Spending time outdoors is a great way to tap into the wilder side of human nature. It allows us to immerse ourselves in the way things were decades ago. While many parts of the world still use machetes as a simple tool, it is uncommon for some Americans to see a machete used outside of outdoor recreational activity in the continental United States.
A machete is one of the most versatile outdoor and survival tools you can have, and it is many people’s preferred tool when it comes to clearing brush to make camp or clearing a trail to access your camp. If you spend time in the woods, you need a machete – the combined utilities of a large knife and an ax make this tool essential in clearing brush.
Before you go out there and take on the entire forest with your new blade, you should take the time to read over this short guide covering how to clear brush with a machete.
When working with a machete, the one thing that is more important than anything else is making sure you and nobody around you sustain any injury. The number one way to ensure everyone’s safety is first to make sure nobody is near you before you start hacking away.
Type of Vegetation to cut down
Before you start cutting, it helps to take the time to analyze your situation and come up with the most effective way to approach it. When it comes to brush clearing, the analysis simply addresses what type of vegetation you are dealing with. Is it a thick grassy brush or dense woody brush?
Removing Grassy Brush
This type of brush is going to be the easier of the two to cut. It is mainly made up of grass with the occasional small woody stem. This type of brush is cut when you see the stereotypical jungle scene in a movie with Rambo or Indiana Jones wildly flinging their machetes in a parabola around their bodies.
Don’t ever approach brush clearing like that, and instead opt for a calculated and safe approach until you gain the confidence necessary to swing it like a pro. If you have the luxury of choosing your brush clearing equipment, we recommend approaching this type of brush with a thin and light blade – possibly one with a sharpened edge on both sides for increased productivity.
Cutting down Woody Brush
Woody brush is going to be more challenging to cut than grassy brush, but with the right tools and approach, you should be able to clear it out with minimal effort. Brushes of the woody variety consist of just that, small trees and bushy plants with wooded stems – this includes the dreaded briars. When you are dealing with this type of brush, you want to go with a machete that has a wider and thicker blade resulting in a heavier tool. You can achieve extra weight by choosing to go with a longer blade, but these are typically more dangerous to use, and they are harder to work with if you’re in an area with little clearance. This added weight works for you in this situation and serves to carry your swings through with more force.
How to Clear Brush
Now that you have assessed the situation and know what kind of brush you are dealing with and what type of tool you will be wielding, it’s time to get clearing. Before you start swinging your machete, make sure that nobody is within 10 feet from you. This gives you plenty of time to stop working if you notice someone approaching.
How to Hold Your Machete – Pinch Grip
How you hold your machete will make all the difference in the world in your brush clearing experience. Many newcomers to the machete opt for a death grip on the tool that quickly leads to exhaustion and blisters all over their hands. To prevent this, you need to adopt the pinch grip method of wielding the machete. This is when you focus all of your gripping power on the thumb, pointer, and middle fingers while allowing the hilt of the machete to move relatively freely between your palm and the remaining fingers. This grip will enable you to work longer by preventing fatigue and painful blisters, and it adds more power to the end of your swing.
How to Swing Your Machete – Angle Cuts
When clearing brush, especially woody brush, you need to try and make sure your blade is set up to cut through the stems and branches at an angle. This is much more effective than cutting straight through a branch and is the best way to ensure you get through thick material with minimal strikes. Another reason to swing your machete at an angle is to prevent the blade from bouncing or glancing off a branch. This is where the majority of machete accidents come from because if the blade bounces off and your momentum continues to move it forward, the next thing in the way is usually a foot or a leg. With a sharpened blade coming in at an angle, you no longer have this problem.
Utilizing the Woodman’s Pal
Now that you know how to approach cutting brush with a machete, the next thing you need to do is get one. More information on the different types of machetes can be found here.
Our Woodman’s Pal machete was designed in 1941 to incorporate multiple bladed tools into one. It is the most versatile machete out there and makes quick work of any brush you may face. All of our available products can be found here.