Clive Robinson October 24, 2012 7:05 AM

@ Darryl,

He missed one: in any large office you can usually find bio-weapons in the refrigerator

Scott Adams creator of Dilbert has written several books. In one he points out a couple of things,

1, Co-worker should be pronounced Cow Orker.
2, Diseases should be taken to work not kept in issolation at home for two good reasons,

2a, It makes you look like you are a commited worker (or should be 😉
2b, It’s the only opportunity in normal life to use one of the WMD triad on those people you hate the most those Cow Orkers.

Scott also pointed out that PC’s could be used for psychological warfare with Wallies “100 and 1 Annoying Noises Screen Saver”.

And if that worked and they jumped from a suitably high point make sure you are in a position to rush forward to catch them but not quite so you look like a hero without hurting yourself, plus it gives you the best oportunity to scavenge any of their pocket change that got freed up on impact.

Roxanne October 24, 2012 7:19 AM

The pencil shooter is too technical. Just go with rubber bands as a sling shot. The hole punch would make a good base for it. Fire paper clips or any heavy, small object. Often floral arrangements come with glass balls in the vase; those would make excellent bullets.

Anyone who has had a toddler knows there is no object which cannot be weaponized, either as offense or defense.

lu October 24, 2012 7:24 AM

it reminds me of very similar prison part-time activity..

And this makes me see the office environment in completely different light..

I need to change the job 🙂

Adam October 24, 2012 7:38 AM

Slightly offtopic but every time I get on an airline I look around and wonder what weapons I could improvise. The obvious choice would be those safety belts which are only loosely secured and have a nice heavy buckle on them. I wonder how a hijacker would do if people came swinging at him with those.

Ross Patterson October 24, 2012 8:06 AM

Meh. I work in software, so there’s always plenty of Nerf weapons and the occasional trebuchet, plus a few folks with pistols in their vehicles. 🙂

Captain Obvious October 24, 2012 8:13 AM

“I wonder how a stewardess would do if hijacker came swinging at her with those.”


You could also inflate your life vest if available for use as body armor and I think a torn coke can would make a much better weapon than most of the blades that TSA is looking for.

The amount of weapons that can be found in the immediate vicinity is only limited by the amount of time one has to think about it. TSA lines and ever increasing tarmac delays provide plenty of such opportunities.

TS October 24, 2012 8:45 AM

Just watch out for the Crimson Permanent Assurance Company. I keep a ceiling fan and a filing cabinet handy just in case.

Ben October 24, 2012 9:00 AM

I’m sort of doubtful as to whether these would work. Seems to me you’re not going to keep a hole punch secured to a ruler with a couple of rubber bands like that.

Fred P October 24, 2012 9:14 AM

These are really bad improvised weapons. Personally, I’d take a pen (whatever one I can get my hands on first) over any of these, and use it as an improvised yawara stick. That’s not even the best improvised weapon in my reach (which is a solid umbrella, likely usable as a hanbo or jo).

echowit October 24, 2012 9:42 AM

Excellent ideas, all. But remember, since most office workers ae zombies go for the head shot.

John October 24, 2012 9:54 AM

Is the power still on? Got anything around that can conduct electricity?

How about cleaning supplies? Mixing clorox with ammonia in an enclosed space makes for fun times.

How about a coffee grinder and aluminum cans from the recycling bin? Mix with rust for thermite. Mix with air for a fuel-air bomb.

Skip the pen. Go with knitting needles. Or a broken piece of glass, which is disturbingly sharp. A bottle of wine makes a good club. Weight it by filling it with liquid. Or improvise a bola.

We haven’t even touched on fire yet…

sigh They’re never going to let me fly again, are they…

Peter A. October 24, 2012 10:44 AM

I call BS. All these “weapons” will break apart on the first very moderate strike.

One can inflict much more damage with any heavy object present. Or with the scissors alone (or the thinner half of them, after breaking the connecting screw/rivet), held firmly in hand.

Chris October 24, 2012 10:59 AM

This reminds me of the Office Bricolage contests: people competing to come up with improvised weapons from office supplies. It was years ago, but fortunately the Wayback Machine captured it.

First contest, second contest. A third one was started, but I don’t know if the entries were ever published.

A lot of the stuff wasn’t that impressive, but there were a few entries that were quite scary.

karrde October 24, 2012 11:04 AM

Corporate policy usually forbids the bringing of weapons into a workplace.

That usually means an employee is not allowed to bring a device with a single piece of metal with a sharpened edge. (AKA a knife, usually a folding knife.)

However, most employees who work in cubicles have access to a device with two pieces of metal joined, each piece having a sharpened edge. (AKA a pair of scissors.)

Admittedly, this second item is rarely sharp enough to draw blood. And acquiring one with a sharp-enough edge requires foresight.

Scissors are mentioned in the article. But I note that they are not mentioned for their knife-like utility. Easy to carry without causing concern; easy to deploy; and lethal in the hands of a moderately-trained attacker.

Bob Long October 24, 2012 11:12 AM

Life vest seems on the right track (following previous discussions about body armor).

1. tape a laptop to your trunk (batteries optional)
2. raid the printer for paper (we’ve all done it; besides, it’s a layered defense), and
3. repurpose the goldfish bowl for head protection (don’t forget to empty first)


B. Johnson October 24, 2012 11:20 AM

I remember back in college someone having a tape of some guy who did “practical” self-defense (it was hardly so, and anybody who paid attention to what he was saying would probably end up, at minimum, severely injured) talking about converting quite a few everyday objects into weapons. Few I remember were, legs from chairs (both wooden and the metal “lunch room” chairs, you could detach the leg by bending). Breaking the joint in a pair of scissors by jamming one blade into a crevice and hitting the other blade. Items in your car compartment like The Club (this was when The Club was big), and he even did a bit about armrests and seat belt buckles on planes.

Bruce Clement October 24, 2012 5:14 PM


This seems to be pretty universal in prisons. In this court case reported in the media here a prisoner stabbed another with shank made of the sharpened workings of a lever-arch file.

He was also previously convicted of stabbing another inmate in the face with a pencil that had cloth wrapped around it to make a handle. IIRC from, another account I read at the time, the pencil was embedded quite deeply in the victim’s face not far from the eye.

The pen may or may not be mightier than the sword, but it seems to do in environments where an attempt is made to disarm the populous.

Mark October 24, 2012 9:28 PM

Fill your socks with keys, change, marbles, & ect. Stretch one over the other for durability. Makes a great blackjack.

Mark October 24, 2012 9:55 PM

Forgot to add:
Use a bar of soap for Full Metal Jacket style. Tie the socks together for a bolo. Cover with peanut butter or grease and fill with explosive material for a limpet mine. The tactical uses of socks are nearly limitless!

Autolykos October 25, 2012 5:16 AM

Most of these instruments are just not worth the time to build. Usually, the single components make for far better weapons than what they made of it. Scissors, halves of scissors, pens, rolled up newspaper (optionally, Millwall Brick), glass bottles (preferably empty, they are faster) or, if you have enough room and some experience with this kind of stuff, power cables make for nice improvised weapons without any modification at all. Any robust, long and not too heavy object will also do just fine.
Umbrellas are quite nice, but you use them to stab (and block), not to swing. The best grip is “half-sword” with one hand at the bottom and one in the middle. It was used to punch a sword through plate armor, and works even with not very pointy stuff against unarmored opponents.
@Karrde: You don’t use scissors (or a similar sized knife, for that matter) to cut, anyway. It’s not likely to incapacitate the opponent. Use it to stab, or take something else.
@Mark: The soap bar in the towel/sock is used explicitly because it hurts a lot but is unlikely to do much permanent damage. Keys, however, probably will.

Darryl Daugherty October 25, 2012 8:10 AM

@ Captain Obvious: “I think a torn coke can would make a much better weapon than most of the blades that TSA is looking for”

A can of fizzy cheap beer shaken for 20-30 seconds and punched into a bony prominence will explode and cause deep lacerations.

Jonathan Wilson October 25, 2012 9:05 AM

I gaurantee you that any modern passenger airplane would have enough things on it to substitute for pretty much all the weapons the 9/11 hijackers would likely have had with the exception of any bombs/explosives (real or fake).
And yes there are plenty of ways to make potentially dangerous weapons from things that no airline, airport or security organization in the world could get away with banning.

Also 🙂

John Campbell October 25, 2012 9:36 AM

@echowit: “Excellent ideas, all. But remember, since most office workers ae zombies go for the head shot.”

And Rule 2: Double Tap.

If you replace the word “Zombie” with the acronym “MBA” the stories won’t vary much, will they?

(The MBAs I’ve met who missed their soulectomy procedure have provided exceptions that “prove” the rule.)

Chris October 27, 2012 12:32 PM

I’m always a little bit surprised that they let laptop cable locks on airplanes. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies but they seem like ideal makeshift, close-quarters weapons — they have an almost unbreakable permanent loop which could make an excellent garrotte. They have a heavy bolt lock at the opposite end which could make a decent flail and the cable can be wrapped around your hand to make armor for disarming someone with a box-cutter or other blade.

Karl Lembke November 1, 2012 12:14 AM

When I looked at the weapons incorporating the ruler, the first thing I imagined was the damage the metal strip that acts as a straightedge would do to the wielder’s hand.

FencesWithPasta November 6, 2012 2:02 AM

In a movie (no I don’t recall the name) Jackie Chan use a pair of chalkboard erasers to defend himself (and incapacitate) a trained attacker.

This is why most HR departments have swapped out chalkboards and replaced them with dry erase boards.

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