> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Review: Makeshift Workshop Skills



Review: Makeshift Workshop Skills

Being able to repair and create from basic materials is an important skill for the survivor, both to save money today and for after a collapse, when you can't just stroll down to the hardware store or punch in an Amazon order when you need something new. James Ballou's Makeshift Workshop Skills for Survival and Self-Reliance provides a great starting ground for developing these kinds of skills, using basic scavenged materials and simple hand tools.
A lot of this information is old-school techniques and information used by previous generations and largely forgotten in this day and age of power tools and disposable junk.

Makeshift runs through a variety of useful info, repair techniques and field expedient tools--stuff like improvised welding with a car battery, building simple tools out of scrap material and so on. It's an easy book to dive into and put to work--there are pictures and illustrations throughout, and the writing style is simple and accessible. It's a quick read, but one that you will refer to fairly often when working on these kinds of do it yourself projects.

Whether you're looking for some interesting projects, need some assistance on household repairs or planning for keeping things working post-collapse, Makeshift will have lots of useful information for you. If you're already a seasoned handy man or improvising pro, you'll still find some new ideas and clever designs. There's lots of good stuff.

Here's a short list of just some of the ideas and projects you'll find within Makeshift:
  • Homemade cordage and useful knots
  • Makeshift metal working, with plans for a makeshift forge, blower and other tools
  • Improvised tools including hammers, drills, axes, knives, saws, files, vices and clamps
  • Expedient repairs with things like super glue, tape, rawhide, pegs and rivets
  • Doing your own welding, including field welding techniques
  • Useful items you can make out of common things like hangars, saw blades, coffee cans and rebar
Makeshift can't make you into an expert all areas in just over 200 pages, but it's a good resource and starting point for exploring other areas. There's a recommended resources page at the end to help point the reader in the right direction for further study--a nice addition.

Overall, if you're looking to improve your makeshift repair/crafting skills, I'd definitely give this book a look. It won't turn you into a Randy Church-like guru, but it will help show you a few tips, tricks and projects to help make you more self reliant today and in times to come!

Makeshift Workshop Skills for Survival and Self-Reliance on Amazon >


  1. I really think that having these types skills is more important than ever. the human race as a whole has come to rely on technology and having other do for us far to much...even down to the simplest most basic needs and necessaties. What if the electric grid goes down? What if the grocery stores are empty? How will you provide water, food and shelter for your family...much less any luxuries? our ancestors had skills and knowledge that they used on a daily basis just for survival that we, sadly to say, have all but forgotten. Hopefully when the SHTF, there will be enough old timers still around to impart some old fashioned knowledge to the rest of us!

  2. I agree, I think DIY is really going to come back in a big way, the cost of paying someone else to make repairs you can do yourself will drive this. I'm going to check this book out - Thanks!

    A magazine that caters a lot to DIY shop skills and projects is BACKWOODSMAN magazine, give it a look and decide if a subscription is worth it.


    A Wolf, you are speaking my language! Every handy man should have some critical tools. And two of all of them. Linesman plier dikes, many files, sandpaper, large pliers-wrenches and hammers for bending. Some pipe of various sizes for leverage. Wow, I better stop, the list goes on and on. Big hammers.

    Anyway, just bought a hay wire Klamper tool. Beyond amazing. Must have for any man who says he can. Field repairs are now easy with a tiny tool.

  4. Brother Wolf...Randy is blushing....Thanks

    It is amazin' what you have laying around and things the normals throw away....

  5. A (somewhat-OCD) friend once told me " I go through everything I own and get rid of anything I haven't touched in 6 months". I have always thought that "I might need that someday, and I don't trip over it very often" may be a more successful long-term strategy :)

  6. I made a solar cooker out of my old commode. Painted it silver inside and cocked it up on its side toward the sun. Cooks good, but food has somewhat of a shitty aftertaste....