Category Archives: Blades and Edged Weapons Including Khukuris

Blades and Edged Weapons Including Khukuris

A Brief History of the Japanese Nata and Three Modern Examples

From 1988 to 1989, I went to school in Kobe, Japan. On weekends I would wander through shopping areas and always looked carefully at the hardware, tool and knife vendor stores. Even then, big chopping blades would catch my eye and I found out they were known as “natas”. They were used much like a Western Hatchet intended for use by one hand to remove small limbs and split wood.

Before I returned home to the states, I picked up a 180cm basic model from a hardware store and it rattled around in my shop for years and years … I guess at this point I am old enough to say decades. The nata itself was very cool but over the years the vinyl covering stretched over a wood core slowly fell apart. Eventually, I decided to refinish the nata and sell it with a Kydex sheath.

This is the actual 165mm nata I bought near Kobe. 165mm makes the blade about 6.5″ long. It was a very stout blade.
You’ll note the blade is only beveled on one side and this is common with the nata blades.
Note it is a rait-tail tang – meaning a short partial tang going into the wood. Westerners often look at a design like this and consider it weak. Asians look at it as allowing some flex and not transferring all of the shock into the hand of the user. Changing an exposed tang like this is no bog deal really.
This was it after refinishing and new Kydex sheath just before I sold it.
I wish I could say who made the nata for sure. The 165 refers to the length in mm and the kanji (the ideograms) translates laterially as “with steel”. A company named “Kanenori” makes natas and does the same kanji and millimeter size stamping,and the ferrule originally being colored blue. Take all of those and they make Kanenori is my best guess.

The funny thing about time is that you can learn a lot along the way. You also get reminiscent about things in the past – in my case, I missed the nata. I’d gone head first down collecting and refurbishing cleavers, khukuris and and other blades – some of which I kept but I no longer had a nata and decided to correct that. Before we get into the three I bought, let’s look at the history of the nata design.

The History of the Japanese Nata

While the exact origin remains unclear, evidence suggests the nata’s presence as early as 720 AD. The word itself (鉈) appears in historical texts, but physical examples or depictions from that era are scarce. This lack of concrete evidence points to a likely origin deeply rooted in rural communities, where functionality overshadowed the need for artistic documentation.

Throughout Japan’s feudal period (794-1853), travel between regions was often challenging. This isolation fostered the development of regional variations of the nata, each tailored to the specific needs of its locality. Village blacksmiths refined the tool based on local materials and methods that evolved over time.

The Edo period (1603-1867) saw a rise in traveling woodcutters. This new mobility led to the spread of efficient nata designs. The “tomari-nata,” developed in Asahi Town, exemplifies this trend. Its unique, bird-beak-shaped tip facilitated stripping bark and collecting firewood, making it a favorite among woodcutters. The tomari’s popularity exemplifies how regional ingenuity could gain national recognition through practical advantages.

Today, several distinct nata styles persist, each reflecting its historical roots. Modern materials like carbon steel and alloy steel have replaced traditional iron, but the core function remains unchanged. Today, nata are prized for their lightweight design and exceptional edge retention, making them ideal for forestry and land management tasks.

Back to the Main Story

We happened to be visiting the Smokies and stopped by Smoky Mountain Knifeworks (SMKW). We visit about once a year and SMKW is a store we always stop at. I check out the latest in blades in their huge store room and my wife likes looking at all of the cooking and gift ideas downstairs.

At any rate, we were there when they were having an open house with tons of vendors and it just so happened that a representative of Condor Knife and Tool was there. I really like Condor and it’s been great watching them grow over the years. I told the fellow that I had a bunch of Condor blades and planned on buying two this visit.

Well, he and I talked for a few minutes and a really cool Nata-styled knife caught my eye. It is their “Batonata” designed by Joe Flowers and it’s a cool take on the nata design. One look and you know it’s a nata but with a slightly different shape to the head, burnt American Hickory handle and brass wire wrap to further secure the full tang in the handle.

The blade is 0.20″ thick 1075 high carbon steel. The blade itself is about 10″ and overall it’s just under 17.5″. The weight is just under 2 pounds.

You can see the full tang the design uses and the brass rivets and decorative brass wire – it helps secure the wood slabs to the tang and adds a bit of flourish at the same time.
The dangler-style sheath is very nicely done out of thick, rich leather. It beats the heck out of the “vinyl fake leather over wood” cheaper Japanese sheaths. Now, if there is a nata-maker our there doing traditional leather over wood, I haven’t seen it. I’m just not a fan of cheap vinyl whatsoever.

I found the Batonata really easy to chop with. This surprised me due the the spine only being 0.20″ thick. The designer, Joe Flowers, compensated for this by giving the Batonata an oversize head thus having more mass up front. If you will recall force = mass x acceleration. The more mass there is then the more energy there is at the same speed of swing. The Batonata gets the extra mass by the raised steel above the axis of the spine. Going thicker to get more mass would also require more energy to cleve the wood out of the way – that’s why really thick blades make lousy machetes for example. Thicker blads tend to push the vines out of the way vs. slicing through them.

So, two thumbs up for the Batonata. Elegant design, well executed, cool sheath. It’s made in El Salvador instead of Japan but it never claimed to be a “Japanese” nata so we’ll let that part slide. Click here for it on Amazon and here are active listings on eBay:

A Traditional Nata – A Kakuri 210mm Nata

Kakuri is a corporation in Sanjo, Japan that was founded in 1946. They have designed and produced cutlery and woodworking and arborist tools for over 70 years and fully understand what a nata is. By the way, click here to open a new tab showing all of the cool woodworking and gardening tools Kakuri has for sale on Amazon.

The nata I chose was a basic “Gikoh” series 210mm (8.27″) nata. With a nata, the length given in mm is the length of the blade. It’s also 405mm (15.94″) overall. The nata itself weighs approximately 1.3 pounds.

Most nata makers will have some high-end offerings with better wood, finishes and sheaths in addition to the basic work models with no frills. Kakuri is the same – though they only have one higher-end model and most are working class tools.

One thing I find interesting is their use of high carbon Japanese Yasuki steel. Yasuki (also sometimes written as Yasugi) is a family of steels used in a variety of cutting tools. Yasuki has a very long history dating back to sword making but now owned and produced by Hitachi Metals.

The handle is made from oak wood and has a clear coat finish on it.

I found the Kakuri nata very easy to swing and it took a good bite out of some old oak I had lying around during testing. The edge held up very nicely despite hitting the dried oak.

The 210mm blade had no problem biting into dried oak. You can see the single bevelled cutting edge here.
This side of the blade does not have a bevel.
Thanks to the weight and blade design. the nata sinks right into smaller logs for splitting.
It comes with a basic vinyle sheath with the material pulled over a wooden core that helps maintain the needed shape.
I was surprised to find two retaining straps – one on the handle and one looping over the back top edge of the blade.
Here’s a good view of the wood core. On one hand, designs like this make it quick and easy to get the blade into or or out of the sheath. The negative is that it rattles some. Nepalese khukurik sheathes are the same way except they tend to be water buffalo leather stretched over the wood.

The score – two thumbs up for a well executed classic nata. Click here to open a new tab with the various Kakuri Nata listings on Amazon and here are active listings on eBay:

So far, you have seen a nata-inspired design in the Batonata. A classic design from Kakuri and now we need a modernized design from Japan.

The Silky 240mm Double-Edge Nata

When I was searching for a new nata, I really did not expect to run into this modernized nata from Silky. The blade looks like a nata but everything else is modernized – rubber shock absorbing handle (a BIG thank you for those of us with carpal tunnel) and futuristic looking shealth made from aluminum and polymers.

“Who is Silky?” was my very first thought. The name alone did not sound Japanese but that could just be a brand name or something for the export market so I had to look them up.

Silky is the brand name for U.M. Kogyo located in Ono, Hyogo prefecture, Japan. The company was originally named “Tamakitsune” and was founded in 1919 by Mr. Katsuji Miyawaki to make saws. Today, Silky is led by Uichi Miyawaki who continues to stress excellence.

To be sure, their focus is on saws for woodworking and arborists plus they make a few innovating nata models. Their distributor in the US is Vertical Supply Group and they sell the saws on Amazon [click here to open a listing in a new tab].

This nata has a 240mm (9.44″) blade that is 5.7mm (0.22 inches) thick and has an overall length of 340mm (13.35″). The weight is 2.11 pounds.

They say an “alloy steel” is used but don’t get into the details. I did some digging and it is reported as a SKS-51 (JIS) steel. SKS-51 is a cutting tool steel that is tough with good wear resistance. It also has a full length tang that extends almost the full length of the handle but is hidden from sight.

There are three interesting design points that I want to share. First is the “Genki” (that usually translates as health or healthy) rubberized grip. It absorbs the shock instead of your hands – I totally agree on this point. It was the most comfortable nata for me to use. It’s also replaceable without tools.

The second point is the blade finish – it’s an electroless nickel plate that both reduces friction and corrosion. They developed it for their saws to more consistently reduce friction.

The third, is that the nata is user-maintainable. Their suppliers carry replacement handles, blades and quick release clips for the sheath.

A good photo of the Genki handle. The nata cut into wood beautifully.
The unique look to the blade is due to the electroless nickel plating. The nickel reduces friction which means that the blade should penetrate further than an uncoated blade all other things being equal.
The sheath is made out of modern materials.
I did not expect to see a robust quick release catch to disconnect the sheath from the belt loop in a hurry. If you look at the photo on the sheath, you can see the Genki handle removed and the full length tang of the blade that is otherwise hidden.
A look down the mouth of the sheath. The funnel helps you insert the nata by guiding it into position.

Another two thumbs up. It’s an innovative design and the most comfortable for me to chop with – especially given my carpal tunnel.

You can find Silky Natas on Amazon sometimes (I bought mine there) – so click here to see them. Also, the following active listings are on eBay:

Comparing the Three Natas

It’s not easy to compare them and have a clear winner that everybody will agree with. It comes down to preferences. I’m going to first show you some comparison photos and then tell you my order of preference and why.

All three differ – the Silky Nata has a 240mm (9.44″) blade at the top. In the middle, the Batonata has a 254mm (10″) blade and the Kakuri at the bottom has a 210mm (8.26″) blade.
Overall length starting with the Batonata on the left is 443.6mm (17.58″). The Kakuri is 405mm (15.94″) and the Silky Nata is 340mm (13.35″).
A view frrom the top. Let’s review weights starting with the Batonata at the top – 900g (1.98 pounds). The Kakuri in the middle is 600g (1.32 pounds) and the Silky is 960g (2.11 pounds).
My least favorite sheath is the vinyl-over-wood design of the Kakuri in the middle. The Silky at the top has a really slick modern design and the Batonata has a really nice leather sheath.

So, my ranking is:

#1 – The Silky Nata – the rubber hande absorbs a ton of the shock and the thing is a chopper and a half. I will definitely use it more when I need something like a hatchet. It will have to compete with my khukuris but none of them have the extremely comfortable Genki handle.

#2 – The Batonata – The handle is comfortable and it takes a good bite. I definitely like the sheath. It looks cool too. Kudos to Condor for turning out a really decent nata-inspired blade.

#3 – The Kakuri – I have carpal tunnel and a handleof that size and shape is hard on my hands when I chop. It’s a perfectly decent nata and not the fault of the designers but I don’t see myself using it much going forward. If someone wants a traditional basic nata, I’d have no reservation recommending it.


I hope this gave you some history on the natas plus three models to think about. I’m definitely going to continue using the Silky and probably the Batonata but the Kakuri would be problematic with my carpal tunnel.

I truly hope this helps you out.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

A Surprisingly Good Tomahawk From Amazon – The Nedfoss 12.2″ Tac – Yeah, I’d never heard of them either

I like axes, hatchets and tomahawks. I actually inherited a number of axes and hatchets from my dad and grandpa. I also have a number of CRKT and ColdSteel models among others – some are worth talking about and some are best forgotten or not mentioned out of sheer embarassment. This story is about a surprisingly good one.

You every buy something on a whim due to a photo? That’s what happened with me when I ordered the NedFoss 12.2″ Tac Tomahawk with G10 handle, full tang and 4.3″ bearded blade. I have a thing for bearded axes, hatchets and tomahawks (‘hawks’). Guess what? It’s surprisingly good – I’ve said that twice now – I didn’t expect to be impressed so let me tell you more – I’ve had it for almost five months now.

Let’s start with the ugly

I opened the Amazon box and saw the product box and wondered WTF I had just bought. It looked like the designer dropped acid and created the graphics. Literally, “what did I just buy?” went through my head.

Uhmmm…. what mall ninja shit did I just buy? Do I return it? Do I tell anyone I even bought this? — These were all going through my head when I saw the product box.
It was packed in a form fitting hard foam and when I pulled it out, the sheath, handle scales and rivets all caught my eye – they were all very nicely done both in terms of fitment and finish.


After my intial panic over the box, I started taking a closer look at the little hawk. It was a fairly common size for people looking for a tactical or combat hawk. It’s just over 12″ long and the beareded head is 4.3″.

The hawk is just over 12″ overall.
The blade is just over 4″ and front to back is approximately 5″. Note the NedFoss lion logo that is elegantly cut into the head.
The back of the hawk’s head comes to a chisel point. Conceptually, it would hold up better striking a hard surface than the sharpened head.
The handles are two separate G10 scales (one on each side) held in place by brass rivets. The grooves give for a very sure grip. The bottom of the tang swells open and serves as an effective hand stop. The hole helps reduce the weight.
All of the rivets are well formed with no tool marks/blemishes on them.
The handle is about 1″ front to back. That size should fit different size hands comfortably.
The handle is about 5/8″ thick overall.
The whole steel part of the hawk – tang, head and all – is made from one piece of 0.213″ 8Cr14MoV steel hardened to 55 HRC.
I could have done without the hokey printed “runes”. I would have been more impressed if they cut them in like they did the Lion’s head. Note, it is a pretty deep beard – I like the profile.
It includes a leather sheat/blade guard. It doesn’t have a belt loop – it just protects whatever from the sharp edge of the blade it it did arrive sharp.

How did it hold up?

That’s the big question right? I really wasn’t sure how the edge or the finish would hold up and it just so happens I have a wood pile with a lot of dried hard oak. I whacked on some of pieces or oak and so did a friend of mine.

Guess what happened? To my surprise the edge held so so did the grey “titanium” finish. The hawk swings easy, balances well and hits hard.

I really expected the oak to do a number on it and at least roll the edge over or markedly dull it but the edge held. I did not expect that. The 8Cr14MoV steel with a 55 HRC hardness held up remarkably well.

8CR14MoV is a general purpose Chinese knife alloy is a clone of AUS-8 having an identical composition. If you’d like to read a very detailed analysis of it, click here for a post on

In Conclusion

You can’t go wrong for the price – you just can’t. This hawk is $79.99 at Amazon and has free returns if you don’t like it. In terms of ratings, it is at 4.6 out of 5 with 113 reviews. It’s not a $400-1,000 hawk so don’t compare it that way.

I’m keeping mine and my friend was so impressed he ordered one the same day he handled it. I’m so impressed that I plan on getting more of their models. I especially have my eye on one of their bearded camping hatchets.

Here are links on Amazon for you:

I hope you found this post of interest.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

How to do Home Manganese Parkerizing

The Following is a Basic Do-it-yourself Manganese Parkerizing Formula

A couple of friends online, Elkaholic and Ding, got me interested in parkerizing years ago and gave me a home brew formula and process steps they use.  I have been tuning that formula for a few years and thought I would share it as I use it both for blades and firearms.  It works great as either the base for a top finish, such as Molyresin or as a finish all by itself.  You may be wondering “why not just buy a premade formula such as the great parkerizing solution from Brownell’s” – the short answer is because tinkering can be fun and more rewarding.  I like to experiment and try different things.   So, with that said, here is the recipe:


– 2 gallons of distilled water  (it gives more consistent results because impurities have been removed – sold at supermarkets and drug stores)
2 “biscuits” of clean plain 0000 steel wool (thinner steel wool dissolves faster hence the use of 0000 grade)
– 1 cup of Klean Strip brand Phosphoric Prep & Etch (or other phosphoric acid etching solution around 35-45% concentrate per the Prep & Etch MSDS sheet. Dilute the acid if higher. For example, if 100% pure then go 60 water:40 acid – you can always experiment with the ratio that works for you)
6 rounded tablespoons of manganese dioxide (available at pottery supply stores, Amazon or eBay)


Do this outside – never in your house or shop (unless you have a great vent hood).  If you do it indoors, you will likely make stuff rust fast!


As you can see, I use a camp stove.  For the first couple of years I just used a Coleman stove but that was always a balancing act with my 48″ long stainless pakerizing tank that I used for barreled actions.  I found the above great Camp Chef stove at Amazon and it is fantastic but any heat source will work. I like propane because its portable and not electric (to avoid any chance of electric shock) and there are tons of propane camp stoves on Amazon.

Also, be sure to use stainless steel for your tanks.  I watch for sales or buy stuff off eBay.  The big cooker above is from Walmart and the rectangular pan shown below is from Amazon and is normally the water pan for buffet lines.

For tongs to move stuff around, use solid stainless.  I tried the plastic ones and they can leave a plastic residue on blasted surfaces and mess up your finish.

Just like baking, if you want more of the solution, take the recipe and multiply it by two, four or however many multiples you want. Just be sure you have a place to store it when done.  I use 5 gallon jugs and label them.

Steps to Follow

  1. Add acid to water in a stainless pan/pot and heat to 190F – don’t boil and waste it.  I use a baking thermometer clipped to the side of the pan.
  2. Spray each wool biscuit with brake cleaner to remove oils and allow each time to dry
  3. As the solution warms shred the steel wool into the liquid and add the manganese dioxide
  4. Let the mix simmer and dissolve the steel wool before adding parts
  5. I always blast my parts before I parkerize them – I’ve heard guys tell about using a wire brush on a buffer or drill press as well but I’ve not tried that.  Blasting removes the oxides and exposes the bare steel.
  6. Make sure your parts are very, very clean and degreased — only handle with rubber gloves after they are cleaned or oils from your skin can mess things up
  7. You can suspend your parts in the liquid with stainless wire.  Leave them until the fizzing stops or about 30-40 minutes.  The time varies.
  8. Rinse the parts with boiling water thoroughly to remove the acid.
  9. Spray parts with WD40 to get the water away from the steel
  10. Wipe down with oil or apply whatever secondary finish you want – don’t do both 🙂  If you are going to apply a finish on top of the parkerized surface, use acetone or brake cleaner to remove any oils and then follow their instructions.

At the bottom of the post are links to Amazon products including long parkerizing tanks.

Cleaning Up

When you are done, let your mixture cool and strain the liquid through a coffee filter into a plastic can for future use. I use a blue kerosene 5 gallon container because it is a different color from all my other 5 gallon containers plus I label it.  Point being, you do not want to get confused and pour this stuff in when you meant to use a fuel, etc.

The precipitate, the stuff on the bottom, should be scooped onto a shallow pan, allowed to dry and be disposed of as a hazardous waste.  For example, where ever your community collects old paints, batteries, etc.

Brownells Has Great Parkerizing Solutions and Kits

Brownells sells very well regarded ready-to-use formulations. I have no hesitation at all to recommend the below items to you – they are top notch.

  • Click here for their manganese parkerization supplies. Their formula meets Mil Spec STD171
  • Click here for their zinc parkerization supplies
  • If you have a lot small parts you want to park, they have a bench top kit ready to go that you can buy – click here
  • Click here for their complete parkerizing tank system. This is a complete system for gunsmiths or others who need to park everything from small parts and pistols up to firearms and swords.

In Summary

I hope this helps you out. I’ve used the above many times and the results are solid.

Updated 2/13/24 with new sources and fixed some grammar issues.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Buck is keeping it quiet but they have tanto ground combat knives (GCKs) for sale exclusively on their website right now!!

Folks, around 2020 Buck Knives introduced a very handsome line of fixed blade knives they called the Ground Combat Knife (GCKs) with spear and tanto profiles as well as in black and flat dark earth (FDE) Cerakote colors. The canvas micarta handles were in black and a tri-color for the FDE blades. Despite being extremely nice, Buck discontinued them sometime in 2021. Since then, you could only find them on eBay … until now.

5/13/23 Update – Sorry folks but there is no trace of this knife on the Buck website now. A few guys told me they were able to score one but now they are gone.

So I was surfing and accidentally pulled up a GCK tanto page at Buck Knives and it showed inventory – curious huh? The knife blade is black Cerakote with an OD canvas micarta handle. I don’t think they offered this configuration before. Now, the price was (and is right now) only $114.99. I ordered a couple and they showed up a few days later. I honestly thought it might be a website bug because I had not heard about these – they are absolutely real.

Whoa…. I paid $199-250 for the four blades I had from the original run and these things are incredibly nice. I do not see these new 893BO-B blades on any other boards (Amazon, KnifeCenter, BladeHQ, etc.) – they are just on the Buck website. I searched Buck 893BO-B and am not finding them anywhere else.

Now here’s my advice. Go buy one. Do it. Do it now. Whether you are a collector or a user, go buy this. I am betting this is a limited run and you will not see it again. Click here to go there now … do it now! I paid a ton for my GCKs from the first run. You can get this new model for a steal.

  • Overall length: 10-3/24″
  • Blade length: 5-1/2″
  • Blade thickneess: 0.200″
  • Blade alloy: 5130 High Cabon
  • Paul Bos Heat Treat
  • Weight 9.9oz
  • Handle: OD Green Micarta
  • Sheath with MOLLE straps
  • The knife is made in the USA but the sheath is imported
  • Buck’s Forever Warranty

Photos of One of My New 893BO-B Knives

Notice the 4/6/2023 production date. These are brand new.

Summary – Buy This Knife Now!

Listen, you will rarely hear me say this – buy this knife now! If you like Buck tactical knives or you know how good they are (and they are very good) – buy this right now. For that matter, buy two – one to use and one to collect. These are superb and I thought we would never see them for a reasonable price again. I doubt Buck will have them indefinitely and you don’t want to miss this chance.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

How to Find Big Cleavers to Restore on eBay – August 2020 Edition

Some years back I wrote a post on how to find cleavers and figured it was time to update it with better search routines for eBay plus to add a few tips not in the original.

One of my favorite things to do is to restore an old cleaver. I’ve done a ton of them over the years and posted many photos along the way. In response to the photos or sales listings in my online store, guys will ask how to find a good deal on one to restore themselves.  

The best deal you’ll get is at garage, barn and estate sales – no two ways about that.  Antique dealers usually jack their prices into orbit and I’ve not seen a good deal at an antique dealer in a long, long time.

My challenge is that I don’t have time to go hunting for stuff so I do a lot of automated searches on eBay.   What I am going to do in this post is try and give you some tips plus also live searches of eBay using key words that frequently turn up cleavers to keep an eye on.

This is a New Haven Edge and Tool Co Cleaver

That leads us to tip #1 on eBay – set up searches that email you when they find stuff.  What you do is enter your search term on eBay and then click “follow this search”.  EBay will then give you options for alerts and so forth. You can experiment and figure out what works for you. For me, for example, just searching on “cleavers” is useless because of all the junk that comes back so I keep refining my searches based on key words both to include and to exclude.

 This is a 16.5″ Foster Bros #8 – Fosters is another favorite brand

Learn some of the phrases folks use to describe / market these big cleavers.  No doubt, I like big cleavers so I use search phrases like “giant antique cleaver”, “giant hog splitter” and what not.  In general, the hog and cow splitters are big.  These huge cleavers were used in the days before extensive automation to chop up big farm animals such as cows, hogs, lambs and so forth giving them their name.

When searching, look in descriptions and not just the titles if given the option. You may need to use the advanced search option and add key words to exclude when things you don’t care about are included in your searches.

 This is a 16.5″ Lamson

There are also certain brands that I really like such as Fosters, WM Beatty, Lamson and New Haven Edge Tool Co.  There were a lot of makers including folks on farms and village blacksmiths forging their own cleavers so it really takes some digging.  I found searches on Google to turn up interesting information about the history of the makers and so forth when I could find some kind of logo or marking.

 This is a 20″ WM Beatty and Sons

Another tip I would give you is to look out for old cleavers that are shiny.  Somebody probably sanded or ground the rust off.  I have bought a couple that were utter train wrecks from guys trying to make something look good for sale.  Just be careful.  Nothing that was used is going to be bright silver steel any longer.

Do not worry about rust, dirt and dings – you are going to be working on it anyways.  How far you want to go with the wood is up to you.  The most fascinating cleaver I ever worked on had a trashed handled that I built up with epoxy.  It was stunning wood under decades of grime.

Be careful on the measurements – look for the blade size and overall lengths plus the weight.  I like to look for cleavers that are at least 18″ overall.  Call be weird but the smaller ones are okay but just not as interesting to me.  I do have an exception though – some of the small Fosters are just wicked.  They were forged, have a thick blade and quite a heft.

Watch out for photos.  Sellers try all kinds of stuff to make them look big, in great shape, etc.  You are especially focused on whether the blade is intact, meaning no big nicks or any cracks, and the dimensions.  The photos are nice eye candy but don’t base your whole purchase on them.  I certainly use them to try and judge the condition of the blade.  If a seller doesn’t have an angle you want to see, ask them to send you what you need.  Many sellers will oblige these requests.

Giant 24.5″ cleaver with a 1/2″ thick blade from an unknown maker – my all time favorite

Now be patient and don’t rush.  Watch the prices these things are selling at and don’t start bidding until the last minute.  Also keep an eye on the seller’s ratings.  New ones with fewer than 20 sales make me nervous.  Read what folks have to say about the seller.

Keep an eye on shipping charges.  Some guys will do stuff like list something dirt cheap and then charge a fortune for shipping.  Don’t just assume shipping & handling charges will be reasonable if it isn’t listed.

Be patient!  You can get some very decent cleavers for under $100 but what you consider a fair price is entirely up to you.

Here are some realy time eBay Searches to help you get started using keywords I use in my own searches and you can buy these right now!! Note that some sections may be empty if there are no current matches,

Giant Antique Cleaver

There will be times you want to qualify a search phrase and “antique cleaver” is one of them. If you search on that you will get matches for things people call cleavers that are just a few inches long. When sellers have a big cleaver they tend to use words like HUGE or GIANT in their description. Of course, most will not be very big but it is something to look for. Let’s try “giant antique cleaver” first:

Next is “huge antique cleaver”

Hog Splitter

This one is searching on “Hog Splitter” and excuding the words “stereo plug mono” because some stereo cords get matched and would be included otherwide.

Cow Splitter

True clow splitters are rare so when you search on eBay you will often get quite a few near matches from their search engine and wind up with a long list of things to exclude such as “witchblade stereo cord wind extender cable engine cent paring comic glove knob”.

Beatty Cleaver

Beatty cleavers come in a variety of sizes from small to big splitters so be sure to carefully read the description. Sometimes the photos make them look bigger than they really are.

Foster Cleaver

Fosters are also very good cleavers. They made a bunch of different models to read the description carefully.

Antique Cleaver

Just to show you what antique cleaver sucks in, here you go:

Vintage Cleaver

Large Vintage Cleaver

I hope these tips and sample search terms help.  My biggest tips are to carefully read the descriptions, consider the seller’s ratings carefully and watch out for shipping. Also, don’t rush and get caught up in auction fever – only buy what makes sense to you.

Happy hunting!!

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The Kershaw Knockout Folder With A Damascus Blade – Wow!!

Last year, I bought one of the Kershaw Knockouts and really liked it. The fact it was one of their models that is made in the USA, the heft, the blade contour and how well it held an edge rapidly made it my EDC. Seriously, it’s a lot of knife without a lot of weight and I did a blog post about it – click here. I was reading on the web and came across a version of the Knockout with a damascus blade – I had to order it 🙂

Basically, the 1870OLDAM is just like the 1870OLBLK but with a damascus blade. The name, “knockout” has to do with the riveted blade lock they insert in the handle. This makes for a knife that is slim, very easy to open but locks solidly open.

Here are the stats:

  • Length when open: 8.875″
  • Length when closed: 4.625″
  • Blade: Damascus
  • Blade length: 3.25″
  • Blade thickness: 0.12″
  • Handle: Aluminum colored olive drab
  • Liner: Stainless steel
  • Handle thickness: 0.40
  • Weight 3.88 oz

I bought the 1870OLBLK – the one with a monolithic blade – in December 2018 and have used it a ton. I bought the 1870OLDAM in March 2020, and so far it is holding up well. I’ve used it but not to the extent I have the older one.

Click on one of the thumbnails below to see the full size photos:


If you want a really useful knife that is made in the USA, get a Kershaw Knockout. If you really like damascus blades, get that one … or maybe both 🙂

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A Kershaw Knockout Knife and Streamlight Microstream LED Light Are In My Pocket These Days

I have quite a selection of folding knives that I use all the time for work – cutting open boxes, plastic pails, insulation, tubing, etc. It’s funny but I wind up rotating through them for one reason or another – it may be because one needs to be sharpened and is too dull (my ZT 0350 is that way right now) or because I just pick up the blade that is by my desk and drop it in my pocket as I head out to the shop. The same is true for whatever small light I am carrying. A while back, I posted about buying both a Kershaw Knockout and Streamlight Microstylus. I’m so happy with both that I figured an update was in order.

Kershaw Knockout

As mentioned, I did buy this blade some months back and posted about it For the last few months, my goto blade has been the Kershaw Knockout. It is a very decent medium sized pocket knife that has a 3.25″ blade made from Sandvik 142C28N steel. It is holding the edge remarkably well – I haven’t needed to sharpen it yet and am very impressed. Note, I use a Work Sharp Ken Onion edition sharpener to true up my blades and it can handle any steel.

The handle is very comfortable, The Knockout gets its name from the cut out in the handle where they rivet in the blade lock. It makes for a very easy to operate locking mechanism. I always like the flag they add to their American made knives also.
The blade is holding up great. You know, I don’t know the details behind the “Diamond Like Coating” – DLC – process but it is really impressive. I’ve beat my ZT 0350 half to death and that coating is holding up on that knife also. Also, you can see the Streamlight Microstream light.

The second reason is that it is remarkably light and thin. For its size, it really does not drag down my pocket. At the same time, the hande is big enough for me to get a firm grip to cut open plastic pails.

The third big reason is that it uses Kershaw’s “SpeedSafe” flipper mechanism for one handed opening. When I am working, being able to open the knife with only one hand is a huge benefit.

The Streamlight Microstream LED Light

I have bought a number of these little lights – my best guess is 6-8 of them. Simply put they hold up great and are at a very reasonable price especially given the quality. Here’s a blog post that I did after my initial purchase back in 201.

I have put at least four of them through the clotheswasher and as long as the base is on tight, they survive. If the base comes loose and water gets in then it is pretty much always game over.

This is a good photo both of the Knockout and the Microstream. The Microstream is 3.5″ long and has a diameter of about 0.6″.

What I can tell you is that I have never had one fail on me due to worksmanship. Dead battery, yes. The switch, body and LED have all held up just great.

I really like these lights because they are small, don’t weigh much, use regular AAA batteries and only cost $16.22 off Amazon. I should also point out that they produce 28 lumens of light and that little battery will last about 2-2.5 hours. I probably carry this light even more than I do a blade because it is just so handy and I can’t see as well as I used to.

In short, I am so happy with both that I wanted to post the update to you folks,

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Using my KO Worksharp With Third Party Belts to Sharpen My Three Favorite Flipper Knives – A Hogue X5, ZT 350 and Kershaw Knockout

As I have written about in the past, I have a Ken Onion Worksharp (KOW) knife sharpener. Folks, I have used the heck out of that little thing and it is still cranking. For example, I used it one time to put the edges on five khukuris from scratch. They were antiques and I used my belt sander to remove the beat up edges and then the little KOW to profile and put the final edges on them. I can’t begin to guess how many khukuris, folders and fixed blade knives have been sharpened on this unit.

At any rate, the one thing about the KOW is the cost and selection of the little 3/4″ wide x 12″ belts that it uses. Worksharp does sell kits with belts in them but its pricey. Happily, as the popularity of the KOW has increased, a number of makers have appeared. I’ve had very good luck with Econaway Abrasives and Red Label Abrasives to name two of them.

What makes a belt good? I really look at two things – does the belt stay together and does the grit stay on or seem to flake off. I have no means of knowing whether a given declared grit is what I actually get – for example, the vendor says it’s 400 grit but is it really? All I can do is go by feel.

Leather Belt

I added a new step in my sharpening – I added a leather belt this year so I could use rouge on the belt for a grit of close to 10,000 for the final edge. I opted for a belt from Pro Sharpening Supplies. It comes with a small packet of white rouge polishing compound.

Sharpening My Three Favorite Flippers

Okay, I needed to sharpen my three favorite assisted opening “flipper” pocket knives. My #1 favorite is my 3.5″ Hogue X5. The other two tie for second place at this point – my ZT 350 and my Kershaw Knock Out.

If I had thought about it, I would have put them in order of being my favorite. Purely by coincidence they are in order of age – the Knockout I bought near Christmas 2018, the Hogue was Father’s Day 2018 and the ZT 350 was purchased in 2015.
Guys, I love that Wharncliffe blade profile on the Hogue. You can use it to scrape stuff as you have a flat edge.

It had been ages since the ZT350 was properly sharpened, the Hogue needed a touchup and my new Kershaw Knockout did not have as fine of an edge on it as I wanted. The ZT was part of what motivated me to buy the KOW years ago – The ZT uses S30V steel which is very hard and takes forever to sharpen by hand. I had been using a Spyderco Sharpmaker to that point and decided it was time to buy a better sharpener. The KOW has a wider 3/4″ belt and a bigger motor than it’s predecessor, the basic Worksharp unit. I’ve never regretted the purchase.

The KOW is adjustable so I use this brass guage made by Richard Kell in England to determine what to set the KOW at. The blades were 15 degrees or less with the Hogue pretty much being right at 15. The other two, I’m not sure. They were more accute than the gauge supported.

A Richard Kell blade angle gauge.

Belt Details

I bet everyone has their secret formulas for sharpening blades and odds are they all work. Since these were all touchups, I started with a 320 grit belt. See, I don’t want to take off any more than I have to so I’d rather start with as fine of a grit as possible.

800Red Label31
5000Red Label31
10,000Pro Sharpening32

Comments on the Leather Belt

Okay, it through parts of loose leather everywhere when it first started just like when you start a new cloth wheel on a buffer. It did stop after a bit. By the way, safety note – you should always wear safety glasses and a dust mask regardless – this just reminds you of the need.

The second comment is that it did not stay centered on the wheels of the KOW and traveled to the left when looking down from the top towards the front edge. It did not seem to harm anything but the whole point is that it really should have stayed centered on the wheels. No harm done and since I will not use it a ton, I am not going to worry about it.

Photo of the belt up on the left edge of the front lower wheel. Note all the junk on the mat. Good reminder to wear eye protection and a dust mask *always*.

Lesson learned for me, dial back the speed on the KOW from the get go when doing the leather belt.

Sharpening Results

All three knives are wickedly sharp now. I’m very pleased with the results.

Cleaning and Lubrication Comment

Whenever I sharpen a flipper, I blow out the insides with compressed air and then lubricate them. My preferred lubricant is Teflon/PTFE. Because it dries after application, it does not attract and hold dirt. Thus, I applied it to all three knives like I normally do.

It’s common for things to feel gritty until the fluid evaporates but the Hogue didn’t get better, it got worse. I’m not sure what Hogue uses to lube their knives but the solvent in the Dupont spray must have cleaned it off and the dry Teflon wasn’t enough. Conversely, the ZT 350 and Kershaw Compound worked great. It’s not unusual to see something work with one mechanism but not another so it was time for plan B.

Okay, plan B. I started using Super Lube this year on firearms and really like it. Basically, Super Lube is a synthetic lubricant that includes tiny PTFE particles in it. So, I applied it with a pen dispenser and it works great. Way, way better.

Final Result

The knives are all very sharp and they are flipping smoothly. Time to keep using them 🙂 I hope you found this helpful.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at in**@ro*********.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.