Handcuffs, or cuffs for short, are a form of restraints most commonly used to bind the hands of the subject closely together. Traditionally, a pair of cuffs are placed around the wrist of the subject, and then tightened until it is impossible for the subject of squeeze their wrists out. The handcuffs are made to lock automatically when they are closed. They can only be opened with a key. This makes it impossible for the subject to free themselves without possession of the key. Handcuffs are generally easy to obtain and simple to use, although cheaper models occasionally break or jam.
Metal handcuffs are not designed for any sort of physical force to be applied - they would cut painfully into the flesh and cause permanent damage to the hand. A handcuffed person's weight should never pull on their handcuffs, and certainly a person should never be hung from handcuffs. A numb thumb is a first indicator of serious damage done to the hand. Adult shops sell handcuffs which are padded with artificial fur or plush for playful bondage. This padding however is minimal and mostly a design gag. Such handcuffs are in no way safer than regular ones.
Handcuffs therefore are not suitable for various types of bondage. Padded buckled leather cuffs allow for a much wider range of applications. Another alternative to metal handcuffs is to bind the wrists with rope, straps, a scarf or fabric belt. Police-style metal handcuffs are used in judicial/police/prison roleplay scenarios.
The hands are commonly bound either in front or behind the back. When behind the back, it is extremely difficult for the subject to take any action with their hands. In spanking scenarios, the spankee may have their hands cuffed behind their back, making struggle increasingly difficult.
- Handcuffs can double as shackles, although often the chain between the cuffs is too short, making walking extremely difficult (sometimes the purpose).
- With two pairs of handcuffs, it is possible to restrain the wrists not together but separately to anchor points such as the bedposts.