The number of custom knifemakers willing to try their hand at a real machete is a fairly exclusive group. When I say “real machete,” I mean a blade in the 14-inch-plus range. There are plenty of 10- to 12-inch chopping knives out there, but to me they remain just that, very large knives. A machete, on the other hand, is a tool primarily designed for cutting a wide swath through relatively soft vegetation. To do that you require a certain amount of blade length and 12 inches simply isn’t enough. One maker that has paid his dues when it comes to custom machetes is P.J. Tomes.
The Two Machete Plan
Over the years, I have adopted a system common to farmers in Central America. Most own two machetes, one a very long-bladed model they use for serious field-clearing work and the other a shorter tool that is convenient to carry in a belt sheath. The belt models usually run somewhere between 14 and 18 inches in blade length because anything longer than that is uncomfortable to have dangling on your side. This is their do-everything utility blade for whatever unexpected chores pop up during their workday.