Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws

It's winter and that means cold and ice but that doesn't mean being trapped inside....many people get outdoors with activities such as pond hockey, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, photography and more. All of these activities may have you crossing questionably safe frozen waters

Every year dozens of people die after falling through thin ice. Experts calculate that over half of "through the ice" deaths would be avoided if everyone had Ice Claws.

Ice Claws, also known as ice safety picks, ice picks, ice awls, bear claws, and ice gripers are sharp-ended handles that can be used to help pull oneself up out of icy water. Typically victims struggle to get out due to the cold, extra weight of water soaked clothes, and nothing to grab onto other than slippery ice. Ice Claws have been proven to greatly ease the situation.

Here's a recent report from NBC TV that explains the danger and how to use Ice Claws to get out of the icy water

Ice Claws are not very expensive, a pair can be had for less than $10. But with a little research I found it's very easy to make a set out of reclaimed and common materials for little or no money. I made my first pair in under 30 minutes with simple hand tools. I think this would make a great Scout program project or stocking stuffer for the outdoors-person on your list.

Let's get started!

Step 1: Parts and Tools Needed

Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws

Parts Needed

  • Old broom, shovel handle or wooden dowel - make sure the material you use floats
  • 2 Nails - 10 - 16 penny nails
  • Para-cord or nylon cord - approx 5 ft

    Tools Needed

  • Tape measure
  • Wood saw
  • Vise or clamps to hold during sawing.
  • Sandpaper or wood file
  • Drill
  • Drill bits (I ended up using 7/64 as pilot hole, 9/64 as nail receiver hole, and 7/32 for the cord hole)
  • Hammer
  • Hacksaw
  • Metal File
  • Knife or Scissors to cut cord
  • Lighter to keep the cord from fraying.

    Step 2: Make Two Ice Claw Handles with Spikes

    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
  • Measure the wood into 4 or 5 inch lengths. I only had hand tools available this weekend but I tried both a vise and a miter box to help make the cuts straighter. Both worked well, but a tablesaw or radial arm saw would have been nice. Be careful as you reach the end of the cut not to splinter the wood.
  • Smooth out the ends of the wood pieces. It's best to put a slight bevel on the edges to avoid splintering.
  • Drill two holes in the end of each handle. One should be a pilot hole, a bit smaller than your nail, the other should be big enough to be receive the spike from the opposite handle. (Note in the picture how the two spikes are offset and not centered on the ends of the handles). Drill deep enough so at least 1/3 of the nail goes into the wood. It's easier to drill both holes before putting the nail in it's hole.
  • Pound a nail into each of the handles
  • Use a hack saw to cut off the end of the nail. Be careful here, you'll find the nail gets pretty hot during this process.
  • Finally, use a file to sharpen the broken off nails. These don't have to be razor sharp.

    Step 3: Finish Your Ice Claws

    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws
    Make A Set of Life Saving Ice Claws

    Now that you have two equal handles that mate into each other, you'll want to do a little finish work

  • Drill a hole in each end of the Ice Claw, big enough to hold your safety cord.
  • If you are using nylon cord, it's best to melt the ends slightly with a lighter to avoid fraying. Be careful, melted nylon can hurt!
  • Thread the cord through each end and tie a simple knot

    Congratulations! Your new Ice Safety Claws are finished. I hope you never need to use them.

    Whenever you are on the ice these should be on your person. Some folks wear them around their necks, some carry them in a convenient jacket pocket. and some thread them through their sleeves (if you do this you'll want to put cork on the sharp ends).

    Thanks for checking out my Instructable! Good Luck on all your projects.


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