Back a while, Keith suggested I try a Fiskar’s Machete, and quite frankly, I have no interest in machetes. However, very rarely does anyone suggest a brush-clearing tool unless they’ve actually used one. Moreover, Keith had a narrative as to where and how he used said tool, so I was intrigued. It’s a forty buck bet that I either wind up with something that looks wicked cool and deadly, but doesn’t do well in the woods, or something that looks cool and kills vines.
Here we go.
Ten years ago I would have given up after a few minutes with the thing. A Machete is a lightweight weapon, and as such, there’s more muscle needed to make it work, and there’s a great deal of skill to be honed as well. Bush Hooks are heavy instruments with great head speed and a giant blade. The Fiskar’s twenty-nine-inch machete is heavier than your average machete, and there are some pluses to go along with the heaviness of the blade.
There’s an old tree close to the property line, and as far as Live Oaks go, it’s pretty big, but it is also in bad shape. I cut the vines off of the trunk a few years back but to do de-vining a tree any good you have to hit it every year, at least once. The stem of the vine was as thick as my wrist, and more springy than I was prepared for. There were branches coming off the main trunk of the vine, there were vines hanging down, and there are Oak limbs, too. Close quarters call for a knife fight. There’s no way to use a bush hook here.
True enough, it took more than one swing to get through the thick stuff, but I was ready to use less force and more precision if I could. I’m teaching myself to be ambidextrous. Cut the vines high, move them out of the way, cut the vines low, move them out of the way, cut, clear, cut clear, and do it again.
After an hour or so, I had the entire trunk of the tree cleared. I took out one vine as thick as my arm, and about five that were as thick as my wrist. There were a lot of smaller vines that the Fiskar’s cut through easily but the thicker stuff had to be hacked.
Some thoughts here: Yeah, a chain saw means ten minutes of work. But alone in the woods, it’s not safe, and frankly, I like the exercise. I like being good with a blade. I like learning a new hand tool. The Fiskar’s is a sturdy, easy to wield vine slayer, and even though it doesn’t have the firepower of a bush hook, for close quarters and tight spots, I’m more than willing to use this blade simply because it’s a good, solid, dependable tool.
Mike writes regularly at his site: The Hickory Head Hermit. Opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the management of this site.