Shoelaces are something we often take for granted. As long as they're present and not broken, frayed, or untied, we tend to forget they're even there. However, these strands of cordage can become invaluable in a survival situation, especially if they're replaced with strong 550 paracord. In addition to serving the many useful purposes of paracord, they can be converted into a shoelace saw.

Plastic zip ties or cable ties are commonly used as illegal restraints.

Plastic zip ties or cable ties are commonly used as illegal restraints.

The shoelace saw technique works as a friction saw, generating heat and cutting force by rapidly pulling the cord back and forth across a surface. Instead of using your hands to pull the shoelace back and forth, you use your feet in a “pedaling” motion. This is especially effective against plastic zip ties, which are often used by kidnappers and criminals to restrain their prisoners.

The video below from ITS Tactical shows the method applied to basic off-the-shelf hardware store zip ties:

In previous articles, we've shown how to break zip ties using a quick downward movement of your arms. However, this isn't always effective, depending on the thickness and strength of the ties. In some cases, you can also use a shim or thin metal implement to pry the locking tab open. When these two methods fail, the shoelace saw can be a lifesaver.

The following ITS Tactical video shows this technique applied to much stronger Mil-Spec Plastics Cobra Cuffs. Although it takes significantly more effort and time, the shoelace saw eventually breaks through the cuffs. Skip to the 6:30 mark to see the saw in action.

Obviously, the major drawback to these techniques is that they require your hands to be cuffed in front of your body. If they're behind your back, you'll want to try breaking them using a downward motion of the arms (click for a video demonstration). Otherwise, you can try bringing them around and under your feet, and start using one of the other methods mentioned in this article.


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