How To Make Primitive Survival Tools

Someday you may find yourself having to spend some time away from civilization without the luxury of having planned for it. If this is the case, you may wind up without any basic tools.

You can supply your own primitive survival tools with just a little research and know how.


There are several ways for you to make cordage for anything from basic lashing together of a shelter to bowstrings, fishing lines, or snares.

Plant fiber is one of the most common sources of cordage. Milkweed, dogbane, hemp, flax, yucca and stinging nettle are some of the more common plants to get your plant fibers from.

You can make coarse lashings from green briers. You first remove the thorns, then split the canes and scrape out the pithy middle. If you have spruce trees in your area, they have many shallow stringy roots that can be dug up and used in the same way.

Some trees such as basswood produce an inner bark that can be cut into strips like laces. You can also soak this bark in water for several weeks to help separate the fibers and then use them like the other plant fibers.

You can also get fibers from animals. The sinew of animals can be dried, separated into fibers and twisted into cordage. The small intestine can be cleaned and the middle linings cut into cordage. The hide can also be dehaired and used as rawhide lacing with or without smoking it.


Cutting tools are simple to make in the field. All you need is a fine grained rock and a way to break it. Even without the skill for making spear and arrowheads, a novice can make a usable cutting tool by breaking a few rocks and picking out the sharp shards.

Last summer, my 10 year old wanted me to show him how to do it. All I did was to tell him what I just wrote and he was able to get a few “blades” in just a couple minutes. We would have had no trouble processing game with what he produced on his very first attempt.


With a little work, you can make your own glue for fixing a leaky tent or sealing up a water skin while you are in the wild.

There are two common types of glue you can make. One is waterproof and the other is not but is as strong as most epoxies.

The waterproof glue is pitch glue and is by far much more commonly used in the wilderness. You only need to melt hardened pine pitch in a container and add an amount of charred wood as a binder. This black glue is very sticky and will seal up many things. You can even use it to completely cover a twig basket to make it hold water.

The second type is hide glue. This glue is used a lot in making bows and for gluing wood together. It is extremely strong but is not at all waterproof.

It is made by boiling a hide for a long time then removing the hide and boiling the “broth” down to a thicker consistency. This glue will work just like your everyday wood glue for a variety of projects.


If you find yourself in the woods without a weapon unexpectedly you can make your own from local materials.

One of the easiest weapons to make is a good ol’ rock. A little smaller than baseball sized will make you feel better walking in those scary woods, and can drive off medium sized animals.

A staff is a very good weapon to have if you don’t have a firearm. A staff can keep large animals at a distance while giving you good striking ability. Pick a stout limb that is the same length as you are tall.

If you are spending some time away, you can work on making your own bow. Even green wood can make an adequate weapon for taking small game. If you don’t have the ability to work down a stave into a bow you can tie a few small limbs together to form a respectable bow.

Use your cordage skills to make a string, harvest some shoots for arrows and you are set.

Creating your own tools in the field is a fun skill to practice when you are on an outing and a valuable skill if you should need them.








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