Skill of the Month: Assemble an Off-Grid Tool Box

By RightWingMom, our Skill of the Month editor

toolsBasic home repairs are menial, “honey do” items usually taken care of on the weekends with a couple of runs to the hardware store.  What if the day comes when that “do-it-yourself” job must be done but there’s no quick run to the hardware store?  Will you have the most basic tools and materials on hand to tackle it?  What if there is no electricity?  Do you have adequate hand tools or are you dependant on power tools, and most importantly, do you have the skills?

The contents of an Off Grid Tool Box could be endless, but let’s start with the fundamentals.  Make sure they are quality tools.  Consider investing in Craftsman or Snap On depending on your budget and how often you will use them.  Tools can also be purchased from a variety of places: Walmart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Harbor Freight, etc.  Older quality tools are frequently found at estate sales.

Tools also come in assorted sizes.  Make your purchases based on what is most commonly needed; add other sizes to your tool box as your budget allows.

Basic tools:

  • hammer
  • screwdriver
  • wrench
  • pliers
  • measuring tape
  • saw
  • axe / hatchet
  • utility knife
  • safety glasses
  • duct tape

Assorted Hardware:

  • nails
  • screws
  • bolts
  • other?

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to tools, but here are a few suggestions if you want to get started with an assortment of tools already assembled for you.


Craftsman Evolv kits:

23 piece for $16.14

52 piece for $40.37

101 piece for $49.99

My husband found this video and has added this tool to his wish list!

1920’s Wall Mounted Hand Cranked Drill IN ACTION!

Speaking of YouTube, you’ll find DIY tutorials of all kinds there from changing a water heater to making a homemade air conditioner. I recommend downloading the videos you believe will be most useful and saving them on a thumb drive for future reference if the internet should ever go down.

I know the Survival Dads reading this article have already formulated their own opinions on items they would include and product names they would recommend.  Please add your input and advice to the comments below.  Your recommendations are welcomed!

There may be links in the post above that are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission, which does not affect the price you pay for the product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

© Copyright 2013 The Survival Mom, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Survival Mom
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  1. B. says

    evolve is Chinese junk. Try flea markets, pawn shops, used stuff. but buy the best you can afford. Look for OLD craftsman, Ideal, Klein, Allen, Stanley, and other USA made tools. You do not want to have a tool you need to depend on break when you need it most. You need to have tools that can and have lasted for generations.

  2. paseodelnorte says

    Amen! Do NOT buy Chinese tools. I am a woodworker, and have seen my share of cheap Chinese tools. The steel is crap. Shop the flea markets and garage sales for older US, English, or German tools. Beware of a “packaged in the USA” label.

  3. tpdoldie says

    You can find used tools at Pawn shops, generally the shop will not buy junk, they want to make their money back. In larger cities you can find stores that specialize in used tools.

  4. says

    After reading this post I have vissions of people stocking their tool kits with keyhole saws and jewelers screwdrivers. Perhaps a little more guidance would be appropriate!

  5. AAC says

    I’d throw in a breast drill (it’s justa hand-cranked drill – google it – Schroder makes a nice one) and a set of brad-point wood bits and some sharp metal bits, maybe a brace drill and some auger screw-point bits for it, as well. Maybe a smaller eggbeater type hand-cranked drill, as well.

  6. laura m. says

    I agree, no Chinese tools or Taiwan tools, they just don’t hold up. I went to Home D. last week and upgraded several hammers, hatchets, etc. to U.S. made and donated the junky stuff-still usable to a group home. Wrenches and nut drivers are U.S. made also as well as Craftsman I bought in the 70’s and have Klein and snap- on wrenches from his late father. Best to buy new when there are 40% off sales.

  7. Isabeau says

    Look for farm & estate sales in agricultural areas near you. Farmers use tools, often having multiples of the same tool. I can attest to how often you can get literally a bucket of tools and assorted “stuff” in a bucket for $1-5. If there is one tool you want in a bucket and someone else gets it, don’t be afraid to go ask if you can buy the tool from them. They may have 10 of your tool and really only wanted the tiny woodworker’s saw they caught was in the bucket. The worst they can say is no.

  8. Emily Dayley says

    Dewalt is a great brand too, we have a kot of contractors going out of business selling off their tools, thats a really good brand.

  9. Jeff H. says

    I’d specify an adjustable wrench and multiple sizes of Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers. Also add in a pair of sturdy work gloves.

  10. Lee says

    Hubby is a construction worker, so we always check yard/garage sales for tools, we live in the country so we are always finding something…plus he has a lot of his grandpa’s stuff

  11. says

    The Hand tool or “Neanderthal” sections of and have tons of useful information on woodworking hand tools. They also offer mentor programs that help you get started and know how these tools should work and what to look for.

    There was an article here before on sharpening and I cannot stress enough how vital a skil sharpening is. Again it is not the “Stuff” sharpening is a skill that cannot be bought. Pick a system and learn it.

    Also get the factory manuals to repair your equipment. Like the dental of medical tools you get to put into the hands of a skilled person the information specific to YOUR equipment can be invaluable to geting it fixed right the first time or not doing more damage to it when taking it apart.

  12. Liz Long says

    Actually, a set of jewelers tools isn’t necessarily a bad thing – as long as you still have regular size ones. I bought a kit of tools specifically to change watch batteries, and a small pair of pliers to fix broken links in necklaces. DIY is cheaper than paying someone else, and I’ve broken lots of links in necklaces and bracelets.

    Don’t forget the kids! You can now buy child size tools at Lowe’s and should definitely have both work gloves and safety goggles to fit them.

  13. says

    These are great ideas! We have a tool box but I think I will double check the contents to make sure it has everything and they are tools that will last.

  14. Christine says

    …gloves and N95 particulate masks….as well as a plastic tarp, hardhat, and kneepads….some sort of fire maker….awesome tool box is a 2 1/2 gallon plastic bucket with a tight fitting lid with a variety of zip lock bags and a couple of trash bags in the bottom….sharp, sturdy full tang knife and a whetstone….

  15. William Wiederholt says

    Dear Right Wing Mom,
    I really like what you have written. I’d like to add a few others. Glue and or adhesives, these change but a fast set, a two part epoxy and a simple glue would be must have’s. Also, depending on the situation, a residence, on the move (car, boat etc) clamps, clips or holders common to the situation. Pipe clamps, both spring and screw tightening, and a tape fix-all type or if in a tent, the clamps common to the tent. As well as, items to fix and repair your structure (wood, metal, stone?) maintain your water, gas, electrical systems… since these are constantly changing, its wise to keep-up-with and keep what is used at your location, and loose what is not. (Copper pipe is being supplanted with PEX piping, Galvanized with Plastics, Aluminum Siding with Cement board, Knob and tube with insulated copper wire.) With these changes, in materials, the user/homeowner/etc… needs to maintain a vigil, learning new skills, replacing old tools, and supplies with the types that are compatible with the changes in there environ. ie If you lived in a City home, and moved into a Boat, or were on the move in a backpack and tent. The tools, and skills are different, some can transfer. But staying prepared and aware, of the impacts, of our decisions. For example going from well water to city water. The city might require new plumbing throughout your home. (new tools, new materials, new fittings, etc ).
    Or when you’ve decided to get a new tent/sleeping bag. The buying/selling your camping (backup emergency equipment) As always a new skill learned is always a good thing. As is having a fall back, a backup plan. Many soldiers have a motto “one is none and two is one,” and the Scouts “always be prepared” thought process. As tools are very important. When purchasing new things, think how can I do this job? And have at least two methods or means to accomplish it. It is best to think in smaller bits and piece in this… ‘two means’ to accomplish a task. Say when assembling the kids bikes. (ie a socket wrench and a crescent wrench overlap, or two ways to lite a fire,) Items, commonly used can have a dual purpose use. That box of matches to lite the stove/fireplace/BBQ grill can also serve to lite an emergency fire.
    While I was a tradesman and loved doing things with my hands. I learned a very important lesson, paper is nearly as powerful as many tools. As a scout, the ‘Scout’s motto’ of being prepared has remained as a constant reminder I say this with: the wave of electronic storage and storage devices being all the RAGE, it might be prudent to have a standby or a – just – in – case… a hard copy of manuals, of important books and documents, tie-ing the two motto’s together in a sense. If you have a back-up way to do things, as well as being prepared before hand, thought process. When and if something happens. One, you have thought it through, two you have more than one way to skin the cat… Another benefit will occur. You will be more in command of yourself. You will be calm, and those around you will feel this, as they will in turn make you feel less stressed.

    And Always remember, Three items I never ever want to forget or ever want to run out of are: Duct tape, black electricians tape (type with less rubbert more plastic) and the clincher…. TIE WIRE!… It is usually sold near the concrete, cement, forms, and rebar. It comes in small rolls and is very affordable. Society might slip and stumble, But, with those three… We have conquered the planets shores, its oceans and it sky’s and have been to the Moon, and Mars.

  16. Geof T. says

    AAC…..I am glad you posted about the Schroeder breast drill. That was exactly what was going through my mind while reading the article. You can buy them at Sears, about $65. I think the egg beaters were about $29. I have been looking at them for about two weeks, and will be ordering this weekend.

  17. Robert says

    I think an obvious one is missing…. LIGHT! A good source of light is IMPERATIVE :

    Flashlight with spare batteries (rechargeable or not- though standard batteries are reliable to hold their charge,… Whereas I only recharge my rechargeables right before I want to use them. I keep both handy, though, – along with multiple “quick chargers” – I.C.E.), Kerosene/Propane Lantern w/ fuel and wicks/mantles.

    The last, situational, resort is are candles and matches/lighter… or you can rub some sticks together and hope for the best (pretty useless in windy/wet conditions).

    The best option for indoor/outdoor lighting is a flashlight, though…. and should have a permanent place in EVERY toolbox.

    NOTE: rechargeable batteries DO NOT last as long as they are “SUPPOSED” to.

    Good Ventilation is best with ANY of the options involving flames.

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