15 Non-powered tools for emergency preparedness and survival


Non-powered tools or hand tools are devices that are powered manually by hands and not a motor. These are basic tools that every modern home have today.

These hand tools have been used for thousand of years already. During the Stone Age, our forefathers used stones to cut and break things. Meanwhile, the people during the Bronze Age cast copper and tin alloy for their tools, since they have discovered that these materials are sharper than stones.

As the years passed by, copper, tin, and bronze were replaced by iron during the Iron Age. They have found out that iron is durable and stronger than bronze. The Romans were the first to develop tools from these materials. This is somehow similar to the tools that we currently use today. In addition, the industrial revolution paved way for the manufacture of such devices in the factories.

These hand tools are categorized into wrenches, cutters, pliers, hammers, screwdrivers, striking tools, clamps, vice grips, saws, knives, and snips according to the American Industrial Hygiene Association.

Non-powered tools are essential, especially during emergencies. Check out some of those non-powered tools below:

Non-powered tools for emergencies

Axe/ Ax

An axe or ax is a hand tool that is used to cut, split, and shape the wood or other materials. It consists of a head and a handle. It acts as an inclined plane and a wedge and it reduces the effort needed by the user. Meanwhile, the handle of the ax increases the force to be produced at the cutting edge of the tool.

During the stone age period, an axe was used without a handle and it is made of stone. Our forefathers have shaped and sharpened the wood to become an ax. Then, they developed it to include a wood handle. Thereafter, people made axes from bronze, iron, steel, and copper because these materials are stronger and sharper.

An axe is a handy tool that you can carry with you on every outdoor activity that you have. It can help you chop wood and create a fire, it can help clear the road during storms, and do other creative activities. Here are some of the types of the axe that you must have:

  1. Hatchets-a type of axe with a sharp blade on one side and a hammer on the other side.
  2. Forest Ax– This type of tool is sharper and has a thinner blade in the end.
  3. Splitting Maul-This type of axe will deliver a forceful strike in the wood without making it stuck in the log. This tool has a wide and broad butt in comparison with other types of an axe.

A great axe must have a strong grip in order to help you survive in any emergencies. In addition, it must be sharp, it must have a good balance, and most importantly, it must be durable which can last for many years.

Bolt cutters

Bolt cutters or croppers are used for cutting padlocks, chains, wire mesh, and bolts. This tool has a short blade, long handles, and hinges to maximize the leverage and cutting force.

This type of tool is available in different types such as angle cut, shear cut, center cut, and clipper cut. The length of the bolt cutter is measured from the tip of the jaw to the handle and it is usually available in 12, 14, 18, 36, and 42 inches.

These are some of the bolt cutters that can be used during emergencies:

  1. Center cut bolt cutters are a tool with blades that are equidistant with each other.
  2. Angle cut is a type of bolt cutter with an angled head for simple insertion. The usual angles of this type of tools are 25 to 35 degrees.
  3. The shear cut is just like scissors with blades that are inverted to each other.
  4. A clipper cut is a tool with blades that are flushed against one face. This tool is used for cutting flat surfaces.
  5. Bolt cutters with fiberglass handles-this type of tool can be utilized when cutting live electrical wires, especially during disasters. It is lightweight in comparison with other solid pipe or drop forged handles.

Can opener

A can opener is a tool that can open a tin or metal can. This is helpful especially during emergencies since tin cans are used to store food that can last for many months.

The first can openers were patented in 1855 Europe and 1858 in the United States. The first design was similar to the knife. It was in 1870 when can openers include a rotating wheel. However, in 1925, a serrated wheel was added to the original design to make it easy to use. This model has been the most popular one and it was similar to what we have nowadays.

In 1931, electric can openers were introduced in the market however, it didn’t succeed. In 1980, several companies added new features to can openers making it one of an essential product of the modern homes.

A can opener is made of three simple machines which are the wedge, the axle, and the lever. In using can openers, the first thing to do is to attach the two arms or the levers at the can. Then, squeeze it together and turn the handle or the wheel and the axle. As soon as the wheel is turned, it will pierce the seal of the can.


A hammer is a tool that can deliver a blow to an object. In addition, hammers are used to forge metal, break objects into pieces, or drive nails into wood or any surface. They are now available in various sizes, structures, and shapes, depending on the purpose.

Hammers are usually composed of a head made of steel and a handle made of wood and other materials.

Simple hammers can be traced back at around 3,300 BCE during the Paleolithic Stone Age. Our forefathers made it from wood, bone, and stones to break apart objects. Researchers believe that hammers are one of the oldest tools that have been created by early people.

Hand Drills

A hand drill is both a driving tool and cutting tool which is used for making holes or fastening various materials together. It is a manual tool that is commonly used in woodworking, construction, metalworking, and other projects at home.

There are different kinds of hand drills for a different use; there are large hand drills with a geared-crank wheel and small hand drills or brace drills. It is usually composed of a wooden handle, wheel, chuck, and drill. Brace drills are inexpensive in comparison with large hand drills. Both large and small hand drill design will allow the user to place a good amount of body weight in the shaft while drilling, however, the cost of the geared version (larger drill) increases as it goes up too.


A knife is a hand tool with a sharp blade and a handle. Knives can cut objects because of its edges. It can be used as a utensil, sports equipment, combat weapon, agricultural tool, and for various purposes.

This type of tool was first used by our ancestors for about 2 million years ago. The name knife was from the old Norse word ‘knifr’ which means blade. The ancient people have used rocks, bones, and flints to create knives.

Thereafter, people used copper, iron, bronze, ceramics, titanium, and steel to create knives. Due to the importance of knives in our culture, some communities have attached spiritual and religious stories to knives.

The modern design of knives is either folding or fixed-blade. It also includes patterns and different styles to signify the makers or countries of origin of the product.


Pliers are hand tools that can hold objects firmly. It can also bend and compress various materials. This is especially important during natural disasters. It can save you whenever you’re trapped in a dangerous situation.

It consists of two metals joined as a lever by a fulcrum. This design can allow the hand of the user to firmly grip the tool and focus with precision on the object at hand.

Pliers are similar to tongs and pincers, although pliers have a different head which is used for pulling and cutting. Nowadays, pliers are available in different designs and sizes for various purposes.

Pocket tool

Pocket tool or multi tool is a range of portable hand tools that are combined in a single unit. Some of the multi tools nowadays are credit card sized which is designed for carrying together with wallets or attached to a key ring.

The idea of incorporating several tools in one small unit started for thousand of years, dating back to the Middle Roman times.

Nowadays, people love to have a pocket tool with them because it consists of a set of knives, can opener, bottle opener, and others. You can attach it to your pants and be able to survive during calamities.

Pry bar

A Pry bar is a tool which consists of a metal bar, single curved end, flat points, and a small fissure on the end. This tool is used as a lever to remove nails or move apart two objects that are joined together. This is helpful in wooden crates or boards.

Pry bar or crow bar are also used in mining because this can help remove and break the rock.

This type of tool is usually made of carbon steel and sometimes titanium. These materials are light and non-magnetic, unlike other materials.

Furthermore, most inexpensive pry bars are hexagonal or cylindrically forged. Meanwhile, those expensive designs are forged with an I-shape shaft with a cross-section.


A saw is a tool which consists of a sharp blade with a hard-toothed edge. This tool can help cut through material just like the wood. The cut can be made by placing the toothed-edge portion to the material and move it back and forth continuously. Cutting a material with the saw can be done by the hand.

The first saws were made from obsidian, flint, shark teeth, and sea shells.

During the ancient Egypt in 3,100-2,688 BC, saws were made of copper. Early Egyptians use saw to cut various materials, including the human body parts. This is documented at the tombs and the walls of the Egyptians.

Meanwhile, during the Iron Age, people used bronze and iron to create the saw.

On the other hand, the Chinese legend states that saw was invented by Lu Ban. For the Greeks, the saw was invented by Talos according to their mythology.

Saws are useful in gathering wood for a fire. It can also help one to build a shelter, especially in emergencies.


Scissors is one type of shearing tools. They consist of a pair of metal blades that are pivoted. The sharp edges can slide against each other whenever the bows which are placed opposite one another is closed.

Scissors are essential in daily living. It can cut paper, metal foil, cloth, cardboard, rope, wire, and various thin objects. There are also scissors or shears that can be used for trimming or cutting meat, vegetables, and other food products. In addition, there are also scissors that can be used to cut the hair.

In today’s generation, scissors are available in various designs. There are scissors with ergonomic handles made of rubber and thermoplastic to give precise grip and easy handling to the users.

According to researchers, scissors were invented around 1,500 BC in Egypt. However, the earliest record of scissors appeared in the Mesopotamia region about 3,000 to 4,000 years ago.

Romans around 100 AD invented scissors that are made of bronze and the iron. This type has been the basis of the modern design which is widely used nowadays.


A screwdriver is a tool that is used to remove or tighten the screws. Generally, it is composed of a head, shaft, and tip to be inserted into the screw head and turn.

The screwdriver is usually made of steel with a coating to resist wear. In addition, the handle is made of wood, plastic, or metal and it is shaped as hexagon, oval, or square to improve the grip.

There are different kinds of screw driver based on their tips. The most common types are the simple blade type and the Phillips or the cross-recess.

In all screwdrivers, the tip is essential. If it is worn out, then it might result in the screw to jump out from the slot. To keep the tip in shape, make sure to never use the screwdriver as a pry bar or a chisel.

Screwdrivers are important even during disasters. Modern appliance, weapons, and automobile parts have screws thus you’ll be needing the screwdrivers soon.


Meanwhile, a shovel is a tool used for lifting, digging, and moving materials like soil, coal, snow, sand, gravel, and others. It consists of a medium broad blade which is attached to a wooden or plastic handle. It is usually made of sheet steel or high-quality plastics.

Shovels are helpful for digging debris on emergencies. This will come handy for your family and loved ones.

Vice grips

Vice grips (locking pliers or mole wrench) are one type of pliers that can be locked in a position using an over-center action. This tool can be used to hold parts and bend grip materials. It has two sides, the first side includes a bolt that can adjust the spacing of the jaws. The other side includes a lever that can push the two side of the handles away from each other to unlock the pliers.

Vice grips are available in various sizes. There are needle-nose, locking wrenches, clamps and other types that can be used for welding.


A wrench is a tool that is used to provide grip in turning objects such as nuts and bolts. Some of the high-quality wrenches are made of chromium-vanadium alloy steel which is drop-forged. They are usually coated with chrome to avoid wear and for easy cleaning.


In sum, these non-powered tools are essential in our homes. These can save us from harm and help us survive. The world faces multiple natural disasters and it gets worse every year. The best time to prepare is now, and you can start by having the above-mentioned hand tools inside your home.