Hand Tools for the Near Future

Hello Everybody, Frank here.

We recently had a question that for me was thought provoking. It had to deal with tools. I’ve included a partial quote from the email, and my response in it’s entirety. It’s just food for thought. There is one item I would like to add to the list, though. It may not seem like a tool to you, but anything that makes your life easier I classify as a tool. That’s comfort food. So the tool I would like to add is a big box of Snickers. You know, those health bars covered with chocolate. Hope you enjoy the list. But it was a very good question.


“We have been finishing much of our “to-do” list (aka ‘preps’), including purchases of lumber and fencing for the future garden beds. I did want to ask your opinion on what type of hand tools should we get to keep on hand?  We do have many garden tools, and shovels and such.  Any other recommendations?  I am talking just what you think would be absolutely bare-bones necessary. Could you do a short article on that subject?  I think it would be most welcome by everyone.”


Good question.


I think your idea about doing an article on hand tools is an excellent idea. The garden tools that Fern and I use are good, solid, well-made, with long handles. We are both tall people. When I do buy extra, they are on sale and stock up for the future. Garden tools may make an excellent barter item some day.

As far as hand tools go, I buy the best tools I can afford. Not the most expensive, but the best. The last few years I’ve started relying heavily on battery operated tools. I rarely use a hammer to drive nails, so I buy a lot of long screws. My elbow will not take the pounding anymore. Saws are very important, all kinds of hand saws. But I use my battery operated tools as much as I can for cutting and drilling. A quality brace and bit is also necessary. Sockets and socket sets are a must. Buy lots of drill bits, especially the little ones, they break easily.

I have multiple sets of tools. One basic set in the house, a complete set in the garage, and a pretty good set in the barn.
Watch for sales at the big box stores like Lowes, and as mentioned earlier, buy the best tools you can afford. Don’t forget things like files, grinders, punches, chisels, nail sets, but especially don’t forget files. Heaven forbid, but you can sharpen your kitchen knives with a file. So, don’t forget good knife sharpeners too, which ever type you prefer.

A shotgun is a handy tool, too. Double 00 buckshot, bird shot, a Remington 870. This tool will help you keep your other tools much longer.

A good Bible comes in handy. Axes, big ax, hand ax, mauls, splitters, sledge hammer – big one, and smaller ones. Pry bars. The list goes on. On occasion when we have a small animal to get rid of, a small sledge hammer comes in handy. A good stock of lumber, as you mentioned, is very handy, as is fencing, especially barbed wire. A couple of extra loads of gravel is a nice tool to have.

A small, full functioning tractor is extremely handy, especially the front end loader. You can haul larger animals in the front end loader for butchering processes. Yep, I’d get a good, small, solid, full functioning tractor with implements.

Might want to stock up on clothes, too. Go ahead and buy that extra canner and water bath now. Don’t forget boots, socks and underwear, gloves and hats.

If I were you, I would switch all of your light bulbs out to LED bulbs. Don’t forget traps. Some day those traps might feed you. Get a good supply of mouse traps while you’re at it. Don’t buy the cheap ones, you get what you pay for.

Don’t forget trash bags, paper towels, kleenex, toilet tissue. Don’t cut hygiene short either. Laundry detergent in large plastic buckets? Get a bunch. The buckets are really handy and powdered laundry detergent will meet the vast majority of your cleaning needs.

I’m tired. Hope this helps. Just food for thought. Don’t forget rechargeable batteries and solar panels. Take care.



Here is another handy tool. Tools for Survival by James Wesley, Rawles

Seriously folks, don’t forget the Snickers, man does not live by bread alone. It’s late, it’s been a real long day.

We’ll talk more later, Frank

28 thoughts on “Hand Tools for the Near Future

  1. Good advice. Don't forget estate sales, auctions, foreclosures. Sometimes you may get something that you don't want, but maybe the next guy will.I did some work with a half-round file a couple of days back, and I don't think that there is a substitute for a file. Tools are essential, but first comes water, food and shelter. Thank you for the comment.Frank

  2. Hi SJ. Don't forget plastic pots. I know that people like clay better, but if you get a handful of some of the cheaper plastic pots, you can stack a bunch of them together if they are all the same size. If not, three different sizes, but each on the same dimensions. In the warm months you can have lots of pots filled with something growing, and in the winter months you can bring some of them inside and set them in a window. Thanks for the comment.Frank

  3. Suggest going to flea markets and pawn shops for non-power tools. Many of the older tools are better than the new ones you can get at the box stores. However, inspect carefully for condition, but don't reject it if the tool can be easily repaired.

  4. Hi, Frank and Fern, We live in the Matanuska Valley out near the Knik Glacier. We're in a rural subdivision (5 acres) about 54 miles from Anchorage. There are TWO Costco locations now -the old one on Dimond that you all probably used, and one on DeBarr Rd. There are no other Costco stores in AK right now, but there are two Sam's Clubs in anchorage and a few Three Bears smaller warehouse type stores scattered around the state. One is in Chugiak.We love AK, and even though climate-wise it is not the best place for growing food, it is the farthest place away from the swamp they call D.C.! We couldn't live in the Bush -I have a disability – but we live as far from the madding crowd as we can with my husband and son commuting to Anchorage for their PAYING jobs. I'd love to send you pictures of OUR greenhouse. We used the clear Lexan, and the panels have not deteriorated much in about 10 years. Ours is on the second floor of our house. Speaking of which – didn't see a fan in your greenhouse, but know you must be putting one in. We have a door that goes out to the greenhouse with a screen door, and we have a window that goes out into our greenhouse from inside the house as well. We leave them open to let heat INTO the house some of the year! Your common wall with your greenhouse should help heat your home in the winter as well!I'm from OK originally. Only a few of my relatives still alive there. Fond memories of OK! Although I love AK, I hate being cold. I always tell my husband I am looking forward to winter so I can sit in front of the 80 degree wood stove! ;-)Look forward to reading more about what you all are doing. We have no shortage of \”projects\” here either!

  5. Another great post from you and I took notes in my notebook. There are a few hand tools I've been meaning to add to my collection and I'll start to watch for some sales. Thanks to your posts, I've been stocking up on some clothing basics and shoes. I will also be extending my veggie garden into the fall for the first time. So far, I have carrots, beets for the greens and chard coming up. Cheers, SJ in Vancouver BC Canada

  6. Hello Bluesman. I can envision what you are talking about, but I'm not familiar with the product. I have put a nut on a bolt, hack-sawed the bolt shorter, and then screwed the nut off. A very small amount of file work and it's good to go. I have probably seen what you're talking about in a bin similar to dowel rods, but I never understood the purpose. I'll look into it. Thank you.Frank

  7. Vickie, Fern and I enjoy the comments a great deal. Every now and then we'll write something with very few comments, and we never really know which article will produce the most comments. People have lots of knowledge to share. We have old readers, young readers, very experienced, and some real, real green folks. It's neat to be able to share. Glad you enjoy the articles. Thanks.Frank

  8. Joy, I find there is a direct correlation between being able to fix things and being able to break things. If man didn't break things, he would not need to fix things.I ran into a man today that moved into a house down the road. One year their apple tree produced an abundance and we were given quite a few of the apples. Since he was new to that house and property, I asked him how the apple tree was doing. He didn't know it was an apple tree when he cut it down. Then he asked me, \”What do you do with apples anyway?\” I really didn't know what to say. But we, when we were given those apples, made apple butter. Imagine somebody saying, \”What do you do with apples?\” What do you say?Frank

  9. Hi Kymber. I also am very fond of my battery operated tools, especially the grinder/cut off tool. I never realized that it could be used for so many different things. If you're trying to get information out of somebody, just fire that thing up and put it next to their big toe and they will tell you anything you want to know. Just kidding, of course. I use the little toe. We can't get by without tools, that's what separates us from the other animals. Thanks for the comment.Frank

  10. Bellen, good list! I hope everybody reads this. It's taken me a long time, but over a number of years, now I'm a little stubborn, slow and hard headed, but I have quit using Fern's sewing scissors to cut staples out of boxes. It took me a while to get this concept, but those little scissors she uses are not to be used for cutting chicken bones. But I'm still learning, slowly. Thank you for the list, a very good addition.Frank

  11. MDH, you're exactly right. Tonight my supper was cooked in a Lodge cast iron wok. It's a heavy thing, but I like it. It's got a solid base so it will sit flat on the burner. We use the Lodge brand, and we stayed with one brand so that way the lids and other accessories will fit and work. We have given cast iron starter sets for many years, especially to newlyweds. Most of them comment that they have absolutely no use for cast iron. Sad, isn't? Most would rather have something shiny, pretty and cheap. Just like their cars, and just like their spouse. Maybe that was a little much, but yes, we use cast iron and stainless steel. The skillet that sits on my stove 24/7 is about 30 years old and it's a Lodge 10\” cast iron skillet. In the morning it will be called to duty. It will fry the bacon and the eggs. There is a fair chance it will be used again at lunch or dinner, or both. Then it will cook the eggs for the dog and cats as the day goes on. It does it seven days a week without fail, with no complaining or whining. Too bad those other folks just can't see the benefits of a skillet that will last them multiple life times.Thanks for the comment.Frank

  12. Hello Frank, Good , thought provoking post . One thing I would add to your tool/parts supply list would be a few pieces of all thread in perhaps 1/4\” , 3/8\”, and 1/2\” diameters with plenty of washers and nuts for the different sizes . These come in mighty handy to make specific lengths of bolts for uses around the homestead . They can be purchased at your local hardware store . All thread comes in a 36\” length and can be hacksawed to the length you need for your project . I appreciate your blog site , stay well and God bless .Bluesman

  13. Hi Annabel. Fishing poles are a tool. I buy the little Zebcos. I don't know if it's a 404 or a 202, but every now and then I'll go in the big box store and pick up four or five of them. It doesn't happen often, but if a young child comes over and wants to fish with their daddy or mommy, they can take the pole home with them. Thanks for the comment.Frank

  14. Hi, Tewshooz. I think Snickers should be on every survival list. Talk about a barter item! We have made our own laundry detergent. It's just that right now, our plate is full. We do have boxes and boxes of the ingredients needed to make our own laundry detergent. And when we did make it, it was significantly less expensive and worked quite well. Thank you for your comment.Frank

  15. Fern and I use that same type philosophy about clothes and food, and we focus on sales. We may not need something, that day or the next day, but we are going to need it in the future. I ran across a good sale on socks and bought 100 pair. I kept it mostly to myself, but I told a couple of my friends that are like minded. A sock makes for a great emergency mitten, or it makes a pretty good shooters glove, too. They will probably come in handy for socks. You're right, things wear out. We've always given functional type gifts, things like extension cords, fire extinguishers, stuff like that. Can you share with me what part of Alaska you are in? When we were in Alaska there was only one Costco, and it was in Anchorage. We didn't live in Anchorage, but we did shop there occasionally when we came in from the bush.Thanks for the comment, it's a good reminder.Frank

  16. Great post! Great comments, also! This is one of those posts that really makes one think about how life might be in the future, and how to make it as comfortable as possible. I will have to come back in a week to read all the other comments. I really enjoy your blog – thanks for writing it!

  17. Hi Frank, great list and I had a good feeling knowing that my husband has all the tools you've mentioned and more. Plus, (and I know Fern has touched on this topic a time or two), and that's the value of a husband who knows how to use those tools. I could do some basic repairs too, having learned just by watching my 3 brothers and husband fix and build just about anything. Comfort food is a great idea too, helps keep the spirits up and it would be a 'sweet' treat.

  18. Frank – what an excellent post! my hubby digs through people's junk during our big garbage pick-up here twice a year and you would faint at the stuff that people throw out! old hand tools topping the list! he takes the stuff home, cleans it up and now has an array of really old, reliable hand tools of all shapes and sizes. he swears by his ryobi battery-operated tools and has the whole cadre. we save every month and then purchase the next thing on our list of stuff we need and we are running out of stuff to need. it's an awesome feeling.i really enjoyed the way you put this list together. and i agree, the Bible is definitely a necessary prepping tool! sending good thoughts to you and Fern. ((oh, and tell Fern that i can't let my hubby read her post about fishing – he loves fishing and her post about being bored (i get bored fishing, too!) will just crush him – bahahahahah!))your friend,kymber

  19. Great post. I would add Duct Tape – I love that stuff. It can make temporary repairs to almost everything.I would also add sewing suppilies – thread in basic black, white, tan or whatever color most of your clothes are, needles both sewing and \”home repair needles\”, straight and safety pins, elastic, scissors including one pair just for sewing, iron on patches, buttons, either new or cut off of old clothes. Learn how to make repairs – simple hems, repairing or replacing a zipper, adding a casing for elastic, how to take in or let out clothing. While books on making repairs are rather hard to find much can be found on Youtube and other websites.How about garden seeds? End of season usually means sales on all remaining seeds. Stored properly you'll have a head start on the next year. And in the meantime, learn to save your own seed. Gee, I guess that leads into stocking up on gardening supplies – I've often found pots out for the trash at the end of the growing season.Going over what you do during the day – all activities including eating, sleeping, working, dressing, cleaning, etc – and listing the items you use can help you figure out what you need to stock up on. And, as Frank says, buy the best you can afford. I would add to be sure to check all sources including new, Craig's list, thrift stores and classified ads.

  20. Actually, get the fixings to make your own laundry detergent. Much cheaper and no toxic fragrances or other stuff. Lots of instructions on you tube. mmmmm snickers. They would not last around here as a prep. gobble gobble.

  21. Hi, Frank and Fern, I comment once in a while from Alaska. This summer, we bought extra hand tools -a couple of good shovels, another long handle ax, heavier duty garden tools, etc. We bought extra screws, since we, too, don't use nails much. Screws stay put in lumber that freezes and thaws year after year. Oh, and just bought a new steam canner (I already water bath and pressure canners) to save on electricity and water when making jellies and jams.One thing we have also stocked up on are various \”how to\” books and illustrated books on plumbing, heating, electricity, etc. Along with these we also have some good books on medicinal plants and first aid, suturing, etc. Last week, Costco had a lot of winter clothing at really good prices, and since I hate being cold more than anything (except being really hot), we bought all our family members wool socks, flannel shirts, fleece joggers, flannel sheets, and soft, warm blankets for Christmas presents. I buy a package of wool socks or winter gloves almost every time I go to Costco! Clothes wear out in recession/depression times, so sure don't want to be caught without warm clothing.No, we won't forget the Snickers bars! 🙂

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