Short Machete


May 31, 2012, 09:14 PM
I'm in the market for a short machete,
or at least a tool that acts like one,
something with a blade around 10 - 12"
and an ergo, full tang handle, all in a package
that's less than $100 including sheath.

(Yes, someday I'll buy something like an ESEE Jungla (,
or a Swamp Rat, but they're not in the budget right now.)

The major uses of this blade will be as follows in camps in mid- and northern Maine
(heavily wooded, much of it second growth; thick underbrush):

* chopping small wood (1" - 3" diam.) for fires
* batonning larger wood for fires
* clearing camp sites, cutting wood for shelters, etc.

(See below the line for more background on this project.)

Right now, after participating in several threads, especially this one (,
and after a substantive amount of research/reading,
I've landed on these three contenders as my major choices
- were I to buy one tomorrow (which I won't).

I'm seeking feedback on the best one to acquire.

* Kabar Cutlass Machete (
Weight: 1.20 lbs.
Steel: 1085 Carbon
Blade length: 11"
Overall length: 16-1/2"
Grind: Hollow
Handle Material : Kraton GŪ
Shape : Cutlass
HRC: 52-54
Blade Thickness: 0.165

* Ontario Survival Machete SP 8 (
Blade Edge: Plain
Blade Length (inches): 10
Blade Material: 1095 Carbon Steel
Blade Thickness (inches): 0.26
Handle Material: Kraton
Knife Closed Length (inches): 4.06
Knife Open Length (inches): 15
Knife Weight (ounces): 22.8
Country of Origin: USA

* Ontario Gen II SP52 (
Blade Edge: Plain
Blade Length (inches): 10
Blade Material: 5160 Steel
Blade Thickness (inches): 0.26
Handle Material: Kraton
Knife Closed Length (inches): 3.25
Knife Open Length (inches): 15
Knife Weight (ounces): 18
Country of Origin: USA

Important: I've chosen the three blades above in part because
they seem suitable for batoning, unlike Kukri,
unlike those with a sharpened upper blade (


I'm open to others that meet the criteria specified above.

More background.

I am seeking a survival blade trio.

My current two shorter blades are:

* Spyderco Manix 2 ( (~ 3.5" blade)
* SOG Seal Pup Elite ( (~ 5" blade)

These two do most EDC chores: kitchen, eating, cord work, etc.

I own a full-sized Kabar with 7" blade (,
but find it too short for chopping,
too long for kitchen duty.

The longer blade will take care of chopping, batoning firewood, heavy shelter work, etc.

In a pinch, it could do SD also, but that's not its major function.

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May 31, 2012, 10:11 PM
Oh, and why a short 'chete?

I just like short tools (

May 31, 2012, 11:04 PM
I have an SP-8 that lives in my truck box.

I have a nice edge on it.

The thing is a brute. It weighs just under a pound and a half (with sheath, closer to a pound and 2/3).

It has a nice heft, and can indeed chop stuff. The balance is forward, but not unmanageably so.

It would kinda suck for clearing grass or light brush; it wants stuff it can bite into. I would have no fear prying open a crate with it.

It has a "saw edge" on the spine, but frankly I don't see it competing with a light folding saw.

However, as a chopper, it rivals a small axe. With the caveat that there is really no surface on the SP-8 that will function viably as a hammer. Yeah, you can pound tent pegs with the flat of the blade, but that's really very improvised.

It's compact and is thus less prone to snagging on stuff than, say, a 16-inch machete. Naturally, the trade-off is reach.

Now, if it's a longer trek, I'm seriously considering going with a lighter axe -- you can drop most of a pound going to a Trail Blazer Ergo 13 -- and you get a hammering surface in the bargain.

So, yes, I like the SP-8, but selecting it for a given venue has to consider context and application.

If someone offered me a choice between going into the woods with a Mora and an SP-8 versus a Mora and a large Bowie, I'd take the SP-8.

May 31, 2012, 11:07 PM
Interesting. Thanks, Arf.

Any thoughts about the Kabar Cutlass?

Or the SP 52?

May 31, 2012, 11:39 PM
I have no face time with either of the other two.

Couple of thoughts, though.

The SP52 is 55% thicker and is made of 5160 steel. I have more confidence in that combination, all things being equal, than in the thinner 1085 blade.

Further, the SP52 is flat ground, versus the hollow grind of the cutlass.

So, without having handled either one, what follows is a SWAG.

The cutlass tips the scales at 20 oz (and is an inch longer), while the SP52 weighs 18 oz (and has a thicker spine). I'm guessing that the cutlass blade will do better with brush clearing, while the SP52 will probably do better with thicker wood.

They are both probably "baton worthy" blades, though I think I'd trust the 5160 steel more for that.

The Kabar is hardened to 52-54 HRC, while the SP52 is done to 53-55.

Just based on stats alone, and on no experience, I would be inclined to favor the Ontario SP52. Marginally better steel, hardened to a slightly higher HRC, ground flat (easier to maintain edge), and weighing a couple of ounces less.

The blade profiles are really not all that different, although the Kabar will have somewhat more forward balance, and the handles don't seem to be very different either.

I would be happy with either one, I think, although I'd favor the Ontario.

That cover the ground?

May 31, 2012, 11:53 PM
That cover the ground?

Perfectly. I'm of similar mind.

Muchas gracias.

Bartholomew Roberts
June 1, 2012, 01:31 AM
I'm in the market for a short machete,
or at least a tool that acts like one,
something with a blade around 10 - 12"
and an ergo, full tang handle, all in a package
that's less than $100 including sheath.

Right now, I've been doing a little knocking about in the woods with a Becker BK4 Machax. 9" blade. Weight is just under a pound not including the 5oz sheath. The handle is the standard full-size Becker handle which is generally appreciated for its ergonomics and it has a full tang. Steel is 1095 Cro-Van hardened to 56-58 RH. Retail cost for sheath & knife is around $85.

Chopping wise, I've been cutting up some 1"-2" Blackjack limbs into smaller sections using the Machax and it is making short work of the limbs. I'll have to try and count how many hits it takes to get to the center of the tootsie pop so to speak; but it does a great job for its size and heft.

The Machax also does really well as a draw knife and you can carve with it suprisingly well. It will definitely crush the Kabar in chopping and batoning; but in a lot of ways still handles smaller tasks as least as well as the Kabar. Other than being on the short side of your desired blade length, it seems to meet all of your criteria.

Here is a link showing the Machax in action chopping and batoning wood.

Carl Levitian
June 1, 2012, 07:02 AM

I've been using an Ontiario 12 inch machete for about 15 years now as a canoe camping knife. It's cleared out campsite from sticker bushes, cut kindling, and done a ton of home backyard gardening chores. It's been a great tool. The 1095 holds a good edge, it's a full 1/8th inch thick stock and has good heft without being too heavy. It will rival what a light hatchet will do on thicker limbs, but excels at brush clearing.


June 1, 2012, 07:15 AM

June 1, 2012, 08:48 AM
Super short ang khola kukri. No brainer IMO!

June 1, 2012, 09:48 AM
I used one of these a few years
Before I got my Camp Defender (which is a knife not a machete) and I still use it as a ranch tool. The handle is the most comfortable for clearing brush for hours I've yet tried. The Kershaw sharpens easy enough too and holds an edge well. My choice after YEARS of Collins Machetes of arious sizes.

June 1, 2012, 10:13 AM
I like bolo machetes for utility and always have one available. It does sound as though you are describing the need of an ax or hatchet. A much more efficient tool for hardwood cutting. Less energy used for the same results. There are also a few of the walking stick axes out there(I don't remember the proper name.) that are being made. Have you considered one of these?



June 1, 2012, 10:27 AM
Gordon is the bottom one in the picture the Camp Defender? How long is the blade and do you by chance know the weight?

What bolo do you recommend?

Thanks guys

Owen Sparks
June 1, 2012, 10:40 AM
Any time you go to a shorter tool you give up swinging velocity and have to make up for it with mass. Short choppers need to be end heavy like a billy club to be really effective. Notice the Kershaw pictured above has a good full belly and plenty of foreward mass. Short of a hatchet, it would probably be the best choice for the money.

June 1, 2012, 10:47 AM
Out of your price range by a bit, but Bark River Knife and Tool did some custom runs of the Ontario military-issue machete that are amazing. They convexed the edges, shortened the blade to 14", recontoured the tip to give it some point, and replaced the plastic grips with G10 or micarta. All in a Sharpshooter leather sheath.

Unfortunately they are somewhat hard to find now.

June 1, 2012, 11:20 AM
Thought-provoking responses. Thanks. I've read all of them, and bookmarked links.

I have a few thoughts and questions, but for now, just one:

Carl, do you know the model number of that Ontario 12" machete?
I can't find a 12" machete by them. Perhaps it's an older model and no longer produced. (?)

Dirty Bob
June 1, 2012, 12:39 PM
Carl, do you know the model number of that Ontario 12" machete?
I can't find a 12" machete by them. Perhaps it's an older model and no longer produced. (?)
Perhaps I can help.

I would also choose a 12-inch Ontario machete. Avoid the "economy" version of the Ontario that is sold in some places. The original has a 1/8-inch thick blade and is a much better chopping tool. I was also unhappy with the "D" handle models and strongly prefer the original handle type. The exact Ontario machete that I recommend is sold under item number ONCT1 at the site. It comes without a sheath.

I'm currently also using a 24-inch Tramontina (heckuva grass cutter!) and the Gerber "Bear Grylls" Parang machete. I love the feel of the Gerber, although I plan to replace the plastic/rubber grips with brass and Micarta. Its sheath is terrible! I plan to make one of my own for it.

I make machete sheaths from trash can plastic. Rubbermaid trash cans sit outside in sun, rain and cold for years. The plastic lasts a long time and is easy to work with. Its also cheaper than leather or kydex. I use a simple, welted design. For fasteners, I use "double-cap" leather rivets, staples made from large paper clips (installed by hand, using a drill and small bit, needle-nose pliers to curve the ends inward, and a small mallet to drive the points back into the plastic to prevent snagging), or homemade eyelets made from copper tubing.

All my best,
Dirty Bob

June 1, 2012, 01:10 PM
D'Bob, thanks much.

So, I found both of those Ontario 12" blade machetes on

Here's the "D" handle ( (in an ugly orange). (Added by edit: it also comes with a black handle (

Here's the original ( There's no way the pic of that one is correct; that blade is longer than 12". And compare it with the other D-handled one.

Still, I get the concept.

PS by edit: Here's the Ontario 12" with the original handle with a saw back (
The picture is more accurate for the length; I suspect they're similar except with the saw back.

So, question: why don't you like the D-handle version? What about it didn't work for you?

I confess, aside from the orange handle, the concept and shape appeal to me.

Re your sheaths from plastic trash cans, that's totally intriguing. I like the idea, especially for a big blade like this that's not going to be riding on my belt.

Do you have any 'how to' videos or docs or pics that you could share? Or even just a basic written description of how you do it? I guess I get the broad gist, but some specifics would be useful. (The mods may decide to move it into a new thread, I guess, but that's ok.)

Dirty Bob
June 1, 2012, 01:21 PM
The D-handle I received was bigger than the regular handle, and it was loose on the tang (not in danger of coming off, but it could slide around a bit). I had to replace it. I'll always go with the original type, which has never been loose.


June 1, 2012, 01:37 PM
Ah, yes, now that I compare images of the two side by side, I can see the size/shape difference between the two.
For grins, I put the images of Kabar and the Ontario SP 52 below these. Their handle shapes are more similar to the orange one.

June 2, 2012, 02:30 AM
Old fashioned Tennessee sorghum knife: (if you can find one for sale...)

June 2, 2012, 10:09 AM
I think you will be happy with either the Kabar or Ontario SP. (I pretty much consider Ontario and Kabar company products to be essentially equal.) I have a couple of the 12" Ontario machetes and dislike the "D" handle, and find the regular handle (the second one) to be a little hard on my hands. But many really like them and I'm probably a whimp when it comes to my hands. :D

The 12" Ontario machete does not come with a sheath and the $5 canvas/vinyl sheaths that you can buy are worth about what you pay for them and you end up taping them up with duct tape.

I have a 12" Ontario machete in each vehicle in the cheapie sheaths. (They are seldom used.) The saw edge is useless for the most part. I am not totally against them. I just prefer something with a handle that does not abuse my hands. But the regular Ontario handle is very traditional and many like it. They are tough little blades and would make a great camping machete for most general purposes short of chopping grass or cutting large trees down. They are much more compact than the Kabar Cutlass Machete.

My suggestion is that you actually handle both of the Kabars and make a decision. But that option may not be available to you.

Another one to consider is the Condor Pack Golok. It is new. I haven't seen one in the flesh as of yet.

I will with total certainty buy one of the Condor Pack Goloks because of the handle and I have been very pleased with Condor products overall. They often are not pretty, but the work real well.

June 2, 2012, 10:52 AM
Good range of choices, Nem.
I would add the Gerber BG Parang to your list of things to look at and hold.
I bought one as a lark and have been using it for over a year. I did a review thread on it here you can find, if you're interested.
Short story: 30 bucks is not a bad price for good steel and a decent grip. It holds an edge. It's a good chopper/splitter, if you use the end.
I'd give it a 6.8 out of 10, detracting points for Gerber's unwillingness to warrantee it and the lousy sheath packaged with it. The tool itself is an interesting amalgam of attributes I like.

June 2, 2012, 01:28 PM
Thanks to Needles, .22 and Wheel.

Needles, when I search "Tennessee sorghum knife", the top hit on Google is this thread; and I find no other reference to it, nor images.

.22, that Condor Golok looks real nice, but at 1.75 lb (28 oz) the weight is a factor for me (v < 20 oz for the Kabar, say).

Wheel, I've looked at those BG Parangs with interest,
but it got sooo many bad reviews, especially on Amazon - complaints about quickly broken or bent blades.

Obviously not in your experience, but that concerns me. Is QC really that inconsistent?

I'm not seeing that for other tools that I'm considering, even on Amazon.


June 2, 2012, 02:03 PM
I believe the Condor uses a thicker bar steel. The weight can be your friend depending on how you use it. But I don't know if I'd want to carry it on an extended AT hike. I don't do much of that kind of thing anymore. Dayhikes (usually with a heavy emphasis on photography) or hunting/fishing are about it for me and I'd rather stay in a motel than camp especially if the better half is with me.

I am going to buy one of these when they hit the retail outlets (aka online sellers). If I make the Blade Show this coming week, I will probably see one there. Whether I can buy one is another matter.

June 2, 2012, 02:10 PM
22, I don't plan on doing extended hikes on the AT with this tool, but I do intend to hike with it. My main routine is to hike in a few miles, walk off trail to some beautiful place with rocks and water, and set up a base camp, then day hike from there. Part of what I like doing (for the last few years) is finding a camp to hold up in for a week and experiment with building primitive shelters, practice fire building skills, etc - which is where this tool will mostly play a role.

In any case, being a smaller person with a long experience packing gear, I'm definitely an ounce counter.

I have to add, though, that on a purely aesthetic level, that Condor Golok ( is a fine looking blade.

Trying to figure out the pattern/texture on the blade. What's that about?

June 2, 2012, 02:30 PM
Trying to figure out the pattern/texture on the blade. What's that about?
Nem, according to the manufacturer (
CONDORŪ CLASSIC FINISH is a perfected process of hand hammering our Classic Series of axes and knives. It gives a classic and enhanced look to an already well made tool. Our employees use hand powered equipment to put this traditional pattern on, to give it a look as if it was hand forged over 200 years ago. The Classic series is a hit with historical camping fans, mountain men, and colonial period war reenactors.

June 2, 2012, 02:41 PM
I guess it's a crapshoot, Nem.
I think that a lot of the people who buy tools aren't tool users. You can follow that idea, I'm sure.
I'm a tool user and try to use the Parang for what it was intended. Really, it's for bamboos and canes. But, I tend to use it for trail maintenance.
If you have a bad feeling about it, then mark it off your list.
Mine did get a little wave in the blade as I mentioned, but it straightened out (which says something for the steel) and didn't break when I tried to work it cold.
Maybe I got a good one. I dunno.
The analysis of the steel is pretty good for typing. It's ChiCom steel. But, that doesn't automatically doom it.
I really wonder how people are treating these things. I believe that the price point really precludes the dummies from buying the better products.
Like when people buy a Gransfor axe, they plunked down some money for it with the expectation it would be good.
I'm just thinking aloud here since I'm looking for basically the same thing you are. I like a short chete' too and find the Parang quite useful and a good value. *shrug*

June 2, 2012, 03:06 PM
Uga, thanks for that. Very interesting read. It's nice to see attention paid to aesthetics, especially on a quality tool where it's not a gimmick (as in this case ... not a gimmick. {Good to 'see you', also; been a while.}

Wheel, reasonable thoughts all. It is a crap shoot, and it is ChiCom steel, but I'm willing to bet a five spot that some of the problems are indeed because the users didn't use the tool correctly, within it's constraints.

Still, in thinking through this, using this thread to help - and it's been very useful in that regard - I think I'm leaning more towards a blade on the edge between 'chete and knife, something more like the Kabar Cutlass or the Ontario SP 52 or the ESEE Junglas (if only that were in the budget).

I also agree with what Scramasax wrote above, that a hatchet or ax might be the 'best' tool here for what I'm looking for. (Forgot to comment on that til now; sorry.) Yes, I have considered that, and I own both hatchet and ax - both in storage a continent away... they didn't make the move, at least yet; long story there.

But those tend to be heavy relative to a knife/short machete, and - after decades of using both, I just seem to prefer a longer blade than a hatchet/ax. I can't explain why; it just is.

Plus, I see this as an experiment of sorts to go along with the experiments that I mentioned in post 26. In particular, I want to try out 'batoning' more. So in this case, I'm going to go with a large knife/short 'chete instead of an ax/hatchet.

June 2, 2012, 03:09 PM
I suppose that you and me are maybe two of the people who are avid backpackers here. Maybe that's why we both see the use of a short machete type tool.

June 2, 2012, 03:11 PM
Yup. :)

June 2, 2012, 03:28 PM
... I think I'm leaning more towards a blade on the edge between 'chete and knife, something more like the Kabar Cutlass or the Ontario SP 52 or the ESEE Junglas (if only that were in the budget).

I mean, how many sheaths come with a user's manual (

June 2, 2012, 04:10 PM
Nem, not trying to convince you to buy the Condor Pack Golok. I just wanted to make you aware of it. I also like the Condor Parang as it has a longer reach than the standard Golok.

June 2, 2012, 04:23 PM
Thanks, 22. Clarification accepted. One of those is definitely on my want list. :)

This just in.

Coincidentally, I just bought a Kabar 1248.

My response in that thread (
Well, now, for obvious reasons (see other threads [this one]),
I can't wait to read your review on that blade. :)

That one is currently tied for first place for my next blade.

Its competitor is the Ontario SP-52.

Subtle but potentially important differences in 4 factors (1248/SP52):

* blade length : 11" v 10" (reach out and touch something)
* blade thickness : 0.165" v 0.26" (potential difference in batoning)
* blade steel ( : 1095 v 5160
* Blade shape : very subtle ...

June 2, 2012, 10:27 PM
Nematocyst, there are probably not a lot of people harvesting sorghum by hand any more. Those things used to be pretty common--- heck, I had a girlfriend that kept one under the bed! (Nice girl, too!) The blade was nice and thick, plus it had a sharpened hook on the back, sort of like a gut hook; I suppose it was for a pulling cut on the sorghum cane. Next time I'm back east, I'll see if I can find one.

June 2, 2012, 11:17 PM

Look up "cane knife" instead of sorghum.

June 3, 2012, 12:57 AM
Dat der Kershaw Outcast is made by KAI in Japan I think and has D2 plastered all over it. Mine has been good,very sharp, and does not get nicks in moderate use. I don't like knives with coatings on the blade (other than hard chrome) but the black Teflon has held up well in 2 years. Forgive I have to show Sam's beautiful 9" Nail with the only picture I have of the $50+- Outcast. BTW the Santoprene handles are exactly like on those Taurus magnum revolvers and seem to work very well, go figure!

June 3, 2012, 01:04 AM
That last picture is so primordal I just had to show it again. It shows the geometry of the bolo knife well I think. BTW the Kershaw rides in its pretty good Kydex sheath on the roll bar on a jeep mostly.

June 3, 2012, 11:27 AM
Both of those are really nice, Gordon. I agree with "primordial".

What's the origin of the name "The Nail" for that bottom one, and its story. I've ready bits and pieces, but not all of it.

And that's a nice point about the Santoprene handles having something in common with revolvers; must be a reason for that. The Outcast is an interesting blade for sure, even if still just a bit too 'kukri' for me. Again, nothing against Kukri's at all. I know several of you really like them. But I guess because of my early experience (as a teen) with large blades with a straight axis, the kukri didn't work as well for me. (I borrowed a colleague's Kabar kukri about three years ago for a trial run.) So, I'm still leaning towards a more traditional design for this knife/machete.

PS by edit: A few minutes ago, I checked on the Outcast; they appear to be not available right now (?). I've checked about 4 sites, and all say "sold out" or "not available" or "out of stock".

And actually, I think I've made a decision. It clicked for me last night, but I'm going to think about it for a while longer before announcing what it is. Hell, I may even go ahead and order it before I announce it here so you guys won't talk me out of it and make me continue deliberations. :uhoh: :D

I love this discussion process - I always learn soo much doing threads like this - but my first camping trip (in almost two years!) is coming up in mid-month in some rugged wilderness north of here (you can't even know how excited I am) and I want to take this knife then.

Tully M. Pick
June 3, 2012, 01:36 PM
I wish your budget was a little higher, I think you'd love the Bark River Golok. I just ordered a second one as a gift for my son.

June 3, 2012, 02:14 PM
Those Bark River Goloks are nice. Until you mentioned them, I have never looked that them.

Here is one retailer who sells them. They are all in the $200-$250 kind of price range.

Tully, what kind of grind does Bark River put on them?

June 3, 2012, 02:30 PM
Ditto, thanks for the reference to the Bark River knives. They look great.

June 3, 2012, 02:35 PM
Every time I go to that web site, I'm reaching for my debit card. My personal thought is... IF I spent that much money on a a BR golok, would I be willing to use it for its intended purpose? Not sure which point design I would like best.

Nem, sorry for deviating from your topic a bit. Clearly these are not within your present budget target.

June 3, 2012, 06:08 PM
22 (and Tully), no problem with me at all. Those Bark River are out of my price range (unfortunately; wow, them's purdy!), but it's good to see what blades are in 'that next' price bracket up (or in this case, maybe two brackets). Something useful in that for me in terms of evaluating what I'm going to get.

Tully M. Pick
June 3, 2012, 07:20 PM
Tully, what kind of grind does Bark River put on them?

It's a full convex grind. I believe the current run is A2 steel.

June 3, 2012, 07:49 PM
Tramontina used to make some 12 inch ones I got a big one and It works great.

June 3, 2012, 08:08 PM
Delta, got any links? I searched "Tramontina machete" and "Tramontina knife", but didn't find anything quickly.

June 3, 2012, 08:12 PM
Ask and yea shall receive.

June 3, 2012, 08:13 PM
Looks like the smallest now is 14 inchs

But you could shorten it with a band saw.

June 3, 2012, 08:14 PM
Cool. Danke.

But I'll leave the shortening to those with metal working skills. :)

Looks like a nice blade, though.

June 3, 2012, 08:43 PM
Delta, I'd forgotten about Tramontina. I've sharpened a few of their kitchen knives for friends, and those will take a scary edge.

Nem, in the polypro handle Tramontina is showing both 10" and 12" blade machetes -
I especially like their use statement:
General orientations
Safe and proper use:
Cutting and slicing products. Handle with care and keep out of reach of children. For better performance of the products, it is recommended they are dried very carefully before storing. (Bold emphasis mine) :D

June 3, 2012, 08:45 PM
A sharpie and a hack saw with a dewalt Bi-melt blade and a can of water to keep it cool you can shorten and reshape it with no problems.

I sandwich the blade between 4 pieces of wood clamped to the blade with c-clamps and cut nice and slow.

I got a 18 or 22 inch one and I bought it back in the 1980's at a Discount Ag store in Eastern Arkansas.

June 3, 2012, 08:55 PM
Uga, those 10" and 12"ers look like good contenders for me.

Delta, I hear you re shortening a long one. Two years ago, where I was then with the tools I had there/then, I could have undertaken such a project. Now, no way. Just not possible for me. (Please see my location, which also indicates the tools I travel with. Not to mention my time constraints, which dictate a different use of my time.)

Others maybe, so good to have the record here.

Me? I'm buying the length I need to start with. ;)

June 3, 2012, 08:59 PM
They work great.

Dirty Bob
June 3, 2012, 09:34 PM
I love the Tramontina 12-inch machete, but I use it more as a large knife than as a machete. It's too light for a dedicated chopper, but it's light, easy to use and extremely quick in the hands. I've used it for light chopping jobs, splitting kindling wood, etc. It would do for making a shelter or a stretcher in an emergency, and its light weight allows it to be along when bigger blades were left at home.

If you want a weapon, I strongly believe the Ontario is better, although the Tramontina could be a nightmare to face, in the hands of a determined person. The Tramontina, OTOH, can be used for food prep, to sharpen pencils, and dozens of other jobs requiring control. It's also light enough not to be fatiguing when doing chores.

The Tram. 12-inch machetes are available. I prefer the hardwood handle, as it can be customized to fit one's hand better. Machete Specialists has them:

Tramontina 12-inch machete:

Tramontina 12-inch machete w/ canvas sheath:

All my best,
Dirty Bob

June 3, 2012, 09:34 PM
I'm unclear as to what makes a Khukuri unsuitable for batoning.
I've batonned my Khuks for 25 years, since before I knew there was a name for it.

The Windlass Steelcrafts copy of the USMC Hospital Corps knife works well for chopping and batoning (batonning?)
The blade is about 3/16" thick and 11.5" long.

Or maybe a Woodsman's Pal, or even a sugar cane knife.

June 3, 2012, 09:59 PM
Jaymo, the allegation in the articles I read is that the khuk's nonlinear axis (concave; sinusoidal) is harder to easily control when batoning.

I'm glad yours is working out for you - I'm sure it's all about what one trains with - but I want something more horizontal.

Once again, it's what I've used in the past, and it just feels right for me.

June 3, 2012, 10:05 PM
Cold Steel makes a short machete that looks like it should be good for chopping and batonning.

June 3, 2012, 11:41 PM
DB, great link. They also sell a Tramontina 5 pack ( for $35 which has:
Tramontina 12" Inch Bush Machete with Hardwood Handle

Tramontina 14" Bolo Machete with Hardwood Handle

Tramontina 13" Cane Machete with Hardwood Handle

Tramontina 20" Bush Machete with Black Poly Handle

Tramontina 24" Bush Machete with Black Poly Handle

At that price you could trade or sell the two really long ones, and still have three good shorter blades in different styles to try out.

June 4, 2012, 11:26 AM
I just received a condor combat machete. I have not had a chance to use it but it feels well balances and great in the hand. I believe it was only $40.

June 4, 2012, 01:16 PM
I have a number of machete choices since I started getting interested in them. Would not mind owning at least one of the Tramontina's to try out. One of my buying conditions in practice has to be that I am willing to use it and the Bark River Machetes might fall into the ... too nice to use catagory for my income level. Considering one just "because", but I have too many blades that never get used already.

If I want a short machete to carry with me in the woods, the Condor Golok or Kabar Cutlass machete gets the call to duty in most cases unless the blade is just along for the ride. In which case, the Kabar Cutlass machete is very good for that purpose.

I seldom cut grass or weeds with a machete, but I might cut my way through some thick undergrowth that might include briars. Come to think of it.... next time I go trout fishing on the Hiwassee River, I think I am going to do some fisherman trail maintence with a machete. The Condor Golok will probably get the call to duty for that task.

There is no one size fits all for me.

bubba in ca
June 4, 2012, 02:01 PM
Lots of good options out there, but in the meantime I bought the heaviest $6 machete I could find and ran it thru the chop saw at 14 inches...

Dirty Bob
June 5, 2012, 12:20 AM
Here's a pic of my first "trash can plastic" sheath, made for a customized Ontario machete. I used too many rivets, but it still came out OK. The brass post was turned from a piece of round stock, to allow tucking the whole thing in my belt when I wanted to.

Regarding the machete: I removed the awful D-handle, reground the choil and added canvas Micarta scales with homemade "Loveless" rivets -- made from bolts and round stock that I cut and tapped -- to secure them, along with epoxy. Moving the handle up shortened the whole machete by a bit. It's been used primarily as a huge kitchen knife and has gone along on many picnics and BBQ outings. It's great for cutting frozen food!

The other is a Tramontina 12-inch machete, with the handle re-worked a bit. The craptastic cardboard scabbard is fine for carry in a pack. The small mill file has its own pocket: I like to touch up the edge on the machete every time I use it.

The second pic shows the mouth of the plastic sheath. The layers of the welt are clearly visible. The welt allows for the blade thickness without having to "mold" the sheath, and it protects the fastenings from the blade and protects the edge from being dulled by the rivets. If I wanted to drill lashing holes around the edges of the sheath, I would have made the welt wider.

Finally, here's a closeup of the two machete handles. The dimples in the rivets serve to "lock" the threads (along with the epoxy that was on them). You can also see the reshaping of the Tramontina handle, which is why I strongly prefer their hardwood handles.

All my best,
Dirty Bob

June 5, 2012, 12:35 AM
^ Very cool, very innovative.
I'm impressed with your creativity.

June 8, 2012, 06:14 PM
After a few weeks of research, including in this thread, and reading a ton of reviews and watching a few pounds of videos, I just ordered that one.

First impressions will be forthcoming upon receipt with a review in early July after a long camping trip.

Hypothesis: it's exactly what I was looking for in a chopper suitable for batoning.

SABRE GRIND [thus reportedly better for batoning than flat grind SP52]
BLADE LENGTH: 9-7/16" [a bit shorter than my original spec, but good enough]

MSRP: $152. I paid $83 shipped UPS.

June 8, 2012, 06:31 PM
You went shorter than 12". Looks good and I really like the handle. Very nice decision. Looking forward to your comments...

June 8, 2012, 06:39 PM
Here are a couple that I made


June 8, 2012, 06:44 PM
Nice. Can you spec them?

June 8, 2012, 07:05 PM
I agree with Jim, Kid, very nice. Would love to read more about them: steel included.

Jim, in my OP, I specified 10 - 12" blade, so 9.4375" on the SP53 is pretty close. :D

It had so much else going for it, including the heft from that 1/4" blade for chopping, so I didn't mind losing a little.
I'm not finding any reviews of the SP53 yet - it's relatively new - but it's flat grind twin the SP52 gets very high marks.

June 8, 2012, 08:05 PM
PS: when I speak of 'batoning' wood, I mean small pieces of short, dry wood (less than 2" diam)
that I can use when getting the fire started, NOT 3 - 4" logs as some in this archived thread on batoning ( tried to do. :eek:

I may chop said wood with this knife, or just use my BG portable saw to cut it short.
In my experience, splitting the early wood just gets the fire going faster,
especially if there's been recent rain.

But in general, this is a chopper of small diam wood, not a splitter.

But one must be patient. It's a knife, not a hatchet.

More by edit: I plan to use this knife to cut small wood
to use in a small camp version of a rocket stove (

June 8, 2012, 08:08 PM
Real intersted in how the coating holds up. I have a 10 year old Benchmade 9100 that has lost most of its coating but is still going strong. Just bought a back up. It is still in the safe. I guess we can discuss this in 10 years:D

June 8, 2012, 08:35 PM
Me, too, Jim, on the coating.
I look at coatings as outer layers
that reduce the flash of moonlight and
slow the deterioration of inner layers,
but know they won't last forever.

But then, neither will I. :D

It's the steel underneath that matters most,
and I'm reading that 5160 is good stuff.

We'll see. Testable hypothesis.

Dirty Bob
June 8, 2012, 09:02 PM
Great choice! I like that blade. It looks like it will serve you well. The only thing I haven't liked about this thread is that it's tempting me to increase my knife collection!

Best wishes,
Dirty Bob

June 8, 2012, 09:11 PM
^ Laughing. :D

June 8, 2012, 09:17 PM
I strongly suspect that if I like this knife as much as I think I will,
I'm going to want to acquire a better sheath for it.
So now is not too early to discuss that.


PS: It'll be tested here ( by July 1.

June 8, 2012, 09:23 PM
Take a look at the Woodsmans Pal !

June 8, 2012, 09:45 PM
Continuing to read that Megathread on batoning, now closed.

Found this post ( in it that contains the essence of why I want to consider batoning.

I lived in the Pac NW for a decade. Now I live on the other coast,
but it's equally wet here at times.

If you want fire, sometimes you have to split the wood,
even if it's small (i.e., 2" or less).

June 8, 2012, 10:45 PM
I was also reading the mega thread. Nem, hope you enjoy the knife when you get it. I see little practical difference between it and the Kabar Cutlass Machete except the handle. Headed to the Blade Show in Atlanta tomorrow to spend the day.

June 8, 2012, 10:58 PM
22, the Kabar was on my short list.

Here are the details of why I didn't pick it.

* SP53 has that saber grind.
* SP53 blade is 1/4" thick; better for batoning.
* SP53 smaller diam handle looks like it'll fit my hand better.

That's it. I have no doubt the Kabar is a fine blade,
and will work well for those who choose it carefully for their needs.

For my needs, I think the SP53 is a better choice.

Please, keep us posted on what you see at the Blade Show.

June 9, 2012, 12:45 AM
I strongly suspect that if I like this knife as much as I think I will,
I'm going to want to acquire a better sheath for it.
So now is not too early to discuss that.


PS: It'll be tested here ( by July 1. (


It's too bad there aren't any lakes or streams or rivers up that way.

What a desert hike that's gonna be.


On the other hand, you could go here:


Much more water and stuff there.


June 9, 2012, 03:28 AM

I hope you like it. I've been eying the Gen II stuff for a while now. I almost ordered a SP43 ( a few days ago, but my order was well over $800, so I had to take some stuff out! :eek:

I did order a SP41 ( to test, though.


June 9, 2012, 01:19 PM
Arf, I'm laughing over here. :D

That's a great map of that area; better road data - and even shows the AT - than the google maps version that I posted - which is my desktop image; been staring at it for weeks in anticipation of this upcoming camp trip; still not sure exactly where in there I'm going to go; haven't even been up that way yet, so will take a few days to just explore; I've got almost two weeks!!!!!!!!! . I can't wait. :cool:

Which reminds me, I need to find a good map or maps.

And I'm clearly going to need this knife to fend off mosquitoes. :D (Blackfly season was early this year, I'm told.)

John, both of those Ontarios look swell. That 41 looks like an amazing little utility blade, and the same general shape, handle and steel as their SP54 (, (for which I'm lusting for no justifiable reason :evil: ), but more legal. :scrutiny: :rolleyes: I love the looks of their handles.

{PS: but the Ontario that I'm most lusting for next, with even less justification - because I have zero training with them - is their kerambit ( I'm going to start searching the archives about that one soon, even though it'll be a while before cash flow allows for it. If needed, we'll start another thread about it; don't want to discuss it here. --- PS2: Couldn't resist a search. Found this nice overview thread on kerambits ( even though super dated, but has one post from this year.}

What's your interest in the 43? Camp use, or ... ?

And what are your (plural) impressions of 5160 steel? Sounds like good stuff from what I'm reading (as a novice and student), and that they're treating it well, cutting it with water v laser to maintain the heat treatment.

June 9, 2012, 01:54 PM
I like big blades useful around camp or handy in an emergency. 5160 is my overall favorite steel for its balance of rust-resistance, toughness, edge-holding, and low cost.

I'll let you know how I like the k-bit. :D


June 9, 2012, 02:39 PM
Wow. Great to read that about 5160, John. Makes me feel even better about this knife.

June 9, 2012, 03:08 PM
Good luck they are great every one of them.

June 9, 2012, 03:39 PM
Properly treated 5160 is one of the best "big knife" steels you can find. 52100 can get sharper, and is still pretty tough, but also rusts a lot faster.

June 9, 2012, 06:25 PM
That's a great map of that area; better road data - and even shows the AT - than the google maps version that I posted - which is my desktop image; been staring at it for weeks in anticipation of this upcoming camp trip; still not sure exactly where in there I'm going to go; haven't even been up that way yet, so will take a few days to just explore; I've got almost two weeks!!!!!!!!! . I can't wait.
In a previous life, I spent some time in the Chicoutimi/Lac St. Jean area. I would also want a short chete' there too. Lots of conifers with all the timber land and whatnot around that part of the world.
You can break a lot of deadfall over your knee or snap it off with your hands, but you still may need to work for some heartwood or what have you, even if you don't baton firewood.
I'm totally envious. That's a stupid fun part of the world to blow 2 weeks. :-)

June 9, 2012, 06:28 PM
Thanks, Wheelgun. This trip has been a lllllooooonnnnngggg time coming, through a lot of professional and personal swamps and traumas. I feel like I've really earned this one. :)

And what a great way to break in this new knife along side the Manix 2 and SOG SPE.

June 10, 2012, 12:08 AM
Arf, I'm laughing over here. :D

That's a great map of that area; better road data - and even shows the AT - than the google maps version that I posted - which is my desktop image; been staring at it for weeks in anticipation of this upcoming camp trip; still not sure exactly where in there I'm going to go; haven't even been up that way yet, so will take a few days to just explore; I've got almost two weeks!!!!!!!!! . I can't wait. :cool:

Which reminds me, I need to find a good map or maps.

And I'm clearly going to need this knife to fend off mosquitoes. :D (Blackfly season was early this year, I'm told.)

[ -snip- ]

That map was a quick screen shot of my DeLorme Topo USA image of that area. Topo USA has been superseded by Topo North American, I believe. I also have their USB tethered GPS puck, and an old PN-20 hand-held GPS of theirs. Their newer PN-40 and PN-60 (here's the package ( are the same size but faster and with more map memory. (If you're feeling rich, they have the PN-60w version that supports two-way wireless messaging via satellite.)

Me, I just use a lightweight notebook computer with the tethered puck for detail work on the road. The Garmin will help you navigate for ordinary trips, but when you want to know what the other slope of that hill looks like, DeLorme is the answer. All the maps are loaded on the hard drive, no "fetch from satellite" or the really icky "fetch from cell network" sourcing. I have highly detailed maps with things like stores, hotels, and gas stations (yes, with phone numbers), complete with zoom, tilt, rotate, trip routing with manual override, draw-missing-roads feature, and so on.

It has saved my travel bacon a number of times.

The Topo USA (North America) series has superb graphics, excellent detail levels, tilt, rotate, and pan capability mentioned above, and an "exaggeration" function for viewing terrain features.

DeLorme ( also sells paper maps (, like their Gazetteer series for specific regions. Here, for example, is a set that covers your area (

For people who travel in areas where there ain't no Internet nor phone, their stuff is a great nav aid.

DeLorme is actually located in your neck of the woods, so to speak, in Yarmouth DeLorme
Two DeLorme Drive
P.O. Box 298
Yarmouth, ME 04096
and they have this enormous globe ( there that's a tourist attraction in its own right.

Here's a shot from Google Maps, Street View, Photos section:

Check out their navigational product lines.

There may well be something there you can use.

June 10, 2012, 10:45 AM
I agree, Nem. Great way to break in new cutlery and blow off some work steam.

Maybe post some pics of your adventure when you return.

June 10, 2012, 10:57 AM
Picked up the new Condor Pack Golok yesterday. It is a heck of a chopper based on the heft and feel. But it is heavy and I doubt it would currently fulfill Nem's qualifiers for his woods/camping blade unless the weight issue is not signficant to the decision. The handle is actually large enough for a quasi two handed grip for medium sized hands which would facilitate chopping of larger pieces of wood better than most hatchets. I was comparing it to the Condor Hudson Bay, and the Hudson Bay is certainly a one handed camp knife. I like the Condor Hudson Bay for a general purpose camp knife. But the blade is a bit thick for slicing. It is borderline too big for much cutting dexterity unless you have really large hands.

Hope you have a good time with your camping trip.

Maine camping and hiking... My suggestion is that you have some good maps, gps, and a backup compass. It is easy to get turned around in mono-relief terrain. I have the Delorme map products mentioned, but not the mated GPS units. I actually have the old Delorme state CD packages for topos for a few states I frequent. Just noticed that they are for windows 95/98... have not used them in a while and they may not be usable with Windows Vista and Windows 7.

June 10, 2012, 06:41 PM
Arf, thanks mucho for the map info. Have used Delorme's maps for years (NM, OR) but did not know they were so close to me here. As a map lover - should probably have been a cartographer, or at least geographer - I'll def have to visit their facility.

For now, I think I may just pick up one of their map "books", the state of Maine. I won't be carrying my laptop with me on this trip. Don't want to leave it in the (loaner) car when I'm hiking.

22, I look forward to hearing more about the Condor. Pics when you get a chance.

How long is the blade?

I moved today, from a 4th floor apt overlooking the downtown in a small city (near the fire and police departments, so complete with sirens, street traffic and totally nutzoid upstairs neighbors who scream at each other in the parking lot at 1 am :cuss: ) to a residential neighborhood with trees, backyards, and gardens. I can feel the breeze, and actually hear birds singing.

Wow. I'd forgotten.

Camping up there will be even better.

Life is good.

June 10, 2012, 07:15 PM
I believe Maine was the very first gazetteer that Delorme produced. I believe PA and NY followed rather quickly. I have many of the state gazetteer atlases and I really like them. I missed my calling.

I measure about 11" (a little shy of 28 cm) more or less on the Pack Golok blade. I re-measured it along the center of the blade and it is about what the catalog shows versus my original measurement which bothered me after I checked the catalog measurement.

Would love to explore Baxter SP.

Addition: By the way Nem, it does not bother me in the least that you didn't choose the Kabar Cutlass Machete. I hope you enjoy the SP53 and I want you to be satisfied with your choice.

June 10, 2012, 07:58 PM
I liked the Condor descriptions and reviews I saw. That's a nice blade length.
It was a contender in my process, and would be a reasonable step up
if my SP53 didn't fit the bill. We'll see.

I don't think I'll go to Baxter this trip. We're heading into tourista season here,
and I want solitude. There's nice wildness ( south of there.

Someday, though. Thoreau walked there on Katadin (

June 11, 2012, 11:41 AM
The new Pack Golok is pretty chunky. I weighed it on my scales at 25 oz (blade only). The 14" bladed Condor Golok may actually be easier to use, but not for heavy chopping or camp chores. The hammered look is appealing as it is on the Hudson Bay. The handle is fatter than the regular Golok which lends itself to a two handed hold. I think the Pack Golok might be improved with a slightly thinner bar steel. But I guess it depends on what you are going to use if for. I look forward to trying it out in the coming weeks.

June 11, 2012, 11:47 PM
Interesting thread. After reading this and owning nothing more than a cheap ChiCom "machete" I feign this Fool can certainly justify some $$ soon departed.

Nem enjoy your adventure and R/R.

June 12, 2012, 12:07 AM
Good to see you in a blade thread, DA. It's good that we expand our purview beyond revolvers and rifles on occasion. :D

June 12, 2012, 02:49 PM
Someday, though. Thoreau walked there on Katadin.
Katahdin can be hardcore. Totally a treat though.

June 15, 2012, 01:02 PM
First impressions [of SP 53] will be forthcoming upon receipt
with a review in early July after a long camping trip.

It just arrived.

For now, just one word:

WOW. :what:

Description with pics coming before Tuesday.

Not sure if I'll post it here or in a separate thread. Maybe both.

Maybe we'll leave this thread for discussions about 'short 'chetes in general,
and I'll start a different thread for ongoing review and discussion about the SP 53 (and related models like SP 52, etc).

June 15, 2012, 10:57 PM
Looking forward to your review.

June 15, 2012, 11:41 PM
^ On FB (not 'full blade' but Facebook), I'd 'like' that (post 100). ^

Here, I guess I'm stuck with '+1'.

Been getting acquainted with the new blade all day.
Handling it, chopping some wood in the backyard, modifying the blade a bit.

First impressions: love it. Rocks. Rawks.
Handle feels real good; good size; fits my small hand.

Major steel. Heavy, even for its size - 1/4" - :what:
but that's going to pay off because that weight makes chopping easier.
It has the weight of a hatchet spread over a 9.5" blade.
Balance point is just under 2" forward (distal) of the handle.

The choil just forward (distal) to the guard
allows more control for small strokes.

My mod - done with a file and stone - has been to remove the sharp edge
for 1/4" forward of that choil, for obvious reasons.
(Don't need sharp that far back on this blade,
and I like my index finger intact. :D )

Images to come ...


June 15, 2012, 11:51 PM
Oh, and that 1/4" thick blade means it batons like a dream.

Splits 1" to 3" sticks like a steak knife through tough meat.

June 16, 2012, 12:13 AM
Oh, two more points:

1) The blade shape - mass forward -
makes its dynamics like a kukri.

2) Scary sharp.

And I just honed it
with a fine grit stone.

It's now razor-like.

June 16, 2012, 01:06 AM
First image.

It split 1.5" and 3" seasoned maple w/ knots.

Baton is laying to the right of the split 3".

June 16, 2012, 07:49 AM
I'm interested to see how you continue to find its quality after it has some of the shiny worn off.
But, first impressions are also useful, so keep 'em comin' when you can.
Thanks for the review(s).

June 16, 2012, 10:03 AM
Don't put too fine/"razor" edge on it if you want to chop with it.

Glad you're happy. I like US companies that offer really good value.

June 16, 2012, 12:03 PM
I feel the same, Wheelgun. With people and tools, first impressions can be shiny, but it's the long term behavior that matters. I do think I'll start a new thread on this knife when I return (weeks) where I can record it's behavior over the long term.

John, thanks for the advice about not being razoresque. Last night, I was just curious to see what kind of edge was 'possible' easily (I didn't spend much time with it, and don't even really have a proper stone for this sized blade yet (that's another whole discussion: recommendations for a sharpener for this one), - my only stone is a tiny 4" x 1", but it's been sufficient for small blades in my travels. So I just took a few passes with it 'walking it' up and down the blade to take the burr off. I was impressed.

Your recommendation (not razor sharp for chopping) makes some sense to me in terms of blade care, but I'd still like to read your reasoning. I may be missing something else that's important about that.

June 16, 2012, 03:11 PM
Thinner= sharper, but also less robust. Axes are sharp, but not like a razor.

June 16, 2012, 03:27 PM
Thanks. That's what I thought you meant. Sensible.

June 16, 2012, 03:56 PM
Had an interesting experience today. Sitting on the back porch keeping an eye on my 7 year old granddaughter in the pool and bored to death. So I spot this piece of yelow pine and decided to do some whittling. Pulled out two Bark Rivers, a Kellam, a Fallkniven and my Ka Bar 1248. My expectation was that the Kellam would be the best. It was the worst. It is the puukko model. The two "survival" knifes, Fallkniven and Bark River tied. The Ka Bar won hands down. The other Bark River was a distant third. I'll admit that I have a lot to learn about blades.
Next knife looks to be the Ka Bar Becker BK-7 Combat Utility Knife. This Ka Bar is American made.

June 16, 2012, 04:37 PM
Less than 100 bucks, forestry pros use them a lot.

June 16, 2012, 05:43 PM
Jim, wait ... did I understand that correctly? The 1248 best at whittling?

I'm having trouble visualizing that. I think of whittling as something
I'd do with a small 3" blade, not a 10" blade like on the 1248. :what:

What am I missing? :scrutiny:

Mnby, I've seen the Woodsman's Pal ( recommended a lot, and have looked at them myself a few times, though have never used one. The look great, and I'm sure they're a fine tool, but for me, the 'hook' in the blade just didn't seem useful ... again, for me; I'm sure it's useful for a lot of folks. I'm guessing for pulling and cutting vines and stuff.

June 16, 2012, 06:11 PM
If you aren't used to owning "big" knives, your first one is certainly very cool. I think "Wow" would cover it. I hate to admit it, but my very first large bladed fixed-blade knife was a SOG Tigershark (both the current version at that time and the SK-5 version) about 5-years ago. It still gives me a grin when I dig it out. That is the problem... dig it out. It isn't used for anything.

A large limb (3" or so) just fell off my black cherry tree in the back yard. I have no idea why. Guess it is time to try out my Condor Pack Golok. :)

June 16, 2012, 06:17 PM
I had a 2"x2" piece of yellow pine. My objective was to round off the last six inches. So off I go. All the knives have good edges, but the 1248 was awesome at rounding off the "handle" without digging into the wood. And with little effort.
I am as surprised as you. I will really appreciate some insight to this.
Again, this was not a fine effort. Just killing time and wanted to test out the knives.


June 16, 2012, 08:30 PM
I'm laughing, 22.

Jim, let me try to understand this more: were you really 'whittling' or more chopping. If whittling, how were you holding the knife?

Sorry to press this point so far, but just trying to visualize 'whittling' with a big knife.

June 16, 2012, 09:48 PM
Well, I have to say the Condor Pack Golok worked like a charm. I reduced my big bushy cherry limb (about the size of a car in mass) down to managable pieces in about 30 minutes with the blade. This was actually more of an axe job than a knife job. But I wanted to see how this thing cut. No problemo. Now I have to get rid of it... pain in the butt.

Yes, I wore gloves just like Mikel Hawke (Man Woman Wild). It is something I am going to make a standard field item. (source Ace Hardware, form fitting padded leather palmed gloves with velcro deal at the wrist to make them snug and not get slung off.)

Nem, have fun with your new Ontario.

June 16, 2012, 10:29 PM
Funny you mention gloves, 22. At the hardware today (Home Depot), I purchased a pair of fingerless mechanics gloves for bike and work like this. Leather palm pads, velcro back closure for close fit. I've used fingerless gloves for years. In blackfly/mosquito season, they can also reduce blood loss. :D

June 17, 2012, 07:21 AM
Whittling, not chopping. Where I grew up it was a big deal when you got your first folder so you could whittle with your friends who got their folder before you.
Anyway, held it by the handle and made short, deliberate cuts rounding out the wood. I am as confounded as you by the results.


June 17, 2012, 08:58 AM

I agree with John about not thinning your edge down to get a razor edge for a chopper. You can remove material to leave the edge unsupported for chopping and roll your cutting edge or even chip pieces out of it. The "V" that is the bevel to the cutting edge is different for different applications. The steep narrow "V" of the razor doesn't drag like a broader one, but it also isn't strong against side loading or rolling.

I have seen different angles used on larger blades to allow for fine work near the guard and chopping forward of the mid point, but I'd rather have a small knife for fine work and a heavier chopper for that role instead of changing the bevel along the length of the blade.

June 17, 2012, 09:10 AM
Jim, let me try to understand this more: were you really 'whittling' or more chopping. If whittling, how were you holding the knife?

You really can "whittle" with almost anything. Just takes practice.

Its all in the can control almost any sharp chunk of metal.

June 17, 2012, 09:49 AM
NICE figure 4 trap!

June 17, 2012, 10:16 AM
Ditto. Very impressed with the tool you are using.

June 17, 2012, 10:34 AM
NICE figure 4 trap!

Ditto. Very impressed with the tool you are using.

Thanks. That one is just a toy to practice my axe carving.

Axes are sharp, but not like a razor.

True to some extent. Some of us prefer to use sharp,really, really sharp axes. Mine aren't quite equal to a razor, but will split a hair. Higher end axes such as GB,Wetterlings etc.. have an RC equal to some production carbon steel knives.

They will take an amazing edge with a simple stone or sandpaper. I (and others) don't see an axe as merely a chopping tool.If that was all I had in the outdoors, I would do just fine.

June 17, 2012, 11:46 AM
They will take an amazing edge with a simple stone or sandpaper. I (and others) don't see an axe as merely a chopping tool.If that was all I had in the outdoors, I would do just fine.

More power to ya.

June 17, 2012, 01:58 PM
Hso: got it. Very reasonable.

Jim, I'm beginning to understand what you mean here by 'whittling'. Dayhiker's images help, also. When I think of whittling, I think of carving a little figurine, for example, with a pen knife. But I see what you're saying now. You're not carving figures, but cutting pieces off or cutting a groove (in Dayhiker's case). I get it.

I even played a little last night with my SP53, choking up on the handle with my index finger in the choil in front of the guard, and could see how using it to shave or cut could work. (For most tasks like that, my 5" SPE will get the call, but it can be done.)

June 17, 2012, 02:55 PM
Where I grew up "whittling" meant making a piece of wood smaller. No figurines included.
Definitely a cultural dialect misunderstanding going on here.
Dayhiker is way beyond my concept of whittling. He is actually making something other than a spear or club:D:banghead:

June 17, 2012, 03:02 PM
I suspect my idea of whittling closely mirrors JimStC's. I might well do something like Dayhiker did, but I would use a knife. But he is demonstrating that it can be done and I believe that, but it is not the tool for the job for most people.

June 17, 2012, 05:30 PM
But he is demonstrating that it can be done and I believe that, but it is not the tool for the job for most people.

You're right, it is not. But there are people out there who use big knives and machetes that can do things with them that would make me hang my head in shame.

I live in New England, axe country, so ya I can use an axe as a knife If I have too. It all boils down to picking the right tool for your environment. And learning to make it work beyond its "normal" functions.

June 17, 2012, 06:01 PM
^ Well said.

Part of my motivation for buying this big knife is simply to explore what it can do. I used a machete as a kid in the south, building forts with it in the woods. I've used axes and hatchets also, more in my adult years than big knives, mostly for chopping fire wood.

Now, with that experience, and other experiences with knives with 3" to 7" blades, I want to explore what this one can do, how it differs from hatchets, pros, cons, etc.

If I was chopping trees, or any wood bigger than 3" diam, I'd have a hatchet or ax with a saw.

But as stated in my OP, this one has far limited intentions. I'll see what else it can do, too.

June 17, 2012, 06:47 PM
Went to the back part of my place today where I have a 225 yard rifle range. There is a locust tree about 12" diameter that had been used as a back stop. Finally the wind took it down. I'll harvest it for firewood.
Anyway I took my Ka Bar 1248 with me to get some limbs for whittling. What a cutting tool! It is a very effective tool. Several determined strikes and I have some limbs to whittle.... Very pleased

June 17, 2012, 06:54 PM
Jim, post some pics of you whittling with it! :)

June 17, 2012, 06:59 PM
I will. Just need to get my photographer (wife) to do the techinical stuff:confused:

June 17, 2012, 09:30 PM
Wes Byrd and I were yakking with Mike Sastre at Blade (Mike and his wife could use some supportive energy sent their way) about big bowies and carrying them concealed. Mike did his standard trick of pulling a 10" bowie out of the waistband of his river river shorts (it is one of his favorite stunts to comfortably conceal a BIG bowie in shorts and T-shirt while listening to someone explain how it can't be done) and Wes recounted how Bill Bagwell skinned and dressed a mouse with one of his 12" bowies to demonstrate that if you know how you can use a big knife for fine work. If it was being told by anyone other than Wes I'd be skeptical of the accuracy, but in his case I take everything he says as fact.

Of course, as pointed out "can" and "can easily" are two different things. I have seen people actually use small axes and hatchets to do very fine work.

June 18, 2012, 10:35 PM
hso I watched my dad skin out a squirrel with a BS Hatchet to show us boys it could be done. I have no doubt about what your friend can do with a Bowie.

July 4, 2012, 10:49 PM
I put the reviews of the Ontario SP 53 over here.

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