The big day for my “Butchete” project finally arrived. After modding a 14” Old Hickory Butcher Knife by convexing the blade and creating new handles out of micarta, it was time to put it to the test. Could the Butchete actually do a decent impression of a machete? One one hand, the knife succeeded, but all was not perfect.
As a proof of concept, the Old Hickory 14” Butcher Knife is absolutely capable of standing in as a brush machete. Roaming around the woods in eastern Tennessee, the Butchete had no problem conquering any branches and vines I put before it. I was able to go through 2” diameter green wood in single strikes. The geometry sliced cleanly and efficiently. On harder wood, the fine edge produced a nice glossy finish on the cut branches.
The knife was also decent at finer work. Although I did not do much, the Butchete has no problems stripping bark or making feathers. It could even notch pretty well by guiding the tip with your thumb. Witness this flat notch as just an example.
The biggest question in my mind though, was whether the heat treat would be good enough for the thrashier jobs, and I was not disappointed. I never experienced any chipping or edge deformation during standard machete work and the blade had an appropriate amount of flex. Even when purposely bending the blade beyond normal, it always returned to true with no damage.
As I mentioned above however, I can not call this iteration of the Butchete a complete success. I had a couple of issues, and both came down to the way I modded the knife.
The handle I designed was the first issue. Despite the comfortable feel, it kept wanting to slip forward as I was slashing. The handle shape at the back was too straight to provide much positive grip retention.
A lanyard alleviated the issue for the most part and allowed me to continue testing, but I am going to go back to my grinder and contour it more for the future.
The second came down to the edge I put on the blade. Since it had no problems in the early parts of my testing, I decided to push the envelope by wailing on a downed tree with a very hard core.
I am still impressed by the heat treat; all I got was a couple of small ripples behind the edge, mostly down to how thin I had ground the steel. After I go back and fix the handles I am going to thicken up the edge as well for more durability.
Despite the issues I had, the Butchete is still successful as far as I am concerned. With a little more modding this kitchen knife ought to have no problem living a wild life in the outdoors, all for less than $20 in parts and materials cost to me.
Now to find a sheath…