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Thread: best steel for a chopper/machete

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Clayton NC
    Posts
    958

    best steel for a chopper/machete

    I have a customer that is a field engineer for Duke Energy and needs a chopper/machete for clearing brush in areas he goes. He is wanting a thicker blade 3/8" thick as he has broken several 1/4 blades. I just would like to know what would work best for this situation. I have a stick of W2 but am unsure if this is the best material for him. If someone with more knowledge in this area would help me I would appreciate it.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,112
    If he's breakin 1/4" blades clearing brush, something is very, very wrong.

    My first choice would be CPM-3V, but there are many alloys that will perform well, given the proper geometry and heat-treat.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Liberty, NC
    Posts
    304
    breaking WHAT 1/4" blades bro??

    I have 5160 camp blades that were beaten through stumps into rocks with no worries

    PERSONALLY I would suggest 3/8" S7...your just not gonna break that stuff
    Dave
    ABS Apprentice
    Everything ends badly, or else it would never end.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Clayton NC
    Posts
    958
    I dont know how he broke them wether it be in half of chunks out of the blade but he says they are not lasting long. It may also be because they are cheap production blades. So the W2 would not work? I dont want to get to high on price but also want to provide a chopper that will last as well.cp3v is high in price as well as s7 but if that is what will last than I will just quote him higher.
    Last edited by Gahagan; 12-19-2011 at 08:06 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Knoxville, TN
    Posts
    2,112
    What is he clearing, telephone poles? Steel guylines?

    I've never used W2, so I can't honestly say it would or wouldn't work. But honestly, I don't see why it wouldn't. You could temper the edge to 55RC or so and draw the spine back even further, I'm pretty sure that would be awfully resistant to breakage when clearing brush and chopping saplings. You'd have to sharpen it often, though.

    If cost is an issue, 1084 is dirt cheap and just plain works. I made a full-convex chopper out of Aldo's 1084 at 58 Rc with an edge that shaves hair, and not only cleared brush and dug roots, but hammered tent pegs into gravel with the spine, without so much as a whimper. I also own a $15 Tramontina machete that will do almost as well, except for the hammering. These tasks simply aren't that difficult.
    Last edited by James Terrio; 12-20-2011 at 12:09 AM.

  6. #6
    I would say 6150

    6150 steel is similar to 5160 but it has Vanadium.

    6 series are Chrome Vanadium steels. 6150 should be better 5160 in all regards by a small margin... same or better edge holding, a bit better grain structure, greater impact hardness, so IMO a better choice for a blade that is going to be beat to death in hostile environments.

    Here are a couple of choppers, a Golok and a Duku Chandong made with 6150.




  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Guam, US territory
    Posts
    14
    Martindale Machetes in England make their #2 Golok for British Army SpecOPs types. I have one and I see no way someone could break it unless you are chopping up the neighbors junk cars.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Central LA (Larto lake)
    Posts
    1,121
    I would go with Aldo's L6 in 3/8". I made one for a guy who uses it HARD. He chops brush and batons with it a lot. He loves it. He says he abuses it worse than any knife he has ever owned and its holding up fine. If you decide to use it PM me and I'll tell you how I did the H/T.
    Darrin Sanders Custom Knives
    564 Paulk Rd.
    Jonesville, LA 71343

    318-339-8290

    darrinsanders8666@gmail.com

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    steelville , mo.
    Posts
    2,297
    Condor tools makes some real nice machetes , goloks and parang and so forth , all are made from 1075 and are a 1/4 " thick . Price 31.00 bucks each. they come with walnut handles and are some super blades for the money . Way better cutter than my cold steel Kukri. they actually came nice and sharp unlike other factory made machetes... I have both of them. Thought I would post a couple pics of these in the flesh.
    The quality of the craftsmanship is really good , walnut burled handles brass pins brass lanyard hole . These are some heavy duty blades and very sharp out of box. I like the 1075 which is basically sword steel . They are so nice I really dont want to use them , but thats what I bought them for . It would be extremely hard to make one like this for 30$ . I may make a copy using Aldo low mang . 1075 which means I can do a nice hamon on them. here are some better pics. Not only do the blades have a great edge , The spine of blade are polished , the edges are mirror polished . I couldnt make a blade for that cost even If someone gave me the steel..... the handles are big for you guys with big hands
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by bubba-san; 01-04-2012 at 11:22 AM.
    " If it ain't 6 " long it ain't no tanto"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Deatsville, Alabama
    Posts
    1,215
    My first thought was he was prying with it, most 1/4" factory blades are going to handle chopping chores, but will not perform as well as a custom or bend instead of breaking. My 1st vote is for the old reliable 1084, with a differential HT. The problem I think is he's prying in some manne,r like getting it stuck in a large sappling. Without knowing exactley how he broke it makes it harder to answer the question. My 2nd would be for W-2 would be execellent, with the proper HT, it is kinda tricky stuff. L-6 should do well, but I have no experience with it. I have tested all of the W-2 blades I've made so far, not to destruction. The last one I made is going to be abused by the guy that's getting it, not to destruction (he likes it too much), I offered that if he would abuse it, I'd make him another one if needed. Provided he didn't chop rocks, or pry with it, I would think with a differential HT it should be OK (if I'm off base here, someone please correct me), but it still has limits as they all do.It shoul dperform better than any manufactured blade he's used, for sure.

    See where he had issues with the ones he's used, also check his hands, see if they are larger than normal, it could have some bearing in the way you need to make it, and if they are huge, it'll help you make it a bit more comfortable for him. Checking a customers hands impresses them for some reason, the only reason I do it is because my hands are in the huge range, I have to get 2X gloves at the very least XL with material in the back so they stretch.

    1/4" should work with a differntial HT, check on that to make sure, and maybe some other guys can chime in to make sure I'm on point! Rex
    McClellan Made Blades
    Deatsville, (Autauga Co side) Alabama
    (334)358-5278
    My Avatar is a knife I made, I call the "BEAST" with a wicked HAMON!!!


    "Try not, do or do not, for there is no try." ~Yoda~

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