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

Vehicle Emergency Pack

We have had emergency packs in our vehicles for quite some time and it is time to take inventory and update a few things. I have felt the need to get very serious about being prepared away from home.

We learned a lot in Alaska about the need for emergency, survival equipment. The remote villages we lived in required travel by plane, sometimes in a small 207 that would seat six people. During the winter you were not allowed on the plane without adequate gear for warmth – just in case the plane went down. These experiences brought survival gear into the realm of everyday provisions that we wouldn’t think of being without.

My emergency pack is a basic backpack. If I ever need to walk, I want to be able to carry my supplies with me as comfortably as possible. That means on my back, not over my shoulder or in my hand.

The current inventory contains:  
Ziplock bag of old peanuts that need to be replaced

Good pair of tennis shoes (this will give me 2 pairs of shoes with the ones I will be wearing)
2 emergency ponchos
Small package of rope
2 emergency blankets with green on one side and silver on the other
Basic first aid kit that includes: Bandaids, gauze, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrocortizone
Roll of toilet paper in ziplock bag
Partial roll of paper towels
3 carabiners

Inside the car are items that would be added to the backpack if I ever needed to leave it and walk somewhere. These items include: 
Small maglight
Flashing hazard warning light (the kind you would put out on the road to warn on coming traffic)
Jacket with hood (this is my car jacket, it’s in there year round)
Light rain coat with light insulation and hood

I always carry a variety of items in my purse that would be useful in an emergency situation.

Gerber multi purpose tool
Small maglight
Very small first aid kit
Cough drops
Extra charged cell phone battery

I work about 30 miles from home. In the remote possibility that something happens and I could not drive home, or at least part of the way home, we have several contingency plans that we hope would result in my safe arrival. We have studied maps, driven the possible routes and made ourselves as familiar with the terrain as much as possible.

With winter coming on, I have felt the need this year to upgrade the supplies in my pack. I am adding the following supplies:

New bag of mixed nuts
2 freeze dried meals to add water, let soak and eat
Empty peanut butter jar to soak food or filter dirty water before sterilizing
Bandanna and old towels for stage one water filtering and whatever need arises

Steripen for sterilizing water    2 bottles of water (chlorinated from the tap)
Emergency whistle with compass 
Pair of pants
Long-sleeved and short-sleeved t-shirts
2 pairs of socks
All purpose hat

As I went over the contents of my backpack, I realized that since Frank had installed the Alinco VHF/UHF mobile radio in my

vehicle, I no longer had a radio that I could disconnect from the car and take with me if I had to walk. I felt that this was a big oversight on my part. Initially we were using the Wouxun handheld VHF/UHF radios in the vehicles with a battery eliminator. That would allow us to remove the radio, insert a battery pack and antenna that were kept in the vehicle, and we would be good to go. I really like the Alinco for a mobile radio. We are able to communicate clearly for a much farther distance when I go to work. Now I will be adding a handheld radio to my pack for emergency communications if I am on foot.

Communications equipment in my pack will include:
A handheld radio
Extra battery
A short stubby antenna
A 9 inch antenna 
If I am walking with a radio clipped to my belt, the stubby is better; I would be less apt to bend and/or break the antenna. If I am stationary or trying to receive a signal and the stubby is inadequate, I can change to the longer antenna.

Mental preparation is key to survival. We have been preparing for a long time, but that doesn’t mean we think of everything. Like the new radio in the vehicle. It has been there for several months, but it did not occur to me that it would leave me without radio contact if I were on foot. I am grateful that I have been getting this nudge to upgrade my pack, otherwise I don’t know how long it would have been before I realized I needed a handheld radio. It may have been too late. This is one instance I am glad to discover the inadequacy now. There are sometimes that failure is not an option. 

Frank has known for a long time that communications will be a key component in a survival situation. There are some basic, simple steps that can be taken to increase your ability to communicate with your loved ones, as well as listen to what is happening in your area should a disaster or collapse occur. Anyone can broadcast on any

frequency, including ham radio frequencies, in an emergency if there are no other means of communication available. The ability to prepare for and survive some of the situations coming our way may hinge on our ability to hear what is coming. If you have a group of people in your area that can communicate via radio in a grid down, collapse situation, it may save your life. You may be able to know if there is danger heading your way. You may be able to warn someone else if danger is heading their way. It is another layer of preparation that may make all the difference in the world. Radio communications will also bring at least some information, whether it is local, national, or worldwide, in a time when all information is cut off. Not knowing anything about what is happening when we are used to massive amounts of information at the click of a button will be a huge change for all of us, and a difficult one, at best.

I challenge you to give some serious thought to your situation and prepare for a way to get home on foot. The day may never arrive when you need it, and I pray that is the case. But, Frank has a good saying that he has picked up along the way. “I would rather be a prepared fool than an unprepared fool.” It may mean all the difference in the world to those you love.

Until next time – Fern