Posts Tagged With: barter items

Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything

by Todd Walker

Read the next two lines and stop. Look around you. Make a mental note of all the useful stuff produced from two resources… wood and metal.

Really, stop reading for a second!

Okay, come back now.

What did you come up with? If you only noted the obvious wooden and metallic items, go deeper. With a little thought, your list should grow exponentially.

Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything -

The fact is, wood and metal were directly or indirectly responsible for building your house, mailbox, wall clock, sofa, and the electronic device you’re reading from this very moment.

Wood and metal go together like peas and carrots. Metal tools are used to shape wood. But wood creates fire to heat metal for making said tools. And don’t forget about the useful wooden handles attached to metal tools. There’s a relationship between the two resources in which both benefit from the other. In biology, we call this mutualism.

For long-term self-reliance, learning to manipulate and exploit these resources will make you an indispensable asset to both family and community.

Blacksmithing: The Master of All Crafts

Except for harnessing fire, nothing in human history compares to the discovery of metal and its ability to be molded, formed, and poured into useful shapes. Blacksmithing is the only craft that makes their own tools and the tools of other craftsmen.


Traditional Appalachian Smithy at Foxfire Museum

You don’t have to dial back in time too far to find Bob the Blacksmith being the most prominent tradesman in town. In need of a gate latch? Go see Bob. How about that crack in your froe? Bob can forge weld it and have you back splitting cedar shakes for your roof in no time. Making a hammer for your flint-lock rifle could be done by Bob.

Basic Smithing Tools

To build a functional smithy, you’ll need a few tools. No need to spend a boatload of money to get started either. Shop yard sales, flea markets, scrap yards, farm auctions, estate sales, and antique stores – the highest prices are usually paid at antique stores.

Here are the basic tools needed for beginners like me…

  • Anvil ~ A real blacksmithing anvil may be your largest cash outlay. A common man’s anvil can be a section of railroad track or large block of metal – 100 plus pounds mounted to a wooden stump.
  • Forge ~ Charcoal, coal, or gas-powered, the forge will heat your steel for shaping and tempering metal. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. A hole in the ground will work. Some sort of blower to increase heat in your coal or charcoal. Blowers are not needed for a propane forge.
Propane forge at Red Barn Forge

Dave’s new propane forge at Red Barn Forge

  • Hammer ~ A 2 to 3 pound hammer to work hot metal. You can add to your hammer collection over time. There are four basic types of hammers for moving metal: straight peen, ball peen, cross peen, and sledge.
  • Tongs ~ Long handle pliers used to grip hot steel while hammering.
  • Vise ~ A bench vise mounted on a sturdy work bench. I’ve yet to acquire a blacksmithing post vise.
  • Files ~ Flat and half-round
Learn These 2 Pioneer Skills to Produce Almost Anything -

File and file card

  • Quench Bucket ~ Container large enough to hold about 5 gallons of water to cool hot metal and for tempering.
  • Safety Equipment ~ Eye protection, ear protection, leather boots, natural fiber clothing, welding gloves, fire extinguisher and water bucket/hose, first aid kit.
  • Like other crafts, there are almost endless numbers of tools and items you’ll want to acquire as your skill level increases.
The "anvil" is a solid piece of steel I'll mount to a stump.

The “anvil” (lower right) is a solid piece of steel I’ll mount to a stump.

Though I’ve always known the importance of this craft historically, my dabbling has only produced a few items. However, after a recent Georgia Bushcraft camping trip, I realized it’s time to get serious about hammering steel.

Stephan Fowler of Fowler Blades spent two hours in the rain demonstrating, in less than optimal conditions, the process of turning a file into a functional cutting tool. The blade was not his best work considering he used a crumbly rock as an anvil, an air mattress pump for a billow, and burning chunks of hardwood on the ground as his forge.

I was honored to have won this file knife which Stephan made in a fire challenge during the campout!

I was honored to have won Stephan’s survival file knife in a fire-building challenge during the campout!

Check out what Stephan produces when he has access to his real forge → here.

And now for the video of Stephan making a knife from a file, in the rain, on a rock anvil…

Your skill level doesn’t have to be superior to be useful for long-term self-reliance. The more you hammer steel and study metallurgy, the better you become.

Blacksmithing Resources

Blacksmithing in America was hot and heavy during our pioneer days in North America. Not long after the Industrial Revolution, the art of blacksmithing survived only as a specialty craft. Thankfully, the secrets of metallurgy, once guarded in guilds, is being passed on through modern-day blacksmiths. Here are a few resources that I’ve found helpful in connecting with local craftsmen.


The craft of woodworking compliments blacksmithing more so than any two trades I know. Developing the skill to make handles for metal tools or mill lumber from a tree to accept the nails you forged on your anvil could one day feed your family in hard times. I’ll bet your master gardener neighbor would be willing to barter food for tools and repairs on her homestead.

If you’re like me, you find yourself dabbling in all sorts of pioneer skills. One skill I’ve become proficient at is carpentry. However, take away my power tools and my skill level drops several notches.

A mix of modern and pioneer tools

A mix of modern and pioneer hand tools

Working wood with pioneer tools is based on the same principles as modern woodworking… with a steeper learning curve and physicality. Don’t abandon your power tools. Here’s my list of basic wood working tools, both modern and pioneer style.

Modern Tools

  • Hammers ~ A 16 oz. claw hammer and a larger framing hammer (20 oz.) to get you started.
  • Saws ~ Circular, chop/miter, table, jig, reciprocating – cordless and corded. Cordless 18v batteries can be charged via solar chargers if the need arises.
  • Drills ~ Cordless impact driver and drill, corded drill press, and an assortment of drill bits (wood and metal), screw bits, and socket bit adapters.
  • Squares ~ Tri-square, combination, speed square, and carpenter’s square. Used to mark and test angles. Buy metal squares to use with hot metal work. Plastic melts.
  • Levels ~ Torpedo, 2 foot, and 4 foot bubble levels keep things plumb.
  • Measuring and Marking Devices ~ 25 foot steel tape measure, wooden folding ruler, carpenter’s pencil, chalk line.
  • Utility Knife ~ One of my most used tools on my belt.

Pioneer Tools

  • Hammers, Mallets, and Mauls.

  • Saws ~ Hand saws: crosscut, rip, compass saw, coping, and bucksaw.
  • Drills ~ Brace and bit, augers, bits of various sizes.
  • Squares ~ Same as listed above; Tri-square, combination, speed square, and carpenter’s square. Used to mark and test angles. Buy metal squares to use with hot metal work. Plastic melts.
  • Levels ~ Torpedo, 2 foot, and 4 foot bubble levels keep things plumb and work as straight edges.
  • Measuring and Marking Devices ~ 25 foot steel tape measure (roughing work), wooden folding ruler, steel drafting ruler (bench work), pencil, chalk line.
  • Smoothing Planes ~ Both long and short. Stanley makes great planes and can be had inexpensively but may need some TLC to make them useable.
  • Chisels ~ A variety of sizes kept super sharp… which I’m known not to do.
  • Draw Knives ~ Draw knives for roughing wood to shape and spoke shaves for finishing form.
  • Shave Horse ~ Holds stock freeing both hands to work wood with a draw knife or spoke shave.
Pioneer tools at Foxfire Museum

Pioneer tools at Foxfire Museum

  • Froe ~ A simple tool used to split (rive) wood into shingles, boards, and staves.
  • Rasp ~ Both flat and half-round. A 4-in-1 rasp is utilitarian.

Notice I didn’t delve into the actual skill sets needed. That would take a long time and lots of bandwidth. However, I do recommend that you begin stockpiling metal and woodworking tools. They may be useful one day.

Oh, and never pass up scrap metal. Collect lawn mower blades, leaf springs, bar stock, round stock, pallet wood, hardware (nails, screws, nuts and bolts), old files, tool steel, sharpening devices, sheet metal, saws, etc., etc.

I made this end table for DRG from pallet wood, 150 year-old house siding, an old yard stick, and sheet metal.

I made this end table for DRG from pallet wood, 150 year-old house siding, an old yard stick, and sheet metal.

Real stuff, almost all stuff, can be made from skilled hands with metal and wooden tools. Learning to work these two resources may start as a hobby or pastime but could very well insure your livelihood in hard times.

Did you think of anything that was made without metal and/or wood being directly or indirectly involved in the process? Bet you didn’t.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

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Categories: DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, equipment, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Resilience, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Top 5 Reason to Stock Silly Juice for SHTF

by Todd Walker

Regardless if you consume alcohol personally or not, silly juice has a place in your SHTF preps… And not just as a barter item.

Disclaimer: Be smart. I you are an alcoholic and know you’d abuse your body or others by taking this advice to stock booze, stop reading and get help with your addiction! If you’re a teetotaler you can’t handle the idea of liquor being in your home, skip this article. Never ingest the toxic stuff – methanol, rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol!


Liquored up?

To get liquored up properly, purchase hard liquor with high alcohol content. The two numbers to look for are percentage and proof. The first number (percentage) tells you how much ethanol is in the container. The proof number of alcohol is double the amount of actual ethanol in the bottle. 100 Proof means your hooch has 50% ethanol… and will ignite and burn a blue flame.

A heavy hitter for your stash is Everclear®. Here are the stats on this 100% grain alcohol:

    Size: LITER
    Proof: 151 / 75.5%
    Size: 750ML
    Proof: 190 / 95%

For long-term storage, buy in glass bottles. Keep your stash in a dark, cool, dry place under lock and key to prevent kids and crazy uncles out.

In a true collapse scenario, moonshiners will still the market. Prohibition taught us this lesson: people will find a way enjoy an adult beverage.

Even if you can’t legally brew the hard stuff now, making shine would be a Doing the Stuff skill worth learning… only after law no longer exists, of course.

Booze may be a vice for some, but having a well stocked cabinet of silly juice will be a bonanza after the SHTF! Here’s the thing though, your stash will eventually run dry in an extended break down. The same goes for your other consumables. Hooch will be in high demand.

Here’s why…

1. Medicinally

  • Herbal tinctures
  • Pain reliever – has worked for many broken hearts over the years 😉
  • Antiseptic – avoid using in deep wounds
  • Moderate consumption lowers risk of heart disease – caveats
  • Sterilize medical instruments
  • Sore throat (liquor and honey concoction)
  • Clear sinuses – it’s called Everclear® for a reason
  • Treat swimmers ear

2. Sanitizer

  • Eating surfaces
  • Hands
  • Scraps and surface wounds
  • Mouth wash and tooth pain – swish around and swallow for added relief
  • Straight razors
  • Gear – knives, butchering equipment, spork, everything else touching your mouth, etc.
  • One shot per liter of water helps kill nasties – give it time to kill the stuff (20 minutes or so)

3. Fire

  • Starter fuel for engines
  • Alcohol stoves – redundant uses for high-test alcohol if your DiY beer can stove is filled with Everclear® vs. denatured alcohol
  • Flambéing over the camp fire 😉
  • Accelerant – cocktails of the molotov persuasion
  • Once empty, use the clear glass vodka bottle to start a fire via magnification – then flint nap the bottom of the bottle into an arrowhead once you sober up

4. Barter value

  • The small mini-bottles may make the perfect barter size when things go sideways
  • Keep a supply of smaller containers to refill from your larger vat
  • The demand for alcohol after a SHTF event will be high
  • Escapism – folks don’t want to face reality and look to drown their sorrows

5. All purpose uses

  • Insect repellant
  • Removes poison ivy oil
  • Degreaser for guns and gear
  • Light source

What’s you’re top reasons and uses for storing high-test silly juice?

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, and our Facebook page. The Doing the Stuff Network community can be found here: PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook. Check out the good stuff and trade theory for ACTION!

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Thanks for sharing the stuff!

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Silver Bullion or Junk Silver for Long-term Bartering?

In a primitive barter economy, tangibles become currency. DRG and I store a variety of tangible items just in case an economic collapse occurs and bartering is necessary. One of those assets being junk silver. Not only is it recognizable as legal tender, it holds real, intrinsic value – unlike fiat paper money printed out of thin air.

Silver Bullion or Junk Silver for Long-term Bartering?

Image source

Today we have a guest contributor, Steven Cochran, from Gainesville Coins presenting the pros and cons of silver bullion and junk silver as barter items. Be sure to check out the infographic at the bottom of the article.

Keep Doing the Stuff,


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By Steven Cochran, Gainesville Coins

Junk silver has long been considered the de facto barter currency in case of a break-down of society. That was certainly a no-brainer back in the days when junk silver sold for less than spot price, but perhaps its time to re-assess the situation. (Of course, you should periodically re-assess every aspect of your survival plans, in case they need adjustment due to changing conditions.) With demand for junk silver now causing it to trade for well over a dollar an ounce over spot, it may be time to diversify into pure silver rounds. In this article, we will review the advantages and disadvantages of both  .999 silver rounds and junk silver.

Silver Rounds: 


One ounce silver rounds give you more silver for your dollar. One oz .999 fine generic silver rounds are generally selling for 99 cents or lower an ounce, and many large distributors have tiered pricing levels to save you even more. Junk silver can sell for twice the premium of a bulk buy of 1 oz rounds.  Even 1/2 oz or 1/4 oz rounds can be a better buy per-ounce than junk. Silver rounds also have their weight and purity stamped directly on each one. This may make bartering simpler with non-preppers.


Some people, especially fellow preppers, may be wary of silver rounds, not trusting privately-minted silver as much as government-minted 90% junk silver. This is a reason some preppers pay the extra premium and buy 1oz American Silver Eagles. Some rounds have silly, or pop culture designs, which may reduce the willingness of someone to take them in barter.

Junk Silver:


Junk silver is readily recognized by fellow preppers, and those who are old enough to remember pre-1965 silver coinage. If you have the time and inclination to go through your stack, you may even find some coins worth more than melt value. The fact that it is old U.S. currency reassures many people worried about fake rounds or bars.


Non-preppers may not accept junk silver, except at face value (that could change, depending on how long the economic disruptions last.) The “$1 in face value = .715 oz of silver” will seem strange to someone who has never heard of it, and might lead them to be suspicious of your offer.

Even at a discounted actual silver weight (ASW) of .715 troy ounces per $1 face value, some junk silver coins are so worn that you may not be getting full value (especially with Barber dimes and quarters.) If things get so bad that there’s a break-down in Federal authority, and the barter economy lasts for a long time, people will start acquiring scales, and weighing coins before accepting them, like the old days.

Junk and Rounds BOTH Come Under 1099B Rules!

Contrary to popular opinion, sales of junk silver is not exempt under 1099B reporting rules. Only modern U.S. legal tender bullion (Silver Eagle, Gold Eagle, Gold Buffalo) is not reportable.

The minimum reportable amount of junk silver under IRS rules is $1000 face value. That’s only 715 oz. of silver.  Silver bars and rounds are reportable at 1000 oz. or more. That’s almost 40% more silver that can be sold to a dealer or exchange without being reported. Of course, this only applies to sales under “normal” circumstances.  If things go south, you’ll be bartering with your silver instead of selling it to a company for fiat currency.


Everyone’s situation is different. Take into consideration who you expect to be bartering with, and what you will be bartering for, in different possible scenarios. Your course of action will likely be different during a short-term, temporary disruption such as a natural disaster or month-long bank lock-out, than during a systemic societal collapse.

You may want to consider keeping some 1 oz .999 silver rounds or bars on-hand for larger barter deals, or go the other direction and stack junk halves, and use half- and quarter- ounce rounds for small transactions. The silver content is stamped right on the round, so it’s less complicated than explaining the “silver content to face value” ratio on 90% silver to someone who is unfamiliar with junk coins.

Silver is silver, but it’s up to you to decide the right balance of cost and liquidity for your specific purposes.

[Below is an infographic Gainesville Coins provided that may be useful to some of you.]

Silver Bullion or Junk Silver for Long-term Bartering?

Categories: Barter | Tags: , , | 21 Comments

SmartPrepper Mason Jar Kerosene Lamps

by Todd Walker

mason jar oil lamps

Pint and quart mason jars transformed into oil lamps.

Three years ago I read a Survival Blog article about a company selling brass plated burners, wicks, and globes that convert a standard canning jar into an oil lamp.

Dirt Road Girl and I had already planned a trip to the mountains that year when I discovered the North Carolina company was on the same road we were traveling.

We dropped in.

Southern Lamp and Supply is run by two brothers working out of an old metal building on the side of the road with wall to wall lamps, wicks, and other preparedness lighting needs. They don’t see many walk-in customers. Since we weren’t wearing UPS brown, the first bearded brother we saw asked if he could help us. We could tell he thought we were lost and looking for directions to a more exotic destination.

I assured him we weren’t lost and said we saw his lamps on Survival Blog.

“Ah, yes. We’ve been swamped with orders since we got mentioned there,” he said with a slight grin.

I asked if he had any left. He told us to wait over by the paper-cluttered counter top supporting a computer as he wound his way deep into the isles of his dusty storehouse.

He returned a few minutes later with a couple of boxes. He opened the box tops that had been folded shut.

“How many you folks want?”

We walked out with 10 mason jar cap burners, wicks included, extra wicks, and 10 hooded glass chimneys. My memory may not be that accurate, but I think we paid under $40 for everything. That was 3 years ago with no shipping.

Now you can make an emergency oil lamp in 5 minutes with a mint tin, cotton twine, and olive oil. They’re functional and, as DRG says, just so cute.

DiY olive oil lamp

DiY olive oil lamp


But for long-term use, you might want to have several sturdy, dependable, oil lamps available. We pick them up at yard sales when we find them.

We gave away mason jar burner lamps as gifts to family. The rest is in our emergency lighting supply cabinet.

What’s great about these lamps is their inexpensive and screw securely on mason jars. I just checked their website and the burners run three bucks and the glass chimneys cost $7.95 each.

This a great way to add emergency lighting to your preps. They’d also make great barter items.

SmartPrepper Tip: Stock up on kerosene and lamp oil before the herd strips store shelves bare. As always, if any open flame is forced into service in your home, use extra caution – especially with young children. Be sure to place lit lamps on a stable elevated surface.

Keep Doing the Stuff,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.


Categories: Barter, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Frugal Preps, Investing/Tangibles, Preparedness | Tags: , , | 21 Comments

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