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Soon to come: AKI Machete test

Feb 4, 1999
I came across a website for a maker in Hawaii named Ross Aki, who specializes in very simple, plain, but beautiful using knives and machetes. The interesting thing is that all his knives are ATS-34, which Ross says is quite a challenege to do a machete in. I am very excited about reviewing one of his machetes, which I should receive within a week or so. Camping season isn't far off, so it should get some pretty good use for a while. Anyway, in the meantime take a look at Ross's website (I don't have it written down here, but you can find it under the AKI machete for sale in the Auction site). I think the address is http://www.ilhawaii.com/~knives, but that also might be .net.
Anyway, look at his stuff and wait for a review! Should be interesting to see how ATS-34 fares on a knife of this size and for this purpose. Thanks for reading this heads-up...

My Custom Kydex Sheath pagehttp://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1298/knifehome.html
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
and if anyone is interested, I have a Ross Aki Chinese Sleeve Sabre for sale in that forum. It's a smaller knife, but very similar to his machete's

Don't forget to pay your taxes...they eventually become my knives:)

Chiro, looking forward to it. I am looking for a good machete. By the way, was there any detail included on the periodic "re-tempering" process that was supposed to be necessary for extended hard use. That was an interesting comment on his webpage.

Cliff, this knife has redefined what i thought a machete is and what it is intended to do. Without giving too much away I'll say that this is a "real" purpose-built machete, and I think you will know what I mean, especially if you look at the specs. 'Nuff said...Ross did send the instructions for tempering, too, which were simple and complex at the same time, but very well-written. He has his act together! Basically the re-tempering process does a double oven temper at 400 degrees, I think. Trick is calibrating your oven for constant, equal temp througout the length of the blade. Anyway, you temper, cool, then retemper, and you're good to go. Mr. Aki recommends doing this periodically if you chop heavier-duty stuff than vines and brush. I hope to take the machete, khukuris, and my photography equipment out on my mountain bike this weekend because I know the perfect testing grounds...should be great fun!

My Custom Kydex Sheath pagehttp://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1298/knifehome.html
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
chiro --

Can I make a review request? Pick up a 12" or 18" Ontario machete (around $10 I think), test it with your AKI, and report the results on both. I've always been sceptical of stainless machetes, especially ATS-34. I'd love to hear how the AKI machete fares in edge strength & toughness (resistance to chipping and dinging/rolling) and sharpenability. Also interested in a handle ergonomics comparison when chopping through (say) 1" limbs.

Thanks in advance if you decide to do this!

[ Note: I just went to AKI's heat treatment page, and see that he uses the lower tempering curve, like Ernie Mayer does. That makes things interesting! ]


[This message has been edited by Joe Talmadge (edited 06 August 1999).]
Honestly, Joe, i'd love to do a comparison with an Ontario, but if I bring home another knife, no matter what it costs, my fiancee is going to kill me with it. No joking, either. I don't know anyone I can borrow one from, either...The local hardware store has something machete-like for sale....hmmmm....

My Custom Kydex Sheath pagehttp://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1298/knifehome.html
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
Hey Chiro, how thick is the machete you recieved. I was interested in the Straight Back one with teh 1/16 inch blade. However, he listed some interesting grinds he uses so I emailed him about the grind on the blade and if he would do a flat ground one with a secondary bevel. Here is his reply:

The Straight Back machete is "machete" ground, it has a short, convex edge
bevel and a flat body. I grind them this way to make them as strong as
I do like to turn out custom orders, and have made a number of flat and
slightly convex ground "Straight Back" and "Saber" machetes. These machetes
provide eye opening performance on anything soft. They cut with an ease that
is difficult to describe without sounding like hype. But, the very thin edge
will ripple, then chip out if used against hard objects for any length of
time. Sometimes even very experienced users will forget how thin such a
machete really is and they will whip it through thick branches. This cuts
the branches impressively, but only for a short time. Then I get it back for
regrinding, the owner always promising to remember what the thinly ground
machete was made for.... soft leafy material and vines.
Please let me know if you are interested in either a standard "Straight
Back", a custom ground "Straight Back" (comes with a conditional warranty,
not warranted, other than free regrinding and retempering, if used on
material other than vines and leafy vegetation) or more information. I have
also made "semi ground" machetes, a cross between the two types of edge
formats. This would be like a "saber" grind, but without any grind lines
showing(blending the transition between ground and unground sections of the
blade limits stress points and makes for a stronger machete). This grind
could also be called a "Long" convex edge.

I am very interested in this blade because of the performance it would offer on vegetation but the grind kind of scares me as I am not sure what he means by it exactly and more importantly I don't know how to sharpen a convex grind. The flat grind is also out of the question becasue I would like to use it on light chopping and woods. I will have to talk to him some more.

By the way he seems to be a very nice guys with some good ideas. Quite talented to as the grinds seem rather unique to me although I don't have much experiene.

thanks and take care
This machete is the normal variety with a flat even thickness surface and a regular bevel for the edge. Itr is 1/16" thick. i thought is was 1/8" so I'm glad you asked! It seems ridiculously thin on paper, but doesn't feel like it during use. More later! Stop tempting me to write too much too soon!

My Custom Kydex Sheath pagehttp://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1298/knifehome.html
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
The idea of a 1/16" (1.58mm) machete seems somewhat bizarre to me, and combining that with stainless steel ... I wonder what's going to happen if you try to chop anything at all substantial with it. I hope it doesn't come with the notorious two-part guarantee (if it breaks in half you get both parts...).

I bet it's great for cutting grass. I'm looking forward to reading a glowing account of how it chopped through everything in sight and it's still in one piece, but ... okay, I'll go out on a limb. I predict it won't last an hour of chopping hardwood brush without substantial damage -- I'm not saying it'll break in half, necessarily -- not in the first hour of use -- but I'm predicting it'll need more than sharpening. Actually I think it'll have so many bends in it it'll resemble an accordian more than it will a machete.

So if I turn out to be wrong you can all say, "Nyaaa nyaaaaaah!"

-Cougar Allen :{)
Well, Cougar, I think the machete will perform differently, but we shall see, right? Trick will be to find different types of grasses, brush, etc to cut for a decent period of time! Also, Aki might make different machetes for different conditions and main uses, too, so if this is a purpose-built knife then it would make sense that the tests be isolated to mainly that type of cutting. Just like you wouldn't buy a Livesay Titanium Tiger for a rope cutting contest, right?

My Custom Kydex Sheath pagehttp://www.geocities.com/CollegePark/Lab/1298/knifehome.html
Palmer College of Chiropractic
On Two Wheels
Barteaux makes a 1/16" machete also. Those are definitely lighter-use. I think most of us who carry machetes tend to use them not just for clearing soft brush, but as more of an all-around big knife and light chopper. That's why I stick with 1/8" machetes. I bet Aki will come right out and tell you that if you're going to use your machete as a chopper as well, stick with 1/8" (that's why he makes them in both sizes). The 1/16" should be exceptional in soft vegetation.

But that leaves the big question still open -- how well does ATS-34 tempered at the lower cycle compare to more traditional machete steels, toughness-wise? The Barteauxs are made from L-6, and you can get them in 1/16". It's killing me we can't get one to Chiro for a head-to-head!

Collin :

I don't know how to sharpen a convex grind

Take something slightly soft like thick leather or even dense foam and glue some really coarse sandpaper to it. Take a really soft knife (like a cheap kitchen one) and drag it back and forth (edge trailing) along the sandpaper. Since the material under the sandpaper gives a little, you will end up creating a convex edge.

You can do this by hand using a flat stone either and just follow the curve, or even use a deeply hollowed out stone which curves for you. In any case it does not take long to get the hang of it - just be sure to practice with some really soft knives as they grind really easy which lets you see how its coming along much faster.

If the knife is not too blunt you can just strop it either or use a few swipes of a ceramic rod. The rod of course v-grinds the very edge.

Cougar :

I predict it won't last an hour of chopping hardwood brush without substantial damage

How hard are the ATS-34 machetes in question? 1 / 16 does strike me as awful thin though.

Joe :

The Barteauxs are made from L-6

The only info I could find on them was here :


Anyone know of another source?


[This message has been edited by Cliff Stamp (edited 10 August 1999).]
Thanks for the info Mr. Stamp. I'll give it a try on some old kitchen knives we have and don't use anymore. I have been wondering for awhile how to do it so I greatly appreciate you explaining it to me. Thank you.

Try www.rogue.northwest.com/~neil1525

thanks and take care

[This message has been edited by RUDY (edited 10 August 1999).]