In this video, bladesmith Walter Sorrells shows viewers how to make a training karambit. A karambit is a small martial arts knife that has a curved blade resembling a claw. In this video, however, Sorrels does not make an actual steel blade, but a karambit prototype made of plastic-type material intended for use in martial arts training or just for goofing around.
The karambit is popular in Southeast Asian countries. The knife is called “kerambit” in Indonesia and Malaysia, and is called “karambit” in the Philippines and in most Western countries. The karambit is believed to have originated among the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra. According to folklore, the karambit was inspired by the claws of big cats.
For the karambit prototype, Sorrells uses Micarta. Micarta is composed of layers of cloth and paper impregnated with phenolic resin, making it fairly tough. It’s typically used for knife handles and is available in sheets of various thicknesses, as well as in various colors. Micarta can be purchased from knife makers’ supply stores or plastic supply stores.
Sorrells begins by drawing the shape of the training karambit on a piece of paper. He then traces the design to a piece of Micarta using a knife. Since the Micarta Sorrells is using is colored black, tracing using a knife is the best way to get the general shape.
Next, Sorrells saws off the extra Micarta using a hand saw. After that, he uses a carpenter’s rasp to shape the exterior curves of the training karambit. He then uses a round file to shape the finger holes. He notes that a half-round can also be used instead of a round file.
After getting the shape right, Sorrells softens the edges of the training karambit to make it more comfortable to hold. He uses a file and sandpaper for this process.
Using power tools, Sorrells estimates that he could make a training karambit in an hour. Using hand tools, he says that it could be done in a single afternoon.