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Machax Revisited

Oct 4, 1998
I did some more work with my Machax this weekend. The more I use this thing, the more I like it. I needed to chop some pine for starting fires. The pine was in a deadfall and was quite a few years old. The consistency ranged from dry rotted and crumbling to almost petrified. It was also damp due to rain. I do not have my ATC at the moment so I was afforded the luxury of trying other tools. Normally I'd go with the ATC without hesitation or question. Because of this tendency, I first chose my CS Gurkha Kukri, which is similar to the ATC. I started with a 4"-5" pine that was extremely HARD. The GK would penetrate well but would bind every single time so much that I would have to kick the blade to make it release. I think this was due to the consistency of the wood because I have never had this problem with green material. It also made me wonder how the ATC would have performed on this pine because the grind is similar to the GK. Anyway, I sheathed the GK and pulled out the LTC. It would bind every time also (which was expected because it is .125" stock). Then I pulled out the Machax and started whacking away. While the GK and the LTC both penetrated much deeper than the Machax, the Machax would only bind maybe 1 out of 12 swings and was easily removed each time. Either way, it took less effort with the Machax.
After going through a quite a handful of these, I decided I would split some of the thicker ones. I would chop the Machax into the ends of the logs and stand them up on end and then pound the Machax further down into the log with another log. The Machax worked extremely well as a wedge. The only problem here was that the coating chipped a little on the spine from contact with the hammering log.
After this, there was a large cross section of a big pine tree that had been cut up with a chainsaw. It was maybe 3-4 ft. long and maybe 2.5 ft. in diameter. It was nearly petrified in toward the center but around the outer edges it was sort of "shedding", the outer layers were peeling off. I wedged the Machax under the outer layer (maybe .6" thick) and pried it off all the way around. Then I decided to pry off another layer. I would wedge the Machax in (this time maybe 1" thick) and pry, sometimes the blade going in .5" and sometime going in 3-4". In certain places layers peeled off rather easily and some places required my entire body weight. All this with no damage at all to the blade. The blade would hardly even flex with all my body weight (185 lbs.).
After a couple of layers were removed, the stump got too hard so I went and got a maul axe and some wedges.

On down into the stump was the sappy, multi-colored, turpentine smelling stuff that is great for starting fires.
As far as the Machax, I think I have found the "sweet spot" for chopping. It is slightly behind the belly, but not in the recurve. It actually chops rather well considering the size of this thing (rather small) but the only problem is that the coating has all but disappeared on this part of the blade. It also worked well as a draw knife shaving parts of the harder sappy wood from the stump pieces.
No problems on mine with fit and finish. The scales match up with the tang very well with a few uneven spots but are very low tolerance... nothing noticable. I love the handle and the sheath is top notch. I have no problems with the screw holes in the handle/tang being uncomfortable. The edge is "slightly" unevenly ground and is slightly thicker on the left hand side of the blade. It did dull considerably chopping on the hard wood but a few minutes of steeling and it shaves again.
For the money it can't be beaten and I'm actually thinking of getting a back-up.

Thanks Orion, nice review. I'm especially interested in how it works as a draw knife. Any more comments on this?


I get some pleasure from finding a relentlessly peaceful use for a combative looking knife.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">I would have to kick the blade to make it release. I think this was due to the consistency of the wood because I have never had this problem with green material.</font>

The strength of binding is pretty much directly proportional to the resistance of the wood to deformation. This is much higher on seasoned wood and on just stronger wood in general.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">it took less effort with the Machax.</font>

Did you try decreasing the force of your hits with the more binding blades. If you lowered the intensity until their penetration was at the level of the Machax how is the binding like then? What is the fatigue rate? While you exert more energy pulling the blade out on the thinner blades, you will then be swinging with less effort.

[misc. prying]

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">All this with no damage at all to the blade.</font>

I have done full power tip stabs into Oak and hard prys to the side with no damage to the blade. I have not done heavy prying work with the main blade yet though. Has there been any remarks from Camillus about how flexible these are supposed to be?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">the coating has all but disappeared on this part of the blade</font>

How far back from the edge has it worn away?

I notice you are thinking of a getting another machax..have you tried the Brute?

Also, even though your coating has worn somewhat, do you like the fact that it is coated, or would you prefer uncoated in the future?

"The most effective armor is to keep out of range"-Italian proverb

Didn't really do enough to give any more comments as a draw knife, but it worked well for what I was doing.


The wood was so hard I had to swing hard to get them to do any damage. I will try using the others with less force next weekend and give a report.
I don't really notice fatigue/exertion when chopping. I'm in pretty good shape (I'm a professional fighter and I train 4 hours a day) and chopping is light work compared to what I'm used to doing. I will try to pay more attention to this aspect in the future, also. It was more mentally pissing me off and time consuming to have to kick the knives out of the wood each time and that is the main reason for switching to the Machax, though I'm sure it was energy conserving, too.
The coating has worn back almost an inch in the sweet spot.


Yes, I have a Brute. I love the Brute because it is a more versatile knife than the Machax but I spend more time chopping than doing "versatile" type things and since I have found the Machax to be a slightly better chopper, I am opting to get another Machax. One will stay with me and the other will stay at my girlfriend's house.
I prefer a coated blade. It looks ugly once the coating wears but I don't really care about aesthetics very much. If I had my choice, I'd prefer an indestructible coating!!