Let’s be honest, when you buy a mass produced machete, it will not meet all your needs if you are an expert user. There is just something awkward about a mass produced machete that doesn’t fit your liking. This article will talk about how you can customize cheap $20 machetes and turn them into amazing cutting tools that are worth several times their original value.
If you are going to customize a machete, the only really important thing is that you find a machete that is as close to your end product as you want. The closer it is, the less work you must do. With that being said, you can find some great, cheap machetes from Cold Steel. Their machetes are around $20 and they offer a wide range of selections from latin, kukri, and bolo. I highly recommend the Cold Steel Latin if you are going to customize a machete.
The minimum amount of tools you will need are a file and a vice. The file lets you cut metal off when the vice holds the machete in place. You can also use 550 cord to create slings and lanyards and handles. Some people also use power tools but I stick it to the basics.
Customizing the Sheath
Most cheap machetes come with cheap sheaths. Some expensive machetes come with cheap sheaths as well. If you are going as far as customizing a machete, I recommend you find a good piece of leather and making a sheath out of that. If you don’t know how to work with leather, you can find a leathersmith in your area on sites like craigslist. Most are very cheap, like $20.
Leather is one of the best materials because it looks great, feels great, and will protect the machete for a long time. However, It won’t do so well in moist environments. You might want to look at other synthetic materials if you’re concerned about damp, moist, humid or downright wet conditions.
Customizing the Handle
Cheap machetes have handles that are made of plastic and are not ergonomically designed. Some expensive machetes also have lousy handles. This $300 Russian machete has the worse handle of all time (though it’s not a bad tool otherwise).
You can add a lot of value to your machete by removing the cheap handle and replacing it with a wooden handle. Wood is easy to work with for anyone and is cheap to acquire. It also feels good in your hands and looks great. Wood has good grip if you finish it correctly. There are synthetic handles like Micarta but those are quite expensive. You can also use a 550 cord handle but it might or might not be comfortable to you.
For some machete models like the BK9, there are manufacturers who make custom handles that will fit the machete. These run around $50+ depending on the knife and are made to fit. It is a great way to save some time on your project.
Customizing the Blade
The blade is probably the most important part of the machete. There are many things you can do to it from changing the tip, edge, length, width, and thickness.
A longer machete will be more tip-heavy. If your machete is not well balanced, you can shorten it for a more balanced feel. Note that shortening the machete will give you less power.
Some machetes like the kukri have a wide belly. You can get rid of that by changing the width. You can also change the width if you would like to be more efficient at chopping grass instead of wood.
Thick machetes tend to get stuck in wood easily. You can file and sand the sides of your machete to give it a more continuous edge.
Most machetes come with 15-degree edges. You can change the edge as well as change the type of edge on the machete to suit your needs. There are lots of options here and we can’t cover it in this post.
Most machetes don’t have a sharp point. You can add it to yours if you would like to be able to stab things.
I hope that gives you some ideas on what to do with a machete. Don’t hesitate to experiment. Some users have even done things like adding a bottle opener to their machete. Leave a comment if you have new ideas that we have not mentioned.