Friday, May 15, 2009

Sharpening the 12” Cold Steel Bowie Machete

The 12” Bowie Machete by Cold Steel is without a doubt one of the best deals out there, one of the best I’ve seen in a long time.
I told everyone to get one while they can. As of now, I think it’s no longer being produced, at least it doesn't show anymore in Cold Steel's website. You can still find them though in Amazon and Ebay, and if you are on a tight budget but need a do it all knife ( wilderness + defense+ work around the garden) seriously consider this terribly affordable knife.
Before I even knew this knife ever existed, I did something very similar myself, grinding a clip point and shortening a Tramontina machete trying to end up with something very similar to what Cold Steel offered, so that’s why I like it so much.
This is mine as it came out of the bag, it doesn’t even have a box, so it’s a pretty spartan presentation.

The grip is much better than I expected.
It's made in China, and the blade is machete thick. Some people seem to believe the machete thickness blade will just shatter like glass. Guys, machetes are the most used and abused knives world wide. Used for chopping wood, cleaning up for camp and killing animals. A machete thickness is preferred than some stupid brick of a knife that weights a ton and costs 300 bucks. If you don’t think it can take a lot of abuse, at least check Cold Steel’s torture test and flex tests.
The trick is that machetes compensate for that narrowness with a rather broad blade.
Back to the knife, it can do a lifetime of work, and unlike the most common machetes, it has a bowie shape blade, with a clip point that works much better for more delicate work as well as stabbing and fighting. My favorite blade, the 1898 Artillería machete, that’s a great little beast, but weights a ton, not to mention the price is much higher because it’s a bit of a collector’s item, going for 300 USD last time I checked.
This Cold Steel knife would be my go-to knife if I had to go on foot and carry a lot of weight.
As it comes the Cold Steel Bowie machete has a crappy edge, it needs some work.
I used some fine grain water sandpaper, mouse pad, paper tape and invested 15 minutes of my time.
The mouse pad goes under the sandpaper, so that it curves a bit under pressure and you end up with that slightly rolled, razor sharp yet durable edge.
With the sand paper secured to the table and a few drops of water, I dragged the blade in the opposite direction of the edge, doing both sides. Some people do it some other way and push forward in the direction of the edge. I frankly don’t like it. In my experience the little grains create small dents and its about impossible to get that polished, razor sharp edge with most stones and sandpaper. I always move the blade towards the opposite direction of the edge.
Angle? Carefully press the edge with your fingers until the edge’s grind angle is flat against the paper, it’s roughly 20-25 degrees or so. With a bit of pressure the mouse pad flexes and does the rest.

Very simple sharpening setup.
If your not good at sharpening, go slowly at first until you get the angle right. No better blade to practice than a 15 dollar knife.
After a bit of stropping with a leather belt ( I used the side of the bayonet holster pictured) the bowie machete will easily shave hair off my arm.

Sharpened Bowie Machete
So that’s it guys, if you have another knife around that needs good sharpening, try this method. If the edge is dented or need reprofiling or paint removing like the machete did, put more of your weight on the blade as you drag it, so as to take more steel away.
Take care folks.

(edited to add: This knife is listed on the right in the Amazon affiliated program, and like the adsense adds, I do make a small % out of it. Having said that, I only ad products with well earned reputation, many of which I own myself. If I go as far as writing about it, its because I truly believe it’s a heck of a deal and I like the product enough to fervently recommend it. Something similar to the Victorinox Midnight Minichamp which I simply love and use every day, or my Cold Steel serrated folder)

Check out the 180º flex test



jcard21 said...

12-inch Bowie machete

FerFAL said...

Thanks! I didn't find them in the machete section and thought they where discontinued. Also it looks as if the other machetes are made in Africa, but the bowie machete is marked as made in China


Bones said...

They also make a really nice little shovel: search for the "Cold Steel Special Forces Shovel Hardwood Handle". It's modeled after the Spetsnaz shovel. Keep one in the trunk of your car.

Syclone538 said...

I have their Bolo machete and like it, it is a great deal, nice handle, but yeah you do have to sharpen it before you use it. Also, in their video they don't show the one they bent after they bend it. I never twisted mine anywhere near that hard but it's not straight anymore. I bent it back so it's close to straight now, so I don't really care, but I would have abused it a little less if I knew it would bend.

Dave said...

Great post, thanks!

Anonymous said...

Heads up guys! The "12" Bowie Machete is available again! I just got mine from Amazon. Get em while they're hot!