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sharpening a machete

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by paleo25, Jun 24, 2003.

  1. paleo25


    Jun 16, 2002
    I was wondering how to sharpen a machete without a stone? I know alot of primitive cultures still use them and I am not sure if they have wet stones or how they do it. Anyone got any ideas?
  2. Rifter


    Dec 15, 2001
    A bench grinder????? seriously man i think they use stones, how else would you do it, you can get some super cheap ceramic stones so its not like its a big deal to buy one.
  3. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999

    Machetes are relatively soft and can be sharpened on just about any naturally occuring stone.

  4. Junkyard


    Aug 8, 2002
    Actually, I use a milled bastard file. I live in South Florida and have the opportunity to use machetes all the time. I was trying to sharpen one of mine when a friend showed me the "Right way." I think he said that is how all the landscapers and lawn maintenance people do it. At any rate, it works very well and puts an edge like you wouldn't believe on them. It is also very quick to do.

  5. toothed


    Nov 7, 2000
    Okay, Jason. How about sharing with us the technique of sharpening a machete the "right way." Thanks.
  6. TOB9595


    Jan 3, 2003
    Yeah, Jason
    I'm hangin on here. I have a machete that could use it
    What a teaser :) :)
  7. MacHete

    MacHete Hair Cropper & Chipmunk Wrangler

    Apr 7, 2000
    Anytime this subject comes up, I am obliged to reply (whether I have anything to contribute or not) :p

    I almost always use a "mower blade" file, or a mill/bastard as Junkyard mentioned. I have also, naively, tried to put a scary edge on them with a chef's steel. Man, that takes forever. I have used a bench grinder to clean up dings, but its just way too easy to burn the edge. The only time I wanted to try a found stone to sharpen one was while I was in the 'Glades. I coudn't find a stone of any size shape or texture. Seashells didn't work very well either, but I learned that even a dull Machete in my expert hands could still split a cocoanut. :D
  8. dartanyon


    May 10, 2002
    I'll have a go at this one ...

    I grew up in sugar cane fields and the way we sharpened the cane knives is the same way I sharpen a machete. The difference between a cane knife and a machete is the machete is a couple of millimetres fatter.
    We use a file about 1 inch wide, about 1/4 inch thick and about 12 inches long. The teeth weren't too fine (about 1/32 inch deep).
    We lay the knife on our thigh with the edge facing in to the other thigh and the handle sort of in your left hand and in your groin. Knees apart of course ;)
    You start the stroke at the tip of the file in your right hand (reverse for left handers) at the handle end of the knife, working the stroke toward the handle of the file and to the end of the blade at the angle of the edge, finishing the length of the blade in one stroke.
    Do this about 3 or four strokes. you can feel the file biting into the metal.
    Next you flip the blade over and support the spine of the blade on your thigh and the edge angled away from your body, sort of toward the elbow of the hand holding the file.
    Use the same stroke as before except now you are filing toward the blade edge. WATCH OUT FOR YOUR FINGERS AT THE END OF THE STROKE.
    Do this for about 3 or 4 strokes. The burr will appear as serrations. You can leave it there or strop it off on something like a stick or log.
    I learnt this technique off cane cutters when I was a little kid and it has always produced a great edge.

    Just quietly between you and me ... these days I use a 3 inch angle grinder with a fine sanding disk. The trick is when grinding toward the edge, careful the edge doesn't bite into the disk.
  9. Junkyard


    Aug 8, 2002
    Thanks dartanyon. You did a much better job explaining it than I could have.

    Eveyone else,
    I appologize if I made it sound like using a file was better that other methods, or that I knew better than any of you. That was not my intent. I used to use a very coarse stone to sharpen my machetes before my friend showed me the file technique, which he reffered to as the "Right Way," hence the quotation marks in my last post. Although, I will say I prefer the file technique because it is really fast and it puts one heck of a working edge on a machete.

  10. roloss_valdes


    Aug 21, 2002
    Check this web page, they are sharpening their machetes on concret or flat rocks.


    I used to use a cheaper stone to sharpen my machete. ( It is hard to do that ).

    I am so interested in faster methods of machete sharpening.

  11. Cliff Stamp

    Cliff Stamp Banned BANNED

    Oct 5, 1998
    I have used a file, and it produces a very aggressive slicing edge, however for woody vegetation, and anything cut with more of a chop than a draw, refining the edge with a stone gives better performance and a longer edge life. If using a file, a butcher steel can be used effectively to maintain the edge.

    Many modern hones are often used, usually the man made composite versions as they are cheaper, often they are broke in pieces and sold that way as irregular chunks, with very large blades being freehand honed with small stones. Here is such a hand forged Malaysian Parang :


    These blades are sharpened typically once a week (used extensively daily), with pieces from medium and fine grit stones. The blades used for precision cutting (cutting high hanging fruits) get a further stropping to produce a hair shaving edge.

  12. etp777


    Aug 12, 2002
    Dartanyon and Junkyards method with a file is th eway I've always done it, and way I saw guys doing it in Mozambique(some anyways, others used a found stone).

    File works well for a hatchet too. use them for my preferred hatchet, which is the Craftsman Half Hatchet.
  13. alco141


    Mar 28, 2001
    in africa if they dont have a file or a stone, they just pick up any old rock and give the blade a once over, most of them do use a file or a stone that is carried on the safari vehicles to sharpen the skinning knives and machetes.

  14. Eager


    Oct 9, 2002
    I go to Costa Rica often (my wife's from there) and open a lot of coconuts with my 13" machette that I got there. I find that the file on a multi-tool works great. For chopping coconuts, the edge is not critical, but even so the file does fine. The diamond file on my new Leatherman works even better. The steel on machettes is soft and the edge doesn't last long.

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