best steel for a chopper/machete

Discussion in 'Tomahawks, Axes and other Choppers' started by Gahagan, Dec 19, 2011.

  1. Gahagan

    Gahagan Well-Known Member

    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. James Terrio

    James Terrio Well-Known Member

    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. Leatherface

    Leatherface Well-Known Member

    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
  4. Gahagan

    Gahagan Well-Known Member

    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: Dec 19, 2011
  5. James Terrio

    James Terrio Well-Known Member

    What is he clearing, telephone poles? Steel guylines? :D

    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: Dec 20, 2011
  6. nipsip

    nipsip Member

    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. BoonieDog

    BoonieDog Member

    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. Darrin Sanders

    Darrin Sanders Moderator

    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.
  9. bubba-san

    bubba-san Well-Known Member

    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 Files:

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  10. McClellan Made Blades

    McClellan Made Blades Well-Known Member

    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
  11. seved

    seved Well-Known Member

    +1 and 5160 is very nice to.

  12. McClellan Made Blades

    McClellan Made Blades Well-Known Member

    I would like to add that while the Golok and the other blade shapes are quite effective, I would recommend and really like the Kukri. I once used that blade style when clearing shooting lanes bow hunting, I used one of those for several years, with the weight being blade forward it is a great chopper pattern/style. At the very least I would go with a recurve blade, if gives a nice sweet spot to aim for. I put a slight recurve on my fighters and camp knives, to me it adds a little more leverage to the cut

    Loving this thread, I can't wait to see what you come up with and if you can find out more info on how he broke the ones before. Rex
  13. bubba-san

    bubba-san Well-Known Member

    That golok out cut my cold steel kukri with no problems. And it was real sharp . the golok cut down a 4 1/2 oak tree this morning . Made a nice blister on my hand though . Its more like a hatchet .Its is a bit over a 1/4" thick . I personally like a slightly curved blade , more like a sword . But everyone is different . I think thats why axe blades are curved out ward , you have a smaller point of entry . I like the idea Of cpm 3V . I have a nice piece of that reserved for a sword . That stuff is expensive though .Maybe a little pricey for a machete?? I f you can find some 9260 I would use that, 2.5% silicon super tough holds good edge . Admiral has some . I think a good machete can be made from any good high carbon or medium carbon steel as long as its hardened and tempered properly . You have a lot of choices they are all good .. I also am interested in how it turns out .. good luck.. Bubba
  14. bubba-san

    bubba-san Well-Known Member

    Here is another style of cutter thats very good , Its called a Koshinata . Lots of folks have adapted this style of blade for cutting competition .
    They are almost 1/2 " thick . Bad ass cutters. The japanese used them on the farm . The blade style is ancient . Used for 1500 years or so.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  15. Leatherface

    Leatherface Well-Known Member

    differentially heat treated 5160 is hard to beat...

    I am working on 1084 right now and loving it


    52100 would also be a sweet choice and its a bit cheaper than CPM 3v (love that stuff!)
  16. McClellan Made Blades

    McClellan Made Blades Well-Known Member

    I'm curious, is your Cold Steel Kukri the cheap one or the more expensive one? The reason I ask is because I have one, but I got the cheap one, made in South Africa, the first time I used it the edge rolled, you have got to have the better one! The one I have is...somewhere around here, probably in the back corner of the shop, possibly the loft, I don't know, it's a POS! I've always liked the Kukri design, I've also wondered why that design isn't used in cutting competitions, probably because it wouldn't excel in all cutting tasks, be my guess, while the most popular design does well in all of them, possibly would be good design for Gahagan's chopper. Rex
  17. McClellan Made Blades

    McClellan Made Blades Well-Known Member

    That thing is FREAKIN S-W-E-E-E-E-E-T!!!!!!! Mind telling me how the ferule is installed on the handle?
    I always find myself referring to Japanese blades when I'm explaining knives to people, why is that?
  18. Martin Schutte

    Martin Schutte Well-Known Member

    Hello guys I’ve made some "Monster Choppers" or Golok`s like we know it for the traditional bowhunter community here in South Africa. I use 9mm thick, 1070 differentially edge hardened and if he brakes it, he did really something wrong with it! This is the thickness of steel I can get here so I’ve decided to use it as is the guys abuse this thing but no failures yet:biggrin:!

    I’ve added a pic of how it looks! PS: Rex and Bubba I like where you guys are going with the CHOPPERS!!!!!

    Golok 2 same.jpg
  19. Gahagan

    Gahagan Well-Known Member

    Nice. I am waiting on him to approve some designs and then will start narrowing down the steel to give him a better quote. Thanks for the suggestions.
  20. bubba-san

    bubba-san Well-Known Member

    I have the better one ( kukri) made from 1095. its a dam good cutter for sure .As for the The ferrule it is slid on the tang before handle is installed. Kind of like a japanese sword Habaki ( guard) They are made from good steel. They tighten it all up when properly installed and prevent handle from splitting. In the cutting comp you cant use a longer blade than say about 10- 12 " they feel a long blade would have an unfair edge so to speak.
    As you know, a longer blade has a much higher blade velocity which would be unfair . So they standardized it . Koshinata are pretty easy to make. I have some drawings somewhere , I got from a buddy in Japan. If i can find them will post them up . I also like to wrap them with some copper wire or thin leather cause the split in handle can be rough on the hands ..... Bubba .......... You guys got me all excited now , I guess I will have to make one also .
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012

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