Gentlefolk?...I know some may question the subject matter of this post as unrelated to archery but I beg to differ as whether I needed to clear a path too a stand or?...setting up a 3D target on an overgrown shooting lane or?...building a natural hunting blind or tracking down a blood-trail?...I found my Ontario Knife Machete to be an invaluable tool in the woods but alas?...
I purchased that machete at a flea market for about $20 nearly 3 decades ago as it was a military surplus, factory 2nd due to a small void/hole in it's molded sheath and though it has served me well?...I found myself sharpening it more than swinging it as my physical abilities declined with age where it got to a point I decided it was time to upgrade...especially with the wife and I's ever ongoing war with invasive pepper trees! LOL!
This is where I made the huge mistake of joining a couple knife maker groups on FB in search of a replacement and wound up inundated with solicitations from around the world where one offer was a beautiful looking Damascus steel machete by a maker in Pakistan which actually appealed to me but before sending a few hundred USD'$ too the other side of the world?...I decided it would be prudent to give my bud Joe Paranee (knife guru and blade show judge) a call to see if he at least heard of this purportedly "Well Known" Blade-smith and that's when Joe went off on me like a stern but loving father of a red headed step-child saying...
"Billy?...DON'T DO THAT!!!...You Have No Clue what sort of Steel your getting and chances are?...That knife maker DOSEN'T EITHER!!!...Glad you called me first and I'll Hook You Up Buddy!!!"
It took a day or two for Joe to get back with me but when he did?...it was with the name and number of an extremely well known Blade-Master...."James Helm"...(of Helm Forgings & Grinding) and?....
Recent winner of the history channels "FORGED IN FIRE" TV Series!!!
to say I was flabberghasted at the prospect of having such a shining star in the industry fashion what was to become my new primary woods blade would be the understatement of the year but moreover?...the education I received throughout the course of this purchase "ALONE"...was well worth the price of admission! (which BTW was only about $150 more than I was getting ready to Paypal to Pakistan)
Now initially?...I was looking at what is known as a "Thai Machete" (yes originally a "Thailand" design) where it's long heavily curved blade is supported by a "Two Handed Grip" where of course I was thinking I could get more cutting power with a baseball bat like swing and this is where "My Education" began as I initiated talks with one Mr. James Helm who couldn't have been more helpful and informative filling me in that...
Two handed grips are not all they're cracked up to be as the weight added detracts from the balance and momentum of the blades working area and it was there that via several phone calls and text messages regarding what I expected of this blade that James discerned what the design should be by my description of telling him that I know it's a lot to fit into one blade (and I'm not sure if it can be done as I know I'm asking a lot) but in the end?...I would like it to be capable of slicing, stabbing and chopping to where James responded with....
"Congratulations!...You just described on of my Forte Designs!...."A Bush Sword"!!!
Here's where Joe (as well as James) was instrumental in convincing me that my desire for a real long 20"-22" blade was ill-founded and that a shorter blade would be both more proficient at chopping and faster into action citing that 16"-18" would be plenty long and anything longer?....would be ungainly at best where handling is concerned with James acquiring my approval of a blade 16"-18" in length (stating he needed that 2" range because he forges by sign curve pending billet volume)
"My Alloy Lesson": I was an easy sell here as who am I to call out which alloy where James suggested to me that 80-CRV-2 is his favorite for such a blade because it's an alloy specifically designed for the blades of high end wood chippers and stump grinders...others describe it as though 5160 & 1095 alloys had a love child where the 80-CRV-2 seems to possess the durability level of one and the edge retention characteristics of the other...Which Was Fine By Me! LOL!
Now all this conversation took place towards the end of May just before the 2017 BLADE show in June....and so it began where James was very diligent texting me pix of his progress for my continued approvals....
This is where James just finished forging out the basic blade profile on his power hammer...(which did hit 18"s tip too choil)...
It then went into a vat of vinegar for 3 days for descaling and an induced patina where James then installed the initial grind of the edges (including 8"s back from the tip on the spine side) prior to final heat treat...
The blade measures .265" thick coming out of the grip...about .156 though the base of the blade....and then grows too just under 3/16ths" out towards the tip and though it is biased slightly weight forward?...it's balance point is 2/3rds the way back from the tip 1/3rd the way up from the grips pommel end and swing's like it's floating on air with an incredible amount of cutting efficiency....
Cause when an old man like me can lay waste to everything from the stringiest of hanging vines to pepper tree limbs 1/2" in diameter with one moderate stroke?...it's a far cry away and above what my $20 flea market machete had to offer and now?...
It's mine and hopefully will be in the hands of my grandson one day God Willing as it's definitely of...."Heirloom Quality"...for my humble family at least! LOL!
Talk about "Connections" in the industry?....my God...Thanks So Much Joe Paranee! :)
crookedstix: Right?...LOL!...my confidence levels were safety and security are concerned go through the roof with this thing whether it's slung over my shoulder for a walk through the woods or within arms reach in my home and I'm sure if any home invaders choose my house?...my two curs will buy me enough time to get to it...or my 12ga. Pump!...whichever comes first! LOL!
Stoner: Yes...the craftsmanship is in fact "Award Winning" as James Helms is a recent champion of the History Channels "Forged In Fire" competitions where James is well known for fashioning "Working Blades" where the functionality of his Tactical Tomahawks, Choppers, Short Swords and "Scout Carry Blades" are highly regarded (and prized) among Special Forces Military Personnel.
joe vt: Outside of a few test strokes through brush?..Not yet Joe but there are some Pepper Trees along my fence line that will soon meet their demise! LOL!
Mr. Laclair: Coming from you sir?...is as much an honor as receiving the blade itself!...Thanks! :)
I hate to rain on your parade, but that's a nice $80 to $100 sword. $350 is way overpriced! For Hunting, you could have done better with a Tramontina machete for $5.00. That cord-wrapped grip is also worthless. In this video, I hack my way through the Amazon rain forest and show off the Tramontina. Though it starts out with poor camera work, it gets better. Pay attention to my hand, at the very end of the video, to see it's not as dainty as you claimed!
Joe, I couldn't bring up the video, it would have been interesting to see a legend hacking his way through the Rain forest.
I'm not surpised that jealousy clouds your opinion on such a fine piece of craftsmanship. I can't imagaine a more perfect design for the intended purpose of hacking. I also like that it is also a good stapping weapon. I have a couple "Rat" knives that I use for chopping brush (pic) but I really like this blade of Bills.
Bill, Congrats on the bush slayer! I happen to think that for what you rec'd it isn't overpriced at all. You can't put a price on craftsmanship when it makes you happy! The kydex sheath is worth $100 by itself. Let's see some before and after pictures of it's use. Lance.
Nice looking blade. Fortunately blades are traditional Archery accessories, thus invited at all times.. bow envy, blade envy-all the same thing. Now Frisky definitely has a very bad case of blade envy. Ron, not so much as his collection is in a class unto itself. I am proud of my jungle survival school knife from 45 years ago, but these new blades are functional and beautiful.
"Bush Whacker" seems a very fitting term to describe my 30 year old Ontario Knife Machete cause 5 minutes into some heavy chopping (where I never seem to get far and walk for something else) or 10-15 minutes into clearing underbrush?...and the freshly sharpened edge of it's 1075 steel blade would be duller than most of the butter knives in my house and?...
I'd wind up "Whacking Things In 1/2" rather than "Cutting Or Chopping" them.
After that?...I'd pretty much wind up...
"Beating Things In 1/2" :(
It's been my experience that most mass produced machete's can slice or chop...for at least a few minutes...but then they go dull...and then the operator gets frustrated and sloppy...and then?..they often times can get bent with poorly aligned swings.
and none of them that I know of are proficient stabbers or fighters but they do have that "Going Dull" thing down pat! LOL!
My days of aggravation?...Are officially?...."OVER" :)
But the best part of this Woods Slaying Blade Upgrade is?...
If I should happen to happen upon oh say a pi$$ed off 300lb Bore Hog dining on pink root and all I got is my old $20 flea market machete?...I'm in trouble as I'm not quite as good at scampering up trees like I once was but if I have this Bush Sword in hand?...
I'll be easting pulled pork for quite awile! LOL! ;)
For $10-$12 @ Traders Villiage which is right down the road. You cant hardly beat the Tramontina Bush Machete. 1070 high carbon steel Made in Brazil. I have around 1 dozen old Lawnmower Blades I plan to use for making some Machetes.... Great video Frisky! Thanks for taking us on a journey through The Minnesota Rain Forest!
"If I should happen to happen upon oh say a pi$$ed off 300lb Bore Hog dining on pink root and all I got is my old $20 flea market machete?...I'm in trouble as I'm not quite as good at scampering up trees like I once was but if I have this Bush Sword in hand?...
I'll be easting pulled pork for quite awile! LOL! ;) "
Nice Machete JINKS but I don't think you have to worry too much...your back yard is fenced.
I have looked at them and they are all pretty much that way.. If I wind up buying one, I would replace the scales anyway. Spine and tip touch up pretty simple.. $12 compared to $300...A no Brainer for me!! But that custom one is very nice!! It's Just to easy to make a dozen or so just like it, or even better for less than $50-$60 for me to justify that kind of money!!
All right. I admit that's a great video! Very nice bush sword! However, every cut your saw, from shaving to chopping those thin milk jugs, I've accomplished with equal or less effort with a $5 Tramontina machete and 30 minutes of work bringing it up to snuff. Plus, it HAS to be more comfortable! I'm going to recommend folks skip this one and buy the machete of Brazil!
I'm not a knife maker, nor a steel expert, but I do have a couple of opinions. Take them for what they are considering I have never held or used any of the "machetes" mentioned on here.
1. I can say from experience, unless you are one LUCKY SOB, $20.00 flea market machetes are typically $19.95 over priced.
2. I am not a fan of cord wrapped handles. I suspect the maker is using it to help balance the blade. The wood sword does look to be a fine tool, that is very sharp, and an efficient chopper, cutter, slicer, etc. It is obviously created by a master crafter, but, I'm still not a fan of cord handles. I'm not familiar with epoxy coated cord handles, so maybe I would feel different if I held one - but it is way out of my price range. (Why don't you send me yours to try out, Jinkster?) lol
3. As Frisky mentioned, I can chop/shave everything in that video with my Woodsman's Pal. I can also dig with it, pound stakes, and drive nails - all for a fifth of the price.
Not meaning to take away from your wood sword as that is a mean l looking tool.
Frisky?...I watched your video and in doing so could never really discern if it was made as a spoof or if it was for real and if it was for real?...your entire generation will be in my evening prayers cause what I saw was?...
A review of a 3rd world country item that somewhat resembled the lowest form of a flea market machete that will soon be made available at Dollar General stores. But I'd like to thank you because I thought my Ontario Knife Machete was bad until I saw that edgeless stamped blade with a handle you have struggle to liberate leaves from small limbs and go dull after hacking through a couple milkweeds.
Sorry your feet got wet running for your life from mosquitoes and thanks so much for the huge chuckles! LOL! ;)
AND- the mass produced, third world blade is better! Have you ever heard of a single incident of a Tramontina breaking? Never! That sword is nowhere near as strong as a Tramontina. It can't be! It's weak point is the thin, tubular handle. Don't get me wrong. It's a nice piece of cutlery, but any real jungle hunter would stake his life on a Tramontina before that sword. It's $5 and superior! Get over it!
Look- I'm just trying to impress upon the masses that a Tramontina is the world's finest machete. Period. AND my bows are superior to Widdas, Borders and anything Jinkster has shot of late. This should all be self-evident.
Back around 1981 My cousin and I bought some "sugar cane" knives from the local "Army-Navy" Surplus store. These were susposed to from South or Central America. They did not have the hook like a real augur came knife has so I think they were really heavy machetes. The blades were pretty thin and we could quickly sharpen them with a flat file. These were what we cut trails with in the thick deer woods. about 5 years ago I had some guys working on my parents property.. They dumped brush in a burn pile along with my heavy machete. I found it a week later..The fire ruined it and I have been unable to find one of quality steel to replace it. When sharp the heavy machete cuts finger sized oak branches with little effort. Maybe I can find a good old one on the auction site.
If you want a decent machete or prang etc etc Ive always had good luck with Condor,,,wont break the bank and are a step above most tool choppers They make alot of blades for purpose grom a Ku Kri to Nesmucks and all in between Or just have one made ; )
Frisky, hilarious video, anyone ever tell you you sound a little like Ray Romano? You remind me of my father-in-law, he always buys the absolute cheapest stuff and expects it to do the job like a quality piece, he has like 23 of the exact same screwdrivers with the tips all dinged up...drives me nuts!!!
Ok. Here's the problem. I can buy a Tramontina and quickly make it the best machete in the world, as I know how to bring it up to snuff. Most guys (99.999%) can't sharpen anything well. They, like Jinkster, can only stare at it and complain. So, for me, the Tram is the best in the world! For them, it's junk.
Frisky - your video convinced me NOT to buy your machete. I didn't see where you actually cut anything larger than pinky sized pulpy, very green weedy stuff. Someone above mention milkweed. I didn't see any "brush" cut. You sounded out of breath after flailing away at some pencil sized vines and stuff. It looked like you would have been better off with hand pruners. Maybe you just left out all the good parts, but after watching the video, I would rather spend $350.00 I don't have for Jinkster's blade than give $5.00 for a barrel full of yours.
I know this is all in fun, but Frisky, trying to pass off stamped out blades as being better than forged is just a total waste of time, why don't you either say nothing or praise the knife Jinks has, now you know if you hacked a wild pig with your Chinese rejects it would stop at the bone, and when that hog gets a hold on you he won't stop at the bone.
Hit one with what Jinks has and you will not worry about what the outcome will be.
Maybe Frisky was stamped out.
Jinks, I would love to have a blade like that one.
Just a little info::::: my uncle was the local Blacksmith in the Village of Allegany NY, he was well known and liked, I watched him make everything even his own horse shoes and nails, he could start his coal fire with one match and have it at full steam in less than what seemed like two minutes. That man supported a family with what he did and his stuff was all forged with a hammer.
Now stop this silliness with your tin can rejects and learn what a real piece of steel is.
Points of interest for purposes of clarification...
I've worn out single cut files re-sharpening that old Ontario Knife machete of mine and even experimented with different edge angles (cause it sucked so bad) where acute 27deg angles would get it slicing and dicing stuff with ease...for a few dozen strokes...where an edge angle more towards 45 degs would hold up longer but more "Beat Stuff In 1/2" than it cut it in 1/2 and the way I see it?...
If the blade is worth a dang?..."IT"...should be doing most of the work and not me! LOL!
But this "Helm Made Bush Sword" goes far beyond me just "Having a decent Machete" and ventures into being...well?...probably the most special thing I ever had the privilage and honor of owning and it would not have been possible no matter how fat my wallet was without the assistance of one Mr. Joe Paranee to whom I can not express enough thanks and gratitude which in turn makes this Bush Sword both "Irreplaceable" and by the very nature of this purchase?....
Outside of a handful of critics on the net?...my biggest (and most honest) critic by far is my wife and trust me when I say that initially she was rather unimpressed but after understanding who James Helm is and what Joe Paranee does and convincing her to view and read a few PM's and emails proving out just how special this purchase was and how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity to custom order and own such?...
She agreed it was a good thing and understood why I couldn't pass up the opportunity and?...
When I told her now all I need to do is make a vid of this blade in use to show others just how badazz it is?..she asked...
"So how are you going to do that?"
and when I told her I was going to set up my vidcam and record me wailing away on the pepper trees invading our fenceline?...she said...
"NOT WITH THAT THING YOUR NOT!...IT'S FAR TOO NICE FOR THAT!"
Looks (and sounds) like a fine blade. I understand why good hand made blades cost what they do because I make my own blades. But, some of the blades, as well as some of the bows...cars, boats and so on you guys buy are way too rich for my blood.
I have a few acres with some animals, woods and fences so I really do cut some brush. I get buy with pretty simple and, mostly, inexpensive tools.
So far the only machete I've used very much was given to me (I doubt it was very expensive) and it worked well enough. It was lost. I'm really puzzled on this one but it just disappeared from where I kept it.
Somebody gave me another one. It has some marking on it so I'm going to look around and see if I can figure out what it is...and I'll let you know how it performs.
It's important to remember the large manufacturers like Tramontina, Mora, Buck....have heat treat down to a science. A Tramontina machete isn't going to break on you. People in the Amazon rely on these short machetes to survive! You're not going to get that beautiful ringing sound out of a hammer forged blade.
The Frisky machete is really in the price range, and all the "quality" the general hunting populace needs. When I was trimming Christmas trees in Michigan or watching pineapple being harvested in Trinidad and Tabogo, I never once saw a custom machete being used. Obviously Jinksters is a quality item, that we can all admire, but seems a very narrow niche market.
All right, that does it....now I know what is happening to our wildlife habitat. I'm composing an alert that I can spam out to the Wildlife Resource officers in every state to be on the look- out for a bunch of Rambo-wannabees pretending to be on special-op maneuvers and needlessly hacking through "jungle" foliage claiming to be cutting shooting lanes....P.S. I appreciate the hard work....I'll hunt out of your stands when they haul your dumbazzez off to the graybar inn!
Joe, I appreciate your archery videos. Bill, I enjoy your bow reviews and videos. Ron, I like the way you share archery history and your accomplishments. But, all three of you missed your niche audience with this thread. Custom swords, machetes, and big knives that are collectible (and expensive) just don't relate that well to every day traditional bowhunters and archers. Ron I'm surprised you feel you have to carry a big knife to protect yourself against wolves. It is well know wolves prefer beef, but not old bull :>)
We all have budgets and different tastes If you find your Zen with a custom Katana or a damascus bowie keeps you smiling then why not Bows and arrows keep me grounded,,help me calm the mind down and keeps the blood pumping and gets me off the couch In the big picture thats priceless
Lord knows theres worse places and things to spend money! If i had the money i spent on booze and women when i was younger i could pay off my house : )
Jink that's a cool piece and the video showing the forge process is awesome. Nothing like watching old world craftsmanship and art come together in real time. I'd be damn proud to own that piece myself.
That said, no one can change the different strokes for different folks angle here, futile to even try. We all choose our needs and excesses differently. The internet has made that painfully obvious...
What's painfully obvious is that internet forums grant a soapbox to people with bad manners. This is how it works: The original poster was excited and said "Hey, check out this cool thing I got!" Typically, there will be a number of folks who say "Cool, good for you!" Then, ALWAYS, a person comes along and says something like "You got ripped off, mine's better" The rude poster could have been polite and started their own thread discussing/debating the various designs they prefer, but then they wouldn't get nearly enough attention, so they wreck some other guy's thread...
Bill, that is a awesome looking Bush Sword James made you. The shape of the blade will work for most any task in the woods, The back sheath also looks like it would work well geting thru the woods. We watch Forged in Fire at my house and I remember watching the one with James H. His episode was where they first made push knives, then the final was some type of sword.
There is a branch of elitism that makes some people feel like they are in the know, the inner circle, the kool kids klub, if they own some certain piece of exotic gear that they know about and that you don't. And they seem to enjoy pointing that out.
Others try to make people aware of good quality gear that is affordable and not made out of unobtainium.
SHOOTENSTRAIGHT: That looks like a biotch'in blade Bro! :)
(just don't lend it too Frisky...he might hurt himself as he has a tendency to fall down when running from Skeeters! LOL!)
Robertfishes: That Sword James made "For The Win" is called a "Katzbalger" which was a very robust short sword favored by 16th Century German Mercenaries known as "Landsknechts" where it's short blade was quick into action and used as a last resort when hand-too-hand combat was immenent.
And yes...James rigged the sheath of this Bush Sword with what's known as a "Baldric Carry" over the shoulder sling which is really cool in that it places the top of the grip at chest level with the sheath ending a few inches above my knee runing alongside the left side of my body cross-fraw style...why did I mention all that?...because this style of carry keeps the sheathed blade very close to my body and elevated for effortless woods slick carry in no way conflicts with shooting my bow! :)
I don't think anyone is saying that you need a 600 dollar machete to do yard work or a 1000 dollar custom to skin a deer but the fascination for fine cultlery with some is as old as time
Remember the bronze era ? .... the riddle of steel is age old and for some it still stirs something
I've been collecting high end Japanese style swords for decades
Some are 400 to 500 years old
Some are newly built custom pieces fr0m incredible makers
Some cost the price of a new car tens of thousands
I've trained with and have been involved with the blade arts since I was young
I totally understand why most people can't fathom that to spend 10 to 20 k on a sword is slot of money
I don't understand why people collect things that don't interest me ....but I would never be so rude to presume I had any knowledge on the subject or make rather ignorant comments to someone that is finding enjoyment in doing so
Bill purchase a very nice bush sword from an acclaimed US maker that hand forged it to his specs
It's how money and he's rightfully is proud of it
It was a lot more than 300 bucks
I feel he got a hell of a deal from a great maker that is a high performance blade smith who has tested his work and deserves a fair wage for his craft
I referred Bill to him because is work is high quality and he is at a point in his career where he will be closing his books and making what he wants
His work price will go up and bill would be able to sell this blade on short order and make money if he chose
This was the best bladesmith in his price range and at the right point in his rise for Bill
There's no secret club that has the knowledge as refered to in the last post
There is only knowledge and those that just don't know because they are not into it
Yes you do not need high end cutLery
You don't need anything high quality if you don't want it but please don't condem those that work hard to buy what they want
It's classic jealousy and envy which is ugly and remember god don't like ugly :)
Just to really baffle some of you
Here's a sword I commissioned for one of my kids births
It's by a very famous maker who was a dear friend who is deceased now
It's a custom Katana variant that when it was commissioned 14 years ago was 10 k
I train with it and use it and when I'm gone it will be hers to sell or keep
It's value than being who the maker is and that it was the last Katana he completed before his death will be a down payment on a house or nice car
To each his own and I promise I won't make fun of what ever you collect or have a passion for :)
I've got news for
There are many more people collecting thousand dollar knives etc than you would ever be ..... it's a thriving industry growing every year
Backcountry...did I post this to show it off?....You Betcha! :)
Did I post it cause I'm extremely proud to own such a blade?...Yep! :)
But did I post it to rub it in anyones face?...no..absolutely not.
There are some very cool things out there that don't break the bank and real bargains to boot because another blade I was real proud to debut was the one you see posted here.
I picked this Japanese Bushmen styled blade up for $50 at TBOF's 2016 Fall Rendezvous a year ago...it's blade was forged from a 4X Brush-Hog blade..it's handle is bubinga scales w/ cherry in the middle and capped off with deer antler and?...it doesn't "cut stuff"...it?...
"Falls Through It"
But this Bush Sword?...is a once in a lifetime kind of blade for me and like Joe Paranee pointed out above?...there's only about 2 out of every 100 knife makers out there that ever reach the level that blade masters like James Helm, Jason Knight, Bill Bagwell and Mr. Mirabile have so to own one of their works?...truly is something special and if nothing else?...you never know...this post may be informative and educational enough that one day?...one of the members here may be strolling through a flea market or yard sale or estate sale and see one of these names and pretty much?....hit the lottery! ;)
Joe Paranee: Someone...anyone...could quite literally offer me 3 times what I paid for it and the offer would be declined.
Conversely?...I have an Old Timer "Sharpfinger" (3rd from the left in the pic) that I purchased (2) of (grabbed one for my father) while on sale for $10.99 ea. at Wallyworld in 1989 and those two Sharpfingers?...field dressed, skinned and butchered in excess of 3 dozen deer between the two of us.
My point?...someone could start laying down c-notes until they emptied their wallet and that $10.99 sharpfinger ain't going nowhere! LOL!
I have trouble putting a figure on anything that's either very special or extremely sentimental as neither can be replaced. ;)
Nice blade! It's a little comprised in a couple of areas as the best tool for a few jobs but covers most areas reasonably well. A lot depends on how and what it's actually used for. How many hours a day you'll be swinging it and what you'll be swinging at are the most important things to consider.
The handle is the only real problem. An unfinished wood handle riveted to the blade, intially oversized and reduced to the users hand will reduce fatigue and increase retention. Mud and sweat and the most dangerous things to swing with on the handle, the paracord braid holds both. Sap will be tough to get out as well, really annoying in the long run. The right type and texture of wood will still be relatively safe even wet.
Length and tip speed are a little bit of a hindrance. The tip shape is a little out there b/c the power to stop an animal attack fast comes best from a strong single chop to the spine rather than a puncture/thrust that may strip the blade from your hand.
For belt level to overhead chopping of smaller tree limbs it's going to work like a charm though. Working close to the dirt or with light whippy thorn bushes, less blade weight and more length would be better.
P.S. Frisky, I've spent more time with a machete in my hand than just about anyone you will meet. I've broken two Tramontina's in my life. I no longer use them, for that style of blade and price range you'd be much better off and safer with a Martindale if you can find one, or maybe a Condor. If you decide to continue to use them be especially careful when using powerful swings on dense or cured hardwoods in below freezing temperatures.
I don't know much about the Smatchet except that it was a WWII fighting knife.
I had an Uncle that served in the Philippines in WWII and I ask him through my aunt in a letter to send me a Bolo knife. He didn't of coarse and I was as disappointed as an 8 year old boy who loved knives could be. :>)
There is no way that a mass produced, stamped out blade will ever be of the quality and efficiency of a well forged and ground blade. Just the economics of the price of quality steel, coupled with the hours to grind to shape, heat treat, and fit the handles make any handmade knife under $300 a bargain - I forge and finish knives and know of what I speak! I doubt most of you would care to work for less than $10 an hour, yet when you look at the time put into a well made blade, the overhead involved in setting up a shop, the time and money in learning a skill, not to mention the cost of steel, coal, grinder discs, etc., it's pretty difficult to operate a shop at less than $60/hour, so put only 5 hours into a knife and you're at $300. To argue that some stamped steel discount house piece of steel with a handle on it is comparable to a quality hand made blade is just showing one's lack of knowledge. Besides, just the artistry of a well made blade blows the others out of the water - art can be the function too. Once you've used a quality, balanced blade you'll appreciate what a quality tool is, how much easier, safer, and more pleasurable it makes the job.
Guys with a large collection of hand made one off custom knives they like to show off must have very deep pockets. And maybe that's the point?
Working men with kids still at home and lots of bills to pay- and this is most men under 60- rarely have an extra $600 or whatever laying around they can just regularly go out and blow on some fancy knife that looks cool. So a mass produced knife it is.
For a fact the few knives I use are mass produced, work fine, and with one exception, were well under a $100, most under $50 and I really have to justify that.
BTW the parangs I have seen being made on youtube are forged by Phillipinos out of metal they get for free or very cheap. As usual the guys actually making these one off bush parangs are poor common men, beating their brains out trying to make a buck. The middle men are assuredly making all the money.
When it's time to clear brush sometimes you don't have a choice on conditions or material to be removed. Not a deliberate attempt to break it either as I never try to have 18" of busted blade flying around in an uncontrolled direction at high speed. I've just never had it happen with other makes/profiles.
I do prefer that general shape in 22" or maybe a 24" depending on the stiffness, not bashing, just a heads up.
Blades that are too hard will often chip out in a major way when used to chop thick or hard wood. For this reason, the choppers designed for heavier cutting should also be a bit softer, IMO. Otherwise, they need a steeper edge angle that renders them pretty much useless for anything else.
True machetes were designed to hack through vines and underbrush. They are made soft so they can be re-sharpened quickly with a file. They are long and lightweight so you can swing them all day without fatiguing. They are also cheap, so they can be replaced when worn out...
Looks like you have a nice blade there Jinkster. I'd like to see a video of it being put through its paces. - John
So see?...this is where this post could become quite educational for some as the first thing we need to realize is that comparing a Machete too a Bush Sword?...is sort of ridiculous because while many attempt to use the Machete to chop?...it's only designed to do one (1) thing well..."Slash Through Light Undergrowth"...but that's not to say that..."Machete's CAN'T Chop"...as they can and do but by design?...Machete's fall far short of being...
"An Efficient Chopper"
as with their limber blades their edges Deflect easily and what exasperates that?...is the fact that their large hand filling grips do not relay the same level of intuition where "Edge Alignment" is concerned unto the user who will often times spank the side of the blade off the material intended to be chopped rather than cut into it with a well directed and edge aligned stroke where a narrower grip with flatter sides dose offer a more intuitive feel for proper edge alignment resulting in more efficient chopping.
The second area a Machete is found severly lacking in is...
as they have a very rounded tip which is nearly devoid of anything that could be decribed as..."A Point"
So while there are mission specific blades designed to Slash, Chop or Stab?...a Machete only fills one of these mission scopes efficiently and is also why while engaged in initial talks with James Helms?....I said...
"I know I'm asking alot here but?...it sure would be nice if you could design me a blade that covers all three potential uses as a slasher, chopper and stabber all in one blade."
which is when he told me...
"Congratulations!....You just described one of my forte blade designs....A BUSH SWORD!"
Frisky: My Ontario Knife Military Spec Sawback Machete shares but two things with this Bush Sword...
1. Both don 18" Blade Lengths and?....
2. They are of very similar weight (with the Bush Sword weighing but maybe 2-3ozs more)
But the similarities end there as while I can hand flex a good inch worth of radius into my Machete blade with finger pressure and acts much like spring steel?...the hammer forged and heat treated 80crv2 alloy of my Bush Sword could probably pry a small engine block off the floor with very little deflection and while my Machete is of a very straight and simplistic stamped design?...the edge of the Bush Sword exhibits a slight concave profile where it pulls limbs and vines into it's razor sharp edge rather than pushing it away while it's flat, narrow, flaired grip is set at a negative angle to offer up maximized chopping power at a natural wrist angle and all of this?...is the result of one Mr. James Helm pounding out custom blade designs for 15+ years..but don't take just my word for it..here's a good read on his works...
But whether the mission I'm faced with is slashing through undergrowth or chopping up some firewood and lean-too stakes or even stabbing an onry critter getting nasty with me?...thanks to Joe Paranee and James Helm?...I got it all!...and?...
All good points with the exception of the grip shape theory. Hand fatigue, but more importantly retention are among the most important features of either type of blade in regards to handle shape. When you're brand new to a blade it would help with alignment, but a little time in use and your ear are just as good. If you're swinging and there is wind noise coming from the blade you instantly know you're not in alignment. Make an adjustment on the next swing and your good to go. Being able to hold the thing tighly and comfortably for as long as it is in use trumps instinctual alignment from slab sides.
A more prominent guard of some sort would be a nice addition if stabbing will actually be happening. Keeps fingers on and that hand in the fight should the blade be forced back.
I guess I'm just confused as to exactly what a "bush sword" is. Didn't "Cold Steel Cutlery" first coin the term? Sounds like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Kind of like an underwater axe.
I was stationed in Panama for six years of my army career. Three of those years were in a light infantry unit. We spent A LOT of time in the jungle (often triple canopy), yet we NEVER used machetes. Most of the rural locals we encountered did carry them routinely. Tramontina machetes were generally preferred by them.
I had a mil-spec Ontario machete when I was a kid and you are correct that their handles are too large and blocky. Their steel was also too hard and mine chipped beyond repair. In my opinion, they are a white man's impression of what the perfect bush tool should be, based on assumptions rather than experience.
Again, I'd like to see a video. We know you have great cinemagraphic skills, show us what a real "bush sword" is all about. - John
Fisher Cat: a demo vid will be coming soon and Thank You for Your Service and?...
I agree...a rifle toting infantry unit moving through the jungle has little practical use for flailing away with a machete.
buster v: I agree with you but among other things? I do view this Bush Sword as a defensive weapon and am looking forward to becoming proficient with it...it will never run out of bullets or arrows and is a very versitile woodcraft tool as well.
mgerard: the term "Functional Art" comes to mind where for what it is?...this blade is "State-Of-The Art" too me. :)
Here's a Smith I met in Vietnam "forging" a small machete very common there. It was cut from thin steel with the cutting edge slightly forged to a taper on an anvil that was a 150 mm shell! A pretty poor quality blade with little hardness, but a great experience to watch him make one.
The photo above illustrates what I said in my last post. You better believe if this man wasn't making it for himself or his family or friends, he either sold it himself, or to a middle man. If he was paid 5 bucks to make that, it would be 10X that here.
These folks live a very spartan existence. And as usual wholesalers distributors and middle men reap the reward of his labor. Same old song from the gitgo. Middle folks flap their gums and BS their way out of everything, while someone else does the actual work. There is no BSing your way out of hand work.
Well folks?...I've been dying to answer the request of posting a vid of this Bush Sword in action but have been hesitant to do so because I've been so busy I really just haven't had much time to play with it to where I myself feel competent in using it...and still don't.
I did have some plans of making a big production of it this evening but it rained today but did die off just enough that I ventured out initially just for me to get to know this blade but then figured?..ah...what the heck...take you camera with you so?...without any type of camera stand and me just holding the camera with one hand and swinging this Bush Sword with the other?..I did manage to capture what IMO are two sorry butt vids yet?...realistic initial moments of my first attempts at putting this Bush Sword too the test.
Video #1: "Bush Sword VS Brazilian Pepper Tree"
Comment Box: It was a 1/2"-5/8ths" unsupported hanging limb of Brazilian Pepper Tree (where many liken it's toughness too Myrtle or Laurel wood) and while trying to hold the camera with one hand and swing this Bush Sword with the other?...it halved it in two light handed whacks.
Video #2: "Bush Sword VS Small Pine Tree"
Comment Box: In reviewing my own video?...this Bush sword fell this small pine tree in about 30 seconds worth of moderate swings from an awkward position while holding my vidcam with the other hand...not too shabby at all and?...had I mounted the camera on a stand and went at it free style with better footing?...I'm certain I could've fell that pine in 6 strokes or 15 seconds whichever came first! :)
Now they are not like scenes out of the movie "300" nor do I look like Russel Crow in "Gladiator" however?...for the first "Try & Test" outting?...this 59 year old diabetic that had a stroke 2 years ago is impressed with this blade!
Jane, the chick that cut my hair back when 'Gladiator' was released, said Bob you look like the Gladiator. I said you mean Russell Crowe, she said yes. Well the build is the same but I'm ruggedly handsomer. Are you not entertained? lol
The blacksmith in Vietnam made the machetes to sell to the local farmers. It was one of his main products. Most working class rural people - farmers and such over there, subsist on $10 a day or less. They have a very meager existence. Those who are Communist party officials and police, etc. Can get very wealthy living off bribes and corruption. You can stand on a street side in Vietnam and watch an ox cart go by, and the next vehicle could be a Rolls Royce - incredible contrasts.
I've tried to find a bow when I've been over there, but all I've seen are old simple crossbows. The people are quite impressed that we can go out and hunt wild animals and eat them. they've pretty much decimated any wildlife populations to fill there bellies. Meat is cherished and when you're served chicken you get the the head, feet, and everything in between less the feathers and guts.
All kinds of men have a set of Craftsman tools in a clean garage that never get dirty. Others have greasy beat up old Harbor Freight tools in a dirty garage, but they regularly get the job done. Nuts and bolts don't care about what grade tool gets used on them. It's the man, not the tool. Same with archery, the archer, not the bow.
I'd take the cheapest Chinese knock off parang over Otzis copper axe anyday. Even the most marginal cheapjack steel in one of those $4 Walmart knives is good enough for pocket carry. You just have to touch it up frequently.
It's not uncommon nowadays to find guys that have a plethora of this, that, and the other, lots of cool stuff in the 'man cave', but when the rubber needs to meet the road, they can't do jack with any of it. Hands are soft clean and neatly trimmed. Everything gets hired out. That cracks me up.
All right....as soon as that overhyped Mayweather-McGregor farce is over I smell a real 3-way LW Legend "death match" brewing in the Octagon. Frisky with his Tramontina, Jinks with his custom Bush Vegomatic...let's see, my money's on Bob with the $1.99 Harbor Freight tire iron. Any takers????
Ron, does get the points for best "game face"! Let the rules stipulate that he has to fight in the famous loincloth for all the female spectators. Might have to let it out a little in the waist...I'll set up the GoFundMe page to cover the tailor! It could be a tag-team...I'll take the Ron-Bob duo.
Okay, I just got off the phone with Dana. He's on board and I've secured preliminary funding from UFC and Lionsgate for the first annual "Hunger Games III: Should've Closed the Buffet Sooner" Grudge Match. I've got dibs on Promotion for purse percentage and I'm taking orders for early "lifetime seating options". Get 'em while they're hot, the price is only going to go up! I think Joe P. with that Katana is the only logical referee (unless he feels he needs to recuse himself for knowing a weapons maker). He looks capable of delivering the necessary "coup de grace" to any participant guilty of a low blow....on second thought, that's what we do here on the LW. Never mind.
Silly me, I just realized I had an "oldtimer's" moment and have omitted Ron's weapon of choice. Since Ron is the only member of the field with legitmate "Legend" credentials, I think that game face and the loincloth are enough intimidation factors that he'll have to go at it "bare-knuckle"...I mean really, Frisky's game face wouldn't intimidate his cat!
I have very likely spent 20,000+ hours swinging a machete in my life. My experience is at least on par with his theory. It's easy to hear a blade being swung out of alignment. Easily proven with a blade, yardstick, hand sticking out the window of a moving car etc... being held wide side against the wind. If the blade is heavy enough that it doesn't make noise being swung out of alignment, it's going so slow that you may as well be using an axe.
Some tips for improving your efficiency until you can hit the same spot twice with a long blade. With proper technique, age and strength are almost irrelevant. I've worked with men older than you with health issues and they could still clear way faster than me as a young person before I learned the ropes.
You could cut the pine with one swing if you'll grab the tree up high and bend it a little. Then swing though the area at the base where the bend terminates at the portion of the base that remains vertical. A little steeper than a 45° cut.
You can do it in three up high like that with an up and down 45° chop that pops out a wedge, then a swing to the back side will finish it.
Repeated downwards chops that don't hit the same mark are wasted effort, you're just re-chopping without getting any meaningful cutting done.
Thundermtn?...well all my swings must be perfect because I can't hear chit! LOL!...and I have a question here....
When you do hear your blade making excessive wind noise?...how do you know which way to turn it for correction?
After the first few angle strokes (just to see depth of cut and get a feel for pine) I was trying to "Wedge Cut" but soon realized I should've cleared more undergrowth as I was too confined for a decent horizontal stroke...I was also on the wet slope of a canal with slippery footing and?..if I had a 3rd hand I would of supported the cut but I had a Bush Sword in one hand and a camera in the other also?...a stroke a couple years back took it's toll on my fine motor skills but I keep trying. :)
MGF?...you sure must be one cranky old cuss! LOL!
Maybe you missed the part where I said...
"but I did manage to capture what are IMO TWO SORRY BUTT VIDS yet?...realistic initial moments of my first attempts of putting this Bush Sword too the test."
and my question too you is....
The vid that did do this bladesmith all the justice in the world was "TELEVISED"...where James came out "The Champion" of a "Forged In Fire" challenge so?...
What makes you think I was trying to do anything for the bladesmith?
But I might NOTE THIS:
I knew this blade was going to be a far better preformer than my machete so I did proceed with "Gentle Caution" getting to know it so I didn't lop anything off of me.
That said?...I do still have some moves but needed to get a feel for this blade before attmpting them...where I won't be standing on a wet hill with a camera tying up one of my hands and?...
I also have Joe P. in the background coaching/mentoring me in tehnics such as "Snap Cuts" (followed with "Draw Slices") aka "Snap & Draw" so I'll be practicing those as well. ;)
Folks...speaking as a Former U.S. Marine, Boy Scout and Cub Scout?....(as I skipped "Webeloes" LOL!)...
Since whittling out sapling bows and carving points on the fat ends to fashion crude spears starting at the ripe old ages of about 5 years old?...(when I got my first "Kamp-King" pocket knife)...weapons of all sorts have intrigued me and?...
While nothings quite as beautiful too me as watching the flight of a well loosed arrow finding it's mark?...if I were to be banished into a wilderness of violence with a primary goal of surviving such and could only take & carry but one weapon?...a sharp Machete would be my choice up until I learned more and experienced what this Bush Sword is all about.
I can't build a shelter with my firearms anymore than I could carve out a spear with my bow but with a blade like this and a little practice along with some wit and cunning?...survival from all threats be they man, beast or mother nature becomes shockingly possible.
That said?...I'm no less privileged to own a blade of this calibre than I am honored to have a friend like Joe Paranee offer his continued tutilage unto me.
Joe P.?...I got this recommended accessory oredered through amazon last night...Thanks again Man! :)
There's not really a way to tell very well from the tone of an off axis swing. You make an adjustment and if it gets louder you know you went the wrong way. Your muscle memory will set it pretty quickly for correct swings. If there's no noise your swings are on the money. I'm not saying his theory is baseless, just that it's not worth the difference in safety to me. Especially on a heavier blade with more momentum, they just keep going, be it a tree limb or a work boot.
I'm just pointing out on your swings that until you have better command of the blade that those types of cuts will work even if your aim is off, it isn't critical if your wedge is 1" or 4" long. Striking a pre-loaded sappling within 4-5" of the stress point most of the time will still be one swing.
As far as terrain goes if it feels like dangerous footing it probably is. Don't set yourself up in bad spot, find a safe spot to work from or pass it up.
Ron's angle on what looks to be some type of Sumac is perfect. He's using the stiffness of the material in it's natural orientatjon, in conjunction with the proper attack angle for that clean cut.
If you cut long enough you'll get an idea of how to most quickly remove each different type of material by size and species.
JParanee's words above speak volumes too my soul as all I've been doing lately (besides working in a machine shop 50-55hrs a week) has been shooting my bows after work and going for the occasional weekend ride on my V-Twin cruiser and?...I'm stiffening up where I'd like to loosen up.
Several months back my Scottish bow blew a pristine flying bare-shaft that found the soft center of a foam core and proceeded to blow clean through my bales as well and into that mess behind my fence-line so in the house I went to fetch my machete to both search for my lost bare shaft and safeguard against any coiled up things I may encounter and in slashing and thrashing at some of the undergrowth?...
"My Saw-back Machete Came Bouncing Back At Me"
a few times as though it were a basketball hitting a trampoline! LOL!
I think that's when I decided enough was enough (and was sick and tired of taking a file and stone too this machete every 3rd time I needed it) and Thank God I had the sense to call Joe Paranee before Paypaling a few hundred too Pakistan for a Damascus Machete! LOL!
What resulted from that?...is a blade I'm still pinching myself over as I never dreamed I'd ever own such a fine piece of steel crafted by a renowned master of the art and so taken with it?...I have found it has inspired me to "Move More" and learn what fluid swordsmanship is all about...kind of like Tia Chi with a Blade! LOL!
For bonus points?...it came with an instructor who is a judge at "The Largest Knife Show In The World"..."The Blade Show"...held annually in Atlanta, GA and what I gleaned from James Helm along the way where alloys, forging and design are concerned?...was the priceless icing on an already great cake! :)
Even my wife is warming up too this blade as last night she came home to witness me out on the back porch cleaning it where she smiled and asked...
"Petting your new toy?"
I smiled and told her...
"Nah...I'm cleaning it...I did a couple cut tests last night and it was wet out and it was actually showing a little orange in the oil so?...figured I oughta hose it down with WD40 and clean it up."
and she flipped first asking?...
"What the heck did you cut?"
told her I whacked through a thumb sized pepper tree limb to which she asked...
"And it cut it?...That Stuff Is Tough!"
I said "Yeah...but it took me two whacks...it almost cut clean through it on the first swing and pretty much snapped off what was left with the 2nd swing but then I chopped down a small pine tree in about 30 seconds! LOL!"
Then she asked...
"And it's rusting already?" :O
and I said...
"Yep...the alloy of the blade is mostly iron with some carbon in it but it's some of the best alloy out there for a blade like this and?...I'm supposed to get this protectant called "Tuf-Glide" to treat the blade."
and right after dinner?...she sat down with me at the computer...opened up her Amazon Prime acct and said...
"Okay...What's the name of that stuff again?"
I also got a new 1000/4000 grit Bear-Moo wet-stone...they'll both be here Monday and?...
I owe her $41.82! LOL!
Now...if anyone can make something negative out of that?....
Jinks, next time you'r up to N.C. bring it with ya...I've got some poison ivy back in the "natural" area along the fence. And I'll make sure my wife keeps you hydrated with sweet tea. Come to think of it, if you do a good job you can take her back to Fla. with ya...if you do a bad job I'll hide her in your trunk!
Jinks, For the sake of full disclosure(and just in she does turn up in your trunk I don't want you to feel obligated to return her)I should point out that she's not entirely clueless...when I made her take this mugshot she very calmly observed "do you know there's a dead animal on your head"?
Jinkster, you have a beautiful blade there that you should enjoy and be proud of - that's the whole point of having a quality, custom made item, be it knife, bow, motorcycle, or whatever. Sounds like you have a wonderful wife too. You, Sir, are a blessed man!
I think the first thing I should do here is offer up an apology too Thundermtn so?...sorry bud...my bad as my sarcasm of..."not being able to hear chit"...was valid at the time of typing where I was just getting to know this blade with 1/2 effort baby swings but nonetheless?...premature both in character and nature as?...
When I started moving and practicing some actual "from-out-of-the sheath" power swings?...I smiled knowing I would need to apologize as now I could in fact hear it slicing air and your tutelage was of value when I began practicing spinning back slices as now I managed to get it really moving where it was very easy to distinguish the clean whistle of a well aligned blade from the louder and dirtier sound of those that weren't...my apologies and now?...
Slayer NE: Thanks so much for the kind words and I was in fact very proud yesterday afternoon at our family Sunday dinner where I took my son in-law out to my truck to show him this blade (when a huge smile crossed his face as I unsheathed it followed with a "Wow!...That's Nice!") and give him the backstory so he realizes how special it is and knows that when I kick it?...it's my will that he take possession of it to insure it stays in the family and ultimately gets handed down to his son...my first born grandson Riley.
Meanwhile?...my products came in from amazon today to take good care of this fine blade. :)
Apology accepted, a torqued blade lets you know and in pretty short order and your hand gets it right. I wasn't trying tick you off but I may have come off that way some so sorry if it did.
Safety is always at the front of my mind when I have to unsheath mine. A healthy fear of them is a good thing though. I have to work alone a lot typically a fair distance from the truck, which is a long drive from help if there's an accident. The less you have to swing the safer you are, more efficient (less) swings with a non- fatigued grip make for safer use. One swing less per obsticle on a long day for me ends up a few hundred less by quitting time. That's the reason for all my yapping about the grip. Sooner or later we all get bit by a blade, and I'm trying my damndest for the latter b/c of the force and size here.
No hard feelings, I enjoy all your posts and they've helped me a bunch while learning to shoot trad bow. I was just trying to get you up to speed a little quicker than what I went through. My first two weeks swinging one they called me "lightning" b/c it never hits the same spot twice.
Mr. LaClair: I can't tell you how pleased I am to know you were able to get an order in! :)
I myself didn't realize just how closed James books have become since achieveing such a high level of well deserved and hard earned notoriety where had it not been for my good friend Joe Paranee?...I myself would be slinging Pakistani Damascus and regretting it...I'm very happy for you and hope you never have to take out..."Your Aggression" LOL!
But should you run into a angry griz?...I'm envisioning a scene much like "The Revenant" LOL!
Post pics when you get it. Anyone heard from Jinkster yet? There was a guy in the news in the Florida Keys who was standing guard, holding a machete! Jinks is probably using his bush sword to remove tree debris as I type this.
It doesn't take James long once he gets that power hammer banging Ron...He texted me pix of his progress almost daily for about 10 days from the initial forging too heat treat cycles, grinding, tempering and handle wrapping...and then the sheath.
My James Helm made Bush Sword is right up there with my Border Covert Hunter and Taylor Guitar as far as special possessions are concerned. :)
Frisky...it definitely wan't me and fortunately?...I didn't have to chop my way out of anything after this storm...but I did cringe a lot while it was happening! LOL!
and as far as the Bush Sword?...it rides with me these days. ;)
I figured that would work. A hawk is a very efficient weapon. They are used for other things but I think that is the reason for their being. With bows and the single shot muzzle loaders,men needed a back up.Ron I have sent you three emails. I keep getting a fail to deliver notice for the last one. Not sure if it means all three. I P.M.ed also and thought maybe you are having a problem with P.M.'s. Then figured you must have gone hunting?????>>>---> Ken