So what do you guys do?
We are swordsmen and metalsmiths who create blades, and soon, other gear, that will increase your odds of surviving a zombie apocalypse.
Are you serious?!
You really think there’s going to be a zombie apocalypse?
We don’t put it outside the realm of possibility. The esteemed researchers at Cracked found 5 Scientific Reasons the Zombie Apocalypse Could Actually Happen.
Beyond zombies, there’s no shortage of speculation these days that our culture lives just a good shock or two away from some serious destabilization. Pandemic, natural disaster, economic collapse, political upheaval—all have the potential to turn our world on its head and put you in a situation where your survival is in your hands. And should that happen, we’d rather our hands be holding something other than our dicks.
We operate under the premise that if you’re prepared for zombies, you’re prepared for anything.
Why blades? Wouldn’t guns be better in a zombie apocalypse?
First, we’re fans of guns. Between us, we own a bunch. In fact, the Zombie Tools crew all recently purchased Russian Mosin-Nagant M44 carbines, which we love.
But we are swordsmen, first and foremost, and we wouldn’t go into a zombie apocalypse without a good gun OR a good blade. We think blades would be indispensable for a number of reasons, including:
1) Guns need ammo. If you’re facing a zombie apocalypse on the scale envisioned by Max Brooks’ World War Z, you’re facing A LOT of zombies. How much ammo do you have for your gun? Under a worst-case scenario, probably enough to last a few days. We’re thinking in terms of months and years. Furthermore, ammo is heavy and thus not terribly portable. While most people we’ve talked to imagine holing up somewhere and fighting a stationary, defensive battle against zombies, we’ve imagined scenarios where mobility would be your best chance of survival, and so would like to remain as maneuverable as possible. To that end, our basic survival package includes a solid mountain bike, a sidearm, and a Zombie Tools blade.
2) Stealth. Like high blood pressure, diabetes, and Joey’s fetid foot stench, a blade is a silent killer. Under many speculative zombie scenarios, zombies are attracted to loud noise. A blade would allow you to take out small bands of zombies without alerting every Zak in a two mile radius to your position.
3) Defense against other humans. Zombies aren’t the only danger during a zombie apocalypse. More dangerous still may be the hordes of frightened, hungry and desperate humans fighting over the last cartons of Top Ramen. And once they’ve blown all the ammo for the guns they might have, they’ll be coming at you with melee weapons. And we’ll take our own blades over a Louisville Slugger, pitch-fork, agricultural machete or cheap katana any day.
Do you think your blades would actually kill a zombie?
It’s been estimated that around 600,000 people were killed with agricultural-grade machetes during the Rwandan genocidal war in the 90s. We’ve seen the machetes used in Africa. They’re thin, cheap, Asian-made tools designed to chop vegetation. So we’re fairly confident that our blades, which are twice as thick, made from quality steel, much sharper and designed to cleave, will have no problem with a decomposing walking corpse.
Why don’t I just buy a cheap machete from website X?
If you’d rather have something mass-produced without love by exploited Chinese grandmothers, have at it. But be warned, it make come back to bite you.
Do you guys actually make these blades?
Yup, we do everything in our shop in Missoula, Montana using American made steel and aluminum. Here’s our basic process:
1) We cut the basic sword shape out of bars of quality 5160 spring steel. 5160 is one of the best steels to use for longer blades like ours as it is more durable and less prone to breakage than other steels (like cheap stainless).
2) For some of our blade models, we will then heat and hammer the blade into shape.
3) We grind the blade to within 20% of its final edge, and give the blade its “distal taper,” the gradual reduction of blade material from its handle to its point, which reduces weight and gives it its balance.
4) We then heat the blade to just above 1500 degrees and quench it in oil. This hardens the blade. We then put the blades in a tempering kiln to take them back up to around 450 degrees, which tempers it, or returns flexibility to the blade. The blade is then cleaned and polished.
5) Next, we cut our basic handle shapes from T6 aluminum, we attach the handle with steel pins, and then sculpt the handle to its final shape using grinders and files.
6) Finally, the blade is spattered with a beeswax/tar concoction and painted with ferric chloride acid which etches a pattern into the blade.
How long does it take to get my steel once I order it?
Almost all of our blades are made-to-order and generally take about 8 to 12 weeks to ship from the time of order, depending on time of year and our workload (see the top of our “Tools” page for our current estimated turn-around time). We’ll send you an email with a tracking number when your blade leaves our shop.
Do you do custom work?
No. And we don’t do custom modifications to our designs.
Do you ship outside the US?
Yes! We have shipped our blades all over Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and South Korea without any problems with shipping or customs. That said, we should point out that every country has its own brand of bureaucratic bullshit when it comes to blades, and it is your responsibility as a blade buyer to know your country’s customs and blade carrying laws, and for paying any duties or taxes on your blade. We cannot be held responsible for seizure of blades by some customs dickhead. Usually, a quick web search for your country’s customs laws will tell you what you need to know. And if there is any doubt, it is a good idea to contact your customs authorities with photos and description of the blade to see if there will be any problems.
Who are you guys?
Joey Arbour: Master-at-Arms
Chris Lombardi: Minister of Propaganda
Maxon McCarter: Chief of Surgery
Rob Lawlor: New Wave Ninja
Dillon McAfee: Sheath Hippie
Dan “the Man with an Ax in his Hand” Griffin
What do you mean when you say “bitch”?
By ‘bitch’, we mean ‘zombie.’
Technology Shout Outs
While we are preparing for a world in which technological options are limited, we are huge fans of technological magic, and while it’s still here, we’re going to use it. Thus, we shout out to the technology that we love and use on a daily basis.
A ZT fist bump to Travis Wuertz, the bladesmith/engineer who designed the TW-90 Grinder, which puts an evil grin on our faces every time we put a blade to the belt. To the folks at Evenheat, whose KF Extreme Depth oven keeps our tools hard and straight. To the wizards at 3M and their Cubitron II grinding belts and discs. Amazing shit that saves us money and pain. To Makita and their 7” angle grinders, the tireless workhorses of our shop. To Pandora Radio, which, though flawed, keeps our shop rocking all day, every day. And to Apple and the iPhone 4, a little brick of magic in all of our pants.