Nature's Survival Mini-Saw





Introduction: Nature's Survival Mini-Saw

About: Experimentalist, electronics engineer, and dad of two that needs to see the doctor over a serious case of the irritable instructables. Always interested in alternative sources of energy and recycling.

This is my first instructable so bare with me on quality. Thank you everyone who contributes to, you have inspired me well.

As a few mates and I sat around talking in the sun today, I had remembered reading the instructable on how to make rope out of dead plants . 

At his house there is a small ( 2.5 meter ), wide leaf palm-tree of some sort growing in his garden. Around the trunk, there is a growth of brown stringy, almost coconut husk looking hair at the node of each leaf to it's base. After a little 'gentle' removal and inspection of the material, I could see that it was dry, wire-like, and with a very slight tendency to grip to itself like velcro. This seemed perfect for testing out the instructable I had read earlier, so I ripped out a handful and gathered the other couple of materials needed on my way back to where I was sitting, and decided quickly that I would make a survival style saw.

This is not exactly a useful saw for anything hard, as the rock breaks easily, but I am sure that uses are there for it, such as scaling fish, or combing your eyebrows.. More to the point, this was an experiment making rope, not a knife / saw

Ok, enough jibber jabba, let's get to work, and I will show you how I put this dry plant 'hair' rope into use, for strength, testing and durability at a very small scale.

Step 1: Searching for the Main Material

As the rope instructable mentions, nearly any stringy, grassy form of bio material can be used for making rope. Here is a photo of the hair I had used in mine. ( This image was found on google, but it is very similar to what is in the garden ) I only managed to grab a pitiful handful of material from the tree as it is held on quite tight, and pulling at the mass only ends in your fingers circulation being cut.

If this was not my friends tree, I would have obviously expressed a bit more love into the removal of more material, possibly even with a blade, but careful not to damage the palm. The strings I had removed were only about 3" long, thin as dental floss, and I had thought I would have an issue with it breaking and falling apart, but after 'spinning', it seemed to hold fine.

Step 2: Gather

Search where you are for anything similar to use. Some tree bark can be stripped and used if it has high fiber amounts, eg: bamboo, vines, long grass etc. I had about a handful of palm stringy material.

Along your travels, pick up two rocks; one that has a significant shape to a saw / knife blade ( like a triangle ), and the other needs to have a nice pointy edge along one side, and it should fit comfortably in your fingers. You want a good grip on this, as you will be using it to grind channels out of the other rock.

Also pickup a straight-ish dry stick of hardwood, about 30cm in length

Step 3: Rock On

Now it is time to start shaping out the rock we have for our saw. The rocks I used are very small, as I mentioned, this was not a knife / saw project at first, but the instructable is. If this was for a useful tool, the rocks would be larger, harder material, most likely made from chips of a bigger rock.

In this step, I decided which edge to use for my saw teeth, and began to grind back and forth with the sharp edge of the other rock to make the grooves. Finer detail, more time, and a sharper, finer rock will result in sharper teeth in the final saw. If you are after some more edge to your rock, you can grind the sides of the teeth down on an angle. To do this, just use a smooth rock surface, and grind in a motion as if you are using a sharpening block for a kitchen / hunting knife to give a fine edge. You should end up with teeth running down one edge

I did this step on my right knee. It made a bit of chalky dust on my pants but I swept it off later. As you can see though, mine is not too ferocious, but it was sharp and rough enough to split my skin.

. This can take patience, and you can get hurt in this step if you are not careful. I suggest that you:

* Hold both rocks with a jig, or even use cloth to protect your fingers while grinding
* Don't breath in the dust that comes off the rocks
* Be careful once the saw edge is made, even though it may be blunt, it is still a saw-like object that can cut things
* Protect your eyes - rock / dust can chip off and go in your eyes

Step 4: Splinters!

The handle I thought of was extremely easy, made by getting the stick and breaking it half way, but not completely.  I wanted to leave a small 'bark hinge' in the center of the break that can hold the two bits of stick together. See images to understand as this is hard to explain. I will use this small section as a sleeve to hold the saw rock in place to the stick handle and for strength.

Step 5: Rough Ropin'

To hold the opposite side of the stick to the hinge together, I used some of the hairy material from the palm, but this was very rough, but still can hold rather tight, and had strength still. I could not even snap it in my hands when more than 7 strands are 'spun'. In this step I will describe quickly how I created the half-way rope.

Start by getting a handful of material and start to stretch out and twist to make a loose bound string. I then spun enough of the string together to make at least 20cm length using my fingers. rolling the strands around tightly in the same direction, and splicing the strands with a twist to make it longer each time as well.

You should have a half-way rope that can be used to bind things, but it can frey, fall apart, and really should be a temporary solution if used at any time.

Step 6: Tai Up the Handle

Using the half-way rope, secure the handle any way you wish. I just tightly bound it near where I would be holding the saw, and to prevent my skin from being pinched between the two sticks when force is applied.

Step 7: Makin' a Rope

Now this is the part where you need to carefully watch the 'ible on how to make rope from grass and make yourself a length of rope about 30cm long. One thing that I should mention here, and that is, when you start, fold your length of spun 'twine' in half, and make a loop about 1.5" in size, then start making the rope from this section. See the image to understand as this is hard to explain.

Step 8: Loop It

We now want to start to mount the saw rock onto the stick handle by placing it in between the two sticks and using the bark hinge left from earlier, we rest the rock on it like a hammock. Adjustments should be made here for length, angle, etc if needed before fixing the saw permanently.

Using the loop we made previously on our rope, we place it over our rock and stick setup like a lasoo and twist the rope until it tightens the loop to hold it all in place. Hold the loop in place with your thumb, and start to bind your saw blade into position by tightly winding around the setup.

Finish the bind with a half-hitch and tuck the rope into the side of the rock and stick handle with something pointy. ( I used scissors )

Step 9: Fin

Here is the completed nature rock saw made from things laying right in front of you. Some more photos of the completed object, and also a block of soft wood that I did a chop and cut test on with the saw. You can see that it can cut, but it would be of more use for something of softer nature.

And that is it! Hope you like my first instructable, not very interesting I know, much better things to come in the near future.



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    I reckon this is the oldest sonic screwdriver in existence.

    i couldnt find any kind of plant like that in garden!

    5 replies

    Some area's may not have palm tree's like above.. Do you have vines, ivy or any other plants that you know are very stringy and has lots of strong fibers? Some trees have a bark that you can peel off and turn into rope as well. You may just need to explore outside of the garden :)

    I think you could even use an animal stomach of some sort.. it might be a slippery rope though..

    we have palm trees in the country but not in my area and since i live in the capital city there are not many trees out there and none with fibers so far! and i dont think i will ever use an animal stomach.. im vegan! but thanx! i will probably find some on holiday!

    Hopefully you do, I did a quick Iran native plant search on google, but did not have any luck finding something local to you. As l8nite mentions here as well, mashing up plant fibers and then drying them may be your alternative

    wow thanx:D

    long grasses work well for cordage and so does a lot of tall weedy plants found in wild feilds but you have to mash the stems to get the ropey fibers to work with

    Welcome to the world of instructables posters ! Be careful it can become addictive ! Cool project and a nicely done "ible" . If you make a lot of the twisted cordage like you made, you can then braid them, adding in pieces as the braided pieces get short you can make a cord of any length, then you make 3 of those and braid them and the cord becomes even stronger

    2 replies

    I tested out using the 3 rope's braided together, and I think I went even further and did it again. The tip works well anyway, sorry I don't have a photo, theory was tested during a very relaxed day at a mates BBQ. The rope didn't break over a 4 bloke tug-o-war. Made from the same tree as this 'ible as well. I made a 2ft long, 1cm diam rope in about 2 hours

    If only I knew about the roping techniques about a year ago when I made a 2 meter bamboo fish-trap ( 'ible is to come for this, I think I may need to make another from scratch to do this. ) Thanks for the extra tip and comment! It gave me another idea already, haha!

    When I find a better resource, I will attempt quite a large rope, but I can see myself having to make a spin / twist device to make it easier.. this may be hard to make from twigs and stones, but I will attempt ;)

    Awesome! The stones can be a good addition to pocket survival kits! You have given a new direction to the survival kits!

    1 reply

    I hope it does encourage more idea's. It's just a small scratch off the surface of making anything out of nothing I guess, thank you :)

    heh cheers, I wouldn't have been able to make it without learning the essential rope twist technique! thanks for the 1st comment for me as well!

    no problem i like it so know i know how to make it