“Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.  Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt” (Lao Tzu)

The technique for sharpening a parang is simple to understand, however it takes a bit of practice to be able to maintain the correct angle of the blade against the stone and to gradually reduce the downward pressure on the forward stroke as the edge sharpens.

The good news is that you will get lots of practice sharpening a parang in the jungle as the hard use it is put too will inevitably blunt and even chip the blade.

There is a temptation to ‘put off’ sharpening the parang when you’re deep in the jungle – even a blunt one will cut if enough power is used – but this is a mistake.  The trick with a parang is to sharpen often but not to waste time/effort sharpening more than is necessary – to develop a technique that allows you to quickly and easily restore the edge of the blade.

Different people sharpen knives/parangs in slightly different ways, and this is as it should be.  You want to find a method that is comfortable and easy for you.  However some basic principles apply: sharpen on the forward stroke (not when ‘dragging’ the blade backwards), maintain a constant angle, sharpen equally on both sides of the blade, reduce downward pressure as the edge sharpens, and keep washing the stone clean with water.

Some people will strop their parang, or put on a convex grind, or differentially sharpen the blade or get it absolutely razor sharp with water stones.  There is nothing wrong with doing any of these things but remember that the more tricky and time consuming it is to sharpen your parang, the less likely it is that you will be doing it often enough.  It’s basically a trade-off and 80% of the sharpening you want can be done with 20% of the effort.

In the video below I show you how I sharpen a parang.  It may not be the best way in the world, but it is a way that works for me and it is quick and easy to do.

While I was filming the video, some dusky leaf monkeys turned up to watch and I filmed a mother with her baby. These are leaf eating monkeys (langurs) and, if you like monkeys, you might want to take a look!