Tool Recommendations For the Prepared Household

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Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
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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)

Many thanks!


thatchmo's picture
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I'm a hopeless tool guy, so

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.

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David Allan
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Hand tools

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.

nigel's picture
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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.

Basic tools

  • 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
  • Shovel/spade
  • 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.

Advanced tools

  • arc welder
  • Excavator
  • tractor
  • 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.


nigel's picture
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Problem Domain

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.

  • nails
  • 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.


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Tools for Preppers - Water and Food Storage

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)

Food storage:

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)

Doug's picture
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Nigel about covers the waterfront

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.

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Oh yeh

If you use a chainsaw, get chaps.  They can literally save your life and your ability to function.

deaconmn's picture
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Tool recommendations


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:

Philips screwdrivers

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 

DennisC's picture
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Another Source

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.

LesPhelps's picture
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Tools I use the most

Table saw

miter saw

chain saw

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)

broad fork

possibly rototiller (I keep one, but almost never use it)

phillips head screw driver


pliers needle nose pliers


utility knife

tape (duct, masking, electrical)

Shop vac


Carpenters square

lots and lots of nails, screws and hardware (I’ve been saving extras for decades)

small compressor

bicycle tire pump

Pressure washer



jig saw

power drill

lots of tungsten carbide drill bits

large diameter wood bits (spade bits)

soldering iron, soldier and flux

That’s a good start.



TechGuy's picture
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Re: Repair tools [Machine tools & Welding]

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 test\drive 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 US\EU 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 MIG\TIG 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 TIG\MIG\Stick 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 TIG\MIG 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 TIG\MIG 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 TIG\MIG 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 drill\tap 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. 


TechGuy's picture
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ungsten carbide drill vs. HSS drills

Les Wrote:

"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!

Les wrote:

"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 masonary\concrete 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 Drill\Driver\Impact 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 Dewalt\Makita 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!


sand_puppy's picture
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Getting from Place A to Place B

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.

ezlxq1949's picture
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A lot of assumptions here

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:

  1. Electricity in some form will be available (e.g. welding equipment);
  2. 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. <sigh> (Baffling)

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How to flee with a lathe?

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.

ezlxq1949's picture
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Sewing kit

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.

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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.

treebeard's picture
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Keep your tools sharp

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.

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Spade 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:

TechGuy's picture
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DC Appliances

"The only high tech appliance I would consider is a small DC freezer that could be powered from a solar panel."

FWIW: I wouldn't recommend going all DC for appliciances. Like every appliciance they will fail. That said in a full collapse, There are likely to be lots of abandoned AC applicances that can be salvaged. It would be more prudent to have the means to generate AC power (inverter with spares) and Generators. Generators can always be powered using a wood gas via Gasifier. 

Any "High Tech" tools are useful even in a grid down or long term collapse. Manual labor consumes large amounts of food calories, and if your injuried and reliant on manual labor to feed yourself, you make be in trouble. Cheap cordless hand tools may not last long, but quality models do. In a pinch you could convert Cordless to work as corded using a DC power source that can provide simular voltage as the old battery.

" super well insulated coolers are now being made pretty cheaply and they are reasonably well made"

I don't know which models your referring to, but I suspect they use vaccum insulated panels, that leak overtime. They probably only work for a couple of years before failing. You can make your own coolers using Rigid foam insulated panels. You can increase the efficiency of some Freezers by adding rigid insulation to the sides and freezer door. 

"I wish someone would make an off-the-shelf set up with solar panel and DC freezer."

You can make your own by purchasing freezer components from (using a DC compressor or use a DC motor with a Belt driven compressor), Or you can buy a Marine\RV freezer designed to work with DC power. The Icebox could be made using rigid foam insulation panels. You can also buy solar DC freezers, but they are generally considerable more expensive, and there are no gaurentees that they won't breakdown when you need it the most. Thus my recommend to consider using AC appliciances and focus on methods of generating AC power. Any DC appliciance would stil need a battery bank to function properly (although it may be possible to use a a SuperCap bank for small appliancies instead of batteries). If you set up a AC generator with a Gasifier you wouldn't need a battery bank to run a freezer. An Woodgas powered AC generator is probably the lowest tech power source, which can operated day\night\overcast conditions. It also more tricky to find other devices that are DC powered. For instance your Well pump (Yes there are DC well pumps -but if it fails & you cannot get spares your up a creek with out a paddle). Circulation pumps for your heating system, Heatpump, household fans, Most power tools, household lighting. We live in a AC powered world, and if there is a collapse, There is likely going to be lots of abandon homes to salvage from.  You can bet everyone of them will only have AC applicances or tools.

"Fire is very basic technology but still...... we will need matches."

Old school lighters will work fine. You can fuel them using alochol or ligher fluid ( few pints of lighter fuel will probably last decades if you don't spill it - Alochol can always be fermented & distilled). Spare Flints for the lighters too.

TechGuy's picture
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Re: Getting from Place A to Place B

If there is no fuel to be had, its probable thtat there will may big problems preventing any long distant traveling:

1. Riots and Thugs making it risky to travel near any population centers. I am sure the locals will deperate for food, water & fuel will have ambushes set up for any travellers. 

2. Road blocks, clogges roads with abandoned vehicles, fires, debris on roads, etc. I think most small towns will put up road blocks for there own security. Major roads will likely be blocked with abandoned vechicles that ran out of fuel. Presuming no fire fighters operating Fires will be wide spread as people set up makeshift stoves or camp fires, that cause large fires. Arson is another likely possibility. I believe this summer a dozen US states are battling very large forest fires. Debris on road, Fallen trees, collapsed building (due to fire or other natural disaster).

3, Snipers\hiway men looking to prey upon travelers. 

The risks for refugees is enormous. Plan A should be to shelter-in-place at a homestead that which you can be self reliant. At best have some prepreations in your vehicle for getting home when the crisis hits is a good option. I keep a several bags in my vehicles at all times: A bag with emergency supplies: first Aid kit, clothes, water, coats, Towels, sleeping bag, etc, This way if I am ever stuck I, I have some supplies. I also keep a tool bag with basic mechanic tools (Wrenches, Pliers, Screw drivers, etc), Jumper cables, Fire extingisher, Tape, Paper Towels, Rope\String, Mechanics\Nitrile Gloves, Hand Warmers, Engine Oil, WD-40, Flashlight\lantern, Small tarp (Incase I need to laydown in snow\mud for repair work.. etc. Hand warmers are extremely usefully in cold weather if you need to do repairs. Nothing is worse than trying to do repair work when you need to perform tasks when you cannot wear gloves (working in tight space or need sensitivity of touch). I also keep some cash in my car for emergencies. ie when a credit card or debt card won't work because of a power outage or data outage. Most likely if there is a sudden crisis, business will continue to accept cash for at least a few days if not longer depending on the nature & extent of the crisis. Cash will provide you the means for food, water, and repairs needed to get yourself home. 

I don't recommend packing an emergency rifle since if you pulled over in a no-gun zone, or travel through an anti-gun state, you likely be arrested. Pepper spray may be the best option since most states & countries permit it. (Although I believe its illegal in the UK and some other nations: Check your laws first!). A knife is another option but even that can get you in trouble in some states & countries. In a crisis, gov'ts are likely to enact marshall law, and arrestable offensives could become immediate death sentences (ie LEOs shoot & kill you on the spot rather than arrest you due to lack of resources to incarcerate you).

In some situations, it may be best to appear to have nothing of value. and just be a poor refugee.  If you go marching through an urban\suburban street with a big rucksack, nice boots and other gear, you will most certainly be painting a big target on your back. 


David Allan's picture
David Allan
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 15 2009
Posts: 109
Re: Matches?

You are quite right rheba, the ability to start fires is vital. I recently investigated fire starters - manufactured rods with strker to generate sparks. There are many types available at camping stores, some capable of several thousand strikes. I bought quite a few as I figure they could be good items to trade or give to neighbours,

And you're right about the scythes, it's the Austrian scythe I favour. Hey, I was close,  Austria and Scandanavia are half a world away from me  - and they're only half an inch apart on my globe!

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1220

In my area are, with few exceptions, multi-generational. Every tool and a lot of the know how in these lists is there and isn’t leaving. After consulting my partner, the historian, I witnessed 4 WW2 die in three years who farmed within 2 miles of my farm. A family member bought their farm in each case but one where I bought their farm. There is a wealth of knowledge im rural America. However, there are extremely few tanners and Millers. We need skilled millers and tanners.

David Huang's picture
David Huang
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 20 2010
Posts: 77
A few more items

Some things I'll add to this list are:

5 gallon plastic buckets (b) - I find I'm constantly using these for all sorts of things.  I feel like I should get some more myself that I keep set aside just for food stuff.

A multi-meter for testing electric currents and such. (a?) - I find this very handy for troubleshooting all sorts of electrical issues when things need fixing.

A nice pair of pruning loppers that can handle branches an inch or two in diameter. (b) - I've found these to be very nice low tech tools for maintaining the trees/shrubs around my yard.  As an added bonus if the rocket mass stove I'm planning to build works out as hopes they might even be all I'd really need to harvest the winter heating fuel.  (Though I think I'll still be happy to have a bow saw, and electric chain saw.)

A good dolly/hand cart with solid wheels that can't go flat. (b)

A food dehydrator. (b)  I've got an electric one I use a lot, but I really should build a solar one sometime.

I'd mention the Austrian scythe but see in a great group like this it's already been noted!

Uncletommy's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: May 3 2014
Posts: 633

Go with tools that are as good today as they were yesterday and just as good, tomorrow! I used mine yesterday.

sand_puppy's picture
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2011
Posts: 2033
Lathe relocation vehicles

Getting from Point A to Point B (part 2)

As pointed out above, (ha ha), the Prius is not the ideal heavy equipment moving vehicle.

The particular collapse scenario I was looking at was moving my parents from their suburban condo in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to our more resiliant home in Virginia, in a situation where the electrical grid is suddenly down.  They have about 10 gallons of stored water in their condo and wouldn't last 1 week without a relocation.  (Grid down implies:  No water is being pumped to the tap, no airconditioning, no gas station pumps working, the refrigerated food section of the grocery stores about to fail, etc.)  The problem was to get two bodies out of an unsurvivable setting to someplace safer.

My parents own a Prius, and we calculated that 8 of the military style 5 gallon gas cans could stack side-by-side into their car and be able to power the Prius the 1,790 miles without refueling from external supplies.  A small fuel siphon hose would be needed.  (40 mpg x 5 gal x 8 cans = 1,600 miles)

Yes there are lots of problems with this plan.  The Prius can't go off road.  Won't work on flooded highways, blizards, huricaines, crossing mountains in icy conditions, ramming through road blocks, and high speed chases evading highway bandits......

And they will have to leave their 2,000 pound Bridgeport Milling Machine behind!  

An ex-military friend who took a SERE (survival, evasion, resistance, escape) course (and several novel that expanded on the theme) advises that there are a couple of stages we collectively move through during a sudden disaster.  One is the denial and disbelief stage where the bulk of the population still imagines that things are "basically normal" or will "promptly be restored to normal" --probably by tomorrow morning.  The police are still on the job.  Respect for private property boundaries still apply.  The new situation and its new rules and new imperatives have not yet sunken in.  A person who gets it early has advantages.  One of which is that they can travel to a safer location in the denial and disbelief stage window of opportunity the first 1-3 days offer.

Your weapon. 

It seems to me that there might be a couple of stages.  Prohibition, confiscation, chaos.  In the chaos stage, the risk of being without a weapon overshadows the risk of being caught by authorities with one.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 3210
Flea markets

Excellent input so far -- I knew you tool mavens would come through!

It's going to be a bit of a challenge to segment all the great submissions into a "starter set" vs "advanced toolkit" as I've got so much material to work with now. But that's a high-quality problem  :)

One addition to the dicussion so far: in addition to Restore and the internet, local flea markets are a great place to pick up quality pre-owned tools at great value. My axe, sledgehammer, digging bar, push mower and garden rake all came from one. Each cost under $15 apiece.

Please keep the recommendations coming!

TechGuy's picture
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 13 2008
Posts: 453
Re: Locating Parents

"The particular collapse scenario I was looking at was moving my parents from their suburban condo in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to our more resiliant home in Virginia"

Why not just have them move now? Beat the Rush! & bring the Bridgeport too :) Pretty much any place south of Richmond is ideal for retirement. 

Grover's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 16 2011
Posts: 878
David Huang wrote:

5 gallon plastic buckets (b) - I find I'm constantly using these for all sorts of things.  I feel like I should get some more myself that I keep set aside just for food stuff.

If you want 5 gallon plastic buckets, get the food grade ones. Home Depot type buckets become brittle quickly. I picked up some free pickle buckets at fast food restaurants (just for asking) over 20 years ago and they are still working. They're great for carrying water, tools, weeds, compost, whatever ... and they stand when you set them on a level surface. A full bucket of water weighs about 40 pounds. You don't need to fill it full if you can't carry that much comfortably. The buckets stack when not in use.

I appreciate the lists that everyone has provided. It helps me see what's missing in my arsenal of tools. Garage sales are a great place to get many of these currently out of favor items. The people who are having garage sales are just trying to get rid of stuff so they have more room to fill up with new stuff. I've picked up several high quality pressure canners very cheaply. My strategy is to go on Sunday afternoon. By then, the "good" stuff is gone and the people holding the garage sale are usually ready to quit. I mill around looking at stuff until one of the owners ask me what I'm looking for. Then, I tell them that I'd like to get some canning equipment or whatever else I think I need.

It doesn't work always, but sometimes the folks respond that they have an old one that they haven't used in years. I never make an offer. Instead, I ask them what they want for it. If it is too much, I pass. The garage sale mentality usually kicks in and I get them on the cheap. Then, the folks usually have empty jars and canning gadgets that they throw in for free.

Pressure canners can be used on an open fire, propane burner, etc. (Extra full propane cylinders are really valuable!) If you've got a freezer full of produce and the power goes out for long enough, your food will spoil. If you've got pressure canners and a heat source along with mason jars (and lids,) you can can your food rather than let it spoil. They're also great for precooking beans.

I'm rough on garden tools. I don't know how many wooden tool handles I've broken. Usually, the tool has a tang that gets inserted into the wooden handle or a hole the wood inserts into. I found that spiral wrapped rebar can be easily welded onto these tools for a more or less permanent solution. The thicker the wooden handle, the thicker the rebar. My favorite is a sledge hammer with a #8 (1" diameter) spiral rebar handle welded on it. It is great for splitting wood with a maul or breaking concrete. Use thinner rebar (or pipes) for rakes (#3 or #4) and shovels (#5 or #6.) They're more flexible and lighter. It keeps me from applying too much force to the working end of the tool. I can attest that shovel blades break when I get too impatient.

Thanks to all for providing your insights! Hope this post gives you some ideas.


aggrivated's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 22 2010
Posts: 572
Generation 2 prius is most reliable.

For hauling gas you should equip the prius with a receiver style hitch and get or make a receiver style carrier. This can carry a few hundred pounds. Helper spings for the rear axle are also a good idea. Beats blowing up a perfectly usable Prius unecessarily.

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