Improvised Tools: I

Welcome to the Improvised Tools Series.If you value self-reliance or survivalism, enjoy improvisation, or are preparing for creating your own tools while living off of the strictly regulated government grid, then this is the series for you. I am absolutely obsessed with all manner of recycled and improvised materials, and not only for practical utility in a day-to-day depressed economy but also for the long-term use in a situation of serious social collapse. The materials I like to use can be found anywhere and can be used to create all kinds of amazing tools and necessities for survival and even for regular use. Due to the bulk of creative and interesting tools I have found and experimented with, I will have to write these articles in installments. I present to you the first installment of improvised tools…

The Rocket Stove

This amazing invention utilizes some advanced concepts of heat and energy conservation. It basically makes your fire burn very hot, very efficiently, with less fuel, less smoke, and less waste! Everything you could possibly want in a camp fire, and with this kind of power it can even replace an electric or gas-powered stove.The building materials can be found at any Home Depot or Lowe’s, or even with some simple adobe bricks if you want to get very primitive. Maximum time investment is a few hours for the wildly cautious and inexperienced. The best way for me to describe how to make this is to provide you with some videos of how others successfully built theirs! Here are some videos of how to build your own rocket stove, along with the science behind the stove:

Home Made Blacksmith’s Forge

There are as many ideas for building Forges as there are ideas for running a country, and most of them are just like people’s government ideas: They simply don’t work, and if they do work it is a sorry sight to see. I have combed through tons of garbage, tossed aside endless scrap and poor materials to bring out these shining diamonds from the Forge.

Cast Iron Sink Forge: This one takes some workshop experience and a full day of dedicate labor to put together, but the good thing is that there is an integrated quencher (a water pail for hardening forged steel) and also an integrated vacuum unit for blowing the forge to VERY high heats. It takes absolutely no natural gas or fuel aside from forge coal, and of course an electrical outlet for your shop vacuum. Here are detailed instructions on building your own heavy-duty Improvised Cast Iron Sink Forge. This Forge is tried and true, and will provide all the heat you will ever need for makeshift knife making, steel working, and even for melting down metals for purification or for ammunition making. The one downside is that all extra heat is pretty much wasted, as the model detailed in the link does NOT have oven capabilities of heat trapping, so any heat not capture by the metal is not conserved and rapidly bleeds away.

Paint Can Forge: This is a much smaller and simpler option (just as effective for small metals, or long bars of metal). It utilizes a plumbing torch to create a high heat furnace from a paint can and high heat mortar called Satanite. It is very easy to build, requires relatively no skills or experience, is easily transported, and it is found here:

Improvised Anvil: Once you have a forge it would be almost totally useless without an anvil. The problem is that many of these are incredibly heavy and expensive. Anvils can be hard to come by, so sometimes you have to improvise your own… The best article I’ve found on doing that is right here:

Improvised Sandbags

Contrary to popular belief, making a sand bag is much more complex than simply filling a burlap or cloth bag with sand. Take it from me, since I have tried many times to build my own. My first attempt came in the form of a simple burlap bag with sand. The bag way WAY too heavy when filled completely, so I filled it partially. This partial fill made it awkward to move, especially due to shifting sand inside, and also the extra cloth made it likely to break and strain. A simple rip or tear due to the 40 – 50 lbs of weight inside would empty the entire bag and render it useless.

Next up was a plastic design (like the plastic thread bags sold in packs of 50 or more that hold up to 40 lbs of weight). These bags are cheap and come in large numbers, and the design allows the bags hold up to lots of weight and still not tear easily! I thought I had found my ideal solution to fortifying a position against gunfire or flood water, but alas I was disappointed. These bags will very easily degrade in sunlight. In fact just two days of sun exposure and most will begin fraying on their own, and turning to dust when handled.

So what is the solution to a proper improvised sand bag? For those who do not have military style burlap sand bags to fill and stack this will be a challenge handled by using thick zip lock bags and also contractor bags (or heavy-duty garbage bags that are at least 3 to 4 mil thickness). Use a simple burlap or cloth bag on the outside, such as those used to hold large quantities of rice. You can even use an old backpack or cloth sack of any other kind to get creative, as long as it ISN’T polyurethane (plastic). Buy a plentiful supply of 4 – 6 mil zip lock bags online (these are available cheap) and fill each of these about 3/4 full with sand, push out any excess air, and then duct tape them all around to make what looks like a sand brick. You will fill your bag with these little sand bricks, and even if one or many of them are punctured (which is extremely unlikely due to the 4 – 6 mil thickness) it will not destroy your entire bag. The outer covering will be sun resistant until water and mold destroy it, but that is still months of life when left outside as opposed to days.

If you don’t have the time to wrap up individual units of sand and are impatient then use the contractor bags I told you to get earlier. These are standard 3 – 4 mil thickness and will hold about 25 lbs of sand each if you wrap them in duct tape and remove all excess air. Do the same routine with these, fill them up with as much sand as they can hold and then duct tape them sealed and all around for extra stability. You can further coat them in another bag if you want increased weather resistance, but if you are in a hurry and preparing for a flood or hurricane then by all means have a friend help you by holding the bag open while you shovel in sand, then tape the bag shut as quickly as possible. You now have an improvised sand bag.

A note on sand bags for defense purposes: It takes 6″ (that’s right, six inches) of sand to STOP a high-powered assault rifle bullet. These bullets have low mass and high velocity, and pretty much turn to dust when they collide with the sand. A barrier of just over 6″ is preferable to stop pistol rounds, which can travel up to 9″ in sand because they have a higher mass and a lower velocity, so they deposit energy less readily in the sand and hold together very well even after impact. Sand bags are perfect for protecting against shrapnel of all kinds (remember the principle, low mass and high velocity = easily stopped by sand).

That’s all folks!

That’s all for now, as I find new and interesting things to have I will be sure to post them here as they become available. Before anything reaches this site I either build it myself, or find several examples of people who have built it themselves. I make sure this person or people have thoroughly tested it to standards I would employ myself, and I make sure to read their thorough reviews. If you find anything interesting that measures up and works well, please feel free to email it to me for use on this site with your review and instructions as well! Contact me at and help your fellow Revolutionaries with the greatest gift of all: Empowering Knowledge.

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