Impromptu Bow and Buck Saws

by Woodsbum

A while ago I was asked about the use of saws while bushcrafting. I carry a very nice buck saw that I picked up from a vendor at You can see it here. Many times, however, carrying the extra weight of a complete buck or bow saw is not a viable option. Instead you can carry the blade or cutting portion of the saw and make your own frame for it. Here are a couple examples of how to build your own bow saw and buck saw while out in the bush.

The first real “secret” to building field bow saws is making sure that you get some wood that either already has the natural bend to the shape or to get some nice, green wood that will bend without breaking. Either way you need something that can take the bow shape but is strong enough to not bend too much while under use. As you can see from the picture, it is preferable to make some notches in the ends of the wood to allow your saw blade to remain stationary while under load. The easiest way is to use your saw blade to make some slits and then use your knife to remove the chips. In the case of the saw I have pictured below, I was able to just slide the rings over the branch and rest them into the notches.  I like using snare wire to keep things in place, so that is why you see the wire around the ends of the saw blade. This isn’t necessary, but it is more standard practice for me than anything else.

Impromptu Bow Saw

Impromtu Bow Saw

In this instance, I took a dead branch that was still just green enough to bend and not break. The saw blade is one of those “survival” saws that come in a kit. Although using it is kind of slow compared to other saws and methods, it definitely works.

When making a buck saw, the hardest part is getting the middle branch to stay put under stress. If you don’t notch or drill your holes correctly, that middle brace will squirt off to the side and collapse the whole saw in upon itself. The best way to keep that from happening that i have found is to ensure you drill holes and use some sort of a pin. What I did on the saw below was a little different. I cut the notches for the cross brace and carved in some pins to insert into the holes I carved into the upright braces. This gave me both a solid up and down stability and a twisting stability from the pins. I have also seen holes drilled and dowels carved. This also works, but I was using a large knife and didn’t have a decent carving knife or a drill to use. To tighten up the whole saw frame you can just use some 550 cord or such and wind it up with a stick like you see below. It works quite well and when the cordage stretches you can take up a few more turns on the cord to tighten things right back up.

Impromptu Buck Saw

Impromptu Buck Saw

The easiest part is the slit for the saw blade. As you can also see, I again used snare wire to keep the blade on. This is just something that I do and have found works quite well. Since I have rolls of snare wire and carry a roll to the field with me in my survival kit, many field projects find themselves completed with the aid of snare wire.

Next time you are in the field and want to so some fire preparation do yourself a favor and make a saw frame. With some practice and testing you can come up with a great design that works well for your needs. In case you were wanting a step by step build of the buck saw, I have embedded a video th assist you. Again, it is quite easy and works very well.

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