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Bug Out Tools
© 2006

It dawned on me that some of you out there may not know what I am referring to when I mentioned in my article on Bugging Out, that you should have tools that do NOT require electricity.

Carpenters and builders have been using non-electrical tools for many more years than the modern electrical tools. Don't get me wrong, if I can use my Milwaukee rechargeable drills and screw shooters, I most certainly will. But, once the charge is gone, I'm done and the tools are just so much excess weight.

These are what I was talking about: From my own kits.

Photo A. There are 4 different draw knives here that are great for working wood into rough shape, especially when just recently cut down. I have used these knives for years for de-barking small wood projects. The black tool at the bottom, center, is a Stanley Spoke Shave, and is great for rounding off corners. The tool in the upper left is a large (18") Corner Chisel that is 1" on two sides of the cutting edge. It is great for making a round hole into a square or rectangular hole. All of these tools were purchased used over the years, and I never paid more than $10.00 for any one of them. Flea markets and eBay are a good source for these tools. I personally like to be able to closely examine the cutting edges so as not to find big chips missing later on.

Photo B: 3 different types of "Braces" and an assortment of twist drills that fit this type drill. The squared end of each drill bit fits into the drill, referred to as the Brace. The Brace with the red handle is a new one purchased on eBay for about $10.00 plus shipping. The center brace is much older, but still works just as good as the new one. It cost me about $5.00. The last one with the knob on top is actually a corner brace, designed to be able to drill holes in tight corners. This one was the most expensive, and I paid about $25.00 for it. It is in pristine condition. All the drill bits came from assorted ebay purchases and they have all been wire brushed, sharpened, and covered with clear lacquer. The lacquer is to stop further rust damage, and still let the natural good looks of metal be seen. I don't like paint.

Photo C: The same 3 Braces with my favorite eBay purchase for 2005. This perfectly matched set of drill bits came with the WWII military carrying case. The drills only needed to be touched up, and they are ready to go. I won't tell you what I paid for was too much...but I love the set.


The saws in my collection below reflect years of collecting tools, sometimes just for the fun of collecting tools. This habit of mine usually gets a head shake and a frown from my wife who thinks I'm a pack rat. I have a Florida "rust" problem due to our high humidity. But, they are all sharp.

A. Diston D-23 Hand Saw. Abused by being stored in a leaky shed. Rust cleanup is needed.

B. A Hempe Manufacturing Mitre Box set sold by Sears. Box is plastic and has held up well over the years. Saw handle has 45° and 90° shape to draw lines using the saw only.

C. Grandpa: 42" Crosscut One-Man Saw. For heavy logs and branches. Shown heavily oiled.

D. Fiskars Bow Saw, 21" with replacement blade. Tubular steel frame with safety tension lever and lifetime warranty.

E. Spoke Plane: Antique: Unknown manufacturer, adjustable depth. Used with Brace to hand turn a point onto smaller branches. Maximum diameter for this one is 2 inches.

This is not all of the saws in my shop, just a sampling that should get the "tool challenged" into looking for suitable tools. Saw C. and Spoke Plane E. are antiques I purchased on eBay, probably the only reliable source left in this country for these tools. You just have to keep watching for the deals.

On the Spoke Plane, if they don't tell you the cutting blade is still good, ask. I got one with a split blade and it's no good to me. The big saw (C.) can be re-sharpened over and over again and still be useful.



Craftsman 16 oz. Rip Claw Hammer Sears item #00903821000 Mfr. model #3821 Sears has been supplying tools to American Craftsmen for a long, long time. If you haven't gone to your local Sears tool department lately, then get up and go. It's still mind boggling the assortment of hand tools available at Sears. This hammer is just the tip of the iceberg. There are many types and sizes of hammers.

3 Pound Dead Blow hammer is great for driving heavy stakes into the ground, without having to carry around a larger, two-handed sledge hammers.

Estwing 14 in. Sportsmans Axe with Sheath Sears item #00903184000 Mfr. model #E24A Great all-around hand axe for use around a campfire. Good tool for kids to learn with.

Vaughan 28 oz. Rigbuilder Hatchet Sears item #00948296000 Mfr. model #SRB 20443 This hammer has a extra large striking face for surer strikes. The milled face helps prevent glancing blows and flying nails. The special deep throat design for power and balance. Designed for construction work more than camping-type stuff. Combines a hand axe with a hammer head.

Craftsman 5 lb. Splitting Wedge Sears item #07183485000 Mfr. model #83485 Carbon steel splitting wedge with full lifetime warranty. Absolutely essential if you are going to split oak or hard wood for fireplace use. I have 3 or 4 around because I lose them in the dirt when I'm working, and I don't want to stop and look for them.


Fiskars 28 in. Pro Splitting Axe Srs item #07183520000 Mfr. model #78596984ea Features a forged carbon steel wedge-shaped blade for easier, faster splitting. Innovative, insert-molded design survives overstrikes again and again, and eliminates the risk of the head loosening or separating from the handle. Virtually unbreakable handle made of Nyglass fiberglass reinforced composite. Includes sheath with handle for safe storage and easy transport. Lifetime warranty. Never buy a used axe.

SK 6 Pc File Set Sears item #00999507000 Mfr. model #90196 6 piece set is made in the U.S.A., featuring 6 different types of files for a variety of uses. Files have a comfortable square, SureGrip handle, allowing for easy gripping. Contains: 6" Mill Bastard, 7" Slim Taper, 8" Round Bastard, 8" Flat Bastard, 8" Square Bastard, 8" Half Round Bastard Files with Handle. Packaged in a pouch. Before you buy this set, check out the local yard sales and flea markets. Gotta-have to keep tools sharp.

Craftsman Combination Bench Stone, 1 pk. Sears item #00964404000 Mfr. model #64404 Coarse/Fine grit sharpening stone. Imparts a sharp, keen cutting edge on straight-edge tools/blades. Use the coarse (brown) side to start a new edge or restore a damaged profile. Use the fine (light gray) side to periodically maintain a sharp edge. Lubricate with stone oil to float away metal and abrasive dust that would otherwise clog up stone and render it useless.

True Temper® Axe, Single Bit, FG Item #: 147589 Model: 1188300 Forged steel head features an rounded Michigan pattern which retains its sharp cutting edge. High quality wood handle for strength and durability. $24.97

A GOOD Axe is a MUST. I carry 3 in my bug-out vehicle kit. One is double-bit.

Craftsman D-Handle Round Point Mini Utility Shovel Sears item #07108278000 Mfr. model #43101 D-Handle Mini Round Point Utility Shovel is great for digging and moving materials in hard to reach places. Works great as a camping shovel as well as a trunk shovel.

Long handled shovels are much easier on your back when you are going to be doing any serious digging. Both the rounded tip and flat tip are available. The rounded tip type is easier for digging deep holes and the flat tip is good for leveling and smoothing area. Get what you think you will need. I have one of each.

Folding Shovels Deluxe Tri-Fold Shovel w/Cover Heavy duty steel construction, nearly twice the weight of standard tri-fold shovels, olive drab canvas cover. These are really strong tools and worth the extra weight. I have one of these in my personal bug-out kit. I store the two larger shovels (above) inside my camper.

Military Sewing Kits - GI Style Sewing Kit Includes scissors, thread, thimble, buttons, snaps, etc. in olive drab compass pouch. Also in my personal bug-out kit. One for each family member, cost about $4.00 each new.

Tomahawk Brand 6 in 1 Multi-purpose tool This handy tool can be used as a wood saw, shovel, axe, bottle opener, hammer, or nail puller. When packing the 6 in 1 Multi-Purpose tool, you come to camp prepared. It is 15 1/8" overall, and comes in a convenient, denier nylon belt sheath pouch. It is made of tempered tool steel construction with chrome plated shaft, and hard rubber handgrip. It weighs 2 lbs. Tucked in your pack or hung on your belt, it is a valuable camp or farm aid, providing you with the tools for the occasion at hand. Made in Taiwan, it's the "Rambo" tool of mini-shovels. $12.75.

Commando Wire Saw Item # 29398 The strongest and most effective wire saw available. Cuts through wood, plastic, bone and even soft metals. Constructed of 8 strands of interwoven stainless steel wire; Easily reaches inaccessible places; Attach rope to split ring on each end to cut higher branches; 24" sawing edge  $5.99

I have one hidden inside one of my bug-out jackets. You never know...


Your bug out kit should contain the following items, provided you have the skill to use them. Don't carry around stuff you can't use, hoping you will run into someone who does know what he/she's doing.

1. AUTOMOTIVE TOOL KIT: Sufficient set of hand tools for minor repairs to your vehicle(s). This will depend strictly on what you are able to do. At the least, it should include tools to change tires.

2. SMALL HAND TOOLS: The old stand-by tools:

  • Screwdrivers of different sizes (#2 is the most often used) both slot type and Phillips type.
  • Pliers. Slip ring type and/or standard pliers. More than one size if you can fit them in.
  • Socket set: Can be part of the automotive set. Ratchets and extensions. Sets come in 1/4", 3/8" and 1/2" drive sizes. For survival gear, I'd recommend the 3/8" or 1/2" sizes. Some newer kits are very compact and fit into neat plastic carrying cases. Check out Sears sales.
  • Adjustable clamps. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to drill or screw into something and then have the piece move around on you. Some type of clamp (get a set of 3/4, if possible) is needed. Shop around for a type that suits your needs. Another excuse to go to Sears.
  • Tape measure. Get one that is at least 1" wide, metal, retractable, and has both inches and metric scales. I hate the metric system, but we keep running into it.
  • Carpenter's square and/or speed square. Makes great 90 degree cuts for clean fitting wood projects.
  • Wrench set, open end and box end type. Up to at least 1" sizes. Both metric and SAE standard sizes.
  • Adjustable wrench set. Include one very large wrench that can change out the ball hitch on your towing vehicle.
  • Vise Grip pliers. Very handy when you need high strength or to hold very hot metal items.
  • Whatever other tools you need to fix or repair specialty items you pack in your kits.
  • Spare parts: Nails and screws of assorted sizes. Hobby tools to keep busy. Sewing tools, etc., etc.
  • Level: Get a good one that will hold up under heavy construction conditions.
When you lift up this "vehicle tool kit" you will soon come to the realization that you would be better off having this kit pre-positioned in your pre-planned permanent shelter. It can grow to be very heavy. Hauling it in and out of the car every time there is a bug-out possibility (every summer in Florida) can get tiresome.


Don't overload your vehicle. This is the number one reason that tires fail, after high speeds. In an evacuation, high speeds are usually out of the question, so overweight is the big problem. Tires are rated in strength as to the weight of the vehicle they are attached to. Unless you have a huge commercial-type vehicle (like mine), don't overload your tires. You will NOT make friends blocking an evacuation route while you change a tire. Be prepared for many people driving by showing you the international hand signal for "You're number one". (For my European reader's, it will be "You're number two")