My Prototype Folding Camp Saw.




Introduction: My Prototype Folding Camp Saw.

About: Carpenter for way to long.

This my version of a folding camp saw, used to cut fire wood or whatever, just don't cut yourself. See the saw used in a test cut video cutting a 3 1/2" walnut log. This is very hard wood and the saw worked very well.

Also see the video showing how to unfold and fold the saw. It took just over 2 minutes to unfold and refold the saw.

I'm not going to claim this idea for my self. I saw different versions of this on Youtube and on this site, this is just the way I did mine.

This saw weighed less than 12.5 oz. and about 20" long. That's small enough to easily fit into any pack. It weighs less than the garden saw that I started with, and it folds.

Again, this is a prototype. It's made of pine scraps that I had in the scrap bin. I plan to make a more durable one out of some walnut or cherry the I have on hand.

The only thing that I had to buy was the garden saw. It was cheaper to buy the whole saw than to buy just the blade online with shipping and everything.

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Step 1: Tolls and Material.

I try to list everything that goes into, and every tool used.

It should be noted that even though I used a lot of different tools, it is by no means necessary to use all of these. A saw can be made with minimal tools and material.

  1. Blade from store bought saw.
  2. 1 1/2" pine scraps. 2 @ 10". 1@ 20"
  3. 2 bolts sized to fit through holes in blade, with nuts.
  4. 1 piece of paracord about 40" long. (Not pictured.)
  5. Small toggle stick for torsion cord.
  1. Table saw.
  2. Drill.
  3. Router table.
  4. Measuring tape.
  5. 1/8" Roundover router bit.

  1. Eye protection.
  2. Hearing protection.
  3. Push sticks and feather boards to keep fingers away from spinning saw blades. They really hurt.
  4. Dust collection.
I can't say enough about safety. There is no such thing as too much. I've been doing this for a long, long time. I do things that I would never let anyone else in my shop. I learned to do a lot of things long before anyone seemed to have any safety concerns. I have gained a healthy fear and respect for all of these tools, having seen what they can do to the human body, Yuck.

It's pretty simple. if you're not comfortable doing something, Don't do it!

OK, enough of the lecture, let's get to work.

Step 2: Sizing the First Pieces for the Frame.

The frame for this saw contains 6 pieces.
  1. Blade
  2. 2 handles.
  3. Cross brace.
  4. Rope
  5. Torsion stick.
Captain Obvious says that, "Of course you need a blade for a saw. Duh!"

Measure the blade to give you an idea of how long to cut the handles that will fold over the blade when closed. They can be a little long and trimmed for an exact fit as you go along.

So, for a 21" blade and 2 handles, 21 / 2 =10 1/2".

Cross piece ended up being a piece I found in the parts bin that was about 3/8" thick and about 1 1/2" wide. saw is about 21" long so cross brace is rough cut at 21", all to be fine tuned as we go.

Torsion stick is any small stick that you have around, even something picked up off the ground.

Rope for my saw is paracord, very strong. You can use any rope that is strong enough to handle the pressure that will be put on it to get the saw blade tight enough. It does take quite a bit of tension to do this. You could ues wire if you aren't going to take the saw apart very often.

Step 3: Now We Cut!

Now that we have the rough pieces that we want, let's get them cut to fit the blade.

First we're going to rip a slot down the length of both handles.

Set the tables saw fence so that the blade is centered on the handle.

Now set the height of the table saw blade is just a little higher than the width of the blade for our new saw. we'll use the new blade as a gauge for setting the table saw. Make sure the table saw is unplugged for this step and every step that brings fingers close to the table saw blade.

Now that that's done, we'll use a push board and a feather board to run a scrap test piece through our setup to make sure we like it before cutting our handles. If we like it ,we cut the handles, otherwise make adjustments as needed then test again.

Next is a slot in the end of the handle so that the handle can fold over the blade. One end only. I used the same set-up as the other slot and it worked ok.

The last thing needed is a notch for the cross bar to nest in. This gives the cross bar a nice solid fit.

There in no precise way that this needs to be done. I used a notch about 3/8" deep and the same width as the cross bar is thick. The notch is about centered. It can't be to far up on the handle of you wont be able to get enough leverage with the tension rope to get the blade tight enough to keep it from bending and binding.

Set table saw blade at desired height, clamp pieces to miter gauge, make one cut, move pieces over a little bit, re-clamp, cut again. Repeat until you reach the other mark, now you have both pieces cut at the same time. Saves time.

Step 4: Mount Handles.

One hole is needed in each handle for mounting handle to blade.

To find out where the hole is positioned, I laid the blade on top of the handle in the closed position, marking the center.

Then I laid the blade on the handle in the open position, again marking the center.

It might be a good idea to do this on a test piece before drilling the real handle. You should have a test piece with slots cut in it from testing the slot cut. After marking, drill hole that matches hole in blade. mount blade on test piece, swivel open and closed. If you like the fit drill real handles, one hole in each, and mount on blade with appropriate sized bolts.

Step 5: The Cross Brace.

Now that we have the handles made and mounted, we're going to make a cross brace, or spreader bar, same thing.

For this piece I used the same table saw set-up that I used for the notch in the handles.

The width of the notch is the same as the thickness as the thickness as the handles, and the notch is centered on the cross bar.

The process is basically the same as the notch on the handles. For this step I clamped a scrap block to the miter gauge to help keep the cross brace upright and square, cut on the first mark, move piece and block a little bit, repeat untilo reaching the other mark.

Flip piece end for end, and repeat process on other end.

Test fit the pieces, make any adjustments if needed, and we are almost finished.

Step 6: Roundover All Edges.

This step is not necessary, but makes the handles easier on the hands, and helps keep the corners from splintering. This can also be done with a piece of sand paper wrapped around a scrap block. All we need to do is ease the sharpness off of all the corners.

I used a router table with a 1/8" roundover bit because I have the toys so I get to play with them!

You can see the rounded edges in the last picture.

Step 7: Put It Together.

Tie the rope loosely around top of handles, then use small stick to twist rope to tension blade. Stick catches behind cross brace to keep it from unwinding.

See both videos to see the saw in action.

Step 8: First Revision.

After using this saw a few times, I decided that a carrying bag of some sort was needed. So, after seconds and seconds of hard thought, I came up with this.

I don't know why I keep these old jeans around, but this time I'm glad I did.

Giving credit where credit is due Mrs. Str8shter did all of the sewing work on this, I just stupidvised.

This is fairly straight forward.

First, cut as large of a piece of fabric as possible out of the back of the leg of the old jeans.
Then, sew tube for draw string.
Next, seam the remaining sided to close up the bag.

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    12 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I made a similar saw a few years ago out of aluminum angle iron (the L shaped stuff - bought at Home Depot along with the blade). I made mine to carry when hiking.
    Mine is definitely not friendly to the hands, however I just wanted a lightweight saw I could carry for emergency use and it doesn't see much use. I like yours better though.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    nice saw i like the way it all packs away into a small bundle and the simple design means i would be able to build it from memory if i was lost somewhere with a broken saw and needed to survive :)...maybe the handle would be more comfy if you rounded it off :) then you don't get sore hands after prolonged use...though it could reduce the strength a bit


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for checking out my saw, glad you liked it. The corners of the handles are rounded off (see step 6). I tend to wear gloves so the handles are fine for me. as for the prolonged use thing, any prolonged use of a hand saw would be uncomfortable.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Very, VERY old desing, but glad you took it up again!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I never claimed this for my own DESING, (design). I claimed it as the way I decided to do it.

    I'm very glad that someone liked the way I built my saw, and thank you for your comment.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    granted that the basic saw design has been around for hundreds of years. Most of the saws of this design are not made to be broken down for travel or storage.

    What I liked was how it was made to fold up and store compactly for travel purposes. I especially like the fact that the blade is covered when it is in travel mode.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I have at least one more mod, then going to make one from, I think walnut or cherry. I wish that I could find just the blades locally, so far, no joy.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    not sure where in Ohio you are, but I know that the larger chain hardware stores like Lowes and Home Depot carry bow saw blades for around 5 bucks each.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I have quite a few drawstring bags made exactly the same way with the same material source. My oldest is over 20 years old, so they're pretty tough.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    All thanks for the drawstring bag are to be given to Mrs. Str8shter. She did all the work on that part.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, just another way to something that's been done several times.