I was watching a show last night about the Lewis and Clark expedition and something really opened my eyes, Did you know that when the group left a fort or shelter they built they would burn it down when they left do salvage the nails they used. Apparently nails were worth their weight in gold since they were hand made one at a time. This got me to thinking that in the event of TEOTWAWKI or even a couple year collapse that people will still have to build things and repair their homes. So I wondered how many people thought of stockpiling nails or screws in bulk? In my mind nails would be the best option since it does not take more then a rock at worst to nail into wood and most everyone has a hammer. Screws would be a good choice if you had a power source to either run a drill or recharge a battery as most screws for building require a lot of torque to fasten. Home Depot and most improvement store sell these in bulk 40-50 pound plastic containers. In such an event you can be sure that not all lumber is going to be the perfect 2×4 size so I would error on the side of larger nails say 3 to 3 1/2 inch and maybe even get some larger ones [spikes] for fastening larger items. For general repair a good 2 to 2 1/2 inch nail would be fine. Not only would this be a great thing to have but it would also be a great barter item, like I said before everyone needs to build shelter or repair something and in the event of a collapse I doubt they will be able to run down to the local store and buy these things. Also the larger container you buy the cheaper it is per pound. We as contractors buy 100 pound crates and then break them down into smaller buckets to put in the work trailer. If you do decide to go with screws I recommend the torx bit style (star bit) as they do not strip out the bits or the heads like standard phillips, and stock up on replacement bits too. – Brian S.
JWR Replies: I strongly agree that it is important to stock up on nails, timber spikes (I’ve found that 8″ and 12″ are the most useful lengths), power screws (various lengths), and other large fasteners such as lag bolts. As my mentor Dr. Gary North wrote more than 30 years ago when writing about stocking up for hard times: “Nails: buy a barrel of them. Barrels: buy a barrel of them…”
OBTW, one of my unfulfilled quests in life has been to find a small hardware store that is going out of business and getting to ask the owner: “How much for all of your fasteners?” (Hopefully, at or below their scrap metal value.) That would be quite a coup.