Most of us in the modern era are familiar with power tools. We have screw guns, drills, skill saws, grinders and jigsaws, just to name a few. This is how we prefer to tackle DIY tasks when possible. Power tools save time and reduce the wear and tear we put our own bodies through, so they do have their place, but have you ever wondered what good they would be if the power grid failed completely? Without conventional power grids the simple act of recharging batteries becomes problematic, we must either rely on off grid energy components, or we must revert to hand tools and apply elbow grease as necessary.
CROSS CUT SAW: There aren’t many people today who would think of trying to take down an enormous tree with nothing more than a handsaw, branches maybe, but not the trunks. In a serious SHTF situation, you may want to maintain a very low profile; keeping off the radar, as it were. Rather than using a loud, oil breathing chainsaw, you’re probably going to want to use something a little less noticeable. Chances are you will need to create quite a bit of sawdust to take down trees, which will more than likely serve the purpose of helping you build, or improve your bug out location. This is where cross-cut saws will come in handy. These are the very tools that were used by our ancestors to build this country from the ground up.
Cross-cut saws are available in one or two person configurations, each with different lengths and handle styles. For obvious reasons the two-person configuration is highly recommended; two people tire half as quickly as one, thereby getting more work accomplished. However, if space is limited, the single person version will work just fine, it may just take a little longer to tackle the same task.
HACKSAW: When it comes to imprecise cutting tasks, most people grab something like a Sawzall, which can cut through just about anything you can imagine, metal pipes, PVC tubes, plywood, drywall, plastic, etc. The Sawzall is such an industrious piece of equipment it is currently in the inventory of fire/rescue first responders to extricate people out of mangled vehicles when horrifying accidents occur.
The two most widely recognized and used hacksaws are the 10” and 12” varieties; this refers to the blade size of the saw itself. Space permitting, you should have at least one of each configuration as well as several replacement blades for each. If space is limited, then take the 10” version and make the best of the situation if/when the tool is required to complete a task.
HAND SAW: We should all be familiar with the hand saw; it is the traditional saw everybody’s granddad had in the tool shed on the homestead. The hand saw has a wooden handle that is attached to a long blade that tapers away from the handle to the nose. There are several lengths to choose from, as well as various tooth sizes, so each person will need to make a purchasing decision based on individual needs. I still have several of my grandfather’s hand saws, most between the 15”-20” range; these are the ones I would recommend. They work much better than longer saws for most tasks, and they are easier to stow in the bug out gear.
The size of the teeth on hand saws is important. The smaller the teeth, the easier it will be to cut; each stroke of the saw will remove less material than larger toothed hand saws. If you reside, or your bug out location rests, within an area famous for hardwoods, then grab a hand saw that has a tooth count of 10 or higher. On the flip side of that coin, if the area you frequent contains much softer woods, like pine for instance, then grab hand saws with a tooth count less than 10 per inch.
LARGE HAND DRILLS: Power drills are the new norm in the modern era; everybody has either a power drill, or a battery-operated screw gun with drill speed capabilities. Hand drills, like the ones found in granddad’s tool shed, seem to have all but vanished from the landscape. However, if you know where to look, you can still find them. Some hardware stores still carry them, and certain hobby shops usually have them available. These hand drills are not only perfect additions to the bug out gear, they are far cheaper than their power drive counterparts.
Bigger hand drills are available in two common configurations; standard and brace. The standard variety is just a bigger version of the smaller standard hand drill. It has a shaft, a geared mechanism in the middle, a chuck just below the middle and a handle on the upper end. The brace drill has a slightly bowed shaft, a turn-able handle, a chuck at the other end, and a rotating grip near the center of the bowed shaft. It is recommended that you have one of each in your gear, space permitting. If space is limited, then go for the brace drill as it allows for greater use in confined spaces.
SMALL HAND DRILLS: Small hand drills are capable of conquering most household chores. These smaller versions have a drill bit capacity of ¼”, which makes it a perfect tool for tackling those tiny tasks that larger hand drills would have difficulty achieving. While it might be possible to use small drill bits in larger hand drills, there is also a higher probability that those smaller drill bits will snap in those larger drills due to their capability of applying more torque. It is for that reason we recommend having large and small hand drills.
While most of us have a bag full of power tools, many of which are designed to drill holes or drive screws, these tools require frequent recharging. Recharging these tools will take a lot more than a hand crank generator to accomplish. In the absence of power grids, gas generators, or serious off grid energy components, power tools will be nothing more than cumbersome paperweights.