How to sharpen a machete?

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Old 10-26-04, 05:13 AM
tesseract
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How to sharpen a machete?

Is it just me, or is it impossible to buy a machete these days that comes sharpened??? I've purchased three so far from different stores and not a single one was even remotely sharp out of the package. I returned the ones I bought from the big boxes and kept the worse of the lot - from Harbor Freight - because I figured if I'm going to get a "pre-dulled" machete, I might as well get the cheapest one. However, a dull machete is not very useful, nor very pleasant to attempt to use, so what is the best way to sharpen one? I've tried bringing the edge to a point by passing it over my 4x36 belt sander but I can't seem to produce a constant bevel angle that way as I try to follow the curve of the blade. Oh, and when I wrote that the blade came "pre-dulled", that means the "edge" is about 1/32" to 1/16" wide... not even remotely sharp, then. I figure once I get the edge to a point with the proper bevel I can then use my trusty Buck Bros. handheld sharpener to keep it touched up, but as of now it's too much of a job for that gizmo to tackle!
 
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Old 10-28-04, 11:13 PM
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There are only two approaches. Move the blade across a fixed sanding or grinding device (which is what you tried) or anchor the blade and move the sanding or grinding device across the blade.

I prefer the latter, and use a sanding disc on an angle grinder, with the tool I am sharpening in a vise. Works for me.
 
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Old 10-29-04, 09:56 AM
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Machete

Back in my machete days, I carried a file in my pocket. You can tune up the edge with a whet stone.
 
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Old 10-29-04, 10:17 AM
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I too bought the Harbor Freight machete and put the best edge I could on it. First time I hit a small tree (1' diameter) with it....I had a new shaped blade. Big cresent chunk out of it. Good luck.
 
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Old 10-29-04, 06:07 PM
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Thanks for the responses, guys. I tried the method arkayassoc suggested and it was much easier than trying to hold the machete against the sanding belt at a constant angle. I brought the edge to a point with a few strokes of an opposed-carbide sharpener then promptly used it to whack off some woody stemmed weeds growing in my backyard. Yep, majakdragon, I have to say I am also distinctly unimpressed with the "temper" of the blade. The edge folded over a good 1/8" after one swipe.

Unfortunately, I really need a good machete for this job I have coming up where I'll be clearing out the overgrowth around a retention pond. I need the machete to cut a path through the dense brambles so I don't get cut to ribbons when I run a brush cutter through them...
 
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Old 11-01-04, 07:43 AM
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Ditchbank?

For the task you have in mind, a ditchbank may be a preferable tool.
It's like a wide machete-blade with a long wooden handle. Available in home centers and some hardware/farm stores.

Here's a picture of one:

(Do a Google search for "ditchbank". Choose the one you like.)

The wooden handle will save your back and your arms.
 
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Old 03-21-05, 07:42 AM
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If you want a serious machete you will have to pay $30-50 US. You might want to get a bolo style, it has a swollen tip, which gives more weight to the tip, and more speed to your swing. A ghurka style is a bolo with a dog leg in it. It looks vaguely like a boomerang.

But don't bother with those stamped-steel cheapies. I have one and they're only good for very light work.

Then again, you might temper it yourself with a blowtorch. I can't remember if you heat it, then cool it in water, or heat it, then let it cool down slowly.
 
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Old 03-21-05, 07:44 AM
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Here's a ghurka-style one I bought from Cheaperthandirt.com. It has a thicker steel than the Harbor Freight stamped machete but I still think this one is stamped. I have not had a chance to use it extensively but it chopped kindling just fine.
http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd/p...sp?sku=DBA-401
 
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Old 03-25-05, 01:05 PM
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I had never heard of the term 'ditchbank'. I looked it up on google and saw what I have always known as a 'Kaiser Blade' - very effective at trimming undergrowth.
 
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Old 03-25-05, 01:39 PM
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some folks call it a sling-blade ummm hmmm.
 
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Old 05-02-05, 11:08 PM
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I got one in hawaii that came from fuji. Great machete. The harbor freight ones aren't worth sharpening. I use an angle grinder to put a deep "V" on the cutting edge to shape it. Then hand file that to get it sharp. Cuts 2" trees in one blow. Awesome. I clear the gunpowder 25' trees faster than using the chainsaw. Blade gets taller (about 5") towards the tip. Paid $25
 
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Old 05-04-05, 01:58 PM
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I've had my share of machetes, and other weaponry, and I find the best way is really just to tune with a whetstone. Or if you want to get fancy, you can use a diamond file, but they're mainly made for high-carbon steel.
Since the blade really isn't sharpened, you may do best to anchor down the machete itself with a clamp or two and carefully follow the contours with a sturdy file. It may take a bit of time, but it's not entirely hard to get it even enough. It'll be a lot faster if it's a cheap blade, but you'd might as well sharpen others while you're at it, because you'll be mashing your sharpening job down a lot.
 
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Old 10-15-06, 11:22 PM
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Machete

For a real machete, your best bet is miltary surplus. Look for one that is true surplus, else you're stuck with the el cheapos you mentioned.
I carried one in the USMC a thousand years ago and used it to chop jungle vegetation. Sharpened fine with a whetstone or file, and the only thing I can remember negatively is the handles had a tendancy to break when you hit something like rock or metal accidentally.
Prepare to pay $30 for one though
 
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Old 10-15-06, 11:29 PM
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2d reply

Googled machette and found the exact one I remeber for $19 at
http://www.imsplus.com/ims8a.html

Parkerized blade and mine still stays sharp after 30 years
 
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Old 11-22-06, 04:24 PM
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For a machete to cut properly(in harder materials at least), it must be convexed... Go down and get one of the cheap $30.00 1"x30" Harbor Freight belt sander/grinders.
Use the part of the belt that is NOT supported by the back-plate.
You want the edge to be rounded, NOT flat...
Check out http://outdoors-magazine.com/ for a lot of info on brush cutting blades of all sorts.
 
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Old 11-24-06, 05:07 AM
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James, you might note that the original question was posted over two years ago. I imagine the poster has long ago sharpened his machete and moved on...
 
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Old 03-20-08, 03:23 PM
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machete brand

i have an ontario machete and that thing stays sharpened for an extremely long time... just consider it
 
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Old 11-21-09, 06:06 PM
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Hawaii Machetes

I have noticed too, that it is basically impossible to find a sharpened quality machete these days. I think basically it is because the market is flooded with 'made for export' foreign junk. It is factory cut, and they want to save time on production so just ship it out as a piece of metal with no edge right? I like to use mill files and sandpaper, and maybe a buff at the end. Never liked stones too much. A grinding wheel might come in handy, but then again you might just take off too much edge. One supplier in Hawaii has quality handmade machetes, you can find info at aranyik.com
 
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Old 11-21-09, 06:31 PM
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just realized this was all started about 5 years ago and thought myself quite foolish so I deleted my input.
 
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Old 11-21-09, 07:38 PM
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I'm all about being foolish so I will reply.

The best machete I ever bought was a genuine US army one from a surplus store. Had (has) a great edge and I have the scar to prove it. Well really its not that bad.
 
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Old 11-21-09, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
I'm all about being foolish so I will reply.

The best machete I ever bought was a genuine US army one from a surplus store. Had (has) a great edge and I have the scar to prove it. Well really its not that bad.
AH! so that is why you wear the chain mail in your avatar while wielding that sword that looks strangely like a machete`
 
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Old 11-21-09, 08:49 PM
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Originally Posted by nap View Post
AH! so that is why you wear the chain mail in your avatar while wielding that sword that looks strangely like a machete`
LOL! A little chain mail would have helped!
 
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Old 11-22-09, 06:31 AM
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Or an OvGlove they advertise on TV. I agree, the milspec machetes seem to hold an edge and the handle fits fat hands better than the cheap ones do.
On to more modern posts!! Thanks Nap.
 
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Old 02-22-10, 12:04 PM
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I got a USMC 70's machete from a neighbor that was a Marine and passed. I have to use it on small Bass wood sapplings in the swappy area behind my place. Do I want a SHARP edge of a rounded grass mower style dulled edge on it?
 
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Old 02-22-10, 01:32 PM
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Sharp edge for sure. Just be mindful how you swing. I like to swing down at a 45 or greater angle. Will cut through the saplings like butter.
 
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Old 02-23-10, 09:04 AM
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Sharpening

How long does it take to sharpen a machete?

This thread is over 5 years old.
 
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Old 03-14-10, 10:24 PM
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golden oldies

Machetes these days are pathetic, they are too thin in comparison to back in the day.I like to have the extra weight to swing around aswell as the fact that they take much longer to dull down. The best machete i own is a ENDURE Josh Beal &sons, it is cast steel and made in 1942 in Sheffield. Without going into too much detail try to get your hands on a old machete what ever the condition it will soon sharpen up with an angle grinder and a steady pair of hands. Trust me my best machete was found as blunt as a butter knife in a suitcase that was under 6 ton of rubble.
 
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