Le 7 septembre 2002, par OldJimbo
After trying a cheap Coglins machete to compare with the old heavy Barteaux, I wasn’t in any great hurry to try more cheap machetes ! Eventually though I was buying some axe handles and saw some Tramontinas. I’d heard good things about them so I parted with the $11.00 (CAN) and grabbed one...
I had to sand the top of the wooden handle to make it comfortable enough to use - and I even took a few minutes to hone the edge to try to remove the worst of the coarse factory grinding - and folded over edge. Finally today I took it trail clearing and was very impressed. It does a wonderful job of cutting devils club and is far less tiring to use than the heavy Barteaux. It only got about half an hour’s use today but it sure did a lot of cutting ! The edge held up just fine, and I was one happy trail clearer. The thin light blade with just a minimal sharpening job cut right through the devil’s club without causing them to snap back and needle me.
Naturally I had gone without thinking to bring a larger axe or saw, so when it came time to remove some dry snags I had to work with the Gransfors hatchet. Naturally I had to try the Tramontina to see the edge fold, chip and destruct ! Well it didn’t - and then I was really impressed ! It’s not much of a chopper due to the lack of weight but it did a reasonable job of splitting out enough chunks to start a fire. Cutting thin green poles of shelter building size was also handled very well.
You need a lot more than a half day’s use to really get to know a tool, but the first impressions are very favorable. I was immediately able to see a vast difference between this machete and one that cost a little more but was total junk in use. The edge held up and while I don’t expect much through honing back - I’d expect to see some improvement. The handle was very comfortable if a little less than totally secure. I have some more sanding and shaping to do on it - and then I’m sure I’ll be very happy with it. It does impart far less of a vibration back to the wrist than the aluminium handled Barteaux - partly due to the handle and partly due to the lighter weight of the blade.
You don’t get much of a sheath with a $10 machete but it did come with a vinyl sheath which can be "improved" to hold a sharp edge. I’ll probably use some thin wood panelling strips to make a box inside for the blade.
I’ll be getting some pictures up in the next few days to compare the two machetes and the modifications I’ll be making to the handle, to make it more secure in the hand. I’m not too sure where to drill a thong hole - but I’ll get that figured out.
And After A Few Days..
I ’m sure happy with the way the machete is working out. So far it hasn’t bent in light splitting - and the edge has only one significant ding - probably from a rock since it’s on the tip and I don’t worry about the tip. I’m just doing the polishing of the bevel today so all the machete has had is some rough sharpening with a coarse stone. I’ve been chopping quite a bit of green alder in the 1-2" range and the edge has held very well.
I have a buddy picking up another Tram so that I can see if there is any major difference. That’s probably not going to tell very much if they’re from the same lot - but maybe.. The thing is that the original Tram is holding up so well that I’d figure that it’s one of the better ones. Quality control of $10 tools is pretty well going to be non existent so it’s hard to tell if what I’ve been using is representative of the rest of the Tramontinas out there. Maybe I have the best of these and got the worst of the Coglins - who knows ? The bottom line is that if a person could have some hope of getting a machete that’s pretty reasonable for $10, then they have an awesome clearing implement. While a brusher will do a lot more work, a machete is light to carry and fun to use.
I’m also in the process of making the edge on the Barteaux far more acute so that it chops better in hard wood without glancing. Maybe it’ll chop devils club better now too. We’ll have to see !
I guess I am seeing some good stuff concerning machetes. In trail clearing I wander along with an axe and saw. I sure don’t need a full sized brusher to add to the load. I’m still concerned with safety though. You sure have to be careful unless you are wearing chainsaw pants or chaps. You don’t get very far unless the machete is really sharp with the plant life around here. A slip with a machete and you’re going to need a lot more than a few band -aids !
Tramontina is Brazilian, web site found at Tramontina site . It seems easy to find on the american continent (OlJimbo is Canadian). I tried to find some in Europe (EEC) with no success. The best may be to ask them directly.
I have seen different Tramontina machetes in Budapest, Hungary. I guess you can buy them anywhere in larger cities, even closer to the slovakian border (e.g. Miskolc)
My tram was free. I backpacked in to a campsite on one particularly rainy night. I got the tent up immediately and began rumaging around to find any sort of dry wood to start a fire. Amidst the 1 1/2 to 2 inches of seep into the mud something rigid peeked out of the murk as my boot pushed up against it. It was a machete.
That night I used the machete to strip the wet bark off of the wood that I found and discovered that it did a pretty good job at cutting the logs that I came across too. This machete was filthy and a bit rusty and I had no idea how long it had been buried under the soil. It worked like a charm for the entire weekend. That was about 8 years ago.
Since then I have cleaned up the blade and sharpened it twice. I also wrapped the handle with some rubber tennis racket grip tape. This has completely eliminated any vibration. The machete has acompanied me on every camping/adventure outing that I have been on since.
As we all know, machete’s may be the most universally useful tool/blade there is in the woods and I have loved this found treasure over the years. It has handled everything that I have thrown at it. Though not as fast as an axe for big chops it will get the job done quickly on anything up to 10 inches in diameter. It makes hatchets worthless and can even be used as a spatula in a pinch.
Two weeks ago I thought I ruined my blade. I was splitting some wood for kindling and the blade wrapped around a very large, very hard knot deep into the cut. It has always handled the pounding of another piece of wood to drive it trough but this time the blade was well bent. It had a 115 degree angle in it(approximate...but close). I thought for sure this would be the end of the blade. I was well into the log and the only to get the blade out was to continue pounding it through. As I pounded away the blade remained in the same awkward angle all the way to the end. Eventually I was able to reach the bottom of the log with one last strong hammer. The tram went through and to my amazement, by the time I was able to take a glimps at the damage I had done, the blade had sprung back to its original shape. Perfectly straight and ready to cut again.
Tonight I finally decided to do a little research on this amazining blade and was astonished to find out what an inexpensive product it really is. My field tests were not in the Amazon nor have I attempted to cut down any hardwood trees but I will stand by this cheap handheld chainsaw for the rest of my life. You simply can do no better for the money. Someday some lucky grandchild of mine will carry this tool into the wilderness and I’m sure it will provide him with all of the functionality and usefullness that it had when it was "new".
I have a Tramontina that is at least 20 years old, I paid $4.00 for it and still use it.
I have owned 2 Tramontinas . My current one I’ve been using for over 15 years, it cost me £6 ( $10) at a local market tool store, I modifed it by taking off the handle ground a longer tang and then split an oval hammer handle and drilled and fastened that to the new tang. its’ worked beautifuly ever since, I’ve used it for everythign from makeing shelters , to splitting fire wood and even flipping burgers and steaks on the cook griddle.
my previous Tramontina I bought when I was serving in Belize as a replacement for my British Isssue Golok which was useless for the bush clearing and work i was doing. that one I gave to one of the newbies on the new intake when I rotated out.