Aug 14, 1999
I'm considering the merits of a pocket chain saw OR a heavy (at least 3lbs.) khukri for chopping (no splitting) logs no bigger in diameter than your thigh. Lets also include a 27", 4.5 lb. single bit axe to the equation (since I own one).

a) Pocket chain saw

b) 3 lb.+ Khukri (long or stubbie)

c) 4.5 lb., 27" axe (general purpose, single bit chopper, old Craftsman).

SITUATION: Getting married soon and travelling in a camper for the honeymoon. Will be spending most of the time at scenic wilderness areas, campgrounds, and only a few of those days backpacking. MD,WV, Tenn, KY, maybe FL if we get a cold spell in Oct.

QUESTION: In my experience, some of the best fire wood is outside of a 50 yds approx. perimeter of many campsites. Its usually impossible or very difficult to drag back a small tree to the camp fire. I already know what the axe can do. Would there be any advantage of getting a pocket chain saw or a heavy khukri for chopping small logs?

QUESTION 2: Is the "Pocket Chain Saw" any different from a normal chain, other than that it cuts in both directions?

QUESTION 3: IF a Khukri, given the same weight, long or stubbie?

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18
The best tool I have found for this type of chore as for as weight to cutting ratio is concerned is a large Sierra saw made by Coughlan. It's the type with razor sharp teeth that cut on the pull stroke. It's very light weight, has a blade about 12" long. This saw will by far out perform the pocket chainsaw. It's also guaranteed for life, if you dull the blade they will send you another one for $5.00 I think.
Oh dont forget that in most places you are only allowed to gather "dead" wood.

Yea, Sierra saws are great. I wouldn't bother getting a knife for splitting wood. The axe could come in handy, though. It doesn't seem like space will be the hugest issue as long as you have all of your other equipment squared away. Congratulations!!!

Is the Sierra the foldable bow saw that is sold in camping supply catalogs? A three section unit that folds up w/the blade inside of the handle? And yes, I meant deadfall only, Lonnie. You're right, space and packability won't be too much of an issue. And thanks.
A pocket chainsaw will easily, and with little sweat expended, handle thigh sized wood. However there are better tools to use if you are not straying far from the car, such as a triangular saw. A khukuri in an established campsite area is really kind of overkill. I suppose it is more fun to use.

I wouldn't want to lug a three pound anything with any other gear if all it can really do well is chop. A pocket chainsaw is really good in off-trail and remote areas where you "might" have to start a survival fire. All in all, an MSR Dragonfly camp stove is lighter, cheaper, cleaner, easier to cook with, and more environmentally friendly than any campfire or the "usual suspects"--axes, hachets, khukuris--neccessary to make such fires.
I don't know what a Sierra saw is. But if you're talking about a forward curved saw that folds into the handle, that would be my choice as well.

A khukuri would be much heavier, and can do certain things better like prying, digging, cutting, self-defence, etc. But if you're looking for a pure wood cutter. The saw is designed for just that purpose.

Here's a thought:

Have the aforementioned saw fitted with a lock, and a plainedged blade folding out from the other side. Now that'll be an useful outdoors tool.
The Sierra saw I have has a black handle and a blade 12" long. It looks like a fixed blade knife, doesn't fold. You can get them from Camp Mor, camping stores, and sometimes found in Wal-Mart or other discount stores for around $20.00. They come with a sheath.


A downside of the pocket chainsaws is that it can be hard, not possible sometimes, to get the saw around a piece of wood, making it difficult to cut as advertised. They seem nice for the carry size but if it's not an issue, like it would be car camping, I'd be inclined to use a large bow/buck/pruning saw. For chopping and splitting the ax will be hard to beat, considering the combination of weight and handle length. Burn wood that is easy to gather or break or saw, and if you need more wood than that use an ax. The khukuri seems to be a good bet when one will only have a single large edged tool, for chopping, digging, slicing, fighting, etc.
I dug up my Campmor catalog. Almost needed a khukri or a shovel for that, but thats another forum. I found the Super Sierra Saw on pg 240. Same pg I found the SVEN
(Ren Hoeck's cousin), which I remember borrowing from a friend who I went camping with many yrs ago. Its kind of foggy, but I think it performed pretty well if memory serves me. Not as good as a real bow, but far better than a hatchet. The SVEN looks like it would cut faster than the sierra, because of the 21" as opposed to 12" blade. Longer blade stroke, but the close angle of the third section (ie. "bow") is very close to the blade, and as I remember, works good on small stuff, but not medium logs. They both weigh about the same.

I've got an old Peak I coleman fuel stove. You're right. It's far easier to cook on and that is what we w/be using for dinner.
Remember, Lawdog, this will be our HONEYMOON.
I realize that campfires:
a) Are a pain to find fuel for.
b) Are a pain to feed.
c) Will make us smell smokie. (not the Bear)
d) Will blow big holes in the ozone layer.
e) Will probably make Al Gore cry.

For some mystery which I may never know, snuggling up next to my sweetheart, wrapped in heavy coats around my Peak I just isn't the same. Peak I + Wife= No warm fuzzy feelings. Besides, she likes fireplaces, but I'm drawing the line at campfires and getting a good ole wood burning stove for the house. I suggested getting a campstove for under the mantle, but came to a compromise and decided on the woodburner w/a small window.
We guys go through a lot of trouble for our gals, but I guess they do for us too.

Thanks for the suggestions. Any more are welcome.

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18

[This message has been edited by EQUALIZER (edited 07 September 1999).]
Sorry Equalizer, I forgot about the romantic potential of fires there for a moment. Something like that can't help but make the whole evening a little closer to primal.

I would just like to add that my last camping trip with my wife (weekend before Labor Day) featured sleeping on a tarp and leaving our tent on my pack. We were way off-trail, guided by compass and topo to a meadow and small lake on some unnamed lesser mountain valley in the Cascades. Under some propped up "no-see-um" mesh in zipped together sleeping bags on a crisp night we got to do our share of warming up. No fire--just the whisper of the wind through the few trees that high up, a chorus of insects, and a canopy of stars to look at because there was no light pollution. It was a great night, but a cold morning. I was really glad that my MSR stove bolied water really fast, even at altitude.

I guess fires really are optional.

Now THAT sounds like a good time; fire or Not! Especially w/ a clear night and a full moon or a meteor shower. Who needs a fire! Sounds like you're a hard core backpacker, Law. I used to be and desperately want to get back to it. Although she's a country girl, I think I'm going to have to break her in slowly. That's one reason why we'll be at some camp grounds for this occasion.

While off the subject of blades for a moment,
if anyone knows of some pristine, awesome-nice, non-touristy places to camp/day hike let me know. Due to the colder, damper weather in October, I'd like to go no further north than SW Penn. (except for a short 2day run up to Niagra Falls). I'd like to stay w/ in a 10 hour drive, unless the weather turns and we decide to go to FL. I might post this at a later date, but one thing we don't like is boring flatland. Hills prefered.

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18
hello Equalizer and all -- lots of good info here. Since space ain't a factor, I ultimately agree w/those who say, "use what makes you feel good!" i.e., if you've been looking for an opportunity to use that khukuri or light saber, then...

But I also want to put a plug in for the Pocket Chainsaw. You can also see the thread (my 2 cents incl.) "Cut/Chop or Saw." I've used just about every saw out there (taught intro-type wilderness summer courses a few years back at UC Santa Cruz) and in my experience, the PC blows them all away -- faster, more energy-efficient, virtually nil likelihood of breaking or even dulling -- in a package that literally fits in your pocket, and for only $20. OK, so there are some things it can't do, etc. But that weight-to-gain ratio is pretty much unbeatable. For an independent test which pretty much squares w/my experience, check out the PC review at


Some other good info there, too.

Finally, just to reply to johno's comment re: size -- the PC has 27" of usable edge -- it'll effectively cut logs far too thick for other saws -- one of its *advantages*!

My 2 --

[This message has been edited by storyville (edited 07 September 1999).]

I appreciate the recommendation and the link.
It gives a good review of the two manual chain saws available. What you said about large logs seems to agree w/ my little bit of experience some 10? years ago w/ the SVEN. That bow saw was a great cutter, but even when turning the log, I couldn't go as deep as I'd like because the angle of the bow brought it too close to the blade, therefore limiting the range of the stroke as the depth proceded. From the car, a regular bow saw would probably work fine. On the trail, that pocket chain sounds like a better option. Anywhere, a large khukri would be much more fun to use, I think; but not to carry.

Any more opinions, or places to visit?
If you mean what I think you mean; the wire saws make good sentry silencing tools. You can carry them in your cover, but I would not like to deal with much wood with one.

On the pocket saw .... The size of the saw is fine but for use by one person it seems that one really needs to get the saw around what is being cut, which could be tedious and maybe not entirely safe when sawing above, and pretty hard if the log is on the ground and can't be moved. I agree though that for the size they can't be beat.

'equipped' is an excellent site. Sure is nice to see so many knowledgeable people in this forum.

I think you are thinking about the pocket WIRE saw, which is a different saw altogether. I believe that it works by abrasion rather than actually slicing/chipping slivers out of the wood. The pocket chain saw that we are talking about is more like the chain on a real motorized saw. It works alot better than the wire sentry silencer I think you are refering to.


The biggest hazard that I can see w/using the P.chain saw is placing the back in a compromising position. It looks like if the log is proped only a little off of the ground, one would have to bend over and pull up while pulling back n forth w/each arm. While I've never used one, it looks like an easy way to get a sore back. W/ proper form, like bending at the knees n keepiing th e back straight, stretching n warming up ahead of time, and lifting the log to a higher/easier to reach incline; this should take care of the back hazard. This is only conjecture, as I've not used one.

What do you think, Story? ?????

"But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment and buy one." Luke 22:36 & John 3:18

[This message has been edited by EQUALIZER (edited 08 September 1999).]
Equalizer :

IF a Khukri, given the same weight, long or stubbie?

Long. Even the thinner khukuris like the WWII and such are thick enough to prevent excess sticking. The really thick ones are so for strength mainly.

For general woodcutting I dislike axes a lot. While there is no arguing that an axe is better for felling wood (chainsaw speed with the right shaped axe), handling the downed wood is much easier with a decent knife (as its one handed) and gets easier as the wood gets smaller. The one handed operation also makes much more sense survial wise as it allows use even when injured to the point of an axe / some saws becoming useless.

Hi again,

I’m fairly new to the forum and am astounded by the amount of traffic that builds in less than 48 hrs. LOTS of good info and great sense of community, but a bit much to process at once!

The situations that Johno and Equalizer describe would indeed be difficult for a PCsaw and probably mess up your back. But remember, logs *that* big would be a pain for anything -- khukuri, axe, Busse Blair witch killer, whatever. Most likely, whether for building shelter or cutting up tinder/fuel, smaller logs or pieces of drywood will be lying around. (Or above: drywood caught in branches won’t absorb as much moisture as wood on the ground.)

Equalizer’s orig. stipulation was “no bigger than your thigh”: for that, I still believe the PCsaw would be the most efficient. But again, if you want to impress your gal (or yourself! -- been there, done that on both counts), cut down that Xmas tree w/the khukuri! Of course, if you KNOW you’ll be cutting 12”+ dia. wood, logging spotted owl habitats (j.k.
), etc., you might as well bring a real live chainsaw or bandsaw w/a lumberjack.

Esp on a honeymoon, no doubt there are better ways to pass the time

Ditto C Stamp’s comments re: knife’s versatility for downed wood. Of course, as we all know, no ONE tool -- not a PCsaw (not even a Mad Dog death blade) -- can do everything in every terrain, climate, etc. But the PCsaw is pretty nifty: very good w/in its “use parameters” (Cliff Stamp’s term?), light and small enough for my mother’s three-legged cat to carry, and about as safe and idiot-proof as tools get. I’m not much of a hunter (more the human equivalent of a deer), but my uncle and cousin also love it for clearing firing lanes. Not the best in every situation, but not bad to have on that list of Ultimate Survival Tools when it’s hailing bricks and you need to build a shelter in 30 secs. Again, all for $20.

... But then, I’m also part of that persecuted minority on this forum who prefer SMALL tools (e.g., 4.5” fixed blade, U-Dig It shovel) to big tactical ones, except when being tracked by a bear, Darth Vader, and Satan

My 2 pesos --
Glen :

[Pocket Chainsaw]

not bad to have on that list of Ultimate Survival Tools

One of the reasons I keep meaning to get one is that it can basically be carried anywhere due to its size and weight. I have made them out of broken chains and they work ok. However I didn't like it on small wood as it flexed too much nor on shorter wood as its difficult too handle because the saw is two handed. Does work well on medium thickness and medium length logs though. The actual ones for sale are supposed to be twice as good as they cut in both directions.

I'm also part of that persecuted minority on this forum who prefer SMALL tools

I generally go from one extreme to the other prefering something either really strong/general or really precise/specific. Small tools have the benefit of always being with you. I am never without my Micra, Photon and Calypso Jr, but I sometimes leave my Ang Khola and C-cell Mag-Lite at home.

I agree, Cliff -- lousy for small or short wood -- much better to use a knife as you noted before.

RE small tools: I can hardly recall ever needing more than the 5” knife I use outside “civilization”; anything requiring more than that, in my experience, can usually be done better w/a tool other than a big knife. Of course, I may well see things differently if I routinely wandered thru dense woods or tropics; and it sounds like you live a lot farther down the road from suburban pleasantville than I do!

There are, on the other hand, some small “survival” tools worth dumping, IMO:

1) magnesium block (shave it up at home and use it for magic tricks)

2) wire saws (OK, I still keep one -- but the only decent ones won’t roll up much smaller than a PCsaw anyway)

Others to add to the funeral pyre? (or maybe this should be reserved for *another* thread...?)