Lao Blades (Parang?)


May 17, 2013, 11:31 AM
A little history on these blades...

My wife's brother is married to a Laotian lady. Her father brought these blades to the U.S. in the early 1970s.

They were forged and made by a local blacksmith near the village where he lived. Appears to me that they were probably made from leaf spring steel. They are fairly heavy blades and pretty darn sharp still, even in their current condition.

Based on some old photos it appears that they once had roundish handles about a foot long, either made from bamboo or wood.

I was thinking about doing a para-cord wrap on the handles and using them like a machete.

Are these parangs? My sister in law does not know and her father is now deceased.

Anyhow, I thought these were kind of cool. I have been soaking them overnight in Ballistol.

Hso, JShirley or Sam...You guys probably have a lot more experience with something like this. Can you identify these blades?

Thanks much

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May 17, 2013, 11:37 AM
Those are very cool, but that's way outside my area of expertise. John and HSO will know for sure, though! :)

Certainly they seem that they'd work like, and fill the same role as, a parang, even if that shape denotes a slightly different form.

May 17, 2013, 11:53 AM
Parangs can come in various forms. Like kukuris, they all have blade-forward balance.

Spring steel is perhaps the very best steel available for large blades in primitive places. It's not bad steel even for those of us who have a variety of good steels available.


Sam Cade
May 17, 2013, 12:53 PM
Aranyik sells a very similarly constructed chopper they call an e-toh.

Aranyik is Thai, not Lao but it is as close as I can get since I don't know much about SE Asian chopper typology

May 17, 2013, 01:14 PM
Wow, those are pretty cool! I wonder what the story is with the large vertical grooves on two of those. They look like artifacts of a previous purpose, i.e.: reclaimed material. Kind of like making a blade out of a W2 file, but on elephant scale!

Sam Cade
May 17, 2013, 01:53 PM
Wow, those are pretty cool!

I know! So many blades! So little time!


I wonder what the story is with the large vertical grooves on two of those. They look like artifacts of a previous purpose, i.e.: reclaimed material.

I've been wondering that myself.
They have an (image rich) Facebook page.

May 17, 2013, 11:15 PM
Sam Cade...

Wow!! Very cool. Thanks for the info and pictures. E-toh, I'll research that.

Once again...thanks

May 18, 2013, 12:04 AM
Ethnic chopper from Luang Prabang area of Laos from what I can dig up.

Posted in a motorcycle forum chronicling a ride through Laos.

May 18, 2013, 12:46 AM

Great pic!!


Sam Cade
May 18, 2013, 12:47 AM
Ethnic chopper from Luan Prabang Laos

Dig the brass on the handles on the left side of the pile.

Those look are particularly handsome tools.

May 18, 2013, 09:40 AM
One of our briefly posting members is a writer for one of the knife magazines and I vaguely remember him either posting a pic here or in the magazine of something much like that and that's what allowed me to run it down on the net (that and the Laotian connection;)).

I had thought golok, but goloks tend to be sharpened on the curved side and, as John pointed out, there are a lot of different parangs depending upon the application (as we can see from the displayed local products).

Sam Cade
May 23, 2013, 09:46 PM
Meanwhile, back at the ranch:

I'm rehandling and refurbishing these two choppers for Okiegunner and I figured I might as well post the process for the edification and entertainment of us all.

Firstly, man, these guys are UGLY. Zero thought was given to aesthetics, they are 100% pure tool, completely covered in grindmarks and hammer divots. Wait, did I say ugly? I meant beautiful.

The blades are deceptively short, the longer is 10" the shorter 9.5" above the socket with roughly one inch less edge,a true full flat grind and a great deal of distal taper.

Both knives appeared to have been used and then stored with some sort of vegetable matter adhering to the blade. The resulting corrosion has completely destroyed the edge.

This is after a trip through the dishwasher (which blasted off some of the crud) and a quick descaling via paint scraper.

Ah, what is this? A clue to the history of this tool!

After a bit of scotchbrite:

Looks like it might be Thai in origin after all.

Handle rough fit but not driven into socket, ragged edge knocked off and ready for a swim in the de-rustification solution.

May 23, 2013, 10:07 PM
Thanks for the pics and info.


May 24, 2013, 12:11 PM

Thanks much for the update and photos.

Sam Cade
May 24, 2013, 04:14 PM
It is a good day to work outside!

I went ahead and hung chopper #1, the longer and more corroded of the two.

Hmmm...socket handle on a swinging tool....ah well, works on billhooks.

I gave it a convex secondary bevel and proceed to clear about hundred yards of heavily overgrown fence-line.

Very interesting tool to use. The long handle gives a tremendous amount of leverage, it chops almost as well as an Ang Khola and doesn't want to bind, but still develops enough tip speed to be useful on greenery.

It is exactly 28" tip to tail with the handle at the current length, long enough to keep your hands and arms out of the thorny grasp of Rubus argutus and the Smilax gang.

OTOH the length of the handle was fantastically in the way when I made several wholly unnecessary fuzz sticks and the only reasonable way to carry the assembled tool is lashed to a packframe.

Sam Cade
May 24, 2013, 04:22 PM

Shiny or not shiny?

#2 has a broad secondary bevel whereas #1 was full flat.

May 24, 2013, 09:26 PM
Good Lord that some great blades.

Sam Cade
May 25, 2013, 01:48 PM
This is #2*, chased the flats with a completely worn out belt then lightly massaged with 800 grit.

Pickled it overnight to float off some of the corrosion inside the socket that a rotary brush wouldn't touch.

Also,cleaned up the joint where it was left dangerously sharp.

Reflection from the oil makes it look shiner than actuality in this pic.

*on top in the OPs pics.

May 28, 2013, 10:44 AM

They are looking great!! I've been away from the internet for a few days and just now looked at your latest on these.

Thanks much for your work!

Sam Cade
May 28, 2013, 05:43 PM
Massive shipment of paracord finally arrived so I can start on the wraps.

The yellow hank is a short 100' length from Planet Paracord. Very attractive color.

Sam Cade
May 28, 2013, 07:10 PM
The socket on #2 is cranked a bit to the left with the edge facing down. Bit out of round too. It also had heat color in several spots and the weld on the socket seam was a bit rough.

Must have been made on a Monday or the 'smith had a bit too much Singha at lunchtime.:D

The finished product should look something like this:

May 29, 2013, 11:33 AM

Those look great!! (and really sharp)

Sam Cade
May 29, 2013, 06:18 PM
Blades and handles are all taped up, wrap has been epoxy doped.

Waiting for the epoxy to cure so I can lop off the paracord tails (bandsaw) then it is time for a shakedown session and final cosmetic touches.

May 29, 2013, 09:09 PM
Careful with that one with the cracks and discoloration. Face shield and welder's jacket when you torture test it.

Sam Cade
May 29, 2013, 09:34 PM
Careful with that one with the cracks and discoloration.

Ain't that the truth. I have nightmares about PING!!!!



Face shield and welder's jacket when you torture test it.

You are 100% correct. I only plan on doing a bit of light chopping to make sure everything is going to hang together. Torture test might be a bit strong, but safety first.

I think that #1 is a good solid tool.

I'm a little afraid of #2, specifically the seam in the socket and its rough weld. Especially now that it is under stress from having the handle driven in.

June 1, 2013, 08:51 AM
Good looking cutting tools.

Sam Cade
June 1, 2013, 11:15 AM
I'm pretty much done with 'em.

Just laying on some RLO and waiting for the weather to calm down on the OPs end.

They look pretty good at arms length :D

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