Ted’s Most Frequently Used Items While Living Off-Grid

From: ‘Ted K’

Having lived off grid for a while, I thought I would list the tools I used to build/fix wood picnic tables, log cabins and shelving within my district when I worked in a primitive recreation area. So here goes:

(1) Wood auger drill with the appropriate bits. The drill itself is a C shaped instrument which gives the user a tremendous amount of leverage to drill holes more efficiently with less effort.

(2) Single bit axe with a spare as standby. (When handles broke or became loose to unsafe degree, I would use the spare and replace the handle later at my leisure. Replacing wood handles is a good winter project. )

(3) Ratchet shaft screw drivers with replacement bits either self contained or in conjunction with a gunsmithing screwdriver set.

(4) Crosscut saw, hack saw with spare blades, folding type pruning saw to trim or remove branches about 2-3 ” in diameter.

(5) Ratchet wrenches with appropriate components.

(6) Vise grips in a variety of sizes and tips. (standard and needle-nose type)

(7) Work gloves and polycarbonate safety glasses.

(8) Either a chain saw or a misery whip to cut firewood into rounds to be split later. The only people I knew who used misery whips in the 1980s were exercise fanatics (misery whip is a two man cross-cut saw as seen in logging competitions. Their use is very aerobic and good for your body core). I was lazy and my dad taught me the care and feeding of internal combustion engines as a child so I was more comfortable using the chainsaw.

(9) Spitting maul and at least 4 wedges: 2 were splitting wedges to spit wood off a round. 2 more were long and thin to pound into the cut behind the chainsaw cut in order to prevent the blade from being pinched when dropping trees.

(10) Rope and string in large amounts.

(11) Shovel (s)

(12) Flat mill files to sharpen the axes, pulaskis and rat-tailed file to sharpen the chainsaw teeth.

(13) Cable pulley system known as a “come along”.

(14) Trailer hitch and ball for your car/truck.

Mind you that this was in addition to the full complement of fire-fighting hand tools of pulaskis, lady shovels, mcclouds.

Frequently, I was working alone so if my vehicle got stuck, it was up to me to get myself out of the mess.

This list was my effort to recall my MOST FREQUENTLY USED items when I was working and living off-grid. Too many years have passed and I am on my second glass of good red wine to remember everything i used. I believe I made my point though that to live off grid is a LOT of work with an inordinate amount of time trying to keep warm and dry.

I did my laundry in town and I went grocery shopping while my clothes spun in the machines.


Ken adds: I really enjoy reading the lists of others, which always vary somewhat depending on each person’s circumstances. In this case, I believe that Ted is a forest-fire-fighter. Lists always seem to bring on new insight or ideas. I also take special note of a key statement that Ted makes which reads, “…to live off grid is a LOT of work with an inordinate amount of time trying to keep warm and dry”.



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  1. Rat tail files are not for chainsaws, use either an appropriate size round file for round and semi-chisel chain, a triangular file for full chisel.
    Felling wedges are generally plastic these days, a good feller will have a variety of lengths and sizes. Splitting wedges are typically steel and come in many shapes, used a maul or sledge for splitting rounds. Thin steel wedges are used for splitting rails. A good 5 pound axe can split rounds and rails with a skilled operator.
    Misery whips are frequently used by trail crews in wilderness areas and will be an important tool and skill if chainsaw fuel becomes a problem.
    Lady shovel = R-5 shovel? Short handled round point shovel with sharpened sides to aid scrapping.

  2. Over the years I have learned that cutting the fingers off a pair of gloves offers the best of both worlds. It is cold 4 months of the year here where you need the gloves just because of the cold. Save the ones that you wear the fingers out for your half glove conversions. Cloth(Smitty’s) and leather gloves are what I save for conversions.


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