Monday, February 18, 2013

Tools and Repairs - DK Richardson Guest Post

Tools and repairs

In this Chapter, I briefly discuss the common, lightweight tools you should have on hand for use in a disaster.

The classic saw of "A stitch in time saves nine" is more correct than not. I describe a small but comprehensive sewing kit and a larger tool for use in repairing large tarps, backpacks and the like.

Since this DIY disaster kit is designed to support you for about four days, absent access to a shelter or other infrastructure, you should have some simple equipment in your kit.

Recommended DIY Disaster Kit tools:

Common pocket knife, folding.

Your fingernails and teeth are with you all the time, but can fail when you try to open something. So, a quality knife is called for as a priority. One I have found useful is a Camillus brand US Stainless Steel Knife. This knife features a 2 3/8" blade, can opener, punch, and screwdriver/cap lifter. The blade doesn't lock, so some care in use is required. If you choose to add a locking blade knife, check your local knife laws!

Another good choice is a classic Swiss Army Knife, one with a can opener, but not much more.


If a folding pocket knife doesn't seem like it provides enough flexibility, there are several multi-tools on the market that include everything up to and including a socket set. I have found that a 'real' pliers and a pocket knife provide more functionality than a multi-tool. YMMV as they say.

One of many, many types and brands of multi-tool on the market today.

A minimal sewing kit.

This may be a simple as a single needle pre-threaded and stored in your first kit to a dedicated sewing kit with multiple needles and a variety of threads, buttons and scissors in a small case all by itself.

This kit, by WebTex has needles, thread, scissors and a folding case, you can build your own for less, but sometimes a pre-built kit has the advantage of saving you time to gather and case the items yourself. I'll describe how to build one in a bit.

*Sewing awl.

This is a heavy duty tool for repairs of webbing, backpacks, even your shoes. Optional.

A knife sharpener.

A simple tool used to keep your knife sharp. One I have found to be both effective and easy to use is marketed by Gerber as their "Pocket sharpener". Under four dollars each, they work well.


Hand trowel.

In an earlier chapter, I listed a trowel or small folding shovel. I wouldn't recommend a plastic trowel, but there are many good choices in your local garden section. True surplus folding shovels should provide good service as well. I checked the price of new, USGI issue folding shovels today (1/12/13) - they are priced at $80.61! Just so you know.

Heavy leather gloves.

Yes, I consider these to be a 'tool'. I have listed these here as a pair of good quality, heavy leather gloves should stay in your disaster kit. They will go a long way to protect your hands, because if you injure your hands, you will find life becomes much more difficult.


Means to start a fire.

I suggest that both a disposable lighter and a ferrocerium fire starter be in your kit along with a small container - say, a 35mm film can, with a few cotton balls soaked in Vaseline. While I have strongly suggested that an alcohol stove is your best bet for disaster cooking, many will want the psychological support that a campfire offers.

LED headlamp.

A flashlight is nice; a headlamp allows you to have both hands free to perform a task. One that has multiple light (output) settings and an adjustable headband are best. I would avoid those lamps that use so-called button batteries, an AA or as a second choice, AAA battery powered units generally provide better service.

Duck tape.

Yes. Duck tape is the Universal fix-it. Tear your pants? A strip of duck tape will keep things together until you have the time to break out the sewing kit. Wind several feet on an old gift card.

Hatchet or axe?

For the most part, no. It is unneeded. Most of the wood you would burn will be small enough to break with your foot, and if too large for that, burn it in half and push the ends into the fire. Many jurisdictions consider this as a potential weapon, most shelters will deny admission if you have one in your possession.


Water tote.

Unless you know you will have a nearby source of good water, a means to carry up to a gallon of water is something you should consider. This can be a pair of 2 liter soda bottles or a folding water bag. Remember, one gallon of water weighs eight pounds.

Can opener.

A P-38 or its larger cousin, the P-51 take almost no space, but work a wonder at opening cans. Even if you don't have canned food in your kit, I still recommend having one at hand.

*Earlier I mentioned a small AM/FM/NOAA radio set with headphones and a spare battery. Since it is equipment, I'll list it again hear as a 'must have' - consider yourself nagged.

** I add more equipment in a 'car kit' as an outgrowth of this kit.

I'll some of that mention here in this post to Susan's site about a so-called Pioneer Tool Set. Common to the military, it is something to consider for your truck/Jeep or other off road vehicle.

This set is a full sized axe, a full sized shovel and a mattock or pick-axe. Often added to this is a 20 pound double jack and a 'Hi-Lift' jack. Others have added a come-along or hand winch, rated at two tons or more. If you are not trained in the use of an axe - and it is a skill, a bucksaw or hand chain saw will work well. Always include a file and a stone to keep the tools shar
Any number of websites provide a massive number of lists of 'must have' items in a disaster kit. These authors offer any number of reasons why you need such and such an item - and these may be valid reasons. Since this kit is designed to pretty much sit in a closet until needed, I would think that cost is a major driver in both the quantity and quality of the items you select to put in your kit. I'll make suggestions, you make the choices, as you and only you know the needs you may have and the skills you pisses.

* * * * * *

A simple sewing kit. You can purchase any number of pre-made kits, but you can build your own for a lot less. Start with an old gift card or other flexible plastic card about the same size. Make two small cuts - slits, really - about 1/4 in deep at the end away from the end where you will wrap your tape.

Wrap one end -twice - with duck tape. This will allow you to place a #1 Sharps (a type and size of needle) on the card by pushing it into the tape. Sharps are normally sold as a set for a few dollars - so shop around. A #1 Darner needle may be a good substitute. I suggest adding a second, smaller needle - and thread both before you add them to your sewing kit. Now you can wrap thread - both thick and some thin, around the card using the cuts in the card to hold each end of the thread.

One thing to consider adding to your sewing kit is a thimble and a threading aid. This kit is small, has everything you need to make a simple repair in the field and should fit into your Individual First Aid Kit with room to spare.

Again, these are suggestions for equipment items to have in your disaster kit, items of most use to you will be driven by your location and where you plan to shelter if forced to leave you primary residence.

Thank you, Mr. Richardson.  Your information is, as always, useful and much appreciated.
Please leave comments below or by email at

Thank you!
Susan and the Poverty Prepping team


  1. One thing Mr Richarson did not mention was a Faraday cage for his radio. I have a very small short wave radio wrapped in foam actually in a throat lozenge tin in my 72 hour kit.

    1. Wow, I didn't know there was a short wave radio small enough to store in a throat lozenge tin! What a great idea, and it's a ready-made faraday cage.

      I don't know Mr. Richardson's take on faraday cages, so I'll leave that for him to answer.


  2. Any EMP event that would damage my radio would kill me from radiation exposure. It is literally something I do not worry about. I do disconnect the antennas in my ham station when not in use, even tho I have in-line protection for each lead.

    I worked as in radio maintenance for the USAF for 22 years, another 10 as a Network Performance manager at a major telcom corp. It's just not the issue it was was in the 60s.

    You may disagree, that just my take

    Thanks for reading the posts, I hope you found them useful.