Tools for Survival by James Wesley, Rawles

Posted on: January 20, 2015

I will admit up front that I’ve never been much of a fan of James Wesley, Rawles, at least as far as his fiction writing is concerned. I know that puts me in the minority among the fans of “prepper fiction” but it is what it is. Different strokes for different folks and all that, y’know?

That said, I did enjoy TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL. It rather nicely fills a niche in survival literature.

Tools, for the purposes of this book, is a pretty wide open category of gear. To give you an idea, here’s the chapter listing.

Chapter 1 — Setting Up Shop
Chapter 2 — Food Preservation and Cooking Tools
Chapter 3 — Gardening, Farm, and Ranch Tools
Chapter 4 — Sewing and Leatherworking Tools
Chapter 5 — Shop Tools and Tool Making
Chapter 6 — Electrical and Electronic Tools
Chapter 7 — Mobility and Countermobility Tools
Chapter 8 — Welding and Blacksmithing Tools
Chapter 9 — Fire Prevention and Firefighting Tools
Chapter 10 — Timber, Firewood, and Lumber Tools
Chapter 11 — Rifles, Shotguns, and Handguns
Chapter 12 — Archery
Chapter 13 — Medical and Sanitation Tools and Supplies
Chapter 14 — Knives and Traditional Hand Tools
Chapter 15 — Lifelong Learning and Skill Building

Within each chapter, Rawles provides a fairly extensive overview of the tools available today to do the jobs that might be necessary tomorrow. With many tools, he goes so far as to recommend specific makes and models, based on his own experience with them. This is great information to have, especially if you are largely unfamiliar with that category of tools.

Throughout the book, Rawles also provides quick little tips or insight as appropriate. For example, buying a one-inch micrometer so you can ensure your drill bits haven’t narrowed after repeated use. He also regularly mentions investing in “old school” tools, ones that don’t require batteries or AC power, such as the old eggbeater style of hand drill. While he does feature many cordless and other power tools, Rawles points out that electrical power may not always be available.

I also appreciated the repeated insistence upon working safely. Throughout TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL, Rawles mentions the use of safety gear, such as goggles and gloves, to avoid injury. Entirely too many people overlook these simple precautions, often to their detriment.

It should be noted that a fair amount of the material in TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL wasn’t actually written by Rawles but was contributed to his website by readers. Apparently, his site is set up such that material submitted to and subsequently published on his site is covered under his own copyright, rather than being owned by the person submitting it. This isn’t a huge deal in the grand scheme of things and he is is quick to note the source of the material when it is shared in the book.

There are some sections I found lacking. For example, in the chapter on medical tools, there are several pages devoted to first aid supplies but a grand total of two sentences on dental needs. Given the known strong correlation between dental health and overall body well being, I felt this section could have been greatly expanded.

The final chapter, Lifelong Learning and Skill Building, outlines many resources for adding to your skill sets, such as joining hobby clubs and reenactment groups. These can be great, low cost ways to learn new skills and brush up on old ones, while also networking with folks who have similar interests.

At the end of the book are four appendices.

Appendix A — Your Retreat Library
Appendix B — Recommended Gunsmithing Service Providers
Appendix C — The Pre-1899 Antique Guns FAQ
Appendix D — Useful Formulas

There is also an extensive glossary. Rawles notes in the beginning of the book that he isn’t going to define terms within the text itself and instructs the reader to check the glossary as needed. I actually appreciated this because while some readers who are new to survival literature might need those definitions, most of us are already familiar with the majority of the terms used and reading the definitions within the text can be cumbersome.

It is also important to understand that, for the most part, this is not a guide on how to use the tools described. Rather, it is a very comprehensive listing of just about any tool you can imagine being used on a homestead or becoming necessary in a grid down event. Rawles gives concrete reasoning on why you’d need each tool mentioned, the purposes of the tool, and in many cases he gives information on where to obtain the tool. He also provides suggestions on what to look for if you run across a used tool at a thrift store or rummage sale, which is valuable information to have.

All in all, TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL would be a good addition to the prepper library. However, I must stress that this book will likely be of little use AFTER a grid down event. Instead, this should be treated as more of a shopping list of items to hunt down and acquire before you actually need the tools.

You can find TOOLS FOR SURVIVAL here on Amazon as well as just about any other bookstore, online or brick-n-mortar.

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