HomePosts Tagged "Tools"

Setting out for the frontier in the 19th century was nothing like moving to a new city today. You weren’t moving to a place with a fully developed infrastructure, where you could easily get your hands on all the essentials of day to day life from a choice of stores and service providers. The hardy pioneers who built the West had to be self-reliant, and that meant taking everything they needed with them.

We often have a mental image of those pioneers loading their chuck wagon with food and gunpowder before striking out into the new lands of the West, and that image isn’t inaccurate; they did carry these essentials, in the largest quantities they could. In fact wise settlers packed their wagons almost to overloading, and sometimes beyond. It wasn’t uncommon to see a wagon propped on crates or barrels at the side of the road, while its owners worked at repairing a broken wheel or split axle.

Pioneers didn’t just carry the things they needed. They also had to carry the tools to repair the things they needed – and then, when supplies ran out, to make more. Even the most heavily loaded wagon can carry enough to keep a family going for a few months at most. If the pioneers wanted to make a serious attempt at building a new life in the West they needed to be truly self-sufficient, and the key to that was taking the right tools with them.

If you like to be self-reliant around the house the chances are your tools massively outnumber the ones the typical pioneer family took with them – but yours will be more specialized, and aimed at fixing or maintaining modern appliances or carrying out general DIY tasks. Frontiersmen had different priorities. They didn’t just want to fix things; they had to be able to make things, so the tools they took with them were absolutely vital.

Take a look in your toolbox and you’ll probably see a load of tools for working with wood, electrical wiring and maybe plumbing. You’ll have an assortment of screwdrivers, and likely a multi-tool like a Dremel. You’re well equipped to handle any repairs or improvements around your home. But could you build a home with them?

That’s exactly what the pioneers had to do. The tools they carried had to be up to the job of harvesting natural resources and turning them into the raw materials to build a home. Then there was agriculture. The food carried in a wagon would last for a matter of weeks, half a year at the most – and while it was usually possible to buy more from enterprising traders, the cost of wagon freight made that too expensive for most people. Anyway, for most settlers the whole point of heading west was to farm their own land, and you can’t do that without tools. Often you can’t do it without the tools to make other tools.

Finally there were the small things. On the frontier you couldn’t drop in to the local outfitters and pick out clothes that fitted you. Instead, most people bought bolts of cloth and made their own. That wasn’t the only sewing that needed done either. The West was mostly powered by horses, and horses need tack. That breaks or wears out eventually, and the pioneers had to be able to fix or replace it. The same went for most of their other possessions. Sometimes there was no choice but to pay the inflated prices at the nearest general store, but wherever they could pioneers would fix or replace things themselves. Their tools had to be capable of a wide range of tasks, and they didn’t have the technology that we do. There were no power tools, just simple hand-operated ones. But those simple tools could do amazing things when used properly, and if society breaks down they’ll do just as good a job for you. Let’s look at the tools that built the West in a bit more detail.

The Basics


A knife is the most basic, essential survival tool. If you have one you can start to collect what you need to make other, more advanced tools. If you don’t have one you’re in a lot of trouble. Pioneers carried knives everywhere they went – usually a simple hunting knife on their belt, and maybe a folding pen knife as well. These would be used for dressing game – the major source of fresh meat in the early years of a move west – and for wood carving, plus many other daily tasks. More knives would be found in the kitchen; not as many as in a modern kitchen, but in a wider range of sizes. Pioneers didn’t need six different styles of small paring knife but they did need large butcher knives and cleavers.


The first tools men made were stone hammers. Just a hard piece of rock shaped to have a comfortable grip at one end and a striking surface at the other, these were the launch pad for over 2.5 million years of technological progress. A hammer lets you apply concentrated, rapid force to something, and it opens up a world of possibilities. With a hammer you can quickly fix objects together with nails. You can shape metal. Add some wedges and you can split logs and even rock. Without a hammer, many of the jobs pioneers needed to do would have been a lot longer and more difficult. Many more wouldn’t have been possible at all.

A frontier toolkit would have contained several hammers, ranging from a standard claw hammer to heavier ones used for metalwork or breaking rocks – and probably a sledgehammer for when real power was needed.


Small bits of wood can be cut and shaped with a knife. Logs can be split with a hammer and wedge. But to cut large pieces precisely, you need a saw. Without a saw you’ll struggle to build anything better than a crude shack, and you won’t be able to make most of the advanced tools that turn life from a daily grind into something approaching comfortable. Doors that fit the frame? That needs sawn boards. Window frames? Sawn. The frame for a threshing machine or spinning wheel? Good luck shaping that with an ax.

A good tool kit needed at least two saws; a large bow saw for felling and trimming trees, and a small hand saw for precise work. Other styles were also available, but with those two a handy pioneer could manage most tasks.


An ax combines the cutting edge of a knife with a hammer’s ability to deliver concentrated force, and if you want to cut things in a hurry it’s hard to beat. Pioneers used axes to harvest timber, clear land for farming and split firewood. A hatchet is also a great tool for rough shaping of wood, and if you’re building a log cabin it’s unbeatable for getting the joints done.


Most of us think of a spade or shovel as a tool for yard work. To the pioneers it was one of the most important items they had. A spade was needed to build a new home. At minimum you’d have to dig holes for the support posts of a log cabin – but many pioneers didn’t live in log cabins. Where there was a shortage of suitable timber it was much more common to build a sod house, and that meant cutting thousands of blocks of turf. A spade was an essential tool for that.

After a pioneer family had built a home the next thing on the list was usually a vegetable patch, to start supplementing the food they’d brought with them. Again, a spade was needed to prepare the ground. Finally, almost every home had a root cellar to store food, and building that took a lot of digging.


Long-term survival on the frontier meant, for most people, starting a farm. That would provide them with food, and give them a surplus to sell. Obviously growing crops on a large scale needed some more specialized tools. A spade and hoe will do fine for a small plot of vegetables, but they aren’t up to the job of preparing a whole field. The pioneers took some agricultural equipment with them, and with their other tools they could make the rest when they arrived at their new home.


If you want a good crop you need to loosen and turn over the top layers of soil, to bring up nutrients and distribute them evenly. A small plot can be prepared with a spade, but a plow will cover large areas much more quickly and easily. Plows – first drawn by hand, and later by animals – had already been used for thousands of years, but by the time the pioneers set out West the standard was a horse-drawn moldboard plow with a cast iron blade that could turn over the virgin land and expose the rich soil. In 1837 John Deere invented a steel plow blade that was both lighter and stronger, but many pioneers couldn’t afford these. Then there was the issue of weight and bulk. A whole plow was a large, heavy item that wasn’t easy to fit in a wagon already crammed with other supplies. Many people just took the blades with them, and built the frame from local timber when they began farming their new land. Later, as local industry began to develop, a blacksmith could make iron blades to replace worn-out ones.


A plow is very good at turning over the soil, but it usually leaves many large lumps. These make planting difficult, so a plowed field would then be worked over with a harrow to break up the clods and give a smoother surface. Modern harrows are quite sophisticated, but pioneers used much simpler – but still effective – ones. A basic harrow is simply a heavy wooden frame with rows of spikes on the bottom that’s dragged over the field by a horse. Pioneers would usually take the iron spikes with them, then build the frame themselves.


Fertile land doesn’t just produce crops; it’s also a magnet for weeds. Plants that evolved to win the struggle for space in a forest or grassland can quickly take over a battlefield as easy as a plowed, harrowed field. Without modern, selective weedkillers, pioneers had to spend time manually weeding their fields. Instead of pulling them out one at a time a hoe was used. Its iron or steel blade, on a long handle, lets you chop the foliage away from the roots without bending down; an experienced user can clear weeds at close to normal walking pace. Without a hoe it’s almost impossible to weed a large field effectively.

As well as weeding a hoe can also shape the soil, cut shallow trenches, or replace a harrow for small plots. It’s a very versatile tool, and essential for anyone farming without modern machinery.


The first mechanical reapers were built by the Romans, but the technology was lost for centuries after the Empire fell. It resurfaced again in England in 1814, and by the 1830s there were at least two US companies making horse-drawn mechanical reapers. Most pioneers couldn’t afford a mechanical reaper though, so they harvested their crops the old-fashioned way – with a scythe. A scythe lets you cut standing crops easily and quite quickly, and can also be used for cutting hay, clearing weeds and general control of vegetation.  A specialized type called the cradle scythe adds long “fingers” to the handle, which catch the cut stalks so they can be easily stacked or laid out, but for general work around a small farm a traditional scythe is more flexible.  A sickle is a compact option that’s easier to transport but its short handle means you need to bend or crouch to cut, and that means it’s much slower and more tiring to use.


Once grain has been harvested you need some way to separate the actual grains from the husks. Doing it by hand is far too slow, so the traditional method was to use a flail. This is simply two sticks connected by a short chain; the harvested grain was piled up, and then repeatedly hit (“threshed”) with the flail until the husks fell away. A typical flail used for threshing wheat had a handle about five feet long and slightly over an inch thick, joined by a couple of inches of chain to a second stick about three feet long.

Separating grain with a flail is a labor-intensive job, but pioneer families used flails successfully to process their wheat crops and they were still in use by some farmers in the early 20th century. Threshing machines did exist, but they were out of reach for most early settlers in the West.



An anvil is a huge, heavy, awkwardly shaped lump of steel. It’s one of the most difficult things you could possibly decide to take on a long journey West along rough tracks. Nevertheless, many pioneer wagons had an anvil on board – usually slung under the chassis, between the axles, so its massive weight didn’t tip the wagon over.

With an anvil and a forge you can repair or make a whole range of metal objects. The parts of a broken tool can be heated then beaten together, repeating the process until they’re welded into a solid piece again. Metal bars can be turned into anything from horseshoes to scythe blades or knives. The conical horn of an anvil lets a good smith shape metal into complex curves. Without an anvil – or modern power tools – it’s very hard to make anything useful out of metal.


A forge needs a way to pump air through the burning charcoal. As long as you have that it isn’t hard to build a forge – you just need a shallow pit lined with fireproof material, usually brick. Modern forges usually use an electric blower to create a draft, and some older ones used a water wheel or even a treadmill to turn a fan, but most pioneers relied on a hand-pumped bellows. This is an uncomplicated device – two flat boards with handles, hinged to a nozzle at one end, with a one-way valve in one of the boards and a leather skirt connecting the two. Moving the handles apart draws in air through the valve; pushing them together again closes the valve then blasts a stream of air out the nozzle. A pioneer smith would put his metal workpiece in the forge then pump the bellows to raise the temperature. It’s simple, but very effective.


If you’re working with heated metal you need a way to handle it. Even a heavy leather glove won’t protect against red-hot iron for long, so any pioneer who planned on doing some blacksmithing would take at least one pair of iron tongs. These were used to move metal in and out of the forge, and to hold it in place on the anvil while it was being worked. Blacksmith’s tongs are heavy and robust, as well as simple – usually they’re just two iron bars, drilled and hinged with a single bolt or massive rivet, and curved into jaws at one end. Iron conducts heat, but the handles were long enough that they could be safely held in a gloved hand.


Metalworking needs a hammer, but the regular claw hammer in your toolkit isn’t really up to the job – and the heat from the work piece will gradually soften its striking face, too. For smithing a heavier hammer is needed – if the job is very large, maybe even a sledgehammer. Any serious metalwork project needs specialist hammers, and pioneers who tool an anvil west with them would have carried a few.


There are some metal working jobs that don’t need a forge, but most of those need a file instead. With a good file metal can be ground down or reshaped. A broken knife can be remanufactured into a shorter one, or the edge on a worn plowshare touched up. Forged parts can be filed until they fit properly together. Almost every pioneer would have taken a set of files in assorted sizes and shapes – flat, round and half-round.



It’s easy to wash clothes when you have electricity, a domestic water supply and a modern washing machine. It’s much more work without them. Today we usually only hand—wash small, delicate items. The pioneers hand-washed everything, from dirty work clothes to bedding, and it was a time-consuming job. One tool that saved them a lot of time was the simple washboard. Now these usually have a wooden frame with a corrugated steel wash surface fitted into it; in the 19th century they were literally boards, with rounded wooden strips nailed or glued on to create the ribbed surface.

Washboards have disappeared from most homes, but that’s not because they don’t work – a washing machine is just simpler and takes less time. Washboards have real advantages though. They use much less water and they’re also easier on the clothes, which was important to pioneers; replacing worn-out clothes wasn’t so easy. Even today, soldiers on long operational tours often use washboards to help them keep their uniforms clean in isolated outposts with scarce water supplies.

Spinning wheel

Westerns often focus on cattle ranching, but a lot of the livestock raised by the pioneers was sheep. These were a valuable source of meat, but they were an even more valuable source of wool – and once wool had been harvested it was a lot cheaper to spin it into fibers at home than to ship it back east then buy manufactured garments coming the other way. Poor families might have used a distaff and spindle, simple tools for spinning by hand, but the spinning wheel was far more common. The textile industry had already replaced the spinning wheel with the jenny, beginning in northern England in the 1760s, but it was still a common and familiar tool. It could also be easily made by anyone who knew how it worked and was reasonably good at woodwork. With a wheel, pioneer women could produce thread and yarn from wool, cotton and just about any other fiber – and save a fortune on expensive clothes from the local store.


We iron our clothes to make them look smart. For the pioneers that didn’t matter so much most of the time, except for special occasions and visits to church if there was one nearby. Ironing had another function, though. Parasites were much more of a hazard in the 19th century, especially if you spent a lot of time outdoors and working around animals, and there wasn’t a range of safe, easy insecticides to get rid of them with. Ironing clothes – paying special attention to the seams – would destroy any flea or louse eggs that were concealed in them, helping to avoid infestations.

Electric irons were invented in 1884 but remained a luxury for decades more. The ones available to the pioneers were heavy items of cast iron, which could either be heated in a fire before use or had a hollow interior that could be filled with burning charcoal. They were heavy and crude, but almost indestructible and pretty effective.


Most people have a packet of needles around the house somewhere, for sewing on buttons and other minor repairs. The pioneers took needles with them, too, but they took more than a single packet and there was a lot more variety in what they carried. They also used them for minor repairs, and many made their own clothes, so standard sewing needles were essential. But they also relied heavily on horses for power, and that meant they needed all the leather gear that’s needed to get work out of a horse. Saddles, bridles and stirrups were needed for riding, and then there was all the harness needed to pull a wagon or a plow. Heavy saddler’s needles were needed to repair leather or to make replacements for small items, like straps – few people had the skills to make a full saddle on their own. Needles seem small and unimpressive, but they’re not easy to make and life on the frontier would have been very difficult without them.


Last but not least, there’s the trusty shotgun. Despite what Hollywood shows, the most common gun in the West was a simple double-barrel 12-gauge. It was a sturdy, relatively cheap weapon that was effective at defending against predators, could hunt a wide variety of game with the right ammunition, and outranged a handgun if it ever came to a fight. Few pioneer families were without one. The frontier wasn’t anywhere near as violent as fiction portrays it, and in fact it was less violent than most of the USA is today, but a good gun was a wise investment.

Today, when many of us have an array of power tools that can carry out a range of jobs quickly and precisely, the tools the pioneers relied on seem crude. In many ways they were – but they were also durable and effective. They didn’t wear out easily and could usually be repaired if something did go wrong. They didn’t need electricity to work; at most they needed a horse, and usually manpower alone was enough. These simple tools are what made the development of the American West possible. If society was to collapse tomorrow, modern versions of them – and the skills to use them properly – would make a massive difference to your chances of survival.

Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

Setting out for the frontier in the 19th century was nothing like moving to a new city today. You weren’t moving to a place with a fully developed infrastructure, where you

Like many of you, I got into this EDC obsessed lifestyle as a kid. I have always had an affinity for tools that serve a singular purpose, but have almost perverse levels of technology thrown into them. A knife is just a sharpened piece of steel, but you can take a relatively simple formula and distill it into a very complex, purpose designed tool like the Benchmade Osborne 940.

This obsession with performance has led me to accumulate a simply monolithic amount of sharp toys, and in many ways I would say that in the past I crossed the line from tool user to tool collector.

That said, after so many years in this world and after over 7 years of marriage, experiencing mortgage payments and shifts in lifestyle, I have begun to think far more about the purpose behind the tools I wield and what I want my collection to represent.

It’s official. This is now the prepper’s “go to book” saving them time and money on costly doctor visits. Details and how to get your copy here

The bias I have towards quality and having an established “tool set” has led me to truly appreciate the “buy it once” movement: the idea that we can purchase a single tool to fulfill a singular function over the span of a lifetime. Naturally, I will never be happy with just one knife or one watch, but I have definitely taken some of the lessons this movement has to offer on board.

And with that preamble out of the way, here are some of my lifetime tools that I think some of you may find interesting. Perhaps browsing through them will spark some conversation about our spending habits down in the comments! 😉

My Lifetime EDCs

  • Seiko Men's ' Japanese Automatic Stainless Steel Casual Watch, Color:Silver-Toned (Model: SARB033)

1. My lifetime watch

Seiko SARB 033

Is there a more versatile watch for the everyday man who wants something a bit more special than a Seiko 5, but doesn’t want to drop the big bucks on a Rolex Explorer? I don’t think so. The SARB is a true classic (and sadly, discontinued now so if you want one- get on it pronto) with a fantastic, durable movement and a sense of style and presence on the wrists that puts many luxury watches to shame.

I love horology, but I would be happy(‘ish) with only this timepiece for the rest of time. As a matter of fact, I can’t imagine a single change with this watch that would it make it better, which sums up my impressions on this timeless classic.

  • Spyderco (C36GPDBL) Military Model Folding Knife, CPM S110V, 4 Inch Blade, Dark Blue

2. My lifetime folding knife

Spyderco Military

This was a tough one. I admittedly almost strayed away from Spyderco with my choice (very unlike me, I know) due to my affection for the Benchmade 940, but ultimately, the Spyderco Military is and always will be my first choice for a single folding knife. I love a well made liner lock, the blade shape is 10/10, and the feel in the hand is sublime. I don’t like the price relative to materials, but ultimately, I do think it’s worth it.

A tip of my hat goes to the Buck 110 due to my love for it, but I do think a lot of my appreciation for this folder is down to nostalgia and it being my first introduction to high quality knives.

Availability: Amazon • Blade HQ • eBay

military 1 knife reviewSpyderco Military Folding Knife – Amazon / Blade HQ

  • Fallkniven F1, Thermorun Handle, Plain, Zytel Sheath

3. My lifetime fixed blade

Fallkniven F1

This was a no brainer. Yes, I do love my Moras, and my Tops Litetrekker is a smashing little tyke, but the Fallkniven F1 is enduring in its versatility and popularity. There is something to be said for a tool that stays on the hype train for so many years.

Yes, boring steel (Laminated VG-10) and spartan design with true-blue utilitarian materials used, but at the end of the day, I trust this blade regardless of enviroment or situation. It’s a rock solid, lifetime tool despite being a smidgen on the boring side.

Availability: Amazon • Blade HQ • eBay

  • Dr. Marten's Women's 1460 8-Eye Patent Leather Boots, Cherry Red Rouge Smooth, 8 F(M) UK / 10 B(M) US Women / 9 D(M) US Men

4. My lifetime boots

Doc Martens

I love the comfort of my modern hiking boots, but ultimately, this pervasive habit of gluing the soles to the uppers of the boot rules out 99% of them from my lifetime list. I had to give my nod to my Doc Martens, which have been with me for around 17 years and are still going strong.

If I had the money I may recommend Danner’s light mountain boots, but I don’t own them (yet) so can’t say for certain if they’d live up to the hype. That said, I have a feeling they will.

  • HAZARD 4 Gray Patrol Pack Daypack, Gray
    HAZARD 4 Gray Patrol Pack Daypack, Gray

5. My lifetime bag

Hazard 4 Grayman Patrol

You all know I love my Hazard 4 gear, and whilst some may think that perhaps a Saddleback leather backpack is more suitable as a choice for a lifetime tool, I would argue that in this case, the comfort of modern synthetic materials and know-how outweigh the advantages of leather.

The Grayman Patrol is straight up bombproof and I feel comfortable wearing it everywhere, unlike the uber-tactical camo alternatives. It’s a great option and well worth the investment. Your back will thank you, even if your wallet doesn’t!

hazard-4-grayman-patrol-backpack-buy-it-once-edcHazard 4 Grayman Patrol Backpack

  • Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Round French (Dutch) Oven, Flame

6. My lifetime Cookware

Le Creuset Cookware

We all know Le Creuset. This ironware is built to withstand well, everything.

Rock solid and versatile. Yes, it’s pricey, but you won’t need to replace it. I love my Instant Pot, but I wager that my Le Creuset will outlive me. There is something weirdly nostalgic about having a tool that hasn’t changed in decades, because frankly, there is nothing about it that needs changing.

7. My Lifetime Pipe

Kraig Seder Short Poker Pipe

Owned it for years. Made by the man himself and an example of a piece of art that is perfectly functional. We live in an age where everything is built to be used and thrown away. It’s comforting to own something that is designed with the exact opposite in mind.


The older I get, the more I think about the items I own and use instead of simply rushing to buy the next new thing. I admittedly do partake within the norms of a consumerist society, but I like to think that I have pulled the breaks to a certain degree. I now give far more consideration towards the things that truly matter, and not what the deluge of advertising is telling me to get next.

Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

Like many of you, I got into this EDC obsessed lifestyle as a kid. I have always had an affinity for tools that serve a singular purpose, but have almost

How come today’s subject is money, when is Tools Day here, at Final Prepper? Well, simply because starting today, I want you all to refer to money as the tool that it is. Come on now, isn’t that the truth?

I mean, money, as an object, won’t make you happy. But what you can do with it, definitely will. Try and look at it from this new perspective, and things may change sooner than you think.

Cash reserves are as necessary to survive in our modern world as beans, bullets or band-aids.

Many survivalists prophesy that cash won’t be any good in a disaster. I try to stay out of the business of predicting the future. Instead, I just try find fragility and root it out. If the past is any guide, cash has been supremely useful in most disasters, so it’s high on my list of “must-have” emergency preparations.

I use the term ‘cash’ loosely in this article. Consider it to refer not only to banknotes, but to any form of wealth that is easily portable and widely valued. “Cash is King!” is a phrased used to emphasize the importance of maintaining sufficient cash reserves. Unfortunately, the term is most often used when analyzing business or personal financial failures and keeping enough cash on hand is as relevant to survivalists as it is to finance.

I should point out that I’m not recommending that you covert all your investments to cash and store it in your bugout bag. What I am recommending is simply that you not put all your eggs in one basket.

Cash Can be Held in Your Possession

Money in bank accounts or investments may be impossible to access without electricity or access to the internet. If storage media is irretrievably damaged, accurate and timely records could be lost. If you can’t get at your money, it won’t do you any good. Cash doesn’t have these drawbacks.

Cash is Portable

$100,000 in $100 bills is about the size of a large book. Needing to hide a lot of wealth in a small space is a good problem to have, as problems go. If you’re lucky enough to have this problem, you might consider 500 Euro banknotes, gold or similar forms of portable wealth.

Cash is Liquid

To spend precious metals, they must first be exchanged for cash at a bullion exchange. Accessing bank accounts or investments without electricity or the internet may be impossible.

Most people entrust nearly all their wealth to bank accounts, CDs and certain types of retirement accounts that are FDIC insured. For most types of accounts, this insurance has been reduced to a maximum of $100,000 per account, per bank and stocks, bonds, annuities, mutual funds and many other types of investments are not covered at all.

Unless you own your home outright, if you miss a payment, you set the eviction process in motion. If you live in an apartment, do not expect your landlord or the bank to take pity on you if the banking system goes down. With sufficient cash reserves, you can keep making payments if the banking system goes down.

Unfortunately, even if you own your home, you don’t really own your home. Miss a property tax payment and you set a process in motion that allows the government to sell your home to recoup the unpaid taxes.

One solution is to set cash aside cash to pay your rent, mortgage or property taxes in case you lose your source of income. When allowed, sometimes the better option is to prepay. Prepaying future expenses that you will almost certainly have to pay anyway also protects you in the event of hyperinflation, which could drive up the price of housing, but not if you have already prepaid.

When calculating how much cash you need on hand, consider mortgages, leases and zoning laws. You may be required to pay for power, gas, parking and other services to keep your residence, even if you don’t use those services or they are on again, off again. If sheltering in place is figures into your plans, you had better have cash reserves.

Major Disasters

In my line of work, I get to talk to a lot of survivors and a Hurricane Katrina survivor I spoke with was a good example of the need for cash in emergencies. His household was more prepared than most. In particular, he had a generator. Because his generator was the sole source of electricity for their family, and eventually for all the neighbors who could hear it running, he ended up running more than he planned. As time went by, gas usage increased, gas became harder to find and gas prices soared. When gas could be found, lines were long and vendors only accepted cash.

Since his generator ran on unleaded instead of propane, it cost upwards of $400/week to feed it. One week turned into two, and then two weeks turned into four, and they had not planned on an extra $1,600 per month above and beyond what they spent on hotel rooms and travel expenses to house family members who had evacuated, and nobody was getting paid. In serious disasters, money becomes very useful, while bank cards often become useless.


Stability to Face an Uncertain Future

With few exceptions, disasters and emergencies cannot be predicted. If we could predict them, they wouldn’t be emergencies. They’d just be one more thing to plan for, like a house payment or saving for college. Because we can’t predict them, emergencies seem to materialize out of the blue and our best plans often fall short. Cash reserves give you the time and resources to respond to volatility whether it takes the form of job loss, a large-scale disaster or some threat you haven’t even considered yet.


Inflation and hyperinflation are not the only risks. In deflation, investments in the stock market lose value and banks go bust. Cash reserves ensure that you can weather the storm because, while investments like stocks and bonds will lose money, the value of cash will increase. This increase can help offset your losses if you possess enough cash.

Minor Emergencies

Small fires, medical emergencies, loss of employment, car accidents, robberies, vehicle theft, home invasions, vandalism, identity theft … these events result from the low order volatility that is life’s soundtrack. Lesser ups and downs happen all the time, so be ready for them.

Supply Your Own Credit

Cash in reserve means you do not need to use credit and do not miss payments, which means no interest, NSF charges, late fees or penalties. I have not used a credit card in almost fifteen years now. I also haven’t paid a dime of interest. People who understand interest collect it. Those who don’t, pay it.


Privacy has become mighty expensive for a human right. The costs of separating your mailing address from your residence address, separating your name from your vehicle registration and license plates, buying burner phones and other privacy tools can really add up. Survivalists wanting to maintain personal, group or operations security would be well advised to save up a few thousand dollars in cash before attempting to drop off the radar because it can get expensive.

The first step to making yourself hard to find is to move and sell any vehicles. You’ll need a ghost address or two, mail forwarding, PO Boxes, some computer and phone hardware and you’ll probably have to set up a few LLC’s. You’ll also want to stop using credit. Each of these steps costs a little money up front, but not using credit is likely to save the average American more than they’ll spend on the whole shooting match.


Always carry money, even in the wilderness, because you’re not planning to stay there forever. When you do make your way back to civilization, you’ll need cash. Should you make it out of the wilderness under your own power, you can buy food and a drink and go to a hotel or go home. Otherwise, you’ll be a refugee or a victim staying in a shelter if you’re lucky.

Because self-recovery takes money, cash, local currency, gold coins and gold rings are sometimes issued to military personnel who operate in or fly over enemy territory. It’s cheaper and puts fewer lives at risk than a rescue mission.


Cash Makes it Possible to Invest

Investors play the long game. Without enough cash in reserve, you can be pressured to sell at the worst possible moment. Buying low and selling high is easier said than done when your investments tank and you do not have sufficient cash reserves to weather the storm. Without those cash reserves, you may be forced to sell low just to pay your bills.

Money is Multi-Use

Effective survival planning and equipment must be versatile, adaptable and multi-use and few pieces of survival equipment are as multi-use as money. Properly used, it is hard to equal the utility of cash anyplace you deal with other people.

Although operatives do not normally carry firearms on foreign soil, they do carry money. They can lay hands on firearms, when necessary, but carrying a firearm in a foreign country can create more problems than it solves. They don’t just dole out money to make people like them, but it’s easier to like someone who is generous, and pays their own way. Keeping commitments, especially financial commitments, is the key to building relationships of trust.

Don’t Put All Your Eggs in the Same Basket

How often do monetary systems collapse? It depends what part of the world you live in, but even in most of Africa and South America, most people still do business in the local currency most of the time.

I do not advocate keeping all your assets in cash. That would be putting all your eggs in one basket. I don’t advocate putting all of your money in the bank. The safest strategy is to diversify. Leave some money in the bank, invest some, put some in precious metals, put some in local currency and some in a stable foreign currency. Invest some in hard assets like food storage and other survival stores. Just don’t store them all under the same roof.

If someone tells you to put all your money into any one place, I would view that advice with a healthy dose of suspicion.


It may be because you house is on fire or due to some other disaster or due to a threat to your security, but independent of the “why”, some day you may need to walk out the door and never come back. If that day ever comes, having sufficient cash reserves tucked away gives you the option to walk away.

Survival Uses for Cash

  • Use a pay phone – Cell towers are often overloaded during emergencies but pay phones use land lines, which are a completely different system that sees comparatively less use due to the popularity of cell phones. Carry lists of pay phones for areas where you spend time.
  • Transportation – Use cash to take a taxi or a bus if they are functioning.
  • Social Engineering – Getting people to do what you want is easier when you have money to obtain needed resources.
  • Communicate without being Tracked – Use cash to buy a burner phone and an airtime card.
  • Air up a tire – Every driver has needed to air up a tire at some point and only been able to find places that require quarters.
  • Pay for internet access at an internet café – Believe it or not, there are still airports without WiFi. I found one while I was in a rush to buy a ticket online so I wouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg.
  • Rent a Room – It’s harder to make money when you are living out of a backpack in a campsite and chances are that you’ll need to make some money at some point.
  • Last Minute Purchases – There are some things that may be difficult to stock up on, like certain prescription medications. Even the most prepared of folks might benefit from a few “last minute purchases.”
  • Last Minute Purchases – Some things are tough to stock up on, such as prescription medications. Even the most prepared of folks would probably benefit from a few “last minute purchases” when disaster strikes.
  • Car Parts or Repairs – Finding parts or repairs can be difficult off the beaten path. I have run into folks on backroads trying to bargain combinations of cash and property for a full-size spare tire or something else they needed. Most of the time, they end up having to offer a whole lot more in even a partial barter than they would have in cash, so be sure to bring enough cash that don’t wind up trying to scalp deer tags on the side of the road due to a blowout.

How to Start Saving Cash

I did this and am a much happier person for it. Give it a try and you’ll get out of debt and have more discretionary income to invest in becoming more self-reliant.

  • Visualize Why it’s Important to Save Cash – Before you start, visualize your reasons for wanting to do this. People think they fail due to lack of willpower, but that’s not why they fail. They fail because they don’t sufficiently commit themselves to their cause. One your vision changes, your attitudes and behaviors will naturally fall in line because they are functions of vision.
  • Save Enough to Pay Your Expenses for a Month – Have a month’s expenses on hand gives you 30-days to create a plan and then act on it. Once you have a month of reserves on hand, then go for two, then three and so on.
  • Stop Using Credit – When I was a young man, if I wanted something, I had to set to work and save up enough money to buy it. Today, credit offers a quick fix, enabling young people right out of college to buy everything their parents accumulated over a lifetime of hard work. The truth is that they don’t need it, they just want it. They swipe their plastic and start making payments, much of which is interest. The solution is to stop using credit.

Not using saves big money in interest and pays dividends in increased privacy. You can even pre-pay rent. When you prepay, you aren’t asking the vendor, bank or landlord to loan you money, so there is a whole lot less paperwork, which protects your privacy. So, pay cash.

The other side of not using credit is to stop buying things you don’t really need. Most people pay for all sorts of things they don’t really need. If you’re in debt, cut out everything you don’t absolutely need and use debt stacking to get out of debt. That means no cable TV, no new clothes, cancel all your subscriptions, cut deep. In the end, Diversify Your Cash Reserves – If all the cash you have on hand is in US bank notes, you could be hard hit if the dollar loses much of its value. Splitting those reserves between more than one currency and precious metals ensures that you won’t lose everything if the dollar takes a hit.

If Cache Valley Prepper’s Article is not enough, here are two different ways of making the extra money we all need in order to prep like there IS tomorrow. First comes from #1 Best-Selling Author Zach Scheidt who shows you 47 life-changing income “tricks”. And the second teaches you how to understand the government-issued Social Security handbook. In case you didn’t know, this is a whopping 835 pages. Inside, there is some info that could work in your favour, money wise. And even if you do find it, it is confusing… loaded with big words… and saddled with bureaucracy. Get here the done-for-you help you need to make it worth your while and your money.

Starting today, I want you all to refer to money as the tool that it is. Come on now, isn't that the truth? Is not money making us happy, but all

When we talk about survival, there are certain items that immediately come to mind. We start with the discussion of beans, bullets and band-aids. This logically flows to having at least a 30 day supply of food, firearms and ammo to defend your home or retreat and medical instruments and supplies to take care of a variety of injuries in an emergency. This gets you the basics and then we talk about extending those provisions to last longer time periods, support more extreme scenarios or to include additional bodies.

On top of the basics, we have allowances for backup power, usually in the form of solar panels for long-term energy self-reliance or generators for short-term needs. Stored fuel is brought in to alleviate gas shortages or to extend our reach to our bug out locations or power generators. Gardens and raising small animals rounds off the discussions nicely.

What we seldom talk about though are the little survival items that people can forget. These are often the easiest to procure, least costly and seemingly simple items that a lot of you may have around your house already. If not, you might kick yourself if the SHTF and you were without some of these.

Oils for engines

Often overlooked is oils and lubricants. You may have 50 gallons of gas stored up for your generator, but do you have any oil? Generators or any two-cycle engines need oil to work, so it’s good to stock some away if you have to use any equipment. If you have used your generator, don’t forget to resupply. Not resupplying is a problem for many preppers (myself included) and is frankly stupid. You go through the pains of getting the supplies you need and a simple project around the house or camping trip requires some of those same supplies. It doesn’t matter if you have the world’s greatest first-aid kit. If it is empty of bandages because you used them to take care of cousin Bob when he split his head open at the last family reunion, you are screwed. If you use it, replace it.

Back to oil; make sure you have plenty for all of your equipment and more to share. This can be used for barter also and might help a neighbor out. If your neighbor has a tiller or chainsaw and you have the oil, you can make a deal.

Good boots

One of these days I will write a post about the best footwear for a survival situation, but for now let me simply state the importance of good leather boots. You need something that will protect your feet and hold up for a long time of abuse. Canvas hikers are really comfortable, but the soft soles wear quickly and a sharp stick can open them up. They may be great at wicking water, but if they are falling apart in 9 months of everyday use, are they really that great?

On the same subject, I see so many people nowadays running around in flip-flops. God forbid if something was to happen and you had to trek 40 miles over rough terrain. Good leather boots, maybe with steel toes will last a long time and can save your feet from a lot of pain. Redwing makes several great lines of boots and I believe they are still American made.


This should be a no-brainier but we as a society have relied less and less on maps because of our GPS enabled lives. You should have good quality road maps for the area around you or if you plan to bug out. I have a big road atlas in each car and anytime we go somewhere new I try to pick up a map. Another option is good topographical maps of your home town or retreat areas. You can get a lot of excellent maps at the USGS Topographic Map site.


Rope has millions of uses from tying down tarps to lashing poles together. I would get several different types of rope from nylon to hemp for different uses. Paracord shouldn’t be the only thing you buy. Along with purchasing rope you need to know how to tie a knot. A great site for learning important knots is Animated Knots by GROG where you can learn everything from a half-hitch to a Carrick Bend Mat.

Duct Tape

Like rope, duct tape has millions to the 12th power of uses. Buy several roles and don’t get the basic stuff meant for actual duct work. Splurge and get Gorilla tape. It will hold stronger than regular duct tape.

Spare Wood

Spare wood is one of those items that my wife hates. She simply can’t see the need to have a lot of pieces in various lengths, styles and shapes just sitting in the shed not doing anything. Having spare wood can come in handy though for a variety of situations. If you have to cover a door that was kicked in. it’s good to have a few sheets of plywood. Need to make a simple addition to your chicken coop to handle the growing flock? You could use some two by fours. Almost all wood can be used to build something. As an added bonus buy several boxes of nails to go along with that. 8D, 16d and finishing nails will knock out a lot of projects.

Hand tools

To compliment the spare wood, you need hand tools to go along with them. I am not talking about the kitchen “junk drawer” tools that everyone has; a little pink ball peen hammer, a crescent wrench and two screwdrivers. You need tools that will allow you to build something if there is no more electricity. I would purchase a good saw and some clamps, a very nice hammer, set of screwdrivers and wrenches.

Expanding on this you will likely need tools for your yard or garden. I can’t tell you how many rakes and shovels and wheel barrows we have been through because I bought the cheapest thing they had. Remember, there won’t be any Home Depot if the grid goes down so buy quality. You may cry now, but it’s better to buy one tool that lasts a lifetime. A decent shovel, axe and sledge-hammer will do thousands of chores.

Carry system

It’s much easier to have and practice with gear now than to try and create it later.

Moving on from household items, there are some considerations for if it really all goes bad and we are living in a WROL (without rule of law) scenario. All of the guns you have saved for need a home a proper holster is a minimum. If you only have a handgun, a quality leather holster is a great investment. It will keep your side arm on you at all times in an easily accessible position. If you are like me, I prefer a thigh-rig. This is for two reasons. First, I plan on wearing a vest and there isn’t room for the pistol. Secondly, I have two additional magazine pouches on the thigh rig so it keeps everything nice and neat.

I mentioned a vest. There are a lot of options for LBE (load bearing equipment) but I like the vest concept as a generally good solution for most situations. This allows me to hold 12 AR magazines, First Aid kit, radio and two additional pistol magazines right up front where I can reach them. There are lots of other options that work nicely, the point is you want to have something now to hold your stuff if the time comes when you need it. You don’t want to be the guy in the street sticking his Glock down his pants because he doesn’t have a holster.


These are on every soldier that is deployed, every police officer in a tactical unit and pretty much anyone who knows what it feels like to take a knee on top of a good-sized rock. Knee pads will allow you to take cover with less injury to your knees. For about $15 you can protect your knees (which may be more sensitive than you know) from a lot of pain. Try sliding on your driveway behind the car with nothing but your pants on.


I am not recommending everyone suit up for battle, but camouflage is a great choice of clothing for a few reasons. It is great at concealment when hunting. For pattern, I would recommend the old Woodland camo pattern. You can pick these up cheaply on eBay or Craigslist or my personal favorite, the Army Navy store. Camouflage will help you blend into foliage if the time comes when you need to hide. I would also recommend a ghillie suit for extra credit, but you can make your own with burlap bags and some patience. I am sure you can imagine various reasons where having this would be preferable to your skinny leg blue jeans.

Backup Solar Power

Solar panel systems can be very expensive. If you plan to have enough solar panels to enable off-grid living you could be looking at well over 10K as an initial investment. There is a simpler option to get you by in a disaster though that won’t break the bank. There is a system called the Sunforce 50048 60-Watt Solar Charging kit that will get you basic power. Add this to four deep-cycle batteries and you can comfortably charge a good many electronics each day. If you have the system charged properly, you might even get away with running a fridge or freezer for a couple of hours too.

Bolt cutters

I’ll say this again that I don’t condone nor am I advocating stealing from anyone. However, there may be circumstances where this guideline doesn’t apply for various reasons. You have to make that choice. If the situation does dictate you needing to cut a lock, bolt cutters are a good, cheap option that are nice to have. You don’t have to use them on anyone else’s lock but yours if you like, but like insurance, you never know when you will need them.

I am sure others have plenty of ideas too. What items have you thought of to store?

When we talk about survival, there are certain items that immediately come to mind. We start with the discussion of beans, bullets and band-aids. This logically flows to having at

Crank It Out

When we hear “crank it out”, we tend to be hearing “get it done”. We have a lot of advantages with that these days. Nobody’s spinning a wheel on a giant roller to produce our news – we just tap a few buttons, and systems lift and press, roll, and cut for us, or we’re online and reading away without a walk to the morning paper at all.

The conveniences are all around us, from our coffee grinders and brewers, out in our sheds, and all around our homes and lives. But it wasn’t actually too far back in history that “crank” was a very literal term for a lot of those conveniences.

In my kitchen, I have a simple slider mandolin, mason jar pump-top onion chopper, and a salad spinner. I’m going to break down and get a cherry pitter this year or next year. They’re convenient. They save labor in time and energy. Grinders are there for coffee and wheat, so I stay happy/sane. My world is full of items that do the same, from my battery drill and power saws to the blender that cranks out curach and turns strained jelly peels and pulp into slurries for fruit roll-ups.

A disaster is a bad time to lose all of our conveniences in life. There are also some hand powered tools we can pull from the pages of history – and that inspire modern tools – that will help us with our self-reliance. They bounce back and forth from the kitchen to the workshop, out to the barn. Here’s a quick look at a handful of those things that can help us keep cranking it out.

Oil press

An oil press can be a big financial commitment, and it’s not for everybody. Until there’s enough land space to be producing foods, let alone oil nuts and seeds, it should go on the back-burner. On the other hand, if you’re in suburbia and you have the 1-2 working oil presses in 3-25 miles, you have a very powerful bartering tool at your fingertips.

Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing

That’s because fats are important. A lot of game animals are very lean in fats. In a world where we and our limited livestock are working just as hard as wildlife to eat, stay warm, prepare for winter, recover, and raise a family, we’re going to get leaner, too. That’s not always a good thing. There are vitamins and minerals our bodies can’t process without fats.

Fats are also important in baking, and make cooking (and cleanup) a whole lot easier. Plus, check out your powdered peanut butter. I’ll bet it tells you to add some oil for best results.

Sadly, even Crisco and powdered margarine won’t last forever, and it’s not like they’re all that good for you.

There is an alternative to a press to get those fats – at least one.

We can basically mince the heck out of various seeds and nuts, turn them into a slurry, let them settle (for hours or days), pour off the liquids (that’s what we keep), strain and press the wet mass (to get more of the liquids), and wait for the water to dehydrate (days). There are regularly additional steps for different types of plants, like shelling, simmering, filtering, additional pour-offs, and milling. Fermentation and spoilage risks are high. Labor and time are through the roof.

With an oil press, an impressive number of tree and grass seeds can be turned into oils.

Many presses have or can be fitted with automatic shellers and separators. The leftover meal can be dried to use in breads, thicken stock and gravy, or be fed to animals. The same presses can be used for a wide variety of seeds and nuts, sometimes requiring a gear change and sometimes extremely small or large seeds require an additional piece or to be minced. Sometimes we do have to take our peanut shells and skins off, and feed it just corn kernels.

(There are corn threshers and bean-pea shellers available crank-style, too.)

Not only is the time and effort hugely reduced with an oil press, our product comes out cleaner and we usually have more to show for it at the end of the day.

I won’t go into as much detail for the rest of today’s list, but those types of factors are there for all of them. It’s why the “convenience” and “efficiency” machines came into play in the first place.

Hand Beater

While we’re right there talking about speed and ease in the kitchen, let’s talk about rotary beaters.

I know that at various stages, there were also rotary and pull-cord blenders on the counters. This guy has good memories for me, though.

Moms and Grandma used to have a set. They made whipping eggs or cupcake frosting for twelve or a classroom fast and easy. If we’re going to be doing a lot of from-scratch cooking, or if we have months and months’ worth of powdered milk, butter and creamed soups stored, something as simple as a design that hasn’t much changed in 50-100 years and can still be found in stores is a force multiplier.


Another kitchen equivalent to the venerable 1911 is also probably one of the most commonly suggested and available hand-crank tools. It extends way beyond the preparedness-homesteading crowds. Like a cherry pitter, anybody who grows or processes a lot of fruit considers these things gold. When I’m only filling out a few drawers in a dehydrator I’ll still just whip out the mini-paddle mandolin, but when you start talking buckets and bushels, these apple peelers more than earn their price.

Ours has the option for using the coring center or just a spike, so I can also peel potatoes with it, and the slicing blade can come off so I can grate those, pears, or apples instead of slicing them.

Hand-Crank Food Processor

Once we’ve peeled or washed our produce, there’s another gem we can upgrade to if we want – people have actually started (or returned to) making hand-crank food processors. Like the electric versions, they make pretty fast work of assembling salsa veggies, dicing for relish and chutney, slicing salads, or cutting butter into pie and tart crust.

Salad Master

There’s another version we can use that bolts onto a countertop or table. I actually prefer it, because I like the resiliency of metal when I’m plunking down a chunk of change (Queen Klutz here).

You can get them in a number of styles and there are sets with attachments as far ranging as the modern Kitchen Aid base mixer. That means a single hand crank base can be adapted for ground meat and sausages, and pressing pasta, as well as mincing, slicing and dicing veggies.

Which styles we like best is just personal preference.

Applesauce and Baby Food Strainer

If we do a lot of jelly and jam canning, want to quickly churn out applesauce, or want to make our own baby food, there are some pretty simple devices out there still – and that we can pick up from old farm estate sales fairly regularly if we watch for those.

Like the Foley applesauce and baby food strainer, many are meant to be used as a stage in the process of cooking.

You can also find steam and hand-crank juicers that work for syrups and jellies. If you plan to forage or produce a lot of the cranberry viburnum and chokecherry type fruits, those are handy to have.

Butter Churns

When we think of churning butter, a lot of people apparently think of somebody sitting with the tall canister and paddle or plunger, lifting up and down. I think of my blender, personally.

Throughout history, however, there have been a lot of different styles and scales of butter churns, and some of the small and countertop hand crank versions are more likely to fit into our storage space – and regularly, our budgets.

Styles like the canning-jar base are also a lot more hygienic than the wooden ones and the larger, longer metal designs. You can clean them more effectively in between uses.

If we’re in a world with limited outside assistance, that becomes even more important. Goats aren’t as likely to have a milk infection, but cattle used to get them regularly. They still do in some cases. Some of those diseases will only spoil flavor, but some of them have human health concerns. If that milk is transferred into plastic or wooden containers, it takes a lot of cleanser and then a lot of rinsing to regain comfort in using them. Water is going to be a hugely important resource for a lot of people, and it still might not do the trick.

Smaller glass and metal vessels can fit inside pressure canners and are easier to reach (and rinse) than larger ones, and long, skinny churns.

They’re far faster than shaking a jar or rolling it underfoot – although if you’re about to shell a solid ton of peas, the foot thing might work for you.

Centrifuge for Butterfat Testing

So, we have our goats, sheep, camels or cattle, and we want the ones with the highest butterfat for butter and clotted cream. How do we find out in the second and third generation of livestock after a crash?

An old-school hand-crank centrifuge.

That centrifuge can also be used just to find out which animal’s butterfat or heaviest creams separate fastest and easiest.

Instead of having shallow containers sit for hours – without jostling – with the risks of pests, dust and heat spoilage, we can also use various turn-of-the-century tools to speed that process.

Hand-crank sewing machines

When a ram horn catches us and rips a hole in our clothes, or our pockets start failing, when growing kids need clothes made out of curtains, we can sit down with a needle and hand sew, but if a sewing machine is available, it tends to be a lot faster of a process.

It’s also an easier process for old and damaged hands – some tension adjustments and threading is required, but then those hands (and eyes) can relax a bit.

You can hunt up antiques, or run some searches for non-electric sewing machines – they’re out there, especially from/for some of the still-developing nations.

Modern Manual Drill

Nothing is going to help us rebuild a shed or fence or put in a new milking bench like our electric drill and driver, but there are still manufacturers out there for hand-crank versions that will be faster and easier than doing it all with a screwdriver.

Hand augers are commonly seen on the lists of disaster tools, and are shaped a bit differently. They’re really good at what they do. Modern and yester-year manual drills that can also be fitted with our current drill’s screw tips have some advantages, too.

Combined, they make a pretty handy pairing around a house or farm that’s looking at losing power. 

Bench Grinders

Modern-made and antique, there are all kinds of handy things for the shop. While a drill is one of the most commonly reached-for items in our house, the wheel grinders are in high demand at my father’s. They make fast work out of sharpening tools and blades.

Some of the hand-crank versions are massive beasts that can be set up for two hands, and can handle light notching, planer, and plank sanding and some can even be set up as circular saws and used to cut pipes, tubing and OSB. (Those are two-person jobs for safety reasons.)

As with the kitchen, the speed and work effort compared to a hacksaw, steel wool, and sharpening stone plays a factor when looking at the costs.

And, as with the kitchen, both the bench grinders and the manual drills mean that people with injuries or ailments can still get work done in a lot of cases, and do that work faster. That, too, factors into what we’ll pay and how we prioritize.

The Wide Range of Shop Tools

Shop tools of all kinds are out there. I don’t use a drill press often enough (and they’re expensive enough) to have given it its own listing. But they’re out there. So are things like barn beam boring drills, smaller tinker-merchant and jeweler’s presses, ratcheting drill presses and nail setters.

Farm horses used to regularly be hitched to circle and power things like turnip slicers, grain threshers, and grain mills. Horse-drawn harvesters dug, separated and in some cases even sorted potatoes and turnips, working off gears attached to the wheels. Dogs and goats can handle some of that workload with smaller versions.

Modern Spins

Just as some of the hand-crank and -lever tools that bear consideration can be had from current production runs, the modern world has not turned its back on hand cranks.

They’re there in tire pumps and emergency lights large and small. We can also buy little hand-cranked battery boxes to charge our small electronic devices. One of my earliest articles dealt with laundry, with several modern takes on manual washers and wringers.

In some cases, we can find those devices in bike-pedal powered forms as well.

Cranking It Out in the Modern Age

The internet is a wonderful thing. It brings the whole world right to our fingertips, and it can regularly have most of that world delivered to our door.

We didn’t jump from caveman sticks and rocks directly over to sending email over HAM radio. Throughout history, there are gadgets that made lives easier and allowed us to do more work. As preparedness spending grows, we can find a lot of new manual gadgets becoming available from suppliers and inventors.

Whatever you reach for this week or this month, especially over planting and harvest season and the next DIY build or repair, make a note of it (a real, physical note). Is it a force multiplier? A must-have? A beloved convenience? How important does it rate on your scale?

If you’re doing things by hand or planning for a world without power, it might be worth popping a “manual” or “hand-operated” search for that item into your browser. There are fair chances somebody has one, makes one, or has a hack to create one.

In my kitchen, I have a simple slider mandolin, mason jar pump-top onion chopper, and a salad spinner. I’m going to break down and get a cherry pitter this year