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Handcuffs
A 101 guide on how to bind yourself and survive

Handcuffs are metal restraint devices designed to secure an individual's wrists close together. They comprise two parts, linked together by a chain, a hinge or in the case of rigid cuffs, a bar. Each half has a rotating arm which engages with a ratchet that prevents it from being opened once closed around a person's wrist.

A ratchet consists of a linear rack with teeth, and a pivoting, springloaded finger called a pawl (or click) that engages the teeth.

Handcuffs with double locks have a lock-spring which when engaged stops the cuff from ratcheting tighter to prevent the wearer from tightening them. Tightening could be intentional or by struggling, when tightened the handcuffs may cause nerve damage or loss of circulation. Double locks also make picking the locks more difficult.

Without the key, the handcuffs cannot be unlocked (see below) and so the restrained person is unable to move their wrists more than a few centimetres/inches apart, making many tasks difficult or impossible.

Look around at the different types of cuffs available, there are some really comfortable ones out there for longer term bondage.

Types

There are two distinct sub-types of contemporary metal handcuffs: one in which the cuffs are held together by a short chain, and another, of more recent origin, which uses a hinge for this purpose. Since hinged handcuffs permit less movement than a chain cuff, they are generally considered as more secure. A third type, the rigid handcuff, has a metal block or bar between the cuffs.

Handcuffs may be manufactured from various metals, including carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminium, or from synthetic polymers.

Double locks

There exist three kinds of double locks:

  • Lever lock - These are double-locked by fully lifting the lever with a fingertip and then allowing it to return. This causes the lock spring to move into a position that locks the bolt thus preventing the cuff from being further tightened. Thus no tool is required to double lock this type of cuff.
  • Push pin lock - These are double-locked by fully depressing the push pin using the small peg on the top of the key. This causes the lock spring to move into a position that locks the bolt thus preventing the cuff from being further tightened.
  • Slot lock - These are double-locked by inserting the small peg on the top of the key into the double lock slot. In this position, the small peg can contact the end of the lock spring. The key is then slid towards the key hole. This causes the lock spring to move into a position that locks the bolt, thus preventing the cuff from being further tightened.
Keys
Most modern handcuffs in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Latin America can be opened with the same standard universal handcuff key. This allows for easier transport of prisoners and keeps one out of trouble if one loses one's keys. However, there are handcuff makers who use keys based on different standards. Maximum security handcuffs require special keys.
Useage

Handcuffs are for hands, well wrists actually and leg-irons or leg-cuffs are for ankle restraint, don't try to force a pair of handcuffs on to your ankles, they don't fit or if they do they may not open again.

  • Hands in front: Great for first timers and for practicing escape but also for checking the mechanism before using behind your back. Can be connected by chain to leg-cuffs or to collar by short chain rendering the hands useless.
  • Hands behind back: I know this is a better feeling, but be careful. Hands without a regular blood flow won't be able to turn the keys! Again ensure that the keyholes are accessible.
  • Waist Chain: Instead of behind the back, perhaps to each side of your waist with a chain belt.
  • Hand to Object: This could be the bed-head; pipes or other fixed item, make sure that the keys will come into reach beforehand.
  • Above the head: Try not to do this, even if you are fully supported the blood will drain from your arms / hands, and it will be very difficult, possibly fatal trying to get out of that one. From time to time I've been known to chain my hands above my head for hours on end, however, I was, and will be, HORIZONTAL, on a bed! If you're intent on this scene, then limit it to an hour!

 

Basic Safety
  • Make sure the keyholes are facing the right way. Keyholes facing down or outwards.
  • Handcuffs are a temporary restraining device, they are not intended for long-term immobilization.
  • These are ideal for most bondage situations, keep in mind that they don't work for suspension bondage. Lockable leather wrist cuffs are better!
  • Keys - have lots of keys handy, nothing is worse than losing your only key and having to call the fire dept!
  • ALWAYS spend some decent money on a good pair, NEVER buy cheap ones, trust me, your wrists will thank you!
  • Overtightening can cause soft tissue and/or nerve damage. Perform periodic checks to insure the hands are in good condition
  • Inspect your handcuffs for wear, damage, and malfunction. Any handcuffs that become loose working or show signs of wear on the teeth, ratchet, or moving parts should be replaced.

Getting Out or Escaping

Since handcuffs are only intended as temporary restraints, they are not the most complicated of locks. This is why escaping from handcuffs is a common stunt performed by magicians or skilled criminals. The most common methods are:

  • Using the key.
  • Slipping hands out.
  • Picking the lock
  • Releasing the pawl (the bit that holds the ratchet) with a shim

It is also technically possible to break free from handcuffs by applying massive amounts of force from one's arms to cause the device to split open or loosen enough to squeeze one's hands through; however this takes exceptional strength (and loads of spinach Popeye!)

See Also
references

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