DIY Buck Saw with a Swiss Army Knife

When spending time outdoors, having a saw around is incredibly useful for building shelters and cutting fire wood. A buck saw is a saw you can easily make with very little tools and materials. In this tutorial you will find step by step instructions to make your own buck saw.

For making the buck saw you will need the following gear and materials.

  • Saw blade (bow saw blade, you can find this at the garden section at your local DIY store)
  • Two key rings (or, bolt and nuts)
  • Bank line or other strong rope (about three times the length of the saw blade)
  • Swiss army knife, such as this Victorinox Pioneer, or a saw and knife
  • A couple of straight branches (about 3 cm in diameter and about two times the length of the saw blade, and a smaller shorter branch for the tension piece)

This is where my bushcraft belt comes in handy, there is a 78cm saw blade tucked inside! It is incredible to see how well the saw blade stayed intact inside the belt. The edge is covered with some electrical tape to protect from cutting into the leather.

1.Measure the first and longest piece of the buck saw. At this point it should be a little little longer than the saw blade. This will become the horizontal piece in the buck saw. You will need the extra length of the piece to have enough length to taper the edges, so that it nests perfectly in the notches of the two smaller vertical pieces

2.Measure the two shorter pieces, they should be about half the size of the largest horizontal piece. If you have at hand, the shorter pieces, can be made out of a thicker piece of wood. Saw the three pieces at the correct length. Saw blades can be sharp, just like any other cutting tool, so make sure you take appropriate safety measures (such as wearing gloves).

At this point you should have one piece about the size of the saw blade, and two smaller pieces about half the size of the larger piece.

3. Make a cut half way on the two shortest pieces (handle). This is where the longest piece and the handle will get connected.

3.Widen the notch with a knife, this way a v-shape will begin to form. This is where the v-shaped point of the longest piece will connect at the notches in both the shorter pieces.

4.Carve a v-shape point/edge on the longest piece of the saw, do this on both ends. This way the longest piece nests/locks into the two shorter pieces (as pictured below).

5.Tweak the shape until it fits nice and secure.

6.You can round the edges to give it a more put together look.

7.On the top end of the two shortest piece of the saw, make a small notch on what will become the outside of the saw (on the opposite side of the v-shaped notch that was made before). This is the notch that will help to keep the rope into place.

8.Saw a slot on the upper edge of the two shortest pieces. Make sure to keep in mind where the v-shaped notch is, and the notch that will hold the rope into place. The slot will be for the saw blade. You can make sure you have it correct, by laying the shortest piece flat on the ground, make sure the v-shaped notch is on the left side, and the notch for the rope on the right. The slot should be parallel to the ground, on the opposite side where the notch of the rope is, perpendicular to both notches.

You can also figure out where to make the slot by laying all your pieces flat on the ground, the way the whole saw will come together in the end. Make the slot on the opposite site of where the notch for the rope is at, make sure the slot is parallel to the ground.

Both methods have the same result, so pick one that works for you!

9.Flatten the outer edges and round the top of the smallest piece, that will help to but tension on the blade, and make the whole saw come together.

10. Attach the rings or bolts and nuts to the saw blade. Next step is laying all the pieces flat on the floor (or any other large flat surface). Lay the saw blade horizontal on the floor, cutting edge facing up, lay the largest piece of wood below, parallel to the saw blade. Get the two smallest pieces of wood and slide the saw blade into the slots, in a way that the rings will be on the outer edges of the wood.

11.Put the smaller pieces of wood together with the largest piece of wood. The wood is making an ‘H-shape’ this way, with a the saw blade on top. Let all the pieces lay on the floor for now. If needed, adjust any ill-fitting notches.

12.Measure a piece of bank line or other strong rope that is about three times the the length of the saw blade.

13.While having all the pieces still laying flat, form a large loop with the rope that connects the two shortest branches. Secure the line with a knot.

14.Make sure the blade and the joints are into place. Add the piece of wood the will help you put tension on the rope in the loop. Twist the piece of wood until tension will secure the buck saw in place. With putting more tension on the rope, the top of the two shortest pieces will move slightly inwards, while the side of the blade, will move slightly outwards. The rings will prevent that motion, this way the buck saw will be nice and secure. If this is not the case, chances are the v-shaped notch and v-shaped point/edge will need some further tweaking, or you need to increase the tension on the rope by twisting the wooden piece a couple of times more.

Final shot of the buck saw, you can see here how all the pieces come together! It maybe helpful to come back to this picture while following the 14 steps of making a buck saw. Just so you know how all these pieces work together!

This complete buck saw was made using only my Victorinox Pioneer, a Swiss army knife that is smaller than the palm of my hands. This piece of gear is on my bushcraft belt most of the time, in its own leather sheath.

With the buck saw you will be able to saw thicker branches, and saw them quicker. Which comes in handy with building a shelter of processing the right size fire wood. You can finish the saw any way you like, adjust the saw, remove the bark, put on some tribal decorations, whatever makes you a happy camper!

The specific Swiss Army Knife that was used in this tutorial is the Victorinox Pioneer Alox with seven functions.  Let me start by saying that I don’t think there is such a thing as the perfect knife. The perfect knife is the one you have with you.

When I bought this little Victorinox I did so because I wanted a “do it all” back up blade. A knife which could perform all sorts of tasks in case I’d get separated from the rest of my gear. And this beautiful little toolkit does exactly that.

This particular model has 7 functions from which I like four in particular.

The main blade, which works great as long as you know its limits. This is a non locking blade, so use as such. It is nice and sharp, and easy to keep sharp. The secondary blade, which is actually a pruning blade. I really like this blade a lot and probably use it more than the main blade.

The saw is perfect in my opinion. It can easily cut branches up to 4 cm in diameter, as long as you let the saw do the work. This means using it gently without pushing hard on the blade. The awl is also a perfect little tool which is great for drilling holes in all sorts of materials.

The last three functions are the bottle opener with screwdriver and wire stripper. Tools which I hardly ever use, and if Victorinox would ever consider replacing those for a big stitching awl (like on the Victorinox First Mate), I’d be one happy camper.

Overall a great knife for those who want a friendly looking pocket knife with a lot of capabilities. Definitely one I can recommend!


Hopefully this tutorial was helpful, if you decide to make your own buck saw, we would love to see the process and the result!

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