An Alternative Bow Saw Technique

posted in: Tips & Tricks | 34
James Bath using static bow saw technique
A useful additional technique. Photo: Paul Kirtley.

A bow-saw is a very useful and safe cutting tool to have around camp.

Unless you are in a semi-permanent camp, you are unlikely to have the use of a saw horse.

Often you can find a log or stump to work on so you can set the wood in a convenient position to saw.

Sometimes, however, you may need to use the saw in a confined space and this can be awkward.

Other times you may find you simply do not have a steady base on which to place the wood to be sawn.

There is a simple technique for a bow-saw that allows you to use it in scenarios where it would otherwise be difficult or awkward.

This involves holding the saw vertically in a static position and working the wood against the saw blade.

Watch the embedded video for the full technique…

**Let us know in the comments if you have any similar or related tips for the use of a bow saw.


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Paul Kirtley is owner and Chief Instructor of Frontier Bushcraft. He has had a lifelong passion for the great outdoors and gains great satisfaction from helping others enjoy it too. Paul writes the UK's leading bushcraft blog as well as for various publications including Bushcraft & Survival Skills Magazine.

34 Responses

  1. Duncan Stillwell

    Hi Paul
    Excellent video, I may have tried the same technique at a push but would have found it unsteady, however, placing the stick through the bow to hold it had never crossed my mind. I’d be more inclined to use this technique now….. great stuff, I always learn something on this site, Thanx :O)

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hi Duncan,

      Glad you liked the video. Short and sweet, eh? 🙂

      Have a go with this technique and let us know how you find it.

      All the best,


  2. sean fagan

    Hi Paul,

    This bow saw technique borders on the ingenious!! After a few, somewhat awkward attempts by myself in the past when trying to emulate a similar bow saw technique that is illustrated in Mors Bushcraft book, I find your version of that particular bow saw technique a great improvement in terms of safety and efficiency. Great stuff.
    Thanks for great article (& video).

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hi Sean,

      Good to hear from you again and that this article and video were so useful to you.

      With this method, utilising the stick, I think you’ll find the saw much easier to control.

      All the best,


  3. Dave

    Great idea & way of dealing with a situation were a person may have a restricted area to saw.
    This method also lets you cut small pieces, caue your able to have both hands on the wood, way more control than holding a small piece with hand & trying to saw with the other.

    Excellent Vid.


  4. Duane

    Hi Paul
    Great idea, will have to give that one a try. Nice short and to the point video too, good job 🙂

    Take Care

  5. Mark H

    Hi Paul,

    Most definately more stable for me than Mors’ approach.Improving on any of Mr Kochanski’s techniques is a feat in itself. Thanks Paul and James,


  6. Ian Shankland

    A useful tip. I tried it at home and found, as stated in previous comments, that you have greater control with two hands. I actually found it much easier than using a stump. I did find that, after cutting this way for a while, it became harder to grip the saw with my knees. Possibly I wasn’t doing it right, but, to get over this problem, I tried fastening a short length of para-cord to the saw, using a gripper knot, and attaching a stick to it about 5 cm away. Then, with the stick at 90 degrees to the saw, I could brace the stick against and just below my knees and stop the saw slipping back between my legs. It seemed to help. I can’t see a downside to this adaptation but, if you see one, please let me know. I took a couple of pics but can’t see how to attach them. Anyway, thanks to Frontier Bushcraft for another great tip which does as much for safety as ease of use. Well done guys.

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hi Ian,

      Thanks for your comment. Great to hear that you went out straight away and tried this. Thanks also for the extra tip on what worked for you with a longer saw 🙂

      All the best,


  7. Ian

    To add to my previous comment, I can now see I was using a much longer bow saw than the one in the video which, I think, is why I was experiencing the problem.

  8. Sarah

    For someone as clumsy as me that looks like a recipe for disaster even with securing stick! Well done the demonstrator though!

  9. Adrian

    An excellent tip! I do find the tips in these emails to be very helpful and educational – as well as being very well presented.

  10. Rocky Mountain Bushcraft

    Cool trick Paul, thanks for sharing. Will have to try this one out on my next trip.


  11. Bergum

    My grandfather learned that to me when I was young.
    He splitt 120cm firewood into 60cm for the fireplace…

    Thank’s for making me think of my granpa… 🙂

  12. Martin

    What a simple but effective technique, I need more wood for the fire going to try this.

  13. Wild Skill Dude

    Very clever…. I like it.
    So went out and tried it.!
    Quite surprised how easy it was, in fact, I think I prefer this method as I found you could twist the branch as you go and get a nice clean cut.

    Brilliant, thanks for sharing this idea…

    • Paul Kirtley

      Hey Steve, thanks. We’re glad you liked this. And we’re even more pleased you went out to try it straight away!

      We find it works particularly well for medium size pieces of wood – the sort of size you are going to use for everything from splitting down for kindling right up to main fuel. Just what you need in camp.

      All the best,


  14. Grant

    Hi Paul

    It never ceases to amaze me that the simplest of things are often the most effective. I like the way you look at things differently and come up with different solutions. Learning a lot


  15. Bill Jackson

    My biggest problem with a bow saw is in the sharpening and setting. Looks straightforward but takes practice and patience. I’m still cutting on a curve.

  16. Jim

    I’ve used bowsaws for years. This was the first time I watched your stick stabilizer, thus allowing
    the strength of both arms to cut. I will try this. Excellent Paul!
    Jim Watkins
    Pacific Nw

  17. Dave H

    Hi Paul,
    Another brilliant tip, thanks for these great little nuggets of knowledge.
    Keep them coming please, they are really appreciated.
    All the best, Dave.

  18. Dave H

    Hi Paul,
    Thanks for another great tip, I love these little nuggets of knowledge, they are really appreciated. Keep safe, all the best,

  19. BARRY R McClean

    Brilliantly simple technique ive been using a bow saw since i was a kid never seen this before

  20. David VanDuyvenvoorde

    Great video Paul. Short and to the point.

    I’ve tried this technique several times and adding the stick through the bottom makes it usable. Great idea!

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