There was an old man in Baha’s village who was the ‘go-to’ man if you wanted a wooden sheath or handle put on your parang (he made the wooden sheath for me that I’ve shown in some earlier posts).  His fee for making both handle and sheath was a very modest RM 20 (about 4 UK pounds).

The old man died about 5 years ago and no-one else in the village has shown any interest in taking over the little cottage industry he created… and so plastic handles now predominate.  This post is dedicated to him.

Baha remembered watching him rehandle a parang once and offered to show me how it is done (which you can watch in the video below).

It is an interesting technique and one worth knowing as, if your parang handle breaks in the jungle, you can relatively easily rehandle it (as long as you have the small metal ring with you).

The wood used for the handle comes from a Saraca tree (locally known as Gapis) which grows along rivers and streams  and is common in Pahang state where I live.  In other parts of Malaysia other trees common to that area may be used instead.  I had some misgivings about cutting the root as I don’t like cutting trees at all, but the Saraca tree can easily sustain the loss of a single root so, as long as people don’t keep cutting roots from the same tree, it will recover soon enough.

The video shows all the steps involved so I won’t repeat them here.  What surprised me was that it didn’t take very long to do and it was nice to make something that didn’t require epoxy glue/retaining pins and drilling etc – just a small metal ring.

But remember, these parangs are held in the handle by pressure and friction alone and this is another very good reason for standing well back when someone in front  of you is using a parang… just in case it does decide to fly off the handle! I’ll let you know how this parang stands up to the rough and tumble of the jungle in future posts (hopefully it will last longer than the plastic clip on the sheath I made!)

To dry out the wood for the handle I placed in a fire for about 5-10 minutes (until it was well charred).

For comparison I’ve put in photos of this rehandled parang (weight = 380 grams, 10 inch blade) vs the plastic handled parang I’ve been using in earlier videos (weight = 530 grams, 14 inch blade) and vs the jungle survival knife (weight = 550 grams, 7 inch blade).

If you spend a lot of time working in the jungle you will probably end up with at least two parangs: for light clearing a short parang (10-12 inch blade) is easiest but for heavy duty trail clearing a longer parang (14 inches+) is a better bet.  If you are in doubt about which to choose, I would recommend going for a shorter one as it is easier to get the technique right with a lighter/shorter parang.

So – I now have two parang projects that are both half-finished: the long plastic handled parang needs some modifications to the handle, whereas this newly rehandled parang needs a sheath (a wooden one this time).  This section on parangs seems to be taking longer than I thought, but the parang is such an essential part of your kit that it is worth spending the time getting it right.

… meanwhile, my fascination with the dusky leaf monkeys continues – they turned up again the other day and one of the females gave an expert demonstration on how to breastfeed in the jungle and enjoy your salad lunch at the same time.

It’s a short video (below) but probably only for fellow monkey nuts!