Why mod Machetes?

Joined
Oct 9, 2005
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544
Hey there.

I've been playing around with my El Cheapo machete over the last couple weeks, trying to build up some skills before I drop any money on a decent blade. Truth be told I am more of a hatchet/axe man myself, but I like some khuks as well.
Trying to broaden my horizons with the machete. :)

A quick question regarding mods.
I understand modifying the handles for comfort and grip, but the blade mods make me scratch my head.
A see a popular one appears to be taking a longer 18-22 machete and chopping it down, with the end result something like a parang or maybe golok? Why? From what I can tell all of the major manufacturers make 14-16 inch blades, so there must be a reason for these mods......I just don't see it yet.

Does the new blade shape have something more to offer?
Why not just buy a 14' bolo?

Thanks for the education.
Fal
 

mykel m

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Sep 11, 2009
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Because we can!;)

Besides,why throw away good money to buy another to replace one that doesn't fit your needs when you can make the one you have work for you by modding it?(Assuming you have the tools,shop & abilities)
Even if the money isn't an issue,it is fun & satisfying to tweak something to fit your needs.

I realized I didn't need an extra long bushwhacker up here in the PNW so I made a nice little 12" bladed camp chopper & Muk like knife out of the cut off tip.
62e911a4.jpg


I used copper tube I had on hand & pallet Oak for the handles & was able to do the work at my job on my day off so I got the two usable tools for just a bit of time & effort.

Try it,it's fun!:thumbup: :)
 
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I can understand the "just because" theory......I do a lot of things "just because" and I thoroughly enjoy it.

I had only thought that with SO many people doing such similar mods to their machetes that there might be a performance reason why.
 
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Sep 24, 2008
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A lot of people want a shape that isn't an option. They may want a 14 inch, but none of the 14 inch machetes have a blade wide enough to create what they want. So they go to the larger machetes. Or something along those lines.
 
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Jan 28, 2011
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I had a cheap machete that I never really used, and I was always curious about the parang style machetes. Rather than spend the money for a new one, I turned it into a project.
This was also a good excuse to try my hand at making some wood scales. They turned out ugly as heck, but I learned a lot and it sparked a passion to make more.

Thanks for bringing this up by the way. My homebrew parang has been sitting in my trunk unused and mostly forgotten for about a year. Despite the flitz polish and 3 in 1 oil coat it had a good amount of rust on it.
00610696-87B2-4B27-96CB-EB1F35E712FC-8897-0000046810D3E487_zpsdbc977f6.jpg
 
Joined
May 10, 2012
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Part of it comes down to making the machete yours. A modded tool isn't just a name brand item any more, it's your own version that you can take pride (or shame :p) in.


It's also possible to create some blade shapes that don't really exist in the production market. Some people simply want a unique tool, so they buy something big and use it as a blank canvas to make what they want.
 
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Because of the environment i'm in and the type of trails i will be using it for, require me to think of what to use for the day.
 
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You also get rid of the factory "tip". If you've held a factory machete, you know the "tip" is anything but. My tramontina had several inches of upswept and unsharpened blade protector at the end. I didn't need that so I clipped my tip and ended up with a usable point and a nice compact blade. I seem to have deleted the pics for some reason, but I like the way it looks a lot more now. Take care.
 

22-rimfire

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Nov 20, 2005
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For would-be knife makers, the machete is probably the easiest place to start in terms of modifications from a cost and materials point of view. If you screw it up, try again.

I agree with you that with all the various models of machetes and large chopping blades available now, I see little point in needing to do signifcant modifications other than perhaps the handle. The handle has always been the weak link on inexpensive machetes.
 

FortyTwoBlades

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You also get rid of the factory "tip". If you've held a factory machete, you know the "tip" is anything but. My tramontina had several inches of upswept and unsharpened blade protector at the end. I didn't need that so I clipped my tip and ended up with a usable point and a nice compact blade. I seem to have deleted the pics for some reason, but I like the way it looks a lot more now. Take care.

You know, you can always just sharpen the tip... ;) It's NOT a "blade protector"--it's to keep the tool cheap by reducing shipping costs. A sharp and finely ground point would punch clean through the thin cardboard boxes they pack them in. They figure the end user will fix the point up with the curb, a cinder block, a file, or anything else on hand that's fairly coarse. :)

In terms of mods, I don't get all of the "golok-esque" ones either. I mean, I understand how they work and all, but I actually use the tips on my machetes so I'm not usually a fan of chopping off a perfectly good point. :D I'd like to see a little more variety/creativity in blade form, but that's just me wanting more eye candy. :p

I've done plenty of mods over the years, but it has always been with specific performance tweaks in mind. You naturally have to go with a larger model and cut down to the shape you want, but you can end up with a piece that has a different range of strengths and weaknesses than you would normally be able to find on the open market.
 
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You know, you can always just sharpen the tip... ;) It's NOT a "blade protector"--it's to keep the tool cheap by reducing shipping costs. A sharp and finely ground point would punch clean through the thin cardboard boxes they pack them in. They figure the end user will fix the point up with the curb, a cinder block, a file, or anything else on hand that's fairly coarse. :)

In terms of mods, I don't get all of the "golok-esque" ones either. I mean, I understand how they work and all, but I actually use the tips on my machetes so I'm not usually a fan of chopping off a perfectly good point. :D I'd like to see a little more variety/creativity in blade form, but that's just me wanting more eye candy. :p

I've done plenty of mods over the years, but it has always been with specific performance tweaks in mind. You naturally have to go with a larger model and cut down to the shape you want, but you can end up with a piece that has a different range of strengths and weaknesses than you would normally be able to find on the open market.

It would take someone much more determined and with much more spare time than I using a file to form the bush machete tip into anything other than an impact tool:D
 

FortyTwoBlades

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Just takes a good quality double-cut file and you can be done in less than 30 minutes. :)
 
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Oct 9, 2005
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Dirtknap,

Have you chopped one down? In what way does the chopped machetes improve performance?
I understand handle mods, and sharpening mods...but the radical golok-like cut backs have me scratching my head.
Not knocking it, and if one does it for fun or because they want a shorter blade then great.....I'm just not understanding it.
 
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Oct 12, 2011
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... because they won't mod themselves ;)

I recently cut down a 18" Tramontina bush machete into a 15" golok style for bushwacking/trail scouting. There's no selection of machetes around this area, the local chainsaw shop only had a 18" Tram. Although a 14" bolo would probably be better, the cut down blade is working out surprisingly well. I don't know much about machetes and have only used 2-3 different ones, but besides being lighter and faster to swing, it feels like the weight/sweet spot is closer to the tip, where the speed is. Feels very efficient, cuts much better than I expected. Sometimes cutting closer to the ground, the "blade protector" would hit the ground, not a problem with it cut off. And yeah, it was faster/easier to remove it rather than sharpen it.
 

FortyTwoBlades

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It's closer to the tip, but the tip is also further back. The balance is also shifted forward, but actually reduces the ability to accelerate the tip for a given blade length as compared to a piece that balances a little lower. It's always tradeoffs.
 
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you can end up with a piece that has a different range of strengths and weaknesses than you would normally be able to find on the open market.

Machetes are:
  • Cheap to risk spoiling
  • Thinner blades easier to mod
  • Bigger blades that give you much more space to work on your own design
  • Bigger handles to mold to what you want
 
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