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rehandle plan for a no name bolo machete

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by willseeyalater, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. willseeyalater


    Jan 7, 2012
    I found an unmarked 14" bolo machete in my father in laws garage. He passed away two years ago but it was one he must have picked up at our local farm supply store 30 years ago. The scales that were on it were thin cheap plastic bolted on with stove bolts, washer and nuts...very rough. Non of his five boys wanted it so lucky me has it for a project piece. The steel looks good and still has some remnants of the original black coating and needs sharpening. I have no idea what brand it is but it has been there at the farm for chopping corn or weeds for over 25 years and not used much since the handle would tear you up if you used it as is. Pops was a good practical man but not a fit and finish guy with repairs. He would have worn gloves when he used it but where he is now there is no more laboring like that.
    The rehandle plan is well under way. I took a short piece of black walnut branch that was seasoned a year in the rafters of my garage and cut it into 1/2"slabs to make scales. Rough trimmed them to just bigger than final tang shape and drilled them for the four holes in the tang. The tang is crude at the end, it is just squared off so I added a rounded flare on the end of the scales with a gap the width of the steel which will be filled with the JB Weld. Should I add a shim in the gap or will the JB work to fill it?

    For rivets I picked up a length of 1/4" all thread and washers. I plan to anneal the rod and cut it to use for rivets. I have the wood countersunk to keep the heads and washers below the grip. For extra hold I am going to get some JB and slather the tang and holes set in my steel rod rivets then clamp it for the weekend. After all is set and rivets peened over the washers I will do the final shaping with rasp and sandpaper then fill in the countersink holes with more JB as a filler For a finish I have BLO and will do a soak of the handle end taped off in a plastic bag hanging up in the garage to take advantage of the summer heat. Will the JB Weld hold up to the BLO immersion or should I think about using an epoxy?

    Any advice before I get started with assembling this weekend?
    I have all of $3.08 invested so far in rod and washers but still need to get some JB.

    I looked at brazing rod for rivets but the holes in the tang were a 1/4" and the rods I found locally were much thinner. If this holds up to use I will have a nice bolo for a user and if it pops apart I at least learned something for my time. I will get back to this after all is done and try to post pics.
  2. Robs92XJ


    Apr 3, 2012
    If I'm understanding you correctly about the back end, your scales will extend past the end of the tang so there is a gap between them after the tang ends. You could probably get away with filling it with epoxy, but the neater approach would be to put a peice of matching spacer wood between the scales. If you want to make it fit really well, I would cut out the spacer oversized and thicker than the tang, then fit one edge of the spacer to the end of the tang. It should still overhang the sideview profile on top and bottom and on the backside. Now temporarily fasten one of the scales to the tang, flatten one side of the spacer, and epoxy it in position to the scale you attached. Once that's dry, you should have a spacer that's thicker than the tang stuck to one scale. Now lay down the tang with your attached scale facing up on a flat sanding surface and sand down the extra thickness of the spacer until its flush with the tang. Now glue up the other scale, and once you trim the top, bottom, and back you should have a pretty seamless joint on the back. This probably sounded much more complicated than it actually is.

    Also, not sure why you want to use JB weld. It's a bit thick and dark, so it doesn't make the nicest looking glue lines for this type of work. 60 minute 2 ton epoxy from the hardware store works great. Just be sure to clean up the tang with coarse sandpaper to remove scale/rust and degrease the scales and the tang with acetone or other solvent just before you glue it up. Once the epoxy is cured the BLO will not affect it, probably wouldn't affect cured JB weld either (since it's epoxy as well).

    Threaded rod for rivets is interesting. You said you would peen them over 1/4" washers, what kind of washers? The standard 1/4" flat washer has about a 3/4" diameter which is a massive countersink on a knife handle. An AN washer would be better, more like 1/2" diameter.

    If you go to ACE hardware or maybe Home Depot/Lowe's you can find aluminum, stainless steel, and brass rod or tube (not threaded) of various diameters, most likely including 1/4". Then you can pin the scales, no countersink or peening required, and trim them flush. That would be a much neater look. The epoxy is plenty strong if you prep the surfaces correctly.
  3. willseeyalater


    Jan 7, 2012
    Thanks Rob,

    Yes, I think you are following me with the gap at the end of the handle. Yes, a spacer would work and look better. I have enough stock to trim off a piece and glue it in the gap.
    I may use the JB or look at other epoxy products, as far as I know I don't have stock in any of the companies. One bother in law is a mechanic and he recommends it for projects but I have not picked anything up yet.
    For rivet material I looked at what was at hand here in the town I live in and of the choices I found threaded rod was the best fit. The nearest big home center is further than I want to go running for a small item and when we can we buy local to save time and gas and support local business. We are not exactly in a rural area but you can see it from here.
    Thanks for you input, your ideas have helped me think it through.
  4. Robs92XJ


    Apr 3, 2012
    It's just that JB weld is metal epoxy, it's thick and grey-black. The other epoxy I mentioned is clear and a little thinner, so it makes a neater joint and is still plenty strong.

    I hear you on the big-box home centers. I don't like going there if I don't have to. If you've got a local hardware store, or maybe even a craft store, you might be able to find suitable rods. ACE/True-Value will almost surely have them. Wood dowels would probably work, although I don't think I've seen anyone try that.
  5. Zimbabwe


    Jun 4, 2012
    Please post pics once you've finished, sounds awesome


  6. willseeyalater


    Jan 7, 2012
    I stripped the black paint off with a product called Safer Stripper and a 3M pad and got it cleaned up and rinsed with hot water. Right now I have it epoxied with JB (yeah, I went with it) and will get back to it tomorrow to set my rivets then rasp and sand down the scale contours. Sorry there's no pics, I will have to ask for my junior tech advisor(16 yr old son) to help with it so I am waiting to do a finished picture set.

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