Tramontina 18” Machete Review
Today We Review The Tramontina 18” Machete
You Can Skip The Reading And Just Buy It, Trust Us!
I’ve often thought about trying to put together a list of the best machetes under $20. And who knows—we might do that someday. The problem I keep running into is, it would be a pretty short list.
It simply isn’t easy to find a really good machete under $20. But if a list like that ever comes out, you can bet that the Tramontina 18” Machete will be on it. This machete impressed me right away with its comfort and build quality, and considering it often goes for as little as $15, it’s almost impossible to see it as a bad investment.
Is it perfect? No. But if you’re on the hunt for a sturdy, workhorse blade that won’t break the bank, I would definitely call the Tramontina Machete a strong contender.
Read: What Are The Different Types of Machetes
Tramontina Machete: First Impressions
The Tramontina Machete feels well balanced, stable and sturdy right out of the box. The handle fits my hand well, and there’s something appealingly bare-bones and simple about the entire design. I wouldn’t say it’s terribly sharp at first, but it does take a keen edge quite easily. “Made in Brazil” is stamped on the blade just above the grip.
Tramontina is, in fact, a Brazilian company that makes a dizzying array of items. They make kitchen cutlery, pots and pans, toys, tools, appliances, furniture, and literally thousands of other products. Tramontina was founded in 1911 and has become one of the largest companies in Brazil.
My understanding is that you can order a Tramontina 18” Machete machete with a sheath, but mine did not come with one. Considering the rock-bottom price tag on this thing, I’m not surprised that it came unsheathed, though I might consider ordering one separately in the future.
Measurements and Specs
The Tramontina Machete has an 18-inch blade and measures 23 inches from end to end. It weighs just about 1.2 pounds, which has some good heft to it, but is still fairly lightweight for a machete of this size.
The thickness of the blade is 2.2 mm at the base, and it’s made of SAE 1070 High Carbon steel with a flat grind. The handle is wood, but what kind of wood is anybody’s guess. Many listings refer to it simply as a “natural color hardwood handle.” The blade has a full tang that is held in the one-piece wood handle by three rivets.
As I said upfront, there’s nothing very impressive about the sharpness of the Tramontina blade right out of the box. That being said, with a fairly minimal amount of effort, I was able to hone the edge to near shaving-sharpness. After being sharpened, it cuts through weeds and small branches with ease, and seems to have good edge retention.
Of course, repeated sharpening is going to be necessary, as would be the case with pretty much any blade subjected to the kind of wear-and-tear a machete sustains.
The SAE 1070 High Carbon steel used to make the blade is a pretty common grade of steel used for everything from garden tools to railroad rails. It’s mostly known for its excellent strength and wear resistance. It also has the ability to spring and flex just a bit, which is a good quality for a machete to have.
This steel also has pretty good corrosion resistance, at least by carbon steel standards, and the portion of the blade above the grind also appears to have a protective coating. Even so, it’s important to remember that this isn’t stainless steel; it will rust if exposed to water for long periods of time.
The grind of the Tramontina is a bit curious. It appears to be a somewhat asymmetrical flat grind. I can’t say whether that asymmetry is intentional, or some kind of design fluke, but it doesn’t hinder the performance in any way. The grind also stops about an inch and a half below the end of the machete, leaving the very tip unsharpened.
Handle and Grip
I’ve read other reviews that spoke negatively about the Tramontina Machete’s handle, but I’ve found it comfortable and easy to grip despite its basic design. The wood is smooth and nicely beveled, and although there isn’t any grip texture to speak of, I find that it still holds well even in wet conditions.
I’ve used this machete quite a bit, and had no problem with “hot spots” developing. If I have one small quibble with the handle, it’s that the scales aren’t quite flush with the tang. One of the first things I did after I got this machete was sanding down the back of the handle to make it even with the tang. It was asmall amount of effort for a significant improvement.
The handle of the Tramontina Machete does not have a lanyard hole, and because of the full tang, drilling one isn’t an option. Personally, I’m not a big lanyard guy, so I don’t consider that to be an issue.
Using the Tramontina 18” Machete
After putting the Tramontina 18” Machete to the test, cutting everything from tall grass to firewood, I find that it’s a surprisingly versatile and well-rounded machete. Given its size, flexibility and the thinness of the blade, this is definitely a tool that I favor for lighter-duty cutting as opposed to heavy chopping.
The blade of the Tramontina has a nice belly to it which, once sharpened, allows it to glide easily through weeds and brush, essentially pulling the plant matter along the blade as it goes. It also makes quick work of wood up to 2” or 3” thick.
For jobs tougher than that, there are more suitable tools. If I wanted to baton firewood, for example, I’d rather have something like the Kershaw Camp 10 or the Schrade Brush Sword. But the Tramontina is an excellent tool for garden work, trail maintenance, and all kinds of landscaping chores.
Final Thoughts on the Tramontina Machete
I’ve tested out quite a few machetes, and the one that the Tramontina keeps reminding me of is the Corona 18” Machete, which I picked up and reviewed last year. I wrote about the Corona Machete quite favorably at the time, but having now spent some time with the Tramontina—which is of an almost identical size and shape—I find myself favoring the latter.
Read The Corona Machete Review Here
The blade of the Tramontina 18” Machete is ever-so-slightly thicker and heavier than the Corona’s but it still has just the right amount of flex. That just-right level of flexibility makes it easy to wield and control, and the well-weighted blade is balanced in such a way that you can swing it repeatedly over the course of a long work day without totally wearing yourself out.
And hey, even though the Tramontina Machete wasn’t as sharp as I’d like it to be at first, the SAE 1070 steel both retains an edge well and is easy to sharpen. The lack of an edge near the tip of the blade is a bit of a puzzler, but ultimately not an issue that detracts from the function of the machete.
The Tramontina is an all-around great tool for an assortment of outdoor jobs that involve cutting, clearing, hacking and slicing weeds, shrubs and small trees. I can honestly say that this is my favorite machete in the under $20 range, and it outshines some that cost even more.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his clients websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.