15 Hand Tool Groups For Preparedness

‘Be prepared’. It’s an enormously general statement. Most people think of food storage with regards to preparedness. And it’s certainly important. However, there are countless additional categorical ambitions that one might choose to get into when it comes to being prepared. One of them is tools. Or maybe hand tools. Tools to assist with your self-reliance and sustainability.

Many such categories involve a set of practical skills to go along with it. With that in mind, each skill set requires some of their own unique tools – of which many require electricity to operate. A significant challenge arises when there is no electricity. Could today’s skilled craftsman (for example) successfully perform their craft without the aid of electricity? Would it require additional hand tools (albeit a much slower process)?

Tip: Battery powered tools. If you have a way to charge them (solar, for example), you’re good to go without the grid. For example, in addition to my gasoline powered Stihl chainsaw, I also have a battery powered chainsaw because I know that I can simply recharge it with my off-grid solar system. Same goes for hand tools like my circular saw, drill, and many others (battery opereated).

Having basic categorical groups of hand tools (and of course the skills to use them) could (will) be an asset to one’s overall survival preparedness. Fewer people today know basic trades, and fewer have the ability to use and apply basic tools than years gone by. Particularly since the country as a whole has moved away from manufacturing (and the jobs and skills that went with it).

In a SHTF world, those who have the tools, the skills, and the ingenuity to perform the basic tasks of building, repairing, modifying and adapting to circumstances which require ‘do-it-yourself’…those people will be better off.

With that said, it might be advantageous to consider the tools (hand tools?) which might become significant assets in such a world…

Here’s how I would go about it. First, think about the tools that you may need to literally keep you alive. This may be somewhat unique, depending where you live too.

For example, ‘Peanut gallery’ here on the blog once said, “We put the tools in order of importance. What is needed to keep us alive. Living in the North East we have to be able to cut wood in order to keep warm. So we have many tools to cut wood. Although we have chainsaws, they are not considered our primary. We may also have to consider noise, which is why we have a multitude of options for cutting wood.”

See what I mean? The same may likely go for Gardening. Gardening tools may be high up on your list…

Okay, a few categories which come to mind include the following:

  • Carpentry Tools
  • Plumbing Tools
  • Electrical Tools
  • Mechanical Tools
  • Firewood Tools
  • Clothing, Sewing, Textile Tools
  • Gunsmith Tools
  • Gardening Tools
  • Livestock & Animal Husbandry Tools
  • Canning Tools
  • Kitchen Tools
  • Automotive Tools
  • Hunting, Fishing, Trapping Tools
  • First Aid Tools
  • ‘Moonshine’ Tools ;)

There certainly are many more, however the intent is to get you to thinking about it – perhaps as it relates to your own current skills.

Do you have supplemental hand tools, just in case? Leave your comment and add your own thoughts about categories and/or tools for survival preparedness…

[ Read: Cordless Chainsaw – Battery Powered 40 Volt Powerhouse ]

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34 Comments

  1. I have pretty much focused heavily on having the means to make stuff or grow stuff, fabrics, leather, steel for knives etc, things that we need for life, being able to make whatever i need or that i could trade with others seems important, no way i could ever amass enough PMs to make a difference and even if you have em perhaps nobody wants em, rather trade you a goat kid for a bunch of bladed tools for gardening or the like. Or for some heavy duty clothing for outdoor work after the store bought stuff wears out. Its to the practical i turn. Yes for preparedness, but honestly mostly as an interest and hobby too, like shoes, i have taught myself how to make boots and shoes, most o the stuff you get in the store is crap anyway, but people need footwear, its an obscure ability but one that people trip out on when they find out i can do it.

  2. A Blacksmith will never go hungry in a SHTF environment. A few simple tools and a small piece of rail from a railroad track as an anvil. A forge made from a truck brake drum. Material source from junk cars…how many of them will there be in a grid down? The old leaf springs, or even coil springs can be fashioned into excellent knives, hinges, tools, etc.. A decent blacksmith will be worth his (or her) weight in gold in the coming days.

  3. files for sharpening tools and a file card, some good whetstones, saw sets for the saws to set the kerf. a lot of hacksaw blades, still cheap i think. and as many manual hand tools as you can put back. shovels. garden hoes, axes and saws, hand drills. some extra handles wouldn’t hurt either unless you had a shaving horse and the tools, a draw knife and some wood files and rasps. broken glass works good for sanding. this stuff is not like apples and oranges, it won’t spoil if taken care of.
    electricity is our friend but i don’t depend on it. ya never know these days. raining frogs? it wouldn’t surprise me.
    ‘Moonshine’ Tools are on my to do list. ) thanks Ken for the reminder.
    i buy a lot of tools from Highland Woodworking, they have heritage quality tools. they are not cheap, but buy once and cry once. one day we may not be able to run down to the hardware store.
    PS, a person can’t have to many hammers.

    1. Scout
      You sound ready to face it. I am wondering how the broken glass sanding works. Could you walk me through it?

      1. PNW Sal,
        just take the sharp broken edge of the glass and rake it across the wood along the grain. hope this helps

  4. #15, ohhhhh heck yes!!!!
    During the Great Depression and ALL conflicts/times people will spend their very last dime on a drink.
    Do you know why a “Shot” is called a shot?
    “Tools of the Trade” again, why are they called that? “Trade & Bartering” were the only way to survive, may again come to that…maybe?
    $5.70 for a gallon of Diesel…..
    And $40,000,000,000.oo to escalate a war with Russia….
    Let’s Go Brandon.

    1. Im going to grow weed, way easier and wayyy more effective, that chill can improve focus

      1. Kula – You’d better be growing some straight fire in your weed patch; cannabis prices have collapsed here since it was legalized. Only the exotic hybrids command a high price.

  5. Plumbing, Electrical, Mechanical, Automotive and HVAC over here. I try to stock up on consumables like drill bits, saw blades, razor blades, manifold hose sets, vac pump oil as well as assembly spares. All common, easily lost sockets like 10, 12, 14, 17mm, etc., I have bags of ten. 1/4, 1/2, 3/4″ drive bits – dozens. Battery power tools are 100% Makita with up to 4 duplicate tools depending on frequency of use. Loads of batteries with adapters to gang them in series or parallel to power other things in a pinch. Solar recharging works well for this.

    1. In April 2020 during the Pandemic, the local Sears was closing. I went in first thing in the AM and managed to get $2,200 worth of tools for $670. Combination wrenches were $2-$3, Screwdriver sets were $10-$12. 1/4″ drive Socket Sets were $10. 3/8″ drive Socket sets were $20. Socket accessory sets $20. 1/2″ drive impact sets were $33. 1/2″ drive extension sets were $20. Plus numerous adjustable wrench sets. There were cheap enough to get both inch/metric sets…. Best buy were 6-pack of 2 cycle chain saw oil for .78 cents package of 6.

      During the pandemic the local ACE Hardware had shovels on sale for half price. When standing in line to pay for one, some lady asked me what the shovel was for…. I said “to bury the dead” the look on her face was priceless. Everyone else in line was laughing….

  6. Five various crosscut saws. Three 5 ft two-man saws (bucking and felling) and two 36” one-man bucking saws with wedges, handles, sharpening files, tools,vice to supplement my chainsaws. Also several Corona folding hand saws, several different types of axes, splitting mauls, sledgehammers, wedges and a manual hydraulic log splitter.

    1. @ Romeo Charlie
      A close mirror to my firewood tool chest. I have access to 4 or 5 train cart loads of coke (coked coal) from a train wreck in the 60’s. The rail company just dozed the rail carts and coke over the hill. Looks the same now as it was 50 years ago. I have never seen or heard of a heating stove which burns coke? I believe it would need to be firebrick lined and have a blower. Not sure grates would hold up to the heat? I have gotten bags of it for several friends that have a blacksmith forge. Any thoughts on a coke burning heat stove for residential use?

      1. Timberplot,
        I have no experience with using coal or coke other than remembering my Grandfather, who ran the small train depot when I was a kid had a coal burning potbelly stove he used to warm the depot with coal left over from the days of the steam locomotives. I still have the coal shovel and coal rake that were used by the fireman on steam locomotives marked ACL (Atlantic Coast Line) which was the railroad he worked and he kept when they closed the depot. I’m guessing it burns much hotter than wood which is why blacksmiths use it and if you find a potbelly stove tgat would be a great resource.

      2. It would have to be firebrick lined, with high temp brick. Coke is pure carbon, and is used in copula furnaces to melt cast iron.(iron+coke+combustion air= cast iron + high T) the process becomes exothermic, puts off a ton of heat. Brick lined firebox might hold it, but your flues may burn out quickly. Also a possibility of Carbon Monoxide generation, which can be harmful if it leaks into the house, as with all fires. Maybe gather it up and barter with it? Blacksmiths and iron foundries gotta have coke.

  7. Like others have said you can never have too many hand tools. I have several myself. Wrenches, sockets, hammers, saws, hoes, rakes and shovels, I have multiples of each. I also have a coal forge to make blades or other metal parts. I also have a scrap metal bin that I keep some angle iron, pipes and rods in at all times. Also keep nuts, bolts, screws and nails. If you have an air compressor keep it pumped up at all times so you can air up a tire or use air tools a little.

  8. This is why I’ve been going to all these garage and yard sales over the years. It’s amazing some of the stuff I’ve been able to buy over the years on the cheap.

  9. On the moon shine tools, that would be a great antiseptic, disinfectant, maybe lantern fuel (?), and pain reliever ; ) , etc.

  10. Might need a propane torch and fuel extra fuel tanks. I have a 1/2 ton hoist, and two 4 ton come-a-longs. 2,3,4 work benches, You might have 2 or 3 projects, repairs going at the same time. Ladders, ropes of multiple sizes and lengths. 1/4 and 3/8s truck chains . . .
    Everybody says I have too many tools and should down size my shop, until they need a basin wrench, they don’t even know exists! 4-way lug wrenches are handy when there is NO air pressure to be had.
    Come to think of it you really just can never have enough tool.

      1. Blackjack22
        My wife says that a bit more lol! But the tools are there when needed so the outrage is not too great. My neighbors know I have most tools, kind of hard to hide doing my own work, but reciprocate with goodies and wine.

  11. focusing on water procurement implements.
    Low tech well buckets made out of schl. 40 pvc and brass swing valves. all neighbors have drilled wells.
    Low tech water filers using pvc pipe, sand & activated charcoal.
    Making enough for the surrounding community members I deem worthy.
    Just the little bird on my shoulder directing me to get ready. most people will die down here from lack of water or drinking bad water. Things will get messy. Not sure I but I believe Diarrhea is a top killer in Africa.
    I have other ways of procuring well water from several cast iron hand pumps to solar well pump that can run direct from a solar panel.

    1. White Cracker,
      You might want to invest in some cheap ozone generators that can work off solar to use to disinfect water, just in case wells get contaminated.

    2. remember there is a heirarchy involved. You can have the knowledge to find ore, fuel to blacksmith it into something useful, but will you have the time? Absolutely stock up on hand tools and the means to keep them functional. Saw a video of a bicycle repair guy in Africa who made a bike wheel truing stand out of branches reminded me that most energy will be spent making and repairing existing things until they’re good enough to get by. Survival is just a complicated chain of turning this into that. The further up the chain you can start, the less energy and time you’ll spend.

  12. A Froe and a good mallet will make kindling work a little easier.Lehman’s sold them in the past.

  13. I have noticed since the economy shrinks, and the cost of everything explodes. People are selling off everything to make ends meet. I always hit garage sells on the weekends. Amazing what I find cheap, good time to fill in those holes in your needs list.
    Remember one is none, so stock up.

  14. I would like to include metal working tools category. Welders, cutting torches, metal lathes, milling machines, shapers, brakes, shear, CNC plasma cutter, hydraulic hose crimping tools, taps, endmills, tool steel, brass, aluminum and steel stock, copper tubing and porta-powers.
    Maybe a chemical tools category to include tools such as, pH testers, hot plates, desiccators, filter paper, pipettes, tubes and clamps, lye, nitric acid, flasks, Epsom salt, stoppers, Calcium Chloride, pool chemicals, Acetone, Phenolphthalein, Sulfuric Acid, Copper Sulfate, and some DI water.
    The last category to add would be masonry tools such as laser level, laser range finder, trowels, wheelbarrow, square, string, tamping tool, polypropylene earthbag tubes, Dexpan expansive demolition grout, Masonry bits with impact drill, wire brush, cold chisel, limestone and a kiln.

  15. My 2 pennies to add….. sheetmetal group, compressor and hoses, rivet gun (at least a 2X), sets, bucking bars, aviation snips, various sizes and lengths of solid rivets. Hand rivet puller and maybe some pull rivets. Clecos, scratch awls, skin knives, sheet aluminum, and other assorted pieces, it’s all about your space and budget. That rain-gutter or flue you wanna make, now you can.

  16. Fencing ( inc wire tensioner)
    Bike tools ( specialist spline , bottom bracket, headset and chain tools for common standards)
    Footwear repair
    Glazing repair.

  17. – Dad taught me the basics of blacksmithing a long, long time ago. Believe I could still do what’s needed. They even used blacksmiths on the Construction of the Saturn V boosters, I believe. Great-great grandad was a professional blacksmith, and there are still a few of his tools around (an Uncle-by-marriage took off with most of them)
    – Papa S.

  18. Garage and estate sales are good places to pick up old hand tools. I just put up a screwdriver rack with 60 holes. Filled it up with many extras left in the drawers.

    Only have 8 hammers, 4 sledge hammers, many rulers and squares of various size.

    Many hand saws for various uses.

    One thing I overlooked when I first moved to the Ozarks were fasteners. Nails. Screws. Bolts. Nuts. Washers. I valuable to have on hand when nothing is open on the weekend or is one hour away. Over flowing now.

    As my buddy said the other day, “Don’t let your wife convince you to get rid of your junk pile!”. You never know what you might need to repurpose.

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