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Thread: Marble's Bolo Machete

  1. #1
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    Marble's Bolo Machete


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    I have a rather picky attitude when it comes to machetes, and this alone prevented me from getting a Marble's machete for quite a few months. This ugly, orange-colored thing first caught my attention in a Smokey Mountain Knife Works catalog, and I decided to give it a try. The one I'm reviewing today is the Bolo machete, model MR33514. It's also available with a "normal" 18" machete blade and an 8-1/2" long cleaver-style blade shape. Each machete costs about $8 with the sheath being another $8. However, SMKW sells the machete / sheath combo for $15. The sheath is made in China, and the machete is made in El Salvador by Imacasa.



    The Handle: The Bolo has a sanded (but not laquered) pine handle, secured by three brass pins. The handle is 6-1/4" long and 1-1/16" thick.


    The handle is a nice fit in my hand (I wear a size XL glove) and the fully exposed tang gives it a nice weight. The balance is about 3" ahead of the handle.
    As you can see, the cat likes the orange finish...


    As nice as the handle is, it was far from perfect. Every dimension - the butt, the top, and the back - they all had a lot of wood exposed way past the tang.
    Top...


    Bottom...


    A bit of sanding got rid of this problem (photos posted later on) and it wasn't that uncomfortable, even unmodified. There's no lanyard hole on the Bolo, but the thickness of the handle and somewhat swollen butt (pommel?) does a nice job at preventing slippage when swinging the machete.

    The Blade: The Bolo has a blade made of 1075 carbon steel, which is heavily-painted with a safety orange. The blade is 1/8" thick and 14" long with a 13-1/2" long edge. The tip of the machete is rounded and sharpened, and the "swedge" area on the spine is sharpened to make the edge on the spine 5-1/4" long. All of this is one continuous edge, and came convex ground and nicely polished. It was sharp enough to cleanly slice paper.


    The left side of the blade has the Marble's logo painted on top of the orange. The three lines on the blade are stamped in and are for flexibility...




    The right side has an easily-removable sticker and MADE IN EL SALVADOR stamped in...


    Last edited by JNieporte; 01-01-2010 at 04:55 AM.

  2. #2
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    Continued...

    The sticker is easily removed and just displays the order information...


    The Sheath: The Bolo came with a sheath (remember, you'll have to see if one is included) made of black nylon. It's 19-1/2" long and with the machete inserted, the length is 1/2" longer.




    The sheath is of typical low-cost nylon; it's got a loose-woven weave and feels a bit flimsy. There are three rivets; one on the very bottom, one on the handle's insertion point, and one about 5" behind the very bottom. The machete is secured with two Velcro-type fasteners; one in the middle and one on the opening. These are weak and only fasten half of their length.


    I had problems with mine fraying up after only three or four openings, and I really would prefer a snap for such a high-use part of the sheath.

    The sheath also has two accessory pockets, held closed with the same Velcro-type fasteners. These pockets measure 3-3/4 long by 2" wide (the top pocket) and 3-1/4" long by 2" wide (the bottom pocket)...


    I haven't put anything in mine yet, but I plan on putting a mini Altoids tin in one and some bagged cotton balls in the other.

    The third pocket (the lowest one on the sheath) measures 4-1/4" long and 2-1/4" wide. It also has a Velcro closure and contains a coarse sharpening stone.


    Unfortunately, this larger pocket will not hold an Altoids tin.

    The stone is okay for field touch-ups, but you'll definitely have to oil it first.


    The back of the sheath. Nothing special...


    The belt loop is typical black nylon, and measures 2" wide.


    It will fit a belt up to 2-1/2" wide.

  3. #3
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    Last Part...

    The sheath also has the Marble's logo embroidered on...


    Flanked by an Ontario and Tramontina (both with 18" blades) for size reference...


    Overall, the Marble's Bolo Machete is a good bargain. It's made by Imacasa (a good machete company) and came very sharp right out of the box (for a machete). For $15, I'm pretty satisfied with it. I didn't like the orange blade, so I fixed it to my prefernece.

    These two photos are after two hours of sanding, acetone application, and razor blade trials...




    I gave up, then I got access to a bench grinder with bronze bristle attachment and I used this (slowly and carefully) to remove the orange paint. That paint is thick and durable.




    I also sanded the handle...






    The unevenness in the above photos is wood filler that I didn't sand down yet.
    These easy modifications made the Bolo machete much more comfortable and it even looks more like a "normal" machete now. Try one of these out if you need a good, durable machete for the outdoors.

    With some friends...


    Thanks for reading.
    Last edited by JNieporte; 01-01-2010 at 03:37 PM.

  4. #4
    You need a few Valiants in that collection. Maybe a Survival Golok or Parang Borneo.

  5. #5
    Wow, you really hate orange.

    Thanks for the review though. I have one of these and for the money, was impressed at the finish/consistency of the convex edge.

    Thanks for the photo review keep us updated if you get this one dirtied up.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by DocNightfall View Post
    You need a few Valiants in that collection. Maybe a Survival Golok or Parang Borneo.
    Don't have the money for a Valiant; otherwise, I'd love to add a parang.

  7. #7
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    Great review! Now I want one.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tballetta View Post
    Great review! Now I want one.
    what review? would like to know how it drives.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by machinest View Post
    what review? would like to know how it drives.
    It drives very well. I didn't post any performance results because my use of the Bolo so far has been limited to hacking vines and small wood in the backyard. For these, it did very well. The edge retention is pretty good and it sailed right through the pinky finger-thick vines easily. The wood (about wrist thickness) took four or so whacks, but it was cut cleanly and din't dull the blade. The vines made a very clinging sound, whereas the wood didn't. I hope to have more use and update photos soon.

  10. #10
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    Hi JNieporte -

    Thank you for the great review and pictures!

    I will pick up either this or the Ontario before next spring to use in light landscaping work on the back side of my property.

    Which one do you prefer (Ontario or the Marbles)?

    best regards -

    mqqn

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mqqn View Post
    Hi JNieporte -

    Thank you for the great review and pictures!

    I will pick up either this or the Ontario before next spring to use in light landscaping work on the back side of my property.

    Which one do you prefer (Ontario or the Marbles)?

    best regards -

    mqqn
    For the uses you mentioned, I prefer the Marble's. Actually, any bolo machete would be great for light landscaping; they're usually more compact than a full 18" bladed machete and the beefier tip gives it more momentum when it hits your target.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JNieporte View Post
    For the uses you mentioned, I prefer the Marble's. Actually, any bolo machete would be great for light landscaping; they're usually more compact than a full 18" bladed machete and the beefier tip gives it more momentum when it hits your target.
    Thank you, sir!

    best regards -

    mqqn

  13. #13
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    is this better then a TRamontina bolo?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donna V View Post
    is this better then a TRamontina bolo?
    In my opinion, yes. The Marble's comes pretty sharp, whereas the Tramontina needs a belt sander to reach this level of sharpness. The orange color is a turn-off, but it can be remedied as shown above.

  15. #15
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    I also bought this marbles machete, I took it out on a camping trip to test out. this machete is a good machete for the price. you have to modify the handles seems kinda wide and needs to be shaped to your liking. after each chop there was a ting, ting, sound and a slight wobble after each swing. I'm used to swinging the 12" ontario machete which has a much better solid bite. The marbles machete comes fairly sharp unlike the ontario which comes extremely dull.

  16. #16
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    I know this thread is old but i also bought this machete when it first came out... Please dont be an idiot like me and make sure you have your thumb out of the way when you unsheath it, i cut my thumb really, really bad. Right after that i ground down the back side just in case, its still nice for roots and ground work. I actually like the machete really well.
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