Nata Hatchet 165mm or 180mm


(David Walker) #1

Playing around with internet searches I happened upon the below website

Tenkara Suntomi July 16 Bear Encounter Great Iwana Fishing

Which renewed my interest in purchasing a Japanese Nata hatchet.

The Honda outdoor tools webpage - how to correctly use nata for preparing firewood was also helpful

translated: Honda Outdoors How to correctly use nata

I found a couple of nata hatchets on Amazon, that I suspect may be good quality. One is 165mm the other 180mm.

Both are made by 千吉(Senkichi). With only a 15mm difference in blade length I’m not sure if it would make much difference in use of either one. But there is a price difference of $34. Is an extra 15mm (0.6 in) of blade worth $34? :thinking:

Who has experience with a nata hatchet and found them worth the purchase price? Or has a recommendation on best size to purchase or different recommendation that the 千吉(Senkichi) models on Amazon?

Amazon 165mm nata

Amazon 180mm nata

I am also very happy with my folding Silky Saws. They also make a nata hatchet. I haven’t yet tracked down a seller and price. And I kinda like the more traditionally made nata with wood handle. But here’s one in action.

I might also mention that 2 weeks ago high winds knocked down my apple tree, which I really did not appreciate. [but my sister-in-law had bigger trouble the wind knocked down one of those huge double trunk sycamore tress at the edge of her yard. That happily fell in a direction where it did no harm] Anyway, this evening the weather man predicted 50 ~60mph winds starting at 3am. They just arrived 30 minutes late. A nata hatchet may come in handy. However, I think a silky saw works well for de-limbing a branch, and is safer to use.


(Mike Kookagee Shelton) #2

Sorry to hear about the damage. I do hope you saved the apple wood to make Kuksa, spoons, and knife handles. I know people who build boats and canoes that love to use apple wood for the trim work. I hope everything is alright with you and your family.


(todoroki toshirou) #3

鉈鞘 作り方・・・

I am also making it now.
DSCF6323

The middle of production
DSCF6324

The normal size is 165 mm is much

180 mm will be a bit heavier
It’s just the difference

The manufacturing process is the same recipe as the Japanese sword of hatchet

There is a difference between arts and utility goods :grinning:


(David Walker) #4

The biggest disappointment about losing my tree is it only made small apples for many years, and my wife wanted it cut down. I lobbied to keep it a little longer. [ originally I planted 3 apple trees, two were quickly killed by some kind of worm that attacked the roots]

Only over the last three years did it start growing bigger more tasty apples. Deer got most of the lower apples leaving me to battle the birds for the higher ones. I prefer old types of apples. The modern apples grown by commercial growers and sold in stores have been bred to have more sugar in them, be much sweeter than in years past. They’re close to being little round candy bars.

I had to look up what a kuksa is, wooden drinking cup. I only gave a bit of thought to keeping a couple of pieces to maybe make something out of them. Mostly it seemed to be headed to my sister-in-law to use in their smoker. I seem to often have more day dreams of making something fun out of bits of good wood than actually accomplishing it. Thirty years ago my father-in-law asked his youngest son to cut down some trees for firewood. He sawed down and split 3 walnut trees. I still have a few pieces left sitting in the corner of the garage waiting to be made into something. Or it was the last time I looked.


(David Walker) #5

Todoroki-san, Thank you for the input about the weight being the primary difference between the two lengths. As I have thought more about it I have been thinking the 165mm (6.5 inch) model might be my best choice. Now to think more about what manufacturer.

Interesting that last evening I watched that same video about how to make a sheath (saya, 鞘). :smiley:

I think this video about how to make a sheath is also very good. An ambitious project. And for those who can read a bit of Japanese, it has many subtitles with both Japanese & English. So you can pick up a little more of the language watching it.

A bit of written Japanese vocabulary, that may help a little if looking at Japanese websites with nata hatchets:

鉈 is a kanji for hatchet. Google translate doesn’t seem to recognize it very well. It provides no phonetic for it. But a kanji website gives a romaji of either ; nata or hoko or sha.
jisho - 鉈 #kanji

Hatchet = Nata ; なた or ナタ
Blade or cutting edge = ha ; 刃
Cutlery (literally knife thing or cutting object) = hamono ; 刃物
Sheath = saya ; 鞘

Double edges, aka double bevel edge = ryōba; 両刃
Single bevel edge, aka chisel edge = kataba; 片刃.
Which will come in left & right hand versions:
For right handed use = migikiki-yō ; 右利き用
For left handed use = hidarikiki-yō ; 左利き用

Gardening tools = engei dōgu ; 園芸道具
Carpentry tools = daiku dōgu ; 大工道具
Blue paper steel = aogami hagane; 青紙鋼
[as always - the phonetics may not be the same as the romaji or a kanji may have more than one pronunciation]

The Senkichi nata hatchets [千吉 ナタ 鉈] seem to be made by the Fujiwara Sangyo Co. Ltd.
Fujiwara Sangyo Gardening Tools Hatchets

Dr. Wacko, aka Virtuovice on YouTube - “Hello knife people” - has some interesting observations about what design of nata is best for recreational users. His advice is basically for recreational users, for bush-craft, purchase the straight lighter nata model designs. Do not purchase the models that are heavy with angled grip meant for use by professional foresters.


(Mike Kookagee Shelton) #6

Daniel,
A student gave me some Black Walnut and I made a fly tying table out of it. It did wrap a little underneath the table so I put it on the belt sander to fix the problem and then soaked it in lemon oil. I glued cork to the bottom to keep from scratching up any of my wife’s furniture. Maybe you can make a tenkara handle with the walnut or a large soup spoon for the lady of the house. I forgot that apple wood is awesome for smoking venison, beef, turkey, and trout. I hope all is well and hopefully you can get back to some fishing before the cold weather sets in.

Mike


(Isaac Tait) #7

My good friend gave me a Nata as a gift a few years back. It’s great for bushwacking and using as a sort of machete. Much like the guy in the original post I carried mine as a bear deterrent. My Kei van got stuck once in a mud pit and I used it to chop down saplings to make a “bridge” to escape the mud. My only complaint with them is that most often the tang doesn’t go fully into the handle so after a little use they start to develop some play. Mine is retired now, reminding me of our adventures in the mountains of Japan.


(Mike Kookagee Shelton) #8

I have never used a Nata only a machete for clearing. Does the Nata have an advantage over the machete?


(Isaac Tait) #9

In Japan any knife longer than 2cm is considered a sword and can get one in a lot of trouble. Natas are widely recognized in Japan - so, if I were found with one it would most likely not be a big deal. A meter long machete would be a different story though :scream:

My Nata has some heft to it. It is also very sharp. It could cut through pretty much anything. One time on a camping trip my friends came across a dead tree on the verge of falling with a huge clump of mushrooms at the top. The tree must have been 30+ cm around. They chopped it down with their Nata. Took all of a minute. We had the mushrooms with dinner that night, they tasted amazing!


(Isaac Tait) #10


Hopefully I don’t offend too many people but the tree was dead. We just accelerated the timeline of its demise a little.


(David Walker) #11

It was not a large tree, 11 inches or so at the base. All not cut to about 20 inches in length. But some board could probably be made out of some if it sufficient for a small project.

About 97% of the time now days I am the cook. Any spoon would be for me. My wife complains about the piles of books, fountain pens, etc that surrounds my lazy-dude chair. Where I admit I am messy. otoh - I’d prefer she stay out of the kitchen. Every time she cooks she leave the stove with pans full of oil and the sink full for dishes. But in the kitchen I am Mr. Clean. Most dishes I was as I cook, when possible, and when finished all dishes are washed, stove and counter top cleaned, and spices, etc put away. Go figure. :roll_eyes:


(David Walker) #12

Isaac, fun story, good looking nata, Single bevel I think.

Most chopping duties in recent years has been done with a khukuri (aka kukri , kukuri) made in India, a gift given to me 12 years or so back from a friend since we were in the Navy together. I don’t think it was an Uncle Bill khukuri (who I think was the guy behind Himalayan-imports.) But I’ve lost the paperwork that came with it.

Interesting knives - the sheath also holds what at first glance looks like two small knives with short wood handles. But only one is a knife with about a 3 inch blade. The other is actually a hardened steel used to sharpen the edge. I think most people think of kukuri knives as warrior weapons used by the Gurkha soldiers. But they were mostly a farmers tool. The farmer’s khukuri is a different design from the Gurkha khukri.

Since discovering the Junglecraft blog, [ junglecrafty channel on youtube] maybe five years ago I have found the Malayian parang an interesting machete / nata like chopper. They are crudely made, yet they are also a highly evolved design for jungle work. Which is why I have resisted ordering one, perhaps too refined for jungle work. Not for the tasks I would have to do, but maybe not.

There are many different designs to better match different tasks. Some long or straight edged, others with blades only about 11 inches long with a slight radius to the cutting edge. Which I think makes a better cutting edge.

They are not refined in the way a Japanese nata is. Super hard steels like blue paper steel or a well crafted finish. Where I see the refinement in the Malay parang is in how it has evolved to fulfill its designed purpose, as the guy at Junglecraft explains in some of this videos, they have some design features that at first glance seems crude, but with more familiarity using them there appears to be a reason why the native Malaysians prefer rat-tail tangs that are not pinned into the handle, and why they find a good adhesive to use to hold the tang into the handle are small bits of plastic shopping bag stuffed into the tang slot and melted by first heating the tang before inserting it. He has 8 or so videos just on parangs, and several of his other videos shows them being used for different tasks.

Here are a few of his videos.
The first one is Parang cutting techniques. I think a nata could largely be used the same way. Depending on the design of the nata.

How to repair a parang in the field - where in he explains how to his surprise some design / construction features that at first seemed inferior may in fact have a practical purpose. Clearly not fancy made tools just practical tool for use in dense jungle. (he has other videos about how easy it is to become lost in the jungle after only traveling a short distance in, a few people lose their lives there each year because they become lost even when traveling with a group. Sometimes their bodies are found, sometimes never found. A tool you can easily sharpen or repair would be important)

Parang review 2016 - made two years after the first video, wherein he states the parang he repaired by gluing it with melted plastic bag has worked fine without need of repairing the handle.

I believe he said he could replace a small parang for $7 in Malaysia, but authentic Malay style models are more expensive and difficult find here.

Condor Tool & Knife makes one called the ECO Parang. That appears very similar to one of the small light models he preferred to use. About $40 on Amazon. Gets good ratings, There are several review videos on youtube, just search YT for " Condor ECO parang". Some people call the Condor eco parang a machete, which it kind of is. But Condor also makes a model called the “parang machete”, that is a different tool with a longer blade.

Point is if you like a machete you might also like a parang more than a nata. :thinking:


(David Walker) #13

Ben Orford’s tips on how to use a parang. Safety tips & techniques that t think would be equally applicable for nata use.


(David Walker) #14

What can go wrong with a nata? This video originally had the goal to compare a Japanese “garden hatchet” with a Cold Steel Magnum Kukri Machete. It ended up mostly detailing the failure of the nata hatchet plus a bit about proper use of a single bevel (chisel grind) edge model.

Now I know why I often see replacement handles listed on nata websites. Most nata I have looked at have the same tang handle design. Perhaps most will be susceptible to the same kind of failure. He does state that the “garden machete” he used was a low priced one. But whether the failure he experienced was due to it being a lower quality tool or more due to a misunderstanding of what this particular tool was designed for and thus his use was really misuse, and he should have chosen a different model is unknown. I will probably give a little more thought & research in to which brand / model I want to purchase.

Japanese Garden Machete - limbing, felling, and bucking

After Mike asked if a nata has any advantage over a machete I was diverted into looking more at machetes, and parangs - as detailed by Paul’s videos on junglecrafty youtube videos posted earlier or on his blog website junglecraft.

The result is I will research nata models more before deciding what model I would like, provide the details to my wife as a possible Christmas gift for me. If she passes on the idea I will order it myself later.

Meanwhile I have ordered a Malaysian made parang.
Largely because after looking into them more I learned they are not just for cutting green vegetation in Malaysian jungles. Green bamboo is easy to cut, but old dry bamboo is very tough to cut & a lot of the trees in their jungles are also very hard dense wood. Some people say the grain of the trees make them tougher to cut that any trees found in the USA. Concern they are only for cutting soft jungle vegetation or soft woods appears to be unfounded.

I have seen a lot of good reviews for the Condor mini duku parang. And at first considered ordering one of them. Condor Tool & Knife is a company in El Salvador, originally a German steel company that was later purchased by investors in El Salvador. A lot of their products receive good reviews.

Amazon Condor 10" mini duku machete parang machete

Condor Tool & Knife Duku Machete

Condor Mini Duku Parang/Machete: The Gauntlet #1 - Preparedmind101

However, the Condor Mini Duku Parang has a full tang. Not the same as the Malaysian evolved parangs. Which probably does make it more robust, but it also changes the balance of Malaysian evolved parangs, as Paul at junglecraft commented about, and makes it a little heavier.

I decided on purchasing the 10 inch myparang model. (they also make a 12 inch model and heavier blade model). From bladehq, one of the retailers in the USA. It uses the same original design with rat tail tang, and I found at least three online reviews by people who owned both the Condor mini duku and the small Myparang Duku Changdonk model. They preferred the myparang model. (though who can tell maybe all 3 reviews were from the same guy just posted under a different name.) They are made in Bidor Malaysia and marketed by Outdoor Dynamics Malaysia. I think Myparang buys the blades from a larger company and they make and attach the handle.

http://www.myparang.com/

Bladehq Myparang 10" Duku Chandong Machete

This video shows just how robust they are (or can be):

MY Parang - Duku Chandong 10" field test

However, there is always the possibility that not all production parangs will have the same level of tempering or quality of steel.

Duku chandong parang design is apparently a style advocated by & made popular by Ray Mears some years ago. Factory tour:

Malaysian Parang Maker - Bidor Malaysia

I think some of the information Paul states in this old blog post is incorrect. Such as the steel used is direct from the steel mill, not recycled vehicle springs, as was shown in the above factory tour.

http://www.junglecraft.com.my/index.php/ray-mears-parang/


(David Walker) #15

I’ve been looking at products on the miki-japan website for several years. Came close to ordering several items, mostly office type products plus a couple of gardening items, from them - but have yet to do so.

They have several nata type hatchets on their website. This one is on their home page listed under top selling products. With a parachute cord wrapped handle it would eliminate the possibility of a broken wooden grip. They have other similar models with other lengths, and nata with the more traditional wood handles.

無骨な蒔割り鉈 Raccoon(ラクーン)山ナタです。。。
I am not sure of the correct translation. Something like - Rugged Seedling Splitting Hatchet Raccoon Mountain Nata. As shown on one picture frame on the below webpage - a combination of a Silk Saw + Nata or similar hatchet would be a good combination. A silky saw makes quick work of cutting thick limbs into short lengths, and I think sawing thick limbs is much safer that chopping them to desired length. And perhaps faster too with a fast cutting saw. :smiley:

http://www.miki-japan.com/ts239.html

Digital translation for Raccoon Mountain Nata

Digital translation Raccoon Mountain Nata Oak Handle

Other related products on their website:

http://www.miki-japan.com/gardening/nata/ikeuchi-08.html

http://www.miki-japan.com/gardening/nata.html

When looking at knives or other cutting tools you may have seen the steel used for the blade referred to as :
Blue paper (aogami) or White paper (shirogami) -steel. More formally 青紙鋼 (Aogamihagane).

I’ve always heard the different steels acquired those nicknames due to the color of the paper the steel is wrapped in by Hitachi steel mill. Or just the color name put on the wrapping paper. Below is about the clearest youtube video I have found explaining the differences. I don’t think his explanation is 100% accurate, but ballpark close. Maybe it will be of interest - if that sort of thing interest you. :thinking:
The choice being a trade off or compromise to emphasize hardness, longer edge retention, but more brittle. Or softer, tougher, less prone to chipping, etc. metals.

About Japanese Yellow, White, Blue Paper steels | HITACHI社 Yasuki Steel

Or if you prefer reading - here are a couple of webpages from Hitachi for two different steels, aka YSS Yasugi Specialty Steel.

https://www.hitachi-metals.co.jp/e/yss/search/aogami_super.html

https://www.hitachi-metals.co.jp/e/yss/search/shirogami3.html


(todoroki toshirou) #16

Thank you for everyone’s excellent knowledge and explanation

My hatchet(鉈) is a specialized products・・・It is a special cutlery

DSCF6341

The middle is single-edged・・・180mm

DSCF6340

One is"Mountain sword"=“山刀”= “yamagatana”
Others have a blade length of 250 mm ”open a bush”=“薮払い”=”yabu-harai"

Both are made of steel”玉鋼” used for Japanese sword

Both are double-edged”両刃” tailoring

I think that double-edged”両刃” are easier to handle than single blades”片刃”
・・・“Single blade” has too sharp angle of cutting power
There are uses for each

single blades”片刃”・・・We will make firewoods finer
DSCF6342

DSCF6343

I recommend double-edged if mountain goods

DSCF6337

DSCF6339


(David Walker) #17

An interesting collection of cutting tools. :smile:
I agree that the double grind 両刃 type would be a better choice for camping, for splitting fire wood, etc. The single grind 片刃 type - maybe a better choice for trimming trees by your home where a close flat cut would be desirable to look nicer.


(David Walker) #18

Ben Orford demonstrates an interesting way to sharpen a parang. I think the method would be easy to adapt to sharpening other chopping type hatchets, nata or large sheath knives.

How to Sharpen a Parang

His method using the sandpaper will put a convex bevel on the cutting edges, which in theory makes the edge more durable than a flat bevel. A convex grind is believed to be a more durable edge - especially useful for a chopping tool. Compared to the flat grid or scandi grind. [abbreviated form for Scandinavian grind] Which is a flat or hollow ground edge.

I would put some kind of material under the sandpaper that will compress slightly.

A thin stiff foam works well. Something similar to the foam from a carry out box from a restaurant or foam from a meat container. Or even a thick fuzzy piece of leather. Any material that will compress slightly, but not too much. It will help make the bevel convex because as the edge is dragged along the sandpaper it will be moving in the low part of a shallow wave, thereby creating a rounded shape. vs sharpening on a whetstone, water stone or diamond stone, which creates a flat scandi grind. [virtuovice demonstrates how to make a convex grind while sharpening on water stones, but I think it is a difficult technique to learn]

Ben also did something else to the cutting edge. He explains it well in one of his other videos [posted below] , but it may have gone unnoticed in the above video. What he does on the parangs he makes is sharpen the edge with a convex grid along the part of the edge that will be used for chopping.

But if you listened carefully - he remarked that the last 2 ~ 3 inches of the edge, near the handle, the grind is flat. A scandi grind along that part of the edge. Which is better for fine control cutting / slicing tasks, such as making a feather stick, or other simple cutting tasks.

You may recall seeing in some of the previous videos - showing different techniques or methods to use parangs - they would do fine control slicing cuts with that part of the edge, holding the tool near the junction from handle to blade . I think that is a useful evolved feature. I think it would be easy to create this feature on your own nata, parang or large fixed blade knife by the way you sharpen it. Though it may require a little extra work to change the edge profile.

Ben explains it well in his video for his “Pocket Parang”. Starting about 1:30 into the video.

Pocket Parang


(David Walker) #19

One of the many uses for a nata or other chopping, wood splitting tool is prepping fire wood. This short video was posted yesterday. A good reminder tools are not for looking at or just being talked about. They are for being used to achieve an end. :drooling_face:

Fresh Caught Brook Trout! 1 1/2" Thick Ribeye Steak! And Of Course Bacon!

Why convex geometry is tougher in a smaller angle

I am not certain his cutting test was valid. It fell short of being an RCT, random controlled trial. Perhaps allowing a preconception to guide to the desired conclusion. But I think his geometry of forces was correct. Showing why a convex edge is more robust.

FAQ: What are the advantages and disadvantages of different grinds?

https://www.knivesshipfree.com/knife-knowledge/faq-what-are-the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-different-grinds/


(Mike Kookagee Shelton) #20

This guy has an awesome workshop in Bidor, Malaysia. Amazing!!! My granddad had a leather, wood, and metal shop I recall fondly. He enjoyed making hunting knives on his free time to make a little extra money. He could build anything from leather, wood, or metal. I still have an American Chestnut trunk and a knife he made
for me. Thank you for bringing me back good memories.

Mike