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How Blacksmiths make Buffalo Horn Machete Handles

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Published on Feb 16, 2015

Machete handles made from the horns of carabao! Carabao are a type of water buffalo found mainly in the Philippines.
Across the world machete handles are generally made from wood or plastic, in the Philippines carabao is a source of beef and they don't let the tough fibres of the horns go to waste. On a recent hiking trip in Ilocos Norte Province I was very interested to see that 99% of the machetes I saw the natives using had carabao horn handles. These Carabao water buffalos are everywhere in Philippines :-) But I'd never seen so many carabao horned machete handles in one province. Because of the similarities in the craftsmanship I suspected that all these blades were coming from one blacksmith!

With Christina as Filipino translator we asked around, "do you know where the blacksmith is located?" At the remote mountain village of Adams we met a local native who had purchased his bolo (Filipino machete) directly from the blacksmith; he said, "the blacksmith is located at San Nicolas in Laoag City"

Knowing that we had reliable directions was exciting because I've always wanted to see this trade in practice. About 3 days later we were riding a motorbike around San Nicolas in Laoag City, after about 30 minutes we found the blacksmith factory!
In Philippines the blacksmiths always use old leaf springs from cars for the blades. Watching the head blacksmith make the full tang handle pins from the aluminium of a security door was very interesting. But most of all, the carving of the buffalo horns was my favourite part. Who would think they could use a machete to make another machete!
Hope you enjoy our video :-)

TIME STAMPS
Blacksmith's wife brings out the horns 1:46
Heating & Shaping handle 3:21
Melting the handle onto steel 5:33
Carving partial tang handle 6:21
Drilling the holes 8:02
Cutting the aluminium pins 8:54
Pins in full tang handle 9:21
Final filing of full tang handle 11:20
End Card 12:39

Blacksmith's address: Barangay 10, San Paulo, San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte Province, Philippines
GPS coordinates: 18'10'06.3"N 120'35'39.3E

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