Most of us try our best to be prepared, whether it is a bug out bag, emergency supplies stashed away or always having basic survival gear in our vehicles just in case. Life happens and often fast, however, and it can be difficult to know what circumstances will come your way. What happens if, despite all your careful planning, you find yourself stranded without your bug out bag or survival kit? With a little ingenuity and a bit of time, you can make yourself some DIY tools to use when stranded to help you survive until help arrives or you can seek it out.

Rocks into Tools

One of the most ancient or bushcraft survival skills is turning rocks into spear points or arrowheads into knives, an essential survival tool. Many rocks can be broken to create near razor-sharp flakes. Flint, chert, jasper, chalcedony, quartz, and obsidian are just a few types that can create these sharp edges. There are two means of creating a stone knife: direct percussion or bi-polar percussion. Bi-polar percussion has a better success rate, so we'll focus on this.

With bi-polar percussion, set the rock you want to break onto a much larger stone that acts as an anvil. Stand the rock you are about to break on its tallest axis. This will allow the shock waves from the strike of another stone, the hammer stone, to move through the rock on the most efficient path. Make sure the hammer rock is roughly 4-5 times larger than the rock you're going to break. If lucky, you should be able to fracture a few excellently thin, wicked sharp stone blades with the first few strikes.


Without a match, a lighter, flint, and steel, or even a magnifying glass or mirror? To keep yourself warm and dry, two very important things, you will need a fire. The most archaic and traditional means to start one is using friction. Make a V-shaped notch in any dry log or board, choose a good round stick to act as a spindle. Hold the spindle between your palms and begin to rub the spindle between your hands as fast as you can while moving them up and down the spindle rapidly. It is a lot of work at first, but once the log begins to smoke, with a few bunches of very dry grass or bark as a tinder it will catch the glowing spark you've produced to become a flame.

Easy Rope

Creating a lean-to or shelter or trying to tie anything without a rope is near impossible. Yet, if you find yourself stranded in an area with abundant weeping willows you may be in luck. It is possible to create a robust and sturdy rope from willow tree branches.

  • Cut the longest willow tree branches you can see. Skin the branches with your rock-knife. You want to use the soft layer of the branch that is deeper than the bark of the wood, then strip them to form long ribbons.
  • Take a piece of willow ribbon and tie it with a knot at the end. Now twist the skin to create a powerful thread. Use another piece and wrap it on top of the first string. Repeat with a third. Make a few of these mini strings. Once you have three, braid them together to make a strong and sturdy rope.
  • If no willow tree is available, braiding long grasses together will work just as well.

Collect Rainwater with Natural Containers

Rainwater will be your purest form of water available in the wild and you can collect it to drink it without boiling or filtering.

  • Rainwater is often collected on top of large leaves. Find a tree or plant with large leaves, no doubt after the rain there will be water pooled on them.
  • Tallgrass often collects water droplets. Carefully cut the grass to wring it out and collect enough water to quench your thirst.

With no canteen or no pot, a natural container for water could be as easy as using birch bark and some of the natural rope you made by hand. While other bark types can be used, birch is the easiest to create a container with and waterproof. Find a piece large enough to make a container and use your stone knife to peel it off and shape it. Use the rope you made for it to hold its shape.

Collecting River or Lake Water

  • Without water tablets to clean your water, you'll need to boil it. Since you no doubt won't have a pot or pan, you'll want to find a large piece of hardwood and set to carving an indent inside it. Make double sure the wood is green. Using some rocks, set them directly in the fire until hot, then drop them one by one in the wooden container to boil the water.
  • If you find your river or lake water still smells and tastes awful after being boiled, add some of the charcoal from your fire to the water while boiling. Charcoal is an excellent absorbent that can help rid of impurities, foul smell, and taste as well as clarify the color.


You have a stone knife, have made your rope, have started a fire and now you can clean and boil or collect water. But you still need the last, most essential item. Food.

One of the most basic and easiest traps for food to trap mice, rats, frogs, lizards, snakes, or crabs is called a deep hole trap. Simply dig a hole 12-18 inches deep with a wide base and narrow mouth. Of course, some animals will be able to jump or dig their way out of the hole. So this may not be as effective, but it is the easiest to build.

With these tips in mind, you will have a small array of DIY tools to use when stranded that should help you survive if possible until help can arrive.

TDM Developer