New machete -- field report


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heron
April 1, 2013, 08:22 PM
I'd been shopping for a machete to take down some stuff (a tree, actually) that was close enough to my cement-block garage that I might hit it, and didn't want to ruin my Estwing hatchet, and because I wanted something with a bit more reach.

It took me more than a few hours of searching through reviews to find something that I felt comfortable ordering. I didn't want to pay too much (maybe $30 or so), since I anticipated damaging the tool.

What I really wanted was a Woodman's Pal, but at a fraction of its price. Nothin' doin.' On to the alternatives. I finally arrived at the United Cutlery UC2819 Colombian Panga Machete, and it was a tossup between that and a United Cutlery Kukri machete at a similar price. I ordered here:

http://www.knife-depot.com/knife-433310.html

They were out of the Kukris, and one was a sawback. A bit later on, I found that Amazon had the same item for slightly less. They also had the Kukris in stock. Oh well.

I placed the order a little after midnight on the 27th, and it was on my doorstep this morning. No email to confirm shipping, but the web invoice did give the estimated delivery date as today.

It looked nice when I got it out of its sheath; seemed sturdy enough. The blade steel is 3mm thick, and the edge is hollow-ground, which surprised me, but the grind is uniform and the edge is VERY sharp.

Due to seeing a lot of reviewers telling of handles falling off or getting loose, I was a little concerned about the thing having a full tang. It does (full length, at least); the edge of the steel is visible along the top of the handle. The handle is quite generously-sized.

One reviewer pointed out that this thing is misnamed; the blade shape isn't really a panga. I don't care. The overall look of it calls up images of pirates.

The sheath is okay, but a little cumbersome to use when putting the blade away. The machete has a lanyard on it, but it's plain silly -- a piece of soft nylon cord tied in something that looks like a hangman's knot, but with no way to loop it around your wrist, which is what I would expect to do with it. I took it off.

Out the door and around the garage. I found that there were more things needing removed than I had remembered, but I went at it. Bottom line was a bunch of trees, all about as thick as my fist, give or take a little.

First, three or four sumacs that I realized would be in the way of the ones I'd been thinking of as the problem. They were more horizontal than vertical, which allowed me to cut into them about equally from each side. Easy work. Sumac has a beautiful grain; too bad it's structurally useless.

Took out a couple that were just nearby; species unknown, but I figured I should get rid of 'em. Finally, on to the ones that were up close to the garage. I don't know what kind they were either, but they have a dense, uniform grain and the wood is very light in color. Heavy in weight, though. The bad boy had divided its trunk into about four or five stalks, close together. taking these down one by one was a little tricky; at times I had to chop in between the trunks, and sometime the blade got bound up and twisted a tiny bit, so it was hard to get it out.

Work, work, work -- I haven't done this much physical labor in years, and it was about twenty years since the last time I used a machete (one of those thin things made in El Salvador, I think). I had to take lots of breaks. About two-thirds through the job, I got a blister on the inside edge of my thumb and it broke, so I had to bandage that and change gloves. I enjoyed it, though. "Arrr," I thought, "take that, ye scurvy blaggard!"

The blade kept its edge through all of it, and the handle is still as solid as ever, after about two solid hours of whacking. There are a few places on the blade where I've bent its edge in tiny waves, but the spine of it is still straight. No chips, cracks, or dull spots; it's ready for more.

So, I'm calling this one a good deal. If you need this kind of machete, you won't be sorry.

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rcmodel
April 1, 2013, 10:07 PM
take down some stuff (a tree, actually) that was close enough to my cement-block garage that I might hit it,Probably not the advice you want to hear in a knife forum, but:

A Saws-All and a $3.98 pruning blade is the best way to handle those kinds of problems.

You can saw off trees & roots below ground, and throw the blade away when it gets dull from sawing dirt, rocks, and concrete scabs in the dirt.

Machetes have their place.

But leaving sharpened punji stakes made of former trees next to where you walk or mow is not one of them!

rc

hso
April 1, 2013, 10:29 PM
Yep

I purchased a Ryobi Li powered Saws All and found that I could clear all sorts of things from between and against fences/buildings with little effort (of course the thing cost far more than a machete/panga/golok), but a manual saw would have done fine with greater physical effort.

Sam Cade
April 1, 2013, 10:31 PM
I finally arrived at the United Cutlery UC2819 Colombian Panga Machete, and it was a tossup between that and a United Cutlery Kukri machete at a similar price

For that kinda money you could have purchased 2 Imacasas.

http://www.baryonyxknife.com/imacasa.html

JimStC
April 2, 2013, 06:00 AM
Great review. Thanks for sharing your task.
"scurvy blaggard" Gotta love it:D

Jim

ObsidianOne
April 2, 2013, 06:49 AM
Probably not the advice you want to hear in a knife forum, but:

A Saws-All and a $3.98 pruning blade is the best way to handle those kinds of problems.

You can saw off trees & roots below ground, and throw the blade away when it gets dull from sawing dirt, rocks, and concrete scabs in the dirt.

Machetes have their place.

But leaving sharpened punji stakes made of former trees next to where you walk or mow is not one of them!

rc
This is what I was thinking of too... Or even hatchet of some kind? Machetes were meant for brush and light foliage, not trees :) If you wanted to stay on the inexpensive side, order the Spetznaz shovel that Cold Steel offers, for something like $25 I believe.
http://www.amazon.com/Cold-Steel-Special-Forces-Hardwood/dp/B00169V99K

More info on it:
http://www.coldsteel.com/Product/92SFS/SPECIAL_FORCES_SHOVEL_W_SHEATH.aspx

In any case, at least we know what that machete can do! lol Thanks for the review!

zhyla
April 2, 2013, 01:54 PM
As much fun as macheting the back yard is usually a saw or an axe/mattock is the right answer. But I usually get the machete out first :).

heron
April 2, 2013, 02:13 PM
Power tools -- no. Sawzalls are truly awesome, but this task is something I don't see needing to do more than once every couple years, and I'd have no other use for the tool. Besides, the work site is too far from power, so I'd have to buy a long extension cord as well.

Sam, the imicasa looks great, but I missed them in my search. I liked the Condors that I saw, but I think they were priced a little higher than I liked.

I looked at Cold Steel -- I couldn't HELP looking at them; they're everywhere. But I read LOTS of reviews, and rejected the entire line due to so many customer complaints. The item I bought had a high proportion of good reviews.

I have a pruner with the ratcheting jaws, and it's an awesome tool, but not big enough for this job. I have a hatchet (as I mentioned in the original post) but didn't want to chance wrecking it. I got this machete because it's got a heavy enough blade for the work, and honestly, I don't think the hatchet would have done any better.

I've had some experience with hand saws on small trees, and hated it.

Sam Cade
April 2, 2013, 05:59 PM
Sam, the imicasa looks great, but I missed them in my search. I liked the Condors that I saw, but I think they were priced a little higher than I liked.


Condor is how Imacasa brands their "premium" line.



I looked at Cold Steel -- I couldn't HELP looking at them; they're everywhere.


Cold Steel machetes are rebranded Lasher Tools. They are decent.
http://www.lasher.co.za/show_products.php?make=Knives&category=Agricultural

22-rimfire
April 2, 2013, 11:25 PM
Haven't tried that particular machete. I have been sort of focused on Condor machetes for the last couple of years. Glad you are satisfied with your purchase.

I have a cordless 20v Dewalt recip saw that I use for cutting smaller stuff around the house. It even works on stuff to about 4" if you are willing to work at it a bit.

Deltaboy
April 16, 2013, 09:43 PM
Saws all are the bomb. I have tore down homes with them.

Fred Fuller
April 17, 2013, 07:21 PM
I did the fall shrubbery pruning at the 'new' house with a cordless reciprocating saw from Porter-Cable this year. Beats non-powered tools hands down :D

http://images.lowes.com/product/converted/885911/885911079426lg.jpg

- http://www.lowes.com/pd_37604-70-PC18RS_0__?productId=3478873

But it cost more than any of the machete's I've bought - maybe even ALL of them :D. And a machete is easier to carry around, too.

Deltaboy
April 17, 2013, 07:51 PM
I did the fall shrubbery pruning at the 'new' house with a cordless reciprocating saw from Porter-Cable this year. Beats non-powered tools hands down :D

http://images.lowes.com/product/converted/885911/885911079426lg.jpg

- http://www.lowes.com/pd_37604-70-PC18RS_0__?productId=3478873

But it cost more than any of the machete's I've bought - maybe even ALL of them :D. And a machete is easier to carry around, too.
But the Porter Cable does the Job faster.

Double_J
April 17, 2013, 08:08 PM
both tools are great, but when the battery dies or you don't have power the machete will still work. I love a good sawzall for cutting small brush and logs, but when I am camping give me a big sharp knife (machete, axe, or camp knife).

AJumbo
April 20, 2013, 11:20 AM
It looks to me like our esteemed OP wanted a machete, found a reason to acquire one, and got a good machete (along with some healthy exercise.) Wins all around!

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