Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Home front: tool building tools

When I made my 100th post, I posed the question: what would you like to see me review or discuss? Omega's dad, Des, replied with "something about the tools you need to make more tools". I am happy to admit, this isn't something I had previously given much thought to. The situation is this: in the event of a collapse of consumer infrastructure, (i.e. shops not being stocked, factories not running, distribution cut off) how do you go about acquiring tools needed to rebuild, when disaster strikes? What do you do when you need to fix something, and you don't have "the right tool"? You have to make one! Enter the realm of the smith.

I'm a hobbiest tinkerer, I have a small collection of power tools, like a saber saw, circular saw, drills, sander, grinder, a Dremel and the like, but in a disaster, electrical power isn't something you can count on. I also have a variety of mis-matched hand tools; saws, files, hammers, pliers and drivers. Could I fashion a new tool from my collection of tools? perhaps. I've often "made-do" with what I've got on hand, sometimes effectively, but usually such measures are only temporary and rarely last a few uses. However, in order to really -make- something, there is one key element I am missing. Fire.
This is a picture of a workshop in Kenya, which is like one of several I saw when traveling there (I didn't take this pic, credit to The Atlantic) but it's a great example. I've seen similar workshops in Gabon, Thailand, Egypt, Greece. The key is that with very few "modern" tools, and what is essentially "junk", many things can be made, repaired and re-purposed. In the event of a disaster that perhaps doesn't "knock us back to the stone age" but instead "knocks us back to 3rd-world conditions", this is the kind of setup that you could expect to need, and see cropping up wherever someone with the smithing skills and equipment can set up.

I came across an interesting link, to a post-apocalyptic blacksmith and if you can get past the dogma, he has some really insightful things to say about boot-strapping yourself back into the advanced-tool-use game. I know some people with better equipped tool-shed than I, and a couple of sword and armour smiths, I know where a historic railway workshop is. If I needed to have something built, those are where I would turn. In the mean time, it would be a case of rolling the Deathmobile through the barricaded doors of your local massive hardware warehouse.

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