15 Hand Tool Groups For Preparedness


‘Being prepared’ is an enormously general statement. While most people think first of food storage with regards to preparedness, there are countless additional categorical ambitions that one might choose to venture…

Many such categories involve a set of practical skills – likely having to do with increasing one’s self-reliance and independence from some of the external systems which keep most of the modern world ‘alive’.

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)?

Having basic categorical groups of hand tools (and of course the skills to use them) could 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…

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
Blacksmith 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 their hand tools for survival preparedness…

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  1. As usual Ken, a very thought provoking article. We took inventory of the “tools” required when we first relocated from the burbs to our very rural ranch MANY years ago. It has taken a few years to get where we wanted to be “tool-wise”, but we have not had to purchase any (except security) tools for many years now. You might want to add medical tools to the list. Sounds odd to call them tools (as opposed to appliances), but when considering one might have to pull or repair their own teeth, do their own transfusions or body repairs….medical could become a big issue. I see you list First Aid….but I am talking bigger issues.
    Thanks for keeping us all “on our feet” and thinking about the needs of a self sufficient society.

  2. Tomorrow completes week 4 of 4 living isolated here at the ranch to understand what life would be like after SHTF. This week was life without electricity; I did not open the frig or freezer or turn the lights on, etc. it is an interesting coincidence of the timing of your article today. Ken, I will be writing a synopsis of these 4 weeks and I will send it to you by email. I will leave this weeks lessons learned for the synopsis.

    However, I have reached one conclusion overall. I suspect 100% of the non prepper types will perish and 98% or so of us preppers will also perish. For the most part prepping only delays our demise for a while. Here in Texas President LBJ was praised for the electrification of Texas but all he did was make us all softies that have lost the tools and skills required to survive long term. To survive there is too much lost skill, knowledge, tools, community teamwork and motivation to work that hard to really be successful at living. Only aboriginal people of the planet will continue the human race.

    I know this article will anger a lot of readers but I have now have seen the writing on the wall. Best wishes anyway!

    1. Wow,
      Bleak outlook! But i get it, i really think most prepper types are not really as prepped as they think they are.
      Real stuff to think about though, interesting.

    2. I agree with your opinion of aboriginals as well your thoughts on most preppers. I don’t know about the percentage number, but it will probably be high. The key here for survivors are the ones who are accustomed to living their preps. Aboriginals by their nature already live as though they were a prepper living their preps. And that should be the model for preppers when they consider living their preps. I don’t know what my own chances are but I’m trying as best I can to live my preps daily. As in, cabin in the woods with no electric, no gas, no running water. Unless of course you count that I’m currently using solar to recharge my iPad, kindle, and batteries for lamps and flashlights. All of course I can do without when the time comes. It’s just a matter of adjustment. All of my supplies and tools are of the extreme low tech variety and I see that as a plus. Things that are either easy to repair and maintain or fabricate from scratch.

    3. @ No Joke
      I personally am looking very forward to your synopsis/article, I hope you will really lay it all out, I’m interested for more than just the curiosity sake, but factually parts also. Would like to know how far you went as far as not using the conveniences of “home” and so forth. Also what did you fall short on (preps) what did you see you really did not need.

      I’m interested in not only the thinking of 100% and 98% will parish, but why? I know most preppers are thinking 1 year of food and so on, but beyond that what is your thinking the majority (98% of those prepared) will also parish.

      Thank you in advance No Joke.


    4. Under what kind of conditions in your conclusion about 98% of preppers would die did shtf? Are you including something you are not experiencing? Like all our 440+ Nuke plants failing a proper shutdown which takes nearly 2 years to cool with cold water running over the rods? If the case of several emp blasts over our whole country with no back up power to handle the water pumps after a shutdown, more likely all things living in the US would perish.

  3. Tools,
    Nothing like a good tool,
    The only thing i have been considering getting and havent are carpentry hand tools, spent about 20+ years in the trades building and running a shop, it just makes me cringe to think about having to use hand tools to do stuff, its real easy to manually turn wrenches and use a hoe or stuff like that, but the thought of ripping boards with a hand saw just gives me shivers,,,
    I think i will either turn out a lot of rustic stuff or better look into a heavy duty solar setup to run stuff after TSHTF,,,
    Of course its like anything else, all those tools might not mean anything if its something totally crazy that goes down, and really i could fall over dead today!
    Stuff to ponder

    1. Do an internet search for “How Amish Get Around Using Electricity for Power Tools” There is also a hand powered table saw and on Youtube many non-electric saws, lathes’ etc.

  4. Folks, it is NOT too late to learn new tricks! My husband and I built our entire place….from scratch, including waiting several months for the power company to bring in power lines! We were 50 when we started this project.

    That being said, I had the luxury of growing up with my grandparents in tact well into their age 100’s, so I learned many of the lost arts as a child and young woman.

    Still, I had to learn all the livestock issues, we ended up moving the greenhouse to a more protected spot after some nasty up-slope tornadic style winds, and we had to re-think the cistern and water preparations after realizing that a 1000 foot deep well was NOT going to hand pump!

    Never the less, we took a family wide inventory of skills, and then proceeded to “assign” new knowledge gathering across the family and we spend two weeks every year getting together to “share” that knowledge and those new skills. It CAN be done. Keep the faith!

    1. Excellent idea on assigning people to learn new skills that the family might need. I would also make sure that there are two people assigned to each skill. If one person with the knowledge dies, the group could be in trouble if no one else knows that particular skill set.

  5. It’s interesting what some people think of when the word “tool” is mentioned. Most think of a nice “Skill Saw” or a 2HP table saw, maybe a welder and an Air Nailer/Gun. Having been in the construction trades for well over 40 years I wince at the though of dragging out the old hand tools. Is there a probability they may be needed again? Yeppers, there sure is. Is the skill there to still use them? Yeppers, it still is. But God knows the Body ain’t what it used to be…. HAHAHAHA

    I VERY glad to see Ken add the ‘Moonshine’ Tools ? to the list. Now please remember that “moonshining” is very illegal in the US regardless of what some believe, and I would not even know anyone that does such a devious deed, But being able to Brew a nice Beer or glass of Wine is a definite plus.

    I have been thinking that we all need to just shut down for a month or so as No Joke has to see where the holes are in our preparing. I do a weekend (3 days) once a month or so, just to “test” out stuff, and maybe that helps some, but a full blown SHTF. Honestly, NOT looking forward to that at all.

    Pioneer Woman brought up a GREAT point, Medical. After a SHTF that is going to be a very real problem. With no new medical supplies or Hospitals were all going to be in a world of hurt so to speak. Food for thought.


  6. I have the tools to build a house and light repair on most vehicles. Kept my tools from working autobody repair and being a carpenter. I also became a pattern maker in designing clothing and editing/writing/graphic illustration/publishing a magazine. Having the tools won’t do anything unless you have the determination to learn the skills and to use them.

    Necessity is the mother of invention, it is born when needs are not met from the outside world and you have to create your own solutions. That is what I call being self-sufficient and independent.

  7. On the theme of tools learning new skills, I just read Collapse by Jared Diamond. He looks at the reasons civilizations collapse over history from an anthropological view. One of the important points he makes is that many times one of the reasons a people do not survive is they fail to drop old skills and beliefs in the new situation. Being able to adapt may be a willingness not only to learn new things but also being willing to drop old ideas that are no longer beneficial.


    1. That author is right when man invented new tools and weapons to topple other civilizations, but a rich modern culture today thrives on old skills and tools as well as new.

  8. 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 .

  9. Be sure you know how to fix tools as well. No use having saws if you don’t know how to sharpen them or a treadle sewing machine if you don’t know how to adjust the tension. Therefore be sure to practice once you have them.

  10. I collect “antiques” of all kinds whenever I can. Anything that is actually useful. Whether its hand tools or kitchen items,or whatever. I usually hang them on the wall or put them on a rough cut log shelf. But most people don’t realize that they aren’t just decorations. Almost everything just hangin on a nail or sittin’ on a shelf, that most people think are “decorations”, are still fully functional, whether they are 50 years old or 100 years old! Meat grinders,cast iron cookware, or ice tongs. I actually use the ice tongs to skid logs out of the woods!
    One of my sons girlfriends saw my washboard hanging on the cabin wall and said ” Oh that’s so cool, do you use that playin’ in your band?” I laughed and said ” sometimes, but do you know what that is?” She said its a band thingy isn’t it?
    I said yes, sort of, but that’s how your great grandma washed her underwear! I’m not sure if she understood, but she said, “Oh, that’s cool.”?
    I just pray that if TSHTF, that she doesn’t have to do my laundry!

  11. As a contractor I have a large collection of tools. I buy old hand tools whenever I find them. All types. Can’t help it I love tools. I buy all the old manuals too.
    I build tools too when I have time. My next big project is to build a down draft wood gasifier to run a decent size gennie for my shop. I gathered all the supplies. Just have to find the time.Helped a friend in Texas build one.He bought a wood pellet machine to manufacture fuel for his stoves and gennie. He can use just about anything to manufacture the pellets. I hope I have time to buy one too. Then I will have a way to power my electric tools even if gas and propane are scarce. I could put one on my older Chevy flatbed too. So many projects so little time! LOL!!

  12. In my opinion, tools are only part of where you must focus! You must also look at additional supplies of what those tools will be used for!!!

    Carpentry: large volume of nails and screws of all sizes!

    Electrical: Coated copper wire, wire nuts and electrical tape!

    Gardening: oil to apply a thin film coating after each use to prevent rust of those gardening tools! Buy extra wooden handles for each tool as back up!

    Firewood: Include chimney sweep tools and extra chimney pipe sections!

    Automotive: oil,filters, spark plugs and wire!

    Most importantly stock a lot of all categories that have one time use consumables, first aid and canning example!!!

    These in particular will make excellent barter items! So after food, you can’t buy too much of these items!

    My opinion: Never barter ammo or pain reliever medicine unless you are starving!!

    Alert!!!! get Potassium Iodide tablets ASAP!! The Feds are in the process of buying out entire inventories nationally!!!

    1. You bring up a very good set of augmenting points (e.g. a hammer doesn’t do much good without the nails, etc..) Thanks…

    2. That’s a good point. I always have material left over from jobs. Try to use it up on the next project. I believe I will start to put the excess material away instead of using it up…

    3. Spark plug for your generator. Sharpening hand saws by hand takes a while (and the right file). Look into Stanley “hard tooth” saws.

      Selco DOES say you’ll have more time than you think.

      Don’t get too caught up in the idea of “the event”. There will probably be numerous “events” with most people thinking “it’s over” after each one and tryng to convince themselves “normal” life is right around the corner.

      Remember, people panic and call 911 if Facebook goes down. Some consider it a crisis if the pizza gal is late.

  13. Don’t forget the little and very useful things like screws, nails, bolts etc. Also I keep some sheets of plywood stored for future use. It was a pain in the butt when I had them leaning against the wall in my garage, seemed to always be in the way. Now I screw them to the outside wall of my shed. The roof overhang keeps them dry, they are 6″ off the ground and easy to get to if I need them. I place the first one with 2″ screws through the wall into the studs. The rest (five total) screw into the previous one all piggy backed together. I learned from experience that it becomes too heavy so I place a few brick to support the bottom edge of the plywood and now the screws don’t hold them up they only hold them against the wall.
    I also made a small door at the end of the roof gable to allow me to push boards into the roof trusses. I bought a couple dozen 2×4’s when they were cheap and stored them up there with a few other boards. Everything kept dry and out of the way.

  14. Some basic metal working tools, snips, rivets and rivet gun, small brake $30 Harbor Freight, fence pliers. I guess you could even weld and solder without electricity. I’ve 12: x 50′ rolls of galvanized metal and similar aluminum. Metal screen, chicken wire has diverse uses. Utilitarian wire, such as bale wire. Tinsmith skills can produce kitchenware, funnels, boxes.

  15. Im curious though…can you make bullets without electricity. Not only the bullet, but whole cartridge component including the gunpowder and primer. Is there a specific tools to made it?

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