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Machete advice

Yamaotoko

Les Stroud
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Hi all,
We live up in the Dandenong Ranges in Vic, the part with was affected by a big storm back in June last year. With so many of our big Eucalyptus Regnans on the ground, there is now so much more light coming through and our property has become a weed jungle! I’m talking deadly nightshade at 4’-5’ high in some areas! Along with the regular offenders of ivy, Jasmine and the old blackberry, I’m finding more need for a ‘slashing’ utility knife, where my Mora Campanion has always been fine.

I’m looking at a machete to help with general with around the place, I’m not sure what size to get though, the big ones (18-20”) I imagine would become unwieldy in tight areas, and might be a bit of a one-trick-pony, but then 10”eta seem tiny by comparison! A 12” looks like a good compromise, but I’d love to hear from regular machete users, what sizes have you settled on as a ‘large utility knife’ and why?
 

Kindlling

Les Hiddins
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I use and have a few of these .
Martindale 16” I believe .

Good for lantana and the small and medium jungle vines around here .
Once you get your wrist action right its great .

If you want to do 4x2 timber youtube chop tests or cut pig carcasses in half while dressed like a ninja like youtube it
Probably wont be great for that though. :) If you want something more universal in use , maybe look to Asian cultures that villagers use them regularly. Goloks , parangs, eneps and the like . Edit : (I would also say avoid anything that has a round handle which can spin in your hand when it hits something , i have a thai enep that has a round handle which lets it down.)7FEED061-6535-41F0-B0A6-CDD9A2073920.png
 
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Le Loup

Rüdiger Nehberg
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Hi all,
We live up in the Dandenong Ranges in Vic, the part with was affected by a big storm back in June last year. With so many of our big Eucalyptus Regnans on the ground, there is now so much more light coming through and our property has become a weed jungle! I’m talking deadly nightshade at 4’-5’ high in some areas! Along with the regular offenders of ivy, Jasmine and the old blackberry, I’m finding more need for a ‘slashing’ utility knife, where my Mora Campanion has always been fine.

I’m looking at a machete to help with general with around the place, I’m not sure what size to get though, the big ones (18-20”) I imagine would become unwieldy in tight areas, and might be a bit of a one-trick-pony, but then 10”eta seem tiny by comparison! A 12” looks like a good compromise, but I’d love to hear from regular machete users, what sizes have you settled on as a ‘large utility knife’ and why?
The only time I have found a good machete to be of any use, was cutting bamboo in the territory. From what you have said, I would recommend that you purchase a slasher. I have one of these & it does a good job for clearing brush, tall grass & weeds.
Slasher 1.jpgSLASHER 2.jpgSLASHER 3.jpg
Regards, Keith.
 

Randall

Richard Proenneke
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I more or less found the same thing as Keith. I have a machete that shaves my arm; I've had it for 45 years and have given up on it. When you try to hack into something, like blackberries, they move in all directions / angles and not many get cut. I used to try to keep single track clear of blackberry with a machete - it just wasn't effective. They do work if you're holding onto what you want to cut, or something hard. Secateurs, or the hook type slasher (as in Keith's photo above) and bill hook; especially if you use them close to the ground so that the vines etc move a lot less (held by the ground).

After saying this I'm reminded of the fiskars billhook, both long handled and short handled. In this length blade I'd go the long handle. Fiskars sell a much more usable smaller one but not in Australia :rolleyes:

woodxpert-machete-xa23_productimage.jpg
 

Askew

John McDouall Stuart
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I'm fond of billhooks, goloks are good too, both do a better job than a machete on woody or fibrous weeds. I'm not a fan of the fiskars billhooks as I don't like the handle and the balance. Morris of Dunsford makes a nice hook but you will need to put an edge on it.
One thing you can try on lighter stuff like blackberry or grasses is to find a hooked stick to gather and hold the canes so you can cut them.
 

Yamaotoko

Les Stroud
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Well, thanks for the tip on billhooks! I’ll be honest I wasn’t completely convinced, because in the movies it’s always a machete that will get you through… I found a cheap and cheerful ebay special figuring it was a low risk investment. It arrived about half an hour ago, I cut one weed as a test and ended up spending the next half hour clearing the front section around our house, I think this might be my new favourite tool!

As you can imagine, the handle is pretty crappy, I might slide some timber inside the tube and make a leather-wrap grip. I’ll beat it up as long as it lasts, then invest in a better quality one, but for <$20, I’m impressed!

…it’s also given me a new leather project: how the heck to design a sheath for it!!
 

Randall

Richard Proenneke
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Well, thanks for the tip on billhooks! I’ll be honest I wasn’t completely convinced, because in the movies it’s always a machete that will get you through… I found a cheap and cheerful ebay special figuring it was a low risk investment. It arrived about half an hour ago, I cut one weed as a test and ended up spending the next half hour clearing the front section around our house, I think this might be my new favourite tool!

As you can imagine, the handle is pretty crappy, I might slide some timber inside the tube and make a leather-wrap grip. I’ll beat it up as long as it lasts, then invest in a better quality one, but for <$20, I’m impressed!

…it’s also given me a new leather project: how the heck to design a sheath for it!!
That was an awesome find! Ahh, yes the movies :D. I'd be harassing Keith re the sharpening; a scythe / sickle stone?
 
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Kindlling

Les Hiddins
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Have been trimming trees with long handle secateurs today .
They are great for cutting sticks for kindling too .

I think machetes and slashers for clearing really is a subject where its specific to the task required . I have tried a few even an old cane knife which looks impressive and is obviously optimal for cutting sugar cane , yet was nearly useless on vines in the bush here .

The machete I use needs to be light , as it soon feels heavy anyway after a lot of time cutting .
Also if it were too short , then the spiky vines will often catch my arm , and I need the length in case they bounce back and bite .

Also If the machete were too long it would be unweildly in tight spaces to swing .

If the blade were fatter it may bounce off springy light or loose hanging vines instead of slicing them .

A lot of merit is in the snap of the wrist also .

Where in another environment all these things may not be that useful to what someone else needs .
 
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Randall

Richard Proenneke
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For sure. Stuff like blackberry vines are a real challenge. I've seen farmers on tropical islands (very wet) who always use machetes; they tend to cut grasses mostly (usually knee high stuff), and close to the ground. They were very effective at this but those dudes are small and have no trouble working close to the ground bent over. They also tend to clear small patches of rough ground - not great areas. So a patch here and a patch there. They mostly have small patches of stuff growing here and there. They use them for lots of other things too, of course; preparing small pieces of wood for cooking in a small fire pot, gently tapping around a coconut to open it up, harvesting coconuts etc.

I used to have a cane knife - very cheap and effective. It was a common practice for Queensland cane cutters to bend the blade a bit. They'd hold the green sugar cane (unless they were burnt black) and bend it back a bit and then cut the base of the canes with the knife. Bending a small tree (or branch) a bit before cutting it really aids effectiveness and much less force is needed.

Considering the shapes of machete and billhook, the billhook does look like the better design with those harder (blackberry like) stuff. It seems less likely that stuff will slide off a billhook. Machete does seem a better design for hard and stiff stuff if it's upright; Keith mentioned bamboo. The problem with that though is that generally you need to cut downward on an angle, which means you need to be high enough from the ground not to follow through and hit the ground. I've cleared a lot of Spanish broom with a machete. It isn't particularly hard and the main trunks are only 2 - 5cm diameter. I still had a hard time and was left with lots of sharpened stakes which had me concerned for wallabies. I went back with a pair of long handled loppers, which is what I should have used in the first place.

The billhooks that Keith showed, and the one that Yamaotoko bought, are the better shape than the fiskars one. Fiskars suggest using theirs for cleaning up small branches from felled trees. In hindsight the fiskars wasn't a good suggestion for what Yamaotoko was needing.
 
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Kindlling

Les Hiddins
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For sure. Stuff like blackberry vines are a real challenge. I've seen farmers on tropical islands (very wet) who always use machetes; they tend to cut grasses mostly (usually knee high stuff), and close to the ground. They were very effective at this but those dudes are small and have no trouble working close to the ground bent over. They also tend to clear small patches of rough ground - not great areas. So a patch here and a patch there. They mostly have small patches of stuff growing here and there. They use them for lots of other things too, of course; preparing small pieces of wood for cooking in a small fire pot, gently tapping around a coconut to open it up, harvesting coconuts etc.

I used to have a cane knife - very cheap and effective. It was a common practice for Queensland cane cutters to bend the blade a bit. They'd hold the green sugar cane (unless they were burnt black) and bend it back a bit and then cut the base of the canes with the knife. Bending a small tree (or branch) a bit before cutting it really aids effectiveness and much less force is needed.

Considering the shapes of machete and billhook, the billhook does look like the better design with those harder (blackberry like) stuff. It seems less likely that stuff will slide off a billhook. Machete does seem a better design for hard and stiff stuff if it's upright; Keith mentioned bamboo. The problem with that though is that generally you need to cut downward on an angle, which means you need to be high enough from the ground not to follow through and hit the ground. I've cleared a lot of Spanish broom with a machete. It isn't particularly hard and the main trunks are only 2 - 5cm diameter. I still had a hard time and was left with lots of sharpened stakes which had me concerned for wallabies. I went back with a pair of long handled loppers, which is what I should have used in the first place.

The billhooks that Keith showed, and the one that Yamaotoko bought, are the better shape than the fiskars one. Fiskars suggest using theirs for cleaning up small branches from felled trees. In hindsight the fiskars wasn't a good suggestion for what Yamaotoko was needing.
They use machetes for pruning on a farm here , they have bananas too .
The blades they use are fatter than my machetes , some have a squared off end (no point ). So more weight behind the cut .

The branches on all sorts of fruit trees In those fruit forests then get left at the bases of the trees as mulch and helps keep moisture in .
Permaculture .

Not sure what size bamboo is cut with machetes , there must be a knack to that, its tough stuff and some of the varieties are giant .

I cut it with a saw personally , have tried with a machete before and its tough stuff .
 
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