The Art of Manliness – setting a Golok right

February 6, 2017


I’ve just returned from the jungle. I like collect wood. Not any run of the mill timber – but the weathered and hard variety with fascinating burrowed shapes and rustic tones. Usually I just let them dry out naturally and hang it on the wall as a decorative ornament.

Maybe one day I will take a few pics and show you all my collection….these aren’t just wood to me. As some of these trees can be as old as a thousand years. They’re like fossilized wood.

I like to be close to nature even when I am indoors in jm safehouse in the plantation.

During my hike. I found a gem of hard wood that I eventually shaped into a decent handle for my Golok – left most of it as it is, only the inserted section had to be whittled down.

A Golok is a tool every frontier man needs in the field – since they tend to be heavier and shorter than parang, machetes, bayonets – they’re usually characterized with a heavy and thick spine that could just as well double as an axe.

This particular Golok blade came from a section of a WW2 Japanese propeller of a plane – it still has a faint Hamilton Standard marking on it. Most traditionally smithed golok’s have distinct convex edge to prevent the blade from getting wedged when cutting heavy green timber. This one doesn’t because it was probably constructed out of the leading tip of the propeller which explains why the black smith could even shape a hollow tube to hold a handle – but the spine is super heavy like an anvil. So it’s good to go in the field.


The shape of the wood for the handle looks old – it’s probably some hardwood that’s being sitting around for hundred of years…so hard that not even termites can put a dent on it. That fits the bill. As a Golok is a tool that one really swings full toss – before setting a handle for a Golok make sure you don’t go about doing it in one sitting. That’s the wrong way. Do that and it may fit snugly, securely and look sexy, but as soon as you use it to bring down a tree in the wild – with every strike the vibration will just get transferred to your bones and muscles and in no time – you will feel as if your arms have turned into jelly.

That’s the biggest No.1 mistake most people commit when setting a handle to a Golok.

The correct way to set a Golok is to bind a thin strip of rubber lining tightly along the end of the handle that is inserted into the slot. I’ve used an old bicycle inner tube – knock it in gently. It should be snug, but not so loose that when you swing it hard, the blade takes flight or the alignment shifts. That’s no good.

Find the balance with constant micro adjustments.

Use it that way for a few months. Eventually will happen is both the wooden handle and the steel slot will gently be shaped by each other with every strike – it takes a fair while. Be patient. Don’t rush it. It takes time to settle in.

If you observe the pic carefully. I’ve left about an inch of the remaining handle sticking out to provision for widget space.

The advantage of having a rubber lining between the slot and handle is firstly it’s form of waterproofing and secondly, whenever you strike, it’s acts like a shock absorber and doesn’t rattle your bones…it’s a very comfy. Can cut all day without feeling tired or pain.

Eventually what will regular and frequent – the handle will work it’s way deeper into the slot. The slot will shape accordingly to the handle as well giving both a very snug and secure fit. That’s the time when a small hole should be carefully drilled right thru the handle and the slot to insert a rounded bone, horn or a brass pin to secure handle and blade for life. Never use steel. As it will rust.

PERCAUTION: During the settling in period. When the handle gradually slides deeper into the steel slot. ALWAYS Swing the Golok AWAY from you. Make sure no one is around the vicinity. IT CAN FLY RIGHT OFF AND TAKE OFF A HEAD! I KID YOU NOT!




Another thing when it comes to very old Goloks. Don’t do stupid things like take an electric grinder aggressively to the blade and strip it right down to bare steel – if you do that your Golok may certainly look like a show piece, but you have probably ruined it as well by altering the happy balance of weight from a functional field tool that is supposed to leverage specifically on momentum during a cut. Looks count for nothing in the field. Just let the surface rust remain even if it’s ugly…besides it’s just superficial rust…harmless – as with regular and frequently, the blade just naturally assume a polished and bright sheen in no time without compromising it’s happy balance.

Another word of advise – if you’re a NS man specializing in jungle warfare. Don’t read this and go to ebay to buy a Golok. You may certainly look cool – but packing one in your kit is like carrying two bricks. Even I try not carry one myself – usually I strap it to a harness on my Doberman whenever we go deep into the jungle – remember always. A Golok is just an axe pretending to be a parang. It’s heavy like a GPMG. But in field craft – there will always be occasions when you simply need fire power – it beats an axe or hatchet fifty to one – as a Golok is so versatile.

Only the cutting edge (3 inches along the length) and NOT the entire length of the Golok should be sharpened with two wet stones – grit 200 and 800 for the finish.

Work safely! Remember SAFETY FIRST!


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