How to Sharpen a Machete Knife
Somewhere in between a short sword and the long-handled woodsman's axe, the machete has been one of the mainstays of any jungle expedition for well over a hundred years. Indeed, it is unlikely that anything else will be needed to clear a path through dense vegetation. But how does it work?

There are several different types of these cool knives from around the world, but they all have one thing in common: they're designed to cut down live plants without crushing them as an ax would. The blade can be either straight or curving back towards the handle. 

A straight blade is better for cutting down thin vines, while curved blades are better for thicker branches and saplings. The machete knife is capable of lopping off the tops of small trees with a single blow and can cut down brush about as thick as a man's wrist.

Origins of Machete Knife

The first machetes were used by the Inca Indians in South America. The blade was usually about 18" long, with a straight edge, wooden handle, and brass or iron guard. In the jungles, nothing else could match it for clearing brush and undergrowth from a trail. 

They were also effective weapons in battle - against the Spanish conquistadores, they had little trouble hacking their way through armor and shields, even if they didn't have anything like modern firearms. In the rest of South America, machete usage was favored by gauchos. The name comes from the Spanish word "macho", meaning "big stick". For clearing paths through dense jungles, they were used to cut down trees and mangroves. 

Machete knife

They were also used extensively by Carib Indian maroons in Central America. Their short curved blades are excellent for hacking through brambles but are not as effective against armor or shields. Within these regions, machetes can be quite different from region to region in terms of size and design. The best way to understand them is to think of them as being completely distinct types of knives. 

In the jungle, there is a need for a short and strong blade. A short blade is what you want for felling small trees, not for fighting. In South America, there were first and second-generation machetes. The first generation was very small knives designed exclusively for cutting vines and undergrowth. The second generation was larger fixed blade knives designed to cut down trees without crushing them. 

In South America, France, Italy, and Russia still have quite different characteristics. In South America the machete is mostly used as a cutting tool; in Italy, it is mainly used as a weapon of war; and in Russia, it has become primarily ceremonial or costume use.

Sharpening a Machete Knife

A machete knife is designed to cut through thick brush and vines like weeds, so it should be sharpened regularly. One way is to use a sharpening stone. Hold the blade at a 20-degree angle from the sharpening stone and draw it towards you to sharpen.  The other option is using a whetstone and using similar motions. 

Use your hands when honing away from the edge of the blade to produce an even edge overall. You can also purchase a machete sharpener, which will include a diamond surface.
There are several ways that you can sharpen your machete blade: 1 Using a sharpening stone or a whetstone; 2 Using an electric grinder or 3 Using a machine repair shop. 

Because a machete is a knife and not like any other knife, it is important to use different ways of sharpening it depending on the type of blade. Since a machete has a thick blade, it's best to sharpen it using a sharpening stone.

  • Use a Whetstone

Sharpening a machete knife with a whetstone can be a tricky process. If you do it incorrectly, you can create an uneven edge that messes up your cuts. If you use too much force while sharpening, the blade of your machete might chip from the pressure! 

Knife sharpening

With the help of this step-by-step instruction guide, you'll be able to sharpen your machete using a whetstone with confidence. Your blade will be smooth and sharp, and you'll confidently be able to take on any project with your machete.

Step 1: Prepare Your Stone

Wet the stone lightly with water first. Remember to only use water that is free of chemicals or other contaminants. The wetting of the stone will remove some of the skin and grime from the stone surface, which adds an extra layer of protection for your blade. 

If you're using a natural stone instead of a synthetic one like diamond whetstones, wet the stone lightly with water before placing the blade on it. Take some extra care in placing your blade on the stone.

Step 2: Place the Blade on the Stone

Squeeze a small amount of water out of two pieces of bread or a clean white cloth. Place one on each side of the blade and use this to hold it down on the whetstone. Place your weight evenly between both sides so as not to de-center your blade while sharpening.

Step 3: Do Your Sharpening

Make sure that your blade is perfectly level and flat against the whetstone surface. With the weight of your hand, stroke the blade across and along the stone surface. Try to maintain a consistent angle of 15 to 20 degrees from your blade's flat edge.

A blunt machete can be due to a number of reasons, but most commonly it is just the result of neglect in maintenance. By roughing up the dull edge with steps 1 and 2, you'll not only get it nice and sharp again — but you'll also smooth out any jagged edges that might have formed over time.

  • Use an Electric Grinder

If you're a fan of hacking away at overgrown tropical weeds, then you'll know that an old machete can be a handy tool. But after one too many swipes at the thickets, it's only natural for your trusty blade to get a bit dull. Here's how to fix that!

Electric Grinder

Step 1 

Take off all the parts of the machete knife (scabbard, handle, ferrule) and place it on a stable surface with one end pointing up and the other end pointing down.

Step 2 

Insert the blade in an electric grinder and turn it on so its sharpening wheel is touching it. Make sure that the grinder is positioned so the blade doesn't move.

Step 3 

Slowly rotate the blade so it becomes sharp. Note that you should take care not to touch the tip of the blade so it won't break. After a minute, stop rotating and remove the machete from the grinder if you want to remove rust from your machete. 

Rinse it under running water and dry it thoroughly to make sure no moisture remains on its surface. Make sure also that there are no metal filings around its edge or in between its layers since these would dull your knife once again after some time.

Step 4 

Apply oil liberally onto its surface and wipe off any excess with a soft cloth. Your machete is now as sharp as it was when you first bought it.

But if you're planning to just sharpen the blade, then position the blade so it's touching the top of the grinder and stretch out its handle from there. This way, your wrist will not get strained by having to hold out its weight for a long time. 

Do note that sharpening takes longer with this method because every part of its surface needs attention until it becomes even with the tip or edge. But don't worry since this is what keeps your machete in fighting shape!

If it's determined that the blade of your machete is too sharp and it has damaged it, then contact an authorized repair center for help in repairing your machete.

Keep Your Knife Maintained!

A machete knife is one of the most versatile tools a person can own and use. They are used to clear brush and weeds from gardens, chop wood for a fire, and for self-defense. To keep this tool functioning well, it needs to be properly maintained. Regularly sharpening your knife not only helps improve performance but protects the blade from damage.

Before you start on an outdoor trip with your machete, check out the local area laws regarding knives in general. If they do not permit the carrying of knives then you will need to leave yours at home or have it concealed on your person when traveling in that location.

Read More: How to Sharpen a Knife?