Living off-grid implies a certain lifestyle, often without using valuable electricity. Handheld tools only use your energy so do not cost you anything except the upfront payment.
I appreciate that everybody has a weakness and who can do without coffee? Not me for sure, and that’s why my coffee grinder is top of my list.
See my list of indoor, outdoor, and general maintenance handheld tools that can help you to live better on your homestead.
In Your Kitchen
A coffee mill grinds dried coffee beans into the powder we all know as ground coffee. You may be lucky enough to find one in a yard sale or a second-hand store.
They were made of solid metal with wooden handles for comfortable grinding.
Hand whisks can be used as egg beaters, cake makers, and for any mixing needs in the kitchen. Wash them carefully after use.
You can find whisks with handles to turn for baking. These are a great favorite with grandchildren too.
Sieves of different sizes are useful for straining seeds from jelly and preserves. Think of removing seeds from rosehips to make syrup or jelly.
A garlic press. Trim the top and bottom of a clove of garlic to peel it, then pop it into the press and push hard. Out comes your garlic ready to be added to any dish you like.
A multi-tool can opener. Buy a sturdy one that not only opens cans, but has a bottle opener, and possibly a corkscrew too.
Mortar and pestle, seed grinder, or grain mill? These kinds of tools depend on the food you grow. Some use a mortar and pestle and that’s fine for soft spices, seeds, and leaves.
If you want to hand mill grain, you need to buy a grain mill. Be warned that it is labor-intensive as a hand tool.
Cheese graters can be used by children and adults alike and add some luxurious topping as long as there is cheese available.
Manual juice squeezer – who doesn’t need a squeezer now and then? A hand-powered one is very satisfying. Just make sure you clean out the container as it is semi-impossible if you leave segments of fruit dry out in there.
Knife sharpeners keep your tools in good condition. They are discussed in detail below.
In The Living Room
Light and heat are needed in winter so have a stock of candles and matches stored in a place you all know. In emergencies, you can have a windup solar light kept in one location.
Log-burning stoves require a few essential tools.
Bellows are used to provide a wood-burning stove with oxygen.
They are really useful to get a fire started.
Other tools to use around fires are a poker to move red-hot burning wood into the center and tongs to move hot logs.
A sweeping brush and dustpan. Use them to clean up the ashes and try not to let dangerous ash linger in the air. Bad for your lungs!
Empty the ash into a container with a lid and move this outdoors to use on vegetable beds in winter when you want to add nutrients for the coming year. Fruit bushes and trees adore wood ash.
The humble hand-held carpet cleaner was invented in Michigan by Melville R Bissell in 1876 and this quiet rolling cleaner should suit any home even in the 21st century.
It runs on wheels with brushes on rollers that collect up dust and dirt which then can be emptied straight into your compost bin. They are quiet compared to the electric vacuum and the only energy used is yours.
Round The House And General Maintenance
A hammer, saw and drill are essential tools in my house.
I also keep a supply of hoses of different widths, wire to clean blockages, 60 feet or as long as your pipes, and a plunger.
I prefer long gauntlet gloves too for messy work.
Sharpening tools are excellent to keep your tools sharp for longer. You can choose from stone, diamond-edged tools, and oil-based sharpeners. Diamond-edged sharpeners work for a long time and will ultimately, extend the life of the blade.
In the garden, in an emergency, I sometimes sharpen the edge of shears on the edge of a ceramic mug or use my pocket-sized sharpener.
Some homesteaders say that sandpaper and emery boards make a good sharp edge but to keep tools tip-top use the recommended method for your sharpener and do it regularly.
Sewing machines are all electric now.
But my grandmother had one with a metal pedal under the sewing area, allowing you to sew and move the pedal at the same time.
Look out for one at a yard sale or in your local second-hand store.
Knitting needles, crochet hooks, and sewing needles are not strictly tools, more craft items, but I value them as much as my gardening tools. Just having these items allows me to darn holes, make patches, and knit square wool blankets from scraps.
Blankets are quite fashionable in Amish craft shops and they can keep the household warm in winter. Who knows? Your blankets may become a sellable item.
If your sewing and repairs are excellent, you could set up a small business doing zips, replacing buttons, and doing repairs or restyling expensive clothes.
A hand-push lawn mower is useful. These are tough work, as I know from teenage pocket money jobs I used to do so maybe pay an enthusiastic teenager to do the hard work.
However, those mowings make great compost activators or free bedding for pets and animals.
For large fields to grow grass, for animal feed, or to make bedding like hay or straw, hand-held tools should include a scythe for clearing grassy areas, shears for trimming shrubs and tidying up, and some sharpening tools.
A hand pump for water will work even if there is a blackout.
A shovel, rake, and fork are needed for agricultural work. Try these out before buying. I found a shorter handle suits me best whereas other people prefer handles to suit their height.
Two saws are useful, a handheld one for sawing small branches or pruning and a larger one in a space where you can cut logs.
Wood Chopping, Sawing, And Storing Wood
If you need heat in winter, it’s likely to come from fire. Wood must be dried for at least two years before you burn it in a log-burning stove, so build a waterproof cover with good ventilation for drying.
Use a hand axe with eye protection, make sure the cutting edge is sharp, and that you work safely in an area with no pets, children, and enough space to swing it without causing damage.
Cut large branches into smaller sizes, stack them in order of cutting time, and add labels if required with dates.
If your property has a lot of trees, you can make a supply of cured wood, and maybe you can supply your neighborhood with logs too.
Spend the money on decent tools if you want them to last a lifetime. You may find it is the moving parts that run out over time, so try to buy a supply of any of these too.
If family members have tools in attics or sheds, ask for permission to go through their cupboards. That’s where my coffee grinder came from. Grease them and maintain them to keep them pristine over time.
A homesteader’s life is hard physical work but very satisfying and the right tools can make all the tasks easier and more productive.
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