Pipe-Handle Manual Chainsaw




About: In a past life I was a scenic designer, living in New York and building plays and fashion shows. Now, life has slowed down a bit and I'm figuring out how to be a good husband and dad.

This Instructable was inspired by member CobyUnger'sManual Chainsaw. He did a great job creating a versatile tool that fits right in your pocket. My only hesitation with creating his version is that I tend to abuse my tools and I had concerns that the fabric strap would become frayed and fall apart over time. So I modified the design a bit to put on some pipe handles.

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Step 1: Materials and Tools

Materials you will need:

(1x) chainsaw blade. I think the one I used was around 30" long

(2x) 3/4" pipe caps

(2x) 3/4" pipe nipple, 5" long

A small amount of concrete mix

Some water (for the concrete)

Electrical tape

Tools you will need:

Metal grinder with a cutting wheel

Small hand file

Rubber Mallet


Tape measure / ruler

Several clamps, although not necessary, definitely helpful

Mixing container

Paint stick / Mixing stick

Leather work gloves

Step 2: Cut the Chain

The first thing I did was cut the chain using the grinder and a cutting blade. The grinder made quick work of the blade. I simply clamped the chain to a board, and came in from above between the links. If you don't have a grinder, I'm sure this could also be accomplished with a hacksaw.

Step 3: Grind the Pipe Caps

The next step was to make a slot in the pipe caps to allow the saw blade to be fed through. I clamped the pipe caps tightly in a vise and slowly cut a slot through the cap. I then cleaned out the slot with a file.

This would be a tough job without a grinder. If you are able to get through those caps with a hacksaw, then more power to you.

Step 4: Feed the Blade Through

Screw the caps onto the end of the nipples to create two handles.

Then feed each end of the chain through the slots into the handle. Keep feeding chain through until you have about 5" of chain coming out of the back end of the handles.

Finally, wrap tape around the blade between the 1/2" and 1 1/2" mark. Keep wrapping tape until it builds up and barely fits into the pipe.

Step 5: Pull the Tape In

After you've wrapped the tape around the blade, pull the blade (wearing gloves of course) so that the tape is pulled into the handle. Keep pulling until you can see the tape peaking through the slot.

The objective is to have the tape create a seal against the pipe cap once it is pulled into place.

Step 6: Mix and Pour the Concrete

To hold the blades in the handles, I used premixed Quikcrete Concrete mix. The stuff came with a lot of larger aggregate mixed in. The mix needs to be fine enough to be poured into the pipes, so I sifted it through my fingers until the bigger chunks were removed.

I have no idea what the water/concrete ratio was. There was so little concrete being used that I didn't bother calculating it. I just mixed it into a slurry that was manageable. Use a paint stick to mix the concrete into a smooth milk-shake consistency.

Right before scooping the concrete in, I sprayed the interior of the pipe with WD-40. In my mind, this provides some additional protection from the blades becoming rusty while the water evaporated out of the concrete. Does it actually make a difference? Got me.

Use the paint stick to scoop the concrete into the back of the pipe. The concrete tends to get gooped-up near the opening. Knock the pipes with a rubber mallet will allow the concrete to work down.

Step 7: Let It Dry

You will want to let the saw sit for a few days so that the concrete has enough time to set. I found that it took a while for the concrete to completely dry (I think I left it for 5 days or so). I used a couple clamps as stands so the wet concrete wouldn't spill out.

Step 8: Possible Improvements

This guy can boogie through branches pretty well. I plan to add a 90-degree elbow and another 5" nipple to each handle, so that the handles are L-shaped. I think this will make the ergonomics of this saw much better

Since posting this Instructable, several members have thought of clever improvements:

Member bjkayani suggested adding a T to the end of the handle, so that two people could operate the saw, one on each end.



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    59 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Sorry but I fail to understand: has this tool actually a practical value or is it just a curiosity?

    I've had my share of wood cutting with all sorts of tools and situations, not the least with real chainsaws. but a manual chainsaw? It can't be anywhere near effective at the sort of cutting speed one can produce manually, and then without guidance of a blade?

    There's wire saws, flexible blades, but a manual chainsaw?

    Maybe I still have something to learn here, but yea, I believe desertsniper's comment "craziest nunchucks" just about sums it up...

    7 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    This item is MORE of a survival tool and/or a tool to cut small dead trees and shrubs [less than 4-6 inches in diameter] to use for gathering firewood while camping or just making a clearing. Besides it is environmentally much better than using a gasoline powered chain saw to do the same simple task. It fits nicely in a backpack taking up very little space. If the user does come across a standing tree trunk, then it can be used for making nice slices for arts & craft projects {coasters for glasses, stool seats, & table tops}. There are inexpensive commercial ones available for $20.00 or less for retailers like Amazon or Tmart that should be in every camper's, hiker's, & hunter's backpack. It is much EASIER to use a manual chain saw to reduce a 12 foot long 4 inch diameter tree or branch into 18 inch long pieces of wood for a fire than to try breaking up a 12 foot long 4 inch diameter tree or branch into the necessary sized pieces.

    Rule of Thumb:

    Length of chain × ¼ = Ideal diameter of object to be sawed


    Reply 3 years ago

    i agree,

    unfortunately I have to say that this is the most stupid tool I have seen, that isnt even a good art piece. If you want a portable cutting tool, you would use small hand saw. Chainsaw blades are designed for high speed cutting and material removal, while supported by a chain bar. Withou the chain bar, chainsaw chains are useless. Handsaw blades are designed for manual low speed material removal.

    I can only imagine that whoever made this, only made it, to put on the web to see all the clueless people who would praise the idea.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I have no idea why you have such a strong negative reaction to this. I've used it and found it helpful to have. It obviously can't compete with the speed of a powered saw, but for those that only want a fraction of the power for a fraction of the cost, then it makes perfect sense. It's not like I'm suggesting that you should throw out your gas powered tools. Way to be a miserable downer bud


    Reply 3 years ago

    I wouldn't call that a "strong reaction". People, including myself, are just wondering about the usefulness of such a tool. Because the design of a saw chain is for high speed guided cutting and none of this is the case with manual use. I'm sure your design will work, but it can't be effective and neither can it be a match for manual saws. So I too, wonder why somebody woud spend so much effort on making a tool like this, unless it is for curiosity. If you are looking for pocket tool for cutting wood I'd recomment this kind:


    Reply 3 years ago


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    Reply 3 years ago

    Nice Idea ! I can see that if you were doing a lot of tree trimming ( like it was your job or something ) , or you were gathering a winters worth of firewood , then I agree with gungajin that a real chainsaw would be more useful . But to do minor tree trimming in your yard , it appears to be very useful , or to take with you camping or something , you wouldn't need to carry a real chainsaw , along with a gas can and 2 stroke oil with you . It would fit in a bag , and for what little bit of cutting you would need to do , it would probably be less work than getting out a real chainsaw . It all depends on what you are doing !!

    Cheers , take care and have a good day !!



    Reply 3 years ago

    When it showed up in my email, my first thought was, "That's a weird jump rope." Then I read the description. That would probably hurt a lot.


    3 years ago

    This seems like a lot of work for something that is eventually go dull and have to be thrown away. It seems like the other design using the hand sewn webbing is less work and you can just remove the chain saw and replace it with a sharp one.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Sharpening a chainsaw is easy. Throwing away a chainsaw because it's dull is like throwing away a knife because it's dull. And it would take a LOT of hand sawing to dull a saw blade.


    3 years ago

    Concrete doesn't need to be sloppy wet, it should be the consistency of toothpaste.
    Also the WD-40 was unnecessary, water doesn't need to evaporate out of concrete if it is mixed properly.
    A thicker paste (still loose enough to move in to the pipe as you tap on the walls of the pipe for vibration) doesn't evaporate, the water reacts with the lime in the cement, it never leaves the concrete.
    The reason yours took so long to cure is because the mix was so heavily diluted.
    The dryer the concrete mix, the stronger, and more durable it is.
    Wetter concrete flows easily, but it takes longer to set and is weaker versus thicker mixes.
    Any rusting that occurs during cutting will just add iron to the concrete, which makes stronger bonds.

    2 replies

    3 years ago

    One thing you could do instead of concrete, would be that resin used for securing fiberglass or plastic handles to sledge hammer heads or axes or whatever.


    3 years ago

    For all you sceptics... Go on youtube and type: Survival Chainsaw and Kershaw Tension REVIEW. They actually sell this kind of thing.


    3 years ago

    nice idea! somewhere i had seen something similar before but never mind... i suggest using bike bar ends with an angle around 90 degrees as a grip to have the ability of using it in different positions or being with two persons cutting the wood.