Saw Blade Survival Machete

This machete is my first forray into knife making. It is fabricated from a 14" cold-cutting blade. A number of the carbide teeth on the blade were damaged, so turning it into a machete would give it a second life as a useful tool.

I set myself a challenge for this project, to complete it using only materials I had on hand. I had the material for the blade, and figured I would either use copper rivets or some steel rod to attach the handle. Now all I needed was the appropriate material for the handle.


I checked my scrap wood pile for some useable hardwood, but most of the wood was pine and chestnut. I remembered that the power company had taken down a walnut tree in my backyard and neatly stacked the wood in a pile. I decided I would use that for the handle. Now came the trick of getting useful wood from the log.

With my chainsaw out of commission and lacking a sawmill, I decided to use an axe head and chisel to split the logs. After that, I ran them through a planer to square them up enough to be ripped into slats on the table saw.

The wood was still a bit green, so I "kiln dried" it in the oven at the Warm setting (170F). About every half hour I checked the wood's weight. Once the weight stopped dropping, I called it dry enough.


Creating the blade was pretty straight forward. Since I didn't have enough material to create the size I wanted, I needed to cut and weld to pieces together. I drew up the blade in Inkscape, and chunked it up into pieces so that the weld build be completely covered by the handle. This didn't go quite as planned, because I ended up cutting the wood a bit short, and it didn't cover the weld completely.

After welding the blade up, I ground it flat with a grinding disc and flap wheel. Once that was done, I cleaned up the edge and added a bevel on the belt grinder.


I struggled a bit to drill the holes for the handle. The steel was pretty hard, and I tried to drill to aggressively. Sure I could have annealed the material, but it was workable enough already and I wanted to avoid the additional steps of tempering or heat-treating afterwards. What worked was drilling small pilot holes and making a number of passes. I made about 4 steps between #40 (0.098") and 0.25".

I had originally thought I would use steel pins for the handle, since I had it on hand, but I really wanted something hollow so I could hang the blade. I picked up a length of hollow brass tubing which worked nicely.

To attach the sales, I added some crosshatch using a utility knife and applied a 10-minute epoxy. There are epoxies with a better shear strength than what I used, but I suspect it will do the job just fine. Finally, I gave it a coat of Danish Oil to complete it.

I haven't used it too much yet, but it's head and shoulders above the $10 machete I purchased from Harbor Freight. I am looking forward to using it to clear brush, among other tasks.