Posts Tagged ‘steel’

The Mighty Machete!

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you may know that I have a good amount of experience with machetes. I have done many things with them, clearing fields of 10ft tall elephant grass, felling small trees, even carving field hockey balls. (Yeah. Betcha didn’t know you could carve a hockey ball using a machete did you!)

Indeed, there was a time when I used them routinely, I dare say even more often than I did my laundry!  The result, is that I tend to reach for a machete where most folks would reach for an axe. As a matter of fact, I consider machetes a blade that is highly underrated in North America. This may or may not actually be true, however when people start looking for a medium to heavy-duty chopper, the first thing people seem to reach for is a camp hatchet or axe.

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet.

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet.

Now to be fair, there are many things an axe is just better for. For instance, you don’t hear much about machete murderers in the good old U.S. of A. Axe murderers, on the other hand… Common knowledge. And look at how under represented machetes are in the media. You see hunting and survival knives portrayed prominently in movies all the time, like the Rambo movies, The Hunted, etc. Even in games, machetes get a bad rap. You see throwing knives, in all kinds of First person shooters, ballistic knives in Call of Duty, etc, etc, etc, the list goes on forever!

Even on Youtube, machetes get little love. There was recently a game of “Name your two favorite knives” tag on Youtube, and not a single person (whose videos I have seen so far) has even mentioned a machete. It is a sad state of affairs people. Especially when you look at what you can do with a good machete. Chopping, carving, wood processing, digging, brush clearing, dismemberment… etc. (And just so we are all clear, I mean dismembering large game animals, not people. Not that it hasn’t been done before, but it’s just not my style. I’m just saying.)

Anyway, a machete can do it all! And what is most amazing about it is that you can get a good machete for a mere fraction of the cost of many of the fancy schmancy designer knives that people all seem to love. But you can thrash a machete and not have to worry about, ride it hard, put it away wet (thought if you do that, you deserve to be flogged, hung from you hair from the tree of woe, for wild emu to slowly pick at you… No seriously.)

The fact of the matter is, machetes get no love. At least not in North America. In Africa, South America, and many developing nations, it is the hero of large utility blades, and today, I’d like to speak out on behalf of all the poor neglected machetes of ‘Merica! I’d like to show you that machetes are not only good, but that they can be cool too!
First, allow me to introduce you to the working mans machete, two of my favorites from the Ontario Knife Co:

Ontario 12in Camper Machete

Ontario 12in Camper Machete


 The Ontario 12″ camper machete. This one has a saw blade spine and a “D” handle to offer added protection to the user, though I must say that as a seasoned machete user, I can’t recommend either, as the saw back is incredibly inefficient at sawing anything. It is best used for notching, but that is about it. And the D handle simply makes it harder to use that saw back anyway, so this is what I would consider a bad combination. Moving on to one of my more favored workhorse machetes:

Ontario 18in Military Machete

Ontario 18in Military Machete

The Ontario 18in Military Machete is my go to machete for camping trips and such, it is versatile, tough, and best of all, Cheap! I have both the 12in and the 18in version of this machete, and I really don’t know why every outdoorsman doesn’t have the 12in version in their pack. They are awesome! Next up, a light duty machete: The Gerber Gator Machete.

Gerber Gator Machete

Gerber Gator Machete

Now this is a nice, easy to use machete, ideal for someone who wants to pack light. It is not as heavy-duty as the Ontario or Cold Steel Offerings, but is light weight, low fatigue, and has one of the best grip ergonomics I have run into on a machete for a long time. It also has a saw spine, however its performance is surprisingly disappointing, especially given that they know how to make a good utility saw. Phail on you Gerber! PHAIL!! >:{

And now, on to the machetes that I classify simply as “Cool beyond Words”. Ok, so they aren’t really cool beyond words. But they are pretty darn cool. I refer, in this case, to Cold steels line of machetes, starting with their quite impressive Kukri Machetes:

Cold Steel Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete

Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete

Both the Regular and Magnum Kukri machetes from Cold steel are simply quite good. Strong, tough, can be made shaving sharp, and quite versatile, I have both versions, and can say that they are great, especially for the price, being excellent low cost choppers and all around bush whacking blades.

Last but not least, allow me to introduce you to my favorite machete design of all time, the Cold Steel Kopis Machete.

Cold Steel Kopis Machete

Cold Steel Kopis Machete

Now this machete is just beautiful. Based on the ancient Greek Kopis sword, the Cold Steel Kopis Machete is a beautiful piece of work, a combination of style, function, strength and beauty that is really hard to come by these days. And, of course, as if simply to spite me, it is no longer being made. Curses. CURSES!!! Curse the machete gods for depriving me of this thing of beauty! Oh well. C’est la Vie. It is my own fault for not getting one while I could.

Anyway, there are a gazillion other machete designs i could talk about today, but these are some of my favorites. And hopefully I have demonstrated that Machetes are not just ugly choppers, and that you can have it all; strength, style, beauty and utility… with the Mighty MACHETE!! 😀

P.S.

By the way… Anyone got a Cold Steel Kopis machete they want to… umm… donate to… “charity”? I can take care of that for you… Yes, yes, it will be for a good cause. You know, like the Happy Balrog Knife Charity… No, no, it’s a real charity… It goes to Balrogs in desperate need of hard to find knives… No, really… 😀

Smith & Wesson Bullseye Paul Bunyan Hatchet – [True Swords]
Ontario 12″ Camper Machete – [True Swords]
Ontario 18″ Military Machete – [True Swords]
Gerber Gator Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Kukri Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete – [True Swords]
Cold Steel Kopis Machete – (no longer made)

What can you do with no artistic talent, and a steel blank?

Monday, January 4th, 2010

That is the question of the day. An artist might say ” Make art.”  A carpenter might say, “Make tools.”  A metalworker might say “Lets build something!” A sword smith would say… well, you ca probably guess what a sword smith would say.  But today I ran across an interesting blade, that seemed to be what a person would make if they knew they liked sharp edges, had a large steel blank, but just didn’t know what to make:

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete

Yep. That’s pretty much it.  Here’s how it was probably made. They took a steel blank, and hammered it into a rough, long strip. Then… they sat back and had a beer. That’s it. Yeah. OK, ok, so they probably heat treated/tempered it and as well. But beyond that, wrapping some cordage around the “grip” end of this piece of steel, and grinding a basic edge on it, that was probably pretty much the whole enchilada for this thing.

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete - edge

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete - edge

And look at that curved concave tip. What’s up with that? That is about the only aesthetic bit on this blade. I like simplicity and all, but I do have a limit. It’s a pretty high limit, but this thing just kinda tippy-toed over that line… If only just a little. Really, I don’t even know why they bothered with a sheath. It’s not like this blade needs protection from anything.

Maybe it’s to protect the other swords from having to be seen with this one. Not that any sword, (or human for that matter) should judge a book by it’s cover or anything, but you know how some of these high end blades get.

Steel can be so cruel… 0_o

Hand Forged Crude Jungle Machete – [Amazon.com]

A Sleek (Non)Arthurian Sword…

Monday, December 14th, 2009

So, once again, I find myself confronted by a sword which, while absolutely beautiful, also appears to have aesthetics that run counter to it’s supposed origins. I present to you, the magical sword of King Arthur of the Knights of the Round Table, Excalibur:

King Arthur of the Round Table Excalibur Sword

King Arthur of the Round Table Excalibur Sword

Ooookaaayyy… So does anyone else notice something fishy here? And I’m not referring to the smell the sword must have picked up from being stored in a lake, by the Lady of the Lake, for so many centuries. No, I am referring to the fact that this sword does not appear to match the aesthetics we would expect to see from a sword made in the era of the Crusades.

The swords of the Crusaders were generally more… Cross shaped. They tended to have straight cross guards, which made their swords look like crosses, a physical symbol, a reminder, if you will, for the knightly Crusaders, that they were the Swords of God. Yeah. Uh huh.

Anyway, These swords also carried a round medallion pommel, and tended to sport much a more wedge shaped blade, with the blade narrowing significantly from hilt to tip. The grips were also much more likely to be mildly tapered, with  a leather wrap.

Now the sword above. This wretched pretender, does not match any of those traits.

This sword has, instead of a medallion, a stubby cross pommel. Yes, it does have a cross emblazoned on the center on said cross, but still. And then the grip… Wire wrapped. No leather. Which brings us to the guard. Which starts off straight, but then curves up towards the point with an almost dragon scale like motif. Definitely not the kind of thing a Knight of the Cross should carry!! And that blade… Long, straight and narrow… No wedge.

So. I can guess what your thinking at this juncture. And it probably sounds a little like “Pardon my French, but… YOU, GOOD STEEL MADAME, are an IMPOSTER!! You HEATHENOUS WRETCH!!! How DARE you claim to be EXCALIBUR!!!  >: (  ”

OK, ok, easy now. Let’s not be hasty. She’s a fine lass, and, truth be told, I like her. The slim lithe blade, the mild curve and pattern on the guard, it’s down to earth overall simplicity…  Let me play devils advocate for a bit.  >: }

First of all, Excalibur was not forged of man… but of ancient magic. So it does not have to look exactly like every other sword. In fact, it was a magic sword, so it should most likely *not* look like any other sword, so we really should not judge it just because it looks different.

And then of course there is the somewhat minor detail that stories of King Arthur seem to appear a few hundred years before the Crusades start, so the whole cross sword motif may not have started back then. Of course that would also invalidate the whole King Arthur legend as we currently know it, so I’m going to pretend that inconsistency does not exist. 🙂

Truth is, regardless of her heritage, she’s a beautiful sword. Who cares if she doesn’t look like all the other girls. She’s sharp, she’s got a great personality, she sweet, she’s smart, honest, and upfront, likes to get to the point and says what’s on her mind, ie, I don’t have to guess what she really means when she’s got her edge to my throat, has a great sense of humor, and, most importantly, she’s magical! None of the others can say that. So I don’t care. If you don’t like it, you can just sod off…  She’s mine. :p

Wait… What? Did I…? What just happened?

Doggone magical swords…

King Arthurs Excalibur Sword – [Saber and Sword]

Anyone know where to find human dart boards?

Friday, December 11th, 2009

Why? Because I have some unique darts I’d like to try out…

Cold Steel Urban Dart

Cold Steel Urban Dart

This is the Cold Steel Urban Dart. Now to be honest, the name is a bit of a mystery to me. Why call it a dart? And why an urban dart? I dunno. But it is certainly one cool looking dart. And it’s design has a lot of merit as a concealed tactical bladed weapon.

Sporting a 5.75″ Aus8 blade, attached to a 2.25″ kraton handle with a small lanyard hole, all put together in a trim, slim form factor, this dart has all the makings of an easy to conceal little knife. Could easily be used as a neck knife, though I would not recommend you rely on this for something like outdoor use, since that I think 2.25 grip is waaaaay to small for a good wilderness knife. No, this looks like it would really be best used for things like an easily concealed defensive tool. Perhaps that is where the “Urban” part of it’s name comes from.

The design does have some interesting characteristics. About an inch or so above the kraton grip, on the ricasso of the blade, we see a grroved depression, clearly intended to be used as a thumb grip area. This would suggest the blade would be best held in a form of full handed pinch grip, with the ricasso held between thumb and folded forefinger.

The swell of the kraton base should fit in the closed palm of the hand, giving it a decent grip. And the flat kraton pommel should also allow it to be used as an impromptu punch dagger, with the blade held between the fingers, presuming Cold Steel has put enough Kraton down on that pommel to prevent the steel from pushing through.

And, of course, it is also very nicely shaped for throwing. perhaps where the “dart” part of the name came from, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend you get one of these and start throwing it like you would throw a dart. Certainly not at another human. Unless, of course they started it first.  🙂  But either way, it ought to be a rather nimble little defensive blade.

And, funnily enough, I think I have just solved the riddle of why they decided to call it an ‘Urban Dart”.

Very cool idea. I like it.

Urban Dart by Cold Steel – [True Swords]

A Pirates Scimitar.

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

OK, so today you’ve got a POP QUIZ!!!

Only one question, Short answer. (Sorry, no multiple choice today. 😛 ) And here’s the question:

What kind of sword do you think a medieval pirate would use? Hmmm? Take a wild guess. Go on. Give it a go. 😀

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.

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BZZZZT!

Wrong.

The correct answer is: “It depends on where said pirates are from.”

HA!

Yes, yes, I know, I’m a bastige. That was a cheap shot. A trick question. And I’m actually quite sure some of you got it right. So… Whatever. What can I say? I just like to throw a few of them out there to keep you on your toes. Somebody’s gotta do it? Right? So why not I? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. 😀

Anyway the topic of this post is actually related. I have here, a “Pirate’s” sword:

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass

Actually it is called a Fantasy Pirate Cutlass, which is a good thing, because when I think about Pirate swords, my first thought is the stereotypical sword wielded by the classic European vagabonds of the seven seas. The Cutlass. Clearly, however, this sword is *not really* a cutlass. More like a rather ornately finished scimitar.

The curve of the blade, the wide deep clip of the spine just before the point, the cross guard, the hooked pommel, all of these say… “I’m a Scimitar!”. Not “Me Cutlass!” However, seeing as this is a “fantasy” pirate cutlass, anything goes… I guess. So I suppose I should let that go…

Anyway, notwithstanding my prior confusion, I really like the lines of this sword. Obviously it is not as dark as I’d like :D, but I can’t have everything now can I? At least it has a very cool blade, and an interesting hilt to match. The cross guard looks like a set of talons attached to the sword at right angles to each other, with a rather misanthropic looking skull emblazoned in the middle. Not bad looking actually.  🙂

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass - Hilt

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass - Hilt

The hilt continues with a studded leather wrap, covering the grip, which features what looks like a simple single choil at the top for added grip/control. The rest of the grip smoothly curves down to the pommel, which features another rather evil looking talon that curves to the front edge of the blade. Also pretty cool.

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass - Pommel

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass - Pommel

The stainless steel blade features an interesting rough cast/pitted steel appearance,  which lends a much more “used” feel to the sword. Overall it appears to be a beautiful and aesthetically well executed sword. I like it.

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass - Skull

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass - Skull

So, notwithstanding it’s failure to meet my expectations vis-a-vis being a pirates cutlass, all I can say is…

I wish it came in Damascus. Or black. I’m not that picky…

No, really, I’m not. Really… What?

Fantasy Pirate Cutlass – [StrongBlade]

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