The Beginner's Guide to the Machete


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JShirley
July 27, 2013, 10:58 AM
All of you frequent NFW denizens have seen some of Sam Cade's machetes. The knife community has a lot of people who buy knives to collect, but who rarely use them. Machetes are working tools, not pretty pieces of art, and Sam uses and has used a wide variety of them.

I asked Sam if he'd be willing to write a series of articles about machetes: how to choose a machete, what a machete is good for, ones to buy and ones to avoid. He has kindly agreed. The first article in the series is here (http://www.shootingreviews.com/machetes-and-you-a-short-introduction-for-the-novice-user/).

Thanks, Sam! :D

John

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Vonderek
July 27, 2013, 12:54 PM
<delete>

JShirley
July 27, 2013, 01:21 PM
Understandable. :)

I especially liked Sam's illustrations of the most common styles available in the US, along with extremes of both thick/short and light/long. I'm hoping he will expand in the future to include other knives with similar performance, such as the Thai chopper he posted here recently.

John

Sam Cade
July 27, 2013, 04:32 PM
I'm hoping he will expand in the future to include other knives with similar performance, such as the Thai chopper he posted here recently.



Eventually we will hit the ethnic choppers.

Some of them are just too weird to ignore. :D

Case in point, some of the big southeast Asian knives have "handed" asymmetrical grinds. Full flat ground on one side, convex or hollow ground on the other. Or hollow/convex. With distal taper. Or reverse distal taper. :scrutiny:

tubeshooter
July 27, 2013, 04:48 PM
Nicely done - thank you very much for this.


I look forward to future installments.

Sam Cade
July 27, 2013, 05:15 PM
I look forward to future installments.

Thanks!

I'm always open to suggestions.

If there is a particular 'chete/chopper you would like to see put through its paces or if there is a particular area of usage you would like to see explored let me know.

JShirley
July 27, 2013, 05:21 PM
Sam,

http://www.smkw.com/small/knife/IMC521030.jpg
Is this Panga style (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+20%22+Carbon+Steel+Panga+Machete+with+Wood+Handle/IMC521030.html) one of the heavier machetes out there? It seems a little long for the weight I assume it has.

I know this "sugar cane" two-hander (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+Two+Handed+Carbon+Steel+Sugar+Cane+Machete+with+Wood+Handle/IMC523515.html) will definitely be for heavier stuff than some others. Looks like it would be a better substitute for a two-handed chopper (and much cheaper) than the Cold Steal Chinese Swords and such.
http://www.smkw.com/small/knife/IMC523515.jpg

Based on your suggestions in the article, would you say something like this 18" imacasa (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+18%22+Machete+with+Black+PVC+Compound+Handle/IMC503449.html) would be a good beginning machete for must users?
http://www.smkw.com/small/knife/IMC503449.jpg

If the Marble's are made in Central America, I'd guess they were decent?
John

Sam Cade
July 27, 2013, 07:10 PM
For scale:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186965&stc=1&d=1374966197

Durn. Slipped up and put a 22" in the picture instead of a 20".



http://www.smkw.com/small/knife/IMC521030.jpg
Is this Panga style (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+20%22+Carbon+Steel+Panga+Machete+with+Wood+Handle/IMC521030.html) one of the heavier machetes out there? It seems a little long for the weight I assume it has.


It is untapered, and the swell and point toward the tip make if very weight forward (POB is 7.5" or so above the scales on a 20") but the blade stock is 1.5mm thick so even a 22" IMACASA 980 panga it is lighter in the hand than a standard OKC 18"-er.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186961&stc=1&d=1374964316

The 22" OKC is just about the heaviest machete that I can use all day and still be able to brush my teeth that night.;)





I know this "sugar cane" two-hander (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+Two+Handed+Carbon+Steel+Sugar+Cane+Machete+with+Wood+Handle/IMC523515.html) will definitely be for heavier stuff than some others. Looks like it would be a better substitute for a two-handed chopper (and much cheaper) than the Cold Steal Chinese Swords and such.
http://www.smkw.com/small/knife/IMC523515.jpg


Caņero is tough stuff so many professionals prefer a heavily weighted blade to hack through the stalks but the blades aren't any thicker than general usage machete. In fact, a thicker blade would be counter productive, requiring more material to be displaced as the blade moves through the stalk and robbing energy from the cut.

The big IMACASA is still only 1.5mm thick.

The long handle is mostly a way to extend the reach of the blade to prevent the user from having to bend over so far.

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3272/3075800716_1774450295.jpg

I can just about touch the ground with mine if I slouch.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186963&stc=1&d=1374965164

Reach comes with a price of course. The long handled chopper is much more work to swing and fails miserably against hardwoods since the thin (and in my case highly ground) blade wants to wedge and has a terrible power robbing shiver if you make an imperfect cut.

I like to use these as adjuncts to blackberry pickin'. The hook is handy for handing briars without cutting them and the long handle keeps your fingers in an unbepoked state.
Mmmmmm... Blackberry cobbler.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=186964&stc=1&d=1374965903





Based on your suggestions in the article, would you say something like this 18" imacasa (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+18%22+Machete+with+Black+PVC+Compound+Handle/IMC503449.html) would be a good beginning machete for must users?
http://www.smkw.com/small/knife/IMC503449.jpg


That is pretty close to the ideal general purpose machete.




If the Marble's are made in Central America, I'd guess they were decent?
John

For the most part they are IMACASAs with upgraded factory edges (read as: They come sharp) and orange paint. They are sort of the midpoint between standard "My machete feeds my family" IMACASA and "Rich Fat American" Condor Tool and Knife/IMACASA.

If you like orange or don't want to spend quality time with a bastard file or belt-grinder before you use your tool they are perfect. ;)

JShirley
July 27, 2013, 07:19 PM
Wow. Thanks for the terrific illustrations and explanations. :)

John

Sam Cade
July 27, 2013, 07:21 PM
Knife dork joke in the 1st picture. :evil:

JShirley
July 27, 2013, 07:38 PM
Ha! I thought it was for scale! :D

Sam Cade
July 27, 2013, 08:29 PM
I figured that I couldn't legitimately say "This knife cuts like a sharpened prybar!" unless I had some first hand experience.

So I sharpened a prybar.

Sharpened prybars don't cut very well. :evil:

rcmodel
July 27, 2013, 09:13 PM
SO, now I suppose I'm going to have to retire my 18" & 22" green-horn handle WWII Legitimus Collins & Co. Machetes to cut cobbler right?? :D

Nice write-up Sam!

rc

Potatohead
July 28, 2013, 10:12 AM
Thanks for the article...

tubeshooter
July 28, 2013, 11:23 AM
Just re-read this first installment. I have to say, it is very well done.

Very informative, with just a hint of levity. Makes for good reading.



Again - thanks very much! I'll be looking forward to more.

Zeke/PA
July 28, 2013, 04:45 PM
I have a Tramontoria(sp) that I keep sharp and use all the time.
Beyond THAT I am at a total loss for any machete discussion.

JShirley
July 28, 2013, 04:53 PM
Zeke, how are you sharpening it?

Zeke/PA
July 28, 2013, 06:36 PM
Zeke, how are you sharpening it?
I clamp a 2 ft. long 2"x3" in a vice. Then with small "c" clamps I attach the blade to the 2x3. Initally, I draw file both sides of the blade followed by a routine with both grits of a round "axe" stone. It works well!

Dirty Bob
July 28, 2013, 07:15 PM
Great article, Sam! I look forward to more. I think my Tramontina bolo is my most useful overall machete. It's light enough to swing fast, heavy enough for some light wood cutting.

The advantage of wood handles is the ease with which the user can re-shape them. I've modified wood handles before, as most machete hilts seem to be made for larger hands than mine. Although plastic can also be carved, wood seems easier.

Perhaps at one point, you could do a "Hall of Shame" list. My first nomination: the abominable Gerber "Parang." Junk with a bad heat treat!

Thanks,
Dirty Bob

Sam Cade
July 28, 2013, 07:50 PM
Great article, Sam! I look forward to more. I think my Tramontina bolo is my most useful overall machete. It's light enough to swing fast, heavy enough for some light wood cutting.


Thanks!

The 14" Tram bolo hits close to the sweet spot for a light duty, packable machete I think, provided a given example is free of gross defect.



Perhaps at one point, you could do a "Hall of Shame" list. My first nomination: the abominable Gerber "Parang." Junk with a bad heat treat!


I can't speak as to the quality or consistency of the HT on the Peedrinker Parang, but I think that it is a terribly flawed design.


http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=184936&d=1370543393
http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=718754

A "Hall of Shame" is very doable and is one of the more reader beneficial and natural outcomes of doing broad survey type gear reviews.
Also, fun to write, even though I don't think my editor will let me use my most colorful language. :evil:

JShirley
July 28, 2013, 08:03 PM
A "Hall of Shame" is very doable and is one of the more reader beneficial and natural outcomes of doing broad survey type gear reviews.
Also, fun to write, even though I don't think my editor will let me use my most colorful language. :evil:

Well...yeah, perhaps not your most colorful! :D

John

Deltaboy
July 29, 2013, 11:26 AM
I have a Tramontoria(sp) that I keep sharp and use all the time.
Beyond THAT I am at a total loss for any machete discussion.
I got one too and it been used on Construction and yard work since 1985. I got a cheap Academy one the I cut down to it was 14 1/2 inches long and I put it in the car trunk. I got a Cold Steel Bolo on th way from Amazon, next month I am get getting one from MSKW that Sam posted about earlier.

Deltaboy
July 29, 2013, 11:29 AM
Thanks!

The 14" Tram bolo hits close to the sweet spot for a light duty, packable machete I think, provided a given example is free of gross defect.


I can't speak as to the quality or consistency of the HT on the Peedrinker Parang, but I think that it is a terribly flawed design.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=718754

A "Hall of Shame" is very doable and is one of the more reader beneficial and natural outcomes of doing broad survey type gear reviews.
Also, fun to write, even though I don't think my editor will let me use my most colorful language. :evil:
Thanks Sam for your warning about the Gerber machetes they were on sale at a farm and market store in my area for under 20 bucks. I was going to get one thrill I read your Made in the USA Machete thread.

zhyla
July 29, 2013, 04:49 PM
Great intro article. Since machetes are the only knife I use enough to ever need to regrind I am looking forward to the next installment.

Would it be possible to dive deep into blade shape, length, thickness, and grind geometry vs application?

Sam Cade
July 29, 2013, 06:38 PM
Would it be possible to dive deep into blade shape, length, thickness, and grind geometry vs application?

Absolutely.

The "Why" of knife design is one of the most interesting facets of study.

To wit:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187054&stc=1&d=1375137156

Different tools for different jobs.

Dirty Bob
July 29, 2013, 09:45 PM
A short how-to on setting bevels and perhaps optimizing a bevel angle for the type of use you anticipate would be awesome. I routinely find the tips of machetes are hardly even beveled. I assume it's for safety. I try to file in a bevel in that part of the blade before I put it into use.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Sam!

Dirty Bob

Dave Markowitz
July 30, 2013, 10:30 AM
Very nice article, Sam.

Here's another way to make the wooden scales more comfortable, a paracord wrap:

http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/davemarkowitz/Cutlery/choppers.jpg (http://s30.photobucket.com/user/davemarkowitz/media/Cutlery/choppers.jpg.html)

The machete on the right was made in the PRC and bought at Harbor Freight. It came as sharp as a butterknife but after some time on the belt sander came out with a useful edge. The sheath was some very thin material, so I wrapped several layers of duct tape around it to provide some structure. Not bad for $5.

Sam Cade
July 31, 2013, 01:18 PM
I routinely find the tips of machetes are hardly even beveled. I assume it's for safety.

That is a good guess but the reason is more pedestrian.

Grinding tips is hard work.

Grinding the edge is a simple side to side, elbows in, motion.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187161&stc=1&d=1375290837



A swept tip requires a bit of maneuver.
Something like a Panga is nearly Yoga.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187162&stc=1&d=1375290837
Nearly vertical finish.

Deltaboy
July 31, 2013, 10:04 PM
Great set up SAM. I still use a set of mill bastard files and man made or Ark Stones.

mole
July 31, 2013, 11:08 PM
I was looking at ordering an Imacasa or two to go with my tramontina. The tram is an 18" and was looking at getting a panga and a 24" so I don't have to bend over so much. I notice that many of them are some sort of 440 stainless steel. What do you think about that? Seems like the carbons would be much better.

John

Sam Cade
July 31, 2013, 11:20 PM
Great set up SAM.


The belt-grinder is mounted on a low wooden table and the whole business only weighs about 70-80lbs so on nice days I can snatch it up and set it down outside.
The vacuum system for it is powered by a shop-vac so it just trundles along behind.





I still use a set of mill bastard files and man made or Ark Stones.

We will get into this a bit more when the next article hits but I slack belt convex the edges with a coarse x-weight belt, grind with grits 80-120-320 and knock off the bur by stropping with 400 grit sandpaper.

That sounds more complicated that it actually is ;)

I set my grind pretty high. You can get away with being a little higher on an Imacasa or Gavilan than a Cold Steel/Lasher IME.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187195&stc=1&d=1375325919

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187196&stc=1&d=1375325919

Well used Martindale:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187198&stc=1&d=1375327176


Much higher than this and you will start to get edge ripples on hardwood or if you get clumsy.
Also, the higher, thinner grinds make any edge damage incurred far worse.

I maintain the edge during use with a coarse/fine DMT di-fold and a short double-cut mill "handy" file for bigger boo-boos and give it a good 400 grit stropping at the end of the day.
If cutting a lot of wet grasses a final edge from the file can be useful since it is "toothy" and catches grass that would otherwise slide away

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187197&stc=1&d=1375326427
If I start getting too much of a bevel from filing that won't strop out with undue effort. I give it a couple quick passes on the belt-grinder.

All that said, and just spitballing a number, I figure you can get maybe 90% of the shazaaaam! out of a machete with nothing more than a big honkin' file.

It ain't rocket surgery after all. :D

Sam Cade
July 31, 2013, 11:39 PM
I was looking at ordering an Imacasa or two to go with my tramontina. The tram is an 18" and was looking at getting a panga and a 24" so I don't have to bend over so much. I notice that many of them are some sort of 440 stainless steel. What do you think about that?


The Imacasas are 420HC and work very well. Properly heat treated 420HC is tough stuff. While it won't hold an edge like a modern supersteel or even hang with simple carbon steels in some respects, it does just fine for a cheap stamped agricultural implement.


Panga: Look for a panga specific thread in the near future. They have special tricks. ;)




Seems like the carbons would be much better.


While in the absolute sense the carbon steel blades will out-perform the stainless (talking Imacasas here) the stainless is very, very good.

Corrosion can kill a machetes under heavy use. Since they are constantly either damp from water or acidic plant juices a machete can just straight up rust away if not constantly futzed with.

Often times manufacturers will clearcoat carbon steel machetes to stave off the rust. It doesn't work for very long. You can see the clearcoat peeling on the short panga in my above post.

Deltaboy
August 1, 2013, 12:55 PM
Looking forward to your next installment.

zhyla
August 1, 2013, 01:47 PM
So I've got this cheap cane machete that I've never been happy with. I don't have it handy but I'd say it's 3/16" carbon steel with a fairly normal primary grind (maybe 30 degrees included angle) but a really gigantic secondary bevel that has an axe-like 80 or 90 degrees included. Is this normal for a cane machete? It seems borderline useless.

Sam Cade
August 1, 2013, 03:14 PM
I don't have it handy but I'd say it's 3/16" carbon steel with a fairly normal primary grind (maybe 30 degrees included angle) but a really gigantic secondary bevel that has an axe-like 80 or 90 degrees included.


Whoa.
That would be a monster. Most cane knives are 1-3mm.



Is this normal for a cane machete?

Is it unused?

What you are looking at is probably not intended to be a working edge. That primary grind is is just intended to give you a head start on filing or grinding it to your desired shape. The secondary bevel was probably just for pre-purchase aesthetics.

Final edge geometry is usually determined by the user and the tools they have available.


It seems borderline useless.

I'd say. It probably cuts about as well as a pool cue. :D

Be happy you got such a good start: :evil:

Look at this:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187224&stc=1&d=1375384262

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187225&stc=1&d=1375384322

Imagine grinding that sharp on a cobblestone before heading to work.

zhyla
August 2, 2013, 12:24 AM
Ok, I was very wrong on the thickness of my cane machete. It measures .08". Right in the middle of your 1 to 3 mm range. It needs some grinding, I've got a lot of giant bird of paradise that needs chopping up for the trash bin.

Sam Cade
August 2, 2013, 12:34 AM
Afrikaner zhyla?

If so, I'd really appreciate a picture of the machete section of your local hardware store.

zhyla
August 2, 2013, 03:26 PM
Ha no, socal. Bird of paradise grows like weeds here though if you let it...

Sam Cade
August 2, 2013, 03:33 PM
Bird of paradise grows like weeds here though if you let it...

This I did not know.


Ha no, socal.


Well...if you ever happen to find yourself in a south African hardware store, take a picture.
:D

zhyla
August 2, 2013, 04:21 PM
My giant bird of paradise, as viewed from my 2nd story balcony:

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c352/zhyla_/IMG_6973_zps1c02b5fb.jpg

And what a difference a reasonable grind makes! Chops thru this stuff like nothing:

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c352/zhyla_/c328ed9d-b128-421e-8f94-b8030e2fde9d_zps0acba39d.jpg

I always thought this cane machete was worthless. Now it's invaluable -- thanks!

Sam Cade
August 2, 2013, 04:37 PM
Success!!


The cane knife is probably the near the perfect tool for that particular job.

bainter1212
August 2, 2013, 06:42 PM
I've always wondered....is there an historical relationship between the cutlass and the machete?? Like, a chicken-to-egg relationship??

Sorry if off topic.

Sam Cade
August 2, 2013, 07:41 PM
I've always wondered....is there an historical relationship between the cutlass and the machete??


If you ask most folks in the Caribbean what they call the big chopping knife they have in their hand they are going to say "cutlass".
Makes sense.

Etymologically, "cutlass" means something like "big knife". Same latin root as "cutlery."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyepYkrBKdw#t=1m20s


Like, a chicken-to-egg relationship??


More of a semantic kung-fu battle.

Deltaboy
August 2, 2013, 10:42 PM
Got a cold steel bolo machete for 17 bucks and spent a hour reshaping the handle with my 4 way wood rasp and some sand paper. I also spent 45 minutes reprofiling the edge and getting it sharp.

SAM looking for that update.

Sam Cade
August 2, 2013, 10:56 PM
SAM looking for that update.

It will hit sometime tomorrow evening.

bainter1212
August 2, 2013, 10:59 PM
If you ask most folks in the Caribbean what they call the big chopping knife they have in their hand they are going to say "cutlass".
Makes sense.

Etymologically, "cutlass" means something like "big knife". Same latin root as "cutlery".

More of a semantic kung-fu battle.

If they are basically the same thing, and you collect them, do you have any cutlasses (or machetes, apparently depending) that were used for fighting?? I understand a cutlass was desirable shipboard because they could be wielded at very close quarters, and typically hand-to-hand fighting in a boarding action would have been basically so close that swinging your arms to strike an opponent would have been difficult.

Most of us may think of pirates, but actually a cutlass would have been a standard issue boarding weapon on any naval ship of the 17th, 18th and early 19th centuries.

I know sugar cane production started in the 17th century in the Caribbean, so I wonder how the machete found it's way onto shipboard......

After seeing what mine does to the brush in my yard, I certainly would not like to take a blow from one.

Sam Cade
August 2, 2013, 11:46 PM
If they are basically the same thing, and you collect them, do you have any cutlasses (or machetes, apparently depending) that were used for fighting??

I'm less of a collector than a guy who likes to vary his tools. ;)

I've got a dutch "klewang" cutlass. In essence, it is just a thick, longish, curved machete with distal taper and a knuckle guard. Nothing special really. Basically the same design as the US 1917 cutlass.
In fact, when the Japanese overran the Dutch holdings in Asia they reissued the untold thousands of captured cutlasses as substitute standards due to jungle wacker shortages.

Not mine, but you get the idea.
http://www.kaiserarmaments.com/images/D/DSC_0792.JPG

The Japanese usually chopped off the knuckle guards.
http://www.thepirateslair.com/images/naval-nautical-antiques/klewang-heiho-full-length-scabbard.jpg



On the flipside, It isn't uncommon to see machete blades mounted in "swordy" fittings south of the US border.

Mexican colima pattern machete
http://i153.photobucket.com/albums/s231/kronckew/Mexican/Mexican004.jpg

Also mexican:
http://www.cullodenantiques.com/images/mexican_short_sword.jpg






I know sugar cane production started in the 17th century in the Caribbean, so I wonder how the machete found it's way onto shipboard......
One of the most basic tools for manual agriculture is the large chopping knife so it it stands to reason that the plantation owners purchased them. ;)

Dirty Bob
August 3, 2013, 02:09 AM
Cool cutlass and "martial" machetes!

Makes me think of the Donald Hamilton novel: The Ambushers. Matt Helm goes after a guy that is putting together his own private army south of the border. One piece of kit that he gives to each of his men is a machete with a sword guard...

For interesting and historical machetes, though, I think my all-time favorite is the one that belonged to Theodore Roosevelt. It's in "birthplace" (in quotes because the building burned down, and the museum is in its twin, next door, IIRC) museum in Manhattan. Great museum to visit, if you like TR.

Regards,
Dirty Bob

kBob
August 3, 2013, 07:35 AM
From age 11 to 16 or so anytime I went into the woods/ swamp (which was most days at some point)I carried a Belgian made machete in a semi hard USGI JayDee scabbard on a khaki GI pistol belt slung over my right shoulder so the machete hung in my left armpit. It got used for clear trails, hacking down trees an bushes that were not where I wanted them and a couple of times to make a pretty good imitation of the Join or Die snake flag. I know all you got to do is walk away from a snake or let him know you are coming in the first place.....you try that in a Florida swamp/ heavy wood when they are already close enough to use a machete on when you see them.

I used the same blade for yard work and land clearing and occasionally cleaned it up with a file for the edge and steel wool for the sides of the blade which would get sticky with sap.

Sheath was stolen some years back from a storage unit along with interesting knives. When it was given to me I was told it was issued to a navy flier as part of his survival gear in the Pacific in WWII, by said flier. Always wonder how a Belgian made blade would have gotten there unless it was bought prewar and just still in the supply system. it did fit the sheath and the more common Collins army issue in canvas sheath did not fit the scabbard. I still have the machete, but the scales have suffered the years badly as had the rivets.

Interestingly I also used a Cane knife for chores and land clearing in the late 1960s which my dad just gave back me last month. It is a rusted hulk with dried up wooden scales. I am considering sanding the blade and painting it and maybe doing something to the scales just to show it to dad. The thing was "old" whatever that means to a mid teen when he first handed it to me in 1968. It had stood in a corner next to the big sliding door at the warehouse/ seed cleaning place he worked at for a few years before I got it the first time. Kind of neat having it back even if it is technically junk.

Cut up some small trees and branches this week with a WWII Collins and that Plumb hatchet I posted on RC's thread about a plumb he found. Good combination as the light stuff goes quicker and easier with the Collins and the occasional Oak yields to the hatchet.

-kBob

Fergy35
August 3, 2013, 11:56 PM
Very good article. Thank you for putting that together. What do you think about the Condor machetes?

Deltaboy
August 4, 2013, 07:56 AM
The CS Bolo cuts well.

Sam Cade
August 4, 2013, 04:36 PM
What do you think about the Condor machetes?

Well, I am of two minds about this.


Speaking specifically about machetes now, not the rest of the Condor product line.


OK, right now, at SMKW, you can buy an IMACASA machete for something like seven bucks.
http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/prodlist.jsp

Good tools but requiring shop time before being useable.


A Condor machete OTOH, is also an IMACASA but is ready to go right out of the box, has fit and finish reasonably close to what we in 1st world nations would expect out of commercial cutlery, will usually come with a pretty nice sheath and fancy handles....and they are priced accordingly.

Whether or not a $100 Condor Discord is a good buy vis-ā-vis other much more affordable machetes is chiefly going to be determined by how the end user is going to employ the tool and how much they value their own time.

Sam Cade
August 4, 2013, 04:38 PM
Also, new short article up.

http://www.shootingreviews.com/




(if anyone catches any typos or grammatical errors PM me)

RetiredUSNChief
August 4, 2013, 05:31 PM
Thanks! I LOVE this string and I'm going to send the link for it to my son.

He's in the formative years of his life where knives have become a fascinating subject for him. He's got quite a growing selection, at 14 year of age. He's been on about buying a machete, since of course they're an impressive blade. He walks by them at Walmart all the time, but I've been recommending he get something a wee bit better quality than the $6 Walmart machetes...

I recently got ahold of the machete Mom used to have, which I remember having used quite a lot in my own teens. It's a Bulldog machete (has a bulldog stamped into the blade) and it was Mom's primary means of chopping up squash into chunks for baking.

I've cleaned up the blade and told him that he can have it when he finds a sheath he likes that fits it.

Sam Cade
August 4, 2013, 05:50 PM
I've been recommending he get something a wee bit better quality than the $6 Walmart machetes...

Y'know, one of the things that puzzles me is how unbelievably bad the wally world Chinese machetes are, when you consider that other retailers without the MASSIVE purchasing power that Wal-Mart has are able to supply superior quality central and south american machetes at an equal price point.:uhoh:

I'd love to know their (wal-mart) profit margins on 'chetes. HUGE I bet.





Thanks!

Thank you for reading.

Sam Cade
August 4, 2013, 06:11 PM
Whether or not a $100 Condor Discord is a good buy vis-ā-vis other much more affordable machetes is chiefly going to be determined by how the end user is going to employ the tool and how much they value their own time.



Not to solicit business (though, in theory I am a commercial member ;)) but I could build and sell a shortish, "all utility"* chopper with a resin composite grip laid up directly on the tang for not much more than what a Condor Discord costs. In theory.;)
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187398&stc=1&d=1375654194


I think the big Condors are priced just a bit above where they should be, personally.

...the sheaths are nice though. :cool:






*Slightly Ugly. :o

Sapper771
August 4, 2013, 06:58 PM
Thank you for taking the time to write these articles, they are very interesting and informative. I am looking forward to future installments.

What do you think of the ESEE Machete?

Which brand and blade pattern would you recommend for a hike/camp machete?

Deltaboy
August 4, 2013, 07:09 PM
Thanks Sam I shared both your article on my Facebook because it is a home owners tool that everyone should own. Matter of fact I have a Tam in my rig and an Customized Academy one in my wife's rig plus a my newest one a Cold Steel in the barn. Next payday I am getting 2 of those Imsascus ones from SMKW that Sam keeps talking about. I got one bust it is a Gil Hibben from SMKW from about 10 years ago and it is more of a tree chopper it is 3/8 thick at the top and weighs a ton.

Sam Cade
August 4, 2013, 07:58 PM
What do you think of the ESEE Machete?


http://www.eseeknives.com/lite-machete.png


Well.... it is an IMACASA with neato micarta handles and sharp out of the box. They feel great. Have a cool logo. Costs sixty or seventy bucks.

IMACASAs are great machetes that come with excellent plastic handles for under ten bucks.


Ask yourself:
What does the ESEE do that a standard IMACASA wont?









Which brand and blade pattern would you recommend for a hike/camp machete?

For most folks, any lightly built "latin" 18" machete by IMACASA or Gavilan/INCOLMA/INVERMEC can do any reasonable task expected of a machete and do it for less than ten bucks and not be so long as to get in the way.
That includes kitchen duties...with a touch up of course. ;
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187408&stc=1&d=1375660419


For twice (or thrice) the money you can buy american and get an OKC. The standard OKC is 1/8" thick so packs quite a bit more chopping grunt but that comes at the expensive of weight, control and increased operator fatigue.

Deltaboy
August 4, 2013, 08:03 PM
Nice job on the Onions!

tubeshooter
August 5, 2013, 06:08 PM
New installment was great! I learned some things I didn't know before.

I'll have to keep an eye out for one of these IMACASA/INCOLMA blades. I have an OKC and a Cold Steel, and both have served me well - but I want to see the difference for myself. Another in the stable wouldn't hurt anything... and besides I can apply some of what I'm learning from the installments.


Thanks again for the time and effort! I am sure a lot of people appreciate it. Be looking forward to the next one. BTW, how many do you anticipate in total? Just curious.

Sam Cade
August 5, 2013, 06:40 PM
I'll have to keep an eye out for one of these IMACASA/INCOLMA blades.


SMKW has a small selection of IMACASAs as well as 12",18" and 22" blued, one piece plastic gripped INCOLMAs sold as Tru-Spec brand.

www.smkw.com






BTW, how many do you anticipate in total? Just curious.
Till y'all beg me to stop. :D

Seriously though, I've been truncating the articles down quite a bit( I'm verbose by nature) but I've got another 3-4 very general ones on tap before we really start looking at specific models and ethnic choppers.

Deltaboy
August 5, 2013, 06:55 PM
Keep it up Sam I grew up with mil-slurp one was we filded them in the field and stoned them on a foot powered sharpener in the farm shop.

Dirty Bob
August 5, 2013, 08:32 PM
Excellent second installment, Sam!

I'm learning a lot from your articles.

When you get to specific recommendations, perhaps you can suggest best choices in categories, such as grass cutting, wood cutting, hiking/packing, etc.

I agree with you that many of the Condors seem pricey. On the other hand, I considered the Condor Barong a good deal: it's a heavy-duty chopper, but with an excellent point. It goes through a one-inch oak branch with very little effort. It's the blade I'd pick if I was going to have to defend myself with an edged tool.

Thanks for the information!
Dirty Bob

Sam Cade
August 5, 2013, 09:49 PM
. On the other hand, I considered the Condor Barong a good deal: it's a heavy-duty chopper, but with an excellent point. It goes through a one-inch oak branch with very little effort.

I like the Condor barong but I don't love it.

I think (and remember, this is just my opinion) that the leaf shaped blade leaves the package compromised in chopping ability for length and weight, the thick grind hurts utility all around.

As a stabber, I'd want a more aggressive texture on the grip (same grip used on some of their cheap machetes btw) and a more substantial guard on the knuckle side.

Nice sheath though.

I wish they would sell the Condor Barong for about $25 sans sheath.


It's the blade I'd pick if I was going to have to defend myself with an edged tool.

You could do worse. ;)

If we are limiting ourselves to critters than can be considered knives, I'd go:

HI "Crow" Bowie by Kesar Lal.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187450&stc=1&d=1375753593

JShirley
August 5, 2013, 09:55 PM
Ah. That makes me feel really good. :)

John

Sam Cade
August 5, 2013, 10:07 PM
Ah. That makes me feel really good. :)


I didn't even have to think about it, that thing is pure undiluted death*.

I'm going to use it to help some piggies shuffle off the mortal coil and take another rotation on the wheel pretty soon.:D














*Geek Joke: +1 weapon, +3 vs chaotic creatures. Geek points if you know why. :evil:

Dirty Bob
August 5, 2013, 10:13 PM
Cool bowie, Sam! It has a rustic, handmade look.

I've been considering a small rasp reduction of my barong hilt, to make the grip smaller right behind the "guard," on three sides, to give me better control of the blade. You're right about the leaf shape and grind affecting chopping ability, but I see this as a blade designed as a weapon (the Philippine Islands have a large martial blade culture) that I'm using as a somewhat limited tool.

No complaints, though. I'm thinking of a trash-can-plastic sheath for it. Not beautiful, but practical and long-lasting.

I still use my Tramontina bolo more than any other machete. It's just a great overall design for general usage.

Regards,
"Bobster"

Sam Cade
August 5, 2013, 10:30 PM
Cool bowie, Sam! It has a rustic, handmade look.

Considering it was made by a little barefooted Nepali dude squatting on a dirt floor not far from Kathmandu proper, that is to be expected. :D


No complaints, though. I'm thinking of a trash-can-plastic sheath for it.

A piece of scrap PVC pipe is one of the traditional 3rd world sheathing materials, if you are a traditionalist. :evil:

mole
August 5, 2013, 11:13 PM
Sam, what's your thoughts on the Marbles machetes?

tubeshooter
August 5, 2013, 11:31 PM
I'm guessing from the book behind the blade, it must be pre-disposed to lawful alignments...


So, how many geek points do I get? :neener:

Sam Cade
August 5, 2013, 11:48 PM
So, how many geek points do I get? :neener:

12. One for each inch of blade. :cool:

Sam Cade
August 6, 2013, 12:03 AM
Sam, what's your thoughts on the Marbles machetes?

For the most part Marbles are IMACASA machetes with upgraded factory edges, orange/red paint and a decent nylon sheath. The scales will still sit proud of the the tang and need to be flushed.

If you like the paint,you need your chopper to be mostly useable out of the box and don't mind paying extra, go for it.


IMACASA makes one of the nuttier...uhhh...things.... for the Marbles marquee, the Firemans Shovel
http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/31frGv3MhNL._SX385_.jpg :uhoh:

Not sure what it would be good for as it is totally flat and un-shovel like despite the name. Sodcutter for leprechauns maybe?

tubeshooter
August 6, 2013, 12:08 AM
Thank you, sir! :cool:


I'm looking forward to the installment that includes authentic khukuris, like what Himalayan Imports offers. I guess this will be covered under "ethnic choppers".

I seriously thought about picking up something from HI for a couple of months, but never went through with it.

It would have been a show piece more than anything - I doubt I could bring myself to actually use it.


I still admire them; as a bit of a blade fan I might still get a nice specimen one day.

Sam Cade
August 6, 2013, 12:15 AM
I'm looking forward to the installment that includes authentic khukuris, like what Himalayan Imports offers. I guess this will be covered under "ethnic choppers".
.

Yup.

I seriously thought about picking up something from HI for a couple of months, but never went through with it.

It would have been a show piece more than anything - I doubt I could bring myself to actually use it.



I'm stealing one of Yandu's pictures here:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187453&stc=1&d=1375762603


Made by the same guy that made the bowie above.

$60 each. I thing there were 6 of them.

Pure tool, made to be used.

Deltaboy
August 6, 2013, 09:34 AM
Cool Blades.

Sam Cade
August 6, 2013, 12:56 PM
Out in the shop today, watching it rain.

Took a quick break to eyeball this critter:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187455&stc=1&d=1375806422

26" "slender latin" pattern from INVERMEC.

Sold as an "El Miura". Miura is a fighting bull breed.

Man, that is a cool logo!
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187456&stc=1&d=1375806582

What isn't cool is the the burnt edge. :scrutiny:

A bit sloppy. Hopefully they didn't roast badly enough to do any real damage.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187457&stc=1&d=1375807354

Otherwise, construction is excellent. Lots of distal taper, the blade is fairly stiff for length and isn't objectionably whippy. Has a pleasing ring when struck.
These guys are built for heavy duty work in light vegetation and grasses. Lots of reach. Good for trail maintenance provided you can keep your cuts on hardwood to less than 2" in diameter.

This one has a lightly textured plastic 2 piece,riveted, hidden tang, grip construction. Nice and tight.

Gavilan/INCOLMA/INVERMEC offers a bizillion different plastic grip configurations on the same tang shape.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=187458&stc=1&d=1375807885

Deltaboy
August 6, 2013, 04:23 PM
Good collection of Matchet's.

Sam Cade
August 6, 2013, 05:29 PM
Good collection of Matchet's.

Amusingly, those are all almost exactly the same model except one of them is blued. :o



The naked tang is from a huge Colima.

Deltaboy
August 6, 2013, 07:17 PM
Amusingly, those are all almost exactly the same model except one of them is blued. :o



The naked tang is from a huge Colima.
Well I guess I know which one you really like .

Double_J
August 6, 2013, 07:39 PM
Nice write-up for those of us who don't know beans about "big knives." The last three machetes I have bought came from a flea market vendor. I think I gave $15 per when I bought them and I used the snot out of them clearing a piece of property for camping/hunting.

I will have to look at getting a new one as I have worn out the last one I bought. I want to say I got 2.5 years of use out of it before it was worn out from sharpening and rust. Who knows I might just find a piece of spring steel in the machine shop scrap bin and have a little fun shaping it up with a grinder. :evil: It can't be that hard to make a primitive brush clearing tool now can it? :)

Deltaboy
August 7, 2013, 08:24 AM
You could but SMKW got good ones for less than 10 bucks.

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 04:46 PM
It can't be that hard to make a primitive brush clearing tool now can it? :)

It is as hard as you want to make it I guess.



Heavy chopping knives used as daily tools by indigenous peoples are often devilishly complex in construction despite being made under primitive conditions.

JimStC
August 7, 2013, 06:14 PM
Absolutely awesome thread. Thanks for the education.
I have an old Ontario 18" and a Kabar 1248. Any thoughts on the Kabar machetes?
Thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

Jim

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 06:43 PM
Any thoughts on the Kabar machetes?


The "Cutlass"/1248 is the only one that I own.

I can't fault the quality of construction. It is a pretty good chopper for length, doesn't want to wedge too badly and kicks out chips with gusto.

I really like the shape of the overmolded grip. My hands are on the smaller end of medium and it is rare that a grip with belly fits me so well.
The texture OTOH is a hand burner under heavy use. It is shortlisted for a composite rehandle.

Mine was hair poppin' sharp out of the box. I've not used it for much other than "fun-choppin'" around the house and a bit of "inappropriate knife" food prep :evil: so I can't speak with any authority as to how the edge holds up under non-chopping duty but the blade is fairly soft. I've managed to roll the edge in a couple places on miss-strikes but it hasn't ever blown out.

Too short to be useful as a machete unless you are hobbit sized.

Too light to be a true replacement for a hand axe.

tubeshooter
August 7, 2013, 08:00 PM
Been looking at the HI webpage, and I'm starting to get khukuri fever again.

I know the installment is coming up (and I can hardly wait), but if you could suffer one quick question, please sir... for the handle, do you recommend horn or wood? And maybe a brief explanation why?


Thanks!

juk
August 7, 2013, 08:13 PM
This time last year I was working as an aquatic vegetation sprayer on Lake Okeechobee, Fl. Basically, I sat on an airboat and hunted floating vegetation to kill, such as Water Lettuce and Hyacinth. At times, we would work in very grown up areas and our airboats were prone to getting hung up or stuck.

I went and bought one of the OKC 18" machetes and wrapped the handle in paracord. I zip tied the sheath to my seat and took off. I later had it sharpened by a guy that knew his stuff. He spent 30 minutes with a bastard file and told me to be careful. My machete was used to cut cattails, reeds, trees, brush, cottonmouths, and anything else that got in my way. I consider it a valuable tool and don't see how I lived without one. lol

Nowadays, I use it for clearing brush behind the house and cutting blind material to hide my duckboat. It's always in the truck though. Good writeup. I honestly didn't think too much into my purchasing. I just knew that I wanted a good, sturdy piece of steel that would hold an edge and not ruin my bank account. The OKC is a beast.

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 08:49 PM
I know the installment is coming up (and I can hardly wait)

Awe shucks. :o



for the handle, do you recommend horn or wood? And maybe a brief explanation why?


On a user?

Wood.

With an oil finish. Easy to maintain, easy on the hands.

IME polished horn gives a grip that is easily compromised by moisture and is more prone to blister.
Horn also tends to do funky things if it is exposed to extremes of temperature and/or humidity.

hso
August 7, 2013, 08:57 PM
"It can't be that hard..."

Dunno, there are a lot of people making a living with big knife choppers and a lot of variety in them that the mass market manufacturers don't make.

I'd say the vast majority of machetes are made to "catch" people who don't make a living with them just like fishing lures are made to catch fisherman instead of fish.

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 09:02 PM
Basically, I sat on an airboat and hunted floating vegetation to kill, such as Water Lettuce and Hyacinth.


That actually sounds like fun.:D




I just knew that I wanted a good, sturdy piece of steel that would hold an edge and not ruin my bank account. The OKC is a beast.

You chose well. The boring old OKC 1-18 is a good tool with a couple annoying flaws easily remedied by a bit of ingenuity.

tubeshooter
August 7, 2013, 09:07 PM
I see. Thanks a lot!

I actually figured that the wood handle would be easier on the hands, as I understand that is the generally the case for hatchets as well.


The horn sure looks handsome, though! But as with many things in life... the best lookin' don't always mean the hardest workin'!

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 09:10 PM
I'd say the vast majority of machetes are made to "catch" people who don't make a living with them just like fishing lures are made to catch fisherman instead of fish.

Truth my brother, Truth.

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 09:14 PM
The horn sure looks handsome, though!

Oh man, especially if it has a bit o' hue.

..or carved into some sort of snarling cat.


http://www.valiantco.com/java/GolokHornSX.JPG

:evil:

tubeshooter
August 7, 2013, 09:17 PM
Very nice!

See, if I get something even half as nice as that, it will never see a minute's use...

JShirley
August 7, 2013, 09:24 PM
Wood.

With an oil finish. Easy to maintain, easy on the hands.

IME polished horn gives a grip that is easily compromised by moisture and is more prone to blister. Horn also tends to do funky things if it is exposed to extremes of temperature and/or humidity.

100% agreement from me.

John

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 09:50 PM
See, if I get something even half as nice as that, it will never see a minute's use...


That was from stock photo Valiant btw.

http://www.valiantco.com/

Lots of purty stuff, much of it of questionable utility.

tubeshooter
August 7, 2013, 10:03 PM
Doh! I feel like I've been head-faked...

For what they're asking, I would go ahead and deal with HI.

Sam Cade
August 7, 2013, 10:33 PM
Doh! I feel like I've been head-faked...

Hah!

I intended to include the link in the initial post but my tablet ate it.:D





For what they're asking, I would go ahead and deal with HI.

As a serious use tool HI is going to be a far better choice.

cal01
August 9, 2013, 04:15 PM
Thanks for the very informative article.

Sam Cade
August 9, 2013, 04:37 PM
Next one will go up this weekend.

In it, we finally start cutting things. :cool:

Deltaboy
August 9, 2013, 05:48 PM
Next one will go up this weekend.

In it, we finally start cutting things. :cool:
I am looking toward it.

Lone Star
August 11, 2013, 05:05 PM
I haven't read the entire topic. Has the Corneta brand been mentioned? Mine has a 12" blade.

Any opinions regarding that brand? I think it's from El Salvador. I've forgotten where I bought the machete.

Are the 18" Ontarios any good?

Did the old Collins brand offer 12-14 inch blades? Is an 18" one a good general machete choice? I'm 5'10" and about 165 pounds, if that's a clue. I read somewhere to select a machete length based on your size.

Sam Cade
August 11, 2013, 05:43 PM
I haven't read the entire topic. Has the Corneta brand been mentioned? Mine has a 12" blade.
Any opinions regarding that brand? I think it's from El Salvador.

Corneta is part of the IMACASA conglomerate, EDIT: or was rather. It looks like some EDIT: brazilians own the trademark now but INCOLMA (in columbia) also makes tools under the brand.

http://www.corneta.com.br/en/empresa.php


Are the 18" Ontarios any good?

Excellent quality. The 1/8" thick, 18" length Model 1-18 is the standard US military machete. Out of the box the scales are a bit....ergonomically challenged but otherwise they are very good heavy machetes.


Did the old Collins brand offer 12-14 inch blades?

The Collins catalog was VAST and offered every conceivable configuration.


Is an 18" one a good general machete choice? I'm 5'10" and about 165 pounds, if that's a clue. I read somewhere to select a machete length based on your size.

18" is a a good handy length for most tasks that a machete can be asked to do.

For clearing grass, thin vines or other soft vegetation near the ground or above your head it is sometimes advantageous to have a machete that has more reach.

I'm a little guy, 5'7" and slightly over-square, a 24" blade will just clear the ground for me if I let it hang down.

More skill is required to work effectively and safely with a longer machete, we are going to talk about this a bit when the next article drops*, so I'd recommend that most folks stick to an 18" for their first couple users.

*A bit delayed due to afternoon thunderstorms. :banghead:

JShirley
August 11, 2013, 05:44 PM
Lone Star, if you read the article (linked in the first post), that will answer some of your questions. You can then ask any questions you still have.

John

Lone Star
August 11, 2013, 08:19 PM
Thanks to Mr. Cade for the info and yes, I do plan to read the article.

Deltaboy
August 11, 2013, 10:05 PM
Let's learn how to sharpen them .

MErl
August 12, 2013, 05:57 PM
An angle grinder with a coarse sanding disk seems to work well enough for my uses. Got to be better than a brick from a colonial era church :)

RetiredUSNChief
August 12, 2013, 06:31 PM
I used to clamp Mom's in the vice in the garage and, holding a metal file at an angle to the edge, draw the file down the length while pulling the file across the edge.

Put an edge on the machete in no time.

Sam Cade
August 12, 2013, 07:12 PM
Got to be better than a brick from a colonial era church :)

I'd say no.

Seriously.

A boring old red brick is a fairly effective hone.


The heat generated by an angle grinder can very easily get away from you.


Meanwhile, in Africa:

http://www.biyokulule.com/sawiro/sawirada_waaweyn/South%20Africa6.jpg

http://www.newzimbabwe.com/pix/xenophobe6.jpg

http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5177/5461941403_db52526c19.jpg


..and in Columbia

http://www.jansochor.com/photo-essay/sugar-cane-cutters/sugar-cane-sharpen-machete.jpg

MErl
August 12, 2013, 08:58 PM
maybe I should have said faster? :) There is a laziness principal.
Heat is a concern though, a couple quick swipes then flip and another pass. If that doesn't do it, well, I should go get the hose but probably will give it another buzz.

RetiredUSNChief
August 13, 2013, 04:23 PM
I think it's been mentioned before, but the steel on a machete is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, a hard steel. It only takes a few swipes of nearly anything hard enough to wear the metal to put an edge back on it. No need to take it into a shop to sharpen it or carry anything particularly specialized for the job.

This could be done easily enough in the field with rocks, which makes it pretty convenient. One less item to carry with you in the field.

Deltaboy
August 13, 2013, 05:37 PM
They are easy to sharpen and I just want learn more about them .

Sam Cade
August 13, 2013, 05:41 PM
Little more delay on the next entry folks.

Having to do a bit of fencing and cleanup from the last round of storms.

Deltaboy
August 13, 2013, 07:26 PM
Little more delay on the next entry folks.

Having to do a bit of fencing and cleanup from the last round of storms.
Get R Done. And we be waiting .

zhyla
August 14, 2013, 01:07 PM
I'd just like to take a minute to blame Sam for me ordering 5 Imacasa machetes yesterday. A couple are for coworkers but figured I'd get a spare for myself too. Then I started looking at them and, well, got to try them all, right? Couldn't pass up the ridiculous 28" "Terminietor" machete -- I guess I'll find out what a LOT of reach on a machete does for it.

Sam Cade
August 14, 2013, 02:06 PM
Couldn't pass up the ridiculous 28" "Terminietor" machete -- I guess I'll find out what a LOT of reach on a machete does for it.
Clever branding ain't it?
Wait till you see the faux- T-800 arm on the sticker. :cool:


The uber-long blades are a bit more unforgiving in terms of durability so you have to be more selective and keep any cuts on hardwood to 1.5" diameter or less and only use the last foot or so of blade of you can.

They can be hell on grass and other greenery though. One of the more satisfying things you can do with a looooong machete is to wade into a patch of head-high milkweed after you have mastered your "windmill" swing.

Swish-ting,swish-ting,swish-ting,swish-ting,swish-ting,swish-ting,swish-ting.
:cool:


I'd just like to take a minute to blame Sam for me ordering 5 Imacasa machetes yesterday.

My plan is coming to fruition. :D

Sam Cade
August 14, 2013, 06:17 PM
New article finished, waiting on editorial approval.

Now would be a good time to mosey on over to Shooting Reviews and hit the subscribe button. ;)

http://www.shootingreviews.com/

hso
August 14, 2013, 08:44 PM
Nicely done.

Double_J
August 14, 2013, 08:46 PM
As always very well put.

Deltaboy
August 14, 2013, 08:52 PM
It is not up yet.

Sam Cade
August 14, 2013, 09:10 PM
It is not up yet.

Should be up now.


If anyone notices any typos or boo-boos let me know via PM so I can fix 'em.

http://www.shootingreviews.com/machtes-and-you-getting-a-grip-and-basic-techniques/

Deltaboy
August 14, 2013, 10:59 PM
Good job Sam.

tubeshooter
August 15, 2013, 08:58 PM
Great installment - thanks very much.


I figured I was doing something wrong; I was almost surely making myself much more tired and sore than I needed to be with my faulty grip.

Sam Cade
August 19, 2013, 10:51 PM
...is the red paint on some machete blades just a protective coating, and is it intended to remain there after sale, or cleaned off before use?


Painted blades are very common on working machetes,as a rust preventative measure on carbon steel (though all but the toughest coatings will soon wear off), to help make the tool visible and as aid to safety.

Often times blades are simply dipped in clearcoat so while they might not look painted at a glance, they are.

JShirley
August 19, 2013, 10:53 PM
Spray painting e-tools was SOP in the infantry. I've frequently suggested folks clean and de-grease their large outdoors blades, and paint them.

John

zhyla
August 22, 2013, 01:08 AM
The blades Sam made me buy got here on Monday. Got around to sharpening today...

Top to bottom:

Imacasa two-handed sugar cane machete (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+Two+Handed+Carbon+Steel+Sugar+Cane+Machete+with+Wood+Handle/IMC523515.html)
Imacasa 22" panga machete (http://www.smkw.com/webapp/eCommerce/products/imacasa/imacasa%C2%AE+22%22+Carbon+Steel+Panga+Machete+with+Wood+Handle/IMC521047.html)
Imacasa 28" "El Termineitor" machete (can't find URL for it... stumbled upon it by accident)


http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c352/zhyla_/IMG_0049_zpse791cf26.jpg

Sam was right, this sticker is pretty priceless. Too bad they didn't engrave that on the blade.

http://i31.photobucket.com/albums/c352/zhyla_/IMG_0050_zpsdb497b79.jpg

The cane machete is really nicely ground and finished (well, for $7 at least). Too bad it has screws and nuts sticking out of the handle, makes it hard to grip with one hand. I really like the reach on this vs the single handed one I have, it makes the hook on the back even more useful. Not sure I like the two-handed aspect yet. Blade thickness clocks in at .075". I had to sand the handle smooth and rubbed some olive oil on it until I run across some spare tung oil or what not.

The panga is nice but much more tip heavy than I was expecting. Blade thickness is more than expected as well... .095" on the back towards the handle, down to .075" at the business end. Wasn't sure whether the curved end was supposed to be sharp or not so went ahead and sharpened it. I think the 18" version would have been a better choice but they only had it in "stainless" and I wasn't so sure about stainless steel machetes. If I don't end up liking this one as-is I can always cut the end off and have a nice bush machete.

The 28" latin-style "Termineitor" is... well obviously, it's long. Less obvious: super floppy. It bends significantly from side to side under its own weight. I haven't tried whacking anything with it yet. I hope the force of being swung keeps the blade straight. Gentle swings in the garage suggest otherwise. Seems like it would not hit exactly where you were aiming, which is a problem.

Overall I'm surprised at how nice these are. The fact that they're all tapered differently suggests some design (or at least tradition) went into these. At this price point that's really amazing.

Any thoughts on stainless steel? I know machetes are supposed to be soft so they don't shatter/chip... but... eh, I'm a steel snob, what can I say.

Sam Cade
August 22, 2013, 10:15 AM
Too bad they didn't engrave that on the blade.
I'd have paid extra for that. ;)



The cane machete is really nicely ground and finished (well, for $7 at least). Too bad it has screws and nuts sticking out of the handle, makes it hard to grip with one hand. *snip edit* Not sure I like the two-handed aspect yet

Grip it lower. See post 8. It isn't "2 handed" so much as it as "extended reach".

http://www.thehighroad.org/showpost.php?p=9038865&postcount=8


Wasn't sure whether the curved end was supposed to be sharp or not so went ahead and sharpened it.

Either way is common.


I think the 18" version would have been a better choice but they only had it in "stainless" and I wasn't so sure about stainless steel machetes. *snip-edit* Any thoughts on stainless steel? I know machetes are supposed to be soft so they don't shatter/chip... but... eh, I'm a steel snob, what can I say.

IMACASA uses 420HC in their machetes and it is excellent for the purpose. I've never seen one fail.

That said, SKMW seems have some difficulty differentiating between polished, clearcoated carbon steel and stainless steel on the IMACASAs they offer.




The 28" latin-style "Termineitor" is...

The longest machetes are very hard to use correctly, more susceptible to damage and won't cut as well as a shorter blade for most folks due to reduced tip velocity.
It might be wise to hang this one up for a while till you get your technique down.

Sam Cade
August 22, 2013, 10:32 AM
If I don't end up liking this one as-is I can always cut the end off and have a nice bush machete.

I've dehorned and rehandled few pangas and made long "bolos" out of them for folks.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=188029&stc=1&d=1377181742

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=188030&stc=1&d=1377181742


//commercial member ;)
I could knock one of these together for pretty reasonable. PM me if interested.
//commercial member

mole
August 22, 2013, 04:55 PM
zhyla....

you got my machete. That 28 was in my shopping cart for a week and a half while I waited for my brother to decide if he wanted a machete or not. I go to order last night and after all the hassle they give me a "temporarily out of stock" notice. You're a sneaky one. I guess the 24 latin will have to suffice as my long one for now. I also got one of those 22 panga machetes ordered. I came close to ordering one of those cane machetes, but decided against it after reading Sam's comment. I ordered five blades in all.

John

zhyla
August 22, 2013, 06:17 PM
Ha! Honestly, now that I've got all these longer and heavier machetes I think the 18" latin machete I've had for years is just about right for me for non-chopping exercises. So far I'd trade the 28" for a shorter one. But it is worth having just for the novelty.

Deltaboy
August 22, 2013, 11:08 PM
Great blades I got to get some more.

Lone Star
August 22, 2013, 11:43 PM
Thinking about machetes reminds me of a WW II book that said that Marines on Guadalcanal often had their machete blades snap after heavy use and had to employ bayonets to clear foliage. I think this was in Richard Tregaski's, "Guadalcanal Diary."

I respected him as an author. He was a journalist, not military, but scrounged a .45 auto to carry defensively. Today's journalists would shriek in horror at the idea of actually being armed against an enemy of the United States and would probably try to interview the enemy and demoralize the US populace and troops.

My first exposure to the panga was in the late Robert C. Ruark's book, "Something of Value." It is a novel, but included very vivid background material about the Mau-Mau terrorism in Kenya in the 1950's. It is not a pleasant thing to read in some places, but Ruark was the sole US journalist who seemed to understand African politics and was honest in his findings. If you can locate a copy, it is an excellent read. He also mentions the native sword, called a simi.

As a very young boy, I read his articles in, "Life", where I saw these weapons long before I was old enough to read the book. The movie based on it is pretty good, if badly miscast and somewhat PC, even in the 1950's. Rock Hudson played the white settler hero and Sidney Potier was, I think, his primary adversary.

My parents weren't about to buy me a machete, let alone a panga or a simi. I did use a hammer to make a sort of mini-simi from a long nail. No one but me was impressed. None of my friends even cared about what was happening in Africa. Their only obsession was football.

Deltaboy
August 23, 2013, 10:14 PM
Spray painting e-tools was SOP in the infantry. I've frequently suggested folks clean and de-grease their large outdoors blades, and paint them.

John
Yep we clean and repaint our shovels and such in the winter.

Sam Cade
August 27, 2013, 08:33 PM
The next entry in the series is eminent and deals primarily with the current military issue machete the 18" OKC 6145 1-18 machete. The OKC is, more or less, functionally identical of the WWII vintage M1942 machete.
In doing the background research for the article I stumbled across a little gem. A report on an attempt to develop a "better" machete. Since it doesn't fit in with the article itself I'll share it here.

TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 68-10
TRAIL CUTTING MACHETE
FINAL REPORT
by
Frederick M. Drake Environment and Survival Branch
June 1968
U. S. ARMY LIMITED WAR LABORATORY
Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland 21005
TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 68-10

Full article in the attachment.



Other machete design types were considered such as the Kukri used by the
Gurkhas, but were rejected because of the specialized training required. :eek:

Deltaboy
August 27, 2013, 10:53 PM
Thanks Sam.

mole
August 28, 2013, 10:45 AM
The box o' goodies from smoky mountain knife works arrived yesterday. Here's mine. Top to bottom: my Tramonita 18 inch that's I've been using all year, 22 imacasa panga, 24 imacasa latin, 14 Marbles/imacasa latin with sheath.
http://i188.photobucket.com/albums/z239/borwish/machetes.jpg

The tram I've had for quite awhile and have cleared a lot of brush and saplings. The handle is the same as it came from the factory. My hands are rougher than most peoples and I use a loose grip, so using it for hours didn't bother me. I'm sure that it would tear up some people. It has a good balance and length, but I found it a bit short for use with briars. The edge came halfway usable and the machete cost $11 at a local hardware store.

The 22 imacasa panga is a beast. The tip heavy blade really powered through some brush. The extra weight, however, feels like it would tire you out in not much time. I bought it planning on cutting a hook into the back to help pull out cut material, so that will lighten it some and hopefully prolong the amount of time I can use it. The handle wood is softer than the Tram's, but the shape is more comfortable. It will have to be flushed to the tang and smoothed. The blade came with no edge.

The 24 imacasa latin feels good. There's a bit of flex to the blade, but not enough be a problem and the balance feels nice. It's not much heavier feeling that the shorter Tram. The plastic handle just needed a few seconds of sanding to even out the seam and fits me rather well. For clearing briars and weedy vegetation, this thing works well. I see this machete getting a lot of use in the future. It had no edge.

The 14 inch marbles was disappointing. It was advertised as being 1/8" thick, but it is much thinner. I thought that it would make a good blade to take camping, but the thinner than advertised blade simply lacks the weight to do the things I intended. The wood handles have a finish applied, but the scales need to be fitted making the finishing of the wood pointless. It came with a decent sheath and a cheap sharpening stone. Although blade was sharpened and was slightly convexed, it still needed a finer edge applied to meet my requirements for sharpness. I guess I'll work over the scales and just give it to the wife. Two others were purchased in the order and will probably be sent back because of not being what was advertised.

John

Deltaboy
August 28, 2013, 09:50 PM
Good looking blades.

Sam Cade
August 29, 2013, 10:45 AM
The 14 inch marbles was disappointing. It was advertised as being 1/8" thick, but it is much thinner.

That depends on how you measure it.


They are about 1/8" under the scales
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=188292&stc=1&d=1377787428

but they have an aggressive distal taper.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=188291&stc=1&d=1377787428

Deltaboy
August 29, 2013, 10:33 PM
Thanks the Marble looks like it will be alright.

Sam Cade
August 29, 2013, 10:51 PM
New article up at Shooting Reviews.

Looking at the OKC model 1-18 machete.

http://www.shootingreviews.com/ontario-1-18-machete-the-old-soldier/

JShirley
August 29, 2013, 11:10 PM
Thanks. :)

ugaarguy
August 30, 2013, 01:02 AM
Sam, as a hatchet & knife guy who's never ventured into machetes I've thoroughly enjoyed the first several installments of your series on machetes.

Sam Cade
August 30, 2013, 10:48 AM
Sam, as a hatchet & knife guy who's never ventured into machetes I've thoroughly enjoyed the first several installments of your series on machetes.

Thanks! Pleased to be of service. :D

tubeshooter
August 30, 2013, 11:40 AM
Well - I'm more of a machete guy who just got his first hatchet last year, and I still appreciate the articles just the same. I have learned a lot from the installments (didn't say I was an expert; just a machete guy).


Sam - I thank you as well.

zhyla
August 30, 2013, 12:46 PM
Nice article. Not very flattering on the 1-18 but good to know :).

tubeshooter
August 30, 2013, 01:07 PM
I thought the installment presented the Ontario as solid and serviceable - which is fair.

I have an older 18" 'Blackie Collins' model with a D-handle. No complaints. The older I get, the more consistently I use gloves with any significant machete work. That takes care of a lot as far as sub-par handles in my experience (any make; not picking on OKC).


I'm not surprised that it's not presented with glowing praise. It's not an authentic HI khukuri... but it doesn't cost like one either. I could get 6 or 7 OKC specimens for the price of one HI.

Besides - I'm sure the OKC is MUCH lighter and I don't anticipate needing to chop up any steel drums anytime soon. :D

Sam Cade
August 30, 2013, 01:08 PM
Nice article. Not very flattering on the 1-18 but good to know :).
:D

It is a mystery to me why OKC continues to put such imperfect handles on such an outstanding blade. :scrutiny:
...especially when the molded plastic grips on a sub-$10 GAVILAN or IMACASA are so good.

To quote TECHNICAL REPORT NO. 68-10:


Balance is only fair and poor handle design results in chaffing of the hand after prolonged use.

Sam Cade
August 30, 2013, 01:19 PM
I have an older 18" 'Blackie Collins' model with a D-handle. No complaints.
The man sure loved his D guards didn't he?



The Blackie Collins designed, Meyerco produced machetes are especially full of fail in my experience.

http://www.smkw.com/large/knife/M00805.jpg :(

ugaarguy
August 30, 2013, 04:07 PM
Sam, what are your thoughts on Cold Steel's Latin style machetes? I'll exclude the ethnic machetes since they make such a wide range of them.

Sam Cade
August 30, 2013, 05:31 PM
Sam, what are your thoughts on Cold Steel's Latin style machetes?


I'm ambivalent. QA is often very spotty on the Lasher stuff.The HT runs to the gummy but tough end of the spectrum which is perfectly fine provided that it is done correctly.

The Latins specifically?
The polypro grip is well formed but is aggressive in texture.

No distal taper so the longer blades tend to be floppy, inefficient and dead in the hand.

They aren't bad machetes per se, especially the shorter ones, but given a choice I'd rather have a sub $10 latin pattern from, well, Latin America. ;)




I'll exclude the ethnic machetes since they make such a wide range of them.
They are a mixed bag for sure.


http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=723023&highlight=barong


The kukri machetes usually aren't half bad.
The next machete specific review I do at Shootin' Reviews will be of the just released Royal Kukri machete.
http://images.knifecenter.com/thumb/1500x1500/knifecenter/coldsteel/images/CS97KMIGS.jpg

Shanghai McCoy
August 30, 2013, 07:05 PM
Been enjoying the articles and other info in this thread. Thanks for all the effort and analysis Sam.
Looking forward to what is coming next. I find myself checking the NFW Forum first these days...:scrutiny:

Sam Cade
August 30, 2013, 08:07 PM
Thanks for all the effort and analysis Sam.
:o
Hey, thank you for Reading!


Looking forward to what is coming next. I find myself checking the NFW Forum first these days...:scrutiny:

We are going to try to up the rate of content gain at SR so now might be a good time to subscribe for email alerts so you don't miss anything.


Coming up, I'm flipping the metaphorical script and posting the results of an exhaustive long term review of a very small knife.

This is followed by the new Cold Steel Royal Kukri review.

Next I'm looking at (and cutting stuff with) the weird and wonderful Razor Belt Sword. This actually.....works. :eek:

After than we have a bevy of affordable big knives.


....and that is just me. Dunno what the other authors have planned but I know the gears are turning.

JShirley
August 30, 2013, 08:23 PM
I have material ready for an eye pro review, a glove review, and a plate carrier review. At least one of those will be up this weekend. :cool:

RetiredUSNChief
August 30, 2013, 08:29 PM
Huh. I just HAD to google the razor belt sword!

Interestingly, I came up with a hit on THR about 5 years old now. Pics no longer show in it (for me, anyway), but an interesting read.

I wasn't impressed by the youtube series I found on it. Mostly T&A videos with a chick drawing and waving the sword around. I'd appreciate a wee bit more practicality, myself.

:):)

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=380198

JShirley
August 30, 2013, 08:44 PM
We probably should start another thread about the belt sword, when the review is ready.

ugaarguy
August 30, 2013, 09:29 PM
Slightly off topic for this thread, but definitely on topic for this forum, I'm S.C. Smith on Shooting Reviews. If you want to look at opposite end of the edged tools spectrum part one of my Small Serious Knives ( http://www.shootingreviews.com/small-serious-knives/) review was added to SR two days ago.

MErl
August 30, 2013, 09:30 PM
Seeing the thickness of those machetes I probably should have saved that old saw. I chopped about 1.25 inch off an old hand saw blade for a kind of hand sawzall but it looks like the rest of it would have worked well for a short machete.

Or am I completely wrong.

Sam Cade
August 30, 2013, 09:53 PM
I chopped about 1.25 inch off an old hand saw blade for a kind of hand sawzall but it looks like the rest of it would have worked well for a short machete.
Or am I completely wrong.

Most old handsaws are some kind of simple carbon steel, just like most machetes, so provided the thickness is there and you can handle a simple heat treat it is very doable.

Good quality machetes (even great big un's) can be found with blades down to around 1mm in thickness.

22-rimfire
August 31, 2013, 12:42 AM
First time I have read through the entire thread and your articles. Interesting stuff Sam Cade. I find the grip to be one of the most important aspects of the articles. Everyone is hung up on the blade, but the grip is most important.

It is a mystery to me why OKC continues to put such imperfect handles on such an outstanding blade. ...especially when the molded plastic grips on a sub-$10 GAVILAN or IMACASA are so good.

The handle design is another aspect of machetes that you have to get used to. I think I tend to grip a machete too strongly and as a result, I have liked the handles used on the Condor Golok, Parang, or Pack Golok. The Pack Golok is the one that I use most lately if I choose to grab a machete.

I'm going to practice or change my grip a bit and see how that feels with the Ontarios.

Sam Cade
September 5, 2013, 10:48 PM
Ok, folks, here is what is coming up next on the machete front this weekend.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=188641&stc=1&d=1378434810

This is the Cold Steel "Royal Kukri" machete. It is 2.8mm as opposed to the 2mm of the standard CS "kukri" machete, slightly different in blade shape and possessed of a edge side guard.

Neat.

I'm out in the shop and am getting it ready for tomorrows real world workout. It came duller than an Amish froe of course.

:D

It is going to be a busy weekend at Shooting Reviews so swing on over!

Deltaboy
September 6, 2013, 08:37 AM
Thanks Sam

Deltaboy
September 12, 2013, 09:26 PM
We need a Sam updated on these cutters

Sam Cade
September 12, 2013, 11:25 PM
Late tomorrow evening for the Royal "Khukri" Machete.

I'm working on the opposite end of the size spectrum tonight finishing up the 6-months in the making Daily Kiri review.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=188888&stc=1&d=1379042633

Deltaboy
September 14, 2013, 10:18 AM
Cute knife that looks to be very effective.

Deltaboy
November 26, 2013, 10:00 PM
We need a Update.

Blade First
November 29, 2013, 10:53 PM
"...the long handle keeps your fingers in an unbepoked state." -- Sam Cade

Yes...briars are the obvious problem. And, as long as the excursion into the patches recognizes the mortal enemies of blackberry pickers my brother and I faced on our mandatory trips early each July, one would account for copperheads, yellowjackets, guinea wasps, chiggers, multiflora rose, hornets, thistles and other pokies.

Quarts of blackberries picked and frozen in July resulted in deep-dish blackberry cobblers in November, December and January.

Worth the effort!

...Alex

Deltaboy
December 3, 2013, 10:54 PM
Yep I started our being the gunner on Black berry picking . I Honed my snake killing skills with my Ithaca M-66 Super Single 410. I dearly love blackberrys.

Deltaboy
December 14, 2013, 08:39 PM
Calling sam !!!!!!!

Sam Cade
December 14, 2013, 08:54 PM
Hai?

Deltaboy
December 15, 2013, 03:40 PM
How about some new reviews of the machetes. I just got a 22 inch GAVILAN made in Colombia . And my cold steel Panga been doing Great for my around the house brush and grass work.

Sam Cade
December 15, 2013, 06:23 PM
As time permits.

Deltaboy
December 15, 2013, 06:36 PM
Thanks as always Sam.

hso
December 15, 2013, 07:08 PM
Deltaboy,

You know how to put a verb in front of a participle, right? Why don't you contribute to the cause?

Deltaboy
December 15, 2013, 09:08 PM
Deltaboy,

You know how to put a verb in front of a participle, right? Why don't you contribute to the cause?
Sorry I hated grammar mainly because I struggled with it. If it was not for spell check I would be in awlful shape.

hso
December 16, 2013, 08:54 AM
You're doing pretty good from what we can see regardless of what you thought about older family members.:evil:

Deltaboy
December 16, 2013, 10:04 AM
LOL. Since winter time has descended on DFW I been sharpening and oiling my machetes and hanging them up.for the winter.

Deltaboy
January 3, 2014, 10:40 AM
New Year Bump. I love playing with my tools during the cold winter.

Deltaboy
January 24, 2014, 10:07 PM
Well I got mine are sharpened up and oiled for the winter.

Deltaboy
March 8, 2014, 09:42 PM
Any more good information and the care and use of these wonderful tools.

Sam Cade
March 8, 2014, 10:05 PM
Not much machete work gets done with everything covered in ice.

Carl Levitian
March 8, 2014, 10:18 PM
I've found that a small machete and a SAK is most all I need under most camping/hiking activity. This one, made by my dad when I was a kid is still one of my favorites, out of my 12 inch Ontarios and Tramontina's. He made it out of a regular size English machete he picked up just after WW2. Abrasive wheel and lots of coolant running on the blade. It goes through a hardwood 2 inch sapling in two to three chops, but weighs very little.

I love small machetes!

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2251/12994438373_16dc3fe1f8_c.jpg

Deltaboy
March 13, 2014, 08:56 PM
I've found that a small machete and a SAK is most all I need under most camping/hiking activity. This one, made by my dad when I was a kid is still one of my favorites, out of my 12 inch Ontarios and Tramontina's. He made it out of a regular size English machete he picked up just after WW2. Abrasive wheel and lots of coolant running on the blade. It goes through a hardwood 2 inch sapling in two to three chops, but weighs very little.

I love small machetes!

http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2251/12994438373_16dc3fe1f8_c.jpg
Great Story and Machete. Yep Sam the winter been tough but it warmed up down her in DFW to do some flower bed clean out.

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