A Good List of Hand Tools You Need to Work Without Electricity.

I have been reading a book on farm devices from 1909; the following list is the recommended contents for a farmer to have in his tool kit.  Notice the difference between then and today, no power tools and almost all the tools were for woodwork.  No wrenches are listed and very few screwdrivers or pliers.

  • rip saw, (for cutting with the grain)
  • crosscut saw, (for cutting across the grain)
  • back saw,  (a backsaw is any hand saw which has a stiffening rib on the edge opposite the cutting edge, a miter saw)
  • compass saw, (a keyhole saw or coping saw)
  • jack plane, (A jack plane is the general-purpose bench plane)
  • fore plane, (The fore plane is about 14″ to 18″ long and has a cutting edge with a thumbnail shape)
  • smoothing plane, (The smoothing plane is typically the last plane used on a wood surface)
  • shave or drawing knife
  • two or three chisels of different sizes for woodworking
  • cold chisel for metal
  • a gouge or two (a type of chisel)
  • a good hatchet
  • two or three hammers, including a tack hammer and a bell-faced claw hammer
  • a brace or bit stock with a set of half a dozen or more bits of different sizes  (Hand operated drills)
  • one or more gimlets  (A gimlet is a hand tool for drilling small holes, mainly in wood, without splitting , similar to an auger)
  • a mallet
  • a nail set
  • large screw driver and a small one
  • a gauge (used for measuring)
  • a spirit level ( a hand level)
  • a miter box
  • a good carpenter’s square
  • compasses or dividers
  • cut nippers (tin snips)
  • a pair of small pincers and a pair of large ones (pliers)
  • a rasp
  • a large, flat file; at least one medium-sized three-cornered file and a half-round file.
See also  Chainsaw Maintenance

Addition items they suggested you needed to have on hand.

“Have a good plumb line, chalk and pencils. Keep in a handy place a jar of good liquid glue, and some cement.  Attached to a work bench should be a bench screw or vise. This need not be an expensive one, but should be of good size and strong. There should also be a pair of carpenter’s saw benches, a shaving horse (locks the wood in place for planeing), a small anvil and a grindstone.”

“A corner of the shop should be devoted to painting supplies, including several colors of good Standard ready-mixed paints and stains, raw linseed oil, boiled linseed oil, turpentine, varnish, putty, points for setting glass, several brushes of different sizes, a good putty knife and panes of glass of different sizes ready for emergency.”

“A farmer ought to be able to do occasional little jobs of soldering.  He needs soldering iron, a bar of solder, resin, a little bottle of soldering fluid, which can be purchased already prepared, also a small sheet-iron furnace in which to heat the soldering iron.”

I think this is a basic list for having a good set of tools for life without electricity.  With the addition of a few items such as wrenches, more screwdrivers and pliers, and more metal working tools, you could handle most repairs, except for blacksmithing


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5 thoughts on “A Good List of Hand Tools You Need to Work Without Electricity.”

  1. Instead of gimlets, a Yankee Handyman is great. Old ones with good bits are uncommon. GarrettWade has new, all steel. As smooth in operation as the old ones and has the original-style fluted bits (which are best for the way it works). Spendy. Buying a used one or “new old stock” through the mail is iffy. Test the action in person if at all possible.
    You can get a brace most anywhere, but good bits are rare. Irwin bits made in Brazil are junk. I got my bits from http://www.traditionalwoodworker.com, made in England and seem really nice. Again spendy but I think worth it, a once in a lifetime purchase. They seem like nice people too.
    I hate to mention specific stores but I looked for quite a while (and purchased bad stuff from other stores that I sent back) before finding these items.

  2. For old tools check out the flea markets and saturday markets. I bought bits for a buck apiece. Look them over, they will probably be dull but they aren’t hard to sharpen. Saws for some reason are generally expensive and usually worn out. Bit braces are less common but I see them every now and then.

  3. You best have a good stone for sharpening your planes and chisels .
    A saw set and files for sharping hand saws.You can make you own saw vice from wood. Just remember when you use a hand saw let the “bade cut” don’t push hard and bend your saw.Most young people don’t know how to use hand tools the right way. Find some old carpenter and ask him if he would show you the right way to use hand tools.You will also need a good hack saw for cutting metal. Be sure and buy lot of blades. Wishing all the best.

  4. You’ll want a few small triangular files to sharpen your saws with. Be certain to get saws which can be sharpened – induction hardened saw blades can’t be.

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