carrying 15" khukuris hung from the front of the belt, where the buckle would be.
I usually wear suspenders in the woods, so I don't have a belt to hang items off. If I have a khukuri, it is usually in my pack or in the large back pocket of my mackinaw. Often when I need to use a khukuri I will retrieve it from its relatively inconvenient carry location, and carry it in my hand until I don't need it anymore. For a light khukuri, sometimes I stick the last few inches of the sheath into the thigh pocket of my shorts. This will work for a larger khukuri also, but it is not as secure.
A pistol belt works fine.
In this painting from about 1770, Prithivi Narayan Shah, king of Gorkha, founder and king of Nepal, and organizer and commander of the first Gorkha fighting force, is shown carrying his khukuri in his sash. Some old sheaths have buttons on them to help secure sash carry.
Khukuris I saw displayed in Nepal were almost always hung on a wall. A favorite is crossed khukuris on a wood plaque. Or, just hanging it by whatever means on a wall.
Pala had his mil service khukuri hanging from a couple of nails on the wall for years. We think it was stolen some years back by a group of trekkers that stopped by for a meal and a spot to spend the night.
I usually use my front passenger seat belt through the belt loop of my Khukuri. Then I cover the whole thing with a t-shirt or any piece of cloth. This keeps my blade handy and safe in case of a crash. Even thought the standard Khukuri sheath doesn't have a retaining strap, the bend of the blade and sheath keeps it pretty secure.
A minimal protective cover
Protective covers are sold for the purpose of covering ice skates when walking on surfaces other than ice. These covers can also serve to protect the blade of a khukuri.
A brand of covers called "Avant Guards" can be purchased from http://www.icesk8.com/access8.htm . They come two in a pack. Two packs come to about $14 with shipping. The avant guards weigh approximately two ounces each. They are 14 “ long. The rubber they are made of is soft enough to cut to size for a khukuri blade. I used the saw blade on my leatherman to cut one of the guards to fit a 14” villager.
Here is the villager with the guard in place. The spring holds the guard securely, and the tip of the knife is secure in the tip portion of the guard. A clear plastic tube that will prevent marring of the blade covers the spring.
Latching and unlatching the spring does take a bit of fumbling, so the blade can not be brought into play as rapidly as it could from a sheath. In instances where rapid deployment is not necessary, like backpack carry, the avant guard provides an excellent and lightweight carry option. - Howard Wallace
Put two split rings of the sort that are used to carry keys onto a caribiner. Close the gate and insert the closed caribiner into the belt loop of the frog on the khukuri sheath. Move the split rings so one shows on either side of the frog. Then clip a shoulder strap onto the rings. The strap can now go over your head and shoulder and the knife can ride by your waist or hip.
Another option for shoulder carry involves the use of the type of bag commonly called a "Danish School Bag." I often find this type of bag in the local second hand stores for a dollar or two. I use the type of bag with a detachable shoulder strap. The shoulder strap can be detached from the bag, run through the frog on the sheath, and then reattached to the bag.
An advantage to this type of carry is that the khukuri can be easily removed from the strap and carried concealed inside the bag. This is an advantage when traveling through a city or other locations where people may be disturbed by the sight of a large knife.
The bag carry does not interfere unduly with movement, as illustrated in the above photograph. Bag and sheath are worn with no discomfort while doing the clearing work.
A traveling rig
Airline regulations for the transport of firearms, company policies,
traveling companions, or other factors may make it inconvenient for some
to carry firearms on trips.
An alternative that I have experimented with is the 15 - 16 " khukuri in a jola. This length of khukuri will fit conveniently in a jola. The double zippers on the jola can be adjusted so there is a slight opening in the bag over the handle of the khukuri. This conceals the khukuri and allows access to the handle for a draw. The chape on the end of the scabbard must be covered to prevent it from poking through the loose weave of the bag. I use a small square piece of light cardboard, folded in half, then in half again, to produce a small square 1/4 the size of the original piece. I fit this over the tip. The 90 degree angle of the cardboard corner is wide enough to prevent penetration of the bag.
The jola and khukuri can be transported in checked baggage with no notification requirements. Upon arrival at the destination the jola can be removed from the checked luggage and carried. When traveling by car the jola can be placed in the passenger seat and buckled in. This provides easy access, concealment, and security in case of an accident.
I have been using my 16" Udhaipur in this manner. Based on my experience I think a 15" Sirupati or Kobra with a loose sheath would be the ideal khukuri for this type carry. The slim blade and the loose sheath provide for an easy draw. A larger knife like a BAS could be used, but the draw would be a little slower and might require two hands.
The unusual appearance of the jola will not excite apprehension like an IWB holster or a fanny pack. You might, however, be accosted by ladies who want to examine your beautiful purse.
Copyright (c) 1999-2001 by Howard Wallace, all rights
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.