When considering tools, preppers often tend to gravitate towards manual or hand-powered tools due to their ease of use. The number one question that always arises when considering power tools for prepping is, “what if the grid goes down?” While that is a valid question, there may be some events where the grid is still alive, and you can purchase cordless power tools with backup batteries. Manual tools are great, but power tools shouldn’t be ignored as they can be beneficial for a wide variety of situations. If you’ve only ever worked with manual tools, don’t be intimidated! For the most part, power tools are easy to operate.
Power Tools Make Things Easier and More Efficient
With power tools, you will be able to work as quickly as possible for any event, whether it’s a hurricane, earthquake, or tsunami. Another thing to consider is that even during a prolonged emergency there may still be power sources that you can utilize, such as a generator. Having power tools will allow you to take advantage of them and get more done. If you have cordless tools–a great choice these days–include several backup batteries just in case as doing so will allow you to increase your productivity for DIY projects now and may help make a disaster less problematic. For example, if you’re about to be hit by a hurricane, you can use them to quickly board up windows and make other repairs that can prevent further damage to your property or perhaps even before it happens.
Here are main tools I would suggest:
- Cordless Drill
- Reciprocating Saw
- Circular Saw
- Angle Grinder
- Cordless Impact Driver
- Bench Grinder
- Nail Gun
If you don’t have any power tools, then a cordless drill should be your first purchase. Cordless drills are incredibly versatile and are certainly useful for projects around the house, like putting up shelving, but they’re particularly useful for prepping because they can be used for boarding up windows before a hurricane, quickly bracing vulnerable structures, and making expedient repairs after the fact.
You may be wondering why I should choose a cordless drill over a corded one? After all, corded drills are generally more powerful, leaner, and sometimes lighter, but they’re also noisier, less convenient, and your mobility is restricted. They can also be a safety hazard. For instance, it is easy to trip or get tangled in the cord during a disaster. Cordless drills, on the other hand, are convenient even though they’re typically bulkier and heavier. While they do lack power compared to a corded drill, you will find that the power they do have is often enough to get what you need done, and if you include several additional batteries you’ll be set.
A reciprocating saw (or Sawzall) is another versatile tool that you’ll want to have on your must-purchase list. Reciprocating saws are incredibly versatile, especially if you have the right blade. With the right blade, you can cut through almost any material. Be sure to purchase a wide variety of blades when you buy a reciprocating saw so you’re prepared for any event that may be thrown at you. And, of course, familiarize yourself with them beforehand so that you’re not fumbling through them at the last moment.
Just like a cordless drill, you will find that reciprocating saws come in both corded and cordless options. A cordless reciprocating saw is the best option for preppers because it gives you more mobility. Again, with the cordless option all you need is a few charged batteries. If you’re worried about cordless options not having enough power, you can look into batteries with a 5.0 ah capacity or larger since they’ll tackle almost any job with ease. And be sure to get one from a professional lineup with a brushless motor since it will last longer and is more energy-efficient.
A circular saw is another essential tool for any prepper to have. It doesn’t matter what type of structure you need to build; this tool is often precisely what you nee since they allow you to make accurate crosscuts and rip cuts in various types of materials; with the right blade, you can even cut through metal. Here, again, having a quality circular saw is helpful if you need to board up your windows before a disaster or make repairs after. The decision over a cordless or powered one will depend on what you need to do with it. If you’re building things and using it to prepare structures, then a corded one is a good choice due to how powerful it is, but most cordless saws are plenty powerful enough.
If you’re unaware, an angle grinder is a powerful tool that can perform a variety of functions depending on which attachment is installed. An angle grinder can grind metal, cut tile, concrete, and pavers, for example. It can rout out mortar and sand, polish, and sharpen. Its ability to perform various functions makes it an excellent option for preppers since you will be able to complete a vast array of survival projects with just one tool. [Editor’s note: I love using mine to quickly sharpen my ax blades. Doing so by hand takes forever!]
When choosing an angle grinder, make sure to get one that is the right size for you. For most, a 4 ½ inch angle grinder will work great, which is also the most common size. If you need to cut thick pieces of concrete or polish large pieces, then you should opt for a larger grinder. In case you’re not familiar with angle grinder attachments, let’s quickly go over them.
Angle Grinder Attachments:
- Grinding Discs: Grinding discs can be used to get rid of any high spots and ridges on stone or metal workpieces. If you need to work on stone, you will need an attachment for stone. If you need to work on metal, you will need an attachment for metal.
- Cut-off Discs: Cut-off discs make cuts in stone or metal. Again if you need to work on stone, you will need an attachment for stone. If you need to work on metal, you will need an attachment for metal.
- Diamond-Tipped Discs: Diamond-tipped discs are cut-off discs that have diamond-tipped ends. These will allow you to cut through hard materials like granite.
- Sanding Pads: Sanding pads use velcro or a similar removable backing that attaches to a base that secures to the grinder.
- Wire Wheel and Cup Brushes: Wire wheel and cup brushes have steel bristles that are great for cleaning paint and rust off of metal surfaces.
- Flap Sanding Discs: Flap sanding discs have overlapping layers of material for sanding that surround the center of the disc. These work well for light stock removal and finishing.
Cordless Impact Driver
An impact driver is a mix between a drill and an impact wrench. These are primarily used to drive screws or lag bolts. What makes this tool so great is they’re less likely to strip screw heads and slip out of place while driving fasteners. Impact drivers are especially useful for projects that require large or long screws. Most impact drivers are cordless and come in kits that include a power drill and batteries. If you don’t already own a cordless drill and impact driver, it is worth buying a kit as doing so will save you money and give you everything you need all in one; it will also decrease the time spent swapping out bits. When selecting a kit, just like the tools mentioned previously, you’ll want to make sure you buy a kit with batteries that are 5.0 ah or larger as they will allow you to work on your projects longer.
A bench grinder is another potentially useful tool that every prepper should consider. Bench grinders are multipurpose power tools that can grind, sharpen, polish, and clean tools as well as other objects. Just like an angle grinder, the function that a bench grinder performs will depend on which wheel is installed. There are three types of wheels you can use with bench grinders: abrasive wheels that will grind, shape, and sharpen objects, and cloth and wire wheels that can clean and polish surfaces. If you’re strapped for cash, however, the angle grinder is typically more useful than a bench grinder.
6 Tips for using a bench grinder:
- Be sure to keep a container of water nearby when sharpening tools. If the steel on your tool gets too hot, it will not hold an edge.
- You may want to consider a low-speed grinder for sharpening. A grinder with a lower speed reduces the chance that you’ll overheat the tool you’re sharpening.
- Be sure to dress the wheels frequently. Wheel dressing squares the face of the wheel and exposes new grit for cutting. As you use the wheels on your grinder, the grit can become clogged, causing overheating and can even slowly remove material from tools.
- Make your grinder portable. Most people don’t have large workspaces to work with, so a good idea is to mount your grinder to a small stand that you can clamp to a workable when you need it and store away when you don’t.
- Note that all grinding wheels are not the same. There are hard and soft wheels that you can use to sharpen tools with. The harder wheel produces more heat.
- Lastly, be sure to know when it’s time to replace the wheels. If you’re not sure, all you need to do is slide your finger over the wheel and tap four different times on the wheel with a screwdriver. If all the taps sound the same, then you don’t need to replace the wheel yet. If they don’t sound the same, then the wheel needs to be replaced.
A nail gun is yet another vital power tool for preppers. If you’re unaware, it is a type of power tool that is used to drive nails into wood or a different kind of material very fast; it’s what construction workers use to get homes built so fast because it drives nails much faster. There are quite a few types of nail guns out there, so it can be overwhelming to figure out which one you should purchase. Let’s take a look at the different kinds of nail guns and what kind of projects they’re good for.
The nine types of nail guns and what kinds of projects they’re good for:
- Framing nailers are good for decks, fences, and wood siding.
- Flooring nailers are only suitable for installing flooring.
- Palm nailers are useful for working in tight locations and on smaller projects.
- Roofing nailers are good for roofing jobs.
- Siding nailers are useful for installing siding.
- Pin nailers are suitable for finish work in carpentry, crown molding, cabinetry, trim, and small furniture trim.
- Brad nailers are good for baseboards, crown molding, trim work including door and window casings.
- Finish nailers are good for crown molding and baseboards.
- Staple guns are good for carpeting, construction, carpentry, and upholstery.
After reviewing the nine types of nail guns, it’s safe to say most preppers would most likely benefit from a pin nailer or a brad nailer. Check out this helpful guide explaining the differences of pin nailers and brad nailers: Pin Nailer vs. Brad Nailer – What’s the Difference?
The last power tool that every prepper almost surely needs to have is a chainsaw since fallen trees and tree limbs are a common occurrence after many disasters. These can severely damage property and homes and, depending on the situation, people can even find themselves trapped inside their homes because trees have fallen in front of their doors. They can also block roadways, which can delay how quickly emergency personnel and power crews can reach people to provide aid. Chainsaws can also be used for preventative measures. If you live in a storm-prone location, you can use a chainsaw to cut down old trees and overhanging limbs before the rainy season starts to help prevent damage.
There are different sizes available, and the size you need will depend on how extensive the job is you’re trying to complete. If you have smaller trees and minimal pruning to complete, a small to medium-sized chainsaw will work just fine. If you have large trees like pine or oak trees then you’ll want to go for a larger sized chainsaw. Once you choose a chainsaw, be sure to have the required fuel and fluids you need to keep it running like oil and gas if you have a gas-powered chainsaw. Also, be sure to have replacement chains and appropriate safety gear (like a forestry helmet, chaps, and gloves) are a must.
Power tools are a great addition to any prepper’s home as they will surely help you become more self-reliant and prepared, save you money and help you learn new skills. If you’ve never used a particular power tool before, be sure to educate yourself on how to use them. Your best option would be to read the owner’s manual that came with the tool. However, there are plenty of helpful guides online that share other information like appropriate clothing to wear, and other tips the owner’s manual may not have shared. YouTube is often a wonderful resource too.