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Seeking low-tech solution to improving the edge on a machete or sword

Discussion in 'Maintenance, Tinkering & Embellishment' started by papakelt, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. papakelt


    Jul 17, 2015
    At this stage I'm restricted to hand tools - don't have the funds to spring for a belt sander yet. I do have a handheld belt sander, files and angle grinder. I have a number of machetes and "sword-like" machetes, most of which have a pretty sad edge. Any tips or hints for improving the factory edge using hand tools?


  2. PiercedBill

    PiercedBill Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 15, 2014
    Have you done much/any sharpening before? There are loads of YouTube videos on sharpening, have you looked on there yet? Most of all stay away from the angle grinder, please :)
  3. USS Worden 352

    USS Worden 352

    Jul 27, 2013
    Yeah, stay clear of the grinder... Please... :thumbup:
  4. USS Worden 352

    USS Worden 352

    Jul 27, 2013
    Have you tried using Sandpaper?
  5. papakelt


    Jul 17, 2015
    No, I've not tried sandpaper as yet
  6. papakelt


    Jul 17, 2015
    A little, but I struggle to maintain a constant angle. I'll check YouTube, thanks. And OK, no grinder :)
  7. USS Worden 352

    USS Worden 352

    Jul 27, 2013
    I'd do some research on YouTube to learn proper sharpening technique. YouTube is an amazing resource.

    If you try to sharpen using sandpaper, you could try setting the bevel using 200 grit paper, then progress up through the grits until your satisfied. Something like 200, 400, 600, 800, 1000, etc, would work pretty well. You can find higher grit papers at Auto-Repair shops (I've seen as high as 5000 grit).

    I'd also recommend purchasing or making a strop if you don't already have one. A strop makes the sharpening/maintenance process a lot easier.

    Good luck.
  8. USS Worden 352

    USS Worden 352

    Jul 27, 2013
    Welcome to the Forums, Btw. :)
  9. Samon


    Nov 12, 2012
    I disagree, the angle grinder in the right hands with flap/sanding wheels is the ultimate poor mans workhorse.

    Being a poor man I've had to use mine for years and years as I could not afford belt sanders and the finer knife making tools and I can polish your nails with my Bosch! ;)

    The only issue you'll run in to when sharpening tools with an angle grinder is the convex edge producing nature it can have and too much pressure causing over heating in the steel. Go light and even. I use mine professionally at a local place to sharpen all the tools they sell (I volunteer my spare time) and have done so with my own personal tools for years. I even create and modify bevels on thicker steel tools.

    I don't mess with pocket knives or anything too thin though, not because it's undoable, but because I haven't needed to in a long time as I have enough files, stones etc to do that.




    Angle grinder being the only power tool and finished 90% with it until final finishing with fine sand paper after.

    All down to the right disk, practice and going steady. Always dip the steel in cold water as regularly as possible and always have one hand ungloved so you can test the steel temperature on full restoration jobs.
  10. Ilovetoolsteel


    Jul 28, 2003
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9iNDRwwBQQ this jig would be easy to adapt to a sharpening jig
  11. Squashfan


    Jun 6, 2012
    I am surprised that no one has mentioned a 12" bastard file. Cheap and great for machetes. In fact, I was sharpening a shovel with a file last night. And you can get things wicked sharp with a file, if you can remove the burr.
  12. bgentry


    Aug 3, 2009
    Here's a video from our own member HeavyHanded. He's using his invention, the Washboard Sharpening Block, but his technique is applicable to sharpening with a file also. Or holding a stone in your hand.


  13. FlameCycle


    Jan 23, 2012
  14. yepimonfire


    Nov 7, 2013
    A bastard file would work for bevel setting. Depending on how sharp you need it you could probably just leave it there.
  15. razorburn

    razorburn Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2007
    Salon nail files maybe a low cost option.Not too sure on grits but I have read that some people do use them for touch-ups on swords. Grits range from a few hundred to a couple of thousand.
  16. gomipile


    Apr 17, 2010
    Use binder clips to clip a sheet of sandpaper to a flat surface about the size of a sharpening stone. A 2"x10" piece of 1/4 inch steel plate works well. Mild steel works fine for this, just make sure you fill in any pits with Bondo or similar. You'll want to figure out a way to attach the plate to a base from the underside. You could weld a bracket to the underside. Or you could drill holes and screw it to the edge of a 2x12, then fill the (countersunk, of course) screw holes with Bondo.

    For a machete, you only really need 200 and 400 grit sandpaper unless your cutting tasks are super specialized and require a finer edge than 400.

    If you want to do a convex edge, a mousepad glued to a pine 4x4 works well to go under the 200 and 400 grit sandpaper instead.

    The first method is excellent for sharpening Scandi knives like Moras also.
  17. awestib


    Dec 29, 2008
    2nd this one !!
    A very functional tool that you can use for all kind of sharpening from sandpaper to paper with compounds etc. Definitely something you should look into getting and HeavyHanded will come out with an improved version in July! Here is the link to his newest video: http://www.bladeforums.com/forums/s...)-Washboard-sharpening-version-and-short-vids

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