Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, You Are A Training Opportunity

There are several underlying points to this post, including the obvious story/review held within. These points are:

  • Always test your equipment – as close as you can to real-world environments.
  • You can turn any task into a training opportunity.
  • Spend some time thinking before you jump right into a task.
  • All the fancy gear in the world is great – but the right tool for the job is better.

My wife wanted a Christmas tree for the holidays – no big deal, it’s the babies first Xmas, I like keeping her happy, so no reason to say no. We go and pick out a suitable tree from a local lot, throw it on my Jeep’s roof rack, and tie it down with some rubber straps I have in my truck. (My wife had to concede that my prepper lifestyle, in this instance, actually had a real-world advantage.)

When we get home, I know that I have to cut off an inch or so from the base of the tree (allowing it to “breath” – or so they say). I could just go get my chainsaw, or even my folding saw from my BOB – but that is waaaaaaay to easy! I decide I want to try out a “commando, survival, super ninja” saw I had lying around.

I’m sure many of you have one, or a version of one. In truth, I have never used it, and wanted to see how well it functioned. I took the saw out of the packaging, gripped both loops, and went to work.

Getting through the bark was surprisingly easy. I got through the first inch or so in about 1-2 minutes, then things started getting difficult. If you bent the saw in any way, it would bind up, if you did not put enough pressure, you would not cut, if you put too much pressure, you could slip and punch the bricks underneath the tree (my knuckles are now an example of this.)

As I got down further, it got harder and harder, without much visible headway. After about 20 minutes, I am sweating (yes, from using a saw) and taking breaks in-between muscle failure of sawing (I don’t give up easily.) At this point, I step back and assess the situation, and figure, for whatever reason, that taking the wood-base off would help. Then I think I am the stupidest person on the planet. In my zeal to test the saw, I didn’t realize that there are 5 nails holding on the wooden base – right in the path of my saw.

I take a hammer, then remove the nails and base (one of them was almost cut through from my sawing attempts, and sheers off.) I use the saw to cut off two of the small lower branches (which it does with ease.) and get back to the trunk. After 5 more minutes, and halfway through the base, the saw snaps. I cannot say if this was caused by weakening it on the nail, or what, but that’s what happened.

At this point, I’m kinda mad at the tree. Grabbing my special forces shovel (yes, a SF shovel – they sell anything these days) I hack off the remaining bottom limbs, and then chainsaw off the rest of the bottom.


  • For the weight the “commando” saw is cool – just realize it’s limitations.
  • The Spec-ops shovel is great, it has a sharpened edge that bade short work of the limbs.
  • Thinking beats acting, but training trumps all.
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4 Responses to Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, You Are A Training Opportunity

  1. The light wire saws are a neat accessory to have in your kit as they weigh next to nothing and do not take up much space. I keep several of the cheap ones in kits as back ups. They also make good snares for small game, and trip lines for perimeter flares in a pinch. I prefer the heavier saws that have a length of chain saw chain than the pure wire saws for any serious cutting. One of the more interesting uses I have seen was in an episode of CSI: Miami where a murderer used a wire saw to dismember a corpse. A wire saw might be handy for cutting up large game animals.

  2. Re: “A wire saw might be handy for cutting up large game animals.”

    If this would work, it’s a great idea… Time to test…

  3. DonB. says:

    I had essentially the same experience with one of those “wire / survival” saws in the past.
    I now pack one of the coleman folding camp saw or “sierra” saw as they’re also known. I’ve put it to use a LOT. It will go through a small tree like a hot knife through butter and it’s extremely light. Not bad for $10 buckaroos at the local major-mart. Packs well, too. It’s worth the money to try it out and test it for your purposes. I really like mine, bought the father-in-law one for his kit as well.

  4. Mike S says:

    While there are some items at Harbor Freight that are worth purchasing the majority of it is absolute junk. Very little there that a person should trust their life to. The Cohglans brand of outdoor gear is the same way, only worse. Extremely cheap materials, very poor fit and finish. They are a company that excels in making stuff that either breaks, or won’t do the job. NEVER trust your life (or even your comfort) to a Cohglan’s product. I have years of experience living and traveling in the outdoors, from backpacking to mountaineering, including two years spent in the bush in central Alaska hunting and trapping. I have never seen an item from Cohglans stand up to even mild use. Buy QUALITY and save yourself money and frustration…

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