Tool Recommendations For the Prepared Household
PP skillmasters —
We could use your help.
What tools would you recommend a household have on hand to meet a basic fundamental "preparedness" level?
We're talking the basics here. Not highly specialized tools, or tools that take years to master well.
What are the tools that, given the most common life needs, would also be best to have on hand should a crisis of some sort arise?
Please submit your ideas via the Comments section below. I will then curate all the results and publish as a list for newbies looking to build a functional tool collection.
And you're welcome to also submit recommendations for more advanced tools that newbies can graudate to, as that's also valuable. Just if you do, please note each tool you submit with either a "B" (for "Beginner") or "A" (for "Advanced") suffix. For example:
- claw hammer (B)
- flat-head screwdriver set (B)
- drill press (A)
- Skil saw (B?)
- angle grinder (A)
I’m a hopeless tool guy, so forgive me for making this short, otherwise I could go on for days….
Besides basic hand tools like wrenches, hammers, pliers, and screwdrivers, I would suggest reviewing the 6 basic machines. A come-along can be handy for all kinds of things. A digging bar- we call them o’o here in Hawaii- about 6′ long, steel, chisel-like on one end and a flat tamper on the other end, can do all sorts of leverage acts. Some files for modifiying or keeping sharp other metal tools. I still claim with a VOM (electrial multi-meter) and a few jumper leads, I could work my way around the world….vicegrips, of course, though the originals made by Petersen Mfg are no longer and you have to look hard for good ones…If you’re using tools, you should be using eye protection. In my advanced decrepitude I’ve even started keeping a first aid kit around here somewhere….Aloha, Steve.
Heres a few suggestions. Firstly get good quality hand tools. We don’t know how things will unfold but in my opinion anyone expecting to use power tools may not really understand the implications of the second law of thermodynamics.
So lets start in the garden. Spades and shovels and forks, a rake, hoes for weeding. A variety of spare handles. For spades I recommend a steel handle – heavier but wont break. A wheel barrow or two – heavy duty, and get spare wheels.
For the orchard – pruning saws, secataurs, ladder. I have a pole pruner which can also be used for harvesting fruit and nuts.
Firewood – a good wood splitter / axe, I bought some old crosscut saws cheap on the internet both 1 and 2 man saws – haven’t used them yet as the chainsaw is soo much easier while fuel is available. Secataurs for the smaller stuff and for coppicing.
I made hay manually for a couple of years to learn what to do. After buying several old pieces of rubbish I found the best scythe to be the modern scandanavian type. More expensive but very effective and easy to use.
Good second hand tools are are readily availible on the internet. Drills and bits , saws etc. I got a 3 tonne block and tackle for $20 – may eventually come in handy for winching up a slaughtered cow or dragging something heavy.
I have a farm/ranch, so it’s covered in tools, I’ll gve you an abbreviated list of my goto tools. I’ll note, a drill press is something that I consider advanced. I can’t stress enough however that my main goto tool is my tractor, on a farm it’s as good as having a second person to help, with a loader on the front I can move mountains.
- two stiltson’s, or pipe wrenches, plumbers wrenches, with these you can do most of the basic plumbing jobs. Get big ones two feet long. (archimedes was a great guy)
- Plumbers teflon tape, buy 100 rolls of this stuff.
- two 6 feet pry bars (the ones thatchmo is talking about above) get two of them, then you have leverage. (see above about archimedes.)
- fence strainers
- fencing pliers (larger and have thick wire cutters)
- chipping hoe
- battery electric chainsaw
- battery hand held drill, good drill bits to suit including one long auger and masonry bits
- Axe, blockbuster, tomahawk, and about 5 spares axes, 5 wedges as well, throw in a simple brush saw.
- Jiggler (a tool for syphoning liquids)
- a good set of screwdrivers and hex keys (don’t cheap out, buy brand names)
- small compressor that runs on 12v, and a complete patch repair kit, good for 10 uses to fix tyres.
- a few good metal buckets
- a cheap backpack used to cart tools around on farm jobs in hard to get places
- a good wheelbarrow
- a trolley
- 30 feet of heavy duty hardened chain with a hook one end and d shackle on the other
- throw away rope that you will not feel bad about cutting.
- box cutter knife and about 10 spare blades.
- a cheap toolkit you buy at a bargain store, so if you loose something you will not cry, with basic hammer, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, cutters and so on.
- arc welder
- drill press
- small tool lathe
- angle grinder
- petrol fire fighter pump
- socket sets
- Big petrol chainsaw (still 660)
- pole saw (chainsaw on a long stick)
- pipe bender
- hydraulic jack
- block and tackle
- complete set of leather working tools and knives.
- reloading press
- bench vice
- bench grinder
- cement mixer
Tools I use once a year if that:
- complete set of tap and dies
- complete socket sets including breaker bar and extension bit
- complete set of electrical connectors
- distilled water, 2 gallons at least
- set of files and rasps
- Battery terminal spray, for insulating exposed terminals and reducing corrosion
- spirit level
- a large box of 20 years of collected plumbing fittings, go to yard sales and buy any boxes of fittings, handiest thing ever if you live so far off the grid plumbers don’t come out.
Maybe you should think about the question like this; what is the problem you want to solve? A good home should have the tools to fix the following:
- A leaky tap, or cut/break in a water pipe.
- An overflow or blocked waste pipe
- A pest chewed electrical cable
- A leaky roof
- A broken window or door
- A hole in a fence
- A faulty well pump
- A faulty hot water system (gas, electical or solar)
- fix a flat tyre
Now I want to add the following to my list.
- caulking gun / a few tubes of sealant
- roofing screws
- Sheets of plastic or lumber
- spare electrical wires and fixtures
- some basic plumbing pipes and joiners to patch a repair
- some fencing wire/mesh
- Spare element
- Small gas bottle for brazing copper, with spare solder and acid flux
- compressor and patch kit
You see a tool is just used to place the consumable material, so if you want this for a prepared house, then you need to add that stuff as well.
Water storage containers:
Start by cleaning and reusing plastic jugs from juice or soda and storing emergency water in a cool dark place. Free and easy. (B)
Upgrade to water bricks, drums, or small tanks. I like the ones sold by Sure Water of Salt Lake. (B)
Rainwater can be collected from roof gutters and stored in larger tanks. In most areas up to 5,000 gallons is legal without a permit – that’s a 12′ diameter tank for about $3,000. (A)
Five gallon plastic buckets with Gamma Seal lids work really well for shelf stable dry goods. (B)
Glass jars – Ball or Kern brand – for water bath canning of high acid foods such as fruit into jam and jelly, preferably from your own garden or local farmers market. (B)
Pressure canner such as the All American or Presto for canning of low acid foods such as meat and veggies. (A)
I totally second his recommendation of a tractor, particularly one with a backhoe and front end loader. I bought such a small tractor a few years ago thinking of a number of uses it would have. Well, its usefulness turned out to be far greater than I first imagined. Oh yeh, it also has a 5′ mower deck.
If you do any logging I also recommend a good logging chain, a peavey, a log jack and a maul.
One tool I wouldn’t be without is a good battery operated drill with a complete set of high quality drill and screw bits. Spend the money for quality. You will never regret it.
If you use a chainsaw, get chaps. They can literally save your life and your ability to function.
I’ve read the lists above and there are great suggestions. I did notice nearly everyone mentioned multiples of the same tools, following the 2 is 1, and 1 is none adage. I would also echo the need for quality tools. I’ve picked up a lot of quality tools at garage sales.
I would add:
Socket sets, English and Metric, multiple sizes (1/4 and 1/2 inch) and assorted adaptors.
Rope of various diameters and lengths, especially large diameter in case you need to “help” a tree to the ground.
Multiple pairs of quality leather gloves, in sizes for the various family members
If you live near a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, it’s worth stopping by sometime. Hit or miss, just like a garage sale though. I went looking for a file and actually found one in good shape.