I've picked up a hand chainsaw for the woods as it's cheap and an amazing bit of kit.

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UK law states the legal carry for a knife is less than 3 inches and must be a non-locking folding blade.

Will I be able to take my saw out on public land? I don't believe it meets the definitions of an illegal blade but would appreciate some advice from those who know more - I assume it would still be illegal on an everyday carry but if I have a valid reason (going into the woods to cut dead wood) I should be ok.

  • 3
    Although I don't know specifically if a chainsaw falls under those kind of laws, it's normally that you're not allowed to carry those items without a good reason. Eg. It's allowed to carry a long fixed-blade knife if you're a chef on your way to work. What I'm wondering is if it's allowed for you to actually use the saw on pubic land.
    – Niall
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 17:41
  • 2
    @Niall It's perfectly legal to cut dead wood in the UK, lots of people still do it for fire wood
    – Nic
    Commented Jun 30, 2016 at 22:09
  • What do you mean by "UK" law? Would that be Scots Law, or English Law? Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:14
  • @Niall, I'd avoid using it on pubic land, for obvious reasons! ;-) It should be legal to use anywhere that you have a right to collect wood (which isn't generally the case on public-accessible land, unless you're a commoner or similar rightsholder), or if you're using it on your own wood that you've taken with you. Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 16:31

3 Answers 3


This isn't a knife, it's a saw. So the knife laws don't apply. Anyone can carry a saw (Woodmen, carpenters, etc.). So yes, there should be no problem with carrying a saw in open land.

You state:

UK law states the legal carry for a knife is less than 3 inches and must be a non-locking folding blade.

that's incorrect though, the UK law states:

The laws about buying and carrying a knife depend on the type of knife, your age and your circumstances.

Basic laws on knives

It is illegal to:

  • sell a knife to anyone under 18 (16 to 18 year olds in Scotland can buy cutlery and kitchen knives) unless it’s a knife with a folding
    blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less, eg a Swiss Army knife
  • carry a knife in public without good reason - unless it’s a knife with a folding blade 3 inches long (7.62 cm) or less
  • carry, buy or sell any type of banned knife
  • use any knife in a threatening way (even a legal knife, such as a Swiss Army knife)

Lock knives (knives with blades that can be locked when unfolded) are not folding knives, and are illegal to carry in public without good reason.



  1. As stated, I don't believe this would be classed as a knife
  2. It's certainly not on the banned list
  3. You have a good reason (going into the woods to cut dead wood) so even if you were pulled over (and they decided your very unknife looking item) was a knife it shouldn't be a problem.

There is a chance that in the wrong context this could be classed as an offensive weapon (for example, if you're in an inner london housing estate hanging out with a gang with this concealed in a bag then the police may well think that you're up to no good). If you're in a rural area on your way to the woods carrying a saw then no police constable in his right mind would class this as an offensive weapon and even if they did I would like to see them make that stand up in court.

  • 1
    I'm fairly sure this is wrong, do you have a reference for this. I think Niall's comment is correct that you have to have a good reason for carrying it.
    – nivag
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 11:33
  • 1
    updated @nivag with sources
    – user2766
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 12:20

Completely depends on the situation. If you have a reason to be carrying it you won't have a problem. If you're going down to the local Co-op with it handing out your back pocket then you might be pulled up.

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    This is actually the case. Whether something is a weapon or not depends on the situation. If you are carrying a chef's knife, or a baseball bat, in a situation where it is not reasonable to be carrying it for its intended purpose it can be considered a weapon. Commented Oct 24, 2019 at 18:51

There is nothing to stop you carrying the tools of your trade in a public place (provided you aren’t arsing around).

  • 1
    I don't believe this is being asked from a 'workplace' point of view, where yes, a tree surgeon will be expected to have a chainsaw. It is borderline for 'sport' and like most items carried for these reasons, would be up to the officer to decide the outcome.
    – Aravona
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 11:16

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