A guide to self reliant living












1. Food

2. Manna

3. Water

4. Sanitation

5. Medical,

6. Kerosene heaters and cookers

7. Lighting

8. Wood
cooking and heating

9. Communi-cations

10. Essential

11. Home
built items

12. Electrical; generators
and power

13. War preparedness

14. Gardening


Miles Stair's SURVIVAL










Miles Stair's SURVIVAL
























Making Sheathes for Tools


Tools need to be kept sharp and rust-free so they are ready to use when needed.  That especially applies to tools saved and stored to be used in an emergency situation.

Sheathes for small tools allows them to be carried on a tool belt, the tools being selected for the particular job at hand.  Sheathes for larger tools allow the tools to be safely strapped to carts and packs while covering sharp edges to enhance safety.

Sheathes can be made from a variety of materials such as old Levi's, scrap leather, cheap East German packs and even PCV pipe and barrels.

The sheathes illustrated below are ones I made to fit specific tools with materials close at hand.  No attempt was made to make the sheathes fancy because they are for working TOOLS, not arm chair theorists to show off something they would never use.

Amost all of these tools can be purchased inexpensively on eBay, often in very good condition.  They need only be cleaned, oiled and sharpened to put back into service.

Click on the photos to enhance them.


Bernard pliers were perhaps the first readily available multi-tools. These pliers were patented July 19, 1892 and are still excellent tools. The flat, parallel opening jaws with compound leverage applied massive clamping power and the side-cutters were very powerful for cutting tempered fence wire.  These pliers were carried by farmers and ranchers on a daily basis for decades.  There is a groove in the middle of the top jaw that straightens wire, and the design of the compound leverage allows wire to pass between the handles.


Different techniques had to be used for making the sheathes for the large and small Bernard Pliers due to the weight of the pliers.  Notice that not only are the large pliers longer but they are considerable thicker.

Small Bernard Plier Sheath

The small Bernard Pliers were easy to make a sheath for using a strip from a pant leg from worn out Levi's.  The back side of the sheath at right shows the sewn on belt loop.  The bottom of the sheath was doubled Levi canvas, which has more than enough strength to hold the 6 1/2 ounce pliers.

The front side of the sheath for the small pliers shows the Levi button to hold the sheath closed.  These buttons are very easy to install and work well for thick canvas and even inner tube rubber.  They are sold as ''batchelor buttons,"  "Logger buttons,"  Suspender buttons," etc.

Large Bernard Plier Sheath

The large Bernard Pliers weigh 1 pound, 3 ounces, so much that they would quickly ''worry'' their way through Levi canvas in a very short period of time.  Hence, a plastic insert was needed to place inside the sheath to hold the weight and sharp edges of the pliers.  An 8 fl oz Ronson lighter fluid bottle proved to be an outstanding fit for the pliers, holding the pliers so they would not rattle and firmly enough so there is no stress at all on the old Levi cloth.  The back of the sheath is shown.

At right is the finished sheath for the large Bernard pliers.  The belt loop is full width and supports the weight of these pliers easily.  The sheath was made so that the handles protrude slightly to ease pulling them from the sheath for use.



A good framing hatchet can be extremely useful, particularly around a wilderness camp as they usually have much better steel then a cheap camp hatchet and nice broad cutting edge.  The left photo above shows my refinished framing hatchet.  But to keep the hatchet sharp and in perfect condition, a good sheath is required.  I used an East German grenade pouch and some rivets to make the sheath shown above.  The grenade pouch was less than $3.00 from Sportsmansguide.com.


Small adze in sheath made from a truck inner tube.  A  plastic bottle was cut and pop riveted in to cover the sharp blade edge (right, above). Jeans buttons keep it closed.

A small adze is extremely useful for shelter building.  The sideways edge keeps your knuckles away from the surface compared to an axe.  They work extremely well for smoothing log surfaces in confined areas such as the inside of an expedient shelter (dugout) and for logs which make up the roof of the shelter.  If a shelter is to be rain- and wind-proof, it must be sealed.  The easiest way to accomplish that is to use an adze to chop off high spots, smooth down branch roots, and make notches so the logs are interlocked.  The roof is then covered with a few inches of dirt and the soil smoothed out.  A very fine film of plastic sheet can be carefully laid out over the soil and then be covered with a few more inches of soil and sod. That thin film of plastic sheet is the wind and rain protection for the shelter, and being sandwiched between layers of sod has automatic UV protection so it will last for years. Sharp projections having been eliminated by the adze, the soil protects the delicate plastic film while holding it in place.  The logs on the sides of a shelter should be chinked with moss (or whatever is available), for which the back of the adze has been designed.  Shelters such as a dugout should have a plastic film placed on the outside of the logs before backfilling with dirt.  If smoothed with the adze there should be few sharp projections to cut the plastic film, but there will still be some holes.  Nevertheless it is far better moisture protection than nothing at all.  Google "Ziemlanka" for more images of traditional dugouts.


Above left, inserts cut from a gallon milk jug.  These are then sandwiched between two layers of canvas and each half sewn.  The halves are combined (center photo) by sewing, the trimmed to final shape and the edges thoroughly sewn with a Zig-Zag stitch. The end result (right photo above) is a nice belt sheath for a spokeshave!


A very inexpensive East German Day Pack gave its life to make the holster shown above for a Daisy Avanti Powerline 747 pellet pistol.  This material was too thick to sew in multiple thicknesses, so I riveted on the belt loops using common copper rivets.  The clasp in front was liberated from an East German grenade pouch. Because this pistol is so long, I put a gromet at the bottom of the holster so it could be tied to a pack or cart.

Wood Augers

Pant legs from an old pair of Levi's sewn to make a sheath to keep the auger bits secure in storage.  When stored like this the cutting edges don't get banged around and stay sharp and clean.

Part of a leg from old Levi pants for storing the auger handles so they are always clean, rust free and ready to use.


Draw knives are used to remove bark and to shape logs, make flats on logs, etc.  The 6" draw knife is very handy to carry and use when needed, but the handles are too close together for working large logs and thus can cause real knuckle bruising.  There IS a use for large fixed-handle draw knives, but for little jobs like tool handles and small logs, these work fine. This shows why I like folding handle draw knives - a sheath can hold one right on a tool belt.


Three knives hand forged from old files.  The handles were made from dry hardwood found in the forest, shaped and riveted in place using nails for rivets and copper pennies as washers. The leather for the sheath was from an old tractor implement power belt found in an abandoned barn, hand riveted so the knives all nest as shown above. The cost?  Some nails, rivets, and pennies.

Custom knife hand forged from an old file

The knife and sheath above illustrate that an outstanding and very useful knife can be made with materials at hand.  A large file was annealed twice, hand forged to shape, ground, sharpened, then hardened in a two-step process, the back of the blade being spring temper and the edge only being knife hard.  The knife can thus be used as a machete, clearing brush and chopping down small trees, or be a fine combat knife if called upon to do so.  The sheath was made from plastic cut from a thick blue 50 gallon barrel, glued and riveted together.  If the blade is kept clean and oiled so that it does not rust, the knife and sheath should last for the remainder of my lifetime and another as well.  This knife and sheath was made for me by Chip Delyria.


The photo at right shows a sheath I made for a medium sized camp shovel using rubber from a truck inner tube.  The sheath was simply cut to fit using surgical shears, then the sides pop riveted with washer backing to hold the rubber securely.  "Logger buttons" (suspender buttons) were used to hold the cover flap closed.



Cabin Building Without Nails


Tools - Restoration and Rebuilding