The Epoxy Handle Modification.
This is the third part to the 'Essential Trio' of modifications that we do to all our own personal machetes. It is highly recommended for the serious bushcrafters that need an extra level of durability and rigidity from their machete!
By solidly bonding the tang to the handle with epoxy and installing stronger solid rivets you will get three major increases in performance:
The combination of slow cure epoxy and solid fasteners will give a much stiffer, one piece feel to the machete during use. You can really feel the difference while heavy chopping as well as carving with a machete as you often roll the handle over in a cut.
The epoxy bonds to the steel inside the timber handle preventing any moisture from rusting the tang
Longevity of any tool is important. This modification drastically improves the life span of an already robust tool.
As always, we offer all our mods at various stages of completion. You might want to work on these yourself or we can finish off the handle to suit.
Just the Epoxy Handle Mod Please! $45
First we remove the handle by drilling and punching out the existing fasteners, then we remove the blade coating on the tang to get to the steel. It gets a thorough scuffing with 36grit zirconia abrasives and then a clean with solvents. We want the 24hr cure epoxy to solidly bond to the steel as well as the timber handle.
We pre finish the timber handle where it meets the steel blade. This is important as you cannot work on this part of the handle after it is bonded to the machete and not scratch up the steel. (see photos)
Everything gets carefully taped up to minimise epoxy staining (more obvious with black epoxy). We always get a really clean and crisp transition from timber to steel! They just look the part when this is done right.
The epoxy gets mixed (black or clear, it's your choice) and is worked into every contact surface to make sure of a thorough bond. We drive in the new rivets and seat them with a 2ton press, watching for the right amount of squeeze out. Done!
Once the epoxy is mostly set (24hrs minimum), we remove the tape, clean everything up and lightly sand the high points from the epoxy to bring the handle back to the factory shape.
I Want The Epoxy Handle Mod & Finish It Off Please! $60
We have been shaping these handles for a long time now and know how to get them to feel just right in your hand. These Tramontina hardwood handles come unfinished from the factory for a good reason. Everyone has a different preference to how they should be shaped for comfort and safety.
We are happy to help sort this out for you!
The most generic handle shape we do suits people who fit medium to large glove sizes. We have found this to be the most common shape/size that suits most users and we do this as a default unless requested otherwise. If you have really long fingers, a big hand with short fingers, petite sized or a big hand and any other combination you can think of, we have simple solutions for you and these are at no extra charge. We just want to make sure you have a super comfortable and stable grip on these machetes!
Feel free to let us know your glove size and hand shape. Tight fitting gloves sizes (S,M,L) from: weight lifting, cycle, riggers work gloves etc are helpful for us.
This mod includes everything above plus:
We shape the timber handle to suit making sure everything has the right amount of curves to it. We don't like hotspots on handles as they cause blisters! We then sand the handle to a 180grit finish, then polished with a 320grit pad, then #0000 steel wool. The timber then get 3 liberal coats of Danish Oil (a hard drying wood finish) that has a long tradition of protecting timber tool handles from the elements. It soaks in deep and dries hard.
Now, we take requests!
We know how personal a tool's handle can be. It has to be comfortable, secure and robust enough to be handled all day and last the test of time. We are very good at quickly working out a handle that suits. Even if you're buying this as a surprise gift and are unsure, just ask us. We like to help.
We don't charge any extra for the custom features such as:
Stain under the Danish Oil
Rougher finish for more grip (some prefer this for safety)
Polished raw timber (some don't like a finish for safety)
Clear or Black Epoxy
NB! We can generally ship oiled or stained/oiled handles within 2 days as they are dry enough for transport. The Danish oil can take anywhere between 5 days to 2 weeks to fully cure. to prevent staining and a dangerous slippery grip, It's wise to leave these to dry fully before use.
What Is The 'Essential Trio'?
We work with machetes daily on our little farm and when we go bush, we use the same machetes and sheaths. Our 'Essential Trio' of machete modifications is what we always do to our tools to make them hard work ready! These are:
- A solid cut resistant sheath with a quick, no fuss drop & draw action
- A top notch sharpening. The Gaucho Grind for farm work or the El Premio for crafting
- A rock solid handle that is epoxied in place, as well as shaped & sealed for comfort
Coloured epoxy can sometimes stain the timber around the rivets and where the handle meets the steel. It's minor and not really an issue but it is noticeable on the unstained timber handles (see photos)
We like the effect of black epoxy contrasted on the blonde timber handles but we generally go black if we are staining the timber. Some epoxy also gets on top of the rivets but that is minor.
Timber is a natural product and the colours that come from Tramontina can vary from light red (Blue Gum like colour) to blonde (Black Butt like colour). Please view the photos for more information.
Bubbles and voids in the epoxy are common along the top edge of the handle and the pommel. We fill the obvious ones in the $35 DIY version but sometimes they can be below the surface once you start sanding. We can only fill these if we are doing the $50 full service. Very small air bubbles are left as is. Clear epoxy (as a small filler) over black epoxy blends in reasonably well.
For Medium to Large (generic) hand sizes, we cut back the timber handle till it touches the steel tang. This requires a little maintenance from time to time. We just rub it lightly with the same #0000 fine steel wool you use to clean the machete.