I have been prepping for over two decades now, although some would say I have been prepping my whole life. Both sets of grandparents instilled into my parents the need to be prepared, and in turn they did the same for my siblings and me. I am the only one of my siblings who has taken it to this high a point, even though they are probably more prepared for a major event then 99% of the rest of America. My definition of prepping is, I think, a little different than most. I define my families prepping as being prepared for anything, not just TEOTWAWKI. What I mean is if we had a hurricane, tornado, a major illness causing loss of income, or whatever the world has to throw at us, we are ready for it. Now I know you can be ready for everything, but you can be prepared to handle the aftermath!
Both of my grandfathers were true craftsman. My maternal grandfather lied about his age to get into the U.S. Navy at age 16 during World War II; he was a mechanic on the USS Texas, after the war he stayed in the same field working on large diesels for the railroad then for Ryder Trucks. My patriarchal grandfather worked for the railroad from the age of 17 until he retired as a carpenter. He had a back injury from a car accident as a child that caused him to be hump backed, disqualifying him from the war; however he was an avid hunter, fishermen, and a phenomenal carpenter. My father is a structural engineer, self-employed, and a Vietnam Vet. I grew up around all of these strong Christian men to grow up around, spending alternating summers in the hills of North Carolina and the woods of East Texas staying on the gulf-coast of Texas during school.
The women in my life were also very influential I remember my grandmothers praying over me when I was sick before ever calling a doctor or getting me a Tylenol for a fever. They also taught me to “put up” food, when I was younger I loved being in the kitchen with them after taking in a bushel of something from the gardens. They would put a side what would last without spoiling and start whatever process was need to store the rest. They always taught me, “Whether for us or others God has a plan for this food.” I learned to make homemade biscuits and other breads, how to grow spices and dry them, and most of all how to make what you had last. It still amazes me to think back at the huge family meals we had, all from their cupboards.
It has been my family’s goal to never have the worry of need. If the worst where to happen we would not need to go to a store or barter for close to three years at this point. And then includes my family of 5, our parents 4, and our siblings their spouses and children 10. We do have some long term freeze dried food, but at least half of what we have is canned or prepared by my family.
Now in our version of prepping we are not talking about just food, we all know the “Bs” I would say three but there have been so many added to the original trinity of prepping “Bs” that I cannot even remember them all. We have enough medical supplies to stock a nice hospital emergency room, enough arms and ammo to keep all of our family from being liberated of our items, and we are currently building our retreat including a completely off grid setup.
In everything we store, stock, or purchases for our lives we try to find things that can be truly multi-purpose and last for a long time; for example we stock large quantities of grain alcohol as it can help clean for medical reasons, help start fires, and help warm the soul if need be.
Now to the point of this whole thing, I have read Survival Blog for years now, and have seen small articles or quick mentions of tools here and there, and I wanted to go into a little more detail and thought into prepping your tool shed.
First and foremost, buy quality! Yes you can go pick up four screwdriver sets a Wally World for what one quality set cost you at Sears, but truth be told most of us would not pick up four sets, and when you are on a roof, under the car, or even under fire and your tool breaks, it doesn’t matter you could have picked up four sets. All that matters then is you have a broken cheap tool.
Don’t judge quality by a life time warranty. There are a lot of tools out there that come with a “life time” warranty, but most of those do cover our stupidity of using a screwdriver as a chisel, and most of those require you mail the broken product off and wait 90 plus days for them ship you a replacement. We all know the Craftsman hand tool warranty, bring in the broken tool and they will give you a replacement. I do have to warn you though there are some poorly made Craftsman tools out there, so be sure you handle the tool and check it out. I have even been known to do some research online to check out the reviews before purchasing.
If it is important, get more than one. Like I said earlier if you are on the roof and your hammer breaks, it would really bite to have to go to the store, if you can, to get another one. Even though modern tools are more durable than they use to be, they can still break. Put enough force on those modern fiberglass handles and they will break. I broke a shovel handle, by having a cinder block fall two stories on to it. The falling cinder block is a whole other story, but the point is the shovel handle broke. I have multiple shovels, hammer, screw driver sets, chisels, wrenches, pliers, etc. I even have extra handles for my tools, and some quality lumber stored that I could turn into a handle if need be.
Figure out what you are going to do when the power is out. When buying power tools be sure you don’t have to fully rely on plugging them in. First with hand power tools, if you are without power you are pretty much out of luck. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them, it just means you should be ready to be without them. Be sure you have a couple of different handsaws, hand drills, hand planes, pretty much any powered hand tool you get be sure you have a backup. I was lucky to inherit both of my grandfather’s tools; it was amazing to find tools from my great-great grandfathers tools mixed into these that still worked and sometimes did a better job than any new tool. As for battery powered tools, these can be a good alternative, but not the only backup. You could setup a fueled or solar generator to power the tools or charge the batteries when need be, but the system could break down, so don’t have these as your only backup. Be sure you have plenty of extra batteries and extra cells. By cells I mean inside of each battery pack there is a group of smaller cells, which most look like C-Cell batteries, but note they are not. Do a little work on Google and you will find the replacement cells for your battery pack. When one of the batteries fail it usually only a single cell or two inside the pack that have actually failed; it is a simple thing to replace one of the cells if you know how to check them and solider in the new one. When it comes to power tools, both plug in and battery powered try to stay in the same brand. Sometimes there are parts that could be interchangeable if one breaks down, and if you stay with the same battery types it will save you a lot of headaches of dealing with multiple chargers and batteries. It is so nice to only worry about one battery. Finally stand tools. There is nothing nicer than having a good table saw, band saw, chop saw, and drill press, but what are you going to do when the power is out? During my summers in North Carolina, there was an old water powered mill. It was the most fascinating thing to see all these pulleys and belts humming all over the place. This has always been in my head when buying stand tools. Be sure the system is a pulley and belt and not a direct drive type; if need you can convert the power source from the electric motor to some alternative input. I have done a little experiment with a windmill and my table saw. After figuring out the gearing and going a little slower that I am use to, I was cutting ¾ inch plywood smooth and clean. Buy extra brushes, cords, and any other serviceable parts for all of your power tools. As with in other prepping put some thought into, so you can get the life you need out of.
Figure out what else you can do with it. Multi-purpose should always be thought about. One of the best examples I could ever give is back to my shovel. We were about to dry our clothes, when we found a wind storm had broken one of our clothes line poles the night before. For a quick fix, since we had wet clothes. I stuck the shovel in the ground and tied the clothes line off to it. Don’t ever look at anything as a single purpose item; of course this doesn’t mean miss use a tool, like a gun butt does not make a good hammer, but always be aware of your tools how they work, and what else you can do with them. Clamps have a 101+ uses, maybe this will be my next letter, screw drivers in a pinch can be used a wedge, pliers can go from the garden to the car to your mouth if need be. A drill can power things from a coffee grinder to an ice cream maker, or a meat grinder to a water pump, I have even powered a chicken plucker with a hammer drill before. There are even now power tools that have interchangeable heads. The one I purchased has a drill, jig saw, electric hammer, socket driver, sanding pads, and cut-off blade; there was also a battery powered version that used the same batteries as my other tools. So with two tools I have 6 tools both plug-in and battery powered so really 12 different tools.
If you can’t find your tools you might as well not have. You shouldn’t be without is a good toolbox. Now I am not talking about a little portable hand tool box, which you should have a few of as well, I am talking about a large multi-drawer/cabinet toolbox. Have a nice place to put your tools. Be sure to keep some desiccant in the drawer to try and keep moister down. I know the cost of these can be high, but a good quality nice looking toolbox, make you proud of your tools, and in turn helps you want to keep them organized, clean and put away.
Take care of them and keep them clean. I remember my grandfather taking is air-tools apart cleaning, greasing, and oiling them. I also remember him wiping down and oiling his hammer, screw drivers, wrenches. I know some of our tools today are made of products that will not rust, but most just have some coating or covering on them and when scratched can start to rust. A simple wipe down with oil will help the metal will last for a lot longer. Furthermore if you are storing some tools stock, just like your guns, keep them oiled, when you go to use them it could be the difference in a quality tool and a wrench so rusted to slips around the nut. In the tools I inherited from my grandfather there where some of the first Craftsman power tools, the old chrome ones, which still worked! There were hand tools with their original boxes that if the cardboard wasn’t yellowed you would have had no idea they were well used. A good tool taken care of will last several life times.
Don’t forget the big guys. Now let’s talk about a few big items I don’t think we should be without. One of the most important big tools, in my humble opinion, is a diesel welder/generator. This item covers so many bases I think there are too many list, but luckily I also think it is self-explanatory. Now the welder/generator should not be your primary generator, but a backup one that can also weld. Next would be a compressor. A single compressor can power a huge amount of air tools, as well as just having the high pressure air to clean, feel tires, and more. With the compressor be sure to have extra hoses and fittings. I also love the Shop-Smith multi-tool; however I do not own one. I have recently used a newer one and was very pleased with its performance, my only two complaints were one it was a little cumbersome to switch between tools and two if it breaks down all your tools are out of commission. For the amount of room it took up compared to the tools it replaced I think it might soon be an addition to my shop. As for the compressor and Shop-Smith they both can be powered by alternative power from wind and water, to solar or fueled generator, so be sure you have a backup to power them.
Know your tool, know your environment. Make sure you have the proper place to use your tools. A lot of tools create a lot of dust or fumes, be sure you have a well ventilate place to use your tools. Be sure you have a secure safe place to use your tools. And most important be sure you know how to properly use your tools. I have watched so many “reality” shows that by the end I am amazed the people are still alive. Read the manuals, know when and what to oil, how to sharpen, how to change accessories, what and how to wax, and most important simply how to use it.
In my opinion all of what I have said is just common since, but sometimes you just have to hear it or see it, for to sink in. Being prepared for anything includes being able to fix a squeaky door, level a floor, or performing a head job on your truck. Whatever it is you will need the right tools and in working order. Put some thought into and the end game will be just that much easier.