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favorite tools for chop and drop

 
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Believe it or not, it is a 7-inchish kitchen knife with full tang attached
to a broom handle. I use it to whack thin branches{sometimes a
single blow is enough, sometimes}. On my knees, I swing it left and
right and it decapitates weeds and bush much like a scythe but less
cumbersome provided you are fine with kneelwork. I am Catholic.
Edit: It is a Hail Mary tool because sometimes the blade flies off.
Edit2: adding photo

5488_992_HaiL_Mary_chop_and_drop_tooL.jpg
Use like a Japanese Katana for loping off small branches and single-handed for scything.
Use like a Japanese Katana for loping off small branches and single-handed for scything.
 
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I just got to the point of chop and drop last year. I have a Sickle that I am finding really nice to use.
 
Jotham Bessey
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Kyrt Ryder wrote:Speaking of Fiskars, I get I a lot of mileage out of their brush axe. It's got just about the right length- in conjunction with a handy concave hook at the end of the blade- for casual one-handed use without stooping.


I've been eyeing those brush axes. Someday I will buy one.
 
pollinator
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Yay for bringing this thread back to life! Attached is a pic of all our rusty (gasp!), dusty (but sharpened!) chop-and-drop tools.

We often use a rice knife for chop-and-drop as well as for harvesting whole plants like tepary beans that we will later thresh and winnow and then return all the inedible material back to the gardens as mulch. We had no idea that it was a rice knife, though! It's just been a mystery serrated sickle from our "resource pile" (obscured by the clipper sheath in the pic, sorry about that). Great to learn its identity.

We'll occasionally use this odd, long thin kitchen knife we have that has some serration and a hole in it (third from the right in the pic). Anyone know what that could be?

Sometimes we use a machete, but far less often. I like to use my hori-hori knife when I'm working solo, but not when the two of us are working in anything like near proximity, as it's so sharp that it risks cutting the other person on a frequent basis. (I'm thinking primarily of when we team up to harvest the tepary beans, one of us cutting and the other bundling up armloads and carting them away to the tarps where we continue to dry them down before beginning to thresh and winnow.)

For particularly large-scale tasks, we also use a tool that seems similar to a Fokin hoe only with large serration-like cuts, something that my mate fashioned specifically for chopping and dropping plants like tansy mustard and pigweed that can get a pretty thick stalk and grow in real abundance so that we can knock out a lot of them more easily (at the back of the pic, nesting with the scuffle hoe). He says he'll make us a non-serrated one, too, which I'm very excited about.

For similarly scaled tasks when we don't care so much if the roots stay in the ground -- clearing the yard around the house of any leafy green so that Mojave rattlesnakes can't hide, for example, as with the exception of some cactus beds this is walking and working space, not growing space -- I use a scuffle hoe from Johnny's quite heavily. I still consider this chop-and-drop of a kind, since no matter its origin or chopping method, all this plant material (minus seeds, unless we want something like London rocket to grow in a particular place) gets used as mulch.

For individual plants and small branches on a limited scale, I've long used a decent pair of garden clippers/pruning shears, but mine broke! So I need to order a pair of Fiskars, which have been on my when-I-need-a-replacement list basically since I bought my old pair (different brand, can't remember which and it's not written on them -- sheath is Felco's, but I think that's due to an accidental swap with a coworker many years ago) 10 years or so ago. Is there a particular model that folks most recommend (say, the bypass pruner)? Or do some prefer Felco's or something else?

I like the looks of that Japanese-style steel grass sickle and the corn knife, too -- both seem like slightly larger rice knifes without serration, from pics anyway. Is that right? Have folks used both or all of these and have a preference?

ETA: What's the difference between a corn knife (or, for that matter, a Japanese grass sickle) and a brush axe?
IMG_1038.jpg
chop-and-drop tools arrayed on a rain barrel
chop-and-drop tools arrayed on a rain barrel
 
pollinator
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Taiga-style machete. Yes it's spendy, especially with shipping, but it is very well made. I have been using it often for chop & drop in [syntropic] agroforestry systems & general bushwacking. As it's full-tang construction (the blade's metal goes all the way through the handle to the butt), it's held up well for years & I even use the saw feature on the spine. After spending some time in rural Central America, I noticed that a machete was the go-to all-around tool for pretty much everything: gardening, farming, wildcrafting... even mowing the grass! After that, I was convinced that I must have a well-made machete that I could take care of & pass down to future generations. As it is one of my most expensive hand tools, I routinely clean it after every use & oil it before storing it. I really like that it has a wooden handle and leather sheath as I am trying to avoid plastics these days. In fact, it took me several months of online shopping to find a well-made machete with all these features:
The Survival and Hunting Machete - Authentic & Original here appears to be the latest version & it's sold by den750920 on ebay.
The ebay seller fastline2015 appears to have a larger, more diverse selection of taiga-style machetes - both carbon steel for easy sharpening & stainless steel for very humid environments - from the same manufacturer.
I don't read or speak the language, but I get the impression that this might be the official manufacturer & seller's page.
Russian_TAIGA_MACHETE_Knife_tool_wood_handle_with_leather_sheath_by_Semin-_nozhikov.ru.jpg
Russian Taiga Machete knife tool_wood handle with leather sheath by Semin, nozhikov.ru
Russian Taiga Machete knife tool wood handle with leather sheath by Semin, nozhikov.ru
 
gardener
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I am a big fan of a kukri style machete.  I usually chop comfrey and I need a blade with some heft to its swing and a kukri is just right.

Eric
 
pollinator
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I guess I'm lazy in that I avoid carrying a lot of different things out to the garden. My main garden tool is a cheap multi-tasker from Menards. The serrated edge chops through greenery I'm holding with my free hand with no trouble and in addition I can do a number of other tasks with it. Granted, I'm only chopping and dropping the weeds along my bed rows and use larger tools for larger spaces.
garden-knife.jpg
[Thumbnail for garden-knife.jpg]
 
pollinator
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Not very serious looking, but I do a lot of work with serrated steak knives. Harvesting, chopping small amounts of comfrey.

They can be sterilized in the dishwasher, there's always one nearby, and if I lose one, it's not a big deal (It's in my nature to misplace things. I need duplicates)
 
pollinator
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I keep coming back to an old unserrated kitchen knife from the thrift store. I just used it this weekend in lieu of a sickle to harvest my rye. I started out with the scythe, ditched that, and went and got my knife.

I like that it's small, light, sharp, and not too valuable to lose.
 
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I would have to say my favorite is the "Korean hoe". Although looking at the sickle in the give away, I think it would be my new favorite. I have quite a few back issues and I believe this would make my "playing in the dirt" time even more enjoyable.
 
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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TP9MVQ2?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

This Japanese sickle gets a lot of use
as does my hori hori knife
 
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My three favorite, in order, are 1) European scythe, 2) European scythe, and 3) I can't remember but it rhymes with lithe.

I have a field of 400 baby stone pines.  I was mowing but the mower is loud, sucks gas, and moves way too fast.  I can't see individual plants as I whizzzzzzz by.  The scythe is quiet, and quite careful when used with full attention.  I consider scything a key Zen activity. It narrows my perspective and focus to the job at hand.  
 
pollinator
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I love a good, old fashioned machete or a small hand scythe. They're simple, multi-purpose and easy to use. I'm all about multi-use tools.
 
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I use a billhook for harvesting comfrey; some of it is dropped in place and some out in the vegetable gardens. I also use it for trimming willow rods for garden stakes. You're supposed to be able to whack down 2-3" saplings, as with a hatchet but I don't have the technique yet.
 
gardener
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I love this little Nisaku blade. It is especially handy for cutting comfrey down or separating the roots. Also my go to for cutting strings on bales for making cob or mulching.

nisaku-garden-hand-tools-njp150-64_1000.jpg
nisaku-garden-hand-tools chop and drop
 
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A lightweight hand sickle by Kusakichi.  Order from HIDA tools in Berkeley, California.  About $37.  So sharp, so light!  Check them out!  
 
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My favorite 'chop and drop is an old 4 tooth concrete rake, perfect angle, slices like the serrated teeth of a Great White shark! Really gets under thick grass and tough weeds. The old high carbon tool steel teeth hold an edge like a metal lathe cutter...
 
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On the advice of someone on one of these forums, I bought a "corn knife" from Tractor Supply.  It makes short work of chopping comfrey, and is reasonably priced.  Actually, very inexpensive, at less than $13.
We'll see how it holds up!
https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/groundwork-corn-knife
 
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For large plants I use hedge shears &/or a machete. A dutch hoe for smaller plants.
 
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My one is a 4 tooth concrete rake. It is comfortable to use.
 
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For chopping I love my mattock. I bought it nearly twenty years ago and it gets it use. It was moderately priced and I've long forgotten the brand name (if it was on it, it's worn off.) For dropping things, my machete!
 
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Attaching an image of some of my own favorite tools that I tend to use most often.  These can easily be fit into a backpack or bucket. Its amazing what can be accomplished in a day with this specific combination.  

From left to right:

1-  A curved sickle blade with an additional bend on the vertical axis, and serrated edges.

This crazy cheap tool can be bought for only a couple of dollars, and yet quickly cuts through not only small and delicate weedy plants with precision, but also large semi-woody stalks of thicker stemmed grasses.  For anything that a scythe cannot do, this can get through.  Great for detail work.  

There is still room for improvement with this tool, though. Id love to be able to forge my own and get to the point of being able to file the edges and sharpen occasionally without having to buy a new replacement every month or so.  

2 - A pair of Bahco secateurs.  

For anything that the sickle blade can no longer get through - this is the next step.  These can also cut through the woody thick stemmed grasses, while getting into thicker stems and branches.  This particular brand and style was recommended by a professional grower that I follow more than 5 years ago, so I had to give them a try.  I haven't had to buy any replacements yet since then, and i use them often.  

3 - Battery Powered Pruners.

Although im really trying to move in the direction of getting away from using anything electronic or gas powered  - there are still some exceptions.  This is one of them.  What the secateurs have difficulty with - these pruners will cut through like butter, and quickly.  Im able to chunk up smaller branches with ease either as mulch to lay down on the ground as flat as possible, or as ideal size sticks for something like a rocket mass heater fuel.  The two batteries will last a few thousand cuts, and can go pretty much most of the day.  There is little chance of needing to find an electric plug to recharge in the middle of the work flow.  This is an outstanding tool for when im doing work by the hour for somebody who wants to see results for what they are investing in.  

4 and 5 - Silky Brand Hand Saws.

I use two sizes.

One that can used for more precise cuts on medium sized branches, such as those that the secateurs or battery pruners have difficulty with.

The other for anything larger, such as for cutting into trees thick enough to be used as fence posts, or anything equivalent.  

While not cheap these are what professional arborists use, so I also gave them a try and am very satisfied with how well they work. After a couple of years no replacements needed yet.  Being that they are so pricey it does act as motivation to care more for the tools, by cutting more carefully, and keeping them cleaned and oiled after each use.  

A few other tools I like to use for larger projects, which aren't included in the image:

6- A scythe for more flat, and less rocky terrain. Much prefer to use this than a gas powered mower.  When one learns how to use a scythe correctly, in the right context, then the speed at which an area can be cleared can be equivalent to a push mower.  

7- A medium sized battery powered chainsaw for anything larger than what the large silky handsaw takes too long to work with.  For clearing and limbing bigger diameter trees, or making house posts, rather than fence posts.  

8- A heavier duty Billhook style machete for something like bananas stalks, or other more awkward tasks that the other tools might not work as well on.  

There is one style of cutter from japan im hoping to get and try out called the 'Ojika Scythe", It is supposedly very quick and efficient at cutting smaller and harder to reach  limbs from trees and shrubs.

In the typical permaculture garden type setting, or syntropic system maintenance, I think this combination will get somebody through 95% of what needs to get done in "Chop and Drop" situations.  

What im looking into now, after joining the permies community, is what is shared by one of the members from Russia - Yuri Smirnov. There are some tools supposedly used by Sepp Holzer  found on his website, such as flat cutters and ploskorez.  (Ecominded.net)
Chop-and-Drop-tools.jpeg
[Thumbnail for Chop-and-Drop-tools.jpeg]
 
pollinator
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Way back on page one,  someone mentioned a Rogue hoe... which I have!  I had never thought of using for that purpose.   But pulling thistles is getting really old,  so I am gonna try it soon.
 
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i have been using this for small stem forbs, weeds, and heavy grasses,it will cut small woody plants as it is a saw but as a saw it sucks,good in a pinch and the serrated side cuts most other stuff so i have options the hack slice or saw ,its like a nine inch stainless blade that is actually stamped in the US,but its still just a cheap knife.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/224774914874?hash=item3455a1033a:g:Y5EAAOSwr1Vh1KuV&amdata=enc%3AAQAIAAAAwMqelJ%2FSSDuiNR2m2XPElWcTfIXXgn2tqMvaSI2DmoSr9lQYA%2BPcP3SUAG7ovrPUWHfmZQS1ptlGg15ZbU6Pc7%2BQUsEtuCmVH3JddtlA27FglQKrEV2jN4OOUm93KurVIloeIVXnMQFGX0XN%2FOK26orO011ZY3j0QVYDUbjmD1SklWlPQh1x100TiUfCuVt86zyBRli0WARypyBNWwuD%2FZd7cdzTfvgf2%2BvTYJ48DhUP1L3jE5S6P4UUpiVA6x9JZQ%3D%3D%7Ctkp%3ABk9SR_qD-tiMYw
 
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