Archive for Tools

Rucksack Construction, FM 21-76

Posted in Clothing, Survival, Tools with tags , , , on November 23, 2007 by jamesshrugged


12-30. The materials for constructing a rucksack or pack are almost limitless. You can use wood, bamboo, rope, plant fiber, clothing, animal skins, canvas, and many other materials to make a pack.

12-31. There are several construction techniques for rucksacks. Many are very elaborate, but those that are simple and easy are often the most readily made in a survival situation.


12-32. This pack is simple to make and use and relatively comfortable to carry over one shoulder. Lay available square-shaped material, such as poncho, blanket, or canvas, flat on the ground. Lay items on one edge of the material. Pad the hard items. Roll the material (with the items) toward the opposite edge and tie both ends securely. Add extra ties along the length of the bundle. You can drape the pack over one shoulder with a line connecting the two ends (Figure 12-9).

Figure 12-9. Horseshoe Pack

Figure 12-9. Horseshoe Pack


12-33. This pack is easy to construct if rope or cordage is available. Otherwise, you must first make cordage. To make this pack, construct a square frame from bamboo, limbs, or sticks. Size will vary for each person and the amount of equipment carried (Figure 12-10).

Figure 12-10. Square Pack

Figure 12-10. Square Pack

Cordage and Lashing, FM 21-76

Posted in Survival, Tools with tags , , , on November 23, 2007 by jamesshrugged


12-25. Many materials are strong enough for use as cordage and lashing. A number of natural and man-made materials are available in a survival situation. For example, you can make a cotton web belt much more useful by unraveling it. You can then use the string for other purposes (fishing line, thread for sewing, and lashing).


12-26. Before making cordage, there are a few simple tests you can do to determine you material’s suitability. First, pull on a length of the material to test for strength. Next, twist it between your fingers and roll the fibers together. If it withstands this handling and does not snap apart, tie an overhand knot with the fibers and gently tighten. If the knot does not break, the material is usable. Figure 12-8 shows various methods of making cordage.

Figure 12-8. Making Lines From Plant Fibers

Figure 12-8. Making Lines From Plant Fibers


12-27. The best natural material for lashing small objects is sinew. You can make sinew from the tendons of large game, such as deer. Remove the tendons from the game and dry them completely. Smash the dried tendons so that they separate into fibers. Moisten the fibers and twist them into a continuous strand. If you need stronger lashing material, you can braid the strands. When you use sinew for small lashings, you do not need knots as the moistened sinew is sticky and it hardens when dry.

12-28. You can shred and braid plant fibers from the inner bark of some trees to make cord. You can use the linden, elm, hickory, white oak, mulberry, chestnut, and red and white cedar trees. After you make the cord, test it to be sure it is strong enough for your purpose. You can make these materials stronger by braiding several strands together.

12-29. You can use rawhide for larger lashing jobs. Make rawhide from the skins of medium or large game. After skinning the animal, remove any excess fat and any pieces of meat from the skin. Dry the skin completely. You do not need to stretch it as long as there are no folds to trap moisture. You do not have to remove the hair from the skin. Cut the skin while it is dry. Make cuts about 6 millimeters (1/4 inch) wide. Start from the center of the hide and make one continuous circular cut, working clockwise to the hide’s outer edge. Soak the rawhide for 2 to 4 hours or until it is soft. Use it wet, stretching it as much as possible while applying it. It will be strong and durable when it dries.

Field-Expedient Weapons, Tools, and Equipment, FM 21-76

Posted in Bladed Weapons, Clothing, Cooking, Fire, Fishing, Food, Hunting, Improvised Weapons, Survival, Tools with tags , , , on November 23, 2007 by jamesshrugged

Field-Expedient Weapons, Tools, and Equipment

As a soldier, you know the importance of proper care and use of your weapons, tools, and equipment. This is especially true of your knife. You must always keep it sharp and ready to use. A knife is your most valuable tool in a survival situation. Imagine being in a survival situation without any weapons, tools, or equipment except your knife. It could happen! You might even be without a knife. You would probably feel helpless, but with the proper knowledge and skills, you can easily improvise needed items.

In survival situations, you may have to fashion any number and type of field-expedient tools and equipment to survive. The need for an item must outweigh the work involved in making it. You should ask, “Is it necessary or just nice to have?” Remember that undue haste makes waste. Examples of tools and equipment that could make your life much easier are ropes (Appendix G), rucksacks, clothes, and nets.

Weapons serve a dual purpose. You use them to obtain and prepare food and to provide self-defense. A weapon can also give you a feeling of security and provide you with the ability to hunt on the move.


12-1. A staff should be one of the first tools you obtain. For walking, it provides support and helps in ascending and descending steep slopes. It provides some weapon’s capabilities if used properly, especially against snakes and dogs. It should be approximately the same height as you or at least eyebrow height. The staff should be no larger than you can effectively wield when tired and undernourished. It provides invaluable eye protection when you are moving through heavy brush and thorns in darkness.


12-2. You hold clubs; you do not throw them. However, the club can extend your area of defense beyond your fingertips. It also serves to increase the force of a blow without injuring yourself. The three basic types of clubs are explained below.


12-3. A simple club is a staff or branch. It must be short enough for you to swing easily, but long enough and strong enough for you to damage whatever you hit. Its diameter should fit comfortably in your palm, but it should not be so thin as to allow the club to break easily upon impact. A straight-grained hardwood is best if you can find it.


12-4. A weighted club is any simple club with a weight on one end. The weight may be a natural weight, such as a knot on the wood, or something added, such as a stone lashed to the club.

12-5. To make a weighted club, first find a stone that has a shape that will allow you to lash it securely to the club. A stone with a slight hourglass shape works well. If you cannot find a suitably shaped stone, then fashion a groove or channel into the stone by “pecking,” repeatedly rapping the club stone with a smaller hard stone.

12-6. Next, find a piece of wood that is the right length for you. A straight-grained hardwood is best. The length of the wood should feel comfortable in relation to the weight of the stone. Finally, lash the stone to the handle using a technique shown in Figure 12-1. The technique you use will depend on the type of handle you choose.

Figure 12-1. Lashing Clubs

Figure 12-1. Lashing Clubs


12-7. A sling club is another type of weighted club. A weight hangs 8 to 10 centimeters (3 to 4 inches) from the handle by a strong, flexible lashing (Figure 12-2). This type of club both extends the user’s reach and multiplies the force of the blow.

Figure 12-2. Sling Club

Figure 12-2. Sling Club


12-8. Knives, spear blades, and arrow points fall under the category of edged weapons. The following paragraphs explain how to make such weapons.


12-9. A knife has three basic functions. It can puncture, slash or chop, and cut. A knife is also an invaluable tool used to construct other survival items. You may find yourself without a knife or you may need another type knife or a spear. To improvise you can use stone, bone, wood, or metal to make a knife or spear blade.


12-10. To make a stone knife, you will need a sharp-edged piece of stone, a chipping tool, and a flaking tool. A chipping tool is a light, blunt-edged tool used to break off small pieces of stone. A flaking tool is a pointed tool used to break off thin, flattened pieces of stone. You can make a chipping tool from wood, bone, or metal, and a flaking tool from bone, antler tines, or soft iron (Figure 12-3).

Figure 12-3. Making a Stone Knife

Figure 12-3. Making a Stone Knife

12-11. Start making the knife by roughing out the desired shape on your sharp piece of stone, using the chipping tool. Try to make the knife fairly thin. Then, press the flaking tool against the edges. This action will cause flakes to come off the opposite side of the edge, leaving a razor-sharp edge. Use the flaking tool along the entire length of the edge you need to sharpen. Eventually, you will have a very, sharp cutting edge that you can use as a knife.

12-12. Lash the blade to some type of hilt (Figure 12-3).

NOTE: Stone will make an excellent puncturing tool and a good chopping tool but will not hold a fine edge. Some stones such as chert or flint can have very fine edges.


12-13. You can also use bone as an effective field-expedient edged weapon. First, you will need to select a suitable bone. The larger bones, such as the leg bone of a deer or another medium-sized animal, are best. Lay the bone upon another hard object. Shatter the bone by hitting it with a heavy object, such as a rock. From the pieces, select a suitable pointed splinter. You can further shape and sharpen this splinter by rubbing it on a rough-surfaced rock. If the piece is too small to handle, you can still use it by adding a handle to it. Select a suitable piece of hardwood for a handle and lash the bone splinter securely to it.

NOTE: Use the bone knife only to puncture. It will not hold an edge and it may flake or break if used differently.


12-14. You can make field-expedient edged weapons from wood. Use these only to puncture. Bamboo is the only wood that will hold a suitable edge. To make a knife from wood, first select a straight-grained piece of hardwood that is about 30 centimeters (12 inches) long and 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) in diameter. Fashion the blade about 15 centimeters (6 inches) long. Shave it down to a point. Use only the straight-grained portions of the wood. Do not use the core or pith, as it would make a weak point.

12-15. Harden the point by a process known as fire hardening. If a fire is possible, dry the blade portion over the fire slowly until lightly charred. The drier the wood, the harder the point. After lightly charring the blade portion, sharpen it on a coarse stone. If using bamboo and after fashioning the blade, remove any other wood to make the blade thinner from the inside portion of the bamboo. Removal is done this way because bamboo’s hardest part is its outer layer. Keep as much of this layer as possible to ensure the hardest blade possible. When charring bamboo over a fire, char only the inside wood; do not char the outside.


12-16. Metal is the best material to make field-expedient edged weapons. Metal, when properly designed, can fulfill a knife’s three uses—puncture, slice or chop, and cut. First, select a suitable piece of metal, one that most resembles the desired end product. Depending on the size and original shape, you can obtain a point and cutting edge by rubbing the metal on a rough-surfaced stone. If the metal is soft enough, you can hammer out one edge while the metal is cold. Use a suitable flat, hard surface as an anvil and a smaller, harder object of stone or metal as a hammer to hammer out the edge. Make a knife handle from wood, bone, or other material that will protect your hand.

Other Materials

12-17. You can use other materials to produce edged weapons. Glass is a good alternative to an edged weapon or tool, if no other material is available. Obtain a suitable piece in the same manner as described for bone. Glass has a natural edge but is less durable for heavy work. You can also sharpen plastic—if it is thick enough or hard enough—into a durable point for puncturing.


12-18. To make spears, use the same procedures to make the blade that you used to make a knife blade. Then select a shaft (a straight sapling) 1.2 to 1.5 meters (4 to 5 feet) long. The length should allow you to handle the spear easily and effectively. Attach the spear blade to the shaft using lashing. The preferred method is to split the handle, insert the blade, then wrap or lash it tightly. You can use other materials without adding a blade. Select a 1.2- to 1.5-meter (4- to 5-foot) long straight hardwood shaft and shave one end to a point. If possible, fire-harden the point. Bamboo also makes an excellent spear. Select a piece 1.2 to 1.5 meters (4 to 5 feet) long. Starting 8 to 10 centimeters (3 to 4 inches) back from the end used as the point, shave down the end at a 45-degree angle (Figure 12-4). Remember, to sharpen the edges, shave only the inner portion.

Figure 12-4. Bamboo Spear

Figure 12-4. Bamboo Spear


12-19. To make an arrow point, use the same procedures for making a stone knife blade. Chert, flint, and shell-type stones are best for arrow points. You can fashion bone like stone—by flaking. You can make an efficient arrow point using broken glass.


12-20. You can make other field-expedient weapons such as the throwing stick, archery equipment, and the bola. The following paragraphs explain how to make these.


12-21. The throwing stick, commonly known as the rabbit stick, is very effective against small game (squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits). The rabbit stick itself is a blunt stick, naturally curved at about a 45-degree angle. Select a stick with the desired angle from heavy hardwood such as oak. Shave off two opposite sides so that the stick is flat like a boomerang (Figure 12-5). You must practice the throwing technique for accuracy and speed. First, align the target by extending the nonthrowing arm in line with the mid- to lower-section of the target. Slowly and repeatedly raise the throwing arm up and back until the throwing stick crosses the back at about a 45-degree angle or is in line with the nonthrowing hip. Bring the throwing arm forward until it is just slightly above and parallel to the nonthrowing arm. This will be the throwing stick’s release point. Practice slowly and repeatedly to attain accuracy.

Figure 12-5. Rabbit Stick

Figure 12-5. Rabbit Stick


12-22. You can make a bow and arrow (Figure 12-6) from materials available in your survival area. To make a bow, use the procedure described in paragraphs 8-53 through 8-56 in Chapter 8.

Figure 12-6. Archery Equipment

Figure 12-6. Archery Equipment

12-23. While it may be relatively simple to make a bow and arrow, it is not easy to use one. You must practice using it a long time to be reasonably sure that you will hit your target. Also, a field-expedient bow will not last very long before you have to make a new one. For the time and effort involved, you may well decide to use another type of field-expedient weapon.


12-24. The bola is another field-expedient weapon that is easy to make (Figure 12-7). It is especially effective for capturing running game or low-flying fowl in a flock. To use the bola, hold it by the center knot and twirl it above your head. Release the knot so that the bola flies toward your target. When you release the bola, the weighted cords will separate. These cords will wrap around and immobilize the fowl or animal that you hit.

Figure 12-7. Bola

Figure 12-7. Bola

Survival Kit FM 21-76

Posted in Survival, Tools with tags , on November 22, 2007 by jamesshrugged


3-5. The environment is the key to the types of items you will need in your survival kit. How much equipment you put in your kit depends on how you will carry the kit. A kit carried on your body will have to be smaller than one carried in a vehicle. Always layer your survival kit—body, load-bearing vest or equipment, and platform (rucksack, vehicle, or aircraft). Keep the most important items on your body. For example, your map and compass should always be on your body, as should your basic life-sustaining items (knife, lighter). Carry less important items on your LBE. Place bulky items in the rucksack.

3-6. In preparing your survival kit, select items that are multipurpose, compact, lightweight, durable, and most importantly, functional. An item is not good if it looks great but doesn’t do what it was designed for. Items should complement each other from layer to layer. A signal mirror in your pocket can be backed up by pen flares in your LBE and a signal panel in your rucksack. A lighter in your uniform can be augmented by a magnesium bar in your LBE and additional dry tinder in your rucksack.

3-7. Your survival kit need not be elaborate. You need only functional items that will meet your needs and a case to hold the items. For the case, you might want to use a bandage box, soap dish, tobacco tin, first-aid case, ammunition pouch, or another suitable case. This case should be—

  • Water-repellent or waterproof.
  • Easy to carry or attach to your body.
  • Suitable to accept various-sized components.
  • Durable.

3-8. Your survival kit should be broken down into the following categories:

  • Water.
  • Fire.
  • Shelter.
  • Food.
  • Medical.
  • Signal.
  • Miscellaneous.

3-9. Each category should contain items that allow you to sustain your basic needs. For example, water—you should have items that allow you to scoop up, draw up, soak up, or suck up water; something to gather rainwater, condensation, or perspiration; something to transport water; and something to purify or filter water. Some examples of each category are as follows:

  • Water—purification tablets, non-lubricated condoms for carrying water, bleach, povidone-iodine drops, cravats, sponges, small plastic or rubber tubing, collapsible canteens or water bags.
  • Fire—lighter, metal match, waterproof matches, magnesium bar, candle, magnifying lens.
  • Shelter—550 parachute cord, large knife, machete or hatchet, poncho, space blanket, hammock, mosquito net, wire saw.
  • Food—knife, snare wire, fishhooks, fish and snare line, bouillon cubes or soup packets, high-energy food bars, granola bars, gill or yeti net, aluminum foil, freezer bags.
  • Medical—oxytetracycline tablets (to treat diarrhea or infection), surgical blades or surgical preparation knife, butterfly sutures, lip balm, safety pins, sutures, antidiarrheal medication (imodium), antimalarial medication (doxycycline), broad-spectrum antibiotics (rocephin and zithromax) and broad spectrum topical ophthalmic (eye) antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen), petrolatum gauze, and soap. Medical items may make up approximately 50 percent of your survival kit.
  • Signal—signaling mirror, strobe, pen flares, whistle, U.S. flag, pilot scarf or other bright orange silk scarf, glint tape, flashlight, laser pointer, solar blanket.
  • Miscellaneous—wrist compass, needle and thread, money, extra eyeglasses, knife sharpener, cork, camouflage stick, and survival manual.

3-10. Include a weapon only if the situation so dictates. Ambassadors and theater commanders may prohibit weapons even in extreme circumstances. Read and practice the survival techniques in this manual and apply these basic concepts to those you read about in other civilian publications. Consider your mission and the environment in which you will operate. Then prepare your survival kit with items that are durable, multipurpose, and lightweight. Imagination may be the largest part of your kit. It can replace many of the items in a kit. Combined with the will to live, it can mean the difference between surviving to return home with honor or not returning at all.

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