Preparedness includes being prepared for normal life as well as for emergencies. These pages contain information on tools for normal home use as well as for emergency preparedness. Plus, emergencies can take many forms including a broken pipe, broken window, leaky faucet, faulty electrical switch or outlet, and a host of other “normal” emergencies. Tools are an asset that could save your property, your savings, and your life.
Basic Rules for Tools
Tools are an important asset and your life could depend on them. Always purchase good quality tools. You do not necessarily need the best or most expensive tools but do NOT buy cheap tools. Poorly made tools often cost more than good tools because they may not perform well. The could also cause damage to parts that they contact or damage you if they slip or break. The good tools can last several lifetimes and many come with lifetime warranties.
Tools should fit YOU! When buying shoes or gloves you try on several to see which fits the best. The “best” shoes may be completely wrong for you if they do not fit properly. Have this attitude when buying tools. For example, when purchasing a hammer try several hammers. The grip and balance differs between hammers. Swing different hammers and see which feels best for you. Often, the most expensive tool is not the best tool for YOU.
When I bought my tools sets I waited for one to go on sale and purchased small sets. I purchased SAE wrenches in one set, metric in another, screwdrivers in another, etc. This allowed me to spend smaller amounts on money at a time but it would have been better for me to save and purchase a single large set of tools. The large would cost less than the individual sets and would have included additional tools.
Tools for Emergency Preparedness
These are some basic tools for emergency preparedness. You should always have these in your vehicle, home, and backpack.
A family member asked for tools recommendations for a young person just getting started. For this young adult what tools should they own? The list will vary depending on individual circumstances but the list contains the basics. The links show what the tool looks like and different stores have different version and brands of tools. I used different stores so as to not show favoritism.
- A tape measure with rigid, wide blade such as a Stanley FatMax, DeWalt, Milwaukee, or any other sturdy model ($15-30). Get one that allows you to extend the tape AT LEAST 6′. You might also get a small, inexpensive tape measure for measuring small things. You can also easily carry into stores so that you can measure parts before purchasing them. You will be surprised how handy a small tape measure can be.
- A medium weight (12-16 oz) hammer for general household use ($10-25). Be sure to try many different styles, brands, and models. Select the one that best fits your hand and swing the hammer before purchasing it.
- A multi-bit screwdriver ($5-20) is exceedingly handy. I like the single tool version with two hex drivers that hold two double-sided driver bits (small/large slotted/Philips). I really like this specific Milwaukee screwdriver with its very comfortable grip.
- A set of screwdrivers from very small to very large ($20-50). You will probably use the multi-bit screwdriver for most jobs but some jobs require dedicated screwdrivers in a variety of sizes. If you need to work on small things such as computers, eyeglasses, etc. you should consider getting a precision screwdriver set ($10-25).
- A utility knife has a multitude of uses and the standard trapezoidal blades are very easy to find ($7-20). I prefer the type that does NOT require a tool to change the blade.
- Adjustable wrenches, or Crescent wrenches, are extremely useful ($20-40). Start by purchasing 6″ and 10″ wrenches. Later you may want a larger one. Be sure not to scrimp on these tools because an inferior tool will be loose and may not give a tight fit.
- A ratchet set with both SAE and metric sizes in 1/2″, 3/8″, and 1/4″ drives ($75-whatever). If you can get a set with micro-ratcheting that is even better.
- An assortment of basic pliers is essential ($20-100). You can purchase these as a set or individually. A good starting includes basic pliers, needlenose pliers, small channel locks, large channel locks, medium diagonal cutters, and medium vise grips.
- A small pull saw is useful for cutting small things such as wood, plastic pipe, drywall, and other materials ($15-30). These saws are based on the traditional Japanese style saws that cut on the pull stoke. Since then cut when pulled the blade is very thin and can make very fine cuts.
- A hack saw is used primarily for cutting metal and other dense material ($10-20).
- A spring nail setter (I call this a “springy thingy”) is fantastic for driving finishing nails and acting as a center punch ($10-15). These are especially good for driving nails in floor moulding and other find work. Use the hammer to start the nail and use the setter do the final taps to get the nail in place.
- A small parts kit with a wide variety of nuts, bolts, washers, screws, bolts, and other parts ($20-50). I got one years ago with probably 30 little draws with 1-3 different sizes of parts in each drawer. These inexpensive kits will save you many trips to the hardware store. These kits pay for themselves many times over and can save lots of time and gas.
- A level is handy for a variety of building tasks, hanging pictures, leveling appliances, and a host of other tasks. I would start with either a small level or a 2′ level ($15-30 each). Eventually you should have both. If you have a house then consider getting a 6′ level at some point. I did not think I use such a level much but I have used it a lot both inside and outside of the house.
- An combination (adjustable) T-square is good for making perpendicular lines ($10-25). You could also set the ruler at to a desired length and easily mark that length on a work piece.
- Use a tool bucket with organizer to store and carry many of hand tools ($15-45). The organizer fits onto the top of a standard 5-gallon utility bucket. Use the outside pockets to hold bits, small tools, chisels, etc. Use the inside of the bucket to carry larger hand tools.
Once you have a basic set of small hand tools you might think about adding some power tools to the collection. The battery powered tools are very handy and quite powerful. With battery tools do NOT get the cheap stuff. Buy quality brands and remember that the batteries are more important than the tool itself.
Years ago I purchased a very nice set Home Depot battery tools. The set was about $500 and included drill, driver, circular saw, caulking gun, jig saw, planer, sawzall, and flashlight. Well, they switched to a different type of battery and now I have a set of nearly new tools that cannot operate. The cost to replace the dead batteries exceeds the cost of replacing the tools. When purchasing battery tools try to find tools where you can get replacement batteries in years to come.
I purchased a Porter Cable 20v set with drill, impact driver, light, circular saw, sawzall, multi-tool, two batteries, charge, and case for $220. So far these tools have worked very well (except the circular saw veers to the left). When I walk through the home stores the tools from Milwaukee, DeWalt, and others also look very nice. Here are some basic power tools that are extremely useful.
- Use a drill for making holes. You can also use it for driving screws and tightening bolts if you do not have a driver or impact driver.
- An impact driver is similar to a drill but it has a quick change chuck normally used for bits. It can drive screws, anchors, tighten bolts, and some have an adjustable clutch. The clutch will purposely slip at the set torque level. When set properly you can use it to drive a screw into wood and automatically stop when the screw is at the proper depth. This is probably my most-used tool in the set.
- A sawzall can almost anything: drywall, metal, wood, wood with nails, tree branches, fiberglass, pipes, etc. With a sawzall you can prune trees, demolish a room, cut pipes, cut through nails, and a host of other things. I heard one person say that a sawzall was the carpenters equivalent of an Uzzy.
- A multi-tool is a smaller-ish hand tool that holds a blade or other attachment in the front and oscillates. It is used for finer cutting and can make a very straight and flush cut. It can cut metal, wood, plastics, and other materials depending on the blade selected. It also has a sanding attachment for detailed sanding jobs. Use this for cutting, sanding, paint scraping, and other jobs.
- A circular saw makes straight (or nearly straight) cuts in wood or other material. It rotates a circular blade and has a large foot to keep it flat on the material to cut.
There are LOTS of other tools but these are some of the most basic.