Emergency Bow Saw Made With a Swiss Army Knife From a Discarded Chair




This Instructable was motivated by my Grandson having access to my Swiss Army Knife and watching all 139 episodes of the original MacGyver TV series. He looked for over a month for an idea to enter the MacGyver Contest. With time running out to enter he asked to take a nature walk to help him think of an idea for the contest.


  1. Swiss Army Knife


  1. Discarded Chair
  2. Paracord
  3. Bow Saw Blade

Step 1: Disaster Strikes !

Upon entering the park and noticing a old chair in the trash as I was parking the car the Grand kids headed down the path. When I caught up to them I found my Granddaughter trapped beneath a felled tree under suspicious circumstances.

My Grandson leaped into action, now calling himself MacGavin he said he had an idea. He ran back to retrieve the old chair.

My Granddaughter only complained about poor lighting for her selfie and bad WIFI to send the pictures waited patiently for MacGavin to come to the rescue!

Step 2: Disassembling the Chair With the Swiss Army Knife

Putting sibling rivalry aside and using muscles honed by years of X Box training MacGavin began taking the chair apart and preparing it to cut off the pieces needed for later use.

Using the screwdriver feature of the knife to remove the screws that held the seat on.He saved the screws for later use.

Step 3: Cutting the Legs of One Side of the Chair Off

MacGavin carefully cutting both the front and the back legs of one side of the chair.

Step 4: Cutting the Slots for Inserting the Bow Saw Blade

Cutting the slots deep enough to accept the blade was slow work. But MacGavin finally figured out that using the chair as a brace made for easier cutting.

Step 5: Boring Holes

Using the punch/reamer feature of the knife he slowly and carefully began boring the holes. Two for the blade screw and one for the paracord line to go into.

Step 6: Cutting the Spindle

Cutting a length of the chair back spindle to use as the tensioner toggle. It was cut to length so it was long enough to reach the stretcher.

Step 7: Assembly

The screws were reused from the chair seat to mount the blade ( MacGavin had no explanation on how that was obtained ).

The paracord was inserted into the hole in the rear leg and around the groove in the front leg, the two wraps were then tied together.

The toggle was inserted between the cords and wound around until the blade had enough tension to test. A few more windings and the blade was tight enough to attempt the rescue.

Step 8: The Rescue

MacGavin was able to easily cut through the log and rescue his overly concerned sister. She made a miraculous recovery!

Step 9: Conclusion

Thank you for looking, it was a fun project. Obviously we're going to enter it into the MacGyver Contest.


  • No Grandkids were intentionally hurt during the making of this instructable :)
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    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Fun Instructable, thanks for sharing!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    good win at the mcgyver contest! you deserved it!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    great built true to the mcguiver way of doing things

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, I had fun doing it with Grandkids


    1 year ago

    Great work, everyone, and an Emmy for the damsel in distress. Frankly, this is better than the McG reboot.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, she certainly not camera shy :)