Why do we choose Tramontina? Quite simply put, they nailed it!
Tramontina have been making agricultural tools for over 100 year and they are good at it. They know how to make a great machete. Millions of Brazilians that rely on these same machetes every day for a living can't be wrong!
They do not make pretty, thick and heavy knives. They make proper agricultural machetes that have so many advantages over using a big knife. Try to use a heavy knife as a clearing tool and you will soon realise it’s the wrong implement for the job. These Bolo machetes will perform all the same tasks as a heavy knife and do a better job of it in the process. You can effectively use a proper machete far longer than you could a heavy knife.
Tramontina make machetes that are designed to be used all day, every day and keep coming back for more!
So how did we decide to go with Tramontina?
To begin with, we had to do our own primary research. There is very little information out there about machetes that is specific to Australia conditions. We are quite unique down here and we wanted to find the right tool that was up to the task. If we were going to support a great product, we needed to know what we were talking about.
We scoured the internet looking for every bit of information we could. We researched websites, forums and video sites looking at what other people were using and why.
Many orders later we had a huge pile of machetes and heavy knives to test! If you have seen a popular machete or knife review on youtube, chances are we tested it. That took a considerable amount of time to say the least.
We took everything we learned from testing these knives and developed a strict protocol that would separate the toys from the real tools. This protocol is as follows:
One style/shape of machete must perform a diverse range of tasks from heavy to light work for both short and long working periods. It must be a comfortable size for large and small users, male or female for extended periods of work.
Extremely durable product with a full length tang and well secured timber handle.
It simply must hold a good edge for extended work periods as well as be easily resharpened. It must be tough enough to handle our harder timbers.
IT MUST BE A WORKHORSE, NOT A SHOW PIECE.
This is important as many tools can be unnecessarily costly. Expensive, thick and painted machetes just don’t end up getting used.
IT MUST BE HIGH CARBON STEEL.
The only benefit to stainless steel in machetes is the rust resistance. This advantage is at the cost of every other aspect of a hard working machete. Simple high carbon steel is a perfect choice for a machete in every way. The only downfall is that it rusts.This is easily mitigated and as the decorative patina sets in, it becomes a benefit over time.
Tramontina easily passed the selection criteria. Actually, you could say they wrote the book on it! I suspect one of the reasons they developed such a great product is because Brazil has some pretty hard timbers as well.
The style we chose from their extensive line was the 14" Bolo. This was by far the outstanding choice. Click here for more information on this machete.
Summarising the rest of our findings,
...well we found a few surprises. Price had no correlation to quality. The high initial cost of many machetes did not necessarily equate to a better quality product.
To be fair we tested all of them at three stages: Factory new, after a file/stone sharpen, then a full regrind and sharpen.
The most common issue we found was how sharp they came from the factory. Most were too thick to take an appropriate edge. None were up to the standard we would use for our own work.
Realistically only two of them were somewhat work ready after a file sharpen but both of them failed in other criteria. All of them were drastically improved with a proper grind and sharpen.
The easiest way to explain this is the difference between a firewood splitting maul and a proper felling axe. A splitting tool has a thick edge and a cutting tool has a thin edge. A machete is a cutting tool, not a splitting tool and should have an appropriate edge to suit. You can split wood and cut with a machete that has a thin edge, however a machete with a thick splitting edge will never cut anything properly.
One of machetes we tested came with a hollow ground edge. It was nice and sharp but the edge just did not hold up to any heavy cutting at all.
Soft steel (heat treatment) was a minor gripe. Unless you’re doing a side by side comparison with many other knives, most users can't reliably tell the difference. Most were good, some were very bad! Again, price had no correlation to quality. It's a bit cheeky of manufactures to do this to consumers but making a big knife or machete a little softer than it should be means much less snapped blades. To make a harder steel machete takes a lot of skill considering how thin they are. Tramontina really nailed it!
Now on to sheaths
None came close to meeting our criteria. We did our best to be fair, but we expected more from them. Most were too flimsy and appeared to be made as an afterthought. Only one of them had some merit in our book but apart from being quite heavy, it had a gorilla grip on the machete if you ever stowed it a bit dirty or rusty. Here is a link to a nationwide product recall on a machete sheath that failed. These are common issues for soft machete sheaths, especially when using one with a properly sharpened machete.
See why we developed a new sheath system, click here for a link.
Blade coatings always scratched and failed on our test group no matter how expensive they were. Machetes are a hard use tool. The only benefit we came up with to painting a machete is if it's likely to be in storage for a long time between use or you are only ever cutting very soft material with it. They look good with a coat of paint though! We are currently testing a rust inhibiting paint system. If you would like some more information, take a look at the BlackJack Machete.
We are constantly researching other brands and tools. When we come up with what we think is a worthy product, we will let you all know about it.