By Jim Cobb
(Originally posted here.)
When it comes to surviving after the apocalypse, there are a wide variety of skill sets you’ll need to rely on. Being able to rock a studded leather jacket and zoom around the blasted landscape in a souped up hot rod is just the beginning.
One example of these skills would be the ability to scavenge materials and improvise necessary equipment.
Not so much a skill as it is a mindset, I’ll grant you. But, start now with coming up with ways to repurpose junk you find around the house. Pretend you’re MacGuyver and need to build something useful out of four random items. Use an old aluminum can and a length of 1/2″ PVC to make an adequate blowgun and darts. Get in the habit of patronizing rummage sales and see what you can find for pennies on the dollar. Ammo will be scarce in the apocalypse, so learn how ammunition works and learn to reload. Old tools and gadgets are great finds and often pretty cheap. Steel files can be made into serviceable blades and sharpen up quite nicely, for example.
Some years ago, I came across a tool used to remove a locking lug nut on a car wheel. It is shaped like a T, with the short bar hollow and each end terminating in a different size box wrench. The longer part terminated in a flathead screwdriver. This made for an ideal knuckle knife, albeit a bit longer than the norm. I took the screwdriver end to a grinder and in just a few minutes had a very sharp point on it. The “handle” of the weapon is about four inches long and the business end extends about six inches total. I’ve not done so but the hollow handle could easily hold a few matches, a length of fishing line, and a few other odds and ends. Wrap the whole handle in duct tape or friction tape and you’re good to go. Given the six inches length, there is a fair amount of penetration possible. Um, hypothetically speaking, of course.
As any parent nowadays can attest, toys come packaged with about a billion little wire ties. These are actually quite strong. I’ve amassed a few shoe boxes full of them, varying in length from a couple inches to over a foot. They can be great for cinching together wires/cords, among other things. Best part is they are essentially free.
PVC is incredibly useful. We’ve used it to make a small greenhouse, play forts for the kids, and an irrigation system for some of our plants. While the lengths are fairly inexpensive, the innumerable different connectors can get relatively pricey.
Word of warning, this can be addictive. You might find yourself loathe to throw anything away. If you’re not careful, you might find yourself featured on the TV show Hoarders. But, it can be fun to take what most would consider junk and turn it into something useful. In a post-apocalyptic world, junk will likely be all we have to work with when we need to make something. A quick trip to Home Depot probably won’t work out so well for you.