Tool Recommendations For the Prepared Household
set of lithium battery powered drill and impact driver
large supply of medium and long wood screws with bugle square drive heads. (I use these in lieu of nails, installing them with the above impact driver)
possibly rototiller (I keep one, but almost never use it)
phillips head screw driver
pliers needle nose pliers
tape (duct, masking, electrical)
lots and lots of nails, screws and hardware (I’ve been saving extras for decades)
bicycle tire pump
lots of tungsten carbide drill bits
large diameter wood bits (spade bits)
soldering iron, soldier and flux
That’s a good start.
FWIW: Its very handy to have a vertical Mill (aka bridgeport), A Lathe & welding & brazing equipment. With Machine tools, you can repair or make new parts of most of your equipment. There are plenty of how to videos on YouTube. Some of them are quite entertaining: (YouTube “This old Tony”) If there is a local “Maker Shop” they make offer classes on how use a Mill & lathe. You can atleast testdrive a lathe or Mill there before to decide to buy them. You can either buy used machine tools (eBay, Craig’s list), or new equipment. Unfortunately there aren’t many new USEU made manual mills & Lathes (at least not an affordable price). You can buy new Twanese machines which are better quality than the rock bottom Chinese machines. Grizzly tools sells new Twanese machine tools. I would recommend avoiding the Harbor freight junk, as you just be throwing away your money.
As far as welding equipment. I would recommend a TIG/MIG combo unit from either Miller or Lincoln. MIG welling is very easy to do, and you can do decent welds within a few hours of practice & spending a few hours learning from Youtube videos. TIG is for more detail welding work when you need to precisely join small work pieces together, but does take considerable more practice. TIG requires that the Tungsten electrode be held just a few millimeters (1/8″) from the work surface as well as holding a filler rod in the other hand. You cannot touch the Tungsten electrode to the workpiece or filler rod. If you do it become contaimated and you have to stop and re-grind the tungten to remove any contaminates.. A MIG can quickely weld up brackets, angle iron, or any heavy steel pieces and you don’t have to worry about holding a filler rod, Its basically a point a shoot process.. There is also Stick welding which most of the TIG/MIG welder can also do. Stick welding is typically used in outdoor enviroments, when its too windy for a shield gas.
The only downside is that most of the Combo MIGTIG welders don’t do aluminium. To weld aluminium you need a Welder that can provide AC Welding. Alumium is extremely tricky to weld do to the properties of alumium. It takes a lot of heat since Aluminum is a very good thermal conductor, but it also has a low melting point. Too little heat: it won’t weld. Too much heat and it will put holds in your workpeice & cause excessive warping. If you plan to weld aluminium, your best option is get a TIG only welder is a DC & AC unit.
There is also gas welding, but it required a lot more prep & clean up. With Gas welding you need to apply flux to sheild the metal from oxygen and you need to grind off the flux & carbon from your workpeices after welding. Generally TIGMIGStick can be cleaned up using a wire brush or chip hammer. Gas Welding is typically now just used for Brazing, which is high temperature soldering. Brazing is typically used when you need to bind different metals that cannot be welded or for repairing cast iron. Its possible to braze metals using TIG with a silicon bronze filler rod. For the beginner a TIGMIG combo is the best option.
Here is a short list of machine tools
1. Vertical mill (preferrably with at least a 20″ X, 8″ Y, and 16″ Z travel) You need a good Z travel since you need space for vises, rotory tables, and other components that you clamp or fixture to the mill table
2. Lathe Quick change box that can thread common imperial & Metric threads. My recommend mininium size is lathe that can handle at least a 10″ Chuck and is at least 20″ between centers.
3. Portable TIGMIG combo. Perferably something than can operate at 120VAC as 220VAC. There may be spots where only 120VAC is available, but you need 240VAC for any heavy welding. Genreally a Portable TIGMIG unit will support boht 120 & 240 VAC.
FYI: Generally you end up spending a equal amount of money on tooling as the cost of your Mill or lathe: endmills, Vises, Clamps, measuring tools, Chucks, Inserts, etc.
Some noteworthy Mill & lathe accessories
1. DRO: Digital Read Out: These are simply prices to add to your mill & lathe. They make it much easier to cut precise measurements on your workpieces. You can use dial indicators, Calipers but there is a considerable steeper learning curve and increases setup and machining time. Bottom line: Purchase a DRO with your lathe or mill!
2. Rotary table for your Mill. There are times you need to precisely drilltap holes in round work peices or you need to machine semi round edges or semi-round internal spaces.
3. Super spacer or dividing head for your Mill Usefull if you need to manually cut gears or repair broken gears.
4. Four jaw lathe Chuck: For working with Square workpeieces, or to precisely position the center on workpieces. Not all workpeices will be perfectly round, especally if your trying to repair an old, damaged or rusty part.
“lots of tungsten carbide drill bits”
FWIW: I would recommend purchasing HSS drills over Carbide Drills. Carbide drills are considerable more expensive than HSS and and prone to chipping & breaking, especially for use in hand drills. Carbide drills are better suited for use in machine tools where the tools is held in a rigid & straight spindle. It nearly impossible to hold a hand drill dead straight. A Carbide Drill can easily brake there is an signicant perpendicular force applied (ie When the drill slips or binds cause your hand to apply perpendicular forces to the drill).
HSS drills are more tolerant to perpendicular forces & cut better at the lower spindle speeds typicallly used with hand drills or home shop drill presses. Carbide drills are useful if you need to cut hard materials (ie hardened steel Stainless Steel). They are sometimes the preferred drill when trying to extract broken bolts stuck in workpieces, but I prefer to use left handed HSS drills since they can flex (when the broken bolt is not completely flat or flush) and it the left hand drills operate in the direction to loosen extract the bolt. Often once a left hand drill bites into the broken bolt it unscrews it avoiding the time consuming process of fully drilling it out. Less chance of multilating the hold threads too!
“set of lithium battery powered drill and impact driver”
I would recommand a cordless with a hammer drill built in since it can be used to drive in screws as well as drill into masonaryconcrete in a Pinch. Also get a cordless impact wrench for loosing bolts on machinary. Sometimes its hassle to use a Air impact wrench. when you have to haul the air compressor to the machine or equipment you need to use it on. Nothing beats the conviences of a cordless impact Wrench.
FWIW: The best in my opinion is the Hilti Cordless DrillDriverImpact set. These cordless units run circles around the common units (Dewalt, Makita, Rigid, etc) I am frequently drilling with hole saws, and driving large screws (5/16 & 3/8) as well as lag screws. The DewaltMakita drivers don’t have enough power to handle these larger fastners nor do there drills have enough power for large diameter hole saws..The only disadvantage is that Hilti does not sell other cordless tools (ie saber saw, Skill saw, Jig saw). For Cordless I’ve standardized on the Hilti & Dewalt tool sets. Dewalt currently offers the most different cordless tools that I commonly use. For Corded tools: I use Makita (Skill Saw, Saber Saw, & Jig saw).
Another tool to have on hand is a SDS Type hammer drill. If you need to do any masory work or drive fence posts in. an SDS Drill is your friend. Typically these are corded devices. Typically the support drilling and chiseling. You need to buy special SDS drills & Chisels. To give you some idea how much better and SDS drill is. If you use a standard hammer drill (ie Cordless) it make take 10 to 15 minutes to drill a 1/2″ hole that is 3″ to 4″ deep. An SDS drill will drill a 1/2″ x 4″ hold in under a minute. The SDS drill is great if you need to chisel any masonary work (ie Notch out in concrete or remove decaying mortor in brick work). It can also be used if you need to chisel out broken concrete in a walkway (ie so you can repair it but its not going to replace a jack hammer). You can also an SDS drill to point in metal fence posts. If you decide to buy an SDS drill Get either the SDS-Plus or SDS-Max Drill. Do not get the smaller, standard SDS!
If you need to quickly relocate after a crisis has just hit, they say that you have about 3 days to get to where you want to before the public *gets it* that you are in a crisis. (“Don’t worry. They will have the power back on tomorrow.”)
A very fuel efficient car, like a Prius. Stocked up with 8 of these 5 gallon gas cans, side by side.
And in case the trip goes off the rails and you have to hike, a Henry Survival Kit.
How I would escape to somewhere in a little Prius and take some of the toolkits recommended above with me is a puzzle!
And what do you do when your last bullet is expended? I presume at that instant dinner has or has not fallen, or worse, some battle is underway. Eek.
James Kunstler thinks that the decline will be long and gradual. A lot of PP members seem to think it’ll be abrupt. We can only wait and see. A level of technology is always achievable: the medieval period in Europe was surprisingly mechanised. Read The Medieval Machine by Jean Gimpel.
All of the suggestions so far are useful. I intend to take note of them.
However, there are a number of background assumptions underlying most of them, mainly:
- Electricity in some form will be available (e.g. welding equipment);
- Some volume of fossil fuels ditto (e.g. petrol-powered pumps, diesel tractors).
Petrol and diesel can’t be stored for long; they polymerise. Don’t know about kerosene.
Some more ideas. (More later if I think of any.)
A set of hand tools with a common battery (get several batteries & two chargers): drill, saw, plane, angle grinder, light, etc. Get the best quality you can, preferably made in Germany or Japan. Also get the highest voltage you can: 14.4 or 18V. Lower voltages are gutless. (Basic)
Cutting oil. (What will you do when your last 4mm drill bit breaks?) (Basic)
Food grade oil (mine is Inox brand made in Queensland). (Basic)
Blowtorches: big ones for gross plumbing work, mini handheld one (propane or butane) for detail work. Don’t forget the solder sticks and flux. (Advanced and Basic)
If you’re not an electrician already then get friendly with one. One day I tried to wire up a simple switch, and even using paper, pencil, a multimeter and much thought, succeeded only in tripping the circuit breaker again and again. A professional did the job in 5 minutes, and most of that was in removing and replacing the faceplate. (Baffling)
Fire is very basic technology but still…… we will need matches. Whole forests in New England were owned by the Diamond Match Company!
I need to get a couple of good cross-cut saws and a jig and a file specifically designed for them. They are really really hard to sharpen.
Did I see scissors and can openers on this list? (Maybe they are technically not tools.)
We have a Wheel Hoss for discing, planting and hilling up around potatoes and a broadfork. Also Austrian scythes. Never heard of Scandinavian scythes.
After years of canning I have become convinced that fermentation is the way to go. There are some good German crocks around and some that are made by local potters.
I love my lithium battery powered electric string cutters and chain saw but they are all high tech stuff made elsewhere. They don’t last long.
Those super well insulated coolers are now being made pretty cheaply and they are reasonably well made. I have experimented in the hot summer and they will keep a bag of ice from total melt for several days. The only high tech appliance I would consider is a small DC freezer that could be powered from a solar panel. Then you could make ice in summer and turn those coolers into great iceboxes. I wish someone would make an off-the-shelf set up with solar panel and DC freezer.
No-one has mentioned sewing kit yet: needles of various sizes, pins (try making those yourself) with & without pearl head, thimbles, awls. Tailor’s chalk. (Basic)
Leatherworking gear: knives, bradawl, etc. Highly necessary if we move to horse power. Ask Robie Robinson. (Advanced)
Spokeshave. (Possibly advanced)
Welding gloves (double-thickness leather). Single-thickness leather. (Basic)
Rubber or latex gloves for handling fuels and other chemicals. (Basic)
Gardening gloves: rubber on palm side, cloth other side. (Basic)
Garden tools: shovels, spades, trowel, broadfork, auger, pH testing kit. (Basic)
Manual woodworking tools: brace & bit, “eggbeater” drill.
Surprised no one mentioned wet stones. Nothing worse than dull axes, chisels, knives etc. Not so sure how helpful a list of tools is, it comes from having a relationship with a place and the work involved in that relationship.
BTW, couldn’t live without my Eliot Coleman hoe, the one with a replaceable blade. Paint brushes are pretty useful too, when properly cared for last for years. Garden seeder, saves a lot back breaking work.
lets start in the garden. Spades and shovels and forks
Add some sturdy footwear to that list. You can’t do much spade work if you’re barefoot.
On the domestic side:
- high-quality water filters (yes, plural) plus replacement parts
- an assortment of high-quality pots and pans, including some that would be suitable for cooking over a fire
- fire pit with a grate, also tongs, skewers etc. for fire cooking – prep for grid-down, good for backyard parties now
- at least one non-electric thermal cooker – bring the contents to a boil then it cooks with retained heat
- at least one insulated jug for hot or cold drinks. Sturdy cups for same.
- assorted baking and cooking tools, including measuring tools, good knives, utility scissors, spatulas, etc.
- a sharpener that you know how to use
- equipment for preserving foods – canning, dehydrating etc.
- cookbooks, also how-to books for things like sewing/mending, making soap, making candles, and more
- scrub board, wash basin, clothesline, clothespins – These can make funky decor for your laundry room until the day you need them
- tools for firefighting – and knowhow!
James Wesley Rawles has useful thoughts on this topic: