Because no man ever outgrows being a 12 year old boy
November 8, 2013

Every once in a while, I get some kind of bug in my brain - some neurons that fuse into an idea and will NOT let it go. A couple weeks ago, I decided I needed a new machete.

This is my current machete - a $7 special from Harbor Freight. It came with a plastic handle that lasted less than one session against the weeds. I fabbed a new handle and have been pretty pleased with it ever since. Except . . except . . . it's not very cool, is it?

Why did I want a new machete? Well, I am doing more adventure sailing, and sometimes, you need a big-assed whacker to bust through some weeds or get some firewood. And yeah, this machete would do that just fine, but, what about style?

See, I've got this cool looking, pirate-y style boat, and if I'm going to be buying things, why not buy things that fit that style?

Fortunately, we live in a golden age, when almost anything is available at the click of a mouse. Let's go see what is available in cutlasses.

It turns out there is a bagillion kinds of cutlasses out there - all in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and prices. I won't bore you with all the possibilities. Let's just say I happened upon a company that fit my frame of mind: Cold Steel.

If you've never been to the Cold Steel website, do yourself a favor and take a peek. I find the videos especially amusing. These are grown men, remember, running an actual, profitable business.

They have a ton of product, including a reproduction of a 1917 Naval Cutlass. But with a list price of $280, they were a decimal place out of my price range.

Then I found it - the PERFECT machete for my intentions - the Cutlass Machete At $50 list, it was still out of my price range, but Amazon had them for $30, and that was doable.

There she is - with sheath. Looks just like a pirate cutlass.

It is quite a bit longer than my old machete - heavier, too. Still, it looks bitchin'.

I used my Amazon Reward points and ended up getting the machete for free, so I got one of Cold Steel's Rifleman Hawk tomahawks, too. Why? Because I felt guilty not having to pay for the machete.

They arrived in a timely manner and came out of the box nice and sharp. I have nothing bad to say about the "out of the box" experience with either of these products.

Now that I had them, what to do with them?

We take our dogs to a local park and walk them on a footpath that goes around the outer edge. This section is not well maintained and the Scot's Broom (Cytisus scoparius, an invasive weed that is choking Oregon) crowds the path on the lower edge. Kids: Always remember to check with your local Parks and Recreation before showing up and whacking weeds.

Oh oh oh! That hatchet is SWEET! More like a small axe. The head is very heavy and it'll cut though a 2" trunk in a whack or two. I got to where I could do some really impressive one-choppers.

The machete could plow through most trunks up to an inch or so. Some took more than one whack, especially as I got tired.

About 650sqft in 40 minutes. I was sweating buckets and wheezing like a one-lunged crack-head by then. Scot's Broom is best removed with loppers, cutting the trunks just below the surface, but it is much more fun to attack with a cutlass and hatchet.

I was amazed at how well the blades held up - sorry for the crappy shot - it only took a few passes with the stone to get 'em impressively sharp again.

Cutlass was the same - very little damage to the blade even though I was whacking right into the ground fairly often.

So there's the long and the short of it. You are going to have to do yard work and if you go adventure sailing, you are going to have to chop brambles and fire wood. You might as well have tools that are fun as well as functional. Based on my experience, I'd say Cold Steel is a good place to look for them.