The looming threat of a nuclear attack launched by North Korea has brought about a resurgence in Cold War era anxieties about survival in a post-infrastructure America. If such an attack were to take place, it may not mean the end of the world, persay, but it could certainly mean the end of yours, and in the days, weeks, or months that followed a nuclear or EMP strike, there’s a chance help wouldn’t be on it’s way.

When you mention such a apocalyptic scenario to many people, the first thing they want to regale you with is a list of their firearms, ammunition stores, and food and water supply. That stuff all matters, and while I too maintain a laundry list of those sorts of things, many tend to forget about what I consider to be among the most important survival tools a man or woman could ever have: a good quality knife.

As I’ve written about before, knives serve a number of purposes in a survival setting. Whether you’re building a fire, preparing a meal, or fighting for your life, having a knife in your hand could mean the difference between today being an easy day, and today being your last one. Even after years of training in knife fighting techniques, armed, and disarmed defenses – I’m arguably more afraid of a skilled combatant with a knife in his hand than I am of the same man armed with a pistol in close quarters. If I can get a grip on that pistol, I’ll probably get out of a fight alive. Try the same thing with a knife, and I may lose a few fingers before he leaves me in a pile on the ground.

The most valuable part of carrying a knife, however, is that you don’t need to have trained to use one outside of the kitchen to be effective. Knives are simple, they don’t jam, they require very little maintenance, and as long as you remember which end is pointy, you’re dangerous when carrying one. For those of you who live in states that are not particularly firearm friendly, or if you’d just prefer to keep your home boom-stick free, knives offer you a legal, inexpensive and relatively safe means of defense to keep inside your home or go bag.

But what if the worst were to happen… and you find yourself without your trusty knife? Is it possible to make a passable survival knife without a forge, power tools, or even electricity?

That’s exactly what I wanted to find out.

Last year, I posted a series of videos depicting all the ways in which I wouldn’t be able to make my own knife. These guys made some incredible pieces of cutlery, but each of the projects were just too far outside my skill set, my budget, and the equipment I have available to me. If making a survival knife is something that’s possible for the layman, it means it’s got to be cheap, simple, and effective using only the sort of things you could easily scrounge up after a disaster.

With that in mind, I swore off of using the internet for guidance and headed into my garage to find whatever I could and see if I could make a passable knife out of it.