How To Find And Use Quartz For Survival

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When the body of Otzi the Iceman was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps, a window opened, and that window gave us a glimpse of survival EDC (Every Day Carry) in 3200 BCE.

It was one more step to understanding that if we want to better master any survival skills, we must roll up our sleeves and learn the basics.

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front):

  • Even throwing smaller rocks at larger ones produces usable fragments sharp enough to prepare dinner with or scrape hides, so do not make this more complicated that necessary getting started.
  • Finding varieties of quartz is not difficult in most of the world. If you find a rock that is common and scratches glass, chances are you are holding some type of quartz.
  • Quartz crystals are like naturally occurring handle drill bits. Set one in a spindle and you are in the primitive hole drilling business.
  • The time to learn flintknapping and other first skills is before you find yourself in a survival situation.

 Quartz as a Survival Resource

Maybe Otzi was one of your ancestors. According to granddaddies of primitive survival like Larry Dean Olsen, Dave Wescott and David Holladay, even if Otzi wasn’t a relative of yours, everyone living today has ancestors who used stone tools.

They teach that primitive skills are really “first skills” and are the foundation upon which modern survival skills are built. Just as studying the origins of science gives us powerful insight into everything built on top of them, if we want to understand survival skills, we must roll up our sleeves and learn the basics.

Once you can survive with only what the earth provides, you will be that much more effective with modern tools, the resources available to you in built areas or with what others have left behind in the wilderness.

Otzi’s equipment tells us a great deal. While he carried a copper axe with a two-foot haft carved from yew and a narrow head, he also carried a knife with a flint blade mounted to an ash handle, an antler tool for flint knapping and arrows tipped with flint, so he had tools of copper and stone.

Forgotten Techniques Of The Old West

One of the most interesting pieces of gear to me was his fire kit, in which flint also played a role. The extreme hardness of flint enabled Otzi to use his knife to strike iron pyrite in much the same way flint and steel is used to start fires.

His flint knife was his ‘striker,’ iron pyrite was his ‘steel’ and charred tinder fungus was his ‘char or char cloth.’

Survival Uses for Quartz

Here comes the next question: how many uses can quarts have if used for survival?

  • Fire Striker – The extreme hardness of quartz enables it to be used to strike sparks from iron pyrite.
  • Edged Tools – Quartz-based rocks can be worked into a variety of shapes and produce serviceable cutting tools and scrapers.
  • Projectile & Spear Points – Arrows and atlatl (spear thrower) darts penetrate deeper and cause greater blood loss when tipped with projectile points which is crucial for hunting medium and big game and for use against predators or two-legged varmints.
  • Quartz Tipped Hand Drills – Drilling precise holes can be a real chore without modern tools. Hardwood drill bits can be tipped with quartz, quartz crystals or small crushed crystals can be used as an abrasive compound to polish or abrade a hole in any softer material which, in the case of quartz, is most other abundant naturally occurring materials. Hand, bow or pump drills can be used to drive the drill bit.

How to Find Quartz

Since quartz in one of the Earth’s most abundant minerals, it is not particularly hard to find. Quartz is composed of silicon dioxide and all silicates are derived from quartz, making up around 12% of the earth’s crust.

Quartz is a crystal and crystals are not much good for knapping tools such as knives since they fracture along faces, producing edges that are not sharp enough to work with effectively, but quartz crystals do make effective drill bits. Tools knapped out of quartz crystal are beautiful, but with few exceptions, they are sharp or durable enough to be very useful.

For flintknapping tools, more homogeneous rock that can be flaked into very sharp edges is needed. Two cryptocrystalline varieties of quartz that both have wonderful properties for flintknapping are flint and chert.

Flint and chert are fine-grained sedimentary rocks composed of cryptocrystalline or microcrystalline silica, so depending on its origin, it can contain microfossils and/or small macrofossils. Flint and chert have a similar, fine-grained appearance and both can vary a great deal in color and both form in nodules.

Telling them apart is more relevant to geology than survival since they are both good for the same things, but flint typically has a lighter colored crust around nodules of flint, whereas chert does not. Quartzite can also be suitable.

Strikers for Flint and Steel

I wouldn’t be caught dead without a zircon ceramic bead on my person that is a wonderful striker for ferro rods or flint and steel and can also shatter tempered glass such as the side and rear windows of cars, but even if I’m turned loose with just the skin on my back, I know I can find a rock to use as a striker.

Any rock or mineral of 7 (softer than hardened steel) or harder, on the Mohs Scale of mineral hardness, will serve in the role if striker. The Mohs scale uses a simple test to determine hardness which is that harder materials can visibly scratch softer materials, but the reverse is not true.

If you can scratch glass with a rock (which is a, you have your striker. On the Mohs Scale, iron is a 4, steel is 4-4.5, obsidian or volcanic glass is a 5 and manufactured glass is 5.5 and quartz is a 7. Since quartz is harder than steel, it can be used to flake hot sparks from steel.

Quartz is the hardest natural material that is easy to find, which gives it great utility. Flint and chert produce sparks reliably enough that they have been used as the mechanism of ignition for the many types of flintlock firearms since at least the fifteenth century.

Flint and Chert Nodules in Limestone and Sandstone

Nodules of chert can often be found embedded in limestone and sandstone. To get at them, you will need to break away the limestone or sandstone using a hammer rock or a large or by dropping the sedimentary rock containing flint or chert nodules on an anvil rock.

For flintknapping, the best rock is brittle and uniform in structure with the fewest possible flaws. Since chert and flint are so fine-grained, they are better than crystalline quartz if available. Tap rocks that you think might be suitable with a hard object. Candidates that strike a higher note are typically better material.

In a survival situation, you may have to do whatever is necessary to save lives, but if you find chert cores surrounded by flakes and chips, realize that they are part of an archeological site and should be left undisturbed if you are training.

Quartz Deposits

In the Southwest Desert, white veins of quartz are often visible in mountainsides and hills, sometimes at a considerable distance, which can save a lot of leg work, so scan hillsides. Veins of quartz may yield crystals or pieces that are more homogenous looking without grains and the fewest possible flaws.

They will be milky in color, often milky white and I have found many quartz and chert projectile points, and pressure flakes from the manufacturing process used to make them, hiking the desert Southwest. When you find a rock that produces good pressure flakes or small, controllable chips when struck, as opposed to shattering, you are in business.


Quartzite is a metamorphic rock formed from quartz sandstone by exposure to heat and pressure. The surface can be grainy, glassy and speckled by the grains of sand that were fused to make quartzite or may feature elongated crystals that are fused together.

Quartzite it very hard and angular. There is quartzite along the Wasatch Front of the Rockies, in the Appalachians, Idaho, Arizona, Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, South Eastern California and Central Texas.

How to Make Survival Tools

It is a mistake to overly complicate the construction of stone tools when starting out. Making basic stone tools is literally as simple as striking two stones together. If you use the right type of stone, throwing smaller rocks at larger ones produces useable fragments capable of basic tasks like preparing game, processing plants and scraping hides.

video first seen on Wannabe Bushcrafter

From this humble starting point, you can begin improving your technique, but that is all you need to get started surviving.

Quartz Crystal Hand Drill

Putting an eye in a bone needle or fishhook, creating a divot in a bearing block or hearth board for a fire kit, putting a hole in a seashell, an antler button or piece of turtle shell are all examples of challenges faced in primitive tool making.

A quartz crystal-tipped hand drill is an effective tool for any of these tasks and is capable of drilling neat holes.

Constructing this tool is very simple with the right shape of quartz crystal. Just construct a suitable spindle and sand the business end flat on a rock. Drill a socket in to the flat face of the tip of the spindle by hand using the crystal.

Fire harden the spindle. Then glue the crystal in place using the best glue available. If you have hide available, hide glue will work best. If you do not have easy access to materials for hide glue, pitch will due in a pinch.


Flintknapping is the art of making flaked or chipped stone tools. The key is to control the way rocks break when struck or pressure flaked.

Modern flintknapping was largely researched and revived by a man named Larry Dean Olsen back in the 60’s and 70’s. Olsen divided stonework techniques into: pressure flaking, percussion flaking, pecking or crumbling and abrading. I recommend you read Mr. Olsen’s book titled, Outdoor Survival Skills and tap into the primitive skills community before you learn pressure flaking.

Since the scope of this article is limited to quartz, percussion flaking is most effective to produce flakes and blanks from quartz which are then refined through pressure flaking. Flint, chert and quartzite are varieties of quartz that can be suitable for flintknapping.

With glassy rocks, such as jasper (a gemstone variety of a type of quartz called chalcedony with a hardness of 6.5-7) and obsidian, percussion flaking using a punch and hammerstone is effective. With flint and chert, pressure flaking is effective.

Flintknapping is dangerous and I do not recommend you take your first crack at it in a survival situation. Cutting yourself will turn an already lousy situation even more dire in a hurry. In a survival situation,

I recommend sticking to the very basics and breaking smaller rocks on larger ones to produce the few cutting tools you need to feed yourself if you are out so long it becomes necessary unless you are already an experienced flintknapper.

Flintknapping Tools and Materials

I will list flintknapping tools and their purposes, which will teach you much of what you need to get started training, but you are not going to learn what you need to know in one article.

  • Core – A nodule or rock suitable for flintknapping and too large to be suitable as a blank.
  • Flake – Flakes are smaller convex pieces of stone knocked or flaked off larger cores or blanks with a hammerstone.
  • Blank – A flake being worked into a tool.
  • Hammerstone – A hammerstone, antler baton (strike with area where the antler joined the skull) or billet (dense cylindrical stone) used in percussion flaking. A good hammerstone is a dense round stone that fits your hand.
  • Anvil Stone – A larger dense, but softer stone, upon which the stone to be worked is placed and worked.
  • Punch – The tip of an antler with a flat base that is struck with a hammerstone to produce percussion flakes.
  • Limestone or Sandstone Slab – Used for abrading and grinding stones softer than quartz.
  • Pressure Flaker – An antler tool used to pressure flake stone, typically approximately a foot in length. Alternately, a piece of bone or tooth can be socketed into a wooden handle. A pressure flaker should have a chisel-shaped point to secure purchase on the stone blank.
  • Fine-Tipped Pressure Flaker – A fine tipped pressure flaker for precise flaking such as the notches on projectile points where they will be lashed to the shaft of the projectile.
  • Pad – A pad of leather, bark, moss or similar material used in conjunction with a pressure flaker. The pad protects the palm, heel of the hand and fingers from the stone being worked.
  • Protective Equipment – Flakes can be surprisingly sharp, so gloves and hide or similar material to protect your hands and legs is needed. I also recommend wearing eye protection. You should also work in a well-ventilated area.

This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

Dressed to Survive: The Rules Of Survival Clothing & Accessories

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Your clothing can make it difficult to come out on top from a life or death situation, and might even affect the lives of your loved ones. Or leave you snug, warm and safe, against the harshest of elements…

So, here’s one question you really have to answer: how much are your clothes helping or hindering you?

Keep reading to find out the rules of survival clothing and accessories!


  • Turnout bags are not just for first responders, they work great for preppers too.
  • Use an EDC Valet to organize your gear at the end of the day and keep it from wandering off.
  • A core layer of Survival/Self-recovery gear should be worn and carried in your pockets instead of beingstored in your pack which gets doffed every time you climb into a vehicle, rest or take a swim. You pack is often separated from you when you need it most
  • Every survivalist should carry bandanas, a neckerchief, a shemagh or some type of swatch of cotton fabric. It is one of the most useful and adaptable things you can carry. They are also inexpensive and low tech.
  • If they have working legs, quality boots and socks should be one of the very first things survivalists should buy.

Modular, Layered Approach to Survival Clothing

This section classifies the core layers of clothing and equipment discussed in this article in the context of the Modular Survival Kit.

Turnout Bag & EDC Valet

In my role as a first responder, the turnout bag enabled me to dress fast without forgetting anything.

As a prepper, I had the same need, so I adapted the turnout bag for survival use and it works just as well with only minor modification. The principle modifications were to add and EDC Valet, checklists, modules and the creation of more than one turnout bag.

As preppers, environment, mission, roles and the threats we face determine the most effective clothing and equipment to survive. If I respond as a first responder, I need to wear my uniform and Personal Protective Equipment.

But If I respond to an emergency as a private citizen, depending on the threat and circumstances, I may want to blend in to a crowd or blend in to the environment using covert or overt camouflage.

Reversible clothing can help with this to a degree, but these environments generally dictate different clothing, so I have overt, covert and uniformed turnout bags.

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Climatic conditions, mission, specific threats and environments can require the addition of special clothing and equipment. My solution to this was the creation of climate, environment and threat-specific modules and ensembles, so if I am going out into a blizzard, I add an extreme cold-weather ensemble.

If the threat is chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear, I add the CBRN ensemble. If I am going hunting or fishing, I may not need a specific turnout bag or ensemble for either of those activities, but having my gear together in one place does mean that it’s organized and that I will not forget anything.

Using the same system every single day means that I will go through the same motions on autopilot when I am getting ready under stress instead of freezing up. Since we fight the way we train, there is a certain logic behind using the same system day in and day out.

The role of the EDC valet is that once you dress, whether it is out of a turnout bag or out of a dresser. (These can be one and the same. Simply line drawers with removable turnout bags.)

EDC gear can be added independent of which turnout bag you dressed out of. At the end of the day, EDC gear goes back in the EDC Valet or tray, ready for the next day.

Since EDC varies greatly depending on whether you are going to work out or for a swim vs layer for a blizzard vs leave and possibly never come back, checklists ensure that nothing gets left behind and are especially helpful when dressing in a hurry under stress.


In general terms, survival clothing should be clean and worn in loose-fitting layers. This way, layers can be added or removed as needed to adapt to ever-changing environmental conditions.

In the context of the Modular Survival Kit, clothing starts from the skin out and does not include PPE, footwear, accessories, EDC or other listed categories.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is eye protection, hearing protection, antimicrobial, dust or gas masks, Tyvek® suits, elbow and knee pads, gloves, headwear and footwear designed to prevent injury, infection or exposure to hazardous materials.


The accessory layer includes headwear, footwear, jewelry, watches, handkerchiefs, bandanas, headwear, belts and other clothing accessories.

Restraint Escape (RE)& Covert Survival/Self-recovery (SSR) Core Layer

This layer includes equipment and tools to facilitate escape from illegal or enemy restraint, escape, survival and self-recovery that is hidden on the person or disguised to avoid detection and confiscation.

Every Day Carry (EDC) & Survival/Self-recovery (SSR) Core Layer

This is the same category as the category above, only the equipment is not deliberately hidden or disguised to avoid detection and confiscation because of practical limits of what can be effectively concealed.

A core layer of SSR should be carried in your pockets instead of your pack which gets taken off every time you rest, climb into a vehicle and is easily separated from you when you needed most.

Survival Clothing

Features, materials and attributes that make clothing well-suited for survival use can vary widely. Clothing is best chosen based on your roles and pattern of life and the environments, climates and threats that you face.

General Survival-specific Features

There are too many features, materials and attributes that might be listed, but let’s list a few to provide guidance and get you thinking:

  • Abrasion-resistant
  • Antimicrobial–Cuts down on stinky clothing.
  • CCW-specific Features– Concealed carry-specific clothing solves many of the problems that come with carrying concealed and is much safer than carrying in bags that get set down or stolen.
  • Cotton– Cotton clothing could get you killed in winter or save you in the summer even in the same state, so “Never wear cotton.” Is bunk advice. Wear cotton when appropriate.
  • Covert Tactical and Concealed Carry Features– Concealed carry-friendly clothing is a priority for me, but survival clothing does not have to scream, “Tactical!” If your clothing is recognizable as overtly tactical, you might as well wear a t-shirt that reads, “Shoot me first!”, especially if you are a military-age male.
  • Creepy Crawly-related Features – Cuffs, Insect Repellant, Insect Netting, Snake-resistant boots
  • Drainage Holes
  • Elbow & Knee Pad Pockets
  • Field-washable
  • Field-repairable
  • Fire-Resistant (FR)–Survivalists work around fire a lot. A single spark or ember can create a baseball-sized hole in some synthetic fabrics and some melt and drip when they catch fire, exacerbating burns. FR fabrics or wool are a better choice around fire in general.
  • Gussets– Crotch and should gussets allow better range of motion and create less resistance against as you work.
  • Long Sleeves & Long Pants–Long sleeves and pant leg protect against sun burn, wind burn, cold, insects, poisonous plants, ticks and other parasites.
  • Merino Wool – One of the best all-around outdoor fabrics, Merino Wool is naturally antimicrobial, naturally fire resistant and retains a high percentage of its insulative property even when wet.
  • Microphone Loops – Microphones loops pockets or tabs position external speaker microphones of radios and are a feature on some shirts.
  • Pockets – Pockets with smaller internal pockets or retention loops in common formfactors (multi-tool/pistol magazine/flashlight, rifle magazine/water bottle) are very useful. Pockets should fasten securely.
  • Quick Drying – Humans need to be clean and dry to be comfortable. Wet clothing is no fun and worse than that, it can result in hypothermia or death from exposure, making quick drying fabrics important.
  • Reinforced– Reinforced, bar tacked stitching and reinforced high-wear areas such as seats, knees, shoulders and elbows can greatly extend the life of clothing.
  • Reversible– Reversible clothing is very useful to the survivalist as it aids in transitions from wild to urban areas, between terrain types and enables rapid change of appearance around other people.
  • Subdued Colors – Subdued colors and earth tones do not attract undue attention in cities and blend in to natural environments. Lighter pants and slightly darker shirts and jackets also blend in better. You will notice that many species of animals have a lighter belly and darker back to help camouflage them.
  • Wicking–Moisture next to your skin causes blisters, chaffing and hypothermia. Wicking base layers are a plus.
  • Zippered Vents – Allow ventilation in arm pits and crotch to prevent overheating and sweating when active. Zip closed for more sedentary activities.

Worn Survival Accessories


Unless it is intended to be bartered, survival jewelry should not appear to be of value. It if includes restraint escape gear, that gear should be well disguised or concealed and the piece should also not appear to be useful in escape or survival roles or it will mostly likely be confiscated upon capture or shortly thereafter.

I have a modular necklace kit of my own configuration that I am seldom without. The benefit is that even in my swim trunks, I can:

  • Produce enough light to gather firewood or find my way
  • Break a car window
  • Cut a seat belt
  • Escape most restraints
  • Subdue and enemy with a garrote
  • Use it as cordage
  • Start a fire
  • Use the tiny general direction compass made from powerful rare earth magnets it contains to find my way.

That is a lot of functionality in something I can wear on wave runner in swim trunks and forget it is there. On multiple occasions, I have been searched and even handed right to police and security personal, had them inspect it, decide it was harmless and hand it right back to me.


While reading an old cowboy’s description of survival against all odds, one of the primary things stacked against the desert survivor was that he had lost his hat.

The hat is a valuable survival tool that it is no wonder that he would list it so prominently as he factors odds of life or death in the desert, and this is obvious to anyone who spends a lot of time outdoors.

But there is such a disconnect with people who live in the shelter provided by cities that a cowboy or explorer turning to face danger to retrieve his hat is common comedic feature in films targeted at city-dwelling audiences.

A broad-brimmed hat provides protection from sun, rain or can fan a fire. A brim with a dark-colored underside reduces glare.

Brimmed hats should include a chin strap. Many hats feature hidden pockets, insect repellent treatments and antimicrobial linings.

Flotation is also a good feature to aid in recovery if lost on the water. Hats can also insulate against the cold and include cold-weather features such as ear flaps.


Belts do much more than hold your pants up. They provide a solid platform for holsters and knife sheaths which is important for self defense as it is best if your sidearm in consistent position and orientation to aid in grip indexing as a consistent and solid grip is key to an effective draw and engagement.

Some belts have storage pouches for SSR gear, precious metals or money or buckles that conceal knives, but a belt does not have to be a rigger’s belt or have hidden pockets to be useful for survival.

On a much more practical level, leather belts make great strops for sharpening knives.

To integrate with the rest of my modular survival kit, I do not like to carry a lot of gear right on my belt because the waist belt of my pack usually goes over the top of it and that can cause discomfort and make gear hard to access, so I use drop down loops or panels.

To lower sheath knives, pouches or openly carried side arms down out of the way or on my legs. This also makes them much easier to access in vehicles. Keep backpacks, self-defense and transportation in mind as you decide where to position equipment for carry.


Whether called a neckerchief, handkerchief, cravat, shemagh,tenugui,bojagi, tengkolok, fichu, keffiyeh, bandana, do rag, head scarf, scarf or something else pretty much every culture I have studied has some type of multiuse swatch of cloth carried as a clothing accessory.

There are far too many uses to list here, but they span every basic area of survival, including security, improvised munitions,first aid, exposure, cordage, fire, water, food, navigation, signaling, carrying loads and many others.

The neckerchief eventually evolved into the cravat and handkerchief and then the modern neck tie and pocket square. It was much more useful in neckerchief form. Before cotton, wool, linen or silk were used, but once cotton became available, most cultures switched to cotton.

I typically carry a handkerchief and a couple of bandanas. Sometimes I wear a shemagh or carry one in my go bag.

Useful Patterns and Colors of Bandanas or Cloth Accessories:

  • Flags – Useful as Identifier Friend or Foe (IFF) to prevent fratricide.
  • Yellow– Contagion flag used to mark buildings or ships under quarantine.
  • Orange– Distress signal. Best placed in threes.
  • White– The white flag of parlay or surrender is the universal signal for, “Don’t shoot! I give up or do not pose a threat!”
  • Red– Red flags are used to flag homes in disaster, telling rescuers and other survivors that assistance is needed.
  • Green– Green flags are also used to mark homes in disasters, signaling to rescuers and other survivors that your home is OK and that no assistance is needed.
  • Red and Yellow Bandanas, folded in half and sewn together along the folded edge and then around the border can be attached to two shortpoles to improvise semaphore flags and communicate via flag semaphore.
  • Green, Yellow, Red, and Black – Can be used to flag treatment areas for a mass-casualty incident under the Incident Command System (ICS).
  • White, Black, Yellow, Blue and Red– With these colors of cloth, the survivalist can create any flag in the International Code of Signals or NATO Code of Signals.


While any balaclava is useful against the cold and to protect identity, a balaclava in a tone close to that of your skin does not attract undue attention or make you look like a terrorist.

Fire-resistant Drymax® models wick moisture and are low bulk. In the age of facial recognition and cameras hoodies and balaclavas are gaining popularity.

Tubular Headwear

Gaiter, Buff®, Recon Wrap®, sorgo, and some insect head nets are all useful tubular headwear. Tubular headwear is very adaptablewithout having to tie as many knots as you would with a neckerchief.

Uses/Modes of Wearing Tubular Headwear

  • Face Mask/Dust Mask
  • Hat Band
  • Helmet Liner
  • Sweat Band
  • Do Rag
  • Neck Gaiter
  • Balaclava
  • Goggle or Sunglass Cover
  • Insect Net
  • Camouflage Veil or Netting

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE is important for the preppers There are far more hospital admissions after natural disasters such as hurricanes and tornados that due to the severe weather events themselves. This is bound to happen any time people who normal work in offices run chainsaws. Do not say, “It will not happen to me!”

  • Eye Protection – Sight is crucial to survival and eye injuries are often more easily prevented that treated in austere conditions.
  • Hearing Protection – I have tinnitus from high explosive breaching charges even though I wore both in-ear and over-ear hearing protection and can only imagine how bad it would be had I not worn hearing protection. Unless you enjoy answering that aren’t ringing, carry a pair of earplugs. You can also use them with a buff or shemagh over your eyes to catch some z’s in a noisy, overcrowded shelter.
  • Gloves–Most frequent injuries are hand injuries
  • IFF – Identifier Friend or Foe. Uniforms, flags, signal panels and IR IFF tabs help prevent friendly fire.
  • Steel-shank Footwear– Prevents penetration of boot soles by nails which is important when working in rubble.
  • Elbow & Knee Pads– Prevent injuries when kneeling, crawling and belly crawling.
  • Bump Liners, Hats & Helmets – Prevent head injuries.
  • Antimicrobial/Dust Mask – I sew a couple of snaps in my buffs and shemaghs so I can snap in N99 activated carbon filters for use as a dusk mask, antimicrobial PPE and for scent discipline while bowhunting, making them even more multi-use and the filters fold flat, so they take up precious little space in a pocket which can also be sewn into your headwear.


Outdoor watches now integrate compasses, altimeters, chronometers and barometers. High end watches integrate basic computers and heart monitors. One model even features a personal locator beacon.


Your feet are your primary mode of transportation. Sorry Cody, but a great pair of boots is some of the most important equipment you can possibly own. Without them, even with conditioned feet, people just cannot keep up. Outside of a few limited examples restricted to specific environments, there is no comparison.

If you are captured, your boots will be among the first gear you can expect to be relieved of, so they may not be the best place to stash restraint escape gear, but quality boots should be one of the very first purchases for any survivalist. Quality socks should be purchase with them.

As you can see, there’s more than styling and comfort related to choosing the clothes that you need to survive different scenarios. Be smart when choosing garments, and think about the uses they have beyond their basic role of covering your body.

This article has been written by Cache Valley Prepper for Survivopedia.

10 Professions To Learn From To Survive The End Of The World

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Prepping has always been about the worst-case scenario. Maybe that’s because those really scary disasters motivate us more or maybe it’s just that in preparing for a true “the end of the world as we know it” (aka TEOTWAWKI) event make us ready for anything else we might encounter.

Regardless of the reason, there are enough of these major catastrophes in the world’s history to show us that they really can happen.

While most people who have lived on the face of this earth haven’t had to deal with anything more than a regional natural disaster, some have had to deal with much worse. To the people of Europe who survived World War II, that was a life-changing event. The same can be said for those who lived through the Great Depression or the Black Plague.

Real disasters happen. What skills would help you survive?

When I was growing up, the biggest risk we faced was that of thermonuclear war. The Cuban Missile Crisis, in 1962, was probably the closest we came to total annihilation back then. I was as glad as anyone when the Berlin Wall came down and the Cold War ended.

But we are now in another cold war and it is looking much more like it’s going to turn into a hot war that that one ever did. Should that happen, or even worse, turn out to be an EMP attack, we could easily find ourselves living in a post-apocalyptic world; a world in which we’re going to have to do everything without the benefit of electric power.

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In such a case, people will be scrambling to learn the necessary skills to survive. But even more than that, they’ll have to learn how to do the things necessary to rebuild society. We are too accustomed to our technology and our comforts to just give up on them. People will be wanting things the way they are used to, or at least as close to that as they can get them.

With that in mind, it only makes sense to learn the necessary skills for living in a world without electricity. This doesn’t just mean surviving for ourselves, but helping others to survive as well; something that is normally outside of our plans as preppers.

I realize that most of us live and operate under the philosophy of taking care of ourselves, our families and our survival team. If all we’re concerned about is survival, that makes sense. But if we want our children to have a better life than that, enjoying some of the benefits we have today, we’re going to have to do more than just survive. We’re going to have to be ready to rebuild our world and as much of the technology that drives it as we can.

That job will probably fall to us, rather than to others, simply because we are the ones who are going to survive. So, we not only should be learning survival skills, but others which will help us to make things work.

Native American Doctor

Medicine is going to be one of the biggest problems in a post-apocalyptic world. While most people would die of starvation, many will also die for lack of medicine.

Today’s pharmaceutical industry depends on supplies that come from all over. Without transportation, they won’t have the materials they need to make the medicines that modern society depends on. Even if they could, without transportation those medicines wouldn’t get to you and me.

When the medicines that are locally stocked in hospitals and pharmacies are used up, there will be no more. The only medicines that will exist will be those that nature provides. The doctors of the American Indians knew those medicines and some still use them. If you can find one of them, and learn their craft, you’ll have one of the most useful skills that exist.

Even if you can’t find a Native American doctor, you could still learn about their medicine. There is a growing movement of people who believe in herbal medicine, which is based to a large part of the same roots as those Native American doctors’ medicine.

While you probably wouldn’t learn everything that a Native American Doctor could teach you, you’ll end up a whole lot better off, with a whole lot more information, than what you have now.


Pharmacists are actually trained for much more than just counting out pills, they are highly trained chemists. More than doctors, they know how different medicines interact and how they react once in our bodies.

Some pharmacists even know how to make medicines. That’s what you’re looking for: a pharmacist who can show you how to make your own penicillin, ether and chloroform will be giving you information that can save lives.

In addition to medical chemistry, there are probably other things you can learn from these people, such as how to make biofuel and other useful chemical substances.


Everyone knows what the “world’s oldest profession” is; but I’ve never heard agreement on what the second and third oldest are.

Personally, I think that the midwife has to be pretty high on that list, as the “oldest” would necessitate midwifery. So even if something like farming or shepherding would beat it out (Able was a shepherd and Cain a farmer), midwives have been around for a long, long time.

As long as babies are being born, there will be a need for midwives. This will be especially true in times when there aren’t enough doctors to help women through childbirth. In a post-apocalyptic world, there’s a much greater possibility of women using midwives, than doctors.

Amish Farmer

Modern farming has become industrialized, with massive corporate farms and lots of expensive equipment. Even smaller farms depend heavily on equipment, with the tractor long ago having replaced the horse or oxen.

But the Amish never made that transition. Today’s Amish farmers largely do things the way their ancestors did them, still using horses as the main source of power on the farm. This gives them an incredible advantage over the rest of us, who don’t have the slightest idea of how to do things without gas engines and electric power.

Should we find ourselves on the receiving end of an EMP, the Amish will be less affected by it than any other group of people in our country. That’s basically because they don’t depend on electricity or the modern electronics that the rest of us use.

Their communities will thrive, while the rest of the country is dying. Spending time with one of these farmers and learning the methods and tools they use, would prepare you to be able to feed your family and many more, once the brown stuff hits the rotary air movement device.


Ranching and farming aren’t the same thing. Throughout the time of the Old West, these two groups of people fought for the use of the land. That’s because the best farmland was also the best land for raising cattle, or should I say the best ranchland was often the best land for farming.

Of all the animals that mankind has domesticated through the years, cattle give us the most meat per animal.

Another way of putting that is that cattle give us the most meat for effort expended. That makes them the perfect sort of animal to raise for meat, assuming you’ve got enough land to raise them.


In the military, all “special action groups” are collectively known as “snake eaters.” It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Navy’s SEALs, the Army’s Special Forces or any other group, they all fall into the same general category.

Snake eaters are the best of the best. In the Army, Special Forces is not only the group that is called upon for unconventional warfare (guerrilla warfare), but they are the ones who are sent to other countries, in order to train their militaries. In fact, Special Forces got their start that way, first as the Jedburgh Teams in World War II and then as advisors in Greece and elsewhere.

Many people think of these snake eaters as expert survivalists. But that depends largely upon the environment you are talking of. They aren’t experts in the sense that you and I are trying to be, but rather in surviving any combat action. Their superior training makes them the best soldiers to have on your side, should things become violent.

Spending time with any snake eaters, learning their combat skills, will greatly increase your chances of not falling prey to the two-legged predators that will be out in force after a disaster strikes.

Hunting Guide

Hunting may not be the most efficient way of finding food after a collapse, but it may still be a very necessary part of our survival. But what most people consider hunting today is sitting in a deer blind, waiting for deer to start munching on the seed corn they put out.

While this may be an efficient way of hunting, it’s highly dependent on having the right equipment and the right place. I don’t think that’s something that any of us can count on in a post-apocalyptic world. Rather, we’re going to have to go hunting the old-fashioned way, tracking animals, learning their habits and then laying wait for one alongside a trail.

Skills like that aren’t something you can learn from just any hunter, as they probably don’t know them either. Rather, you’re going to need someone who started hunting before people used corn and deer blinds to hunt.

That’s why I recommend a hunting guide, rather than just any hunter. They’re more likely to know the skills you’ll need.


If you’ve ever read any of my other post-apocalyptic articles, you know that I believe strongly in the profession of blacksmithing.

Before the dawn of the industrial age, the blacksmith made just about anything that could be made out of metal. From armor and weapons to shoeing farmer’s horses, the blacksmith was the man to see.

There are few blacksmiths in the world today; mostly because modern industry has replaced them. But when industry is taken away, then what? Who will be able to make the tools and other things that we need? It will have to be blacksmiths, or someone with very similar skills.

My father learned how to be a blacksmith, once he retired; apprenticing with a lifelong blacksmith who was a true artist of the trade. Unfortunately, I only learned a little of it from him, and don’t have a forge and anvil to practice on. If I could find one around where I live, I’d love to spend some time in his shop, learning what I could.

Mr. Fix-It

You probably know someone who can fix just about anything; a Mr. Fix-It (or perhaps a Mrs. Fix-It). These are some of the world’s most useful people and will probably be the true leaders of rebuilding society after a major disaster.

What makes these people so special is that they aren’t limited to just one trade, like many people are. Rather, they’re comfortable with any number of trades and even with fixing things that don’t fall within any particular trade. Whatever you need designed, built or repaired, they can find a way to do it; often a rather imaginative way.

I consider myself to be one of these people. Earlier in my career, I was a manufacturing engineer. Rather than just working in one engineering discipline, this forced me to do both mechanical and electrical engineering. I also took the time to learn how to be a machinist, mechanic and made many of my own prototypes.

On the side, I had a small construction company, along with a buddy of mine. So I’ve learned how to do a wide variety of things; becoming what we used to call, a jack of all trades.

Today I build a lot of my own survival gear. You can find countless examples of my work around my house. My garage hasn’t had a car in it since I painted one of them. Rather than being a garage, it’s actually my workshop. I figure that will serve me well in a post-apocalyptic world.

The Old Survivalist

Survivalism has changed since I got started in my youth. Back then we weren’t so focused on equipment, as methods. There just wasn’t that much equipment available; at least not compared to what we have available to us today.

So, you had to know how to do things yourself, rather than depending on having some sort of gadget to do it for you.

What this means is that those old survivalists were often trained much better than we are today, simply because they had to be. So they’re a fountain of useful information, if you can find them and get them talking.

Fortunately, most are willing to share what they know; so the real problem is finding them.


This article has been written by Bill White for Survivopedia.

10 Ways To Repurpose A Lawn Mower Engine

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Have you ever noticed that the body of your lawnmower wears out long before the engine? If so, then you may even have a few extra engines laying around, but have no idea what to do with them.

There are several ways to reuse a lawn mower engine to meet a range of off gridding and survival goals. Whether you use an engine that was sitting in your garage for years on end, or you happen to find one abandoned by someone that saw no use for it, there is a chance you can use it for any of the following purposes.

Here’s how!

Build a Generator

From surviving the aftermath of a hurricane to trying to cut back on your electric bill, you would be amazed at how much electricity you can get from a lawn mower engine.

Depending on the horsepower of the engine, you could power household lights, and perhaps a few smaller, low drain appliances. For example, if you have RV or other 12 volt appliances on hand, you should be able to run them with ease.

Unless you convert the lawn mower engine to run on some other fuel, you will need gasoline. Fortunately, you will need far less than what you would need if you were running a conventional generator.

Even if you do not get as much power from the lawn mower engine, it will still get you through though times as long as you pair it with energy conserving appliances.

This smart device will help you slash an excess of 70% off your power bill overnight…

Power Transport Vehicles

Let’s say an EMP blast has wiped out most computers, and most cars and other vehicles that rely on computer are unable to run. If you have a lawn mower engine that doesn’t have any computerized or electronic parts, you can use it to power smaller vehicles.

Here are just a few options you may want to consider:

  • Bicycles – the lightweight frames and large wheels make it possible for even a small lawnmower engine to power the bike at a fairly good speed. For the sake of balance, you may want to add training wheels on the back wheel of the bike. Don’t forget to make sure that you can still use the brakes and turn the bike easily while the engine is running. You can also power tricycles using a lawnmower engine.
  • Motor bikes – even though motor bikes and scooters may not move as fast, they will still get you from one place to another.
  • ATVs, Go Carts, and Other Small Vehicles – You can power just about any light weight vehicle suitable for carrying one person with a lawn mower engine. This includes designing your own vehicles that will incorporate elements that you feel will be most important during a major crisis. This may even include a small side cart where you can put supplies, larger tires, or even tracks for navigating off road and in rough terrain. You may also want to include other design elements that will help you navigate in the snow or ice if you will be traveling in areas where these forms of precipitation will lead to problems. Just remember not to exceed the weight bearing capacity of the engine you are using to power the vehicle.

Power a Wheelchair

Even outside of a crisis situation, many people that need wheelchairs cannot afford motorized versions.

While these people may be able to get around a small room using a manual wheelchair, the lack of a motorized transport device makes it impossible for them to go the park or enjoy other activities in places where a motorized wheelchair may not be available.

In order to use a lawn mower engine to power a wheelchair, you would need to start off by building a suitable frame. Depending on the person, you can build a recumbent design, or something that looks more like a conventional motor driven wheelchair.

Regardless of the design you choose, a motorized wheelchair driven by a lawn mower engine is not suitable for use indoors or other areas with poor ventilation. As with any other gasoline driven engine, a running lawn mower engine still gives off carbon monoxide and other toxic gasses.

Build a Power Wheelbarrow

More than a few people interested in gardening these days live on very small pieces of land, or have medical conditions that make it very hard to tend a conventional garden. If you have a small deck or porch, a power wheelbarrow can be of immense benefit in setting up a container garden.

Among other things, you can fill it up with soil or compost and bring it to the site where you intend to plant. As long as the wheelbarrow has suitable wheels, it will be able to travel from one area to another with relative ease.

Video first seen on Roy Rickstrew.

When powering wheelbarrow with a lawnmower engine, it will more than likely have to run on at least three wheels. If you include longer handles for leverage, keep the single wheel in the front. This will enable you to use the wheelbarrow as a manual design as well as a motorized one.

If you plan on bringing soil and compost indoors to grow plants in a single room, it will still be best to have the lawn mower engine turned off.

During the process of building a power wheelbarrow, you’ll still need some way to steer the device even though you will not be sitting in it.

Your best option is likely to be an Arduino controller that has a remote controller on it. For the most part, once you know how to use Arduino to control a remote control car model, you can adapt the same methods for controlling a power wheelbarrow.

Power an Air Compressor

If you have ever worked with hand tools, then you were sure to be amazed at the ease and convenience associated with power tools. While you may need to go back to hand saws and other simple devices in a time of need, chances are you still love jig saws, circular saws, drills, and rotary tools.

As wonderful as these tools may be, many people that have used compressed air tools tend to think of conventional power tools as nice, but primitive. If you are serious about repairing cars or working materials that require a lot of force to manage, you are likely to want to use compressed air tools.

One of the most disappointing things is an air compressor connected to a tiny tank that won’t give you compressed air or time to get much of anything done. The most useful air compressors with big tanks or the capacity to deliver air without going to a tank can be expensive and bulky, so it makes sense to make an air compressor from an old lawn mower engine.

As with generating electricity, you will find that just about anything that spins can be combined with other parts and materials to compress air.


This smart device will help you slash an excess of 70% off your power bill overnight…


Power a Small Boat

As you look at the scenes of devastation in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, it becomes clear that transport over land may not be the only cause for concern during a crisis.

Small conventional boats can be powered by lawn mower engines. It will will take some extra fitting to ensure the lawn mower engine doesn’t get wet, however it is well worth the effort, especially if you have to travel a significant distance in order to get to some kind of safety. The boat will have to be fairly small for this to work, and consider keeping it at home in a garage or some other area where you can get to it easily if needed.

Aside from conventional boats, consider adapting a lawnmower engine to run an air boat. If you take a careful look, in particular, at the pictures from Texas, you will find these boats are very important and useful when there is a lot of flooding combined with the potential for excessive amounts of underwater debris.

As with navigating through swamps or marshes, an airboat may be a much better choice if you are in a city or other suburban area and need to get out through flooded streets.

Build a Rotary Tool

Even though most people use hand held rotary tools without a stand, it is also possible to use them while suspended to a platform. Since a lawnmower engine can deliver plenty of power to spin a central shaft, it can be used to take the place of many different kinds of rotary tools. This includes:

  • Drill presses, screwdrivers, and power drills. Even though you cannot simply lift the lawn mower engine by hand for the smaller hand drilling devices, you can still use an extension that will deliver the spinning motion to a tool that you hold in your hand. For example, Dremel, Foredom, and other rotary tool manufacturers all make flexible shafts that fit onto the main rotary appliance while it it is mounted on a platform.
  • Polishers – you can use rotary tools to polish everything from metal and stone to wood. You will still need the proper grits and pastes to create smooth, even polishing effects.
  • Stone or Metal cutting and embossing – if you are interested in creating stone or metal art, it always helps to have a rotary device that can cut through these materials. In addition, you can also adapt rotary tools to polish and sharpen knives or other metal equipment that you buy or make yourself.

Depending on how you line up the equipment extending from the shaft, you may also be able to make a very crude wood and metal working lathe. Just be aware of the fact that the platform for this kind of application can be very tedious to design and will need to withstand a good bit of vibration without moving. You will also need proper tools for forming the items being spun by the lathe.

Power for Water Irrigation and Transport

If you own a homestead, you may have ponds or streams on the land that can be used for irrigation. If you have to get the water to move uphill or around complex land features, you’ll need pumps or other devices to ensure adequate water movement.

Combine a lawnmower engine with an Archimedes Screw or other devices in order transport water during times when the flow is too slow for your needs. This may also include pumping water up from shallow wells or other underground resources.

Even though it is true that there is no place for water to go during a major flood scenario, there are just as many other times when you can direct the water away from your home and property and have a reasonable expectation that it won’t just come right back. Therefore, converting a lawn mower engine to be used as a sump pump or other water draining device also makes a good bit of sense.

Many people going off grid often find themselves wondering how they can capture rainwater and deliver it inside their homes as efficiently as possible. If you need a low budget option, try using a lawn mower engine converted for pumping water so that you can move water from the rain trap through pipes to a tank inside your home.

Depending on where the tank’s lowest point is in relation to the other pipes, you can still get a reasonable amount of water pressure for household needs, or you may still need to add extra smaller sized water pumps around the house.

Power Heavy Lifting and Towing Equipment

As a budget conscious prepper, you might think that you will only have simple devices such as rope hoists and levers to move heavy equipment around.

On the other side of the equation, the spinning shaft of a lawn mower can be used to power hoists and pulley systems. Just convert the motion of the lawn mower shaft so that it wraps the rope around a reel, then you’ll have to work out a method to release the rope once the weight is removed from it.

Unless you feel like creating some type of transmission, it will be very difficult to create a “reverse” motion with the lawnmower engine.

You may be surprised at the number of times you will need to haul something big and heavy from one place to another. For example, if you are clearing trees or need to move bulky logs, you could create a cart and then attach a pulley system to it.

From there, you can attach the lawn mower engine to the cart, and then use the pulley system to drag the object from one place to another. As with any other moving device, you must also be able to stop the cart from moving forward, and you must also be able to lock the wheels in place for stationary use.

Learn the Fundamentals of Engine Cleaning and Repair

Today, more than a few people are interested in retrofitting cars or putting older ones back on the road. But as these vehicles become scarcer, you may be forced to try and refurbish a vehicle that has serious engine problems.

A lawn mower engine has the same kind of piston and cylinder system as a conventional gas engine, so you can take it apart and learn the basics on a much smaller device. As you go through this process, learn and practice good disassembly and assembly practices as well as learn how to clean and evaluate parts.

You won’t be spending thousands of dollars on a vehicle, and then find out that you do not have the skills necessary to rebuild the engine. While there will still be a learning curve in transiting from lawn mower engines to old style automobile gasoline engines, it will not be as steep or complicated.

Over the years, many people have thrown out perfectly good lawn mower engines because they saw no other use for them. But lawn mower engines are small, durable, and reliable. With just a little bit of adaption, they can be used to meet a range of homesteading and survival needs.

No matter whether you start adapting lawn mower engines to other uses as a matter of hobby or necessity, you are sure to learn a lot, and enjoy a lower budget useful task at the same time.

This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

Size Matters? How To Choose Your Bushcraft Tools Wisely

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You know the old saying that bigger is better, right? Well when it comes to bushcraft tools, one may wonder how to choose wisely the right tool for the job. Since the name of the game is wilderness survival, the perfect multi-purpose tool for the job is the proverbial blade also known as the survival knife.

And if you’re wondering why I am talking about knives when we’re supposed to be discussing bushcraft tools, a high quality, solid knife is the perfect bushcraft tool, at least in my opinion. Depending on its size and shape, a bushcraft/survival knife can be described as the quintessential multi-purpose tool.

For tens of thousands of years, the cutting blade was a man’s best friend in the wilderness, as it was an indispensable tool in basically any survival scenario. The bushcraft knife will serve you well when it comes to meeting basic survival needs, also known as the holy trinity: water, food, and shelter.

The 3-second Survival Hack That Gives You Superhuman Powers 

On top of that, a bushcraft knife will play a big part in making a fire. If we’re talking about a jack of all trades, a full tang-high quality blade is a must have bushcraft tool in any scenario imaginable. Which brings us to today’s topic, because size matters: how much blade (as in length) is enough?

How much blade do you need?

Are you playing in the Crocodile Dundee category or do you just want the perfect all-arounder to fulfill your specific needs?

Video first seen on Dave Hughes.

Well, this is an almost philosophical question because everything depends on personal preferences.

However, a proper bushcraft knife must help you survive, and for that to happen, it must be able to handle a variety of functions, including self-defense, digging (very important when building a shelter), slicing, cutting, food-prep, first aid (as a tool of sorts), hunting weapon, fire making, prying tool, hammering … you get the idea, right?

Why Bigger Is Not Necessarily Better

When choosing the perfect bushcraft tool, whether it’s a knife or anything else, you must keep in mind that less is typically more, as function always trumps styling, regardless of what you’ve seen on the lobotomy box (TV).

Which brings us to our initial problem: size matters, indeed, but bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to choosing the perfect bushcraft tool. If a blade is way too big, you won’t be able to use it for detailed tasks such as carving precision gear (think snare sets) or dressing small game.

However, there’s a flipside to that coin: a small blade can’t be used for heavy-duty tasks or rugged jobs like chopping and batoning. A bigger blade would come handy when splitting wood or cutting trees, provided you don’t have anything available but your bushcraft knife.

And there’s always the issue with the ratio between the blade’s thickness and its length. The thing is, a longer blade will provide you with more leverage for heavy-duty tasks.

There are disadvantages too; for example, as the leverage increases, so do the odds of breaking the blade. A long and thin blade can be compared to a kitchen knife, while a shorter and thicker blade is more like a chisel. Do you see where this is going?

A bushcraft knife should be thicker and probably shorter than a regular knife if you’re looking for sturdiness and reliability.

After using a number of survival knives, I think the ideal size for a bushcraft knife is about 10 inches, and I am talking about overall length, which puts the blade length at about 5 inches, give or take, depending on the design.

Obviously, a hardcore bushcraft knife must be a full tang-fixed blade – forget about folders as they’re not as reliable/durable as fixed blades.

A 4-5-inch blade, provided it’s made of high quality steel, can be used for basically any task imaginable, making for the ideal combo of portability and efficiency. And speaking of practicality, a 5-inch blade knife is very comfy to carry around at all times.

The thing is, the best knife/bushcraft tool in the world would not help you out a bit if it sits cozy in your closet or in your gear bag. What you have on your person when SHTF is what makes a difference in a survival situation, right?

Big knives like machetes or 10-12-inch long bowie knives are pretty cool looking and definitely usable in a survival scenario, but they’re not the definition of practicality. A large blade can be really useful when it comes to chopping wood, yet it would never match an axe/hatchet in this department and it would be completely useless at finer tasks.

And if you think you can’t fell trees with a 5-incher, think again; everything’s about technique.

Video first seen on IA Woodsman.

However, if you’re looking into serious woodwork, you should consider carrying a hatchet together with your bushcraft knife. A medium-sized, 5-inch blade together with a hatchet would make for the perfect bushcraft survival combo.

Carrying a large knife only (a 12-incher for example, or a machete) would fill an intermediate role but it would not excel at either end compared to a a 5-incher/hatchet combo.

So, now that we’ve been through all the reasons, hopefully you can see why I believe that a 5-inch blade would make for the best bushcraft tool.

It’s fairly easy to carry around and it can be used for a multitude of purposes, i.e. to cut branches for improvising a shelter, to prepare firewood, to clean small game/fish, and it’s also more likely that you’ll have it on your person 24/7, whereas a 12-inch bowie knife or machete is more likely to sit at home on a shelf or stuffed in your bug-out bag somewhere.

When all is said and done, a smaller knife would serve you best as a bushcraft tool. You can go a little bigger, but I’d recommend keeping it under 7 inches, with the ideal size being between 4 and 5 inches.

If you take a look at what bushcraft experts are carrying, you’d see that Ray Mears, Mors Kochanski, Les Stroud, and Cody Lundin are all using bushcraft knives of roughly the same size: 4-5 inch blades.

And forget about the appeal-to-authority fallacy: just try it for yourself, and bottom line, choose wisely and don’t skimp on quality when it comes to survival gear! Your survival might depend on this!

I hope the article helped. If you have questions or suggestions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

Prep Blog Review: House Projects To Start In The Spring

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I love spring! Is the perfect time to start new projects around the house, in my garden, for my homestead, and take my prepping goals to the next level. Every new projects means learning a new survival skill or practicing an old one, and you can transform these activities into a fun family activity.

If you are having some extra time and you are looking for cool, fun and easy spring prepper projects, for this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered four articles on this topic.

Do you have other spring projects on the way? Share them in the comment section!

1. 50+ Things You Can Make Using Essential Oils 

“While essential oils have been used for aromatherapy for hundreds of years, these all-natural scents are seeing a spike in popularity as more people are learning about their de-stressing and energizing abilities.

Derived from plants or flowers, most often through steam distillation, essential oils can be used to make scented candles, oil diffusers, even pest repellants.

To show you all the possibilities a little bottle of essential oil holds, we rounded up some of our favorite things to make with essential oils—along with our guides to picking the right scent.”

Read more on Apartment Therapy.

2. Making Furniture and Other Structures With Sticks 

“If you’re living off the grid, chances are you are in a rustic setting and possibly/most likely have a rustic dwelling, maybe even a log cabin that you built by hand (that would be awesome).

Well, what would fit with that rustic theme better than rustic furniture?

Clearing the Land

When you make your homestead location, chances are there will be a lot of trees there that you will be cutting down to clear a spot for your home and garden areas.

Besides the heavier logs that come from cutting trees that can be used for making boards, beams, and split rails, you are also going to amass quite a pile of sticks.

No, seriously, there will be a huge pile of sticks. So why not put those sticks to good use? After all, waste not want not, right?”

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

3. The Prepared Home: 5 Prepper Project to Start in the Spring 

“ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, as many of you know, planning is an important aspect of emergency preparedness.

Each year, you should make new plans and practice your new skills.

I wrote an article a little while back about planning (and possibly starting) an icehouse/root cellar during the wintertime.

As of this writing, spring is just around the corner (officially), and the cold weather is starting to retreat bit by bit.  We’re going to cover a few ideas for you to pursue during the spring months for building projects around your property.

Let’s jump right into it, with a description of the projects and the reason for building them.”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

4. Smart Ways to Reuse Things 

“My grandparents never threw away a thing that could have been used later on.

They were the old time preppers: stockpiling and re-purposing almost everything.

Today we live in a throwaway society, where even our water comes in a disposable, single use bottle.

Electronics and other consumer goods are expected to last until the next, better model comes out.

Our landfills are filling up and this throwaway mentality benefits only the producer who can sell more.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.



This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia. 

Reinventing The Wheel: How To Get Perfectly Round Shapes

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From round tires to mirrors and wheels of cheese, round shapes are a major part of our society and culture. In fact, round shapes are so common, you may feel like there is no need whatsoever to “reinvent the wheel”.

What happens when society collapses and there are no means to run the computers and factories that generate all the round things we use today? Where will you get new tires, new steering wheels, and other round items?

If you do not know how to make perfectly round shaped templates and then fashion them into working items, it will be impossible to repair damaged devices and build new ones.

The Importance of a Durable and Reusable Template

Consider a situation where you need to make a new wheel for a wagon or some other device. At the beginning of your task, you may think that you are only going to make one wheel, and then not need to worry about producing another one for some time.

For the sake of speed and utility, you may think it is best to find some way to duplicate a round shape right on the material that you plan to work with.

To begin, if you do not have a template, you will not be able to start again as easily if the material in question falls apart or does not work for your application. At the very least, if you have a template, you can simply use it to mark another piece of material without having to go through the whole measurement process again.

If another round object of the same size breaks, you can simply use the template you have on hand and save yourself a few steps.

A good quality template can also expand your material choices and options for producing the wheel. Among other things, you can use it to help with making molds, or even creating round objects that are made from layers of different materials.

The template can also be used to guide tools and help ensure that the final product is the proper size for your application.

Don’t forget to add extra material in case you need to add treads. Worst comes to worst, if the wheel is too big with the treads, you can simply sand or file it down to the right size. Just make sure that you also have a slightly smaller template to go by so that you don’t wind up with an irregular shape.

During the process of choosing a template material, it is very important to know what kinds of materials and tools you will be working with. For example, if you are planning to cut a round object from wood, it may be best to have a metal template.

This is especially important if you are going to use the template as a guide for the tools. Just make sure that the metal in question will not be damaged by the tools you are planning to use.

If you are only going to use the template as a means to draw marking guides on the material, then you can use paper, cardboard, or hard plastic.

Remember, if you do not have enough hard plastic on hand, you can try ironing together plastic bags to make a durable sheet of thicker plastic.

The template should be easy to fold up or roll up so that it does not take up much space. Just make sure that when you open the template back up, it does not have folds or creases in it that will cause spots to be less round than needed. The template should also lay perfectly flat and be easy to hold in place while you are working.

Discover the secrets that helped our forefathers survive! 

Some Ways to Get a Perfectly Round Blueprint

When a wheel or another round object spins, any deviation on roundness or weight disbursement can cause wobbling, excess wear, and possible breakage of the item. While some of these problems can be compensated for with balancing weights, it is still very important to start off with the roundest shape possible.

Simply trying to trace a round object onto a piece of paper or other template material will never work because the object in question will have been worn down from being in use.

It is much better to use the following methods for creating a round template that can be used to shape other objects.

Use a Compass

Even though a drafting compass is not very large, it will give you a perfectly round circle. I tend to prefer all metal compasses that have one pointer leg and a second one to hold a pencil. There are also extendable drafting compasses that will work just as well.

Use a String and a Pencil

To use this form of makeshift compass, you will need to set the pencil (or other narrow cylindrical object) in the center of the material you are using for the template. It should not bend in any direction or wobble.

Next, place the string around the pencil and measure a length that corresponds to where you want the outer edge of the circle to be. Use a pencil or something else that will make marks so that you have a more precise measure.

Hold the marking tool in place while you take the two ends of the string and tie them together. The marking tool should fit within the loop. You can make the loop as big or as small as you need to make a large enough round shape.

To use the compass, keep the string tight against the marking tool as you move it around the central pencil. When using this makeshift compass, make sure the string does not jump up and down on the central pencil.

You will also have to be very careful to make sure that the marking tool does not bend inward or outward, as this will throw off the roundness of the circle.

Use a Stick and a Central Pin

This method is very similar to the string and pencil compass, but it eliminates the problems associated with the string jumping and marking tool wobbling.

Basically, this makeshift compass looks a lot like an old fashioned stereo arm. Instead of the arm reaching in from outside the record, the holding place is located in the center of the circle.

You can use a stick of wood, or just about anything else as an arm. Just make sure that it can spin as freely as possible on the central holding point without wobbling or jumping up and down.

Next, drill or cut a hole in the arm that matches location that matches the edge of the circle you are planning to draw.

Set a pencil or other marking device into the hole so that it does not wobble, lean inward, or lean outward. Now all you have to do is push the marking tool so that the arm moves with it. As the arm moves around the central point, the marking tool will create a circle.

Video first seen on Make Something

Basics of Wheel Design

In a time of need, you may not be able to get the exact same materials that were used to create the device you are trying to repair. While you may be thinking that plastic or metal might have to be replaced with wood, there are many other options.

Since different materials have different strength levels and tendencies, you may need to change the internal shapes found in the wheel as well as it size and thickness.

Keep the following wheel design elements in mind as you study different materials. If you are building something completely new, you will also need to evaluate these elements in relation to the materials on hand and the application.

Even though you may be thinking mostly about vehicle wheels, there are many other places where these elements must work together for optimal performance.

If you are going to lift heavy objects with a simple machine, you will need to figure out the best ratio for pulley wheels. If you decide to advance into making gears, these elements are also very important to consider.

No matter whether you decide to create a pulley, a water wheel, or an automobile wheel, you will need to know how the following elements affect the performance of the wheel, and how that, in turn, affects the entire machine you are building or repairing.

Wheel Size

Since a wheel is designed to move in relation to a central axis, the diameter of the wheel is very important. A larger wheel will turn fewer times to cover longer distances, however, the engine or source of power will have to do more work to make the wheel turn. Smaller wheels will turn more times when compared to larger ones to cover the same distance, but it takes less work to turn the wheel.

Wheel Width

Thinner wheels can be useful for applications where you want less traction and resistance to travel. Thicker wheels are better for places where you want to reduce the risk of skidding while moving forward or making turns. Since thicker wheels also weight more, they will also absorb bumps better and with less loss of control.

Wheel Weight

More than a few people think that wheels should be as light as possible so that it takes less work to move them. On the other side of the equation, wheels need to have enough weight so that they will create enough drag as they move over surfaces beneath them.

If the wheel does not grip the surface properly, skidding will occur. Minor skidding can also be a problem because locked wheels are harder to turn than ones that grip surfaces properly.

Spokes vs Solid Construction

When you start making wheels big enough for a wagon or other vehicle, the weight of a solid wheel can cause a number of problems. On the other hand, spokes or cutouts in the wheel can reduce the weight to acceptable levels. That being said, if you are working with a material that has very little durability, you may still need to revert back to more solid shaped wheels.

You can also try using fortifications such as an independent rim that will add strength while reducing the overall weight of the wheel.

Surfaces for Traction

Weight alone is not enough to ensure that a wheel will always maintain good traction. This is why patterns or “treads” are often cut into tires. When combined with the weight of the vehicle, these treads help to grip the road without adding to the weight of the tire.

If you are going to build a brand new wheel, do not forget to choose a tread pattern that matches your application. This includes making sure that you know which patterns will work best in the mud, snow, ice, or anything else that you might be driving on.

How to Cut Round Surfaces

Once you know how big and thick the wheel is going to be, the next step will be shaping it from the base material. Here are the basic steps for a situation where you are cutting the material from a block of solid wood, plastic, metal or some other material.

  • Start off by making sure that the block is the right thickness or width for the wheel. Try to make the surface as smooth and even as possible.
  • Next, use the template to draw the round object. Be sure to note where the axis will go as well as how big it will be.
  • Use your cutting tools to take away the bulk of material from the edge of the wheel. Do not cut all the way down to the template lines. Leave at least 1/8” to ¼” so that you have enough room to sand the edges as well to create the roundest shape possible.
  • Once you have the basic wheel shape in place, go back and try to make it as even as possible all the way around before sanding. Do not cut to the point where you are at the template lines. At this stage, try to leave at least 1/16” all the way around the wheel.
  • Get rid of any excess material by sanding it away.
  • If needed, add any treads that you may need to complete the outer surface of the wheel.
  • Go ahead and drill out the area where the axle will go.
  • Complete the wheel by hollowing out any areas required to reduce overall weight.

Video first seen on bobdutica

Shaping Wood and Other Semi-Pliable Materials

Have you ever looked at wooden arched doorways and wondered how they could be made from just a single piece of wood. Surprisingly enough, this task isn’t as hard as it looks. By the same token, you can also bend metal and other materials into wheel shapes with relative ease. In order to do so you will need a solid wheel form that can be used to support the new form.

If you are planning to shape wood into a wheel, start off with a thin board that has the same width as what you need for the finished wheel. Next, you will have to soak the wood to soften it a bit.

Apply weights to the wood so that it “warps”a little, and then it it slowly dry up again. You will need to repeat this process several times to complete the wheel shape.

Once you complete a wooden wheel, do not forget that thin wood will require some form of support. You can use metal or plastic rims, as long as they are durable enough and can easily be bolted to the wood.

After you complete the outer rim of the wheel, you will need to complete the spokes and the hub. These can be fairly involved processes. As you put the spokes and hub into place, do not forget that the wheel must balance properly while in motion. If you notice that it wobbles you can attach weights on the inner surface of the wheel rim to improve balance.

In some ways, shaping metal can be a good bit easier. You can heat and hammer wood into thin enough strips that can be bent with relative ease with your hands or pliers. Just make sure that the underlying form can withstand the heat from hot metal if you decide to work with metal when is softer and more pliable.

Overall, you will find plastic one of the easiest materials to make wheels from. If you are working with a hard plastic, just apply some heat and let the plastic rest on the underlying form. Make sure that you also have the form covered with something that the plastic will not adhere to. Make sure that you can break the underlying form apart if needed.

Casting Wheels

Throughout time, many people have found out it is easier to produce consistent wheels by making a reusable mold first. Molds also open up the number of materials that you can use to make wheels.

For example, if the wheel isn’t going to be used in heavy stress and strain applications, you may even be able to get away with using glass. Wheels made from plastic, metal, or even clay are easily made when you cast them using a mold. Here is the basic process:

  • You will need to start off with an exact model of the round shape. It should match your needs in terms of width, circumference, hub design, and spokes. You can use any material that you want as long as it won’t collapse or warp while you care making the mold.
  • Next, choose the material that you will use to create the mold. The material should be heavy enough to withstand pulling and pushing without warping. It should also be strong enough so that it won’t break or be damaged by the material used to make the final shape.
  • When creating the mold, you will need to account for a place to pour in the material used to make the wheel. You will also need to decide how and in what places the mold will be opened in order to remove the finished wheel. Depending on the wheel design, you may be able to get away with a 2 part mold. If the spokes or internal shapes are more complicated, you may need a 4 part mold.
  • After you remove the model (it’s OK if it is destroyed as you won’t need it any further), go ahead and clean up the mold.
  • Put the mold back together and secure it with rope or something else that will keep the pieces all together. Try to make sure the pieces fit together as tightly and as perfectly as possible so that the material used to make the wheel won’t leak through.
  • Next, go ahead and fill the mold.
  • Once the material used to fill the mold is fully cured, go ahead and open the mold up. If you did everything right, you should have a fairly close duplicate of the original model wheel. You may need to remove mold seams and other imperfections, but the basic round shape should be just fine.

Right now, it is fair to say that most people take wheels for granted. At the same time, if we lose factories during a major social collapse, wheels, gears, pulleys, and other round objects will be very hard to produce.

Knowing how to “reinvent” a wheel may not seem very useful until you are in a situation where you must do so or face serious problems.

From bugging out to keeping your homestead running in good order, being able to make new wheels and design them from scratch is a very important, but overlooked skill.

More valuable secrets form our forefathers are still to be discovered.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia. 

10 Ways To Prepare Your Tractor For Survival

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Prepare Your Tractor For Survival
Homesteaders and farmers recognize the importance of tractors in daily life. These vehicles tend to be very durable, but it’s important to make sure you can still use them in a post-crisis world.

Aside from increasing the number of things you can use the tractor for, taking these steps will also help your tractor last longer and perform better during its lifespan.

Know What the Tractor Can Do

Over the years, I’ve purchased all kinds of gadgets in my quest to find devices that use less electricity or power while delivering at or near the same level of usefulness as more conventional devices.

For example, when I was still learning how to use power tools, I thought battery powered tools would be better or safer than conventional ones. It wasn’t long before I found out that “under powered” means nothing more than slow and virtually useless.

To this day, my very first battery powered jigsaw sits in its original box somewhere in the attic, with a battery that I haven’t charged more than once every few years to see if it still works. At the same time, my conventional powered jigsaw sits right next to my desk and is always ready to use.

When it comes to preparing a tractor, it is very important to know just how much work they can do. Simply put, you cannot get an engine rated for 5 – 10 horsepower and expect it to do the work of a 25 horsepower engine.

If you are going to add accessories to the tractor, or in any other way expand what you use the tractor for, it is very important to know if the engine, drive train, and transmission can truly take the added wear and tear. The last thing you will want to do is purchase attachments or make plans only to find out that the tractor won’t suit your needs. Get a good sense of what your current tractor can do so that you can purchase something better or look for alternatives before it is too late.

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Buy Adapters that Expand their Usability

Did you know that you can purchase an adapter for a tractor that can be used to plow snow?

While many preppers think of tractors as farm and homestead equipment, they may also be useful to conventional homeowners and apartment dwellers. The sheer number of attachments and accessories for tractors make them as versatile as they are powerful.

Here are just a few attachments that you may find of use for homesteading as well as some others that can be used by just about any person that is concerned about having a versatile travel vehicle in time of need:

Forklift Attachment

It’s ideal for people that have large stockpiles stored in boxes or crates. The fork lift can be used to lift all kinds of heavy items at one time. Depending on size and power of the main tractor, a forklift may also be useful for lifting and pushing small vehicles out of the roadway.

Steel Tracks

No matter how big or sturdy tractor tires may be, muddy terrain or complex areas can be more easily navigated with steel tracks that give you advantages similar to what you would have with a tank.

Log Dragger

If you are planning to cut down large trees, you can easily haul the lumber with this tractor attachment.

Spade and Bucket Attachments

These devices will give you a chance to use the tractor as you would a backhoe.

Steel Enclosure

This should be one of the first things you buy, especially if you plan to use the tractor like a forklift or backhoe. The steel cage will keep you safe and may also make it easier to use the tractor in a wider range of weather situations.

Harrows, Scrapers, and Pipe Layers

There are all kinds of attachments for tractors that can be used for planting crops, or digging into the ground for some other purpose.

Get All Shop Manuals for the Tractor and Accessories

As with any other motor vehicle, you need as much information as possible about the parts and functionality of every system in your tractor. A shop manual will give you far more information than just how to exchange old parts for new ones. You may get a better look at what is inside each part so that you can refurbish the parts if needed.

These schematics will also help you gain a sense of additional skills and tools that might be of use to have on hand. For example, if a specific part has a rubber diaphragm, then you know that this part may be something that wears out faster than others. This information will show you what things are best to have in your stockpile. In this case, you will store away materials that can be used to make a new diaphragm as well as extra parts that can be changed out as needed.

When it comes to sourcing replacement materials for parts refurbishing, new polymer and resin technologies may offer better replacement materials. Once you get a look at the shop manual and study it carefully, you will know more about what kind of newer materials may work as well, if not better. Considering you may have to keep the tractor running for decades or even pass it along to future generations, you need as many suitable materials on hand as possible.

A shop manual will also give you a complete listing of every part used in the tractor. Did you know that it may be possible to scavenge parts from vehicles that aren’t the same make and model?

Usually, the key to achieving this goal is to know exactly where the mounting points are and if they can be adapted to your vehicle. Once again, the schematics for the parts used for your tractor will give you some good ideas about how the insides are arranged. This, in turn, makes it easier to estimate what can and cannot be done with scavenged parts.

Setup and Maintain a Maintenance Schedule

It is very easy to be inspired by all the power you wield when you have a tractor at your fingertips. On the other side of the equation, a tractor is still a machine that requires good quality routine maintenance to keep it working for as long as possible.

It’s all too easy to forget when the last oil change was, or when you carried out some other maintenance task. As with your car, setup and maintain a maintenance schedule for your tractor, based on the following:

  • Consult the shop and owner’s manual so that you know what should be done at each maintenance interval.
  • Include a listing of all materials and tools that you will need.
  • Identify any areas where you feel that you do not have the knowledge or skills to do the job yourself. Even if you cannot do the job at the nearest time interval, make it your business to get the necessary training to do the job the next time it is needed.
  • Set aside enough time so that you can do the job yourself and be sure that you are doing it well.

When it comes to prepping, there are some additional things you should add to your maintenance plans. Consider a situation where you have been doing routine maintenance, but haven’t done any tests to check on the engine compression. Even though the tractor is operating just fine, wear and tear is going to add up over time.

It is best to have some advance warning of parts that may fail so that you can be ready to repair or replace as needed. You will need to consult the shop manual and research each part of the tractor. The more you learn about the risks, the better chance you have of developing tests that will help you diagnose and repair in time.

Convert for Multiple Fuel Use

Just about every prepper is aware about the lack of fuel for motor vehicles in the post crisis world; this topic comes up as often, if not more than EMP proofing. Even though many tractors run on diesel, make sure that you have systems in place that can take advantage of biodiesel, wood burning and methane.

One of the most fascinating emerging technologies involves using hydrogen to partially or fully power motor vehicles. While kits designed to inject hydrogen into cars and trucks are still controversial, there is far more progress being made with tractors. There are already kits on the market that covert water to hydrogen through a hydrolysis process without having to involve a commercial electricity supplier.

Video first seen on Daniel HHO Hydrogen Donatelli.

Consider changing out the tractor’s engine entirely and using a steam engine instead. This is the best way to incorporate the largest number of fuels because you can burn just about anything to generate steam.

If you decide to keep the internal combustion engine running in your tractor, it doesn’t harm to keep a steam engine, boiler system, and transmission connections on hand. If you do run into a situation where the main engine is of no use, then you can try installing the steam engine instead.

When considering alternative fuel types, remember that any system you use must also have a good chance of surviving an EMP. If you experiment with hydrogen fuel, eliminate solid state technologies as much as possible. Instead, look for ways to use gears and other simple machines to replace of electric motors and controls. In a worst case scenario, you can still try shielding these and other vulnerable parts of the tractor with EMP proof paints and coverings.

Have the Right Tools and Spare Parts

More than a few preppers think that if they find an second hand tractor that matches their own, they will have more than enough spare parts to get through a major crisis.

Tractors and their parts are made in largely automated factories just like cars and trucks. This means if there is a problem on the production line that impacts one part, it is likely that it will impact every reproduction of that part until the error is discovered. In most cases, that error is not discovered until hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of consumers wind up having the same kinds of problems.

So even if you do buy a spare tractor, the parts in it may be just as inclined to wear out or break down in the same order as the ones in the tractor you plan to use on a regular basis. In fact, if you buy a tractor that doesn’t run, the part that you need most may be the very one that you already know isn’t working on the spare!

From this perspective, choosing the best parts and tools comes down to researching before you actually buy anything. Once you go through the shop manual, research on consumer forums dedicated to the tractor model that you own. If you see that several people have the same problem, then make sure that you have extra spares for that part, or that you can refurbish what you have.

Be Able to Maintain and Repair On Your Own

Have you ever kept the same vehicle for so long that friends and family members joke that you must have replaced everything but the gas cap?

If so, then you have an idea about what it will be like in the post crisis world where you will have no choice but to patch things, bypass them, or make something new to replace something that fails. You may view this as an educational hobby right now, but these skills will become important.

Here’s what to learn if you plan to maintain and repair your tractor at the highest possible level:

  • Know how to salvage and repurpose any metal that you happen to come across.
  • Know how to recognize sources of metal ore and extract it from natural sources.
  • Know how to mix different ores and minerals to produce a metal suitable for making tractor parts.
  • Be able to heat, forge, and anneal metals so that you can shape them into usable parts. This includes extruding wire and making precision cuts and holes in any given piece of metal.
  • Find out more about polymers and other materials that can be stockpiled and used to make prototypes or actual tractor parts. You’ll also find useful to have a 3D printer on hand.
  • Be able to weld, solder, and manage every other aspect of metal working.
  • Find ways to melt down plastics or other non-metallic parts so that you can make new items or repair old ones as needed.

Overall, I recommend getting rid of as many computer based or electronic controls in tractors and other vehicles for the sake of EMP proofing and also long term durability. Even though computer chips and solid state devices can go for decades and work perfectly, there will come a day when they stop working.

Unlike purely mechanical devices, there is simply no way to repair a blow IC chip or other solid state part, and all of your efforts will go to waste if you cannot replace these parts with functional new ones. Use your time to make changes that eliminate these devices instead of trying to store them away or figure out how to diagnose them.

Have at Least 3 Safe Storage Locations

No matter how many people die or are wounded when a crisis begin, those left behind will also die off or be injured in large numbers. Before that happens, desperation will drive people to do all kinds of things: joining together to pillage and loot any place that might have food or other important resources.

If you have a tractor and land, sooner or later some kind of rouge element will find its way to your door. From EMP blasts to hostile invaders, you need at least three safe storage locations for your tractors, accessories, and spare parts.

When planning your storage locations:

  • Try to divide up the items into caches so that anything found at one site is useless unless it is combined with items from 2 or three other locations. For example, if you are storing away engine parts, do not store the tools in the same cache.
  • It’s best to have underground storage locations since these will be easiest to protect from nuclear radiation. If you are already building a shelter for yourself, you can add on to that shelter more easily than building a structure above ground for the tractor.
  • The shelters should all be EMP proof.
  • The shelters should be hard to find from the ground or by land. Learn more about ground penetrating radars as well as how to disguise the tractor signatures as much as possible.
  • Make sure that all of your caches are easy to defend. Choose areas where you can quickly arm traps as well as areas where you have enough room to lure invaders into fields of fire.
  • The caches should be far enough apart so that you can get the tractor into them as quickly as possible no matter where you happen to be on the homestead.
  • Resist the temptation to connect all the caches via underground tunnel. If someone does invade and gets to one of the caches, it will only be a matter of time before they find all of them.

Practice Making Your Own Fuel and Secure Provisions

Regardless of how many ways you modify your tractor to accept different fuels, you need to know how to make them. Make sure that you can produce and store the materials until you are ready to turn them into fuel. For example, if you went ahead and installed a steam engine or a wood burner in the tractor, then make sure you have plenty of trees.

Also if you are going to make biodiesel or some other fuel from natural resources, make sure you can carry out the task for decades or more. Many biodiesel manufacturers today rely on GMO corn.

If you purchase these seeds, it is likely that they will not produce viable seeds for the next season, and the plants that grow from these seeds won’t release pollen that reaches crops earmarked for food. Not only will you lose the capacity to grow corn for biodiesel, but you may also wipe out safe corn for food.

Rather than use GMO seeds, learn how to make biodiesel from sugar beets. There are many heritage strains of this particular plant that can be used for food and biodiesel. As an added bonus, sugar beets usually yield more fuel per acre than you would get from GMO corn.

Once you have all the materials for making fuel in place, make sure that you can store the fuel safely. If you are lucky, you will have one or two crops to harvest per year, and then you will need to make the fuel and store it until more can be made. As with storing the tractor, store fuel tanks underground and in multiple locations.

Know and Practice Making Lubricants

Motor oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and other maintenance products may become unavailable before conventional fuel stores run out. No matter how many bottles of these materials you store away, they may decay over time or be used up before you were expecting a problem. If your tractor develops oil ring wear and burns more oil, and you cannot replace the ring, your oil stores will go faster than expected.

At least, learn how to strain oil to remove the worst of the debris. Look for oil blends that will not break down as fast as older types. Remember, no matter how much you filter the oil, that does not mean the molecules in the oil have the same capacity to lubricate and remove heat from moving parts.

Overall, you will find it very hard to make a motor oil that will match the characteristics of modern oils. You can still do some research on this topic, as well as the main ingredients found in modern lubricants.

Experiment with different materials to see if you can make something that will last for at least a short time. Look for the best quality oils that last the longest and storing them away for future use. If you can’t find what you need, then mix different products to see if you get something that works better.

Some aspects of preparing your tractor for a major crisis will be easier than others. Set tangible goals for yourself so that you have a functional tractor on hand when you need it, and even if you only accomplish some objectives, it is better than not doing anything at all.

No matter whether you work with a group to divvy up the tasks, or it takes you several years to complete them, you will be taking action that leaves you better prepared for anything that may happen to disrupt your way of life.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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10 Reasons To Have A Sewing Machine

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Survivopedia Resons to have a sewing machine

If you visit any department store or second hand store, you are bound to find more clothes than you know what to do with. No matter where you look, it seems like there is no end to cheap clothes that can be used for every occasion.

As a result, most people see sewing as a “hobby” or a skill that they don’t really need to learn. But many clothes will vanish very quickly after a disaster, so you might have a reason to buy a sewing machine and learn how to use it.

Here are ten things that may just change your mind on this matter.

What Kind of Sewing Machine is Best?

If you sew on a regular basis, choose a good quality, heavy duty sewing machine. Personally, I have always preferred Singer over any other brand. Modern sewing machines can be programmed for embroidery as well as many other complicated tasks. Do your research to make sure that the internal parts are sturdy enough to meet the challenges of stiff, bulky, or very thick material.

There are also many vintage models that still have metal gears and motors powerful enough to last for decades more. Just make sure that you have a finger guard installed if the machine doesn’t already have one.

It can be very dangerous if you don’t pay attention to where your fingers are in relation to the needle. As dainty as the sewing machine and needle may look, the motor is strong enough to push the needle right through your finger.

In addition, sewing by machine can also be a very hypnotic task. It seems simple enough to keep your fingers away from the needle, but it is all too easy to loose track and wind up with a serious, and very painful injury.

As a prepper, think about what you will do with devices that require electricity. It does not matter whether this loss comes from an EMP or a hurricane. The fact remains that modern sewing machines require electricity in order to run. If you are not confident in generators or DIY power generation methods, then look for foot or treadle powered sewing machines.

Today, you can choose from antique machines as well as newer ones. For example, the Janome 712T does not have a motor and runs without electricity. It is more expensive than motor powered machines, however the expense may be worth it if you want to be sure you can sew regardless of the electricity situation.


As Clothes Wear Out You can Remake Them

Not so long ago, you could buy a sweater or pair of jeans and expect them to last for several years. Today, even more “rugged” garments wear out in just a year or two.

Since you will not find new garments in the post collapse world, you will have to find some way to make your clothes last a bit longer. In this case, you can take apart old clothes and use a sewing machine to piece together parts that are in better condition.

Here are some things you can do with a sewing machine that are difficult, if not impossible to do by hand:

  • Many fabrics today have a good bit of stretch to them. When these fabrics are sewn by machine, it is much easier to create sturdy overcast stitches (a stitch commonly used to prevent fabric from raveling) that will not come apart. Even though it is possible to make overcast stitches by hand, it is hard to control the spacing and tightness of each stitch when dealing with stretchy fabric. No matter whether you are trying to sew together pieces of jersey knit, spandex, or some other stretchy material, a sewing machine makes the job much easier.
  • When people make garments with elastic in them, they usually fold the fabric over and then sew the seam so that a column is left to draw the elastic through. If you look carefully at commercial garments, you will often see the elastic is sewn directly onto the fabric. Since there is no margin or extra material to work, it will be impossible make a column for the elastic to go through. This, in turn, means that you would have to try and resew the elastic onto the garment by hand if you did not have a sewing machine. I can tell you from personal experience that there is no pin in the world and no elastic stretching device that makes this a comfortable, let alone feasible task. On the other hand, when you have a sewing machine, the weight of the foot and the tractors beneath the fabric easily keep the fabric in position while you manually pull the elastic so that it fits properly on the material.

Easier to Darn Socks and Other Items That Develop Holes

Have you ever just tossed a sock in the trash because it developed a hole? If so, then you may also be very unhappy with the fact that modern socks really do seem to wear out a lot faster than ones made just a few years ago. While it is not especially difficult to darn sock holes by hand, this task is also much easier to accomplish with a sewing machine.

You will also find that it is much easier to use a sewing machine to patch small holes in other kinds of garments without using additional material to make a patch.

When you use a sewing machine to stitch across a flat piece of fabric, you don’t worry about the fabric bunching up or becoming uneven. If you have never done embroidery on thinner fabrics by hand, you won’t realize just how hard it can be to repair holes on garments without a sewing machine.

Even if you try to put the fabric in an embroidery hoop to keep it from bunching, you will have a hard time getting good quality stitches that don’t rub at your skin when wearing the garment.

Sew Heavier and Coarser Fabrics

Before sewing machines were invented, our ancestors routinely sewed together furs and other thick, heavy materials. If you have denim garments, or clothes made from other heavy, coarse materials, you will find it very hard to make, let alone repair them without a sewing machine.

You will face problems associated with manufacturers that compensate for using less fabric by using stronger stitches or patterns of stitches to make a durable garment.

During crisis, you’ll face constraints on the nature and amount of fabric that you have on hand to work with. If you’ll be using old garments as a pattern for new ones, then you can also use smaller margins and come out with a functional garment.

If you try to duplicate these stitches by hand, you will find that it takes more fabric. Since sewing machines also use two threads (one under the fabric from the bobbin, and one from above on thread spool), the stitches will always be stronger and tighter than ones done by people who have limited experience with sewing.

Many people feel they can sew heavy fabrics by hand as long as they take their time and focus on making even stitches. In most cases, it will take 2 – 3 times longer by hand, and leave you with both eye and hand strain.

You won’t have time to spare in a survival situation. If you don’t have time to mend clothes or make them by hand now, don’t expect to do it then. A sewing machine would solve this issue and leave time for other tasks.

Make Money as a Seamstress or Tailor

There is no question that people are becoming more frustrated with commercial garments that do not fit right (since when does a petite woman of 5’3” have an inseam of 32 – 36”?!), look hideous, cost a lot, and do not last for very long.

The cost of fabric, patterns, and notions aren’t as cheap as they used to be, but many people are taking up sewing in order to have nicer clothes. If you become proficient as a seamstress, you can make money now as well as after a social collapse.

Custom Design Clothes that Meet Your Needs

When you go on a shopping expedition for prepper clothes, you are bound to be overwhelmed by all the coveralls, heavy jackets, Thinsulate gear, and camouflage prints. What happens when you are in an actual disaster and find out that you need to move to a warmer climate, or that most of the clothes in your stockpile won’t meet your needs?

A sewing machine can be used to make any kind of garment, including camouflage. Store away patterns in different sizes as well as a range of fabrics to meet all your needs, rather than completed clothes. From waterproof fabrics to denim and fleece, it is easy enough to add these items to your stockpile and then use them as needed.

Being able to design clothes is also very important if you have children or expect to have a baby after a major crisis. Given how many growth spurts children go through, you’ll need clothes that can be let out at the seams, or adjusted as needed.

When you buy modern clothes, there is no extra fabric let alone a way to modify larger garments for smaller sizes. And if you look at modern patterns, you will find many places where you can cut the pieces a bit larger, and then simply leave more fabric at the seams.

As a prepper, you know that your body is going to change a lot after a major crisis occurs. If food is scare, or you get very sick and lose a lot of weight; or you may wind up putting on a lot of water or edema.

Either way, all those clothes you stocked away may not fit properly, and worse yet, may restrict your movement. It is very important to have a sewing machine and fabric on hand so that you can make new clothes that fit properly.

Make Blankets and Quilts for Many Purposes

Do you have blankets and quilts hanging around that have been part of your life for decades? If so, then you may not give much thought to the availability of these items during crisis. Both novice and advanced preppers have been known to only keep a foil emergency blanket in their bug out bag.

But what happens when disaster strikes, you are on the road, and need something a bit warmer and sturdier? Even if you can find fabric and some kind of filler to make the blanket warmer, it can take days or even weeks to sew a quilt or blanket by hand.

In most cases, however, you can sew the exact same blanket or quilt using a sewing machine in just a few hours. You can use anything from worn clothes to fabric set aside in your stockpile to make blankets and quilts with ease using a sewing machine.

Here are just a few situations where you might wind up needing more blankets than you have on hand:

  • If you are trying to shelter animals that no longer have a building to live in. Blanket can offer warmth and comfort to stressed animal. They can also be used to temporarily restrain the movement of animals that need medical care, or for other reasons.
  • As a temporary shelter when there are no materials available for a tent.
  • To cover supplies or anything else that needs to be protected from dirt and dust.
  • All the blankets in your stockpile were stolen, burned in a fire, or ruined in a flood involving municipal sewage or other contaminants. At the very least, if you had a few clothes or some fabric that escaped the destruction, you can still sew them into blankets or quilts with a sewing machine.

Get More Out of any Fabric You Come Across

Surviving a social collapse is going to involve a lot of innovative thinking and action. Regardless of how much you have in your stockpile, or how well run your homestead is, just about anything can come out of the blue and send you into a tailspin.

Once you are in the situation, the things you underestimated are apt to stick out like sore thumbs and hurt just as badly. In this case, not having a sewing machine can make it difficult or impossible to make use of any fabric that may be available.

Consider a situation where you are moving through an area with very little vegetation. You have a sewing machine with you and a portable power system that can be used to run the motor. As you pass through an abandoned junk pile, you find a stack of clothes that cannot be worn; but not the rope that you so desperately need.

To resolve this situation, all you have to do is cut the garments up into strips and sew them together into longer pieces to make a rope. When you have a sewing machine, you can make use of pieces that are only a few inches long and about 2 inches wide.

If you tried this same task with hand sewing, you would not be able to consistently make strong enough seams in a reasonable period of time.

Make Or Repair Furniture Covers

Do you have an old couch or recliner that either needs to be thrown out or reupholstered? As trivial as this problem may seem when compared to others, it will only get worse after society collapses.

In particular, if you are bugging in, there is a chance that floods or other disasters may ruin your furniture to the point where you can no longer use it. For example, if you have a couch, the cushions and any other soft parts will have to be discarded.

Rather than throw the entire piece of furniture out, you can at least try to salvage the wood or metal frame that supported all the soft parts. Once the frame is repaired and safe to use, just about any fabric and soft stuffing can be used to “reupholster” the furniture. If you have a sewing machine, you can also sew much heavier fabrics or layers of fabric in order to make something more durable.

Similar to many other things, there will be a time in the post crisis world when people will do as much as they can to make pre-existing items last for as long as possible.

This, in turn, means that you can barter or trade your furniture repair skills for other things that you might need. As time goes on, you can also shift your furniture repair trade to actively making furniture from raw materials that others begin putting together in larger quantities.

This is the only ultra-precise machine that can spit-out personalized pieces of woodwork!

Build Shelter Covers and Carrying Aides

One of the worst things you can do as a prepper is think that bugging in means you will have shelter and that you won’t need to bug out for some reason or other. It is very important to understand that a crisis can come from where you least expect in.

For example, while the vast majority of preppers focus on problems that will affect the entire society, something may come along that affects only you or your family. This may include job loss, illness, or the sudden passing of a family member that enabled you to have shelter and security.

Even if you do a minimal amount of research on homeless people, you will find that it became impossible for them to afford shelter and the basics of life. No matter whether these people suffer from illness, addiction, or just plain bad luck, the fact remains they were not prepared for personal financial collapse.

Given the angst in our society these days against our incoming president, sabotage by those who dissent is entirely possible. Under these circumstances, you may find that one disaster after another will arise that leaves you without shelter.

Let me be clear in saying that a sewing machine won’t solve all your problems. However, you can use it to your advantage while you still have some assets to work with.

You can take old garments and sew them into blankets, carrying aides, and anything else that will make it easier for you to travel. If you can find a safe place to store the machine, then you may also be able to make some money with it and get back on your feet.

There is also no question that many homeless people today live in cars and trucks. While this may not seem like a good place to have a sewing machine, you can still use it to make shelters outside of the vehicle. If society does collapse further because of internal or external pressures, you will still have a viable trade and an important tool to work with.

Make Toys and Other Items for Children

When I was a little girl, the battery powered toy craze was just getting started. I remember my parents being unhappy about all the “plastic battery powered junk” that cost a lot and didn’t seem to last.

lot-of-8-original-vintage-cabbage-patch-kTo this day, some of my fondest memories are of my mother sewing little stuffed toys for me.

From iron on appliques to furry teddy bears, I spent hours watching these creations unfold on my mother’s sewing machine.

Later on, we did these projects together and had far more quality time than we would have had if she just bought me a bunch of plastic toys.

During illness or great distress, it is normal to look back on safer and more peaceful times. These days, it often seems like our children will have no such peaceful times to look back on. Even if they do remember their childhood, it is likely to be filled with violent video games, nonstop social pressure, and all sorts of other worries.

Sewing toys with your children is a simple, inexpensive way to give them, and you, peaceful times to look back on. While that may not seem important right now, just think back to the times when you were in crisis and what memories like this meant to in terms of helping you get through the situation.

Making toys for children isn’t just something that works well in a time of social collapse. It is something you can start doing now that will build bonds and give you and your children a chance to enjoy time together. Building custom toys can also give you a chance to innovate and perhaps come up with something marketable that other children might like to have.
Perhaps off topic, but never doubt the possibility that you can make a fortune with a sewing machine and a good idea for a toy. Anyone that remembers the Cabbage Patch Doll craze can certainly relate to the fact that sewn toys can easily become very popular in a short period of time.

As you will recall, the Cabbage Patch Kids were invented by Martha Nelson Thomas, a woman who learned quilting from her mother. Just remember, if you do come up with something that becomes popular, you will need to copyright patent, and trademark the design so that no one else can steal it and profit from theft of the design.

In the arena of prepping, there is always a sense that time is limited. When you don’t know what will happen, or what challenges must be overcome, it is very tempting to cut corners. For example, when it comes to clothes and other fabric based items, you will more than likely buy what you need or hope that you can make do with what you have.

Even though sewing by machine is often relegated to a “craft” or a “hobby” it is a vital survival skill that you may wind up needing. Today, you can increase the chances of surviving long after a major catastrophe by learning how to use a sewing machine and having one in your stockpile.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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How To Prepare Your Tractor For An EMP

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Tractor EMP Survival

If you are living on a homestead or farm, then I bet that a tractor will form a central part of your plans. As with other types of motor vehicles, tractors can also be destroyed by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

Invariably, if you have a newer tractor, or plan to buy one, you need to know which parts are most vulnerable, how to make repairs, and how to keep the tractor as safe as possible from EMP related damage.

Keep reading to get this knowledge. You will need it, for sure!

What About Buying an Older Model Tractor?

Many people concerned about EMPs ruining their automobile have decided to buy older cars that do not have computers in them. If you happen to be a fan of older cars and know their value and durability, then you may be led to believe that you can do the same thing with a tractor.

Here are some advantages and disadvantages you might encounter if you try to buy, and then fix up an older tractor.

  • Even though a tractor may not be used every day, the time that it is in operation puts a lot of wear and tear on the engine, transmission, and drive train. While some old tractors, may, in fact, run for several more decades without trouble, others may break down and require extensive repair at the worst possible moment. You may even find that restoring an older model tractor may cost as much as trying to convert a newer one for the sake of EMP proofing.
  • You will find it much harder to get spare or replacement parts. This problem may be offset if you have metal working tools and parts from compatible tractors built around the same time.
  • It will be very hard to obtain shop manuals and schematics that could be used to help you rebuild or maintain the tractor. Before a major crisis happens, you may need to do patent searches for individual parts and also see what kind of information the manufacturer is willing to give you.
  • On the positive side, if you find a tractor that runs well and has no computers or electronic parts in it, then you will have to do a lot less work to prepare it for an EMP. As long as you take the extra step of storing it safely, then it should run when most other motorized vehicles fail.

Video first seen on ACES – Fresh from the Field.

Get the Right Information, Skills, and Tools

Even though tractors are more rugged than most vehicles, they can still be ruined by improper maintenance or shoddy mechanical repair efforts. On the other side of the equation, if you are going to be truly self-sufficient, then being able to repair any tractor you own will be very important.

If you do not have the right skills, tools, or information, it is very likely that you won’t be able to use your tractor for very long after a major disaster let alone get restore it to working condition after an EMP.

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2 Vital Sources of Tractor Repair Information

  • The best source of information for making tractor repairs is the shop manual that should be available through the manufacturer of the tractor. The shop manual will list all the parts found in the tractor, as well as how to remove and replace them. It will also give you plenty of detailed diagrams so that you know how all the parts fit together. You may have to pay a bit extra for this manual, however it is well worth the cost.
  • Your next most important source of information is a notebook that you will keep that gives details about all maintenance, repairs, and changes you have made to the tractor. For example, if you decide to remove a particular computer system for the sake of EMP proofing, that information should be listed in the notebook.

You should also have detailed schematics and other notes so that you can make repairs to the revised system without causing problems. Never leave these details to memory. Even if you are a skilled mechanic, years, grease, time, and mechanical wear can change things to the point where you may no longer recognize what was done.

At the very least, detailed diagrams and notes about each changed system can help you retrace your steps and restore the tractor to working order.

Essential Tractor Repair and Maintenance Skills

Tractor engine Aside from being able to manage every system in the tractor, you will also need some additional skills if you are going to EMP proof the tractor and continue to use it in the revised form.

You will need the ability to search through patents in order to find older technologies that can be used to replace computer modules. You should also be able to look at different alternative designs and choose one that will meet your needs and still offer the best in terms of safety and efficiency.

Given the number of variations on tractor and automotive systems, you are sure to find dozens of designs that may work. Picking the best one, however, can take a good bit of skill.

Some computer systems may be difficult, if not impossible to replace with alternative technologies. As a result, you will need to have a good understanding of computerized automotive systems and how best to manage them. This includes knowing how to get to various sensors as well as how to replace any module that may require it.

Important Tools

Depending on the size of the tractor, you may be able to do some or all of the work using basic hand tools. This includes engine hoists and other equipment that will make it easier and safer to dismantle every part of the tractor.

There may also be some specialized tools that will be of immense use to you. Since many of these tools can be affected by an EMP, you should either focus on possible alternatives that run on water, or try to store them away in a Faraday Cage for later use.

  • Air driven tools. If you are working with an especially large tractor, these tools can make mechanical repair easier, safer, and faster. The air tank and hoses should all remain usable after an EMP attack. The compressor and associated gauges may not survive an EMP. You can try looking into trip hammer technologies as they were first invented in China to see if you can modify them to provide compressed air; and then use spring loaded levers and weights to help with determining air pressure within the tank.
  • Computer diagnostic systems. If you do not have the time or skills to convert key computer modules in the tractor to alternative forms, then you will need to make sure you can diagnose and replace computer parts that may be damaged by an EMP. Even if you can purchase a low cost hand held diagnostic unit, that may not be enough.

Consult the shop manual for your tractor to find out if any computer systems need to be reset by an external computer. If you find that an external computer is needed, see if you can find some way to obtain the necessary computer, or build something on your own that will do the job.

In this case, you can try Arduino controllers, and then make sure that you have the proper connectors and software languages required to communicate with the computers and sensors in the tractor.

Video first seen on Matthew Reimer

Know Which Parts are Most Vulnerable

Basically, anything on or in your tractor that conducts electricity can be damaged by an EMP. The amount of damage depends on:

  • the intensity of the pulse
  • how well or poorly the items conduct electricity
  • the ease of transmission from one point to another.

Even though your tractor may be located several miles away from an EMP strike site, power lines and other conductors may deliver the pulse to an area close enough to the tractor to do more damage than expected. Oddly enough, if the tractor is located further away from the power lines, it may be far less damaged.

That being said, the most vulnerable parts of the tractor are similar to the ones at most risk in any other automobile. The computers, wire harnesses, the alternator, motors, lights, and computer sensors can be ruined by even a relatively weak EMP.

Convert From Computers to Older Technologies

The ECU (Engine Control Unit) is one of the most important computers you will find in modern tractors and other automobiles. Basically, this computer alone controls:

  • the amount of air and fuel delivered to each cylinder
  • the speed at which the engine will idle while standing still. This part of the unit monitors the crankshaft position sensor, which plays a key role in setting other aspects of the engine’s timing.
  • spark timing
  • valve timing
  • adjustments to water flow through the engine based on whether it is cold or warm (this helps with fuel efficiency).

There are also other computer modules for controlling the transmission, braking systems, lights, and any safety features that the tractor might have. To some extent, all of these computers require at least some input from other computers in the system.

They are all connected by the CAN (Controller Area Network). Usually, this module does not have its own microprocessor. Rather, it simply allows all of the other processors and controllers to communicate with each other.

That being said, depending on the tractor model and computers involved, you may also need to do some additional work to modify the CAN before the tractor will work properly. If you start modifying one system, you can expect to have to bypass other systems or adjust the other computer so that it does not prevent the tractor from running.

Modern tractor computers come with programming that is very difficult to hack and alter. To add insult to injury, many of these programs are protected by copyright law. While these laws may not concern you much in the post crisis world, breaking them now can lead to criminal prosecution.

The whole issue of computerized control modules in modern tractors is a serious problem for people now, and will be an even bigger problem in the post crisis world.

Rather than focus on changing or adjusting the computers that come with the tractor, you can look for open source programs that will do the same job. At the very least, if there are some computer modules and sensors that you cannot do away with, you will still be able to use any spares you have after an EMP occurs.

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Is it Possible to Turn the Tractor into a Faraday Cage?

The answer to this question depends largely on:

  • how many electrically conducting attachments you have on the main body of the tractor
  • whether or not you can put a viable and sufficient insulator between these parts and the rest of the tractor. For example, if you have a grapple rake attached to the tractor, the connection points would have to be shielded in such a way that electricity cannot travel between the accessory and the rest of the tractor.

If the attachment is controlled in part by the tractor’s computer, you would also have to convert that system to a fully manual one. Preferably, these manual linkages would also need some kind of non-conductive spacer so that the EMP pulse does not travel into the rest of the tractor.

For the most part, it won’t be practical or possible to put the entire tractor in a Faraday Cage. On the other hand, you might be able to reduce the amount of modification needed by localizing all vulnerable parts to a shielded area of the tractor.

The most difficult parts will be the fuel line that extends from the engine to the fuel tank, and also the brake lines for each of the wheels. It may be possible to locate polymers that can be used as insulators, as well as other materials that can replace metal parts that would compromise the rest of the tractor.

Keep Spare Parts You Cannot Convert in a Faraday Cage

It is fair to say that if you have the time, money, and skills, you can more than likely convert any tractor so that it no longer uses any kind of computerized system. If you are on a budget or don’t have much time to complete so many tasks, this process can take months or even years to complete.

In the meantime, if society collapses or an EMP occurs, you will still need a functional tractor. At the very least, until you have fully EMP proofed the tractor, it makes sense to keep spare computer systems and diagnostic tools in a Faraday Cage. You should also keep extra wires, fuses, motors, and anything else that might be ruined easily by an EMP.

Video first seen on Big Family Homestead

These days, when people think of computers, lightweight tablets, cell phones, and other portable devices come to mind. By contrast, a combination of tractor computers, motors, wiring, tools, and other devices can easily weight several hundred pounds and take up quite a lot of space. This is actually one of the few places where I would recommend building a separate, building sized Faraday Cage to house all of the spare parts.

This building should be located underground and easy enough to get to from any underground bunker that you might decide to build. If you build the shelter more than 10 feet underground, there will also be some natural protection from the effects of an EMP.

As an added bonus, even a shallower depth will also protect you and the equipment from additional ground nuclear blasts that might follow a nuclear explosion that set off the EMP.

Use Cutting Edge Technology to Make Your Own Tractor Parts

Did you know that 3D printers are rapidly becoming very popular with people that want to build all kinds of devices? This includes motor housings, engine parts, and many other devices that would normally take complicated and expensive equipment.

If you do some research, you may be able to find a number of polymers and other compounds that can be turned into spare tractor parts using a 3D printer. If you are going to put other equipment in a Faraday Cage, this kind of printer and a computer to run it may be worth it.

Aside from making tractor parts, you may also be able to develop or purchase templates that can be used for other parts of your homestead.

Keep the Tractor in a Safe Location

Depending on where your farm or homestead is located, there is a good chance that you will not be using the tractor every single day. If you have winter seasons or other times when a tractor is not needed, the best thing to do is store it in a Faraday Cage.

An underground location would be ideal, however above ground shelters will also work as long as they are built correctly. Similar to other automobiles, it does not make much sense to keep a tractor if you can’t bring it out to the fields and use it for its intended purpose.

The best thing you can do is return the tractor to a safe location after you are done with it, and then hope that an EMP does not strike while you are using the tractor.

Simple Things that Might Minimize EMP Effects

In these difficult times, having a working tractor does not mean you have enough money or other resources to do everything needed for EMP proofing. If you cannot afford major modifications or a dedicated Faraday Cage for storage, here are some inexpensive things that might be of use:

  • Antennas tend to be some of the best and most overlooked conductors of an EMP pulse. Radios, remote control systems that feed into cell phone apps, and many other devices in the tractor may have antennas that will spell disaster during an EMP. Even if these antennas are tied to computer modules, it may be possible to remove the antennas without losing the basic functionality of the tractor. Without these devices, you may need to do more work manually, however it will be worth it if you can reduce the risk of the entire tractor being ruined by an EMP.
  • If you are near a power transmission substation, or very close to where the EMP struck, there isn’t much you can do to prevent damage to a tractor running in the field. That being said, if you are further away from the EMP, staying away from power lines or other large sized conductors might just reduce the amount of energy that gets to the tractor. In this scenario, it can mean the difference between computer parts being destroyed only, or those parts plus vital motors and wiring harnesses.
  • Always remove the battery and other sources of free flowing electricity from the tractor when you are done using it for the day. Do not just rely on shutting the engine because there may be any number of computer parts or systems that draw tiny amounts of current even when the tractor is off. Anything that draws power can also increase the risk of damage from an EMP.
  • If at all possible, it will also help to find out if any of the computers or sensors have power supplies that are independent of the main battery. These parts truly should be replaced at all cost because they present the most overlooked, and therefore greatest danger when it comes to prepping tractors for an EMP.
  • Pay attention to world news and global terror forecasts. When it comes right down to it, figuring out when or if a hostile group is going to launch an EMP attack is not an easy task. If you make a good guess and take the time to shield your tractor, then you will be ahead of the game.
  • Find, and follow a reliable space weather forecasting service. In all probability, an EMP may still more likely come from a solar flare or some other space related event. As such, a space weather forecasting service can be very valuable to you. If you hear that a large scale solar flare is expected to pass close to the Earth, this might be a good time to avoid running the tractor. Needless to say, if you want to minimize the number of times you disconnect the battery, these times might be suitable occasions.

Some New Technologies to Consider

Preppers aren’t the only people interested in finding as many useful and inexpensive ways as possible to reduce the effects of an EMP.

Here are some new technologies that may be of use at some point in the future.

Even if these specific materials cannot be used in a tractor application at this time, it may be possible for you and others to develop something that will shield tractors from EMPs.

  • Conductive Paints – Right now, these paints can be used in buildings to shield from all kinds of radio, microwave, and related electromagnetic frequencies. Work with an electrician that specializes in tractors or automobile electronics so that you can ground any kind of conductive paint safely. It is very important to realize that tractors and other vehicles are something like a huge circuit board. If you disrupt grounding points, it can cause shorts and other problems. At best, you may be lucky to come out of it with little more than some ruined parts. At worst, it can cost your life.
  • EMP Proof Concrete – If there is one innovation that promises to reduce or eliminate the risks posed by EMPs, a spray on form of concrete might just do the job. Although EMP Proof Concrete is not yet available to consumers, it is at the manufacturing stage and may become available in a few years.
  • Flexible Conductive Composites – these compounds are similar to the carbon and nickel layers used in paints and concretes. At some point in the near future, any one of these may make a viable spray coating that can be used to protect your tractor from an EMP blast.

No matter whether you purchase a new or used tractor, it is likely to be a large monetary investment.

If you are concerned about an EMP ruining your tractor, there are some things you can do to reduce the damage or prevent it. As with other automobiles, you will find that the best answers will also cost a bit of money and time.

At the very least, if you are determined to modify a newer tractor so that it does not have computer modules, take the time to learn everything you can about maintaining the tractor. This will help you to keep the tractor in good working order regardless of whether an EMP hits or society collapses for some other reason.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia. 


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5 DIY Survival Tools To Make From Scratch

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DIY survival tools

Let’s begin today’s article with a question: do you know what homo sapiens means? Well, I bet you do. But then again, how about homo faber? What’s the relation between homo sapiens and homo faber?

Translated literally, homo faber means “man, the maker.”

To put it simply, let’s assume that dolphins are very intelligent creatures since that’s what I hear constantly on National Geo and the Discovery Channel.

But that intelligence doesn’t help them much; they’re just the same as they were 500,000 years ago. Cute, intelligent creatures that constantly get caught in our fishing nets (by mistake) and they can’t get out. They often end up in tuna cans (that’s why I never eat tuna, but I’m digressing).

Are you starting to get the picture?

Homo faber is a peculiar creature, and I mean us, the people, the only “animals” on the planet which are able to control their environment through the use of – you guessed it – tools. Okay, tools and a juicy brain-to-body ratio. Some say that we control our fate too with those same tools, but I have my doubts about that.

Regardless of what you’re thinking about your fate or the lack thereof, tools are pretty cool to have, especially in a survival situation. But then again, tools aren’t necessarily defined by what you can buy for $3.99 in your local hardware store.

Actually, some while ago, I saw an octopus on TV that was using a small rock to break a clam’s shell. By most accounts, octopuses are pretty stupid compared to humans.

The idea is that when confronted with an outdoors survival scenario, you can improvise tools from scratch, thus living to fight another day. If an octopus can do it, so can you, right?

So, if early humans were able to manufacture tools using first animal bones, then stones, then metal and then via 3D printing, what’s there to stop you from learning from your ancestors?

Now that you have the general idea, let’s see about a few primitive-technology ideas which may very well save your life someday, or at least improve the quality of life for you and your family in a survival scenario, which is the next best thing.

1. How to build a fresh water prawn trap from scratch

The idea is very simple and straightforward: one must eat in order to stay alive. So, with the prawn trap you can catch prawns and eat them. The trap is very easy to build using lawyer cane, vine, and sticks. Prawn/fish traps are very easy DIY traps which can successfully be used to catch aquatic life thanks to their peculiar shape.

Basically, you’ll have to build a simple basket with an entrance designed in a funnel-like fashion so that the prawn will get funneled in, but it will not be able to get out. Here’s the detailed video tutorial about the DIY-ing job itself.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

The trap must be placed under some tree roots or something similar in the water and it doesn’t require bait, as curiosity kills the cat … err, prawns. You’ll require a little bit of basketry practice but if you’re into outdoor survival, learning this skill may prove very useful some day for many different tasks.

2. How to make a survival spear from scratch

Spears were among the first hunting/self defense weapons used by mankind and this video tutorial will teach you how to make your own survival spear  from (almost) scratch.

Video first seen on Animal Man Survivor.

All that’s required is a cutting tool, which may very well be a knife or a stone with a sharp edge. and a piece of wood of the desired length. Watching the video will also teach you how to make a fire using what’s available in the woods, i.e. almost nothing.

Oh, I almost forgot – here’s how to make a rock knife if you don’t carry a survival blade on your person 24/7 (not good).

Video first seen on Captain Quinn.

3. How to build a grass hut from scratch

You do remember the holy trinity of survival, right? Food, water and shelter. I know that a grass hut made from scratch is not a tool per se, but it’s a shelter by any definition and it can be built basically anywhere on Earth, provided there’s grass available. Which means, almost anywhere.

This project is easy to build, with a simple yet effective design and you’ll only require a sharp stone (or a knife) and a digging tool (stick, shovel, whatever). Here’s the video tutorial.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

4. How to DIY a Bow and Arrow from scratch

While hunting with a spear requires some mad skills, bows and arrows are the ideal hunting tools for long-term wilderness survival.

This video tutorial will teach you how to DIY a bow and arrow outdoors, using primitive “technology” – natural materials and tools made from scratch, i.e. a stone chisel, a stone hatchet, fire sticks and various stone blades.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

5. How to DIY a cord drill from scratch

Check out this video tutorial and you’ll learn how to make a cord drill from scratch. This baby consists of a fly wheel, a shaft, and a piece of cord and it can be used for making a fire without getting blisters on your (soft) hands or for drilling holes.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

Now, with the “survival stuff” taken care of, let’s see about a few life-hacks, i.e. some “more benign” tools made from recycled materials.

Next time you destroy a tape measure, you can improvise a depth gauge using a piece from the broken tape-measure by cutting out a twelve inch section using a pair of tin snips. To get an usable zero to twelve inch scale, start cutting at the beginning of a one footmarker and then use the ultra-thin, elastic material for measuring stuff in small/confined places

You can use scrap wood from the shop for improvising a table saw push stick for keeping your hands and fingers on the safe side when feeding wood to the saw at a consistent rate.

Video first seen on Adam Gabbert.

Here’s how to make a scratch stock cutter from an old hand saw which can be used for scraping/scratching a decorative profile into a piece of wood, a method used by furniture manufacturers on historic pieces for creating a hand-made appearance.

Video first seen on Wood By Wright

You can improvise an adjustable marking gauge by driving a dry-wall screw into a piece of wood.

Video first seen on Paul Sellers.

You can use an empty bottle as a glue dispenser, thus saving money by buying glue in bulk. You’ll require an empty bottle that features an extendable cap, which allows you to distribute a consistent amount of adhesive for, let’s say edge-gluing boards.

When closing the cap, you’ll prevent the glue from drying out. The best bottles to use are bottles with sports caps, such as water bottles,, Gatorade bottles, or dish soap bottles. An expired credit card is excellent as a glue spreader.

If you want to drill perfectly perpendicular deep holes without a drill-press, just use an old piece of mirror and position it against the drill bit.

You’ll have to fine-tune the position of the drill until the reflection and the bit are combined in such a way that they look perfectly aligned. That’s all!

Or you can make your own smart saw at home. Click the banner below to find out how to transform your ideas into real projects.


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10 Ways You Can Make Money On Woodworking

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Do you remember the days when people could pursue a regents diploma and go on to college instead of getting certified in a trade that would lead to an immediate job? In these days, a lot of factory and office jobs alike have moved overseas, so it is more important than ever to pick a trade that you can build a business around.

Given the number of disasters that can strike, a useful trade such as woodworking can save your budget, or turn into a trade you can sell in time of need. Either way, woodworking is fairly easy to learn and adapt to a wide range of applications.

We found at least 10 ways woodworking can help you earn good money, or at least save some resources that otherwise would go to waste. Find them below, then start looking for the proper tools and practicing your skills to make your own money out of woodworking!

10 Ways to Make Money as a Wood Worker

There are tons of projects you may be asked to work on if you are skilled in woodworking, now or in a post-crisis world. Here are ten of them, and remember that you can easily specialize in just one of these categories or offer a wider range of service.

Start your business off as a sideline, and then expand from there. Even though most of your customers will be in the local area during a major crisis, you can still use the internet to market your products to a larger audience.

  1. Repairing Furniture

I’m not the only person that has nailed a wooden chair back together or carried out other “minor” furniture repairs. It’s no surprise that many people also think wooden furniture repair is the easiest of the woodworking trades to get into.

On the other side, even if the item is relatively intact, repairing the structure and then refinishing the surface can be incredibly complicated. In particular, if the repair is going to work, the wood moisture over time must match in the new pieces and the old ones. You will also find it quite a challenge to match the exact varnish color (especially if it has faded or changed over time) and surface quality.

  1. Make New Furniture

Overall, you may find it easier and less time consuming to make new furniture from scratch. Try to create trademark designs or other elements that will grab the interest of prospective clients.

If you choose to make custom furniture, your capacity to create clear, attractive plans will also be very important. You may want to invest in a drafting table and better measuring tools so that you can create good quality sketches that your prospective clients can relate to.

Having a diverse supply of good quality wood is also essential for a business focusing on custom furniture. As you gain experience, you will organize your wood inventory by moisture matching levels and fits so that you can save a good bit of time between the planning and production stages.

  1. Toys, Utensils, and Small Items

If you are going to make a profit on small items, you will usually have to produce larger numbers of items in a short period of time. Use the internet while you can so that you can sell to a larger audience.

Many people that focus on small household items also rent tables at local craft fairs and other venues where people interested in their products might show up. You will also find that interest in these items will vary with the seasons. For example, toys may sell best during the holiday season while wooden utensils may have more appeal in the spring and fall.

  1. Building Construction and Repair

Overall, no matter how skilled you may be in woodworking, this is not a business you will want to go into alone. It is best to work with a team that has both good work ethic and skill so that you can meet the needs of your clients and maintain both good quality and safety standards. Before and after a major crisis, you are likely to find your services in high demand.

  1. Replacing Plastic Items with Wood

If you look around your home right now, there may be all kinds of plastic trays, drawers, and tubs that you use for storage. Figure out now how to replace these times with wooden ones, and you might come up with a range of products that can be sold when plastic is no longer available.

Create your own trademark designs as this can give you a lucrative edge in the pre-crisis world as well as later on. No matter how bad a situation is, a business or products that becomes a household name will always be easier to sell than something from a relatively unknown source.

  1. What About EMP Proofing?

Even though wood is an insulator, it cannot disburse an EMP pulse. You can still offer wooden boxes that can be converted to Faraday cages.

  1. Boxes, Containers, and Storage

Aside from conventional boxes and containers, you can also create secret compartment boxes and furniture. You can make some very intricate designs from wood scraps and leftovers and still command a good price for the finished product. Of all the business options presented in this article, this is the easiest one.

  1. Prototypes

It is truly part of human nature to try and invent new things. From better mousetraps to new car designs, you would be amazed at the number of things that can be made with wooden prototypes. While it may take a bit of extra work and time, you will enjoy the variety and challenges presented in this business option.

  1. Weapons

If you do some research on indigenous weapons, you will find many uses for wood. In the post crisis world, the ability to make spears and other weapons is bound to be important as people move to use their time on other occupations.


  1. Using Sawdust and Chips

Even though these are byproducts of woodworking, you may be able to sell them to others for use as insulation or for other purposes.

What You Need to Make Money from Woodworking

First, you need some woodworking tools, but as you look at the list below, you will probably find out that you already have quite a few of them.

If you must buy new tools, or want to replace existing ones, try to improve the quality of your collection, even if you must search through used or vintage tools. Go with a brand name, such as Craftsman, that is recognized for producing durable, high quality tools.

Hand Tools

Most common tools that you might already have are block plane, chisels, hammer, hand saws (including coping saws which can be used to make curves) knives (X-actos and utility knives), level, saw horses, screwdrivers, tape measure, saw horse, goggles. You can add other essential hand tools to your collection, as the following:

  • Calipers – no matter whether you are building furniture, toys, or other wood items, being able to create exact tolerances between two pieces of wood is very important. If you already do some woodworking, but do not have calipers, you will notice a tremendous improvement when you use these tools.
  • Feather Board – used to finish off edges when cutting wood with power tools. I made my own from scrap wood, as do most other woodworkers.
  • Hand Drill – even though most people use power drills, a hand drill is essential if you are concerned about situations where no power is available. You can still purchase vintage hand drills that are still in reasonably good shape. Do not forget to include a bit that accommodates circular cutout tools.
  • Layout Square (metal) – A layout square is a perfect combination of a protractor and 90-degree angle. You should also try to find one that includes an adjustable bevel so that it will be easier to plot other angles. Always choose metal measuring tools because they will not warp as easily as others.
  • Moisture Meter – even though this is technically an electronic tool, it is still very important for wood working. When you do not know the moisture level of the wood and how it changes over the seasons, you will have a very hard time making wooden times that will be durable and useful. A moisture meter is also very helpful for testing wood out before you buy it.
  • Nail Set – used for driving nails to just below the surface of the wood. Unsightly prints from hammer blows may not make much difference to you, however your clients will expect pristine surfaces on furniture and other items.
  • Wood Clamps – there is no such thing as working with wood and not needing to keep various pieces stable while you work on them. Wood clamps will hold pieces of wood together without damaging the surfaces.

Power Tools

These tools can make wood working a lot easier, faster, and more precise, but they also require a good bit of power. Typically, you can achieve the same goals with hand tools as long as you develop your skills and have both the time and patience to apply those skills.

  • Bench Grinder – you can use bench grinders to remove large amounts of wood or create curved shapes. Coping saws and files will do the same job, albeit slower. If you have an especially thick chunk of wood, you can also use chisels and knives to remove the wood.
  • Circular Saw – there is nothing quite like a circular saw for cutting straight lines fast. If you have the time and want to include some muscle building in wood working, handsaws will work just as well.
  • Jig Saw – jig saws are usually best for cutting curves and circles, or working in tighter areas than recommended for a circular saw. Usually, coping saws will accomplish the same goal, but it will take a bit longer. You will also need to store away quite a few extra coping saw blades as they usually cannot be re-sharpened like traditional handsaw blades. When all else fails, you can also use files and knives to make curves on wood boards.
  • Lathe – quite honestly, the lathe is one of my favorite woodworking tools, however I do admit that it’s not a tool you can bug out with easily (unless you buy a smaller one that more than likely won’t work very well). Lathes are used to produce rounded items from wood blocks. Rounded table legs, and many decorative items are made with relative ease using a lathe. You can still make these items with chisels and saws, however it will take a lot more time, and it will be much harder to get precision pieces from item to item.
  • Metal Detector – if you are going to repair furniture of scavenge wood from other items, it is very important to make sure that power tools don’t run into hidden screws, nails, or even staples. Aside from damage to the equipment, some very bad injuries can occur when bits of metal fly at you from broken blades or the metal object that was hidden in the wood.
  • Rotary Tool – if you want a compact “one power tool does all”, a rotary tool is about the closest you will get when it comes to wood working. There are all kinds of attachments that will enable you to use a rotary tool as a sander, router, drill press, hand drill, and jig saw (of sorts). If you don’t need to cut through especially large or thick pieces of wood, a rotary tool can make the job go faster and give you a bit of extra accuracy in less time than if you were working exclusively by hand. Just remember that you can still do the same things with hand drills, hand saws, coping saw, files, and sand paper.
  • Router – a router is used to make grooves and other shapes that do not go all the way through the wood. You can make your own “hand” router out of a chisel and block of wood, or other tools on an as needed basis. You may also still be able to find vintage hand powered routers at flea markets or online.
  • Sander – typically, orbital sanders are recommended for wood working because they use a more random motion that reduces the risk of creating markings in the wood. Some of the finest surfaces you will ever find on furniture were made by hand sanding. Never overlook the simplicity of working by hand when it comes to sanding. A power sander may work faster, but there is never a replacement or substitute for skill and fine workmanship.
  • Table Saw – as with the circular saw, a table saw is best for cutting large quantities of wood. If you have to choose between a circular saw and a table saw, go with the circular saw. Aside from doing similar jobs, you can always mount the circular saw to a table and then make your own guides so that you have something similar to a table saw.

Basic Skills to Master for Woordworking

Whether you choose to work with power tools or hand tools, you need to master a few essential skills in order to make money as a wood worker. These skills are not difficult to acquire; but you will still need to practice. Start off with cheaper, softer cuts of wood or scrap, and then work your way up to better cuts and quality.

Some people do better starting off with larger sized projects, while others may be better served by working with smaller scale designs. I have personally found that both large and small pieces of wood can be quite challenging. It may not take as much strength or work to shape a smaller piece of wood, hand to eye coordination and precision are tested far more with smaller pieces.

Rather than concern yourself with the size of the wood, choose softer wood so that you can learn to control the tools more easily and develop good habits. So here are the more important skills that you need for woodworking:

1. Planning Projects

Let’s say you want to build a cabinet. The worst thing you can do is simply measure the space where the cabinet will go and then go to the lumber yard for a few pieces of plywood.

Most, if not all wood working projects fail when people do not make detailed design plans before getting into the material acquisition process. You should know the measure for each piece of wood, the tolerances at each joint, how you will join the pieces together, and what kind of finish you will use once the pieces are assembled.

Maybe you aren’t building something that can be taken apart again, you need to plan everything out as carefully as possible. Even if you are just replacing a leg on a chair, always have a solid plan of action so that you get the right materials and use the right tools.

2. Cutting Wood

It’s fair to say that you will be doing a lot of cutting, so practice both straight cuts and curves. Always make your pencil lines as sharp and precise as possible.

At the beginning, you may find it a bit hard to stay on the line, or within double lines. Just be patient and keep practicing. Eventually you will get the optimal motion for hand tools and learn how to adjust to the forward motion and proper pressure needed to keep power tools going exactly where you want them to.

If you are having an especially hard time, try to at least cut outside the line in the waste area. Later on, you can always file or sand the wood down to the exact size or shape that you need.

3. Carving or Whittling

This probably one of the most enjoyable parts of wood working. You can use knives or chisels to make just about anything of interest. Try your hand at hollowed structures as well as intricate interlocking, free moving designs.

As you work, think about how you can apply these skills to making jewelry, toys, tools/tool handles, or even special accents for furniture pieces.

4. Joining Wood Pieces

Cabinets, buildings, toys, and many other items will require joining pieces of wood together. The actual process of nailing pieces of wood together, using screws, pins, or even glue is not especially difficult.

On the other hand, choosing and preparing the wood can be quite complicated. Take care of how the wood shapes will change as moisture enters and leaves the wood. Even the best sealants will not prevent the wood from breathing and changing as the moisture levels in the environment change.

Judging wood moisture and predicting its effects is one of the most important skills for woodworking. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t something you can do from just one measure. Rather, it can take weeks, months, or even years to evaluate different pieces of wood before you can be certain they can be joined together for furniture and other intricate items.

5. Pins and Other Joining Methods

Right now, nails, screws, and glue are readily available, which is not the case in the post crisis world when you need to join pieces of wood together, but do not have these fasteners on-hand. Fortunately, there are some fascinating methods from around the world that you can practice and use whenever needed.

Learn how to make and use wood pins, box joints, bridle joints, and trench joints. Once you know how to make these, you can modify them to suit just about any application.

Where to Get the Wood From

If you expect to make money on wood working, your ability to obtain and store wood will be very important. Most of the wood you will need to master basic skill can come from free wood pallets. Just go to local stores in your area and ask if you can have their used pallets.

As you gain experience, you should also be able to store away better quality wood in a shed or other area where it will stay clean and dry. Sometimes you can find good quality wood in the form of discarded furniture at the dump, or other places where people get rid of furniture. Even if you have to strip varnish and other finishes off the wood, it can still be used in a range of applications and also give you practice with harder wood materials.

In these times, you can still get wood from a lumber yard, or order from a wholesaler, but these options are not likely to be available in a post-crisis world. More, simply trying to get wood from a nearby forest will put you in direct competition with others that want to use the wood for their own needs. In the long run, your best option is to create your own wood working orchard. Choose trees that will grow quickly, and still produce wood that will be suitable for a wide range of needs.

Grab your woodworking tools and start practicing yous kills! You can start a business focused on small wooden objects or hideaway containers. As you develop more skills or find a team to work with, you can also expand into making furniture or even building homes. Both now and in the post crisis world, woodworking is an important skill that you can profit from and use for your own needs at the same time.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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Old Skills Revived: How To Tan A Deer Hide

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Survivopedia tanning hide
You’ve shot the deer, or maybe you’ve butchered a cow or one of the rabbits that you’ve raised. You’ve field dressed it and butchered it, but you have no idea what to do with a hide. For the most part, hides are discarded, and that’s not only a waste of a valuable commodity, it’s disrespectful to the animal.

The problem is that having a hide tanned is expensive, but why not tan the hide yourself?

There are many different ways to tan a hide, but traditionally, it was done using brains. Since that’s probably not the method that most people would use, that’s an article for another day. There are also tanning methods that require harsh chemicals, and we aren’t ever going to write that article because it’s not what we’re about.

As preppers, we want to be able to use what we have on hand, and though some of these may require an initial trip to the drugstore or superstore, everything is readily available.

Now, the next question is whether or not you want to tan your hide with the hair on or the hair off. If you leave the hair on, it’s a great decorative item, or can be used to build a shelter, make a coat or a pair of boots, or just about anything else that you can think of. If you decide to take the hair off, you have leather that you can use for endless purposes.

Removing the hair requires some extra steps, but we’ll cover both ways. I’d like to make a suggestion here. It may be a good idea to try this with something small like a rabbit hide because a full deer hide can be a bit overwhelming for your first time.

If you’re tanning a cow hide, consider at least cutting it in half down the spine. Quartering it will make it even more manageable. The process for any hide is essentially the same with the exception of drying times. Obviously, bigger, thicker hides will take longer to soak and dry than little rabbit hides will.

What You’ll Need to Tan a Hide

We’re going to focus on tanning a deer hide to keep things relatively manageable but within the broad range of animals that most people hunt.

You’re going to need non-iodized salt, ammonia alum, and neat’s-foot oil. If you’re removing the hair, you’ll also need hydrated lime powder and wood ashes. If you’re dealing with a hide with greasy hair, such as a bear, you’ll need to degrease the hide too, but that’s a messy job that we’re not going to get into here.

Prepping the Hide for Tanning

OK, now that you’ve skinned the deer, you can either head directly into the tanning process or store the hide until the weather warms up, which is a good idea because you’re going to be working outside in water. Do you really want to do that in freezing weather?

Also, a frozen hide is much harder to work with than a warm one is. Another reason to wait is that the first step, salting, helps soften the meat and makes it easier to remove it from the hide.

We’re starting with a freshly-butchered hide. Salt the back side (non-hair side) liberally, then roll the hide up with the hair on the outside and put it in a garbage bag, then freeze it. You can also leave it to air dry, but if you do this, be ready to remove the meat within a few days.

Here’s an example of salting:

Video first seen on Starry Hilder.

When you’re ready to tan the hide, remove the hide from the bag, unroll it, and begin removing the meat from the back of the hide. You want to get all of the flesh off the hide so that all you have left is the hide. Use a dull knife, a paint scraper, a putty knife or some other tool sharp enough to scrape but not sharp enough to cut the hide.

Carefully scrape all of the meat off the hide, then resalt the hide, roll it back up, and refrigerate it for 3 or 4 days. Remove the hide, give it one more good scraping, then rinse the hide in water to remove the salt. Hang it up to drain.

Now you’re ready to tan the hide if you’re leaving the hair on. If so, skip the next step.

Remove the Hair from the Hide

For this step, you’re going to need a garbage can. Put the hide in the garbage can and cover it with a solution made of water, hydrated lime, and wood ashes. Use 1/4 cup lime and 1/2 cup ashes per gallon of water. Stir it around every couple of days and when the hair is starting to slip off the hide, remove it from the water.

Use your dull scraping tool to remove the hair from the hide. If there are still spots where the hair won’t come off, put the hide back in the solution for a couple more days. Once you have all of the hair off, rinse the hide in a boric acid solution to neutralize the lime.

Use around 1/8 cup of boric acid per gallon of water in the now-clean garbage can. Swirl the hide around as much as you can and drain and repeat a few times, then move forward to the next step to start actually tanning your hide.

Tan the Hide

Now that you’ve got the hide ready to tan, let’s get to it. Mix a solution of alum and salt using 1/2 pound of salt and 1/4 pound of alum per gallon of water. Cover the hide with the solution and let it set for 4 days to a week. Stir daily to keep the mixture evenly distributed and the hide covered.

After a week, remove the hide from the solution and rinse it well with clean running water. Hang it up to drain, but don’t let it dry completely. You’re almost finished tanning the hide, but you’ve got some elbow grease ahead of you!

Oil and Soften the Hide

At this point, the hide is still going to be fairly stiff. You’re about to change that, and this is the part where starting with a smaller hide, or a hide cut into pieces, is going to make your life easier.

While the hide is still damp, rub neat’s-foot oil into the flesh side of the hide and stretch it in all directions. Let that soak in, and apply another lighter treatment of neat’s-foot oil. Work it by rubbing it over the edge of a sawhorse, worktable, chair, or anything sturdy with an edge.

Make sure that you get the whole hide because this step breaks down the grain of the leather, which is critical to soften and tan the hide.

Keep working the hide until it’s soft and supple. You may need to use a dowel, the end of a mallet, or some other smaller, smooth tool to work out tougher spots. If the leather starts to dry out and crack as you’re working it, add more neat’s-foot oil.

Finish Tanning the Hide

The final step to tanning the hide is to smooth the flesh side with fine-grit sandpaper. This will get rid of any rough spots and make it nice and soft to the touch.

That’s it. Now you know how to tan your own hide. There are many directions that you can go with the hide now, but you’ve got a tanned hide to work with.

One cool bit of history is that the Native Americans used the hides on their teepees so that the smoke would waterproof them. Just a factoid. Another ancient secrets of survival are available now for you, just click on the banner below to find out more about them!

the lost ways cover

If you’ve ever tanned your own hide, please share your experience with us below, and if you have any tips to make the job easier, we’d love to hear about it. Even seasoned tanners can learn from others!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Make Outdoor Paint The Old Way

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Survivopedia homemade paint

Bright red barns setting in the middle of a pasture are beautiful, but paint does more than just make a house or building look good. Paint also protects your wood from the weather. If you want to live sustainably, it’s easy to make your own outdoor paint that will look great and last for years!

Now in the old days, it was common to paint wood with motor oil or tar to waterproof it. Both methods were effective but extremely hazardous and definitely not environmentally friendly.

There are other homemade outdoor paints, including whitewash and milk paint, that have been used for centuries that are both effective and safe.

You probably haven’t given much thought to what exactly goes into making paint because it’s much easier to grab a can or a bucket of it from your local superstore or home supply store. It’s OK. We looked for you, and you probably have just about everything that you need to make your own indoor or outdoor paint already in your cabinets.

To make paint, you need three primary components: a binder, a thinner (solvent), and a pigment. The last is, of course, optional but it’s not that hard to make your own pigments out of berries, roots, or clay. Clay is often used as the binder too, so you can kill two birds with one stone. If you don’t think you live in an area with clay, think again! You can extract clay from just about any soil using just water.

A fourth component, a filler, is often used to add texture and bulk. Common natural fillers are hydrated lime powder (pickling lime), clay (great to use with flour) and powdered chalk (called whiting).

Binders are what makes the paint stick to the surface. Common binders are clay, flour, milk, linseed oil, and even beeswax (it’s a great waterproofer). Common thinners are water, citrus thinner, turpentine, and mineral spirits (the last two serve as drying catalysts as well). Pigments, of course, can come from anything from clays and minerals to flowers and berries. If you’re using clay as a binder or filler, you may want to keep that color in place of adding pigment.

How to Make Whitewash

Up through the ‘50’s or so, most picket fences and even white buildings and houses were often painted with whitewash. This is a simple paint to make and can last for several years. The catch is that you need to add several layers because it’s extremely thin. It’s made with hydrated lime powder and water, which is why it’s chalky.

You can also add fillers such as salt, flour, clay, or milk to make it thicker or more durable. Whitewash as is, with just lime and water, has almost zero sticking power until it cures, which can take a few days. It’s really only good for porous surfaces.

You may have noticed that old whitewashed surfaces chip off but still have color underneath – that’s because there are so many layers, and they’re doing exactly as intended! Making whitewash isn’t an exact science. Add enough water to the lime to make it fairly watery – thus the name. Add fillers to give it more substance if you want.

Paint on in layers, adding a new layer as the previous one dries.

How to Make Flour Paint

This is a paint that’s easy to make and will last for as long as 5-10 years, even outside. Though most of the time, it seems like flour recipes are designed for indoor use, this one incorporates linseed oil. That makes it good for outdoor use.

 Video first seen on TheGridTO.

How to Make Milk Paint

The recipe for this paint sounds almost like a cheese recipe! Milk works for paint because the protein in it, casein, gives it sticking power. As you may suspect, it will have a milk smell until it dries and cures.

As with whitewash, milk paint is fairly translucent so you’ll need to add several coats. You can also add fillers to give it more substance.

To make one gallon of milk paint:

  • Juice from 4 lemons or 2 cups vinegar
  • 1 gallon skim milk (this part is important – it MUST be skim!)
  • Pigment of your choice, if you’d like
  • Cheesecloth or towel

Mix the lemon juice or vinegar with the water in a bucket and let it sit to curdle at room temperature overnight. Strain it using the cheesecloth or towel. Add the pigment. If you’re using a powdered pigment, add a bit of the milk mixture at a time to make a paste, thinning it until you can mix it into the batch without lumps.

Milk paint is going to be super thin, so if you’d like to add fillers or other binders, then you can and still have paint that’s the consistency of, well, paint.

As you can imagine, milk paint will spoil quickly so you need to use it immediately. It’s great to use on porous surfaces, so just brush it on. .

How to Make Oil Paint

Oil paint seems to take forever to dry but is probably the best paint to use on outdoor surfaces. Some may never harden completely. Instead, it remains a bit plastic, which is a good thing because it allows for natural expansion and shrinkage of the underlying wood. Oil paint also adds waterproofing, and it lasts longer than other paints that we’ve discussed.

It’s best if the wood you’re painting is sanded down so that the paint can cover it well. Priming it is preferable, but if you’re doing large surfaces such as a barn, you probably won’t want to take the time to paint it twice, or maybe you will.

The one problem that I’ve found with making outdoor oil paints is that you will need A LOT of oil for large projects, which may be in short supply if SHTF. It would be great for small projects that you only need a gallon or so to complete, though. At any rate, here are a few recipes.

Oil Primer

Primer helps to seal the wood and prepare it to hold the paint better. You can apply 2 coats, 48 hours apart, if you’d like. It’s simple to make a primer. Just combine equal parts of linseed oil and solvent. Paint it on with the grain, wipe off excess, and let it dry for 48 hours.

Oil Paint

There isn’t an exact recipe for oil paint because it depends on what fillers and pigments you use. Those components make a difference because they absorb the oil differently. Combine the fillers (clay or flower are probably best), pigment, and oil until you get a paste that’s the color that you want. Add more oil until it turns into a thick liquid that flows, then thin with solvent until it’s the consistency that you want.

It will keep for quite a while in a sealed 5-gallon bucket but it is, of course, best if you use it immediately. Just paint it on with a brush – you probably won’t need more than one coat.

Oil Glaze

Oil glaze is great to add waterproofing to flour and milk paints. They’re also great to use as stains. You can add pigment, or just use it to protect and waterproof the natural color of the surface that you’re glazing.

To make a quart of glaze, dissolve 3 tablespoons of filler into 1 cup of linseed oil by adding oil to the filler a bit at a time to avoid lumps. If you want to add pigment, do that now, to the color that you want. Once you get it combined, add another cup of oil, then add 1 1/3 cup solvent. Stir until there are no lumps and strain through cloth if necessary.  It’s ready to use immediately. Remember that since it’s an oil, it will take a couple of days to dry completely.

These are just a few tried-and-true ways to make outdoor paint at home. Some are more durable than others, but each has its advantages and disadvantages. One advantage that they all have, though, is that you can make them yourself from ingredients that are readily available to you.

If you’ve made any of these paints or have suggestions for others, please share with us in the comments section below. And click on the banner below to find out more secrets of our ancestor survival!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Make A Potter’s Wheel For Off-grid Survival

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Survivopedia make pottery wheel

Pottery has been an on-and-off passion of mine since I was in high school. I’m a fair hand at it and have made some pieces that I’m pretty proud of. I’ve explained in another article how to make pots using other methods but today we’re going to talk about how to make and use a potter’s wheel.

The benefit of using a potter’s wheel is that you can create more refined, beautiful, functional pieces that you can use for yourself or for trade. The other methods are perfectly acceptable for creating functional and even beautiful pottery but there’s just something about using a wheel.

Throwing pottery (what it’s called when you use a wheel), is an art that allows you to make virtually any size or shape of pottery once you get the hang of it. It’s also extremely therapeutic. It takes all of your concentration to throw pottery, so your concerns tend to melt away, and the end result gives you a real sense of accomplishment.

There are two basic types of potter’s wheels: electric and manual wheels. In this article, the focus will be on the manual types because you can use them even if you don’t have power. Plus, I prefer a manual wheel because, at least for me, an electric wheel tends to be more jerky when starting and stopping, and the speed isn’t as easy to control.

There are two primary types of manual potter’s wheels: kick wheels and treadle wheels.

How to Build a Kick Wheel Potter’s Wheel

There are several different ways that you can build a kick wheel but the primary components are a flat plate (bat) to actually work on, and a weighted flywheel attached to the plate so that you can turn it and control the speed. To speed it up, you just kick faster. To slow it down, you just drag your foot on the wheel.

I also highly recommend using a splash pan around the throwing wheel to avoid a tremendous mess on you, the floor, and the walls. This will also save clay waste because you can catch it in the pan and throw the excess back in with your clay or slip.

You can get fancy and build a potter’s wheel with an attached bench, such as the one shown in this instructable, but you can pull up a chair just as easily. The advantage of building one without a bench is that people of different heights can comfortably use it. Of course, if you’re going to be the only one using it, feel free to add a bench!

Another feature that some potters like to have is an arm rest. This helps keep your hands steady as you throw. I found a fabulous, detailed, step-by-step design for a kick wheel that has no bench and an adjustable-height, removable arm rest here. It lists exactly what you’ll need, then it explains with both text and pictures, how to build it.

If you decide to build an arm rest into your potter’s wheel, it should be nearly level with the throwing wheel (called the bat). This is critical because you need to ensure that the clay is perfectly centered on the bat and if your arms aren’t level, it will put unnecessary strain on your shoulders, wrists, and elbows. It will also make it difficult to work the clay properly and get it centered. If it’s not, your piece will end up collapsing on you as you build it up.

I’m currently  without a wheel and think that I’m going to build this one myself because the instructions are great and it only costs about $60 total. Just a suggestion though – it’s best to keep this in a garage or a separate craft room because pottery is a super messy endeavor, just like most good projects!

Building a Treadle Wheel

The other type of wheel, a treadle wheel, is still more stable than an electric wheel because you have more control of the speed, stopping, and starting; it’s less jerky. That being said, it’s much more complicated, and probably more expensive, to build that a kick wheel.

You may often see a treadle wheel referred to as a Leach treadle wheel. This is because the most popular treadle design was created by the sons of Bernard Leach, a famous British potter. His grandson, Simon Leach, has posted a series of detailed pictures of each part of the Leach treadle wheel.

I’ve never thrown on one, so I can’t offer an opinion one way or the other on functionality but the design is interesting. I have read that many potters prefer a kick wheel because the bottom wheel is weighted and thus easier to manage because the weight builds momentum and doesn’t need as much energy to keep it going.

Instead of using a pole that directly attaches to the bat, a treadle potter’s wheel operates by adding a reciprocating pedal and a crank for greater control. The bottom isn’t weighted as much as a kick wheel, though potters who use them seem to love them.

The one site that I found with both pictures and plans is great. It actually looks pretty amazing, and the picture is close-up, so those of you who are handy can probably look at it and duplicate it. There’s also a picture of an old set of blueprints that may help. If any of you try this, I’d love to see some pics and a review of how it works.

Video first seen on Nate Cummings.

Regardless of which type of pottery wheel you decide to use, be aware that there’s a learning curve. The first few times that you attempt a pot or a mug, or even a plate, it’s probably going to look like something a kid may bring home from grade school, assuming you actually accomplish and end product.

Don’t worry, though. It doesn’t take long to become proficient using a pottery wheel and I’d honestly recommend learning on a manual wheel instead of an electric one because it doesn’t require the coordination that an electric one does. I’m not saying that you’re going to be a master potter in a week, but you should certainly be able to manage a coffee cup or small pot in that amount of time.

If you do some searching on the internet, you’ll find several different ways to make potter’s wheels from simple household items such as mop buckets. There are also a wide array of instructions for making simple electric pottery wheels out there too, but like I said, I prefer to use the manual wheels. Call me old school, I guess.

Manual devices won’t ever let you down in a case of an EMP, so be prepared and get all the knowledge you can get on off-grid survival. Click on the picture below to find our more about surviving this type of disaster!


If you have any suggestions about how to build a potter’s wheel, please share your thoughts with us in the suggestions box below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.


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Offgrid Survival: 12  Ways To Move Heavy Weights

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archimedes-148273_640From ancient times to now, people have always been looking for ways to lift heavy objects. While we may not know how structures like Stonehenge and the menhirs were built, there are still a number of simple devices that can make life as a prepper much easier.

Have you ever tried to move furniture around your home, or during a move from one place to another? If so, then you may also be very familiar with what can happen if you use poor form while lifting, or you do not use the proper equipment.

As a prepper, avoiding sprains, muscle tears, and other injuries will be very important. In addition, if it is not feasible for you to lift heavy items without help, and you cannot build up to a suitable level, you need to know about devices that can make lifting heavy loads easier. Throughout time, scholars, historians, and scientists have labored with these questions and have come up with a number of useful, and simple devices.

The following devices work on the most simple laws of physics and can be used by anyone that needs to lift heavy objects. If you learn how to build these devices and keep them in your stockpile, you will find it much easier to manage your stores and move faster from one area to another if needed.

Friction Reducing Slides

When you want to move a couch from one side of a room to another, aside from being very heavy, the legs of the couch may either dig into a solid floor or catch on the surface of the carpet. When rough surfaces encounter each other while in motion, drag or “friction”, it takes more energy to move the objects.

Friction reducing slides have two basic parts. The upper part sticks to the bottom of the object while the bottom part facing the floor is very smooth. No matter whether the objects is being moved across linoleum, a deep pile carpet, or some other surface, the slider will reduce friction and make it much easier to move the object. Even though friction reducing slides will not reduce drag as much as wheels, they help moving furniture or other heavy items around a smaller area.

For example, if you place several food buckets on a wooden palette in your store room or cellar, placing casters underneath the palette will make it much easier to move around. You will find these coasters much cheaper than heavy wheeled utility carts or other wheeled systems that can also be used for moving items around a single room.

Friction reducing slides are also very useful for furniture that you may want to move in a hurry in order to get to a hidden trap door or supplies hidden within a wall. Since the coasters are usually not very high off the ground, no one would realize that the furniture is very easy to move or that there might be something hidden behind it. In addition, these coasters are also very common in many homes, so they may also escape attention because it is not unusual to move furniture around from time to time.

Wheel and Axle

From automobiles and wheelbarrows to bicycles, wheel and axle systems are some of the most popular simple machines used to move heavy objects from one place to another.

When building your own wheel and axle system, consider the following:

  • The axle material must be durable enough to support the load placed on it, yet lightweight enough to reduce the load on the wheels. Metal and wood can be used to make axles, but also study some of the newer polymer compounds on the market. Some of those are extremely lightweight, yet they are more durable than wooden axles.
  • When choosing wheel size, bear in mind that larger wheels will be harder to push, but they will travel further for each revolution of the axle.
  • Always know the ratio between the radius of the axle and the radius of the wheel. The smaller the ratio is between these two sizes, the less efficient the wheel and axle will be.
  • Be careful about the material used and the construction of the wheel. Since you are looking to reduce friction and drag, you need the smoothest wheels possible.  Preventing skidding, stopping the wheels from moving forward, and being able to make curves are also very important, and all these require at least some drag on the wheels. As you will note from automobile and bicycle tires, tread design and depth are very important for generating just enough friction to keep the vehicle under control as it moves forward. Even if you make wooden wheels or spoked wheels from metal, make sure that you can fit some kind of rubber or other material with treads over the wheels. This surface protects the rest of the wheel from damage, and will be easier to replace than the part of the wheel that attaches to the axle.

To get the most out of wheel and axle systems, I recommend having a number of different wheel sizes that can all fit on one axle. If you need to use less force for a heavier load, use the smaller wheels on the axle. If the load is lighter, put on the larger wheels so that more ground is covered for each rotation of the axle.

If you build a two axle cart or some other system (small model Pinewood Derby Cars are excellent to experiment with), load the vehicle with heavier items towards the back of the cart. Make the front axle narrower than the back one so that the front of the vehicle is narrower. This will reduce surface area in the front and make the vehicle less resistant to forward  motion.

Making the front end lower and keeping all edges as rounded as possible will also reduce air friction and drag while the vehicle is in motion. Anyone that has ever driven a Volkswagen Beetle vs. more conventionally designed vehicles can certainly relate to how the difference in weight positioning and aerodynamics affect the way the vehicle handles!  Use those same principles when building a wheel and axle system for moving heavy items from one place to another.


Pulleys are used to lift heavy weights vertically.  A basic pulley system requires rope, a wheel with a groove in it for the rope to sit in, and an area to suspend the pulley wheel from. The raised area must be higher up than the total height the object must be raised. Depending on the weight of the object, you can use multiple wheels and ropes.

The basic rules for creating a pulley system are:

  • The raised area must be strong enough so that it will not crash when the object relies fully on it for support. For example, if you attach a pulley wheel to a weak old wooden beam, it will probably crash to the ground if you try to hoist 2 ton object. Even if the pulley wheel and ropes are strong enough to bear the weight, the suspension frame must also be strong enough.
  • If you use multiple ropes and wheels, less weight will be applied to each rope. You still cannot exceed the capacity of the ropes and wheels and expect the system to work safely.
  • For each wheel and rope that you add, you will have to pull double the amount of rope to raise the object the same height as you would with one rope.  As a trade-off, you will need half the amount of energy to hoist the object. If you want to hoist 100 pounds with one rope and wheel, for every foot of rope that you pull, the object will raise 1 foot off the ground. Now let’s say you add two wheels and two ropes: you will find it much easier to pull the rope however for each foot of rope that you pull, the object will only move ½ foot off the ground. Depending on the weight of the object and the amount of strength you can apply to the job, you may have to try different numbers of wheels and ropes to get the best outcome.

In physics, many things come down to the size ratios between one object and another. You’ve already seen this in action in wheel and axle systems. With regard to pulleys, you may want to explore using double rope systems in conjunction with larger and smaller wheels. For example, you can try using a smaller wheel at the top of the system that turns faster in comparison to a larger wheel located near the object to be lifted. This may reduce the amount of energy you need to expend while pulling on the rope and also require less rope to raise the object to the desired height.

There are many times when you might need to raise an object or pull it along an incline. You can try arranging the wheels horizontally in relation to each other and also make use of belts within the system to increase the ratio between larger and smaller wheels.

When you attach a pulley to an axle, there is nothing to stop you from using the shaft of a motor as the “axle”. As long as the amount of force required to lift the object does not exceed the motor’s capacity, you can lift all kinds of objects. If you have a weaker  motor, then you can still use more wheels in the system to reduce the amount of energy required at any given moment.


330px-Helical_GearsAs far as building blocks for simple machines that can be used in many weight lifting applications, gears are truly my favorite because they are incredibly versatile and can be easily integrated into other systems.

Even though pulleys are much easier to make, gears have a distinct advantage because they will not slip while you are pulling on the rope.

On the other hand, if the wheel in a pulley system is very worn, gets stuck, or does not turn as freely as it should, you will wind up exerting much more effort than needed.

Essentially a gear is a flat round object (cog) with teeth on it. As long as the teeth of the gear match the  same pattern as the teeth on another gear, the rest of the gear can be any diameter or thickness.

As in pulley systems and wheel and axle systems, the radius of each gear in relation to other gears it is meshed with determine how much force is delivered by the system.  In the case of gears, larger ones spin slower than smaller ones in the system.

In order to use gears, each one used in the system must be attached to a shaft.  Even if you only turn one gear or apply a motor to one gear, they must all still be able to turn on a shaft in order to build force. You can use a single shaft for multiple gears, however you will still need a separate shaft for each gear that must mesh with another gear.

If you’ve ever overloaded a paper shredder or some other gear driven system, then you may already know how frustrating it is when the teeth break on a gear. In a survival situation, there are bound to be times when you make a decision to overload weight lifting equipment or fail to take proper care of it. As versatile is gears are, once they break, there is simply no way to replace the teeth and expect them to mesh properly.

During the process of building simple devices to lift weights using gears, you should focus on using “cage gears” because you will be able to make them as needed, and may also be able to repair them. Basically, a cage gear has two flat disks with spokes between them that function as the teeth.  If you make a cage gear from wood, metal,or plastic, you can try replacing the spokes that broke.  Even though these gears will take up more space, they offer an important advantage in the sense that they can be repaired to some extent.

It should also be noted that most cage gears on the market mimic spur gear designs.  Look into fiberglass and other polymers that may be useful in constructing curved spokes that will replicate other gear types.  If you happen to be able to forge metal, there is also a chance that you can still use metal for the gears and fit them into the cage design.


Levers are some of the most simple lifting aides that you can devise.  You can use anything from a branch and a rock to a metal rod and a part of a cinder block.

In order to use the lever, all you have to do is place the fulcrum (a rock or some other object) under the branch or rod, and then make sure the end of the rod is sitting directly under what needs to be pushed out of the way.  To move the heavier object, simply push down on the opposite end of the rod.

In the modern world, there are many examples of levers and ways that they can be used. When constructing lever, the position of the weight in relation to the fulcrum and the length of the rod determines how much work will be required to lift the load.  There are three “classes” of levers that you should know about. Depending on the weight of the object, you can use different tools based on each class of lever to lift loads.


Historically and in modern times, ramps are some of the most common devices used to move heavy objects from a lower point to a higher one. In fact, it is speculated that even the Great Pyramid of Egypt was constructed in about 20 years using little more than ramps and rollers to lift blocks that weigh thousands of pounds.

Today, we also see ramps used to push heavy objects onto trucks, or even make it easier for the disabled to access any number of facilities. Aside from making it easier to lift objects from one level to another, ramps can also be used to move objects more easily down a decline.

For example, if you have to move items down a marrow staircase, you can cover part of the staircase with a board and let the objects slide down the board. Just make sure that no one is standing in the area where the object may land, and you can control the speed of descent so that damage does not occur to the object.

As with other simple machines, ramps are easy to construct, however they must still fall within certain laws of physics. In this case:

  • The material used for the ramp must still be strong enough to bear the weight of the object moving over it. For example, if you are trying to move a 500 pound barrel over a ramp, that ramp must be able to hold that amount of weight. If the support beams for the ramp or the boards that make up the surface cannot bear 500 pounds, then the ramp will collapse.
  • When you build a ramp on land, several points are likely to be resting on the ground.  As with a house or any other building, a ramp needs to have a firm foundation. Even if you only put a ramp up for temporary purposes, the foundation needs to be solid enough to bear the combined weight of the ramp and the load being pushed across it.  If you need to build a foundation, do not forget that it may need to extend beyond the size of the visible portions of the ramp so that the ground beneath the the foundation does not give way beneath ramp.
  • As you may be aware, gangplanks and other ramps used on ships do not have solid anchor points on the ground for support. When constructing and using these ramps, you may need to tie the ramp to areas deeper in the ship or use as many solid areas along the start and finish points to make sure the ramp is secure.
  • The greater the distance between the starting height and finishing height, the longer the ramp needs to be. A gentler incline will be easier to push objects along than a steeper one.
  • You can reduce resistance of objects moving along a ramp by choosing materials that produce less friction.
  • When pushing an object up a ramp, you must apply constant force on the object. If you get tired or slip, the object will roll backwards and can crush you.
  • If you are going to move a lot of stuff from one area to another, it makes sense to have at least one ramp that you can use to move objects from the ground into a vehicle.   Even if your vehicle is not already fitted with one of these ramps, you may be able to find a portable, commercial model that will meet your needs.


The screw is one of the most fascinating machines because it is the only one that can be used to raise liquids from one area to another without enclosing them in a separate container. While an “Archimedes Screw” is traditionally used to generate electricity, it can also be used to lift water from a lower level to a higher one.

To construct an Archimedes Screw, you only need to take a core with a spiral on it, and then enclose that in a column large enough to let water into the apparatus.  Next, attach a crank or some other means to turn the screw so that the water will lift as you turn the crank.

In some ways, you can think of a screw as little more than a ramp that has been curled around a core so that the threads are aligned at an angle in relation to the core.  In order to lit an object, simply twist the core and the ridges on the screw will either raise or lower the object.   You can use pulleys, motors, and  gears to turn the screw.  When deciding what angle to use for the threads of the screw bear in mind that:

  • Gentler angles (thread angles with a  lesser incline when viewed from the top to bottom of the screw) will require less effort on each turn to lift the object.
  • The larger the crank used to turn the screw, the faster it will turn, and the faster the object will raise. Just bear in mind that it takes more work to produce a large circular motion than a small one.

Gas Springs

Have you ever had to lift a heavy objects several feet off the ground and found yourself wishing that the object could just bounce from the ground to where it needed to go? If so, then you may have also thought about using springs or coils for lifting heavy objects. Even though it is true that you can get a good bit of power from compressed metal springs, gas springs are easier to work with and more reliable for lifting heavy weights.

Basically, a gas spring uses a piston and a cylinder filled with compressed gas (nitrogen) and oil to provide upward lift. You cannot make this type of spring using DIY methods, you can still scavenge gas springs from a number of locations. For example, most office chairs that have an adjustable height use gas springs. If the chair is rated for 200 or 300 pounds of weight, there is a chance that the spring can also be used to lift and support that weight. Gas pistons are also used in automobile struts, car doors, and on each side of the trunk door. 

Here are some advantages and disadvantages associated with using gas springs:

  • Depending on what the springs were used in, they may not be able to lift a load very high. For example, most office chairs will only lift 18 – 24 inches before the end of the piston is reached. On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to find gas pistons used to raise automobile hatch backs, they may extend a bit longer and also be able to lift heavier weights.
  • Gas springs usually lock in place as soon as you stop putting pressure on them.  For example, when you raise or lower an office chair, it stay at the same height as long as the weight placed on the chair does not exceed the capacity of the gas spring.
  • Gas springs are ideal for applications where the items must be lifted gently and slowly.  They also make good shock absorbers for boxes filled with fragile objects such as glassware.
  • Gas springs can be used on vertical alignments as well as horizontal ones.
  • You can create a number of “power assist” devices for very short ranges for people who are disabled.  These power assist devices may help you do everything from lift plates or heavy buckets to carry out other household tasks.

The Chinese Windlass

When you pull on a rope to turn a pulley, that motion will work, but it is far less efficient than using a circular motion. The windlass is basically a crank that you can attach to a pulley system that makes it even easier to lift heavy objects. Wishing wells, fishing reels, and many other devices use a windlass to lift heavy objects.

Video first seen on mrpete222.

The most basic windlass utilizes a crank attached to a shaft that is mounted on posts or some other form of support. As the crank is turned, rope winds around the shaft so that the object can be raised. While this system is far more efficient when combined with pulleys or even gears, the object will drop unless you lock the rope into place. If you are going to use a windlass system for lifting objects, you are best served by adapting it to a Chinese Windlass or Differential Windlass:

  • Instead of a shaft that has the same thickness across the entire length, the Chinese Windlass is thicker on the side located further away from the crank.
  • The rope used to lift the object is wound onto the shaft in such a way that it winds onto the thicker area as it is feeding off the narrower part of the shaft.  If you turn the crank in the opposite direction, the rope will wind back onto the narrower part of the shaft as the object is lowered.
  • In most cases the difference in size between the two ends of the shaft is very small. Nevertheless, the power required to turn the crank is much less even for the tiny difference in ratios.

Conveyor Belt Ramps

There are bound to be many times when you aren’t going to be interested in lifting objects vertically as much as you will transporting them over somewhat short distances vertically. When you do not have a a vehicle or cart, you will still need some way to push or pull the object from one place to another. If you have ever used a manual treadmill for exercise, then you will already have a good idea about how to make and use a conveyor belt ramp system.

Let’s say you want to move an 800 pound object a distance of several yards. Here are just a few things you will need to consider for the sake of safety and practicality:

  • You must be able to control the speed of the load as it moves along from Point A to Point B. This includes making sure that you can stop the forward motion of the load and also prevent backwards motion.
  • The object must remain in proper alignment with the mechanism

Now let’s say you originally planned to simply left the object with a pulley system and then use something like a crane arm to pull the suspended object to a location where you want to set it down.  While this method may be efficient and relatively safe, it may not be feasible in a situation where you do not have metal, motors, and other resources to build a proper crane.

By contrast, a conveyor belt ramp system may take longer to build and require more work, it will still get the job done using simple resources such as wooden logs and plastic sheeting.

Unlike a traditional ramp, a conveyor belt ramp will have a belt with two distinctly different surfaces on it.  The lower surface should produce as little friction as possible as the belt is dragged over the ramp and logs (that act more or less as pulleys) at each end of the conveyor.  The upper surface of the belt should adhere firmly to the object being moved so that it does not slip or fall off.

Depending on how you build the incline, you may also want to add a windlass system so that it takes less effort to move the belt and the object along from one position to the other.  If you have to go over longer distances, you will also benefit from making a series of mobile ramps so that you can fit them together as you go along.

Twisted Strings or Ropes

If you take two pieces of rope and continue to twist them around each other, they will get shorter. If you tie one end of the ropes to a crank, and the other end to a heavy object, the object will be pulled forward when you turn the crank in a way that causes the ropes to twist tightly. You can easily see this in action if you have ever used a yo-yo. As the string becomes more tightly wound around the axle of the yo-yo, the distance for the yo-yo to travel is also much shorter.

At first glance, simply taking two ropes and twisting them around each other may not seem like a very glamorous or useful way to move heavy objects.   Here are some advantages to consider:

  • Twisting ropes can be much longer and are much easier to assemble than conveyor belts and ramp systems.
  • You can use twisting ropes to lift objects vertically or drag them along a horizontal surface.
  • Newer materials such as fishing line give you far more power and shortening capacity than older materials.

As useful and low tech as twisting ropes may be, they have one very critical drawback. You must be very careful about the materials you use for twisting. Most, if not all ropes will degrade and lose their strength very quickly if they are twisted in a way that causes excess friction on the inner core of the rope.

If you do decide to store away rope for this purpose, make sure that you choose rope that is braided and has a suitable core. If you choose to use nylon line or other synthetic materials, make sure they will be able to bear heavy weight loads even if they are twisted to half or less of their original size.

Magnetic Levitron

Every machine or tool used to lift and move heavy objects must overcome the Earth’s gravity and inertia (essentially a body at rest tends to stay at rest) before anything useful can happen. With the exception of magnetic rails, just about every other device featured in this article requires mechanical force to overcome gravity and inertia.

Magnetic rails take a vastly different approach. Instead of using physical force to move objects, these systems use the capacity of magnets to attract and repel each other.  For example, magnetic levitation trains weighing thousands of tons glide effortlessly over tracks at speeds faster than obtained by trains that utilize conventional engines.

At the current time, “magnetic levitation” is in its infancy insofar as consumers being able to use the power of magnetic levitation to lift heavy objects. The Levitron is one of the best studied devices that may be modified to lift heavy objects. This particular devices basically has a base that generates vibrations (oscillating field) and a copper plate sandwiched between a non-moving magnet and a floating “top” magnet. The upper magnet spins as the vibrations from the base create changes in the magnetic fields of the system.

You can also purchase kits that allow you to build small levitation device models, or you can build your own using a few basic ideas:

  • Use magnets oriented in such a way that like poles are always pointed towards each other.
  • Since magnetism can be induced by passing electric current through a wire, try combining that with magnets to push and pull a floating object within the generated fields. You can use opposing as well as attracting orientations just by adjusting the flow of electricity at different locations.
  • Orient the magnets in such a way that opposite poles are facing each other. This will cause the magnets to move closer together, and drag any object connected to them along as well.

As you study these devices, consider keeping the raw materials to build them in your stockpile. You can also build smaller models and test them on lighter loads before committing yourself to building or using these machines for lifting heavier objects. Since heavy objects are dangerous to be around while in motion, look for ways to include backup systems that will prevent serious injury if ropes fail or something else breaks at just the wrong moment.  

When it comes to the most successful survival tactics – practice and hands on experience will always do more for you than simply reading and trying to file information away hoping that it will be of use later on.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.


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How To Make Clay Pots For Survival

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There are almost as many uses for clay pots as there are ways to make them. They’re decorative, functional, and multi-purpose.

You can make them in any size that you need, and clay pots are used for everything from making sauerkraut to planting herbs, but many other prepper projects can be based on using clay pots.

Learning how to make clay pots for survival can be a fun, rewarding experience that even the kids will enjoy.

Materials to Make Clay for Pots

You probably won’t be able to run to your local craft shop and pick up clay if SHTF, so it’s a good idea to know what clay is made of and how to blend it so that it makes a product that will cure properly. Since clay is sourced from the earth, you’re stuck with what you have right underneath your feet.

Fortunately, you can make clay using many different types of soil, but there are most definitely parts of the country that offer much higher quality clay than others. For example, Georgia clay and clay found in the American Southwest are probably two of the most famous clays, but there’s a good chance that you’re standing on soil, or live near some, that can be used for making clay pots.

There are two basic types of clay that you can use to make clay pots: earthenware and stoneware. They have some significant differences, so let’s touch on that for a minute.


Earthenware clay was probably the clay first used by our ancestors. It has a lot of impurities such as limestone that make it less durable. This type of clay can be made from just about any type of dirt as long as you process it correctly.

The problem with earthenware is that it reaches optimum hardness at lower temperatures, and that makes it less durable and more likely to crack and chip.

Earthenware is fine for many projects but not for fermenting foods, eating or drinking out of, or making items that need extreme durability such as tiles.


This type of clay is relatively pure and thus has a higher firing temperature. Firing is the process used to remove water from the clay at the molecular level, which brings it to optimum hardness. The good side is that you can remove many of the impurities from your clay; not all of them, but many of them. The process is fairly simple and involves letting the soil sit in water so that the sediment settles.

Of course, there are many variations of earthenware and stoneware. They range from clays that are soft and suitable for plants to clays that are durable enough to hold up to hard farm work. Stoneware is best because it’s strong and much more versatile.

Now that you have a general idea of what types of clay you have to work with, let’s talk about some methods to make clay pots for survival.

Pinch Pots

This method sounds simple and it is, once you get  the hang of it. Before that, though, you’re going to make some pretty lopsided pieces, so start small until you get the hang of it.

Start with a ball of clay about half the size of a tennis ball; that’s a workable size for a beginner. Roll it to get it nice and round, then poke a hole halfway through or so with your finger. Put your thumbs in the hole, supporting the outside of the ball with your fingers and palms.

Gently, in little pushes, open up the hole around the sides and bottom, spinning the ball in your hands as your go. The goal with this method is to evenly build the walls and bottom of your pot. As the hole starts to open up, use your fingers on the outside and your thumbs on the inside (or vice versa) to pinch your pot into the shape that you desire.

Once you have it in the general shape and thickness that you want, go around with your fingers and feel for spots that are too thick or thin and level them out. If a spot gets too thin, you can smooth in a bit of extra clay.

Video first seen on suetube466.

Once you’re happy with your pot, thunk it gently onto the table to create a flat spot that will be the bottom. Make sure you have the pot as centered as possible when you do this.

If your pot starts to dry out, mist it with a bit of water and rub it in with your fingers. Don’t use much or you’ll have a puddle of mud instead of a pot!

Once you have your pot shaped and a bottom formed, smooth it out using your fingers or a small piece of smooth wood or metal. If you have any cracks, mist a bit of water on and smooth it with your finger. Smooth out the lip of your pot, too. You can use a bit of slip (clay thinned with water) to smooth out the sides of your clay pot.

Now your pinch pot is ready to fire!

Using the Coil Method to Make a Clay Pot

This method is pretty cool and beginner-friendly, too. You’re going to roll out coils of clay about the size of your pinky. Make them a foot long or so in the beginning. That way it’s manageable and your clay won’t dry out too quickly.

Start the bottom of your pot by laying the coils flat and spiral them around each other so that they’re touching. Now use your fingers or a small wooden tool to smooth the coils together.

Once you get the bottom formed, add a coil on top of the outer coil of your base. Smooth the bottom of the coil into the bottom on both the inside and outside. Continue doing this as you build the height of your pot.

Shape your pot by gradually adding longer or shorter coils as you build – if you want a pot that’s completely vertical, use the same size coils all the way up. If you want it larger around in the center, use longer coils as you build up, then shorten the coils as you get toward the top.

Once you’ve got your clay pot built, go through with your fingers and feel for thick or thin spots like you did with the pinch pot, smoothing them out with your fingers or with the wooden tool. You can use a bit of slip to smooth the sides.

Smooth out the lip with your fingers and your pot is ready to fire.

Video first seen on ArtistEducation.

Use the Slab Method to Make a Clay Pot

This method is sort of like making a pie! Roll out your clay so that it’s an even thickness of about 1/2-1 inch. Start simple. Cut out a square for the bottom, then cut 4 slabs that are an inch wider than the base. Make them as long as you want your pot to be high. Start low in the beginning until you get the hang of it.

There are a few different ways to merge the pieces but both require two steps. First, you need to score the connecting edges. Use a knife to make some shallow cuts (crisscrosses are good) on each part that will be connected. Second, you’ll use slip as the glue.

Once you have the sides cut, they may be too wet to build the box without collapsing. If this is the case, put them in a plastic bag with some newspaper for 24 hours or so until they’re firm enough to hold up without collapsing.

Method 1

Decide whether you want to attach the sides so that they sit on the base or around the outside of the base. I prefer to set the sides on top of the base, but that’s just me. Now that the sides are dry enough to work with, measure the sides to the exact width that you need them to be and trim appropriately.

Score all edges that will be touching. Start by smearing a small amount of thick (glue consistency) slip on the edges of one side of the bottom and the bottom of one of the sides. (Sounds confusing, but think of it this way – you’re attaching the first side to the base).

Now put the edges together and hold them together for a minute, smearing the slip on the inside sort of like you would grout. Now you’re going to add the second side. It’s the same exact process as attaching the first side, except you merge the sides to each other as well as to the bottom. Smear the slip into the corners and off of the sides so that it’s smooth.

Allow your new box to sit for a couple of days so that the slip dries a bit. Your new box is now ready to fire!

Method 2

The only difference between this method and the last is that you’re going to trim the edges of the sides and bottoms at an angle similar to the way that you’d cut a doorframe so that the angles line up. It gives it a bit of a cleaner look and also makes it hold up a bit better.

Oh, if you want to make a lid, you can do that, too. Just cut a top that’s the same size as the bottom, then trim a lip around the outside so that it sets inside the sides. Let the box dry with the lid on it so that it dries equally and will fit when it’s fired.

Now you know three main ways to make a clay pot for survival! If you have any suggestions or ideas, please share them in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Off-Grid Mechanics: 8 Steps That You Need To Know

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Survivopedia Off-grid Mechanics

What kind of vehicles and equipment do you use every day? What would you use instead in a SHTF world without the power grid?

When modern equipment won’t work anymore, the prepared have a plan in place. They know that with a little ingenuity and some elbow grease, they can get the job done. But a willingness to work won’t get you very far if you don’t have a pile of materials to work with.

Using What You Have

Modern-day preppers can learn a lot from the Depression era mentality of saving. I know that I have!

My Grandpa never threw anything away. When we first moved back to the family property, I thought his old junk pile was an eyesore. Tires. Old tractors. Tons of screws, bolts, and who knows what else. It was a huge pile of junk.

In today’s use it and toss it society, I simply couldn’t fathom why in the world my Grandpa kept this junk. I was embarrassed by it. I wanted to scoop it all up and take it to the dump. Thankfully, we couldn’t afford to do that.

Because over the years since we’ve been back, I’ve realized the true value of that junk pile. We’ve taken parts from equipment of old to fix what is broken. We’ve used scrap metal and junk to fill a need and solve problems around the homestead. And we’ve saved a lot of money.

That junk pile? I no longer view it as junk. I think of it as our insurance. You see—when the day comes that we can’t just go buy something, we’ll have a leg-up. We’ll have stuff to work with.

So if you don’t have a junk pile of your own, I’d recommend you start one. If you have property, just gather your junk in a remote corner. If you don’t, you’ll have to think creatively.

Can you save extra nuts and bolts in a drawer in the garage? Can you partner with a country friend to create a joint pile? Can you devote a closet to accumulating odds and ends?

As odd as it may seem to save junk, recycling and reusing becomes crucial when the modern economy is gone. You simply won’t be able to go buy what you need. You’ll have to use what you have.

1. Make a List!

What kind of automated systems are you running right now? Since each of us have a different lifestyle and processes, we won’t all need the exact same things.

To figure out what you need, you have to make a list. Grab a piece of paper and write down all of the systems you’re currently using that run on electricity and modern machinery. Here’s some common ones to get you thinking:

  • Milking machines
  • Automated sprinklers for the garden
  • Tractor for plowing the field
  • Rototillers for the garden
  • Irrigation systems
  • Lights
  • Food storage (fridge and freezer)
  • Laundry care
  • Cooking
  • Personal vehicles to get from place to place
  • Heating a greenhouse to grow food year round

You’ll probably have more to add. Most of us are very dependent on modern innovations in today’s life. Now that you have your list, it’s time to start thinking through SHTF scenarios. Let’s work through a couple together:

Milking the Animals

How would you milk your cows if you had no power?

If you only have a couple of cows, you’ll probably be able to switch to hand milking. You might even get away with switching to once a day milking depending on how much milk your ladies are giving.


But, what if you have a whole herd and depended on a milker? What powers your machine milker? Do you know how your vacuum pump works? How will you clean the pieces if you don’t have running water?

Learn everything you can about the mechanics behind the automated systems you use every day. Read the manual. Study how the pieces work together. The more familiar you are with the parts and pieces, the more likely you’ll be able to repair it when the time comes. You’ll also know what sorts of extra parts to start stock piling.


When vehicles first came out, they were fairly simple machines. Most people could handle their own repairs. With today’s chips, computers, and complexity, that’s no longer the case.

These detailed systems often require specialized tools and scanning software to repair. There isn’t much you can do yourself without a large amount of mechanical knowledge. You might want to consider having an older vehicle around, just because it’s easier to work on.

They’re also more likely to run after an EMP. Here’s a great Survivopedia post on the best vehicles for an EMP event.

No matter what you’re driving, it’s essential that you start learning to repair it. If your car is broken, do some basic troubleshooting yourself. Every time you do this, you’re improving your mechanical ability.

If you take your car to the mechanic, learn all you can. Ask to see the broken part and where it was in your vehicle. You’ll learn more about your car, and start building a relationship with someone local with a mechanically minded skill-set. Or you can chose to grow animals for transportation.

Growing Food

You can’t just plop a variety of seeds in the ground and expect to magically grow enough food to feed yourself and your family for the entire year.  There’s a lot of work between planting and harvesting. Many people rely on automated systems to do a portion of this work. From tractors to electricity or automatic watering systems, food production hasn’t escaped modern marvels.

Take a look at what you’re currently doing for food production. Do you run a rototiller over the ground each year? If so, it’s time to think about switching to a no-till method of gardening.

In this method, you prepare your soil initially before planting. Then you cover it with a thick layer of mulch.  When it’s time to plant, you gently remove some of the mulch, and bury your seeds.

As your plants grow, the mulch holds in water, which is essential in a crisis situation. You continue to add compost and mulch to your garden. But, instead of digging the new stuff in, you just top-dress it by adding layer upon layer up on top.

This same method works in the field as well, though on a larger scale. Instead of a plow to prep the field for planting, you’d use a harrow. The impact on the land is a lot less, as harrows pierce the ground instead of turning it over.

Harrows are also more energy efficient since you can plant at the same time. That means only one trip around the field is needed instead of multiple.

Large Equipment

If your farm equipment fails, do you have a backup plan? Some people keep horses around, but horses aren’t the only animal that can work a field. Dexter cattle have been called a tri-purpose cow because they’re good for meat, milk, and work.

You’ll probably need to do some innovating to get your equipment to pull by animal instead of machine. Harnesses will be essential to keep your animal safe while working.

You can look for older equipment now, while you still have the benefit of used marketplaces. Horse drawn machinery are often cheaper than their modern counterparts, and  they’re also easier to work on.

Video first seen on jamminjamy.


It’s not only the planting of the field that you should think about, it’s also the watering. Water typically runs on a pump. If you don’t have power, you’ll lose the accessibility of water. Gravity fed systems are one solution.

Look for an elevated area on your property where you can collect rainwater.

If you prepare a large container with a hose connector and a plug down low, you’ll be set to use the water. When it’s time to water, hook a hose up to the container. Gravity will force the water through the hose to where you need it. Just be sure to put the plug back on your system when you’re finished.

You can also build a series of wooden troughs to carry water from a waterfall or creek if you have one on your property. This one requires a little more mechanical know-how, as you’ll have to ensure your angles are correct. Otherwise the water won’t flow.

Harvest Time

To harvest your plants without machinery, you’ll need to learn how it was done in the past. If you’re growing your own wheat, instead of a combine you’ll need a scythe to cut it. You’ll also need to think through the threshing.

Only you know exactly what you’ll need to switch your automated systems over to manual ones. You’ll definitely need to have raw materials and tools on hand to keep your systems in good repair. But what can you do right now to start this process?

2. Stock Up on Printed Resources

There are plenty of books and details online that walk you through the systems you need. Now is the perfect time to stock up on printed research materials. After all, you won’t be able to do a whole lot of surfing the internet after the SHTF.

You won’t be able to learn everything in one sitting. That’s why having printed material is so beneficial. When you need it, you’ll be able to pull it out and learn on the go.

3. Develop a Repair or Reuse Mindset

When something breaks, it’s so easy to throw it away and buy another one. But, that attitude won’t get you very far in a crisis. Starting today, take time to learn about what’s broken.

If it’s something you were going to throw away anyways, you have nothing to lose. Examine the parts. See if you can pinpoint what failed. Then take it apart and see how everything fits together.

You might discover it was something simple that you can fix. If not, you gained valuable experience in troubleshooting and disassembly. Those skills will be crucial in the future.

Instead of throwing away things that break, see if you can come up with a more innovative solution. Can you pull the components and save them for an upcoming project? Can you hang onto the gears?

You might not have the space to save everything. That’s why it’s essential to have your list. What items will you use the most to keep your needed systems up and running?

4. Develop Your Creativity and Innovation

Instead of going out and buying something new, think creatively. Is there any other way to do what you need to do? Can you reuse something, or build a DIY model?

This will put your creative thinking skills to work. You’ll start thinking outside of the box. But just coming up with ideas isn’t enough. Innovation is the ability to put those skills to use to solve a problem.

5. Improve Your Mechanical Mind

Some people are naturally gifted in the area of mechanics. They’re tinkerers, always working on something. Others don’t have this natural ability.  But, everyone can learn. If you’re not mechanically inclined, start asking questions. Watch what others do. Learn from them.

6. Carry Tools

You never know when you might need a screwdriver or a knife. If you aren’t currently carrying a multi-tool, start.

Put a basic repair kit in your car, and know how to use the tools in it. If you leave your vehicle in an emergency, you’ll be able to grab a couple of tools. Those may make the difference between you making it home or not.


7. Invest in Hand Tools

You’ll also want to build a solid supply of hand tools around your homestead. Think beyond the screwdriver and hammer. How would you cut firewood without a chainsaw? Pick up a hand saw that you can use if you need to.

8. Learn the Basics

While you can’t learn everything there is to know, you can learn a little about a lot of things. Here are some things to study that’ll help you be better prepared:

Every bit of knowledge and hands on mechanical experience you gain will help make you stronger in the future.

What’s your biggest struggle when it comes to off-grid mechanics? What systems would you have to replace? Could you survive off-grid, living the life our ancestors lived? Click on the banner below to find out more about their way of living and use their secrets for your survival.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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The Easy Way To Make Natural Glue At Home

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SVP diy glueToday’s article is not for glue-sniffers, but for preppers and/or homesteaders who want to make glue for their projects in a post SHTF world, or want to use home-made glue instead of buying it from the hardware store. Or maybe they like art, or have kids that are art-project happy etc.

There are a few reasons for making your own natural glue at home, and if you twist my arm hard enough, I can think about 100 survival uses of glue after an apocalypse. Don’t make me go there right now, okay?

One of them, is that making your own glue is way cheaper than buying it. Another one, and this is important especially if you have glue-happy kids, is that commercially available glues are usually filled with petroleum-based products and all sorts of chemicals. And kids, you know, are kids. Letting them play around with highly toxic stuff is not the best idea in the world, is it?

Truth be told, there are actually tens or even hundreds of DIY glue recipes available, many of them have been around for quite a while since, until commercial glue was invented, people had no alternative but to make their own. So, these recipes have seen some action and they’re “combat-proven”. Some of them are made with milk, others are flour-based, others use natural gums, and some use pine sap.

Another truth, and I must warn you folks, is that commercially available glues are still more effective than the homemade varieties, especially when it comes to heavy-duty stuff, so don’t try to use home-made glues for jobs they’re not suited for.

Just to let you know, you can easily DIY glue from junk, in case other ingredients are not available. See how this guy is making glue using a piece of styrofoam and a few drops of gasoline:

Video first seen on starspoter productions.

But there are so many other ways to DIY glue. Let’s see how to make the best “organic” glue in the world using only natural or non-toxic ingredients.

Recipe 1: Traditional Paper-Paste

Paper paste is a cheaper, easier alternative to commercial glue or rubber cement if you or your kids have a huge paper pasting job to do; for example a big group-collage project or a science-fair display poster. The ingredients are as follows:

  • 2 tablespoons of sugar,
  • 1/3 cup of flour (bread making and all-purpose are the best),
  • one cup of water
  • half a teaspoon alum powder.
  • The latter is not necessary if you’re using the paper-paste immediately and entirely – it’s basically a preservative to keep it “alive” for later use.

Now, with the ingredients taken care of, let’s see about the DIY part: you’ll have to mix the sugar with the flour, but gently. Add water gradually, but stir it aggressively because you need to get all the lumps out.

After the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, cook the mixture over low heat and keep stirring, until the paste turns gets clear. All you have to do now is to remove it from the heating source and, if necessary, add the optional alum-powder. Stir it and let it cool off a little.

Use a paintbrush to spread it over the cardboard or the paper respectively and before the paste dries, press and smooth the cardboard/paper to glue it properly.

That about sums up our first natural-glue home-made recipe. If you added the alum preservative, you can store your remaining glue inside a (covered) glass jar for a couple of weeks with no refrigeration required whatsoever.

Recipe 2: Water Resistant Homemade Glue

Let’s move on to a more high-tech DIY glue project, namely a glue that is water resistant and can be used for more heavy duty/complex jobs than the previous recipe. The water resistant glue can be used successfully for metal, ceramics, glass or porcelain. I personally used it a few times for gluing aluminum foil to planks of wood for making a light-box, and it’s still glued and ready to go, though 3-4 years have passed.

This glue is very different from the flour paste because it can adhere to non-porous materials; however, it’s just waterproof, not heat-resistant. In other words, you can repair a broken mug with it, but don’t put that mug into the microwave or the dishwasher because heat will be the end of it.

Here are the ingredients for the water resistant DIY glue:

  • two teaspoons skim milk,
  • one pack of gelatin (unflavored)
  • three and a half teaspoons of tap water.

Directions: Use a small cup for pouring cold water over gelatin, for softening it up, and put the milk inside the microwave oven for a few seconds for boiling it, and after that mix it with the wet gelatin inside the cup. Stir the stuff vigorously until all the lumps have disappeared, and that’s about it!

This glue works at its best when it’s applied hot.. If this glue initially proves to be too runny for the job, let it cool off a little bit before you paint it on the respective surface. The glue can be stored using a covered glass jar for up to a week, and remember before re-using it to warm it over a pan of hot water.

That wasn’t so hard, was it? Let’s get it on with our third project:

Recipe 3: Milk-based White Glue

Milk makes a great glue ingredient thanks to its high casein content. In case you are wondering what I am blabbering about, casein is a protein found abundantly in milk, which repels water molecules, meaning that it’s hydrophobic. Also, casein molecules repel each other; hence they remain suspended in the milk.

The trick is to add acid to the milk (vinegar is the acid in our case) and the casein molecules will start clumping together, making the milk curdle; to speed up the curdling reaction, you must put some heat into the mix.

The curdled lumps are basically casein, or in other words, natural plastic, and they’re very easy to filter out. If you add some water and a base, you can separate the casein molecules again, causing them to remain suspended in your DIY white glue. The stuff has a shelf life of approximately 14 days and it makes for a fun DIY project and also a pretty good glue in case of an emergency.

Here are the ingredients:

  • one cup skimmed milk (this particular milk is the best due to its high casein content),
  • two tablespoons of white vinegar (distilled),
  • half teaspoon of baking soda
  • one and a half tablespoons of water.

Directions: Using a saucepan, stir the skimmed milk together with the two tablespoons of vinegar over a source of heat (medium-low), but don’t let it boil. After the milk has curdled, remove the saucepan from the heating source and pour its content through a coffee filter. If you don’t have a coffee filter, you can use a cheese cloth or even a paper towel.

The filtered curds must be scraped inside a jar or a small bowl to smash them up. Using a separate container, dissolve the baking soda in water, then mix it with the curds slowly, until the stuff reaches your desired consistency. You can use the glue immediately for your project, or store it for later use, using a tightly sealed jar/container inside your fridge for up to fourteen days.

Recipe 4: Vegan-Mucilage

I know, it sounds weird, but this glue-recipe is absolutely awesome if you have kids obsessed with stickers. Why is that, you may ask? Well, this glue is 100% natural and it tastes great! Mucilage is that kind of glue which is used by painting it on a paper, letting it dry, then licked before gluing.

The mucilage is what the US Postal Office used for their stamps back in the day, and it’s one hundred percent both kosher and vegan. Of course, this recipe has little practical use, but you never know…remember that episode from Seinfeld, when George’s fiancée dies after licking toxic glue on wedding invitations? You don’t want that to happen to you, do you? Just kidding folks.

Here are the ingredients:

  • two tablespoons of sugar,
  • one and a half teaspoons of gum arabic,
  • one fourth cup of water
  • one and a half teaspoons of corn/potato starch.

As a cool trick, you can add a drop of vanilla extract or peppermint for flavoring.

To prepare your favorite mucilage glue, all you have to do is to mix together all the ingredients and then stir into water until all the stuff gets dissolved. Add sufficient water to get the ideal consistency, i.e. something between honey and syrup.

resinRecipe 5: Tree Sap Glue

If you’re the outdoors type, you must learn how to DIY glue using tree sap (also known as pitch glue), or in this particular case pine sap or resin. Pine sap glue can be used for lots of useful things, ranging from frog gigs to fish hooks or waterproofing your shoes.

You can find pine sap or resin on basically any pine tree, but also in some species of cherry trees. Just look for spots where the tree has been wounded (a broken limb or insects) and sap seeps from the respective wound.

Besides pine sap, the only ingredient required is charcoal, i.e. what’s left in your campfire, plain old charcoal. The first step in your tree-sap glue project is to melt the pine sap, using a tin can over a fire, or something similar. The charcoal must be crushed by using a stick or a flat rock until it makes for a fine powder. Mix the powder with the melted pine sap, in a 1:3 ratio (three parts resin, one part charcoal).

Video first seen on Survival Lilly.

If you add too much charcoal, the glue will become brittle; too little, and the glue will not be durable enough. Remember to stir in the charcoal properly and thoroughly while the mixture is hot, because as the sap cools, it becomes hard as a rock. That’s about it; once the tree sap glue cools, you must heat it up again in order to use it.

I hope this article helped and you’ll have tons of DIY projects to develop using your favorite home-made natural glue. If you have questions or comments, don’t hesitate to use the dedicated section below.

Good luck, have fun folks, and click on the banner below to discover other secrets about natural homemade stuff!

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The Easy Way To DIY Rope And Cordage

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SVP DIY rope

There is no such thing as prepping for survival without having rope and cordage in your stash. You can use them for fishing lines, bowstrings, trap triggers, snares, lashings, and many other things.

And do you know what items would be the first to become unavailable in a crisis? There are a few, and cordage and rope will be among them.

But even if rope and cordage will be out of stock, there are plenty of materials you can use for making it.

Here are the materials to consider and the basic info that you need to make your own usable rope.

What to Use from Animals to Make Rope

Leather Strips

You can make leather from animal skins from game you have hunted or dead carcasses, then use it for making cordage.

  • Start off by skinning the animal and spread the skin out so there are no folds or creases.
  • Next, scrape as much mucus and membrane off the inside of the skin as you possibly can, then dry the skin out in the air and sun.
  • Cover the skin with an inch or so of dry dirt over it. Gently force in the dirt with repeated, light strokes, then remove the dirt and replace it with fresh dry dirt.
  • Adding and removing several coatings of dirt helps get the skin cleaned and dried. Once the hide is in good shape, cut it into thin strips.

When you are ready to use the strips for rope, tie the strands together to get the length you need, then wet it a bit and apply it to whatever you’re going to tie or lash together. When the skin dries, it becomes very hard and strong. This is one method for making rawhide.

In order to make shoe strings, foot gear, clothing, shelter, or bags, you will need to tan the animal skins. If you plan to make furry items, remember to scrape all the flesh off on the inside only. To make leather you must scrape both sides to remove all the flesh and fur.

To tan the skin to make leather, first make a slurry with water and the cut up brain. Soak the skin in the slurry until it feels like cooked pasta. Play with it, stretch it, scrape it some more, and let it set a day or two in the slurry. Next rinse it and let it almost dry.

While it is still pliable, scrape it some more, and work it over a piece of log or stone like you were buffing your shoes with it. Do this until the leather is soft and supple.

You can also try using this method with the fur intact, however it may come loose.

Tendons and Sinew

Video first seen on EarthWalkerPrimitive.

There are two ways to get tendons and sinew in the wild. The first way is if you come across an old carcass from a dead animal. The other way is after you’ve cleaned, skinned, cooked, and smoked what you need from a fresh kill.

Look over all the animals bones and limbs and look for tendons. Tendons are the hard, almost plastic like pieces that you really can’t eat. They will come out in long strands and be tough. Scrape these tendons with rock and try to get all the excess tissue off them, then let them dry.

Even though tendons will be hard and look very brittle, they are quite strong. Use a rock and beat on them a bit to break them open into fibrous strands. Pull these apart, and wet them again to make them pliable.

The longest sinew is found in the white cords that run along either side of an animal’s backbone. Cut out the sinew and remove it’s protective sheath, then clean and dry it. To separate the individual fibers, pound each strand with a rock as you would do for plant stalks, then put the fibers in hot water.

When moist, twist them or braid them together to the desired tensile strength and length. You do not need to tie them together for length as they will dry and harden together and be very secure.

Animal sinew can be used to produce a very strong rope or twine: a strand about the diameter of a carpet thread can hold the weight of a man. This size sinew is an excellent choice to make bowstrings, fishing lines, snares, wrappings, and threads.

Another useful property of sinew is that when wet with saliva before wrapping, it will shrink and “glue” items near it. This is why you usually don’t need to tie rope ends together to increase the length.

How to Use Plants and Grass to Make Cordage

Remember these facts when using natural fibers for making cordage:

  1. Anything green and pliable is possible to use.
  2. If the material is dry or it is winter, soak the material in water.
  3. If a fiber is really hard to work with, try boiling it.
  4. Test everything with your eyes and hands to see if it’s usable before starting working with it.
  5. Test everything after you make it to ensure that it is usable.


Grasses can be used to make lashing and cordage. The key to using grasses as cordage is in the bundling.

First gather a lot of grass to make bundles of same length grass. Tie the bundles about an inch from the top and bottom ends as well as in the middle. Make as many ties around the middle of the bundle as required to keep it together. When grass is bundled this way they become a flexible strand suitable for making rope.


The dried inner skin of stalks of some fibrous plants will also make good rope. When working with pithy plants such as dogbane or milkweed, it is possible to strip the material you need from the stalk in long ribbons as long as the stalk is dry. It is still better to to crush and open the stalk, then break off short sections of the woody core, leaving a long ribbon of fibers in your hand.

The best way to prepare non-pithy plants like nettles or rushes is to place a dry stalk on a piece of wood, and pound it with a rounded rock. But be careful when doing this if you use a sharp rock there is a chance of cutting the fibers. When you splice the fibers together you can make cordage of any length or thickness that is needed.

Here are a few plants that I have used to make cordage: stinging nettle, velvet, leaf, dogsbane, milkweed, fireweed, hemp, and evening primrose. But there are many other plants that can be useful for the same purpose.

sweet flag


The cattail plant is an excellent source of raw material for cordage that is not good for something like a bow drill, but you can use it to lash things together. These plants usually grow in a stand of many plants. To harvest the leaves of the cattail break a bunch off near the stock and let them dry for a day or two.

To make a midsize cordage you will have to use the whole leaf and braid it into a rope. To make smaller cordage, shred the leaves lengthwise in half or even in quarters, this will make a much stronger rope that is suitable for things like tying an arrowhead to a shaft or other vital jobs that need small cordage.

How to Make Cordage from Cattails

This is the way I used to make cordage from cattails in the past:

  1. Twist the leaf until it bunches up.
  2. At this point, take a hold of the top strand with your thumb and forefinger and twist it away from you.
  3. Then using the small fingers of right hand, twist the whole thing towards you.
  4. If you need longer pieces of cordage, please refer to the sections below dealing with reverse wrapping and splicing.

Tree Bark

Many trees have naturally flexible bark that can be peeled off in strands, which can be torn into thinner strips to give you the foundations of good cordage. If you do not have the knowledge or experience in relation to which trees to use, you will have to experiment with trees that you have in your area. Practice stripping the bark and testing it to see if it can be used safely to make good cordage.

What I have found is that the bark from following trees will make good cordage: basswood, elm, walnut, cherry, cedar, aspen, maple, cottonwood, hickory, oak, and ash.

The dried inner bark of most trees will supply you with a workable raw material. If you are in a true life or death survival situation, you can also strip the sections of the inner bark from living trees and dry them. Be sure to take only a few thin strips from any one tree. Cutting all the way around the trunk can kill the tree.

Instead of using just the trunk bark, try using the bark off small and intermediate branches. If you have trouble separating the inner and the outer bark. Just soak the strips in warm or boiling water until the fibers come apart easily.

Video first seen on LearnBushcraft.


Plant and tree roots are also a good source of material to make cordage. Look for trees and plants that have long flexible roots, and take as many of these flexible roots that you can find to make your cordage.

I personally recommend digging for roots if you come across suitable trees. For example, if you find a spruce or a fir tree, digging into the ground underneath will reveal long ropy roots that can make decent cordage. Split the roots in order to make rope, but remember that plant and tree roots dry out fast, which makes them a bit more prone to becoming brittle and breaking.

I have used for making cordage roots from cedar, pine, juniper, tamarack, yucca, spruce, and sage.


Thin vines are the best vines to use but, you can also use fat vines. Often vines will have bark that is excellent for making cordage. If you find small vines, it is possible to use them as twine, and if you find big vines peel them first and then use them.

Wisteria, grape, and similar vines are very good to use. Do not use poison ivy, oak, or sumac because these vines can caused skin rashes and other health problems.

How to Make Rope and Cordage in a Survival Situation

First, you need to have a good supply of raw materials, and you’ll have to decide how long and how thick the finished cordage will have to be.

If you need a trap trigger or need to make a piece of wilderness dental floss, the odds are you would only use a couple of fibers and there would be no need to wrap it. If stronger cordage is needed, then wrapping which strengthens the fibers, will be needed.

In order to wrap fibers together, you may have to break down the materials a bit more. If you are working a ribbon of bark or other plant material, roll it between your wet palms or against the leg of your pants to separate the fibers. Work along the entire length of the strip until only the fibrous threads are left.

Making a Simple Wrap

  1. To do a fast wrapping job, where strength is not the primary concern, hold onto the fibers and roll the whole bundle against your pant leg in one direction.
  2. By making repeated strokes along the entire length, the fibers should twist into a strand of makeshift cordage that is many times stronger than the original strands of the material.
  3. To secure the twist, take the middle of the strand in your teeth and bring the two ends together. Warning – Be sure that the fibers are from a nonpoisonous plant.

Reverse wrap

The reverse wrap is for a much tighter and stronger wrap.

  1. Start by twisting the fiber bundle in the middle until it kinks.
  2. Then hold the kink between the thumb and the index finger of one hand.
  3. With the fingers of the second hand, twist the bottom strand toward you and wrap it once around the the other.
  4. Now hold this wrap with the first hand.
  5. Then twist the new bottom strand toward you and wrap it around the other.
  6. Continue the process along the entire length of your cord.
  7. If you need only a small section of the cord. Tie a knot at the end of the double wrapped piece and use it as is.

How to Splice

If you wish to make a long rope or a string, simply splice together many shorter pieces as necessary in the following way:

  1. Twist and kink the bundles so that one end is twice as long as the other. This will eliminate the chance of making parallel splices that would weaken the cordage.
  2. Using the reverse technique, wrap within an inch or two of the short end.
  3. Separate the fibers of the short end with your fingers so that it looks like a broom head.
  4. Attach a second bundle of equal thickness by spreading and fitting its fiber ends into those of the first bundle. Important note: To keep a uniformed thickness in the cord, cut out about half of the fibers in each bunch before pushing them together.
  5. Continue twisting and wrapping as before. Taking care not to pull the strands apart.
  6. When you come to the end of the original long strand, add a third piece and so on until you have the length of cordage that you need.
  7. Important note: Make sure that you never have two splices in the same place. A splice must always be wrapped with a solid strand.

Double Strength

When you need an especially strong length of cordage, you might think that all you do is begin with bigger fiber bundles, but this is not always the case. Strength is produced just as much by twisting and wrapping as it is by thickness. You can simply twist and double a strand you’ve already wrapped.

For cordage of even greater strength and thickness, take a pair of reversed wrapped strands and join them with another group of reverse wraps. With the use of repeated splicing and doubling you can make a rope of almost any length and thickness you might need.

Finishing Techniques

After you have completed all of the wrapping and splicing is done, there are usually a lot of fibers sticking out along your length of cordage. To get rid of these, run the piece quickly through a flame. This will burn off the stray fibers without damaging the main ones.

Finally, to keep the ends from fraying, weave them back into the twisted cord, secure them with simple overhand knots, or whip the ends by wrapping and tying them off with a thinner cordage.

How to Make Cordage and Rope From Natural Materials at Home

Video first seen on Bob Anderson.

Collecting and obtaining your basic raw materials for making cordage and rope is basically the same way as you would do it in any survival situations.

At home you must learn to be a scrounge. This means to save anything that could be cut up, shredded, or twisted to make cordage or rope. An example of this is saving plastic shopping food bags, long pieces of string or twine, lengths of cloth, the cord removed from old rugs, and other craft projects.

Making Cordage Using Hand Powered Machines

What are the easiest ways to make rope at home? It’s with a rope making machine, of course.

There are many plans and styles for these machines. There are also many free the schematics you can use as a basis for making these machines cheaply out of materials from around the house. When the machine is finally completed and tested, it is possible to make a very strong rope from any type of natural raw materials or synthetic materials.

This is how this type of machines work:

Video first seen on linen2rope’s channel.

How to Make Rope Out of Plastic Bags

When you look around the house, it is amazing how quickly and how many plastic bags pile up. Instead of throwing them out, try turning them into a plastic rope. This fun and easy method of making rope is shown below in the following video:

Another way to make rope an easy and simple way is to braid it using a three pieces of twine with a loop at one end. Place the loops over your finger and then braid the strand.

I have also used a rope making machine and recommend it because it can easily be kept in a bug out bag or backpack. Once you build the simple parts and practice with it, you can make some cordage or rope with it. Check the references at the end of this article to get the necessary information for this project.

Being able to make cordage and rope is very important for survival and off grid living. Still an easy place to build and practice your cordage and rope making skills is at home. Not only can you practice with natural raw materials found in the wilderness there, but there are a lot of household items that pile up that could be used to make cordage and rope.

Is there anything else that you used for making rope? Are there any old secrets that preppers need to know for making cordage? Share your experience in the comment section below!

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This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.


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Magnets. What Preppers Need To Know About Them

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SVP big magnets

Even though magnets are used in many areas of life, you may think that you can just scavenge them as needed after a major crisis hits. Bad idea! This is how you can easily create a situation, where you overlook having the proper magnets for all your needs as well as ones that can be used until new ones become available.

Read the next article to learn about the different kinds of magnets, how they are used, and why you need to consider adding each of them to your survival stockpile.

Why Not Just Create Magnets Later On?

Many people that don’t have magnets on their stockpile list tend to think that they can simply pick up some magnetic earth ores, or find some way to make magnets using a furnace and metal casting equipment. While you may be able to melt the metal used for magnets, you may still not be able to machine the final product let alone create uniform magnetic fields.

These technologies require both time and money to master. In most cases, these skills may be within the range of a larger survivor or prepper community, but they may be a bit beyond a homestead for a single family or small group. In these situations, your best bet is to stockpile the magnets you are most likely to need.

Since each person or group will be interested in different devices and models, it is best to learn about each kind of magnet and then see which ones will be best for your personal needs.

Can I Barter Magnets in the Post Crisis World?

Newer and more powerful magnets tend to be more expensive. You can still watch for sales and other bargains on magnets that may not be of major interest to you, and then use them for barter later on. Just remember, however, that magnets also tend to be heavy and take up a lot of room.

Therefore, unless you store them at a dedicated bug out location, it may not be feasible to carry away your entire supply from a major crisis location.

4 Types of Magnets to Learn About

Ceramic/Ferrite Magnets

Ferrite or ceramic magnets are the most common and cheapest magnets on the market. Even though they also generate the weakest magnetic fields, they are very useful for a wide range of applications. This includes applications where the magnet must change polarity quickly, or demagnetize and magnetize very quickly.

Ceramic magnets are made by taking iron oxide and other powders and placing them in a mold. The powder is heated until it forms a solid mass, which is then milled back down to tiny particles. During the heating process, oxygen availability may be limited, much as it is during the production of charcoal or bone char.

These milled particles are again placed into a mold that represents their final shape. As the ferrites are heated, they may also be placed in a magnetic field so that all of the particles are aligned in a specific direction.


Ceramic magnets are made from a range of different materials such as hematite, magnetite and other iron oxides. There are two different kinds of ceramic magnets that are named based on their composition and usage.

  • “Soft” ferrite magnets contain nickel, manganese, or zinc in their composition. These magnets are called “soft” because they are very easy to magnetize, and then also lose this particular property with very little effort. As a result, soft magnets are ideal for transformers, AM radio antennas, and some power supplies.
  • “Hard” ferrite magnets are include strontium, barite, and other iron oxides that make them permanent magnets. Even if there is no power being applied to the magnet, hard ferrites will continue to generate a magnetic field. Interestingly enough, at the molecular level, these magnets retain a “memory” of their orientation from times when added energy was applied to them. As such, hard ferrites are often used to make cassette tapes, computer hard drives, and other data storage devices.

Pros and Cons

  • Advantages – Overall, you will find that ferrite magnets are the cheapest forms that you can buy. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and lend themselves well to a wide range of applications. Since ferrite magnets do not rely on rare earth metals, they are also easier to make.
  • Disadvantages – If you are looking for a “one magnet that does everything”, ferrite magnets will not meet your needs. They are not strong enough to be used seriously in power generating systems nor are they strong enough to use for pulling weights.

Prepper Applications

Hard and soft ferrites are best used for building communications devices and data storage systems. Perhaps just as important, iron oxide dust can also be used to shield devices from radar signatures. For example, the coating on stealth fighters and bombers includes ferrite particles because they can easily absorb radar. If you decide to have a homestead above ground, it may be of some help to see if you can take advantage of this technology.

You can also use ferrite particles for body armor or garments that might shield you from radar devices intended to spot individuals. This is especially important if you are cut off from your bug out location, you become surrounded, or something else comes up that makes it very important to be as invisible to radar scanners.

Neodymium Magnets

These magnets are made of three elements: neodymium, iron, and boron. Neodymium magnets are the most powerful on Earth. As such, they generate fields that are useful for power generation and generating force to either pull objects or push them away. They are also commonly used in modern equipment to create smaller, more powerful motors for tools, computer hard drives, and other applications where more torque or speed is needed in a smaller device.

Neodymium magnets are relatively new on the market, and were first made by Sumimoto Special Metals and General Motors in 1987. Even though Neodymium magnets are classified as “rare earth magnets”, each of the three elements used to make them is very common. Since neodymium rarely exists alone, however, it must be separated from surrounding materials.

Up until 2015, the basic process for making Neodymium magnets was similar to the one used to make ferrite magnets. Unfortunately, this sintering method does not allow for the production of neodymium magnets with uniform magnetic fields. A new method which starts off with a mixture that is about as soft as clay before heating. This method allows for much greater control of the shape of the field that each magnet produces. This new method will be used beginning in 2017.


Pros and Cons

  • Advantages – Neodymium magnets come in a wider range of strengths than other magnet types. You can also get neodymium magnets in smaller sizes than other magnets and still get a larger or more powerful magnetic field from them.
  • Disadvantages – Perhaps the strength of neodymium magnets is also its greatest disadvantage. In this case, even smaller magnets can cause serious injuries if body parts get caught between two magnets trying to connect to each other.

Neodymium magnets also tend to be more brittle than other magnets. As a result, when they do come together, they can break apart because of the force of the collision.

When using or storing neodymium magnets, it is best to keep them away from computers, magnetic storage media, and other electronic devices. Even though many modern computer hard drives use neodymium magnets for their motors, an external magnet can still erase all the data on the drive or ruin the disk.

Finally, you must be very careful when adding neodymium magnets to any given device. If the surrounding materials are not strong enough to overcome the effects of the magnetic field the entire device can be ruined when the magnets pull free or break through to different areas.

Prepper Applications

Neodymium magnets are best used for power generation. You can use them to build smaller, more efficient motors for wind turbines as well as water wheels. For example, if you want to build a wind turbine that will run on a breeze from a windowsill, neodymium magnets will allow you to build a much lighter, yet more powerful motor. If you tried to build the same turbine with ferrite magnets, it would take a lot more wind to turn the propeller. Since neodymium magnets also make stronger magnetic fields, they will also induce more current in nearby coils.

You can also use neodymium magnets to build stronger power tools. This is especially important if you want to use battery powered tools as opposed to ones that plug into an electric socket. Since the overall motor size is much smaller, you can also choose smaller batteries that will charge up faster. In this case, you will also have a wider range of batteries to choose from.

For example, you may get enough sustainable power from a car battery to power a neodymium magnet based power tool, while similar tools with ferrite magnets might require Lithium Ion or other more compact batteries.

Even though there is relatively little information about this topic, those who are best equipped to survive are going to be those that innovate as opposed to simply reusing and reinventing the same old things. In this case, neodymium magnets have more than enough power for lifting and pulling objects. Once you can overcome gravity, you can also create propulsion. No matter whether you are concerned about the loss of power farm tools, cars, or other transport devices, it is entirely possible that neodymium magnets can form the basis for a magnetic engine.

Video first seen on electronicsNmore.

Samarium Cobalt Magnets

Samarium Cobalt magnets are permanent rare earth magnets made from the elements Samarium and Cobalt. As with Neodymium, Samarium is also fairly common, but must be isolated from other materials.

Samarium is also primarily extracted from China, although large amounts are also found in the United States and Brazil. Overall, Samarium Cobalt magnet are a bit weaker than Neodymium magnets, however they are still much stronger than ferrite magnets.

There are two basic kinds of Samarium Cobalt magnets:

  • SmCo5 magnets are made in such a way that the ratio of Samarium to Cobalt is 1 atom of Samarium to 5 atoms of Cobalt. These magnets are very powerful, and they are also easier to adjust than Sm2Co17 magnets.
  • Sm2Co17 magnets are made in a ratio of 2 atoms of Samarium to 13 – 17 atoms of other metals. The second metal mix always includes Cobalt, and it may also include Copper, Iron, Hafnium, and Zirconium. These magnets are stronger than the SmCo5 magnets, and can also be used in higher temperature ranges than most other magnets.

As with other magnet types, Samarium Cobalt magnets start off with the construction of an ingot that must be broken down into a powder. This powder is placed in a mold and reheated in the presence of a magnetic field so that the particles align in a uniform manner. After the magnets cool, they are ground down and refined to complete the shaping process.

Pros and Cons


  • Motors, vehicles, and many other devices make a lot of heat because of friction between moving objects. Unfortunately, for some strange reason, magnets tend to lose their ability to generate a magnetic field when temperatures go up. For example, even though neodymium magnets are very powerful, they can easily lose their magnetic field as the temperatures go up. Even though Sm2Co17 magnets are not as powerful as Neodymium magnets, they can withstand much higher temperatures.
  • Samarium Cobalt magnets also work better in freezing temperatures that would also pose problems for other classes of magnets.
  • Samarium Cobalt magnets are also ideal for situations where corrosion or oxidation would present a problem. Since these magnets do not corrode or oxidize, you will not need to coat them with other materials.

Disadvantages – Samarium Cobalt magnets are more brittle than Neodymium magnets and will shatter if you allow them to crash into each other. It is also much harder to produce uniform magnets that will produce uniform fields. As a result, you may get inconsistent results with different magnets.

Prepper Applications

Usually, Samarium Cobalt magnets are used in some guitars, expensive headphones, pumps, turbines, compressors, some automobile motors, and some communications equipment. If you plan to use air compression for tools or wish to use other air based technologies, you will find these magnets very important.

Even though you can still use ram pumps and the Archimedes screw for water delivery, it also never hurts to have a few Samarium Cobalt magnets on hand to build or rebuild conventional pumps.

If you happen to be advanced in the area of transmitter and receiver technologies, you can use Samarium Cobalt magnets to create microwave range vacuum tubes.

In a post crisis world, more than a few survivors are bound to be as concerned about black market radar technologies used by any number of criminals as well as those systems used by collapsing or collapsed government agencies. As such, you may need to know how to build jamming systems that are a bit more complicated than working with ferrite magnet dust.

Since Samarium Cobalt magnets are commonly used in radar and associated systems, it may also be possible to use them to build jamming devices. While this may seem like an advanced topic, once you know the basics of electronics and how to read schematics, you may will find that you can build jamming or cloaking systems that can be used in conjunction with other methods.

For example, you can still take advantage of natural ground signatures and features to help with disguising your presence, and then use electronic equipment as an added layer of protection.

Alnico Magnets

Most Alnico magnets are made of Aluminum (Al), Nickel (Ni), and Cobalt (Co), Iron, Copper, and Titanium. When compared to other magnets, they are a bit stronger than ferrite magnets, but not as strong as Samarium Cobalt or Neodymium magnets. Nevertheless, when Alnico magnets were developed in the 1930’s, they became very popular, and still are today.

As a prepper, you are likely to find Alnico magnets in older motors and many devices that were made well into the 80’s. Even though they are being phased out in favor of Samarium and Neodymium magnets, they are still very important and have their place in a well rounded survival stockpile.

Alnico magnets are also cast first as ingots which are broken down into a powder form. Next, these magnets are sintered, or reheated in the presence of a magnetic field so that the particles align to create a more uniform magnetic field.

Unlike other magnets made with this process, Alnico magnets can be aligned so that a magnetic field can only be generated in one direction (anistropic), or they can be magnetized to go in many directions (isotropic). Overall, transistor magnets are more powerful.

Pros and Cons

  • Advantages – As with Samarium magnets, Alnico magnets hold up well at high temperatures. In fact, even if the magnet is red hot, it will still produce a usable magnetic field. Alnico magnets can be magnetized and demagnetized easily. As a result, this makes them much better than ferrite magnets for communication devices. They are used in circuits to help improve the faithful reproduction of sounds as well as to expand the range of sounds that can be duplicated. Since Alnico magnets are also stronger than ferrites, they can also be used to make smaller devices.
  • Disadvantages – Alnico magnets are also similar to other magnets in the sense that they are very brittle. This makes it hard to change their shape by machining or using other tools that may cause them to shatter. Even though Alnico magnets are not as powerful as some other magnets, you should also avoid letting them crash into each other.

Even though the ease of magnetization and demagnetization is a good property to have for some applications, it can also make it difficult to store these magnets. In some cases, even if they are sitting in a circuit, pairs of magnets can demagnetize each other with relative ease.

You will need to include protective plates in any design that uses these magnets. If you need to use an Alnico magnet to replace another type of magnet in a device, do not forget to add a plate of steel to help reduce the loss of the magnetic field. Even if you are storing Alnico magnets outside of a circuit, they will still need to be kept with steel plates so that they do not become demagnetized.

alnico magnet

Prepper Applications

Alnico magnets can be used in communications equipment, musical instruments, amplifiers, and motors. If you are interested in rebuilding older electronics equipment and keeping it in good condition, chances are you will need Alnico magnets.

When purchasing these magnets make sure that you keep a good supply of anistropic and isotropic magnets on hand. You should also know how to interchange these magnets with ferrite magnets since you may want to improve older systems by adding these magnets and support circuits as needed.

Overall, choosing the best magnets for survival needs is not as simple as knowing whether or not the magnet is a permanent magnet or one that requires electricity to be magnetized.

Even if any given electronic circuit looks simple, or a motor looks very small, trying to use a magnet with the wrong strength or shape field will ruin the equipment. As a result, you may need to store a large number of magnets in order to make sure that you have every type that you will need in the post crisis world.

If you want to downsize on the number of magnets that you store in a stockpile, then you will also need to narrow down the age and nature of the devices that you use in the post crisis world.

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This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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10 Secrets To Choose Your Tools For Homesteading

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ToolsWhen you are on a tight budget, it is very tempting to buy the cheapest tools you can find. For example, if you need handsaw, you may be inclined to pick one up in a dollar store and then hope that it will get you through a few projects.

While these, and other tools may get you through a small project, they can also be very dangerous and of little or no use in a crisis situation.

The tools you have on hand may well need to last for decades or even be passed along for generations before suitable replacements can be made and distributed at an affordable price. That’s why, when choosing tools for your homestead, or other bug in needs, you should keep the following ten points in mind.

1. How Versatile Is the Tool?

If you live in an apartment or a tiny home, then you are always going to be worried about how much room to allocate for tools.

In some cases, you will be best served by looking for tools that can accomplish a wide range of jobs without being ruined.  At other times, you may need a tool that can be used for some applications, and then have a second tool that will do something similar.

Unless you need a particular tool for a specialized job, aim for the most durable multi-purpose tools you can find. Here are the factors to consider, especially when buying drill bits and cutting blades:

  • A drill bit or cutting blade listed for use on wood or plastic will most likely be ruined if you try to use it on metal.
  • Simply choosing the cheapest metal working bits isn’t much better than buying bits and blades for wood. For example, a drill bit designed to go through corrugated aluminum may not even go through a tin can.
  • When choosing bits and blades, you are best served by getting the best possible metal working bits and blades. These will cut and drill through just about anything, and also last far longer than other types.

While you’re assessing tool versatility, think about the range of applications and how well it will perform each task.

In some case, a few less specialized tools will actually be of more use. For example, you might think that a large toothed, large saw blade is the best option for all your woodworking or metal cutting needs. On the other hand, if you need to cut curves or work with a smaller, more delicate piece of material, then a coping saw will be of more use.

And there are always going to be times when you need socket wrenches to get into places where you cannot use a monkey wrench. There is a newer wrench on the market that basically uses a set of bearings to create an adjustable socket wrench. Keep one of these onhand for survival needs since it can be adjusted to both large and small socket sizes.

There is simply no telling how quickly this particular wrench type will wear out or how much strain it can take. If you want to keep one of these onhand, then work with it and put it through as much testing as possible, and then keep a brand new one aside for survival needs.

You should also keep good quality conventional metric and standard socket sets on hand just in case the multiple socket wrench fails.

2. How Long Is it Guaranteed to Last?

Do you remember the days when vehicle engines, transmissions, and drive trains were guaranteed to last well over 100,000 miles? If so, then you may also remember that a four year old car was considered relatively new instead of at the end of its best years.

As with cars, the warranties on many tools made today is much less. While you can still get good quality tools that will last a long time, nothing says trust in quality like a manufacturer that will guarantee the tools for life. Even though the manufacturer may be driven out of business by a major social collapse, neither you nor they will know when that will happen. Therefore, lifetime warranties can be used as one of the indicators of tool quality.

If you have a choice between a cheaper tool with a limited warranty and one with a lifetime warranty, go for the latter even if is a bit more expensive. Remember, you might use this tool for decades on end or even pass it along to the next generation. No matter whether the tool in question is a screwdriver bit set, pliers, or other hand tools, buying the best will pay off in the long run.

3. Are There Older Versions of the Tool that Might Be Cheaper and More Durable?

As with cars and just about everything else in stores these days, you will find that things just aren’t as durable as they used to be. From that perspective, you may actually be able to save some money and get good quality tools by visiting the local flea markets.

In some cases, older, well maintained tools may actually be more durable and work better than newer ones. Just stay away from ones that are excessively worn or show signs of deep rusting. Here are some tools that you can consider purchasing second hand in the vintage section:

  • Hand power drills. These devices can truly last for decades and beyond even if they show some signs of wear. Make sure that you can get drill bits into it, and that they will not slip when you apply pressure from the crank or other hand levers.
  • Coping saw frames and hacksaw frames.  As with other tools, make sure these are free of rust and that they are solid across the entire frame.  Try to fit a new blade into them and make sure that the handle and blade holding areas will not give way under a work load.
  • Any hand tool that has screws or other tightening apparatus that can be adjusted. Check that the adjusters have not been sheared off, are rusty, or stuck in place. In some cases you may be able to revive these tools, however it may be best to look for something in better condition.

4. What Kind of Maintenance Does It Need?

Even the best quality tools may require oiling, cleaning, and other kinds of maintenance, so you’ll need to store away appropriate cleaners and lubricants. Other details may also be overlooked:

  • Some types of steel blade need to be stored away from humidity. While they may work fine on a daily basis, storing them in a pre-crisis situation can be a bit difficult. For example, if you don’t oil them once a month or use them on a regular basis, they may rust and be nothing but reddish dust when you open your survival bin. Even if you feel that your tools will resist rust and corrosion, examine them on a monthly basis even if you aren’t using them.
  • Blades, drill bits, and other tools are apt to wear down and need replacing. Depending on the blade type, you may be able to sharpen it several times before having to discard it. Have a good quality sharpener onhand, and use it as often as needed.

5. Does the Tool Require Replacement Parts?

If you visit a hardware store, you are sure to be amazed at the growing number of variations on common tools. For example, where you may have once bought a simple set of Philips and flathead screwdrivers, now you may be faced with an array of bits, ratcheting handles, power screwdrivers, reversible drill screwdrivers, and cordless screwdrivers.

When it comes to your survival toolkit, don’t put all your reliance on power tools. Aside from problems with EMPs, battery operated tools will never be as strong as those with a power cord. Power tools are truly wonderful to use and very convenient, but they will be worse than useless if you do not have electricity to power them.

Oddly enough, even the most simple hand tools these days may require replacement parts. For example, even though you can buy screwdriver bit sets with dozens of bits in them, they tend to be less durable than full bodied screwdrivers.

When it comes to bit sets, even high quality ones will shear or wear down very quickly. You can, and should keep a high quality set onhand plus a ratcheting handle, but do not overlook full bodied screwdrivers. At the very least, you should have a few of the most popular sizes plus the short shank counterparts for tight areas.

Saws, drills, and other key tools also require replacement parts from time to time. If there is anything that you should stockpile, these items will be more important than anything else. Without a spare blade to replace one that is worn or broken, it will be impossible to complete a number of tasks. When it comes to bugging in, this is truly one place were storing more is better than storing away less.

6. What Kind of Activities Will Ruin It?

Have you ever used a screwdriver to open a can of paint, or the back of a glass cutter to rap on a stubborn jar lid? If so, then you know that some tools are only limited by your imagination.

On the other hand, there are many woodworking tools that cannot be used on metal or plastic. There are also many metal working tools that cannot be used on solid metals or denser metals than they were designed for.

Always read manufacturer specs carefully so that you know what the limits of each tool is. In addition, before adding a tool to your survival stores, be sure to test it out. Try a number of different materials and see how much wear accumulates on the bits or blades.

Pay careful attention to the cutting surfaces. Do they appear darker as if they have been exposed to heat? Did the surface of the blade become even or appear worn?  If any given tool cannot pass these basic tests, then return it to the store immediately and go up to the next highest priced tool. There is absolutely no sense in storing away tools that will wear out after one or two uses when you can replace them now and have confidence in their durability later on.

7. How Best to Use the Tool?

One of the worst things you can do is buy a tool and then figure you will know how to use it when the time comes. For example, even as you read this, you may have hammers, pliers, wrenches, and all kinds of other tools laying around the house. Even though a hammer may seem very simple to use, that does not mean you know how to get the most from it.

Among other things, you may be the type that has to whack a nail several dozen times just to get it through the wood. On the other hand, professional carpenters may be able to drive those nails with a single blow.

Take the time now to learn how to use tools efficiently. Not only will you save wear and tear on the tools, you will find it much easier to complete tasks.

8. How Skilled Are You With the Tool in Question?

Simply reading about how best to use a tool is not the same as actually knowing how to do the job. Consider a situation where you feel that you know how to use a handsaw. Here are just a few things that you may overlook in a time of need. Aside from producing low quality, crooked cuts, some of these problems may actually lead to serious injury.

  • Forgetting to wear goggles when using tools. No matter whether you are cutting, drilling, or shaping wood, metal, plastic, or some other substance, bits of the material will go all over the place. While much of the material may fall as dust at your feet, other bits can very easily get lodged in your eyes. You may at first feel that a bit of sawdust in the eye is a minor inconvenience, but it can scratch the cornea of the eye and leave you with permanent scars that reduce the clarity of your eyesight. If that scratch becomes infected, it can also lead to blindness. Tiny bits of metal can also scratch and do serious damage. If the pieces of metal are big enough, they may also be able to cut blood vessels on the outer portion of the eyeball or in the eyelid.
  • Forgetting to wear a dust mask. If you thought the damage from sawdust or metal bits was bad for your eyes, then you may not realize that it is just as bad on your lungs. Remember that the working parts of your lungs are very fragile, tiny little sacks that allow the exchange of air between the lung tissue and blood vessels. Dust of any kind can ruin them and leave you with steadily decreasing breathing capacity. Though you may not feel it right away, constantly breathing in saw dust or any other type of dust is a true danger to your health.
  • Failure to apply blades and cutting edges in the right direction or angle. Many people feel that as long as the blade is cutting, they are doing things right. On the other hand, adjusting the angle will actually make the work go a lot faster and also prevent damage to the blade itself.
  • Failure to use proper grips and fasteners. Have you ever tried to cut a stick or dowel by bracing it on your leg or the floor? If so, then you may already know that you are wasting a lot of motion and energy trying to keep the material from moving. Always take the time to secure items you are working with using a good quality vice or other fasteners as needed. This is also good practice if you decide to use power tools. Needless to say, if you slip with a hand saw or other hand tool, it can do some serious injury to your hands, arms, or any other body part that gets in the way. If you have the same kind of accident with a power tool, it may well amputate that appendage. In a crisis situation, either type of injury can also  lead to a life threatening infection.


9. Can You Safely Use the Tool Now as Well as if You Are Injured or Disabled?

As time goes by, an aging body often loses the ability to do many things. For example, arthritis or other joint problems may make it harder to turn a screw driver, use a saw, or hammer nails.

Choose tools that will age with you and still be usable if you become disabled or injured. In this case, you should look for aftermarket grips or other accessories that will make the tool easier and safer to work with. Just make sure that you are as comfortable using these grips as you are a tool without these additional parts.

10. Can You Think of Projects and Ways to Use the Tool Now?

One of the best things you can do when assessing tools for survival needs is to use them now as much as possible. Choose a wide range of projects so that you can get plenty of practice as well as find out how durable the tool is. Here are some projects to use on the tools you plan to keep for survival needs:

  • Build wooden toys with many moving parts. This will help you establish a good level of precision with everything from saws and chisels to screwdrivers and nails.
  • Build cabinets, and then shelves that will need to accommodate fairly large amounts of weight.
  • Build toys or other small items from metal. You can start off by building toys from tin cans. This will help you practice bending and cutting metal as well as learn how to gauge the strength of metals. When working with metal, always take extra care to wear gloves in order to protect your hands from sharp, thin bits that are bound to occur.
  • Build a small shed or some other structure where you must assemble an inner frame and then add a roof, floor, and sides.  From there, you can also try building decks and ramps.
  • Take apart an old lawnmower engine and rebuild it to working order. This will help you learn how to clean grimy parts and recognize those that are worn. You will also learn some important things about dissembling and re-assembling basic engines.
  • Take apart an old motorcycle engine and put it back together. This will be an excellent place to learn how to make replacement parts if needed as well as repair and clean basic engine components.
  • Try taking apart and re-assembling a car from bumper to bumper.  While this may take a few years for the weekend hobbyist, it will truly be worth your effort.

As you can see, choosing tools is about far more than having a nice shiny set of sockets and saws hanging on the back wall of your work room. It is about having a small set of tools that you can rely on to help you get any job done and in any situation.

Take the time now to buy good quality tools and then practice with them as much as possible so that you will have both confidence and skill in a time of need.


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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Survival Projects: DIY Small Cabin

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big diy cabin

What’s so special about cabins? Well, maybe a better question is what’s NOT so special about cabins! They’re quaint, functional, sturdy and can be built so that they’re easy to defend.

Which brings us to the current subject – building your own small cabin. It’s pretty awesome to build something using your own hands and skills, especially when you can scale it up later to build a full-scale one, don’t you think?

Also, knowing how to build a cabin would be a very good trade to barter in a post-apocalyptic world, and it would come handy in a SHTF scenario. I mean, being capable of building your own shelter is a pretty big deal from a prepper’s point of view, and being able to build something beside a hut will also make life more bearable, at least that’s my opinion.

Another thing about cabins is that they look really nice on your property, even if you don’t live in it on a regular basis.

You can use it as an additional storage space, like a shed, or as your own “quiet time” retreat. Or you can build it in the middle of nowhere and turn it into your bug out location.

Kids love to play in them, too. Finally, any quality extra building adds to the value of your real-estate.

With all these things established, let’s go deeper into the rabbit hole.

Kit Log or Butt-and-pass?

Now, the DIY part may seem like a lot of trouble for some folks. Why bother with doing it yourself, when you can buy log cabin kits from virtually anywhere? The short answer is money. A log cabin kit will cost you significantly more than a DIY project. Thousands of dollars more, plus you’re probably not going to be able to mail-order your cabin kit after SHTF.

But wait, there’s more to it. The reality is that a log cabin kit means that the cabin is typically built on a construction yard (that’s the industry norm), then disassembled, loaded, shipped, hauled to your real estate and then re-built on your spot, by you or a contractor.

That’s a horrible idea, because a “shake and bake” log cabin requires keyways, screw jacks, slip joints, and other assembly components while a DIY project needs zero notch work. That  means that you’ll be able to avoid the hardest, and probably the most expensive, part when it comes to building a log cabin because you’ll be using a different method if you DIY.

If you correctly use the butt-and-pass method when building your log cabin (more on that later in the article), there will be no issue with the “settling” for you to be concerned with, as many will warn you of.

You’ll hear lots of rants about settling when it comes to log cabins, all of them coming from cabin builders, because they are people too and they need money to make ends meet. If every homesteader was aware of the butt-and-pass method of log cabin building, the log kit dealers would cease to exist, and I am not kidding.

When built correctly, a butt-and-pass log home is virtually indestructible. That’s the reason why you can’t build that type of structure in a factory, then disassemble it and ship it; it just can’t be done because it’s so strong. Hence, companies specialized in log cabin kits are choosing the next best thing (for them), i.e. that type of cabin that can be easily built on their premises, then taken apart and shipped to your property to be reassembled.

Why isn’t the shake and bake log cabin kit a good idea, you ask? Well, the answer is logical, and you’ll understand once we explain how to properly build a log cabin yourself. It’s about the aforementioned settling, which tends to occur especially in those types of log structures that have the ability to come apart easily.

More precisely, about a year and a half after you put it together, after re-assembling your dearest log-cabin kit, you’ll begin noticing an appreciable settling because the logs have finished their drying process. It may be the stairs (you’ll see they’re not aligned perfectly anymore) or you’ll notice gaps between the roof and the log wall, or maybe a window will be shattered under the weight of the logs; who knows?

However, the DIY method of butt-and-pass in a log-home construction requires absolutely zero settling space, hence that’s the way to go. Say no to kit log cabins! Since butt-and-pass log cabins must be built on the site (and in this case by you, the homeowner), you’ll incur no transportation costs or other hidden bills. And while the industry focuses on inferior (cheaper) methods to maximize their profits, the quality and endurance of the respective kit is put aside.

Here are a few benefits of butt-and-pass log cabins:

  • They are the least expensive, and I’ve heard about stories of a finished house (not a small cabin) costing just $7500.
  • They are the most durable in terms of wood-built homes.
  • They last longer than other timber-made homes, being more resistant to humidity and water damage.
  • If properly designed and built, they will require minimal amounts of maintenance than, let’s say, your regular stick-frame home.
  • You don’t have to hire a professional contractor, it’s a straight forward DIY thing for the average homesteader.
  • The butt-and-pass building method doesn’t require log seasoning or air drying the logs, because the settling issue is non-existent if built correctly.

The “HOW TO”

Now, before proceeding further, you must check with your local authorities and see if you require a building permit. If you go for a small cabin, on a budget, it would be very probable that you don’t, but you never know these days. With that thing taken care of, the permit that is, let’s see what’s with the butt-and-pass method, shall we?

Let me quote the experts on that: “Butt-and-pass involves having the logs around the structure all at the same level, i.e., the seam in a north wall will match up to a seam in a west wall. Where two logs come together at a corner, one butts up against the side of the other one which “passes” and sticks out in the familiar log house style.”

Here’s a video which depicts the butt-and-pass method; it’s way easier to understand:

Video first seen on The Woodworkers Shoppe

When built correctly with the butt-and-pass method, the respective structure will definitely outlive any other kind of log-cabin, and additionally, it doesn’t require the same maintenance, i.e. sealants, coats of stain and what not to protect it from decay.

Clicking on the photo below will take you to a website that will provide you with lots of technical details and pictures about the actual construction job.

Cabin DIY

The same story goes with the website linked in the photo below, which explains in minute detail how to build a small 12×20 cabin on a budget for about $2200, which is way less than the cost for a similar “shake and bake” kit.

DIY Cabin

10 Tips for Building Your Cabin Log

Finally, I will give you a few tips and some common sense advice if you want to build your dream log-cabin yourself while keeping the costs way down low:

  1. Try to do all the work yourself, or with a little help from a friend or your family members, or even neighbors (you’d be surprised by the natural kindness of the common folk in rural areas).
  2. It would be awesome if you could cut your house logs/lumber/timber from your own property (this will keep the costs WAY down).
  3. It would be great if you could gain access to a local sawmill; if not, you should try to purchase a portable sawmill and after the job is done, resell it.
  4. Try to use recycled materials for as much as possible.
  5. Buy the cement for the foundation in bulk and use a big barrel for storing it (a 55 gallon drum would suffice).
  6. Keep in mind that you’ll require a pick-up truck, quality tools (like a chainsaw, a big electric drill, a sledge hammer, draw knives, adze, a cant hook, a broad axe) and some skills (like welding). As you can see, besides being economical, durable and fast, the butt-and-pass method of log building doesn’t require a lot of tools! Also, even if you go for building a relatively big home, which translates into big logs that are heavy, you don’t need a crane to lift them up into place. You can use a block and tackle pulley gizmo, mounted at every corner of the house on a lifting pole.
  7. Socialize with your neighbors and talk to people, especially the personnel at supply houses; they can help you with your building project if you ask them for explanations or technical help.
  8. Read a lot. Do your own research if you don’t understand something.
  9. Don’t borrow money. Be patient because it may take a while until the job is done. Nothing just happens miraculously.
  10. Keep your sense of humor at all times!

If you have new ideas or questions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. Good luck, have fun!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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