Review El Chete from Tops knives

Gary W. Graley

“Imagination is more important than knowledge"
Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider
Joined
Mar 2, 1999
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Well, this was coming in for a while now and finally made it, a BIG chopper, almost like a competition chopper but probably heavier than those used in the contests, as it is a whopping 1/4" thick at the spine but has a high grind so it is ground down pretty nicely and boy does this chop !

12" blade, 2 1/2" wide, made out of differentially heat treated 1095 steel, arrived very sharp and the edge bevels were pretty even too, nicely done Tops !

There are many videos on youtube out there right now showing the effectiveness of this beast and it really is a beast ! So I'll leave the details of it's chopping tales for you to take a peek at those.

But the reason for this thread is two fold, one to give a thumbs up to Tops for this wicked chopper and excellent sheath and secondly to show a modification that may help anyone that gets one of these with the metal belt clip as that kinda sucked, it worked but not so great in my opinion, made the handle quite high when worn and also the metal clip had crisp edges that could even cut. So off I went to make a better one out of leather, while my leather isn't thick enough for fixed blade sheaths, I focus just on folder sheaths, the heaviest leather I have on hand worked well to make this belt loop swivel arrangement.

Removing a small dot that was glued on the back of the clip gave access to the screw holding it and the restraining strap to the sheath. Inside the sheath is a 10-24 nut. Removed that but of course the screw was only long enough for that thin clip and would not be long enough to pass through the leather. So I went to HomeDepot and picked up a few stainless 10-24 x 1/2" screws and that was just the right length.

I used a copper rivet to hold the belt loop to the second piece of leather that I screwed down to the sheath, making sure to leave just enough gap to allow it to swing freely but not too much. I slid in two small metal rulers on each side of the rivet to prevent the rivet washer to go too far down on the rivet and then peened the end over.

I put some mink oil between the layers to cut down on any friction between the leather pieces, the belt loop sandwiches the attaching portion.

Now the knife handle is about belt high and it is easier to remove the knife as well as returning the knife. Plus when you go to sit down, you can just swivel the knife up and in line with your leg. I think this is a better option than the dangler that you could also buy from them, the dangler, to me, looks TOO loose to be practical, but, that's just me, I'm sure others will enjoy that just as it is and that's ok too.

Here are some images of this adapter;

Showing the thin metal clip compared to the new leather swivel;

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Showing the connecting piece of leather fastened to the sheath with the 10-24 x 1/2" screw and then sandwiched into the belt loop and held by the heavy copper rivet

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next post will be some of the knife itself
G2
 
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Big rascal, 12 " blade, with a 1/4" thick spine, 2 1/2" wide, a pretty sweet chopper !

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While the scales are well done, I did find that the very peaks of them were too crisp and just took some fine sand paper to knock down those edges to make it a little bit more comfortable.

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All in all, one wicked, albeit a little heavy, chopper !!!
G2
 
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Gary, beautiful pictures as usual. Very well done. Makes me want to get one of these, but with the special modifications you have made to it.

You are always thinking of how to make a nice product even better and I for one appreciate the thought process, and even more the action that follows. Keep up the good work.
 
Thanks RJ, hopefully this will stick around for a while. ;)

Short video of its ability to swivel easily


G2
 
Gary, you're doing me no favors posting this!
I'm having a hard time already resisting the impulse to purchase this blade.
 
Well, I hope it doesn't do you harm to look ;) but that can be all it takes. I chopped up a pile of crab apple tree branches to take to the brush place near by our new home, had an old 2x4 to lay the branches, some what dried out by now, to use as an anvil to chop down on, the El Chete did great, some branches about 2" thick I could take in one swing pretty easy and at the end of the 1/2 hour the edge showed no signs of being used, besides the residue from the branch sap, other than that, she chops quite well and still sharp.

G2
 
Probably the best looking Tops design I've seen in ages.

Several good decisions here. Naked steel, so you can see the differential temper line. Multi colors on the handle give good color pop.

Looks like a real winner!
 
I think you're right on the money there, lots of good decisions, the sheath works pretty well too. I saw one youtube guy comment that the snap didn't work well, but he wasn't using it correctly, it's a Pull the dot fastener, so you have to pay attention to see how it works when you get it, once you know, it's pretty nice.

and the adapter I made works well, I would not use that metal clip, while some might not carry this anyways, you can always just remove the clip and pack the knife/sheath in your gear.

G2
 
Took the scales off tonight, I had contacted Tops, they replied back quickly which was nice to see, about the dark areas around the screw heads, I figured they were oil soaked in from assembly and that seemed to be it, they suggested to lightly sand if those marks bothered me and they would go away and they did. While I had the scales off I gave the crisp corners another going over and the handle is all the more comfortable now. Down the road I may smooth out the tang part of the lower hole as it can be a hot spot depending on how you hold it. It looks like I could round that down and smooth it up without sacrificing any structural integrity. Also might sand down the curve at the guard area too, the whole arc could stand to be a bit softer around the edges, but, that's just my girly hands begging to be pampered lol, but as a friend told me, the only thing on a knife that should be sharp...should be the edge that cuts, everything else should feel like an extension of your hand.

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They have one large hole there, which they could have machined out more, but this thing is a beast and needs that weight in the handle to balance things out better. As the knife balances about 2 3/4" in front of the handle scales.

Scales are attached by 6 screws into threaded spacers, the holes the spacers slide into are a little bigger than the spacers so you need to take care as you go about tightening things back up, to keep the scales flush with the tang.


G2
 
Thanks William, I almost consider this sword like in size, it's a chunk of steel !
G2
 
Appreciate that sir, and here's Saturday's carry around the yard, the El Chete and a Peak folder by Manly knives out of Bulgaria, between the two, I think I have it covered ;)

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G2
 
Recently at work, our machine shop bought a new laser engraving machine, luckily the guy learning the system is a friend and also likes knives. He had seen my El Chete and I told him I'd love to get a Celtic cross engraved along the side of the blade next to the word Kindness. The font used is Moravian which I like quite a bit. So after a few days of experimenting/learning he told me to bring the knife in and tonight was the night.

Here's the result, also found a small cross to run down the spine as well, 7 crosses along that 1/4" thick spine, looks great ;) also put my G2 just below the Tops logo on the presentation side of the knife.

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Pretty cool and deeply etched too, and no, please do not approach me to have this done as I 'barely' got mine done without much grief, but figured this would give you guys/gals some ideas...

G2
 
Wow, very nice blade. I like everything about it. It looks like it starts off as a high saber grind then looks almost like it may be convexed down to the edge?
 
It’s ground down pretty thin and could be made convexed easily
G2
 
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