You know, fellas, sometimes I tend to go a little crazy on this blog with entries about how hot and exciting it is to see a man in handcuffs. But let’s get serious for a moment. Listen, no matter how turned on we all get about this stuff, it is always best to remember this: safety comes first. When not used properly, handcuffs can actually cause real physical damage. Especially if you are using inadequate equipment or if you do not know what you are doing.
So — in keeping with the Top 10 List theme — I thought it might be a good idea to share some basic safety information about steel bondage. At the recommendation of my friend David Stein, I asked none other than Harold Cox (who has kept me in handcuffs longer than any other man I have ever played with) for an article called “The Ten Commandments of Steel Bondage.” It was originally written by Harold and published in Dungeonmaster Magazine in 1981. It was subsequently used in a presentation by Harold and david at GMSMA in New York.
Harold has graciously updated the article, and it is presented here:
The Ten Commandments of Handcuffs
Revised and updated by Harold Cox 11 October 2009
For those who like realism in bondage, there is no substitute for steel — handcuffs and leg irons. Leather and rope can be cut, or be insecure, and/or dangerously tight. Unfortunately, many tops who use handcuffs are not familiar with their use, which can cause damage to their prisoners. If followed, the rules below will allow players to enjoy their scenes more under safer conditions.
1. DON’T BUY CHEAP HANDCUFFS.
Most cheap cuffs can be easily broken or forced open. A good pair of handcuffs bought in a police supply store or ordered from a reputable specialty internet supplier will cost little more than junk cuffs sold in porn shops. For modern-style U.S.-made cuffs, Smith and Wesson is recommended, with Peerless as second-choice.
2. SHOP FOR THE BEST PRICES.
A good pair bought over the internet from a police supply house will cost little more than junk cuffs sold in porn shops. Smith & Wesson #1900 leg irons can be purchased from the Handcuff Warehouse for $40.99. The identical leg irons are sold by internet toy shops for $79.95. Caveat emptor.
I have had no problems with Warehouse’s service. A pair of S&W leg irons purchased about a year ago had a slight defect. They were replaced immediately upon complaint and the Warehouse paid the cost of return postage. I have reservations about Warehouse’s house brand – Chicago handcuffs – some of which could cause an accident in rough-house play.
3. DON’T BUY CUFFS WITHOUT A DOUBLE-LOCK MECHANISM.
Usually the set-lock is closed by inserting the pointed tip of the handcuff key into a small hole on the top of the lock case of the cuffs. The set-lock is released by turning the key backward in the keyhole. To lock the cuffs Smith & Wesson uses a pin accessed through the side of the lock case, which has the advantage of being accessible from either face of the cuff when locking.
4. ALWAYS DOUBLE-LOCK CUFFS AFTER THEY HAVE BEEN APPLIED.
Cuffs that have not been double-locked can tighten on the wrists if the prisoner struggles or changes position and thereby cause damage to the nerves. Do not buy handcuffs with lever double-locks. These can be accidentally unlocked in a rough scene allowing the cuff to be tightened, or allow the cuffs to be unlocked by the prisoner, facilitating a possible escape.
5. DON’T MAKE CUFFS TOO TIGHT.
The point of steel bondage is that it doesn’t have to be tight to be secure. Don’t tighten cuffs more than necessary. As long as the cuff won’t slip off, it’s tight enough. It should still be easy to move the cuff on your prisoner’s wrist after it has been locked and set. Assuming that no tension is applied to the fastening point, the cuff bows should not press into the skin at any point. A quick safety check can be made by the captor by attempting to slip his little finger between the cuff and the flat surface of the captive’s wrist. If no part of the end of the finger can enter the space, the cuff is too tight.
6. NEVER SUSPEND YOUR PRISONER BY STEEL RESTRAINTS, OR MAKE THE PRISONER LIE ON HIS/HER CUFFED WRISTS.
This can cause severe nerve damage. Suspending the arms above the head with steel cuffs, even with feet or body primly planted on the floor, can cause damage if the tension is great or the position is held for more than a few minutes.
7. DON’T APPLY HANDCUFFS BY SWINGING THEM AGAINST THE WRISTS FROM A DISTANCE.
You can break someone’s wrist or arm that way. The outer edge of the cuff should just touch the wrist as you apply it. A short downward snap will swing the bow up through the locking part of the cuff and then back down and around the wrist. Practice snapping cuffs onto yourself until you get the technique down right. If it hurts you, it is going to hurt the prisoner. Practicing on your wrist is a slow process since you will have to unlock it after every attempt. You can eliminate this problem by holding two fingers together and snapping the cuffs over the fingers.
8. CUFF THE HANDS BEHIND THE BACK.
Unless secured otherwise, cuffs attached in front can be a dangerous weapon. For s/m scenes where high security is less important than minimizing unnecessary damage to the bottom, it is better to fasten handcuffs behind the back so the palms are facing each other, making any tension on the cuffs affect only the less-vulnerable outer sides of the wrists. Palms-out behind the back provide better security but is riskier and less comfortable.
9. DON’T TIGHTEN LEG IRONS.
Leg irons don’t have to be tight to stay on. If they are, the bottom won’t be able to walk, and the pressure could damage the Achilles tendon or bruise the ankles. Leg irons over boots are best if the prisoner will have to move around in them. Smith & Wesson leg irons are recommended because of their oval design. Leg irons should not be tightened more than two clicks when being applied. This will be sufficient to keep the iron from popping open accidentally. Probably the most comfortable way to use leg irons is to have the prisoner wear high-top shoes so that the leg irons can rest on the top of shoe. Pulling down the pants of the prisoner between the leg and the iron will also help to cushion the leg.
10. KEEP EXTRA KEYS HANDY.
Nothing can ruin a scene quicker than trying to remove the bottom’s restraints (or those you have put on yourself) and finding that you can’t locate the keys.
For further information, the author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.