This guest post is by Warmongerel and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
My job title is “Maintenance Technician”. I’ve fixed industrial machinery and building equipment for a living for about 25 years. I’ve probably sourced and ordered $500,000 worth of tools in the past year alone. It’s fun spending other people’s money. Unfortunately, I don’t get to keep any of the stuff that I buy.
In addition, I also went to school for carpentry, I was a cabinetmaker for about 8 years and I worked as a machinist briefly.
In other words, I know tools. I know what works and what are the most important tools to have.
In a SHTF scenario, tools are going to be very important. Not only for building/repairing things, but for barter as well.
In my job, you also need to be very good at “thinking outside the box”, so I’ll also list some things that I know would come in handy, but you may not normally think of as “tools”.
First and foremost, a multi-bit screwdriver is a must. Not the type that has 10 little bits to swap out as needed and stored in the handle. You will lose most of those bits within a month. I recommend the Klein 11-in-1 screwdriver . It has #1 and #2 Phillips bits, 1/4″ and 3/16″ straight bits, #10 and #15 Torx bits, #1 and #2 square-drive bits and 1/4″, 5/16″ and 3/8″ nutdrivers. These will cover almost any small fasteners that you may come across. I run a 90,000 square foot facility packed full of equipment, and this is the screwdriver that I use 95% of the time. If I had to choose one tool to have when tshtf, it would be this one.
A hammer will be indispensable for obvious reasons. I have a 24 oz. framing hammer in my bag, but a smaller claw-hammer would work, too. I like the framing hammer because, in addition to its functionality, it makes a hell of a weapon.
An adjustable wrench (aka a “Crescent wrench”) can almost completely replace any open end or box end wrench, saving a ton of room/weight in any kit. I found an amazing version that’s part “vise-grip” and locks on to fasteners, thus eliminating the problem of “stripping” nuts and bolts. It’s from McMaster-Carr. Search for part # 6556A8. It’s only available in a 10″ version. I really wish that they’d come out with different sizes. But this one will cover almost anything you’ll ever need.
Pliers, of course, will be mandatory. I’d recommend a pair of linesman pliers, long nose pliers (i.e.needlenose) and a pair of “Channel lock” pliers. These 3 will cover almost any need that you may have. I also have a pair of Welding pliers in my bag. They can be substituted for the long-nose pliers as they have the long jaws, and they also function as a light hammer, wire cutters and can grip cylindrical objects.
Locking-jaw pliers (i.e. Vise-grips). Duh. I have a couple of different sizes in my bag.
A pair of wire strippers/cutters may come in handy – especially if you know anything about electricity. The Klein 11045 covers most of what you’ll ever need.
Those things should cover almost any situation that you find yourself in and not take up too much space or weigh too much.
So let’s move on to some items that may not seem so obvious.
Put an ice pick in your kit. These are incredibly useful tools. They can be used for almost anything from removing snap-rings to punching holes to scraping dirt off of small parts. I have 6 of them in my toolbox.
Wood screw eye hooks/eyebolts. Can screw them into just about anything and you can run ropes through them. Throw a half-dozen in your bag. Light and don’t take up much space.
Binder clips. These are the things that you see in offices that hold papers together. The big ones have some serious holding power and can be hooked onto things. Excellent to hold tarps or to use as a miniature vise to free up your hands. The possibilities are endless.
Cable ties. Also known as zip strips or zip ties, they are the plastic ties that “ratchet” tighter as you pull on them one way and won’t loosen up if pulled the other way. They come in many different sizes. There are also some that can be reused by pushing down on a little lever to disengage the ratchet. They are used by the police to “handcuff” people when they run out of real handcuffs (although, I wouldn’t know anything about that, of course ;-). There are thousands of uses for these.
A pair of scissors is a no-brainer.
A Multi-purpose scraper will definitely come in handy. Many tools in one.
A pair of aviation snips or tin snips is also a must-have for fashioning things out of sheet metal. You will need them at some point.
It also wouldn’t hurt to throw some drywall screws and nails in there.
And that’s it. If you have these things, you will have covered about 90% of what you’ll ever need for tools. There are, of course, other things that you may want to add, but these tools will fix or build just about anything that you may need. I have them in a small tool bag apart from all of my other tools, and they are all duplicates of things that I have in the garage so that I’m not tempted to raid the bag when I need a certain tool.
In addition, any extra tools that you may have could make excellent barter items, depending on their availability. There may be millions of screwdrivers around, but that Klein 11-in-1 is going to look a lot better than carrying around 11 different tools.
Good luck and God bless, folks.
This contest will end on February 16 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive Two cases of MRE’s courtesy of Camping Survival, A Wonder Junior Deluxe hand-mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads, $150 gift certificate for Fiocchi Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo, A Big Berkey Water Filter System courtesy of TruPrep Emergency Preparedness and a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable.
- Second Place: A $200 gift certificate for any order from their store courtesy of Shepherd Survival and A Doom and Bloom Mini Trauma Bag courtesy of LPC Survival.
- Third Place: A Bar-ricade door bar courtesy of My Locksmith, Inc.