Vintage Elwell 4789

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Laurentius

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 13, 2009
2,016
298
Knowhere
I recently won one of these on Ebay, https://thumbs.worthpoint.com/zoom/...bill_360_ae0ce4509236fa7ef4ab7a39b79cabd0.jpg which will replace my cheap and cheerfull hardware store machete.

I took for a test drive today hacking away at nettles, himalayan balsam, rosebay willow herb and brambles. There is no comparison to a machete, this is the mutts nuts. It is less curved than a sickle, but curved enough to catch whatever you want to cut back. Very thick towards the handle and tapers toward the end, and the bevel is interesting, it is essentially flat on one side, with a convex grind on the other. Some pitting from rust but you don't really have to worry about that.

Is it ergonomic? I'll say, feels very comfortable in the hand (I do suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome so that is important) and the weight and balance is just right.

I have no idea whether you can still get these kind of tools new, I would guess not, but like my Elwell bill hook it is well made and I would think the design was perfected by centuries of blacksmiths and cannot be improved.
 
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Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
5,145
1,667
W.Sussex
Okay lets see if this works

http://www.timelesstools.co.uk/images/hand slashers 3.jpg

Mmine most resembles no 1666 there although I guess no two items are exactly the same.

Nice looking tool. Yours, and the one to the left, 746, both lovely. I hadn’t read the post earlier because I assumed it was about a classic billhook, but these slashers are different. I’ll have to keep on the lookout for them now you realise? As if I needed another bladed quest. :D :surrender:
 

Nice65

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Apr 16, 2009
5,145
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W.Sussex
Two threads on hooks and slashers and several hours later, I’m hoping number 746 is mine :)

I also very much like the no.989 Harrison but it may be a little whippy? I’ve emailed the guy about it. My usage is fairly well defined: rather than leave my garden hedges and shrubs to get too overgrown and then have a good bash with the petrol hedge cutter, I see both pleasure and simplicity in slashing the thin new growth before it’s 1/4” to 1/2” thick. Brambles are rampant, so the tool also needs to be able to slash or pull cut a bramble stem off within the hedge without blade twisting.
 

Nomad64

Full Member
Nov 21, 2015
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UK
I was lucky enough to find an Elwell 4029-2 slasher in my barn a couple of years ago.

B2AABBAB-CDDB-42DE-8387-C3533EDB1AC4.jpeg

F47936C3-7545-4E79-8A70-4AF6C0BCCA52.jpeg

The original worm-ridden handle didn’t last long but rehandled it has proved a useful ally in the eternal batle to control (but not eradicate - in moderation they are great for wildlife) gorse, brambles, nettles etc.

I’m sure these can be found cheaply at car boots but plenty available from specialist vintage tool shops. These guys are local to me and collect tools for export to third world projects - they refurbish and sell the older/collectible ones to raise funds.

https://www.tfsrcymru.org.uk/forthcoming-events/

Link below to some catalogues from Elwell and other British toolmakers that were eventually subsumed into the Spear & Jackson empire.

http://www.tfsrcymru.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Spear-Jackson-history-and-billhook-types.pdf
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
5,145
1,667
W.Sussex
Nice tool that slasher. Many years ago my folks took on an extra couple of acres of bramble clumped pasture. After much experimenting how best to get the brambles out we settled for a rope noose around the clump attached to a small Wheelhorse tractor. While the Wheelhorse pulled, one of us would be behind the clump slashing the stems. It worked well, and was very efficient in terms of effort and avoiding getting spiked.

No 746, the Elwell 4789, is due to arrive by UPS sometime today. I’m really looking forward to getting the edge back on it and wandering about the garden whipping bits off. The hedge cutter is a noisy, smelly, heavy thing, overkill for little jobs.
 
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Laurentius

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Aug 13, 2009
2,016
298
Knowhere
I have something to add to my review today. Whilst the tool has perfect balance and heft I have been left with blisters today after a busy afternoon chopping brambles and nettles. The traditional round handle does leave a bit to be desired so far as comfort is concerned. I think I should either have been wearing a glove, or perhaps wrapping leather cord around the handle.
 

Nice65

Full Member
Apr 16, 2009
5,145
1,667
W.Sussex
I have something to add to my review today. Whilst the tool has perfect balance and heft I have been left with blisters today after a busy afternoon chopping brambles and nettles. The traditional round handle does leave a bit to be desired so far as comfort is concerned. I think I should either have been wearing a glove, or perhaps wrapping leather cord around the handle.

You could change it? Many of the ones in the Timeless Tools link picture you posted are rehandled. Handles crack, get woodworm etc and are almost like car service parts, they wear.

Mine arrived yesterday with an Ash handle that feels ok. Time will tell, but regular use should see your hand getting used to the handle unless it’s obviously too thin a grip. The blade on mine needs some work to get the dings out before it’s any use. I think it’s a Black and Decker Powerfile job, fine grit belt, cooling off, and patience. ;)
 

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