Introduction: Survival Tool Extraordinaire!

Picture of Survival Tool Extraordinaire!

Laaadies and gentlemens, children of all ages, survivors in this show called Life , introducing the lowly chainsaw bar wrench.

If I was pressed to choose only ONE tool to be stuck somewhere with, as much as I love my knives and all that I can do with them, it would be a tough decision....I think I'd have to choose the bar wrench.

Weighing in at a mere 2.4 OZ (80 gm) and 5 1/2" (13cm) long and costing under $10, this amazingly low tech device can make the difference between making it back or not.

I have one in my purse (gotta tell you though, I get some raised eye brows from TSA at airports, who don't quite know what to make of it as it doesn't fit any prohibited tool/weapon category...heh heh..), one in my tool bag, one in each vehicle and several in my tool chest....

(Aside) A word of explanation on how it is that I have so many: In a previous life I worked as a small engine mechanic fixing/selling chainsaws, weedeaters, mowers, generators etc. and these were a basic tool of the trade and once I recognized them for what they could do, set about collecting several...

This particular one was made by/for Husqvarna and came with all their saws (I've considered approaching them as a sponsor..heh heh) and while I can't attest to the strength or durability of other makes out there, I can say that this one is an amazingly tough, durable tool! The tip will break before it bends. I have managed to break one off at the weld, but it took some doing and I had a big screwdriver through the wrench end to give me more torque trying to pry something loose. I routinely bang on the head with a hammer to chip, chisel or pry (with SAFETY first, of course!)

In this Instructable, i'll list some of its uses, other than the obvious which are: screwdriver, 13mm (1/2") and 19mm (3/4") box wrench. It will be up to you to come up with other possible survival uses in both the urban and the wilderness environment.

My thanks to the Instructable authors I have referenced here. Keep up the good work!

Step 1: Coco Nuts!

Picture of Coco Nuts!

I'm at the beach and I find a coconut washed up. I'll open it up and share the goodies around. I've gotten a lot of strange looks from "locals" walking by who wonder at this foolish old "white guy" trying to get one open this way. Little do they know that I can get one open in under 5 minutes....

You make 2 rows of "poke" lines in the husk down the the side then pry the first row out, then make another row, and pry that out, then it goes a lot easier down to the nut itself.

Once you have the nut exposed, one of the 3 "eyes" is soft enough to poke through (usually the largest one) and get the water out. Drink that.(..aaaahhh, that's good, also full of valuable electrolytes and very thirst quenching) then holding it with one hand, rap it hard with the head (either the 19mm or the 13mm side) in a repetitive line around the "equator" going around a couple of times and at some point you'll hear the sound change as it develops a crack. Keep rapping until you have a visible crack then pry it apart. The closer you stay to your original line as you go around, the more evenly it will split giving you the makings of a cup (or 2 if you didn't poke the "eye" out).

Use the screwdriver side to score a couple of cross lines across the meat of the coconut so that the pieces come out larger and also it comes out easier without the likelihood of cracking the shell if you intend on using it for a cup. I suppose you could use your knife for prying out the pieces but at the risk of snapping your blade??? You can actually boil water in the shell cup ( a couple of times, anyway) if you had to.

The shell is incredibly hard and dense and has been used by many island cultures to make fish hooks, arrow points, spoons/scoopers etc. and it also burns very hot.

Coconut has an excellent balance of carbs, protein and fats and can keep you going for a long time in the absence of much else. It is good bait for fish, crabs and many other edible critters. You can chew some and (I know it may sound gross, but we're talking survival here, no?) smear it on yourself and the oils can keep your skin from drying out and cracking.

Save some of the fiber from the husk in case you need to make rope or for tinder.

Step 2: Get the Point?

Picture of Get the Point?

Using a rock or piece of wood as a mallet, the screwdriver end can be used to chisel and cut a suitable branch or sapling for a spear.

I chose one with a fork as it provided a solid base for the end of the tool and lashed it in.

While this might not actually kill whatever you are hunting, it can certainly deliver a mortal would which would enable you to track the critter down. Also because the pointy end is smooth, it would probably fall out when/if the critter runs so that you can retrieve the spear.

This would be where you would need either your handy paracord, twisted coconut fiber cordage or see the excellent instructable by nephron here .

You can also use the sharpened wrench end to shave strips of bark for making cordage.

Step 3: Dig It!

Picture of Dig It!

Use it a digging tool to save your fingers from scrabbling hard ground or to loosen up the surface. You can mount it on a short or long stick to increase the leverage.

Mounted on a stick, you could also swing it to discourage a predator or get some prey.

Step 4: Just Hanging Around...

Picture of Just Hanging Around...

You can hook it behind a fork in a tree or in a crack between some boulders and it will support your weight hanging from a rope. I (at +/-180 pounds) can hang from the rig in the picture. Because it is smooth, you could use it as a pulley to slide the rope up/down.

You could attach also a length of paracord to the wrench end to get it down after you are down the cliff.

Step 5: "Fist of Fury"

Picture of "Fist of Fury"

Because of the shape of the wrench end, it provides a snug, secure grip when held in a fist and because of the narrow tip would combine a punch with significant penetrating power.

While I've never tried it (and maybe for the sake of authenticity, I should), I feel fairly confident that, held this way, this could penetrate sheet metal. It could be used to dispatch a wounded prey animal to provide lunch (or whatever)...

When I take one camping, I always add a lanyard/wrist strap.

Step 6: Fire Away!

Picture of Fire Away!

Use the sharpened edge to scrape slivers of dry wood for starting a fire. Combined with tinder and the kindling produced by splitting a chunk of wood, use the tool by striking a piece of flint stone to create sparks to start the process.

A note here regarding authenticity: since we don't have flint here in Hawaii, the picture with the stone and the tool over the tinder (finely shredded coconut husk) is purely posed.....sorry...

Step 7: Here's the Drill:

Picture of Here's the Drill:

You can use it as a chisel initially and cut a square hole the width of the tip, remove that, then tap and turn, tap and turn. I used a branch to hit the top with. You don't want to POUND it into the wood as the tool may not break but will be hard to turn.
Be patient, periodically work it out of the wood while turning and remove some of the chips.

Incidentally, as you may notice this is actually a exposed root (on a guava tree- fairly hard wood) but for some reason, I couldn't get some of the pictures to stay oriented correctly so it looks like a branch or trunk...which I guess is Ok because it may have more uses going into a vertical surface....

The root is about 4" thick but I was able to make it through in less than 5 minutes.

If you don't need to go through but just want to sink it into a trunk to use it as a hanger or lifting point, that would work too. With it stuck most of the way into a trunk, it will support my weight without bending.

Also with the rope through the wrench end you have the option of having a positive hanging point without worry of the rope slipping over the head.

Step 8: And Then There's....

Picture of And Then There's....

*Add a wrist strap/lanyard using paracord following the excellent Instructable by legomaster 92. .That way, if it slips out of your hand in a "tight" situation, you don't lose it.

*Clean it well and paint it yellow or orange to make it easier to find if you DO drop it.

*You can use it in and around fire but be aware that anytime the surface of the steel starts changing colors (gets a bluish or purplish tint- I'm not talking about heating it red-hot..) know that the properties of the metal are changing and that you may be affecting the hardness of the tool (or knife or whatever). However, if needed, you can heat it and use it to cauterize a wound. Pound the point into a stick or insert into the wrench end to hold it over the fire.

*You can heat it red-hot then bend it into a hook if you HAD to have one for some life-saving reason. It even has a place to attach a rope. Know that this process would remove any tempering the steel had before and, while it could be re-done, it takes some practice at recognizing the right temperature at which to quench it. I'm sure there are some good tutorials out there which cover tempering steel in detail.

*You could use it as a can opener supporting it vertically by the shaft and tapping the top with a stone or branch (or even your palm) and go around the tlid.

*Tie a thin line through the wrench end and use it as a weight for throwing it over a branch then use the line to pull up a rope. Or use it as a fishing weight, it works better than trying to tie a knot around a rock....

*Use it as an ice pick to cut a hole to fish through, then sink it into the ice at an angle away from the hole to attach your line to.

*With some practice you can throw it and make it stick in point first. It's better than throwing your knife, missing and having the blade get nicked by rocks or whatever.

*In the urban wilderness:
*If a motor won't start after repeated attempts, you may be able to use it to get your spark plug/s out. If the plug is wet and smells of fuel, there may not be spark or it may be flooded. If it is dry, there may not be fuel getting into the cylinder.

*with some help, you may be able to use it to get your tire off. The trick is to get the 19mm wrench end on the lug nut and while maintaining turning tension on it, hit the other end of the wrench hard with a hammer (hopefully without smashing your hand in the process...). This is the basic principle behind the impact wrench used by mechanics. It works, i've done it on a trailer wheel.

*When I locked my keys in my 4Runner, with some padding to protect the paint, I was able to wedge it in at the top of a door frame to pry it open enough to snake a bent wire in to snag the door handle.

*In a pinch it may work as a piton or as a hand wedge in cracks when climbing.

*Out trail riding, if your pedal breaks off, you may be able to get the rest of it out of the crank using the tool or if the pedal strips out of the crank. you can stick this through the hole and tie it to the crank so that you can at least "limp" home. It can also be used for changing flats but be aware of not poking the inner tube with the points on the screwdriver end.

*You can use it as a mallet/tool for knapping flint to make points for arrows or scrapers after you have broken flakes off with a hammer stone.

*It will substitute for a missing tent peg.

* You can use it as a hard, sharp point on a deadfall trap instead of a sharpened stick with the added benefit of having a secure way to attach it using the wrench end. See legomaster92's Instructable for this:

* You can use it as a very short snorkel or as a CPR aid if you don't want to make mouth-to-mouth contact with the victim. (A sign of the times, no?)

Now, here is the "Audience participation" part. It is your turn to come up with more uses. Please share other uses you have/can come up with.


LightningEagle14 (author)2016-02-26

Snorkel? Ummmmmmm. Well if it works for you. CPR breathing barrier? I'm not sure I would want something that's been tighting nuts from greasy wheels on my mouth. If I remember correctly, the purpose of a CPR breathing barrier is to keep you, and the patient clean and from exchanging germs. Basically cut down on bacteria, not give them some extra. Other than that, Great Instructable! Well done.

owen5702 (author)2014-06-05

If u had a rock or something u could do something hammer like and hit the top and make the screwdriver part split wood ... That's just my 2 sense

buskrat (author)2013-11-20

The stihl brand ones are very nice as well they are slightly larger though. They have a longer wrench end. I also work in a shop and have been in several shops that have these convenient tools I got several of them at least 10, 15 if you count the ones with my saws. Ive never broke a stihl brand one but the poulan pro 2 or 3 of those have bloodied knuckles when they snap

Halphinian (author)2013-11-16

Thanks for the instructable next time I have the chance I'm going to make one

Blechmen (author)2012-12-15

Hey i just changed my name from legomaster92 to Blechmen so i was wondering if you would want to just tweak yours a bit so than the other users can get an accurate result if they wanted to check mine out.

Blechmen (author)2012-03-22

Haha This is so cool and I just realized you recognized me haha thanks for that.

KingArthur (author)2012-02-12

Great! This is a nice idea. The vast majority of people would never think about this item. It is another tool is the world of wilderness survival.

andrew2lu (author)2011-12-08

Lollolololol oh no! a fleeing palm tree! must catch it!

ajs1313 (author)2011-10-10

Great uses for a handy tool, but ......

I am still stuck on the purse!!!!

chuckr44 (author)ajs13132011-11-10

Don't diss the purse/merse. It's full of heavy tools, and he'll smack you into the middle of next week!

jamilks (author)ajs13132011-10-10

ajs, aloha....Ross on their Clearance shelf, $5.49, all leather...kinda classy...I down-sized from carrying Mountainsmith's largest "fanny pack"....forced me to think about what I carry with me and why....

bajablue (author)jamilks2011-10-27

lol... the purse...THAT's what first caught the TSA's attention! ;-D

ajs1313 (author)jamilks2011-10-11

not a bash, just caught my

hossweightlifter (author)2011-10-10

This could also be used in a street fight as a deterrent

jamilks (author)hossweightlifter2011-10-10

Aloha hoss, that is sort of the idea in the "Fist of fury" step....urban survival...

hossweightlifter (author)jamilks2011-10-13

ohh dumb me :D

jamilks (author)hossweightlifter2011-10-14

Hoss, aloha~

Not dumb at all....I guess the pacifist (pun intended, heh heh) in me didn't want to talk about that fact and instead I kinda danced around it with the comment about "animals".... but I'm sure that it could be deadly....the amount of force you can put behind it with the wrench end as a handle.....

mjmare (author)2011-10-09

Nice idea!
I'm curious as to what you say to the TSA officials about this tool, who I find not to be the understanding kind.

jamilks (author)mjmare2011-10-10

mj, aloha~

Well, as a matter of fact, most of them just look at it, many of them don't even look as the x-ray profile doesn't look like anything they recognize (maybe) and the ones that have questioned me, I told them it was a combination screwdriver wrench and that seemed to be satisfactory....when asked what I need it for, I tell them that I'm always fixing things...

I guess it may be a case of their not "thinking outside the box".....I mean if someone was evil or deranged, it is possible to cause some serious injuries with just a ballpoint pen.

mjmare (author)jamilks2011-10-11

Thanks for the reply. Ever since a run-in with a TSA official over a Compass iPad stand (extremely lethal of course) I'm a bit more careful. Which is probably the point ;-)

timmycutts (author)2011-10-09

You're not sure whether you're 180 or -180 pounds? I could be wrong, but I'm almost certain that it's only possible to have a negative weight on Pluto. I'm pretty sure it should be "180 pounds +/-" or, more accurately "180 pounds, give or take".

mkanoap (author)timmycutts2011-10-09

If we are going to be pedantic, he won't have a negative weight on Pluto, he will be about 12 pounds.

You are correct about the wording, but if you are going to mock someone for their terminology, you should take extra care not to say something even more wrong yourself.

After all, the statement "-180 or 180" pounds is literally true, since one of the possibilities actually applies, but he won't normally have a negative weight on Pluto. :)

JakeBlanton (author)mkanoap2011-10-11

There's "mass", there's "weight" as it relates to gravity, and then if you really want to get pedantic, you can also calculate in the buoyancy of an object in a medium (e.g. air). I guess you could say that you have a negative weight if you are in a liquid medium that i more dense than you are. Say for example, you have attached your shoes to a scale and the scale is attached to the bottom of a tank and then the tank is filled with a heavy liquid, perhaps mercury. A 180 lb person would have a volume of about 0.81 cu-meters. Since buoyancy is related to the weight of the medium that you displace and since mercury has a density of 13.546 grams/cu-cm, you're looking at a bit of buoyancy and thus negative "weight".

OK, technically, we ignore our buoyancy when we are measuring our weight, but it does affect the measured value. You would weight slightly more in a vacuum chamber than you do in air.

mkanoap (author)JakeBlanton2011-10-11

Good point! I could claim I was thinking of buoyancy when I said "wouldn't normally" but really I was thinking of centripetal force counteracting gravity. If you spun pluto really fast, someone on the equator might eventually get to negative weight. Unfortunately, I suspect that pluto would then break up.

timmycutts (author)mkanoap2011-10-09

I apologise to anyone who was offended. First, while I am pedantic, normally, I am not familiar enough with the gravitational field of Pluto to actually know how much one would weigh. I've tried to avoid Pluto as much as humanly possible since the arguments way back in year 8 at school. Second, I am correct about the wording, that's really all that is supposed to matter. The point was to point out the possibility for confusion, while trying to be funny (something I can very rarely pull off unless the conditions are right), rather than try mock anyone. I also said "I could be wrong" meaning that I accept any correction, however you should take care with your tone of voice when pointing it out. While my being autistic has its benefits, such as my increased logical ability (normally), the flaws can almost always be more annoying, like my inability to detect sarcasm accurately or the inability to determine tone of voice in written text. Finally, I did take care not to say anything wrong about myself, I always do. So what on earth could you possibly be referring to? (Sorry it's so long, I find I have a need to explain every point at once. Also, it's not meant to be offensive in any way, I just struggle to write anything that's not fiction.)

jamilks (author)timmycutts2011-10-10

Timmy, thanks for taking the time to explain. I am/was not offended..I think I was reacting to some folks tendencies to find fault when they are not comfortable giving praise...not claiming to expect any, but so it goes..

Be well, jamil

mkanoap (author)timmycutts2011-10-10

Don't feel bad, tone in text is difficult for everyone to always get all the time in written text, it's not just you. I certainly struggle with getting it right in writing.

In case you're interested, I got the 12 pound figure from

jamilks (author)timmycutts2011-10-10

timmy, aloha ~

I apologize for the ambiguity and for any confusion it may have caused... as bobwojo points out I meant to say that I weigh "about" 180 pounds depending on when I ate last, what clothes I'm wearing (or not, as the case may be), the position of the moon, my elevation above sea level...etc. etc...Sorry....

bobwojo (author)timmycutts2011-10-09

ok, the wording may be ackward, but all the person wanted to say was "about 180 pounds". Would have been better said this way " ~180 lbs " or " 180 lbs + or - "

bobwojo (author)bobwojo2011-10-09

Or simply "about 180 lbs "

snworks (author)timmycutts2011-10-09

Oh, please...

MiltReynolds (author)2011-10-09

I appreciate your well-written, well-illustrated, easy-to-read, authoritative instructable. Well done! You've convinced chance I get at a yard sale or 2nd hand store, I'm snaggin' me a survival tool!

jamilks (author)MiltReynolds2011-10-10

Milt, aloha~

Thanks for your kind words....they are also darned handy workshop additions...

Amnesia Wes (author)2011-10-09

You carry one of these in your, uh: "purse"?

jamilks (author)Amnesia Wes2011-10-10

Aloha amnesia~
Not sure what else I might call it..."Merse"? over the shoulder type bag? Any ideas, I'm open....

menahunie (author)2011-10-09

LMAO.. A Chainsaw bar tool as an ultimate survival tool? NOT....
A coconut can and is opened with a fire hardened stick everyday; I do it and many Polynesians do it also. Also you can open a coconut after peeling along the fracture line with a rock if you have to.
As for a tool for surviving?
It is a strong and sturdy FIXED BLADE KNIFE..
Mine is around 18 inches long with a thick blade. This lets me chop and cut and do many needed things for REAL survival.
Everything from using it to create a shelter to cutting a straight branch to fire harden into a spear. Carve fish hooks if you don't have any and go fishing or make a spear for fishing. Much Much more.
This "tool" as you put it is made from soft steel and the real and only thing it can do is poke holes...
Also TSA will never let you carry this on a plane period.. Even inter island travel..

jschap1 (author)menahunie2011-10-09

Pretty sure you can't carry an 18-inch knife on a plane either.

jamilks (author)jschap12011-10-10

Ya think?

jamilks (author)menahunie2011-10-10

Menahunie (is that a different species of "Menehune?) Aloha!

The idea is not to be the "Ultimate" survival tool but just one that for its size and weight (and price) can do many things....

There are obviously things an 18" long knife can do that this cannot but then I wouldn't want to pound it into a tree and try and hang from it.....or use it to drill a hole.

As far as being made from "soft steel" my opening comments mention the strength and hardness of this particular tool...I have no idea of the construction or strength of other brands out there. Hardly "soft" as I regularly use it to chisel concrete flash at work when trying to fit a pool fitting in place....

To each his/her own...Don't know what to say, but I have taken it interisland and I have taken it to the mainland and to Canada, recently....believe it or not, no matter to me brah!~

ldmorgan (author)2011-10-09

The handle is hollow. It could be filled up with as assortment of survival items such as a fire rod, fish hooks, an LED flashlite, a button compass, a small hacksaw knife blade, and the like.

The handle could also be given a few layers of duct tape on one side and maybe a few layers of snare wire and some heavy fishing line on the other.

You could also wrap a yard or two of orange nylon strip around the handle for marking your trail. Just clip a 2" length to flag rescuers at intervals.

The same strip could double as an improvised sling, tourniquet, bandage, or lashing as well.

Put the right kind of ink cartridge in the handle, and the nylon strip could also become waterproof notepaper to leave messages on the trail.

Lots of possibilities with that tool as the start of a survival kit.

jamilks (author)ldmorgan2011-10-10

Id, aloha, Thanks for the fresh ideas!

Horus9339 (author)2011-10-09

You could put sausage skin on one end and slowly push a variety of meat/vegetables/pulses to make succulent snacks.

Look through it like a monocular telescope to direct home movies.

Place the shaft between the hands (that's what she said) to whisk an omelet.

If you magnetize it, then you could suspend notes on the fridge for a partner, house mate or the police once they find out you have escaped prison using this as a shank (to disable the guards), digging tool (to carve out a tunnel), shaping tool (for a paddle) and a needle/punch (to sew a boat together).

It could also be thrown at me for being daft. Ouch!

jamilks (author)Horus93392011-10-10

Horus, aloha~

Not "daft' at all! Creative problem solving....indeed!

bennettcrew (author)Horus93392011-10-10

Awesome idea with the sausage stuffer thing! Excellent use for the entrails of the rabbit that you made the pies out of!

bennettcrew (author)Horus93392011-10-10

Has "musical instrument" been suggested yet? Put your lips inside the bigger hole and blow! Makes kazooo sort of noise. Failing that... use it to smash fingernails... this will make all sorts of noise (which can be handy in a survival situation!)

basefilm (author)2011-10-09

Enjoyed reading this. I have to say I think many commenters miss the point of these kinds of things is to try to think through 'what if' scenarios and make a case for a particular object being the 'best' survival tool.

All else being equal, the clear choice is obviously an overhead projector. Remove the fresnel lens in it and you can create a solar oven in the woods, allowing you to both be green and start a forest fire with one re-purposed device. That's versatility.

jamilks (author)basefilm2011-10-10

base, aloha~

I must say that try as I might, I can't figure out how to make this into an overhead projector, but somehow, I don't think that is what you are suggesting...heh heh..Thanks for the encouragement to problem solve creatively...

bennettcrew (author)basefilm2011-10-10

If you start a forest fire... they will find you! Ever wonder why a forest fire can be traced back to a cigarette butt, then DNA tested, then they arrest someone three states away... but they're still not sure if OJ is really guilty or not?!!

StuNutt (author)2011-10-10

Who needs a Winchester in the wilderness? If you get attacked by a grizzly, you can defend yourself with the chainsaw that came free with htis gadget :D

steve1911 (author)2011-10-10

I must admit I was skeptical at first, but wow, you really sold me on this tool. Better still, I know that I already have two! But tell me, do you really get this past the TSA folks at airports? What do you tell them and what do they say?

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