There are portable buck saws on the market, but they suffer from three problems: 1. They are too small for heavy work, with typically only a 12" blade. 2. They are too heavy. You might argue otherwise, but they are over 20 times heavier than what I'm about to describe. 3. They are too expensive, with good quality collapsible ones in the $30-$40 range.

In this instructable I'll describe a fully functional buck saw you can make out of materials found in the wilderness plus a few light items you need to bring with you.

Step 1: Materials

The following materials are required to build the saw

  • 18" to 24" buck saw blade ($5 at most hardware stores)
  • 2 large cotter pins
  • 4ft of strong cordage

Find on site:
  • 1 forked branch about the length of the saw blade and about 1" in diamter
  • 2 straight branches about 12" long and about 1" in diameter
  • 1 straight branch about 6" long and 1/2" in diameter

Branches should be dead, well seasoned, dry wood. Other than the branches found on site, the weight is negligible. The space taken up in a pack is negligible. I wrap my blade in a big coil around the inside bottom of my pack inside a simple sheath made of cardboard. To avoid losing the cotter pins, they can be tied to the saw blade to holes that exist at either end.

Hey thanks a lot for this tutorial. I have been looking for a clear tutorial of how to build a bucksaw in the woods like this.
How would this compare to, say, a folding saw like those that can be found in most outdoorsy stores in efficiency, weight, and portability?
I've used those types of folding saws before. It takes a bit of practice to build a frame, but by the time I built my 3rd saw like the one in this instructable, I could build them to hold together and cut just as well as the store bought ones (better when you consider that you can easily bring a 24" or longer blade for very little additional weight, but store bought folding saws are usually have only 12" or 18" blades). Carrying just the blade, cordage, and a couple cotter pins is lighter and more portable than any folding camp saw I've ever seen.
I like the idea, but I found the instructable a bit vague. Perhaps it would be clearer with more photos detailing every step. Looks fun though.
Yeah, and it is sort of contingent on finding suitable branches. There's also a fair bit of prep in cutting notches, carving the mating surfaces and so on. I like it and all, but (this sounds more damning than I mean, seriously, I do like it) I wouldn't rely on the knowledge in the 'ible to make me a saw when I <em>really</em> needed one. <br/> I will definitely try, perhaps I'll be proven wrong :)<br/>
Suitable branches are not difficult to find in any location where a saw is likely to be useful (ie a location where there is wood to cut). It takes a bit of prep, it's true, but the prep is part of the fun. It's great practice at knife-craft and bind-craft which are skills far more likely to come in handy when you really need them than the saw itself. I've spent a lot of time in the woods over the past 20 years or so and can't remember a single time when I <em>really</em> needed a saw or hatchet. I built a small cabin once and a saw is handy for that (much more so than an axe) but did I <em>really</em> need to build the cabin? No.<br/><br/>My experience is that saws and hatchets are things people bring camping only to impress their friends or to make obscenely large fires for no particular reason. I get by quite nicely with a sturdy full tang knife and an improvised mallet to hit it with. Till you've seen a knife used in this fashion you won't believe how infinitely more versatile it becomes.<br/><br/>I bring a saw blade along just in case I feel like practicing/demonstrating some knife-craft and bind-craft by building yet another saw frame, the construction of which is generally much more impressive and interesting than the cutting (and subsequent burning) of any wood.<br/>
Hmmmm.... I'm just wondering, would you need any permits for building a cabin?
i can get a good quality one where i live for 20 dollars or less
I gotta try this! If for nothing else than the envious looks from my camping partners. You're right: most folding saws are too short. This solves the problem nicely.
Just make sure to practice a couple times at home before you get out in the woods and really need it. It would be way to embarrassing to not be able to put it together in front of your buddies.
Backpacking bow saws (Swen, etc.) <em>certainly</em> aren't 20X as heavy as this... (I'd <em>much</em> rather have a folding saw in the backcountry than a hatchet, axe, etc.)<br/><br/>Still, a nice build. Using a 'Spanish windlass' to tighten the frame is a nice touch.<br/>
I'm not suggesting that this entire saw with frame is 1/20th the weight of folding saws, just the parts I need to pack.. I've weighed a couple different folding/collapsible saws and they were 15-25x heavier than a single 24" blade plus two cotter pins which is all that I pack. I agree that a good saw and a good knife are much more useful than a hatchet or axe. But I've been disappointed with every folding saw I've tried. I started bringing a 24" bow saw instead. It's not much heavier than a folding saw but it's MUCH better, mostly due to the extra length. However, it's bulky and difficult to pack. Taking just the blade and building a frame on site gives all the benefits of a large bow saw without having to deal with the weight or the bulk.
I gotcha--you make and discard the saw frame each time. Yep, that would certainly be light... That's cool, although the only camping I do where you're allowed to build fires is canoe camping....where weight isn't so much of an issue. Everywhere else: we haveta carry stoves.
Sweet! Easy, and really cheap!
AWESOME! Super smart, that's incredible! And the guy crouched down in the first picture looks A LOT like my friend.

About This Instructable




Bio: I have a B.A.Sc and M.Eng. from the University of British Columbia, specializing in electromechanical design, but mostly I like to tinker ... More »
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