Machetes for Beginners

Proper machete technique is extremely important to make sure you get the most out of your work without damaging the tool, or worse, yourself.

How to Swing Your Machete

  • Always check to make sure the area within range of your swing is clear and that nothing (and nobody) is directly behind you. Accidents most often happen when the swing is deflected by an unseen object.
  • Swing down with your whole arm to increase momentum while allowing gravity to aid you.
  • Bring your shoulder down so the momentum of your core whips your arm and the tool around to generate added thrust.
  • Lead with your elbow.
  • Flick the wrist as you make contact at the last second: downward for woody vegetation and upwards for grass and leafy growth.
  • For chopping or hacking, use the broad, heavy, sweet spot of the machete to generate momentum, aiming to direct force against the object you are trying to chop, much like an ax.
  • If you are tired, rest before continuing. Fatigue produces injuries. Switching hands may be OK, but only if you are decently coordinated with your opposing arm. Try cutting backhand with your weaker arm.
  • Do not hack perpendicularly into the object you are chopping. Hack at a 45 degree angle, alternating between chopping in opposite directions to remove slices of material, opening a gap. This prevents the machete from becoming stuck in thick, woody vegetation.

How to Hold Your Machete

Gripping a machete properly is of utmost importance. Machetes are sharp and swung with a great deal of force, so having the handle slip from your hands can have devastating effects.

Using gloves can help immensely, especially if you feel that moisture or sweat may create slippage.

Additionally, repeated swings can create hot spots in areas of contact between hands and handle lead to painful blisters.

Joezilla made a great video for us on how to use the pinch grip when holding a machete, which can help alleviate many of the problems associated with gripping the handle too tight. (Excellent bonus images of some machete blisters too!)

How to Carry Your Machete

While transporting your machete, it is always best to keep it in its sheath. If a sheath is not available; cardboard works well when wrapped around the blade and taped.

When walking, tuck your machete under your armpit with the handle protruding forward and the blade pointing behind you. In this way, a sudden slip or fall will not cause serious injury from flailing or falling on the blade.

More Machete Information

Read our other valuable articles on the make, use and care of machetes:

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