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Monday, October 15, 2018

Hand Tools for Woodworking


Many preppers have aspirations of building something at some point in their lives.
  • Some of them have the money to have someone else do it for them;
  • Some of them have the power tools and skills (or how-to manuals) to do it themselves fairly easily;
  • Some preppers don’t have the money for power tools, but they have the skillset to use inexpensive hand tools to do the job well;
  • And some preppers don’t have any of those.
This post is directed at those of you who fall into the latter group.


Several preppers I know have made "First In, First Out" shelving, or have made a raised bed frame for the express purpose of keeping food storage underneath it. Both of these projects are good for beginners, since both of them are fairly simple, relatively forgiving, and fairly easy. I recommend that you look into a project that you want to do before you invest in tools, so that you know what you will want.

Whatever your project, you will need a few basic hand tools. At minimum, you will need:
  • Handsaw. The linked handsaw is actually fairly nice, and you can purchase a much cheaper one if you want, but the extra ten or so dollars for this one means that you will be able to cut things more easily and with less effort. Because you will not have to put in as much effort, it will stay sharp longer and will cut straighter lines. 
  • Tape Measure. This one does an adequate job, and will generally be fine for a beginner.
  • Carpenter's Pencil. I like to use a carpenters pencil, but a normal #2 pencil, just like you use in school, will do just fine. Cheap works just fine for this.
  • Hammer. “When all that you have is a hammer, the entire world looks like nails”. There are cheaper hammers on the market, but for a general use, inexpensive hammer that is useful and durable, I recommend something like this. I especially like one that is a little heavier (over 12 oz) for when I have to construct larger things, like animal cages or shelving.

There are also several tools that will make it much easier, but are not actually totally necessary:
  • Carpenter's Square. The most used feature on this tool is allowing you to mark right angles on things. There are a lot of advanced features, and some neat tricks if you want to look them up, but having a carpenter's square makes life a lot easier when you are doing woodworking, with hand or power tools. 
    • This one is inexpensive, but works great. The advantage to metal ones is that they tend to be a little tougher, and over years of use, the numbers are more clear on them. If you only use it intermittently, you are probably fine with a cheap plastic one.
  • Hacksaw. Hacksaws are great for cutting into boards that have who-knows-what in them, like old nails or screws. If you are very space limited, a hacksaw can actually substitute for several other kinds of saw, such as a wood cutting saw, so long as you have replacement blades. (If you want to get replacement blades, remember that low tooth count blades -- 9 to 16 or so -- are best for wood and plastic, while high tooth count is better for harder materials like metal).
    • I like this model because of how compact it is, and I keep one in my general use tool box. It extends the blade in such a way that it is a little harder to make precise cuts at the tip, but you can put it into places that another saw could not reach. I have used it to make some fairly nice cuts on lumber when something else was not available; I just had to go slowly and carefully.
  • Center Punch. When you have to make a precise mark and put a nail in it or measure with it, it's sometimes easier to use a center punch than to just use a pencil since the punch leaves a divot in the wood.
    • In a pinch you can just use a nail, which works just fine for woodwork. The advantage of a center punch is that it is easier to use. I also have a tendency to accidentally hammer in a nail that I am using as a center punch for wood.
  • Tool bag or box. I prefer a tool bag for a small tool kit like this which doesn't have a bunch of fragile or expensive items in it. Tool boxes tend to be more expensive for the same carrying capacity, but have a hard shell to protect things like expensive tools or chemicals. Tool boxes have the added advantage that they are harder to break into, since they are usually easier to lock and much harder to cut. 
    • That said, the point of this article is that you can have a good tool kit for an inexpensive price. I like this model because it has the features that I need, is fairly durable, and not unreasonably expensive. 

Now when you go on to whatever project you choose, know that you have the needed tools to make just about anything that a carpenter could before 1900, and you bought them all for around $100.

Good luck, and don’t forget to practice.

The Fine Print


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