American Bushman

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing." —Benjamin Franklin

Friday, January 18, 2008

Newest Bush Tool

I've been busy today.

I had this idea to modify an Ontario machete and today was the day to spend some time in the shop seeing if my vision made any sense.

I started with a 12" Ontario machete straight out of the package. I received it two days ago and just opened it this morning. It hasn't been sharpened or anything. The grip on the budget machetes is atrocious and needs a bunch of attention to make it more comfortable. The scales were uneven with the tang and each other but the thickness was good.

I wrapped the handle from front all the way to the pinky "hook" with hockey tape--two layers. This effectively smooths everything out and gives it some nice grip but not too much. It'll cause some hot spots the first couple of times I use it but knowing that going in gives me the opportunity to avoid problems.

I wanted the tip to be more like the Martindale No. 2 Golok and drew the desired pattern on the blade. This will shorten the 12" blade by about 2" but I only lose 1" of cutting edge because the shape flip-flops.

Using a Dremel Tool with a cutoff wheel and lots and lots of water I followed about 1/4" outside of my line and took off the tip of the machete. When I was nearly through the steel I just clamped it up along the cut line in a vise and snapped the tip.

Using a 220-grit belt on my belt sander I cleaned up the lines and ground right down to where I wanted the tip to be. I also brought the edge back about 2" because the Ontarios come with a very large area in front of the slabs that is full thickness. I'm sure it was put there for a reason and if this was a mistake at least it wasn't a costly one.

Then I did my best to satin finish the blade with a Scotchbrite belt and WD-40. This also cleaned up the edge leaving me only stropping to finish the job.

Straight from the belt sander I headed out to a downed tree and took a couple of test chops. This thing is wicked. The sweet spot is about 2" back from the tip and it's fast, light, and crazy sharp.

Now I need a sheath. I can't leave this blade exposed as it'll surely injure someone.

It's going back into the cardboard sleeve until I can get it down the Dan and Spen at JRE Industries for a new leather sheath.

It should be darned good fun to test this one once I get a chance...

Thanks for reading,



At 7:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I hate to hijack the comments for this post but I was wondering where you learned your bushcraft? I'm interested in knowing more but I can't seem to find anyone close to me (Tennessee) that offers a school or anything.


P.S. I tried looking for a way to email you but there doesn't seem to be a way.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger American Bushman said...

I fixed the email issue. Apparently I disabled it at some point but now it'll work. Just go into the Profile information and it's on the left-hand side.

For schools in the Midwest, I can't praise Briar Patch enough. George and Kerri have only been running the school for a year but they've been involved in practicing and teaching bushcraft, survival, and primitive skills for many, many years.

I have also been buying and reading books on the subject for years. I have one entire bookshelf of books on the subjects of plant and animal identification, mushrooming, survival skills, bushcraft, knot tying, camping, navigation, scouting, and tracking.

I've also got videos from Ron Hood, Marty Simon, Ray Mears, Peter Gawleta, Tom Elpel, Mors Kochanski, and others. I started with the Woodsmaster videos from Ron Hood maybe 10 years ago.

Most of what I've got stored in my noggin however just comes from getting out there and doing it. Practice in the back yard or the local woods counts just as much as if it were in the Arctic Circle, the desert, the jungle, or the savannah.

Sure there are some specific skills that won't come into play unless you're in a specialized environment but the basics of fire, shelter, food, and water can be done anywhere.

Thanks for your comment,



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