Photos Finetuning a couple of Condors

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by kwackster, May 19, 2019.

  1. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    Currently busy finetuning two Condor choppers, a Bushcraft Parang and an Eco Golok machete.
    For years i've only used kukri models for trail clearing (a Tora Blades Camping kukri and a Cold Steel Kukri machete) here on the Veluwe, and the plan is to get some hands-on experience using a few other tried & true chopping blades from different parts of the world.

    Just did the contouring & fuzzy/chewy finishing of the Golok machete handle with the wood rasp (the Parang will get the same treatment), and tested the blade on a few thick dried oak branches and various green stuff.
    Very well hardened 1075 steel i must say (no visible flattening or rolling at +/- 30 degrees inclusive), and now the handle is much more comfortable and grippy compared to the thick and slick factory handle (for my hands anyway)
    Also no need for additives like grip tape etc.
    The Eco Golok machete has a more V-shaped edge, while the Bushcraft Parang has a medium high convex edge with an apex around 40 degrees.
    Both will later get a convex edge with an apex around 30 degrees inclusive.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  2. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    As a tip, you can restore a smooth finish via flame polishing with a torch by lightly fanning the plastic until it goes glossy. Just sand it to your desired degree of refinement and flame polish and it'll be back to nice and glossy looking. :)
     
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  3. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    That sounds like a good tip indeed, and if the fuzzy finish on this handle material turns out to be too abrasive i will try that.

    The Bushcraft Parang now also has a contoured & fuzzy finished handle:

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    If you flame-polished it at this stage it would retain a decent amount of texture and just take the sharpest/thinnest edges off but would retain a slightly grooved finish, I expect. If you do decide to give it a try, I'd try it without further sanding at first and see how it turns out--could be neat!
     
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  5. noviomagus

    noviomagus

    433
    Dec 25, 2007
    Nice work kwackster.
    Good tip of 42blades as well.
     
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  6. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    For me the Cold Steel kukri machete has proven to be very comfortable with it's contoured PVC handle, and even more so with a fuzzy finished surface.
    The PVC tends to shed most of the fuzzy bits after a few days of chopping, leaving a surface that is very hand friendly and doesn't produce any blisters, even with prolonged use (like the factory checquered surface can do)
    Being softer, the PVC on this specific model also dampens shock more effectively compared to the harder polypropylene which is on many other Cold Steel machetes (as well as on these Condors)

    But contouring & fuzzy finishing really does wonders for both the handling & comfort.
    Being so thick, the handles on the Condors offer lots of tough amorphous polypropylene to work with, and being longer also gave me the opportunity to provide each handle with 2 distinct handle positions: one up front for thinner wood and a second one at the back for thick branches and small trees.
    Shaping the inside of the flared handle end into a hook proved also very useful, as this tends to guide your pinky inward instead of outward, which is much easier on the hand.
    The last two pictures in my post above already show the hook on the Bushcraft Parang, and later i also did this on the Eco Golok.
     
  7. noviomagus

    noviomagus

    433
    Dec 25, 2007
    I never had problems with shock to the hand using the Condor's with polypropylene handles .
    They were fine to me. And I also appreciate the handle thickness, as well as the shape, which is actually, excellent. Btw, I always wrap my handles with tennis racket overgrip . gives an excellent grip, hence the reason tennis players use it.

    The CS kukri machete handles were also comfortable , though everyone experiences differently..
    I did see a few times the pvc handles of the CS kukri machetes being split(where the tang is). But that was from throwing them ... I think..
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  8. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    The hard shouldered V-shaped edge with an apex of +/- 30 degrees inclusive was changed into a soft shouldered convex shaped edge, also with an apex of +/- 30 degrees inclusive, with the help of a bastard file & a smooth file.
    Going to find out how a filed convex edge holds up in my use.
    I tried to make the file marks pointing a bit backwards, which will aid in grabbing the thin to medium sized branches this tool is mainly going to be used for.
    The final stubborn burr remnants i could not remove with just the smooth file alone were abraded away on the Tormek leather wheel with a dab of PA-70 aluminium oxide paste.
    The resulting apex is armhair shaving sharp on skin level, but the slightest sideways motion makes it slice into the skin, so this is not an edge you want to try to shave your face with.
    BTW: Condor's 1075 steel is noticeably harder to file compared to the 1055 steel in the Cold Steel machetes.

    Starting the new convex bevels by filing the hard shoulders down with an F.Dick bastard file:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

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    Refining the now convex bevels made by the bastard file with an Öberg smooth file:

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Done:

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    While having about the same angle at the apex when compared to the old V-shaped edge, the new convex shaped edge is thinner behind that apex, and it also eliminates most or all of the hard bevel shoulders, making the blade more streamlined and thus more efficient for it's job.
    If the steel allows it, with next sharpenings the convex will also be "pulled up" somewhat higher up the blade sides for an even shallower convex shape (while keeping the apex at about the same 30 degrees inclusive angle) for an even further increase of efficiëncy.

    Below you can see two pictures of the Eco Golok machete with it's new convex edge resting into the 30 degrees V-shaped slot of my Tormek WM200 AngleMaster, to show that the apex reaches the correct measuring depth for 30 degrees inclusive, and that the bevels behind the apex are thinner than a V-bevel with about the same 30 degrees inclusive apex.
    The pics were taken with an old IPad and are far from perfect, but they do give some idea.

    The first pic makes the real apex look translucent due to reflecting light from both sides, so the distorted and dark apex-like shape just above it is just some sort of shadow.
    Similar effects also make it look like the right side of the convex bevel isn't touching the slot wall, which of course it is.
    The second pic is a bit too dark at the apex, but shows the thinner bevels and the lack of shoulders behind it maybe just a bit better.

    Click each picture 2 x, then enlarge further to see maximum detail.

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
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  9. noviomagus

    noviomagus

    433
    Dec 25, 2007
    It will bite even deeper now that you took the sharp angled shoulders down.
    It was already a good chopper. But this will enhance its performance..
     
  10. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    The Bushcraft Parang already had a convex edge with an apex around 40 degrees inclusive, a bit much for my taste, so i reshaped/reground the blade by hand with a Chinese 120 grit diamond file into a convex form which starts higher up the blade sides and now comes together in an apex at around 30 degrees inclusive.
    Also did something of a "Kephart-mod", where the upper sides of the blade are ground a bit narrower compared to the midsection.
    For the pictures i crosshatched the now thickest parts of the blade, and the next step will be hand sanding the blade surfaces on a few different grits of wet & dry on a rubber backing using WD40 as a lubricant.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2019
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  11. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    First step refining the blade surfaces with 240 grit wet & dry SiC paper on a rubber backing using WD40 as a lubricant, while using the Tormek WM200 AngleMaster to check regularly if the apex stays around the 30 degrees inclusive mark:

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  12. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    A week ago we got home from a camping holiday in the Luxembourg forests and the Belgian Ardennes, and the Condor Eco Golok machete did a wonderful job at trail clearing during several long hikes in the area.
    The model is somewhat of a wolf in sheeps clothes, in that it isn't overly big or menacing looking, but it sure is a highly effective chopping tool without being unwieldy.
    It's a bit less tip heavy compared to my CS kukri machete, giving it a better balance and thus making it less tiresome in the longer run.
    I can swing this machete for hours on end, and without gloves.

    The Condor Eco Golok machete stuck in a log somewhere in Luxembourg.
    The edge is starting to discolour from all the wood sap and other mostly green stuff.

    [​IMG]

    The only modification i made to the handle was a bit of smooth sanding where my index finger sits, as only in that spot the fuzzy finish was starting to create a bit of a hot spot while chopping.
    On the rest of the handle the fuzzy finish has proven to greatly enhance grip without being abrasive on my hands, probably due to the fact that the protrusions left by the wood rasp aren't rigid.
    The fuzzy finished polypropylene surface also is quite durable and doesn't seem to wear smooth (after several weeks of intermittent use) like the same finish on a PVC handle definitely will.

    After resharpening with just the smooth file and cleaning the handle with an old toothbrush and some diluted detergent:

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]

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    Strong points for me:

    - The Eco Golok machete fits inside my daypack (only just)
    - the low weight of only 433 grams (after modding and resharpening)
    - the very well hardened 1075 steel.
    - Using just two files it takes and holds a good convex edge @ +/- 30 degrees inclusive, even on dried wood it did not fold or dent.
    - the negatively angled handle
    - the contouring (mod)
    - the fuzzy/chewy finish (mod)
    - the way this model transfers kinetic energy into the wood without vibrating, which together with the narrow convex edge makes for a deep bite upon impact, thus making it a highly efficiënt chopper in a small package.

    What i don't like:

    The edge contacts some of the steel rivets when sheating & unsheating, which each time creates a bit of edge damage.
    I intend to make another sheath without rivets for it.
     
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  13. FortyTwoBlades

    FortyTwoBlades Baryonyx walkeri Dealer / Materials Provider

    Mar 8, 2008
    Sounds like the rivets aren't fully set, then. When rivets are set properly the material to either side pinches the bevels before the edge can contact the posts. Try setting the rivets tighter and it will probably fix the issue.
     
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  14. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    Thx for the info, i will try that to see what happens.
     
  15. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    Besides quite a bit of other green growth i used the modified Bushcraft Parang today to cut up a rather large green branch which had fallen from a big beechwood tree, blocking one of the larger woods trails near my home town.
    I had already delimbed the branch before i took the pics, but you get the idea.
    European beechwood is quite hard & tough, and this main branch had a thickness approaching axe territory, but the parang was what i had in my daypack and it handled the job very well.

    Used quite a few maximum force chops to see how the now thinner convex edge with an apex of ~ 30 degrees inclusive would hold up, and the blade took it like a champ; no rippling, denting, rolling or any other damage that i could see or feel.
    Afterwards the edge could still shave a bit of hair on the back of my hand, this with an 800 grit finish on wet & dry SiC paper using WD40 as a lubricant.
    The blade bites deep on each swing, the new handle shape & surface finish function as intended, and the hooked handle end has also proven to be a very useful addition.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  16. noviomagus

    noviomagus

    433
    Dec 25, 2007
    Beautiful pics.
    And also interesting to see it is an excellent chopper. And no harm done to the thinned out edge.
    I think high of the Condor Bushcraft Parang.

    And the nature is also nice to see.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2019
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  17. Beastchopper

    Beastchopper

    238
    Jun 23, 2018
    I've considered trying to mod my fat buscraft parang's handle, but I've been too nervous of screwing it up. I have a super coarse rasp with big teeth. Do you have a pic of the rasp you used? I Also want to take the sharp beveled edges off of a couple of other condor machetes. How long do you think each project- filing the bevels & rasping the handle might take? Any tips? Thanks
     
  18. Beastchopper

    Beastchopper

    238
    Jun 23, 2018
    ...I see that rasp in the background there
     
  19. noviomagus

    noviomagus

    433
    Dec 25, 2007
    It's a standard wood rasp. He spoke to me about it.
    You have to take it easy, step by step, not to mess it up.

    But I'm not going to try it.
    I'm not that patient...hehe
     
  20. kwackster

    kwackster

    Dec 23, 2005
    What works for me is to first create the fuzzy finish on the entire handle surface with the wood rasp & a light touch.
    Then i do the "upper groove" where my forefinger will be, and remove enough material so that there will be just a little "wiggle room" when I grip the handle.
    I also make the cross-section of the upper groove somewhat ovalized, which helps to maintain better directional control of the edge.
    Best to work in small sections and check often.
    When i'm happy with the shape, size & depth of the upper groove I start with the lower groove based on my hand width, and make that groove as comfy as can be for my smallest two fingers.
    With these 2 Condor models there is also enough material to change the flared handle ends into a bit of a hook, which i would definitely recommend, as this will provide for a major improvement in secure handling, especially during full force chopping.
    When the overall handle shape is to my liking i unclamp the machete and do the final light finishing and evening-out with the wood rasp and the sheathed blade in hand.
    Doing a polypropylene handle like this takes me about an hour, which to me is more than worth it.
     
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