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Thema: Finetuning a couple of Condors

  1. #1
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    Finetuning a couple of Condors

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    Currently busy finetuning two Condor choppers, a Bushcraft Parang and an Eco Golok machete.
    For years i've only used kukri models for trail clearing (a Tora Blades Camping kukri and a Cold Steel Kukri machete) here on the Veluwe, and the plan is to get some hands-on experience using a few other tried & true chopping blades from different parts of the world.

    Just did the contouring & fuzzy/chewy finishing of the Golok machete handle with the wood rasp (the Parang will get the same treatment), and tested the blade on a few thick dried oak branches and various green branches.
    Very well hardened 1075 steel i must say (no visible flattening or rolling at +/- 30 degrees inclusive), and now the handle is much more comfortable and grippy compared to the thick and slick factory handle (for my hands anyway)
    Also no need for additives like grip tape etc.
    Both will receive a narrow convex edge later.




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    AW: Finetuning a couple of Condors

    The Bushcraft Parang now also has a contoured & fuzzy finished handle:




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    AW: Finetuning a couple of Condors

    For me the Cold Steel kukri machete has proven to be very comfortable with it's contoured PVC handle, and even more so with a fuzzy finished surface.
    The PVC tends to shed most of the fuzzy bits after a few days of chopping, leaving a surface that is very hand friendly and doesn't produce any blisters, even with prolonged use (like the factory checquered surface can do)
    Being softer, the PVC on this specific model also dampens shock more effectively compared to the harder polypropylene which is on most other Cold Steel machetes (as well as on these Condors)

    But contouring & fuzzy finishing really does wonders for both the handling & comfort.
    Being so thick, the handles on the Condors offer lots of tough amorphous polypropylene to work with, and being longer also gave me the opportunity to provide each handle with 2 distinct handle positions: one up front for thinner wood and a second one at the back for thick branches and small trees.
    Shaping the inside of the flared handle end into a hook proved also very useful, as this tends to guide your pinky inward instead of outward, which is much easier on the hand.
    The last two pictures in my post above already show the hook on the Bushcraft Parang, and later i also did this on the Eco Golok.

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    AW: Finetuning a couple of Condors

    The hard shouldered V-shaped edge with an apex of +/- 30 degrees inclusive was changed into a soft shouldered convex shaped edge, also with an apex of +/- 30 degrees inclusive, with the help of a bastard file & a smooth file.
    Going to find out how a filed convex edge holds up in my use.
    I tried to make the file marks pointing a bit backwards, which will aid in grabbing the thin to medium sized branches this tool is mainly going to be used for.
    The final stubborn burr remnants i could not remove with just the smooth file alone were abraded away on the Tormek leather wheel with a dab of PA-70 aluminium oxide paste.
    The resulting apex is armhair shaving sharp on skin level, but the slightest sideways motion makes it slice into the skin, so this is not an edge you want to try to shave your face with.
    BTW: Condor's 1075 steel is noticeably harder to file compared to the 1055 steel in the Cold Steel machetes.

    Starting the new convex bevels by filing the hard shoulders down with an F.Dick bastard file:







    Refining the now convex bevels made by the bastard file with an Öberg smooth file:



    Done:



    While having about the same angle at the apex when compared to the old V-shaped edge, the new convex shaped edge is thinner behind that apex, and it also eliminates most or all of the hard bevel shoulders, making the blade more streamlined and thus more efficient for it's job.
    If the steel allows it, with next sharpenings the convex will also be "pulled up" somewhat higher up the blade sides for an even shallower convex shape (while keeping the apex at about the same 30 degrees inclusive angle) for an even further increase of efficiëncy.

    Below you can see two pictures of the Eco Golok machete with it's new convex edge resting into the 30 degrees V-shaped slot of my Tormek WM200 AngleMaster, to show that the apex reaches the correct measuring depth for 30 degrees inclusive, and that the bevels behind the apex are thinner than a V-bevel with about the same 30 degrees inclusive apex.
    The pics were taken with an old IPad and are far from perfect, but they do give some idea.

    The first pic makes the real apex look translucent due to reflecting light from both sides, so the distorted and dark apex-like shape just above it is just some sort of shadow.
    Similar effects also make it look like the right side of the convex bevel isn't touching the slot wall, which of course it is.
    The second pic is a bit too dark at the apex, but shows the thinner bevels and the lack of shoulders behind it maybe just a bit better.

    Click each picture 2 x, then enlarge further to see maximum detail.


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    AW: Finetuning a couple of Condors

    The Bushcraft Parang already had a convex edge with an apex around 40 degrees inclusive, a bit much for my taste, so i reshaped/reground the blade by hand with a Chinese 120 grit diamond file into a convex form which starts higher up the blade sides and now come together in an apex at around 30 degrees inclusive.
    Also did something of a "Kephart-mod", where the upper sides of the blade are ground a bit narrower compared to the midsection.
    For the pictures i crosshatched the now thickest parts of the blade, and the next step will be hand sanding the blade surfaces on a few different grits of wet & dry on a rubber backing using WD40 as a lubricant.




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    AW: Finetuning a couple of Condors

    First step refining the blade surfaces with 240 grit wet & dry SiC paper on a rubber backing using WD40 as a lubricant, while using the Tormek WM200 AngleMaster to check regularly if the apex stays around the 30 degrees inclusive mark:




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    AW: Finetuning a couple of Condors

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    A week ago we got home from a camping holiday in the Luxembourg forests and the Belgian Ardennes, and the Condor Eco Golok machete did a wonderful job at trail clearing during several long hikes in the area.
    The model is somewhat of a wolf in sheeps clothes, in that it isn't overly big or menacing looking, but it sure is a highly effective chopping tool without being unwieldy.
    It's a bit less tip heavy compared to my CS kukri machete, giving it a better balance and thus making it less tiresome in the longer run.
    I can swing this machete for hours on end, and without gloves.

    The Condor Eco Golok machete stuck in a log somewhere in Luxembourg.
    The edge is starting to discolour from all the wood sap and other mostly green stuff.



    The only modification i made to the handle was a bit of smooth sanding where my index finger sits, as only in that spot the fuzzy finish was starting to create a bit of a hot spot while chopping.
    On the rest of the handle the fuzzy finish has proven to greatly enhance grip without being abrasive on my hands, probably due to the fact that the protrusions left by the wood rasp aren't rigid.
    The fuzzy finished polypropylene surface also is quite durable and doesn't seem to wear smooth (after several weeks of intermittent use) like the same finish on a PVC handle definitely will.

    After resharpening with just the smooth file and cleaning the handle with an old toothbrush and some diluted detergent:










    Strong points for me:

    - The Eco Golok machete fits inside my daypack (only just)
    - the low weight of only 433 grams (after modding and resharpening)
    - the very well hardened 1075 steel.
    - Using just two files it takes and holds a good convex edge @ +/- 30 degrees inclusive, even on dried wood it did not fold or dent.
    - the negatively angled handle
    - the contouring (mod)
    - the fuzzy/chewy finish (mod)
    - the way this model transfers kinetic energy into the wood without vibrating, which together with the narrow convex edge makes for a deep bite upon impact, thus making it a highly efficiënt chopper in a small package.

    What i don't like:

    The edge contacts some of the steel rivets when sheating & unsheating, which each time creates a bit of edge damage.
    I intend to make another sheath without rivets for it.

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