Introduction: Survival Multi-Tool for 25 Cents

Survival. The topic elicits an emotional response of some kind from everyone. Some find the subject exhilarating or challenging. Many, however, are struck by fear. In the world of today, there are plenty of companies willing to capitalize on that fear. The responsible person, preparing themselves and their family for potential emergencies, is faced with thousands of "must have" products that serve specialized purposes and cost an arm and a leg. Survival, however, is not something that can be marketed, sold, or purchased. Survival is a matter of self-reliance, ingenuity, and training. It is everyone's prerogative and right, and companies shouldn't take advantage of that by jacking up prices.

When considering what to put in your survival kit, "bug out bag", hunting pack, or glove box, multi-tasking capabilities should never be far from your mind. If push comes to shove, you're going to have to carry your gear and believe me, gear gets heavy. There's a reason why people have valued Swiss Army knives, Leatherman tools, and those crowbar-hatchet-hammer things for so long. When one tool can do multiple jobs, you're saving weight, space, and money.

In this tutorial, I'm going to show you how I made a set of simple survival multi-tools, spending only pocket change. These instructions can be followed, resulting in the same tool, but I would also encourage everyone to get in the survival mindset, keep an eye out for materials you can scavenge, and build your own gear for a fraction of what a store will charge you. And let's face it, if you're not willing to experiment, get your hands dirty, and make your own way, then no pricey gadget is going to keep you alive for long. So let's kick this mule!

Step 1: Materials and Tools

At the local thrift shop, I found a set of eight table knives for $2.00. I wasn't looking for table knives, as I'm all set in that department, but I noticed that these were solid steel, well-made, and had hollow handles. At only 25 cents apiece, I snatched them up. The only marking on them is "Thailand," so I can't tell you who made them. I've since seen them again, in thrift shops, so they can't be that rare.

Here is a list of the tools I used:

  1. Gloves
  2. Eye protection
  3. Side grinder with cut-off wheel
  4. Permanent marker
  5. Straight edge (e.g., ruler)
  6. Bastard file

And here are the materials I used:

  1. Aforementioned table knives
  2. Pen caps (1 per knife)
  3. Electrical tape
  4. A stick (optional)

Step 2: Redesign Your Blade

You'll notice that these table knives, like table knives the world over, have asymmetrical blades. This isn't a bad thing when cutting a twice-baked potato or spreading butter. It's not necessarily a bad thing when faced with a survival situation, but in this case, we're going to want to (A) cut down on weight, and (B) create a symmetrical shape.

The top of the original blade is fairly straight, with only a subtle curve downward. Using a straight-edge and a permanent marker, I drew a line on the blade that mirrored the knife's original spine.

Next, I put on my safety goggles and braced the knife against the edge of a work bench. Using the side grinder (with cut-off wheel), I followed my guide line. Soon enough, I had trimmed the blade into the shape I wanted. The process was very easy with the grinder, but I'm sure it would be possible with a Dremel tool or similar apparatus. It wouldn't be a lot of fun, but you could even do this with a hack saw or rough bastard file, given enough time.

Don't be so quick to throw away the culled metal that came off the knife. This can be fashioned into an arrow head, fish hook, scalpel, or other tool for your kit.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

Once the blade was properly shaped, I took a bastard file to de-burr and then sharpen it. I'm making eight of these, so I'm going to leave some like this and I'm going to grind serrations or barbs into others.

Step 4: Uses

Well, you're pretty much done. Simple, wasn't it?

You've now got yourself a pretty versatile little survival tool. No, it's not as sexy as a solar-powered, laser-assisted, self-erecting, zombie-proof bomb shelter. What it IS, however, is simple, fool-proof, and effective. Let's take a look at some of the possible applications:

  1. Knife. One of the most basic survival tools, a knife will help you out of myriad situations, including attacks.
  2. Arrow head. An arrow shaft can be fitted into the handle socket.
  3. Spear head. Spears can be thrown at game or jabbed, such as "gigging" for frogs or fish
  4. Atlatl dart head
  5. Awl, for punching holes in leather, tarps, sheet metal, etc.
  6. Can opener. Position on top of can and strike the handle with a rock.
  7. Drill. Spin the tool back and forth, between your hands
  8. Trap. Plant them like "punji sticks" or attach to them to dead-fall logs
  9. Fire-starter. Create sparks by striking the handle with flint or similar rocks
  10. Tent Stake
  11. Climbing aid. Jammed into cracks or ice, these can help to arrest falls. Pound them into a tree or pole for steps.
  12. Coat rack. Stick one in a tree to hang other gear off the ground

These are just a few ideas. If you come up with more, please share them in the comments!

Step 5: WAIT! There's More!

Now that your basic tool is complete, it's time to accessorize! You're only limited by your imagination here. For example, there's no point in wasting the handle socket until you need to shove a stick in there, right? I put some matches, fishing line, needles, and fish hooks in mine and then sealed the ends with erasers. I'm going to replace the erasers with corks, however, because corks can double as fishing "bobbers." I'm sure there's some use for erasers in a post-apocalyptic scenario, but I can't think of it at the moment. I also wrapped my handles in various materials that might come in handy. In the picture, you can see a handle wrapped in cord. I have others wrapped in snare wire, duct tape, para cord, dental floss, and artificial sinew.

Step 6: Safety Last

These things are sharp! To avoid damaging my pack (and/or hands!), I put a pen cap over the end of each one and taped them in place with a bit of electrical tape. Be sure to leave a little "flap" of doubled-over tape so that you can quickly "unsheath" your tool when needed.

Aaaaaand we're done. I've enjoyed this project and while I hope I never HAVE to use these, I'm happy knowing they're available if I ever do. If you've enjoyed the instructable, please consider voting. Take care, stay strong, and never give up!

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