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Geoff Keyes

Smatchet

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Does anyone know the thickness of a smatchet (Fair Sword)?
I have the the length, width and weight, but no one seems to list the thickness of the stock.

 

Thanks

Geoff

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I've only seen one in the flesh once long ago, and all I remember is that it was thick.  Like 5/16" or so, maybe more.  Can you take the length, width, and weight and use a formula to figure the thickness?  I know it's iffy without knowing the grip and guard weight, but if you know the weight you can get the volume, which will tell you thickness.  Minus the bevels, so it's complicated...

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Interesting.  I have another friend, who is a dealer in edged antiques, who says that the examples he has had (3) we about 3/16.  Even in the issue pieces (and there are a lot of fakes) there seems to be a lot of variation.  I have seen pics of single edge versions (which are early, I think), and others with 2 edges.  There is a pic of one that appears to have a central fuller, though most appear to be flat with a short edge bevel.  I'm wondering if some have been given field mods to "improve" them.

 

There is a show I'm going to be at in a couple of weeks (assuming that things don't get canceled) that is having a Military knife theme and I may try to get one done for that.

 

Geoff

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What's the difference between the Snatchet and the navy issue bolo?  

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The smatchet has a heavier pommel and thicker blade, for one, and the overall shape is a bit different.

 

Geoff, I looked at that site too, and there do seem to have been several variants over the years.  That 1.5lb weight with a heavy pommel would suggest 1/4" as a maximum, allowing for distal taper which nobody mentions.  Being wartime production, maybe they didn't have any taper?  Might be worth a shot to do stock removal practice on some 3/16" plate and see what you end up with.  The one I saw in person was at a gun show when I was maybe 20, so that's long enough ago that I certainly could be misremembering. There's been sleep and whisky since then...

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Alan, it seems that there were at least 2 variants.  One was the smatchet and the other was the Fair Sword.  The smatchet was pretty thin, according to Paul Macdonald at the Macdonald Armory the smatchet was "distal tapering from around 4.5mm to around 0.6mm over the length".  The Fair Sword was much heavier, probably the 5/16th you are remembering.

 

Gerald
 

Image result for navy bolo machete

 

Navy bolo

 

Smatchetforsale.jpg

 

smatchet

 

Geoff

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That ugly brute looks like it could remove some body parts as well as clear brush.  What theater of operations was it used in?

 

Doug

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Covert bush ops in Asia, maybe some were issued to British commandos.  It's not really clear how many were ever issued.  I guess they were awkward to carry.  But like the Spetsnaz entrenching tool, they had their uses.

 

Geoff 

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I've found a few more pictures that clear up a few things for me.

 

On the left is an original

 

088.jpg

 

These are apparently versions of the "Fairsword"

 

7639_orig.jpg

 

Clearly more robust.  I can't decide about this one, in theater MOD?  Or perhaps a prototype?

 

img-20160313-162721963 (Medium).jpg

 

I forged one up yesterday.  I don't have the profile quite right, but it's within the scope of the idea.  I'll get some pics today.

 

Geoff

 

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Inside on a cold wet day and thought I'd dig out my Bolo.  Over all length is about 15 inches, blade is about 10 5/16"  Until the top starts to taper, it's width is 7/32"  Markings are U.S. MOD. 1917 C.T and PLUMB ST LOU   Other then I bought this in 1984/5 at small pawn shop in Honolulu, I know nothing about it.  I carried it as a short machete on my LBE for a few years and then decided the extra weight wasn't worth it.  If the Smatchet is bigger and heavier than this, then the smatchet was a beast.

 

Picture 3078 Large e-mail view.jpg

Picture 3079 Large e-mail view.jpg

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My mistake, I was thinking of the Vietnam-era bolos that were about 3/16 thick max.  That one is certainly a beast!  

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I found this by Bernie Levine on the history of the  Md 1917 Bolo.  The smatchet is heavy at 1.5 lb, and the Fairsword is heavier than that.  An antique dealer I know got to speak with Col. Applegate and was told that pretty much everyone thought the smatchet was too heavy for regular use, though it was a terror in actual combat use.

 

Geoff

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Off subject a little.  My Bolo is where I got the idea to hot press the guard on this knife.

 

 

Picture 2686 Large e-mail view.jpg

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I made one of those out of a piece of black iron pipe.

 

Here is my attempt at a smatchet, in the blue.  The shape is not quite right, more stabby, less choppy.  The tang needs adjusting  and shortening, but once that's done it almost exactly the dimensions of the original.  Right now it's 1.522 lbs which is amazing, since that is almost right on spec.  Once bevels are in and the butt piece on, it will be very close to the originals.  It's a beast!

 

IMG_1943 (Medium).JPG

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