EDITORS NOTE: This is the same way Christian Bale’s character in Rescue Dawn made fire in the jungle after seeing NVA soldiers do it

While sitting around the house drinking a few San Miguel Beers with some friends I decided to play around with the Bamboo fire saw during my breaks in packing for our up coming survival training course.

We pilfered a 4′ length of dried bamboo from a construction site near the apartment while on our way home from a beer run.

Using our Bolo Knives and a Swiss army knife (saw) we split the Bamboo and Banged out a fire set in the style used by Hiroo Onoda (the Japanese ww2 hold out that hid in the Jungles of Luzon for 29 years).

After a bit of practicing and trial and error we succeeded in getting an ember and I was able to blow it into a flame. It was good training but seems to me to be a more difficult method to make fire then the Hand drill or Bow and Drill.

Below is a list of steps for making a Bamboo fire saw, if you have access to Bamboo give it a try and let me know how you like this method.


Bolo Knife or axe

Step 1. Select a thick, rugged piece of Dried bamboo. Split the bamboo down the middle with a knife. When you kneel on the ground, the length of bamboo should be tall enough to be wedged between your stomach and the ground.

Step 2. Cut a second piece of split bamboo that is slightly shorter than the first.

Step 3. Prepare a place to build the fire. Clear a spot on the ground or find a shallow, dry hole. Place dry leaves and dead wood in your spot.

Step 4. Hold the first piece of bamboo firmly against the ground with one edge wedged against your stomach. Cushion the edge of the bamboo with a rolled-up shirt or jacket.

Step 5. Saw up and down with the shorter piece of bamboo. Hold the shorter piece of bamboo horizontally over the vertical piece. Saw for several minutes until a well-defined groove is created.

Step 6. Scrape the back of the bamboo with your Bolo knife to create a tinder bundle (see photo). Put the tinder inside the piece you are using as a saw. Cut a bamboo shim the length of your hand piece. Hold the shim over your hand piece with a thumb on each end.

Step 7. Continue sawing until a hole burns through the shim. Blow gently into the bamboo to ignite the tinder. Light the leaves and dead wood with the ignited tinder.

Read All WILDERNESS SURVIVAL Articles | Read All Articles by Tom Tomahawk M.

~Tom “Tomahawk” M.
Correspondent – Wilderness Survival
Tom is a veteran of the Army Rangers and former International Civilian Contractor who has worked and lived in Africa and the Middle East. Tom is also a former wilderness instructor for several US and East Asian wilderness schools and has probably taken every wilderness survival course offered between 1980 and 2000. He spends his off times in Thailand Pubs telling drunken “I was there” story’s to impressed tourists

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2 thoughts on “WILDERNESS SURVIVAL: The Bamboo Fire Saw”

  1. Can you use green bamboo ofr this?

    ~James G

      (Quote This Comment)

  2. nope, like other friction fires the wood has to be dry.

      (Quote This Comment)

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