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Dirty Bob's Machete Project

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Dirty Bob, Jul 15, 2013.

  1. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    After looking at some images of cane knives, I started thinking about a compact belt machete for the Bobster's household. I tried the Tramontina 12-inch, cutlass-type machetes and liked them, but they were a bit light for real chopping. Larger machetes gained in chopping ability, but at the cost of more difficult carry. A decent compromise is a 13- to 14-inch bolo or spoonbill machete, however.

    I also really like the hook on the back of cane knives. When working in the green belt behind our house, I'm cutting grass, weeds, small trees and bushy plants. I use a weedeater for the light stuff, but a hook is nice for reaching down and clearing out the stuff that's been cut. It also saves some wear-and-tear on the hands and gloves. Some of our S. Texas plants aren't nice. We have some thorny trees that grow back there from time to time.

    To be honest, I also like the way a hooked blade looks: kinda like the orc swords in Lord of the Rings. :)

    I figured that the broad blade of a 2mm-thick cane knife would provide enough mass in a short blade to be able to chop, so I decided to use a Cold Steel Heavy Machete as my starting point.

    Here's the CS blade, between a Tramontina bolo and an Imacasa 2-handed cane knife:

    As purchased, I found the CS machete TOO heavy for its length. Although it gives it chopping power, a machete also needs some speed for lighter materials. I also found the handle too big for my hands, and the shape made it possible for the machete to slip from my hands if it was slick with water, sweat or some other liquid.

    I started with a Dremel tool and some heavy-duty cutoff wheels and a bucket of water for frequent cooling. I chopped off the end of the blade, knocked off the corners, and made two more cuts to rough-shape the hook. I used a hacksaw blade and a Mora knife to start reducing the too-large handle. Since this pic was taken, I've begun rounding off the corners and shaping the hook with files.

    Edited to add: The blade and hilt reduction had immediate, positive results. The machete is easier to control, thanks to the smaller hilt and the "stop" at the butt that anchors the hand. The blade reduction made it much livelier in my hands. I can do a snap cut with much less effort, and the tool seems to move faster. If I could do only one of the changes, though, it would be the hilt reduction. The interface with your hand is what determines whether or not you're really in control of a machete. - /EDIT

    I hope to finish up the shaping of the blade soon. I also want to reduce the handle a bit further and maybe apply a cord wrapping. I'll post more pics as the project progresses.

    Dirty Bob

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 15, 2013
  2. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    A cheapo sanding drum of your desired size chucked into a drill motor or press is ideal for cutting out grabbin' hooks. Just go slow and keep it cool.


    Be cautious of taking off too much material fore and aft on the handle. Make note of the relationship between spine and tang edge.



    Lookin' good bro!!! :cool:
  3. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    Thank you, Sam!

    That pic of the naked tang helps a lot. I'll be cautious in my handle work. If I expose any of the tang, a wrap of epoxy-soaked cord will seal everything. I've found the cord/epoxy wrap to be a great way to do the grip of knives.

    I was thinking of the drum, but my round files were making pretty good progress. I found that clamping the machete in a vice and using both hands on the file really helps a lot. I know that you already knew this, but some of us are still learning!

    Thanks for the kind words,
    Dirty Bob
  4. JShirley

    JShirley Administrator Staff Member


    It's nice to see people actually do things with their tools. :)

  5. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member


    If I went the rest of my life without seeing another picture of a pristine Randall I wouldn't consider it diminished in the slightest.
  6. 788Ham

    788Ham Well-Known Member

    You must truly have some serious brushy items to remove in your yard ! Looks as if you're on the right track though, good for snake filleting too ! :what:
  7. zhyla

    zhyla Well-Known Member

    Nice. I have a cane machete and find it nearly useless (too short to have enough velocity for brush whacking) but do appreciate the hook on the back. I have thought it would be handy to have such a hook on a standard saber type machete that I use for yard work.

    It is good to see tools get used. There's really no better sound that the "fwiiiing" of whipping a machete thru over grown plants.
  8. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    Ontario used to make such a beast but it was slightly serpentine.

    There are some current production Gavilans that have a bit of hook as well.


    The back point on a Panga is pretty handy for moving brush around and could be made into a full on hook with minimal effort.


    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jul 16, 2013
  9. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    We have a green belt (more a drainage creek that channels water out of the neighborhood when we have one of our weather events) behind our fence that is about 20-25 yards wide. The city drives down the middle with a big mower, but I have to go out once or twice a year and do battle with the vegetation near our fence, unless I want it taking over and eventually destroying the fence. It ranges from grass and weeds to small trees. The job is usually 1 to 2 hours of cutting with a weedeater, machete, and sometimes a saw.

    When I do tree trimming, it's saw work, followed by ax, saw and machete work.

    I think the big Imacasa will be useful, but I don't have a belt machete to keep handy when clearing the fence or reducing limbs and branches for the city to pick up. I think this new machete will be a good compromise between size and the work it can do. And it should be fun to use.

    John, Sam and zhyla: I guess I'm naive. I thought that many of us do use our tools. That's the best way to find out if they're good tools. Most of my machetes have nicks and scars from work, plus the marks of multiple sharpenings with a file, and I'm looking forward to putting some wear on the Imacasa and this new project machete.

    Dirty Bob
  10. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    Good point (no pun intended)! I hadn't considered the panga seriously, but I'd thought of taking the point off a cutlass machete and riveting a piece of round stock perpendicular to the blade, out at the end, as a hook.

    A hook is also nice as it keeps your hands out of the fresh-cut brush or branches. Haven't seen a poisonous snake near the house yet, but I'm always cautious. Black widows or scorpions aren't much fun, either. I once found a nice, big scorpion walking across the bathroom floor in the morning. Welcome to the South.

    All my best,
    Dirty Bob
  11. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    That is a bit like a beet knife.

  12. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    Cool image! I've never seen one of those. I was thinking of the hook on the back of the blade, of course, or bent into an L-shape with one leg riveted to the spine, sort of like a Lochaber axe.

    In any case, I can think of other uses for a hook, such as pulling branches down for trimming that were just out of reach, or for breaking up hard soil when digging with a trowel or small shovel.

    Dirty Bob
  13. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    Ever used a billhook?

    A short nosed billhook like this Martindale...


    ...has an advantage over flat or trailing point chopper/slashers in that the act of cutting doesn't push the material away from the edge.
    Y'know how you take a swipe and a flexible sapling or briar and it bounces away and leans over half cut, forcing you to swing again?

    Much less likely to happen with a forward curve and/or beak to the blade.

    Attached Files:

  14. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    Great-looking Martindale! I have a Fiskars "Brush Axe," with a hooked blade. It does work very well on light stuff, and it isn't hard to sharpen, with a half-round file.

    A hooked blade would also be good if facing an attacker at close quarters. Like an ax, a hook can be used to strike bony parts of the assailant, where a cutlass-type blade would just make a shallow flesh wound. Not a pleasant thought, but I've had to back people off more than once, and a hooked blade would look pretty scary to a bad guy. The only knife I've used in "self-defense" never cleared my pocket. The blocking element of the mugging team saw the fist in the pocket but never saw the utility knife. I was looking at him, focused on where I was going to cut first...He stepped aside and allowed my wife and I to pass.

    Does anyone outside machetespecialists sell Martindale? Their prices seem kinda high, although I can't argue against their level of service. They've always been quick and got my order right.

    Good pic of that Martindale. Thanks!

    Dirty Bob
  15. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    I got my moneys worth out of one of those last summer.

    ...rocky ground. :what:


    On a scale of 1-10 I give them a 7. Not bad at all.

    Sometimes I see crocs in surveyors catalogs and such and the #2s show up everywhere but I think Machete Specialists are the only ones to stock any variety.

    A few years ago I called Martindale about importing some and they basically told me to take a poke at a rolling doughnut.:mad:
    I was shop foreman for a utilities construction company at the time, had company money to burn thanks to a really great overbid, wanted to buy a couple cases worth of 'chetes and they wouldn't give me the time of day.

    What the heck man? :banghead:

    I really like Martindales, great taper, decent factory starter grinds, good materials.


    Funny waves in the edges because they warp them during heat treat.:rolleyes:

    I think their business model targets us hipster amateur Macheteros :cool:

    Attached Files:

  16. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    Probably so! BTW, I found it amusing that in S.M. Stirling's post-apocalyptic "Emberverse" series that started with "Dies the Fire," much of what's left of this continent is armed with a heavy duty version of the machete, known as "shetes" in the vernacular. Works for me.

    That was a well-used Fiskars! I've gotta finish this knife. I want to attach a couple of pouches to the sheath, for a small pry bar and a small file. I use Rubbermaid trash cans as my material source for sheaths.

    For the hooked blades, I was thinking that a strong-side carry, behind the hip, makes sense. A sheath with an open front and a thumb break would make the knife easily accessible, and the knife could not fall out as long as the strap was in place across the spine. That design would also make for the smallest sheath type for the hooked blade.

    Dirty Bob
  17. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

    Y'know I liked the other end of that series better, despite the weak-suck end.

    Black,lesbian, Coast Guard sailing ship captain, Samurai for the win.:evil:


    Stirling might be a mercenary hack, but his hackery is of the highest caliber. :D
  18. hso

    hso Moderator Staff Member

    I've had 4 of these (the first 3 were begged off of me by friends). [​IMG]
    They're made in Finland and are remarkable tools.
  19. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

  20. Sam Cade

    Sam Cade Member

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