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10 Old Tools the End of the World Will Make Useful Again

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I remember the first time I was allowed to use power tools and what a difference it made in my ability to fix and build just about everything. Instead of the old hand saw I could use a circular saw or a sawzall to get the job done.

We’ve all grown pretty reliant on power tools, which begs to question what would happen if there wasn’t any power? How would you build a deck without a power drill to put those hundreds of screws in? How would you cut through metal without an angle grinder? What about felling trees without a chainsaw?

When the SHTF you can be sure that power tools will quickly become obsolete, leading us to question, what tools do we use in their place?

1. Hand Drill

A hand drill is pretty much what the name implies: a drill who’s rotating power comes from your hand. You place a drill bit into the tip and crank the handle on the side. The bit is turned by a gear housing that amplifies your turns, giving you the ability to drill pretty easily through wood and other semi-soft surfaces. A little more oomph and you can drill through just about anything with the proper bit.

2. Hand-Crank Grinder

A hand crank grinder is used in place of an electric bench grinder for just about any purpose you’d need one. Sharpen tools, deburr metal edges, and notch panels as needed.

Unlike an electric bench grinder, hand-crank grinders are variable speed, so once you get used to using one, it can be used for a variety of materials and surfaces.

3. Crosscut Saw

With chainsaws and fuel ideally hard to come by, a crosscut saw is your next best way to cut down a tree. Similar to a regular hand saw used for cutting planks, a crosscut saw has special teeth and is much larger, giving you a great tool that requires no electric or fuel to operate.

There are two types of crosscut saws. First, you have the single-person crosscut saw, great for going at a small to medium tree alone. Second, there’s the two-man crosscut saw that, you guessed it, requires two people to operate. These are great for large to extra large trees.


4. Whet Stone

Your knife is going to be getting a lot more action once the SHTF, and you’ll need to rely on it more than ever. This is why keeping your blade sharp with a whet stone is so important.

A sharp blade is far safer than a dull blade, and as long as you treat the knife with respect, the sharp blade will cause far less injury. You should have a proper whet stone kit that includes honing oil and a guide to show you what angle to sharpen at.

5. Reversible Ratchet Brace

A reversible ratchet brace is similar to a hand drill, but instead these are meant to accept screwdriver bits and drive screws and other threaded fasteners in. These are reversible so you can both put screws in as well as take them back out.

Regular hand screwdrivers are very useful and important, but a reversible ratchet brace is meant to replace your electric screw gun. This is what you would use to put in a large number of screws easily and quickly.

6. Axe

We’ve talked about how to choose the right axe for survival, but it’s worth mentioning again that your tool kit should include a solid axe. A good forest axe or hatchet is a must and can chop a tree down just as well as a crosscut saw.

An axe can get you wood to build with, for fires, and even for protection. The importance of a good axe can’t be stressed enough. Remember, you can’t just go buy wood at Home Depot when the SHTF, so any wood you use to build with will need to come from somewhere.

7. Tin Snips

It’s easy to put a metal saw into a sawzall today and go to work on a sheet of metal to cut a shape out of it, but what happens when there’s no power to run that saw? Most people have metal saw blades at their disposal, but as power tools have become more popular, the quintessential tin snips have started to fade.

Tin snips are good for cutting many types of metal, and a kit usually is comprised of three sizes, color-coded red, yellow, or green for their capacity for cutting. Having all three of these is a valuable addition to your collection and there’s no limit to what you can do and fix with these cutters.

8. Chisel

Chisels are great for a variety of uses. First, rock chisels can break apart rock and concrete while wood chisels can do everything from split smaller wood pieces to help you craft woodworking masterpieces.

You should have a good set of chisels that run the gamut of materials to help you handle anything that comes your way.

9. Hand Files

Much like the hand-crank grinder mentioned above, a good set of files is important for a variety of uses. There are hundreds of different types of hand files, from tiny ones that are meant to finish metal, to massive files for wood that finish the edges of large wood pieces to all the files in the middle of varying roughness and size.

There are so many uses for files that having a good set of files is a necessity.

10. Putty Knife

The final tool in our list is one of the most simple, the common putty knife. While these are most often used for their namesake building material, you can use putty knives for anything from spacing tile to prying the edge of a container open.

A good set of putty knives will usually contain 4-6 different blades that vary in width and thickness.

The best way to know if a tool is useful for the end of the world as we know it is to think back to what your father or better yet, grandfather, had in his tool bench. Past generations relied on hand tools to build just about everything they needed and fix the things they bought. Build a tool collection like your parents had and you’ll have a good start.

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