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Machetes: from the jungle to your garden

Machetes are tools between a large knife and a small sword in size (around 30–50 cm long). Machetes are often used in agriculture and in the tropics in particular. 

Machetes are ideal to hack your way in the jungle or to chop sugar cane. In first instance, this is a tool that is used frequently throughout the world.

The origin of the machete

The name is Spanish in origin and means ‘little sledge hammer’. This says something about their usual sturdy build. Crushing a coconut should not be a problem for a good machete. The shape of machetes can vary. That relates to the origin of the particular type among other things. A Kukri is originally a Nepalese machete with a curved shape whereas the Parang and the Indonesian Golok have a much straighter blade. Many warriors also used a machete as it was the sharpest tool available to them. Machetes are jungle knives par excellence, as you can simply hack away around you with them.

The steel and the sharpness of machetes

The steel types machetes are made from can vary. In some cases a cheaper steel type is used to keep the price low and sometimes the materials used are of very high quality. A machete is always very strong and can withstand vigorous hacking. If carbon steel is used it will not be rust-resistant. Not all machetes are supplied razor sharp. That is not a problem in many cases because they are not used to peel an apple but for chopping. Of course you can also sharpen a machete perfectly on a Japanese whetstone, but it will take some time because of the length of the cutting surface.