Machete/Tomahawk Cutting Technique


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P.B.Walsh
May 5, 2013, 11:20 PM
Hey ya'll, I have a really dumb and petty question, but is there a right and wrong way to swing a machete or tomahawk. It seems if I swing one for and amount of time, my pinky and ring finger tend to give out, and I lost ability to grip an object with any authority. Yesterday I was clearing a fence line. I was cutting through vines and whatnot, the heaviest thing being a soft 4" sappling. Today my grip is a bit better, but still noticable.

I know I sound like a wuss, but is there a correct way of doing this, or are those specific finger muscles just not built up yet, they should..... I power clean all the time.....

Thanks,
P.B.Walsh

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Texan Scott
May 5, 2013, 11:29 PM
Sharp edge first :neener: and yeah, grip strength.

And... yeah, kudzu is the Devil.

P.B.Walsh
May 6, 2013, 08:48 AM
Yea my grip is pretty terrible, in my opinion anyways. The edge wasen't dull, but it was not sharp either!

JShirley
May 6, 2013, 08:59 AM
Get one of those firm rubber balls to build up hand strength.

John

P.B.Walsh
May 6, 2013, 10:32 AM
I plan on it, that or one of those spring loaded grip ones. I aint weak overall, but my grip is probably the weakest part of my body.

Sam Cade
May 6, 2013, 11:24 AM
Is there a right and wrong way to swing a machete


Yes.

The right way.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlNSRQtm8eM

MikeJackmin
May 6, 2013, 05:52 PM
That video was pretty good.

My tips are as follows:

1) Keep your legs out of the arc of your swing.

2) Wear gloves with sticky grippy stuff on the palms and fingers. This goes a long, long way towards reducing hand fatigue.

3) Always try to cut a branch at 45 degress, and cut towards the point of attachment.

4) Cut as close to the tip of the machete as you can.

5) Keep it sharp. No need to be fancy, just scrub it with a coarse stone or a file as needed.

6) The more important safety tip of all: quit when you are tired. If you are going to get hurt, it's most likely to happen when you are pushing yourself to get the last of a job finished.

P.B.Walsh
May 6, 2013, 07:07 PM
I have never though of using a cane. I was not getting tired, but was having to use the body of the blade and not the tip. The tip was less sharp that the spine of a butterknife! It was not my land or tool so I didn't complain.

wrc
May 6, 2013, 08:48 PM
1) Keep your legs out of the arc of your swing.

2) Wear gloves with sticky grippy stuff on the palms and fingers. This goes a long, long way towards reducing hand fatigue.


I really want to chime in and agree here. Knowing where the blade will be is paramount. It's like knowing how to whittle and not cut yourself. It never seems important until you slash yourself.

Gloves sound like an optional, but they *never are* when you're chopping. Even cheap-o mediocre gloves keep a good grip on the tool and pad your hand to reduce fatigue. Really good gloves are incrementally better. Clearing brush of any kind without gloves is a bad idea. The constant minor discomfort of handling brush without gloves will wear on you even if you never swing an axe, machete, or other tool.


4) Cut as close to the tip of the machete as you can.

5) Keep it sharp. No need to be fancy, just scrub it with a coarse stone or a file as needed.

6) The more important safety tip of all: quit when you are tired. If you are going to get hurt, it's most likely to happen when you are pushing yourself to get the last of a job finished.



I can't address MJ's point #3, as we probably deal with different brush. However, #4 is dead on...just like a baseball bat, there's a "sweet spot" on any long blade where the best impact is found. #5 is motherhood and apple pie -- never use a dull tool.

#6 has me nodding my head as hard as I can. Fatigue and dehydration will screw up your judgement long before you are physically incapable of hurting yourself.

Sam Cade
May 6, 2013, 09:05 PM
I have never though of using a cane.

Before you start work just chop off a forked branch of the correct size. That is all that is in the video.

It saves a tremendous amount of wear and tear on your back and makes handling and moving whatever vegetable matter you are are cutting MUCH easier.





The tip was less sharp that the spine of a butter knife!


Gotta keep it sharp!

The duller the blade is, the harder you have to work.

rcmodel
May 6, 2013, 09:08 PM
I had a couple of 'interesting' developments with a 24" GI Collins machete about 5 years ago.

I was cutting bamboo in the garden into short enough lengths to bundle and put in the trash.

After about a half hour, I thought I was getting good at it.
Then my grip slipped, and the machete tip took a thin slice of the outside edge of my boot sole!

So, I thought, I better put a wrest thong on that sucker before I cut my foot off.

And 15 minutes later, it happened again.
Only this time it was looped to my wrest with a Paracord thong, and just messed hitting me between the legs and it swung down out of my hand and came back up!

That's when I went back in the house, put it away, and got the WWII Woodsman's Pal with the finger guard and leather washer handle I should have been using in the first place!

rc

wrc
May 6, 2013, 09:16 PM
It saves a tremendous amount of wear and tear on your back and makes handling and moving whatever vegetable matter you are are cutting MUCH easier.

It also keeps your hands away from the blade. That's the big takeaway I got. I think I may have an unhealthy attachment to my fingers and hands :evil:.

Sam Cade
May 6, 2013, 09:37 PM
I think I may have an unhealthy attachment to my fingers and hands :evil:.

You ain't got extras? :D

Sam Cade
May 6, 2013, 09:43 PM
So, I thought, I better put a wrist thong on that sucker before I cut my foot off.


Gah! Dangerous!

I do it like this guy does:
http://www.oz.net/~malinski/Lanyard-small.jpg


http://www.wickededgeusa.com/index.php?option=com_kunena&func=view&catid=20&id=4137&Itemid=63


This Gerber manual shows some more options:
http://www.gerbergear.com/content/download/31960/400404/file/TWD-Kit-Instructions-Cautions.PDF

P.B.Walsh
May 6, 2013, 10:12 PM
Yea, I should've brought my own machete, but I never know what I'll be doing on the job (it is kinda a call-up job/work when I can kinda thing).

Ya'll have given some common sense advise though, I appreciate it, I will definately try to use the cane method next time I need to do this for any amount of time. As far as gloves, I was using plain, non-grippy leather gloves.

lobo9er
May 6, 2013, 10:20 PM
If your grip is suffering. you could have sprang something, muscle issue or maybe something with tendons. If it worsens and you have health care go see you doctor thats why you pay for it.

rcmodel
May 6, 2013, 10:31 PM
Gah! Dangerous!
I do it like this guy does:Not my first rodeo with wrest thongs, or blades.

That's the way I have always done it.

A 24" machete will still swing around swirling in the air and getcha before it slips off your thumb if you lose your grip on the down swing.

rc

CA Raider
May 9, 2013, 10:55 AM
good question.

to get going - sounds like you really need to build up some hand strength. you definitely need to control the blade thru good hand strength & wrist strength. if your hand is getting weak ... stop and rest for a while. never swing the blade if you feel that your grip is failing.

next thing:

1. if the blade is in your right hand, your right foot should be in front.
if the blade is in your left hand, your left foot should be in front.
This reduces the chance that if you over-swing ... your machete will come across and chop the opposite leg.

2. when swinging low, try to lower yourself by bending your knees. don't compensate by bending your back too much, and don't let your wrist "flop down" so the blade hangs lower than your wrist. People do both of these things (bend their back a lot, make their wrist too loose) but it increases the chance of an accident. I need to explain that when I am swinging a blade - I do have motions where the blade goes thru an arc and it is lower than the level of my hand. But there is a way to do this which maintains good hand control and wrist strength. It has to do with blade angles and body mechanics. Avoid the temptation to just flop your wrist.


good technique takes time to master.
a big part of that transition is letting your body slowly strengthen. chopping weeds and trees with a machete all day is hard work. build up slowly.

people who do martial arts with blades and sticks (I'm one of them) do a lot of special exercises to strengthen the body, the arms, the shoulders and the hands. it takes a long time to condition the body for continuous swinging of heavy blades and sticks. but it's better to learn proper techniques and let your body adapt slowly ... instead of rushing and causing an injury.

good luck to you!
CA R

P.B.Walsh
May 9, 2013, 11:27 AM
Yea, I started letting the machete do the work instead of using body strength to control to blade. I try to not bend my knees when I can avoid it because they'll act up after a while, but I get what your saying Raider.

Deltaboy
May 10, 2013, 09:03 PM
Another vote for Keep it Sharp and get good Gloves.

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