A few months back I converted a bolo machete into a survival/fighting knife. You can read that post here. The modification was on one of two much used machetes. A few weeks ago I decided to modify the second bolo machete into a cutlass design replete with both re-contoured blade and a different handle. It’s a simple project and the only tools required are an angle grinder, saw, sandpaper, and a small mallet. You’ll also need some epoxy glue and a couple of nails.
A once over with an abrasive disk on my angle grinder polished the blades. Afterward it became a matter of reshaping the bolo’s tip and adding the new handle. I used a metal cutting disk on my angle grinder to reshape both the blade tip and tang.
The reshaped tang allows for a sloping handle and thus a more ergonomic design.
NOTE: I used old and tarnished bolo machetes and I don’t think I would have made these modifications on brand new knives. The polishing with the angle grinder as well as the reshaping of the machete’s tip heats the steel and therefore care must be taken to ensure it does not overheat.
The original blade length remained the same in this cutlass modification. The new handle shape gives the machete a decidedly better “feel” and I think improves the work ability of the knife.
The scales are made from mesquite sap wood taken from a branch that was shaped perfectly for the project. May I suggest that if you attempt this conversion you save yourself some time and energy and look for a branch that is already properly shaped.
The two bolo machete conversions are pictured above. The smaller “survival knife” makes a dandy packing tool but then so does the bolo cutlass. The advantage the cutlass has over the survival knife is that its length allows the user to whack woody thorn shrubs without concerns for getting pricked. In the Thorn Forest regions of the Southwest this is an important consideration. With that said, any 14-24 inch machete will work equally well although the point at the end of both the cutlass and survival knife allows the woodsman to use the blade as an auger of sorts for bow-drills and other camp chores.
I pinned the scales on the cutlass machete with heavy gauge copper/steel wire and then epoxied the two pieces of mesquite together to enhance the bond. If nothing else, you’ll have hombres walking up to you saying, “Hey, that’s neat. Where’d you buy that?”