Benjamin Bouchard

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since May 23, 2012
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Recent posts by Benjamin Bouchard

First and foremost, you might consider one of the wooden Swiss snaths from someone like One Scythe Revolution. But if trying to "fix" this notorious issue with the Scythe Supply stem, you can pre-drill and pin to keep it from loosening, or you can turn the hole into a rectangular mortise and tenon arrangement instead and make your own replacement stem/grip. Making your own grips is recommended for those snaths anyhow since the stock ones are ergonomically lacking compared to the Swiss snath.
4 weeks ago

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:Ah well, Yes hunts was looking to drive traffic to a linked site, so I thought it was a (thin) excuse to jump in.

I haven't seen newer Ontarios -- hope their quality control didn't slip. Mine are all oldies and have served very well in bushcraft type use. I would take them on a self-propelled trip in the North woods any time.

But to each his own. I'd love to take the well-respected brands you mention for a spin.



Yeah the old ones aren't my favorite vintage machetes (those'd be Collins) but they're quite solid. Not the least bit bad. The newer ones swapped phenolic scales for polypropylene and they did a poor job of copying the shape of the old handles. The old ones LOOK boxy but feel nice in the hand while the new ones FEEL boxy and have to be totally reworked in order to be comfortable. The full flat grind on the old ones is nice and deep and actually gives a notable improvement in cutting performance, while the new ones are so shallowly ground as to make the full flat grind essentially vestigial and meaningless, which leaves too much forward mass in the blade and makes it awkward and dead-feeling in the hand. The older ones are nice and lively.
2 months ago

Douglas Alpenstock wrote:I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Ontario machetes. I own four of them, two long and two short. Nice cutting profile, not too thick or thin, and nicely tempered high-carbon steel that takes a scary sharp and durable edge. Great for woody materials.

The only Cold Steel machete I bought was awful. I swear it was made from the door panel of an army truck. That does not apply to the Cold Steel Spetznaz-design shovel, which is an amazing mini tool for digging or chopping, and I own three.

I sharpened a Camillus Les Stroud machete for a friend a few weeks ago. Good steel, good heft and took a great edge, though the geometry is a bit more hatchet than knife.



I'm not personally much of a fan of the Ontario machetes. Ones from the 80's and earlier have more comfortable scales and a much better blade geometry with better, deeper primary grinds that lighten the blade up considerably. In economical machetes Imacasa is my top brand of choice, and Tramontina is a staple maker as well. Incolma/Gavilan is also a solid choice.  

Also this is an 8 year old thread.
2 months ago

Hank Waltner wrote:So I should just sharpen with a course stone and work grits done until a fine edge



You'll need to bevel it, first, which (if using manual means) will be done fastest using a chainsaw file or half-round file, as I described above. The best edge for scythes is a coarse scratch pattern with a crisp apex, so use a coarse stone to do any initial honing and then chase it with a light pass of a fine stone just to crisp it up a little without erasing the toothiness of the edge given to it by the coarse stone.
2 months ago

Hank Waltner wrote:How do I know if I need to peen it or sharpen with a grind stone



Only continental European blades are peened. American, Nordic, and English blades are all heat treated hard, and are often of laminated construction. Peening would not only be likely to damage those blades, but if done on a laminated blade would result in the edge being comprised of soft cladding iron rather than the core edge steel.

2 months ago

T Blankinship wrote:

Benjamin Bouchard wrote:

You're looking for a 7-9° angle per side, which should result in a visual bevel width of about 1/4" on both sides. The tang angle will also need adjusting, which is best done using either an induction heater or an oxy-acetylene torch to heat the shank of the tang (the straight portion before the 90° elbow) and cranking the tang with the blade locked in a vise. When in mowing position (which is often a little lower than you think--mime a few strokes to settle into it) the edge should be riding about a finger's thickness off the ground.



Good eye I did not see the bend in the tang. I looked at https://permies.com/t/143628/scythes/difference-American-scythe-European-scythe . Is this blade an American scythe blade?



It's an American blade. The tang will be flat from the factory and most vintage blades never had the tang angle properly adjusted as was intended. Because most of the lay adjustment with American scythes comes from the neck of the snath, it made more sense to sell the blades with the tang flat and have a local metalworker do the final adjustment. These days if you don't have the equipment to do the job yourself you can have a local machine shop or independent mechanic do it for you.
2 months ago

Hank Waltner wrote:I have two scythe blades but I’m new to scythes so ho can I tell the difference in America pattern and Europe pattern.



Here's a photo of a few global styles. Top is a Nordic (Norwegian) blade, below that is an English ("patent tang" riveted) blade, and American blade, and a continental European blade (Italian.) Bear in mind that there are lots of variations within the various global styles, but they broadly follow the appearance of these examples.



2 months ago

T Blankinship wrote:I found this Briar Edge by True Temper scythe blade at a antique store today. I was excited to find this blade. Any ideas on how to protect the blade from rust? Also the blade has what looks like black paint on it. Should I repaint the blade or not? The edge does need a little work on the beard.



Presuming you're going to be putting it to use, don't worry about rust removal--mowing will scrub and pickle all of the rust off of it in use. Briar Edge blades are whole steel construction so you should be able to use the draw-filing method with a chainsaw or half-round file to bevel it. You're looking for a 7-9° angle per side, which should result in a visual bevel width of about 1/4" on both sides. The tang angle will also need adjusting, which is best done using either an induction heater or an oxy-acetylene torch to heat the shank of the tang (the straight portion before the 90° elbow) and cranking the tang with the blade locked in a vise. When in mowing position (which is often a little lower than you think--mime a few strokes to settle into it) the edge should be riding about a finger's thickness off the ground.
2 months ago

David F Paul wrote:Very cool! thanks for sharing! I would guess based on what benjamin said, the austrian model blade should probably be peened



As I noted in my post, that's not an Austrian pattern. It's Swedish. It should NOT be peened.
2 months ago
The snath is a Seymour, either a No.1 or No.2 model. You can tell which it is by seeing if there are 3 holes in the heel plate or 4--if it has 4 holes arranged in a ᠅ shape it's a No.2 bush snath. The blade is a Swedish pattern one, and while I'm uncertain of the manufacturer who produced them for Craftsman, it was probably Igelfors Liefabrik as I've seen some Craftsman-marked blades that definitely used their tooling. Many of the Craftsman blades, including that one, have impression die forged tangs with a distinctive knob to them that's very unusual, it being forged in rather than being a simple upturn of the end of the tang. I would guess that both the snath and blade are probably of 1960's make, and almost certainly no earlier than the 1950's. The green blade has the appearance of a 1930's-1940's True Temper, though there are some other possible makers, and of course any tang markings would help clear that up.

For freehand grinding on a wheel I suggest having the wheel turn away from you and hold the blade at a roughly 45° oblique to the face of the wheel. The tension made by the friction against the wheel will help steady the blade in your hand, and the slanted approach both assists with clearance and minimizes the thickening effect of wobbling the edge on the wheel. Always view your angle as relative to the contact point rather than a fixed point in space that the wheel turns under.
2 months ago