Making a Machete with No Power Tools – Survival, Prepper, Beginning Blade Makers

hey Walter Sorrells back with more tips for the knife maker today zero power tools so today I'll be showing how to make a mini machete using absolutely zero power tools now a sane voice might be asking why well first this is an offering for our prepper survivalist low carbon footprint sustainability guys you know something that you can make in the back of beyond in Alaska without any electricity but beyond that here's the thing if you watch a lot of my videos you'll see me using all kinds of fancy tools you know belt grinders and hydraulic forge presses and machine tools and all this stuff and you might think well I guess this is just not for me too expensive too complicated whatever but the point of this video is to say that where there's a will there's a way anybody can make a knife anybody doesn't take a ton of money doesn't take huge amounts of skill doesn't take a giant shop you can do it so one last point mini machete this one's only going to be about 18 inches the point of that is so you can fit it in a pack or carry it anywhere it's really easy to transport but if you want to make a full-size machete you just need to start with a slightly larger piece of Steel 20 to 24 inches something like that alright let's get on it here on this table is most of the material we'll use and here are most of the tools add some clamps some sandpaper advise is nice a couple other items and you got everything you need so we'll start the blade with this a piece of oh one precision ground steel 18 inches long three inches wide a tenth of an inch thick for those of you with no experience in knife making will start with a key concept here heat treating in order to make any kind of tool with an edge on it you have to start with a steel that's appropriate for the job not welding steel not car bumpers in order to make steel suitably hard you have to heat it up and then cool it rapidly why well that's for another video but the point is Oh one steel oh one being the designation of this particular kind of Steel oh one steel is a commonly available steel that's very forgiving in terms of heat treating and makes an excellent cutting tool I'll start by drawing the rough shape of my machete on the steel then I'll use a hacksaw to start cutting excess steel you want a high quality bimetallic blade or oh one when you rest your blade pretty quickly I'm sawing away here a quick note on the design of machetes you'll see a lot of variations but basically you want as much mass out there towards the end as possible machetes should be very thin so in order for them to chop effectively you want a big belly out there towards the end to increase the mass also you want what you call a bird's beak on the end of the handle that's a little protrusion in the handle that you can sort of hook your hand into bong hole is good too a machete is used for vigorous chopping and you want as little opportunity for the blade to fly out of your hand as possible little sawing the more bits you sawed off your blank the less you have to file which brings us to the fun part I'm going to use one of mankind's great tools the bastard file to file this more or less to its shape in my real life by which I mean in the real world where I'm surrounded by power tools I use files constantly they are great great tools also pretty exhausting to use after a while so I'm filing it to shape filing filing still filing so filing in various points I'll use a round file and a half round file that one looks like I bought it during the Middle Ages still works great though yeah so that's me still filing so as you watch me toiling away you may think I bet every time Walter turns off the camera he runs over some power tool and speeds up the process nope I won't pretend I wasn't tempted though there's a reason why ancient blacksmiths were seen as being particularly manly dudes this stuff is a workout if you did this day in and day out for your entire life you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger well like we used to look not the creepy old guy with the facelift anyway done so we get to put the file away right sorry guys now we're going to bevel the edge this is yeah even harder but first we'll take a break and work on the hand I'm going to use three pins to secure the handle and I'll also have a quarter-inch thong – for a wrist strap so I saw a nice little piece of curly maple left over from another project a little bit oversized saw it up do now trace out the handle on the scales I'm using a salt and chisel to clear the waste okay I'll mark my holes then I'll punch them so the drill won't walk all over the handle then I'll drill three 1/8 inch holes for the handle pins and a quarter inch hole for the tube now we'll be busting out grandpa's brace and bit here no electric drill here please now while I'm drilling I want to make a point about my objectives for this build there's a kind of purist restoration carpenter kind of approach you know that guy who uses antique tools and techniques for sort of deep philosophical motivations being one with the wood understanding how the ancient craftsman did their thing with the thing historically accurate restoration whatever that's all good but it's not the goal here the goal here is just to make a field expedient but ugly but effective cool without using any electricity period there's no higher moral objective you use a brace and bit your holes will probably be a little more crooked than if you use the drill press still brace and bit will drill a nice hole so I will counsel you here to use a sharp drill bit though drilling with a dull bit by hand is no picnic the sequence you want to follow in drilling these holes is to drill the steel first then one of the handle scales then use locator pins or old drill bits whatever you need to hold the first piece in place then you'll flip it over and drill from the other side this will assure you that the pins will all line up this is very important holes don't line up you can't put the pins through and this is all wasted effort next we're going to bevel the edge this is the step that basically turns this from a flat bar of Steel into an actual knife something that has an edge it is a lot of work now my original intent was to bevel the edge back to about 3/4 of an inch where I drew this little line but after filing for an hour to I decided that actually the design would be a lot better if the bevel was about 3/8 of an inch wide in other words half his wide this was not because I was tired of filing of course it was because of my sudden realization now that I had gotten intimate with my materials and had a chance to meditate on the design a little more deeply that a slightly less acute edge would actually be more robust and still filing still filing still filing ok there I quit I've filed the bevels on both sides so that I'm down to about 15 thousands of an inch on the edge thicker than I'd make most knives but fatigue aside seriously we're not making a scalpel here so this doesn't need to be super thin next heat treating this step known as quenching converts the steel from a softer pearlite and cementite mix to a harder martensitic structure in other words it gets hard so I'm going to be using a propane torch to heat the blade obviously oxy acetylene would work here too if you don't have a torch you can heat the blade with charcoal you'll have to use forced air to get it hot enough meaning bellows or maybe a hairdryer so if you don't have a torch and you want to see that check out another video mine where I use that charcoal type procedure alright so oh one is what's known as an oil quenching steel meaning that you can cool it quickly enough harden it in oil so I'm going to be quenching it in peanut oil here which has among the highest flash points of any vegetable oil in industry they have very fancy engineered oils but vegetable oils will work olive oil mineral oil canola all these will be fine 401 the oil is contained in a quarter-inch thick steel tube note I'm wearing Kevlar gloves and eye protection in case it flares up but we'll get to that in a moment what I'm doing here is just feathering a nice hot flame all over the blade I want it to reach a sort of cherry red color now that said I don't really go by color different lighting causes colors to appear very differently now normally I heat treat in a dark room so that the colors look pretty consistent to me but the lights used for filming here caused it to appear duller than it might otherwise anyway what I'm leading up to is that sometimes you'll see me dipping the blade down below the edge of the frame and what I'm doing is touching the blade to a magnet that I've mounted on my oil tank now when the steel reaches roughly 1425 Fahrenheit it becomes not magnetic so when I feel that the blade is no longer attracted to the magnet I know that I'm pretty close to my target temperature which is roughly 1500 degrees Fahrenheit now is this the most effective way of heat treating do they do it this way and Industry no no of course not but if you do everything right you'll still get an excellent tool that's one of the great things about a one is it's pretty simple to do this and in fact it's not just good steel it's excellent our result will be kind of ugly but it's going to be better than any of those cheap machetes you find in the camping section at Walmart all right once everything is non-magnetic and I feel like my heat is relatively even along the edge I'm ready to quench now bear in mind the steel is so thin that you can't maintain a consistent temperature for very long so you just do your best you go back and forth really quickly and just try and keep it even once you think that it's all to the right temperature in one swift go plunge it down into the oil then you just leave it there to equilibrate with the temperature of the oil I put it in right up to the end of the blade then after a few seconds I'll go ahead and immerse the entire thing including the tang but we don't want the Tang to harden and that's why we're leaving it out of the oil at first now when it's cool enough to touch I'll take it out and check to see if the quench work by rubbing the corner of a file on the steel it sort of skates over the steel down here on the edge which means that it hardened properly but it bites in on the spine meaning that the spine remained kind of soft this is what's known as differential hardening and it's exactly what I was aiming for I want a hard edge for edge retention but I want a soft spine for shock resistance that's the same principle that they use in making Japanese swords next we'll temper the steel meaning that we'll heat it again this time to a much lower temperature if you have a wood stove gas stove electric stove whatever you can heat it up to 475 then stick the blade in there for our softening the steel so that it's not susceptible to chipping or cracking and releasing some of the residual stresses in the steel this is a really important step as the steel is glass hard right now and just too brittle for use now we'll put on the handle I should have thinned down the handle scales earlier as they're a little too beefy right now but that's no problem I'll just use the rasp to profile them I want them pretty close to their final dimensions so I'm giving them a rounded profile then sanding them smooth what I'm going to do now is secure the handle using epoxy and pins I intended to use brass pins but what I discovered right as I was about to put the handle on was that when I had pulled the pin stock out of my supply bin what I thought was brass rod was actually brass tube and that really wouldn't have been suitable for this so instead I'm just substituting 316 stainless rod which is actually not really what I wanted but still it'll work okay now I'll prep the surface for the epoxy this is a really important step in epoxy you'll notice that I left it all the crud on the blade that formed during heat treating that will help inhibit rust but for proper adhesion to the handle we need to degrease the tang then clean all these oxides the suit the polymerized oil whatever crud is on there you need to get rid of it using a heavy grit scotch brite now I'll drive the pins and the thong tube into their holes and test everything to make sure all the holes line up you don't want to start slathering epoxy on everything only to find out that things don't quite line up you really are screwed if that happens but everything looks good so I go ahead and mix the epoxy this is just commercial five minute epoxy that you can get down at the hardware store since it's five-minute epoxy I'm going to need two work fast so I need everything laid out and ready to go because I'll be working quickly as soon as I've mixed the epoxy I'll slap it on there and press everything together knocking the pins all the way through now next step is I'll peen the ends of the pins I'll use this small cross peen hammer to flare out the ends of the pins now this isn't entirely necessary but flaring the ends of the pins creates a mechanical lock so that even if the epoxy fails the handle will still hold together this was the traditional method of attaching handle scales to the tags of knives I'm using the cross beam on my hammer to mushroom the end slightly as I mentioned I would have preferred to do this with brass which is much more malleable than 316 stainless so I left a little too much pin material sticking out and it's not responding quite the way I'd like but still we'll get there as soon as I'm done with the pins I'll quickly slap some clamps on making sure to get the ends well clamp then I leave it to cure according to the epoxy manufacturer's recommendations okay everything's cured I'll take off the clamps now I'll finish up the handle filing off any excess pin material and evening things up also I'm removing all the excess wood from the inner and outer surfaces of the handles and I'm profiling it to make it comfortable to hold and a little sanding moving up through various grits and stopping it 320 grit and then some true oil finish nothing particularly special about that you could use tung oil you could use wipe-on poly boiled linseed oil whatever you like this just happens to be one finish that works pretty well once the finish is dry I'll finish things off with a retention thong and here's the final product so despite the fact that this is a pretty unrefined design it's actually you know going to be a very effective cutting tool you know one of the cool things about making knives is that there you know you don't have to go about the whole process the same way every time when I'm making a knife to sell to somebody you know I have to sweat every detail make sure there aren't any little tiny grinding marks left over and all that sort of thing something like this a couple weeks from now I'm probably going to find it out in the backyard my son is going to take it out there where this buddy's drop it it's going to get covered with rust and I won't be worried because I didn't kill myself making it well I mean I did sort of kill myself but that was my choice anyway bottom line here is knife making is just one of those things that if you really decide you want to do it you can and this is testimony to that if you enjoyed this video please subscribe to my channel and check out my website walter Sorrells blades comm where you can find more of my work you'll also find plenty more videos there that you can't find on youtube with very very detailed information about all aspects of Japanese blade making also like me on facebook at walter Sorel's blaze you

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