Not long ago I introduced my latest project – turning an Old Hickory 14” butcher knife into a machete. Well as of a few days ago, the “Butchete” is complete and ready for testing!
The first step was knocking off the wooden scales that came on the knife. The knife was a cosmetic second and the scales were crazy uneven. No matter, as I wanted to change the profile anyway to something with more contours.
After removing the wood I had to drill the holes a little larger to accept the 3/16” brass rods I would be using (along with epoxy) to secure the new scales to the tang.
I also wanted to get rid of the original hollow grind for the sake of durability. By convexing the primary bevel right down to zero, there is now more metal behind the edge to support the 40º inclusive secondary bevel I will put on the knife once I have finished it.
Hopefully this will mitigate any edge deformation or chipping that may occur. I’ll know more once I have gotten it out into the wild.
After getting the handle profiled the way I wanted it, I picked out some 3/8” thick natural canvas micarta for scales, added some red liners and rough cut the peices to shape. All that was left to do was spread the epoxy, insert and peen the brass, and clamp it up to cure overnight.
For more in depth description of these steps, you can check out the following post:
The next day I set to actually shaping the handle. After squaring up the handle blocks to the edge of the tang, I used a router to rough out the edges.
This actually got it fairly close to the finished shape I wanted. I just needed to dig out the palm swell a little more and take a little off the underside to get the “inverted egg” cross section I was going for.
Once I had my shape refined, I wanted to add thumb scallops and blend them into the handle, creating a taper at the front of the scales.
Once accomplished, I took everything to a matte finish by sanding up to 320-grit, and then finishing with a Very-Fine ScotchBrite belt and cleaned everything up with a spritz of WD-40
All in all, I took about an hour to do all the handle shaping. Hardly setting any speed records, but not bad considering I hadn’t had a chance to touch my grinder in a few months.
So far, the knife feels good in my hands and I think the colors turned out nice. You can see a darker spot on the natural micarta; this is what is left of the outer layer of the piece I started with. Like all micarta, the rest will darken over time to match as it interacts with the UV spectrum.
I’ll have a chance next weekend to put the Butchete to some actual use. I’m eager to see if the knife performs as I hope it will, or whether this has all been a fool’s errand. Check back next week for an update.
Even if the knife doesn’t work out as a machete substitute, it has been good practice. You can certainly see the improvement from the last Old Hickory I modified!