Category Archives: Parang History

A look at current MY Parang products

my parang
The types of parang and goloks MY Parang produces

Currently MY Parang products consists  two types of parangs – the Duku Chandong and the Golok. The Duku Chandong comes in three variations – the 12 inch, the 10 inch and the 12 inch heavy . As for the Golok, they come in two variations – the 125 and the 135. Below we look at them more closely , in fact this post will be more pictures than words. Enjoy!

General overview of MY Parang Products

my parang forge marks
Real forge marks , not stamped by machines
my parang blade forge marks
Each blade is different and there will never be two of the same
my parang genuine bidor stamp
The real Bidor stamps , the sign of authenticity

The blade which is made of 5160 high carbon steel or commonly know as leaf spring steel and has real forge marks not those fake machine stamped  one you see in other commercial brands. The blades are hand forged  and each one is unique.

my parang wooden handleThe handle is made of Eco – wood sourced from Croatia. They are farmed Beech wood and are a renewable resource. The handle shape is of a simple and traditional design . It has been proven to be a very comfortable handle and will not give you any blisters despite chopping away for hours.

my parang handle width
The width of the handle is approximately 1″ , it looks smaller it the photo due to the camera wide angle lens.
my parang handle length
Overall length of the handle is about 6.5″ , large enough for most hands.

We have made the handle slightly longer to accommodate large hands. The handle design enables various grips comfortably , from choking up to the blade, to holding the handle way back . Various handle position enables different cutting tasks. Unlike some modern parangs, their handle has guards and choils which hinder this natural use of the handle.

my parang sanded spine
The spine is sanded square
my parang spine thickness
Spine thickness near the handle – about 7/32″ or 5mm
my parang distal taper
Spine thickness at the tip – 1/8″ or about 3mm

Another great feature of MY Parang products is that all the blades has a distal taper. This improves the balance of the parang, making it very lively and quick in the hand, without sacrificing chopping power. A distal taper is very difficult and expensive to achieve with a factory made knife. The spines are also all cleaned up and feature a brush finish. Striking a ferro rod with the spine should not be a problem.

my parang handle
Copper rings improves the look of MY parang products

The copper ring / bolster is aesthetically appealing and compliments the whole look of the parang. It serves a beautiful and functional way of transition between the handle and blade. Besides looks, it also serves to strengthen the front of the handle, where most of the shock happens during chopping. Under the copper bolster we have also inserted a brass pin across the handle and stick tang. This is to ensure that the blade will never some out in any circumstances. You will have to brake the handle to cause the blade to come out , something which we believe would be impossible with normal use.

my parang choke upMost if not all genuine  parangs have an unsharpened blade section  a few inches after the handle. This is to enable the hand to choke up further into the blade for more delicate cutting tasks. This feature can also be seen on the Duku Chandong.

my parang epoxy
Tang and bolster is glued using industrial strength slow setting epoxy

To securely fasten the tang, handle and Copper bolster, we use industrial strength two part epoxy. We do not skimp on this as it is one of the most crucial parts of the parang. We have seen newspaper , hot glue, molten plastic , superglue and many other suspect ways of holding the tang in the handle, but nothing beats an epoxy specially formulated to bond wood and steel.

MY Parang Duku Chandong

The Duku Chandong or sometimes referred to  as the ” Ray Mears ” parang originates from East Malaysia or as some people call, Borneo. It is a very common blade shape there . The Duku Chandong is a general purpose parang and it is very common to see people in Borneo using it in their everyday lives.

my parang chandong
MY Parang Duku Chandong – Top is the 12″, middle is the 12″ heavy , and the bottom is the 10″

The main character of the knife is the sheeps-foot tip and how the handle is lifted up . While the sheeps-foot tip is very strong and suitable for prying, the upward handle causes the blade to arrive first followed by the knuckles. This is a great feature if you are cutting near the ground or near a solid object such as a big tree trunk , as it keeps your knuckles away and prevents if from getting bashed.

The blade also has a slightly upward curve, which produces a slicing cut. This type of cut is very effective at cutting small plants and shrubs.

MY Parang produces three different variations of the Chandong, the 12″ , the 10″ and the 12″ Heavy. The 12″ is the most common size and is often referred to as the ” go to” size. It offers good reach while not being too long nor too short. if you are looking for the best all rounder tool, this is the one to pick. The 10″ version is lighter and shorter. It is best suited for small tasks or when weight is a major issue. Despite it’s small size, it can still chop extremely well. As for the 12″ Heavy version, it is aimed more to those who will be using it to chop more than other tasks. Being made of thicker steel, the overall weight is considerably more and therefore is a beast at chopping. Heavy parangs do have a down side though, one is their overall weight and second, your arms get tired faster when using it. If you are going to use the parang throughout the day, we strongly get the 12″ version.

my parang heavy vs normal
The difference in spine thickness between the Chandong 12 ” and the Chandong 12″ Heavy.
my parang heavy comparison
Closer look of the spine thickness

The above picture shows the spine thickness difference between the 12″ Duku Chandong vs the 12″ Duku Chandong heavy. You can clearly see the difference in spine thickness as well as the distal taper .

MY Parang Golok

my parang golok
The MY Parang Golok 125 and 135

While the Chandong is common in East Malaysia , the Golok is a very common design in West Malaysia.  Goloks can be seen commonly sold in hardware and certain convenience stores throughout Peninsular Malaysia. It is common to have a golok or two at home, especially if you live in the suburbs. They are general use tools , from skinning animals to cutting weeds to opening coconuts.

my parang golok forge marks
The tell – tale tip of the Golok

Goloks can be characterized by the pointed tip as can be seen above. The tip is pretty strong and the point makes it easy to dig and pry holes. Due to the shape of the tip, it is not really suitable to chop with it, compared to the sheeps foot tip. Goloks also have a prominent belly which can sometimes be a problem with sharpening, especially if your sharpening stone is wide. The belly

The larger Golok, the 135 is a heftier parang which is more suitable for chopping and rough work. The smaller 125 is suitable for lighter work and is considerably shorter and lighter. We have no idea what the 135 and 125 mean, but they seem to be a universal “model” throughout Malaysia , ie a 125 golok bought in different states will be the same design and same length / weight.

 

 

 

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Stick tang parangs

It’s been some time since our last post as things have been busy at the workshop. All good stuff!Parang tang 05This post will be about stick tang parangs. We get a lot of inquiries regarding full tang parangs, but at the moment we do not make them.  Most people ask for full tang parangs because they believe that the stick tang parang is a lot weaker and dangerous compared to a full tang parang. This may be a myth? Read on .

Parang tang 03The stick tangs parangs before the handle is installed

The traditional parang has remained unchanged for hundreds of years, and they have been stick tang all this while. For a design that has been that way for so long, there must be something right . The stick tang parang construction actually has a few benefits such as bringing the effective weight forward, hence a more powerful  chop, while reducing the overall parang weight. The stick tang also uses less steel  , and the handle, if it comes loose, can be easily repaired. Yes, sometimes the handle does comes loose , and if you are a regular parang user, you can immediately notice this when you do some chopping.

Parang tang 10This picture shows the stick tang parang is more weight – forward compared to the full tang parang. The gold coloured lines are the midpoint ( tip to tip ) .

Some people add pins to their stick tang parangs ( all parangs from  myparang  have a brass pin under the collar ) to prevent the blade and handle from coming apart, and that’s acceptable. The pin does not help to strengthen the parang in any way, nor does it effect it’s balance. It’s function is to prevent the blade from dropping ( or more dramatic – flying out ) out . With that said, one should keep that clearly in mind. A bigger pin will NOT make your parang safer, actually it will weaken it a lot. By drilling a large hole, you are actually removing metal from the already thin stick tang. Too little metal on the tang will result in sudden  failure and potentially injure someone.

Some people add two pins, which is really not necessary. One pin is safe enough, two pins is overkill and not needed.

Parang tang 02The top is the hole size we use for our brass pin which is 3.5mm thick, while the hole below has a 6.0 mm hole drilled through it to show the effects of adding a larger pin. Notice how much metal is left in the lower parang stick tang.

Some have raised their concerns on the “smallness ” of the tangs and are worried that the stick tang parang will break at the tang. This is probably true if the whole parang blade is hardened. The common parangs you see in Malaysia and also the ones from Myparang do not have a hardened tang. Only the cutting edge of the parang is hardened, not the spine and not the tang. This can only be achieved by hand – hardening the blades , machines cannot replicate this. So, while a modern factory made machete “might” break at the tang, a traditionally made parang with a stick tang will not. I have checked with the Bidor maker, and he himself after being in the industry for 50+ years, has never seen one if his stick tang parangs break at the tang.

Parang tang 13 Bending the tang , we tried, but it will not break!

Parang tang 15Here it is out of the vice. No, we’re not turning this one into a parang 🙂 parang tang a 04 parang tang a 02 This is how much the blades can bend, actually it can bend more, but our G-clamp was at it’s limit already.

Having see the pictures, I hope it helps to illustrate the point that stick tang parangs are safe. Yes, the handle may come out loose. We at myparang try and avoid that by making sure the tangs are ground to bare metal, cleaned with solvents and use industrial strengthen epoxy to bind it all together. Then we add a 3.5mm brass pin as a safety precaution.

We understand that axes do not come pinned in any part of the world , and nobody pins axe heads. Interesting enough, as the axe heads are held by friction only in the hafts ! That’s some food for thought folks!

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Bidor Blacksmith

 


Lets have a look at the Bidor Blacksmith!

I’m sure many of you have heard of the Bidor Blacksmith by now. There has been many blog writings on them and their blades are sold worldwide. From a small family shack, they are now one of the leading parang / agricultural tools in Malaysia. Their expertise lies in their heat treatment – their blades are  easily sharpened and able to hold an edge for a long time.

Recently on our last trip, we took some pictures of the workshop and this post will be pretty picture heavy .

Here, they earn their living from making agricultural tools – from sickles to kitchen knives , and most things in between. Hence to live of this , their setup is pretty much bigger and is a stark contrast with the traditional makers. Here you can see half a dozen power hammers and tons of steel stock.

This post on the Bidor Blacksmith will be less wordy and will be mostly pictures. Pictures are worth a thousand words, therefore I won’t bore you much with lengthy explanations.

bidor blacksmith 022Signboards showing you the way to the factory

bidor blacksmith 001The factory main entrance

bidor blacksmith 002Some of the various agricultural tools you can find made there. 

Late 2013, they purchased two gas forges, as you can see in the picture below. Apparently they have been having trouble sourcing for the right type of coal, and the gas forge is a very much welcome upgrade. Gas is much easier to obtain and more consistent in supply . They however, do not use it to heat treat their products. This is because the gas forge heats up the whole blade, and not only the cutting edge. This is true, since you only need to harden the edge only.

bidor blacksmith 004Brand new gas forge next to the charcoal forge

bidor blacksmith 018Their stockpile of charcoal. Ah Pin once told me if I can source this particular type of charcoal, he’d buy any amount I can supply him.

bidor blacksmith 019The plastic handles everyone seems to hate. Waxy, Slippery , obnoxious colours , but hey, it’s practical and easily seen on the jungle floor!

bidor blacksmith 005One of the tools they make – a betel nut cutter. You don’t see them much anymore.

bidor blacksmith 016The steel stock they use come directly from the steel mill, and not from the recyclers. Recycled steel ( ie. leaf springs ) differ in composition and will result differently after the heat treat.

bidor blacksmith 020Here is a stockpile of scrap steel which they used back then. There are various files , chainsaw bar guides, recycled leaf springs etc , which are not used anymore.

bidor blacksmith 026Here workers pound the hot and soft steel into a shape .

bidor blacksmith 025Some of the blacksmith’s tools hanging . Some are made by themselves.

bidor blacksmith 003Some of the semi finished products left to cool on the factory floor

bidor blacksmith 017A worker rough grinds the worked steel into its final shape

bidor blacksmith 007A Parang blank ready to be sent for heat treat bidor blacksmith 010Ah Ming firing up the forge to heat treat some blades. Note that he uses the charcoal forge and not the gas. bidor blacksmith 011Heat treat done in Oil .

bidor blacksmith 012Heat Treat done with water

bidor blacksmith 027Mr. Pin showing how it’s done – hardening a parang blade in water.

I asked Ah Ming when he was demonstrating the heat treatment if there was any difference in using water or oil. He said no, but he mentioned that the oil is much messier , as it leaves a greasy surface on the blades.

bidor blacksmith 013    After treat, the blades are left at the side of the forge to temper.

bidor blacksmith 008A worker sharpens the blanks – in this case a rubber tapping knife .

bidor blacksmith 028Here Mr. Pin showing the ability of his hand – hardened blades. Chopping steel pins with ease.

 bidor blacksmith 021 The packing center. Where orders are packed and kept for customers. 

 The picture below shows the old address of the Bidor Blacksmith. Beware, as there are fakes make now days which uses this old address. When I spoke to Ah Ming, he mentioned that he knows about the fakes. He said they started when customers requested for Bidor made parangs , but the shops and their suppliers were too lazy to get them from Bidor itself, so they asked their  blacksmiths to copy to name and stamp it into their products. Really , anything can happen in Malaysia!  bidor blacksmith 015

edit 5/11/2014 : We have added a good video by the cool guys at ” Bush Channel ” on you tube.

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Ray Mears Parang

Ray Mears Parang

ray mears parang

So we’ve read and heard so much of the Ray Mears parang , which is actually a parang he used in one of his shows . A clear picture of ” The Ray Mears Parang  ” in Mr Mears hand is in the video grab below. Actualy,  Mr Mears did not create any parang or sells any parang with his name on it. So why did the name ” the Ray Mears Parang ” come about? RayMearsparang 2When Mr Mears was making the episode in Borneo, he , as expected of anyone who knows what he is doing, would choose the tools of the local people. Say, if you go to the South America, you would use a machete , if you were to go to Nepal, you would use a Khukri , if you came to Malaysia, you would use a Parang. It is as simple as that.

So how did the name “Ray Mears Parang ” came about? Sometimes we see things we don’t know what they are, or what it is called and we give it  a name which is easy to connect and understand. Say maybe some people have no idea what a Khukri is, but when you mention – the knife the Gurkhas use , then Aha! It means something now.

Besides that, some people also also have generic names for certain items , like in Malaysia, Milo is the common name for chocolate drinks. Any chocolate drink will be called Milo. Just like baby diapers, it’s called Pampers, which is actually a brand. Some people call all big knives and choppers a Machete. This is actually wrong as a Bolo , enep , khukri or parang is not  a machete by far. I hope you get what I mean.

Anyway, back to the Ray Mears Parang, well, if that is what some people like to call it, then so be it. For those who prefer to use the correct terminology, the Ray Mears parang is actually a Duku Chandong . Duku actually means parang in the Iban language, so it basically means Chandong parang. There is no specific shape for the Duku Chandong, as it is a very common knife in Borneo ( also known as Sabah and Sarawak ) , but there are a few distinct points as I will try and explain.

One is the blade angle. As you can see , the Duku Chandong has an up swept blade. If you are holding the handle of the parang horizontally, you will see that the tip of the parang points upwards. Again in some duku chandongs, the sweep may vary . Some have a slight and unnoticeable sweep, while for some, it is more prominent.

Another distinct difference with other parangs is that the Duku Chandong has a sheep’s foot blade tip. It is not pointed as some other traditional parangs and goloks, but has a very strong and robust sheep’s foot. The tip needs to be strong and hardy as it is used quite often to split and flatten bamboo, for prying and digging into wood ( looking for nibong grubs ) .

As you can see from the photos below, all these parangs are variations of the duku chandong or also known as the Ray Mears Parang. Enjoy they photos and we’re glad that you now know the actual name of the Ray Mears Parang. Actually, because of Mr Mears, the Duku Chandong now has gotten worldwide recognition . The blade shape now gets copied by many big knife manufacturers like Condor , and even the local parang sellers have hopped on the bandwagon , using the “ray mears” parang name as a leverage to market their parangs. Whatever it is called, or made, a duku chandong will always be a duku chandong!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA parang knife chandong borneoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Duku chandong

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A short visit to Pekan Darat , Penang

 

 

What does Seki City, Mora , Solingen, Ayuthaya and Pekan Darat have in common? If you are into knives, Seki City  and Solingen will definitely pop up. These knife cities are well known and it was much of a surprise for me to know that Malaysia itself has it’s own knife city located in Pekan Darat,  Penang.

I visited Pekan darat about 2 years back after hearing about it from visiting the  Kraftangan office. It was not too far away but I’m not too familiar with the mainland part of Penang, so it did take some searching and asking around.

Pekan Darat is a small township in the middle of paddy fields, well known for the knife / metal smithing industry. Pekan Darat ( literally – Land town ) used to be famous at one point for it’s barter trading system, but that used to be a long time ago. Metal smithing was believed to have started there in the 16th century and the original Blacksmiths were brought in by the then Sultan of Kedah , to equip his men with proper fighting tools. At that time, there was war going on against the British who were in Penang , as well as the Thais ( Kedah – Thai War ) .

Once the war ended and peace regained, the need to make weapons decreased and the blacksmiths had to look at other products to keep their livelihood. This is when they started making knives, Parangs, Goloks, kacip , sickles, rubbber tapping knives and other agricultural tools.

Sadly, most of the blacksmiths now have passed on , or are too old to work. The younger generation seem to have passed this tradition and prefer to work in the factories for more secure and lucrative jobs. When I was there, I did meet one who was making some parang sheaths . He said he made them according to clients request only , and works when he feels like it.

Sad, but that is the state of the industry now.

 

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