Machetes are one of the most helpful outdoor tools and should be owned by anybody who finds themselves spending time outdoors. Their long history throughout mankind proves that they can be used for nearly anything, but there are some general machete techniques you should know to make the learning process easier. Below is a guide to general machete techniques and safety tips so you can make sure your time spent with the blade is productive, easy, and safe.
Since their introduction to the world, machetes have had the capacity for and often been used to protect oneself and as the primary weapon for many rebellion efforts throughout history. As helpful as a machete is, this capacity to inflict damage makes it necessary for those who wield it to practice extreme caution for their safety and those around them.
Before you even unsheath your machete, you should ensure that there is nobody within a ten-foot range of you. Giving yourself this amount of clearance gives you enough time to cease swinging your machete should someone decide to get within your striking range. After you ensure nobody is within that ten-foot range, you need to look for any physical barriers that might interrupt your swing – this can be an overhead branch or rock on the ground. After ensuring your work area is free from bystanders and physical barriers, take a second to announce to anybody nearby that you are about to start cutting.
In ensuring safety, you want to make sure you have a plan in place to prevent your machete from slipping free from your grip. There are three main things you can do to prevent your machete from slipping free from your hand.
- Don’t use a machete with wet or sweaty hands.
- Wear gloves with a grippy palm.
- Use a lanyard on the hilt of the machete.
Just angling the blade isn’t enough though you also want to make sure that you swing it away from your body when you swing a machete. By carelessly swinging your machete across your body, you run the risk of accidentally cutting your free hand, or more commonly, the leg opposite your wielding hand.
The last two tips we have for maximizing machete safety in the field are never moving around with your tool unsheathed and stopping working when you become fatigued. Think of an unsheathed machete as a loaded gun – if it isn’t covered up, you can very well cause bodily harm to yourself or those around you should you trip while moving. Swinging a machete can be hard work, so fatigue will happen no matter how skilled you are eventually. When this occurs, you must take the necessary time needed to rest. Neglecting to do so can lead to a decrease in your ability to effectively and safely use a machete.
When someone starts with a machete, their first instinct is to wield the blade with every bit of grip strength they have. This will undoubtedly lead to the accumulation of blisters across the palm of your hand and, in turn, leads to an excruciating few days for you – especially if you get blisters on your first day out. To prevent this, you need to familiarize yourself with the pinch grip.
To do this, you focus your grip strength on the first three fingers on your hand (thumb, index, and middle). Your remaining two fingers will encircle the hilt but won’t be securing it to your palm. This leeway allows the hilt to move freely between your palm and fingers, which increases the cutting power and prevents blisters from forming.
Another major technique for machetes is making sure you swing the blade at the correct angle. By swinging the blade at a 45-degree angle, you make cutting foliage easier and safer. Swinging at this angle gives your blade additional momentum to ensure clean cuts and prevent the machete from sliding down and cutting your arm or leg. As with any other bladed tool, a sharp blade is the most effective step you can take in preventing injuries from misplaced and incomplete cuts.
Using a Woodman’s Pal
The original Woodman’s Pal was first introduced to the world in 1941 and has continued to be one of the top outdoor and survival tools on the market. You can purchase our high-quality product complete with sheath and lanyard from our store here.