Chakmak and Karda – What is their purpose?

Posted in: Knife Blog by Michael on April 29, 2014

Example of Chakmak sharpening tool and small Karda knife.You have probably noticed that most traditional Napelese khukuris include two much smaller knives inside the sheath. They are known as the chakmak and karda. Both of these knives have a good reason for being packaged together with a khukuri. Let’s discuss…


Despite appearances, the chakmak technically isn’t even a knife since they are unsharpened and have no edge (though one could be added). The chakmak is a honing/sharpening tool constructed with a piece of hardened “sharpening” steel and wood/bone affixed as a handle for easy use and carry. The purpose of this accessory is to polish and maintain the khukuri by insuring it always has a sharp, straight, and burr-free edge. It isn’t meant to be used as a full on sharpening tool on a already dull edge. The general idea is too keep the blade edge keen after use by regularly using the chakmak before it can begin to dull, thus decreasing the amount of sharpening required and extending the life of your blade. They also work great as a striker for firesteel since the spine of a chakmak is usually perfectly flat and extremely rigid.

Check out the following YouTube video embedded below that demonstrates the proper technique to sharpen your khukuri with a chakmak.


Unlike the chakmak, a karda knife does have an edge. The purpose of this knife is for practicality when faced with cutting tasks that require more precise control and dexterity, such as skinning animals or whittling. A standard sized khukuri will be much too large for small detail work, skinning, carving and basically anything else that doesn’t include heavy chopping, clearing paths or wood splitting. While a khukuri knife is certainly capable of performing these more delicate cutting tasks, they are obviously not ideal due to blade thickness, weight and overall length.

For this reason a smaller, more agile karda knife makes the perfect secondary blade to be carried along with a full sized khukuri so you always have the right tool for the job. The blade length of a karda knife varies, but the models that come included with khukuris are typically within the range of 2-4 inches. About the size of your average folding pocket knife, but with a fixed blade.

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