Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Survival Tools

Yes, seriously.

The smarter types know why already. (Don't get too far ahead of the class, kids.)

1. Kept in a small plastic baggie ($3/100 at WallyWorld) it lasts everywhere, forever.
2. At some point, you may be called upon to make traps* and snares*, or weapons*. You have a tool that will produce, far quicker and easier than your knife or multitool ever could, spikes for traps, snares, spears*, fish- and frog-gigs*, arrow tips*, and all manner of pointy wooden sticks, near endlessly.
3. Most importantly, to get a fire started, you'll need tinder*. So let's imagine a device that can take small and large sticks, and create a highly flammable ribbon-thin strip of combustible tinder, even from wood that's wet on the outside.
4. It also sharpens pencils*.
(You have forever-pencils in your kit, not just pens, right?)

The really indestructible brass and aluminum versions can be found online, at better art stores, and at most chain office supply stores, for around $5.
(Far less for cheaper plastic versions. I bought a round dozen of them, carded, at the local 99¢ Store. At 8.5¢@ for made-in-China goodness, you can give them away.)
You can store them in a plastic baggie for waterproofness.
A Swiss Army Knife* or Multi-tool* will have a file that can sharpen the blades, eventually.

You can (and should) also drill a small hole in the block somewhere out of the way, and put it on your EDC keychain, dummy-cord* it, or add it to a survival necklace*, so you can't lose it without your head coming off (at which point, you won't need the tool anymore anyways).

You will not find this on any military list of survival items, AFAIK.
And yet...

Multiple uses.
Nearly indestructible.
Requires no instruction manual nor complicated directions.
Can save your life several ways.


Buy a number of them, and squirrel one of them away in every version of your emergency gear.

*The Sergeant Major notes "You will see this material again."

OMFG: Let's all pause and contemplate, for a minute, the fact that there's someone using the internet in Comments to this post who cannot identify the item pictured without having their hand held. Despite point #4, above. 


John Wilder said...

I really like that idea. Simple and fast, like my ex-wife. If only Jack London would have had one of those he wouldn't have frozen to death under that tree.

Oh, wait . . .

(Seriously, a good idea - I'll be tossing some of those in various places and one in every vehicle. Four of the metal ones for $5 on Amazon.)

Aesop said...

I'm not just a pretty blog.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

But are you well hung?

Cederq said...

You planning doing more of these survive hacks? I would have never thought of having a good pencil sharpener. And so versatile. I gotta get outta the box more...

Aesop said...

Plan on seeing them weekly, if I can manage it.

SSG Mac said...

This is one of the best ideas I've seen come down the pike in a long while. I just ordered a good metal one from amazon, and I'll pick up several cheap ones at Wally World later. The brass one's going on the end of my pace counter: handy, and it'll serve as a "button to keep it anchored to the MOLLE.

sdharms said...

what the hell is it?

Anonymous said...


it's a pencil-sharpener for two different sizes, and with removable Blades.


June J said...

I’ll second the “great idea, never have thought about that” comment.

Metal 36 pack $13.

Plastic 72 pack $8.

Maybe throw a box of pencils in the cart too

Aesop said...

Let's all pause and contemplate, for a minute, the fact that there's someone using the internet who cannot identify a pencil sharpener without having their hand held.

Hank Curmudgeon said...

Of course you could spend just a bit more and get yet another source of magnesium to scrape onto your newly generated tinder. Something like these perhaps...

Aesop said...

Stay with the class, Hank.

Anonymous said...

@sdharms...........WTF. Did you grow up in a lab?

Also, carry a small piece of 80 grit sandpaper which can be rolled up and placed inside the sharpener to file down metal things you want a pointy thing on. Small wire becomes fish hook.

Hank Curmudgeon said...

Aesop said...
Stay with the class, Hank.
July 17, 2019 at 6:20 AM

So lighting the entire body of the sharpener on fire and using a fire proof sling or atlatl to improvise a aerial signal flare will be in tomorrows class? Though I agree this sharpener does make for a handy improvised weapon creator as seen in this once classified training video: https://youtu.be/4JgbOkLdRaE

Anonymous said...

Interesting and useful information. A metal version with removable blades can be had for less than $1.00 online at Office Supply. I am sure they will womder about the sudden interest in two hole pencil sharpeners.



Aesop said...

My personal fave:


Got it at the local full-line art supply store.

RandyGC said...

Nice Aesop. This is the first new (to me) idea in survival gear that I've seen in years*. And I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it myself. Back in the day this would have easily fit in my flight suit's sleeve pocket next to my mini-Leatherman.

(*Except for when new products (such as CATs on improved water filters) hit the market, just about every such list is a rehash of what I learned in Scouts in the 70's or AF Survival School in the 80's)

Anonymous said...

The Germans (I think it was them) made a pencil sharpener with a magnesium body which when shaved can produce fire tinder materials. Sort of a '2 in 1' tool - you might seek them out as well. Unit manufacturer is named KUM (not kidding - quit snickering you in the back ! :^)

A really good idea - thanks for posting it.

Chronos said...

OMFG: Let's all pause and contemplate, for a minute, the fact that there's someone using the internet in Comments to this post who cannot identify the item pictured without having their hand held. Despite point #4, above.

There's no way anyone is THAT stupid. And I know know some seriously stupid people that peg the stupometer.
Aesop, holy shit, man....how do you maintain? Dumbasses like that would just make me walk away and be done with it, forever.

raven said...

Just to establish some credentials, I have been working with wood, wet, dry, rough, finished, straight, steambent , cold molded, laminated, veneers, and sawn from solid with tools ranging from chainsaws to custom made carbide shaper heads, every day, for 55 years- so my comment may have a tiny bit of expertise behind it. Sort of like yours may have some relevance , say, with regard to medicine.

Sticks do not grow on trees straight, bark free,knot free, and of consistent diameter to fit in a pencil sharpener. If you absolutely have to sharpen a stick, use a sharp knife- you are going to need it cut the stick off, trim the bark off, and pare down the stick anyway before it will fit in the pencil sharpener, so what is another 3 seconds to cut the point? As an added bonus, you can cut the point of the stick off center, unlike the pencil sharpener, so you don't end up with the soft pith right where you need a point. Go buy a fine diamond hone instead to keep your knife sharp. I guarantee you a sharp knife is much, much faster for this sort of thing.

BTW, if in a wooded area, look for a rotted stump for tinder- it is not the fluffy rotted part you want, but the hard spikes sticking up out of the stump remnants- those are solid, because they are filled with pitch and will burn like crazy.

ApoloDoc said...

Yep, have these for just this purpose. Tinder is very quick, but for actually pointing most sticks I agree with the post above that a knife is probably going to do better.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to sdharms....it took me a triple take to recognize it between the angle, the much larger than life scale of the rendering, and the double barrel. Never seen a double barrel one before. That said, once I recognized the screw on the blade for scale, I got it before reading to point 4, but I did wonder what the heck was that a rendering of for more than a second.

(My first glance operative theory for half a second was an over-pressurization air filter/handler for BL4, but I came here to get Aesop's take on the WHO finally recognizing an international health crisis in DRC, so I was primed in that direction)

Survivormann99 said...

I picked up some pencil sharpeners a few months ago. I have to admit, however, that before I am ever likely to run out of pencils or pens, there will be plenty of pencils and pens lying around.

Let's face it, for a great many things one might need during daily life, the chances of needing them would mostly be after things have melted down to a Mad Max World level. If it ever does, most of the people who owned these things would be dead already, and their homes would be filled with useful things that could be recovered.

Now, about toilet paper...

Aesop said...


Srsly, man?
Sticks don't fall off trees looking like dowels??
Thank heavens you've come along and straightened me out, because I've never seen an actual stick from a real tree in my life, nor ever tried this trick once, let alone hundreds to thousands of times for forty years every where from pine and spruce forests above 7000', down to Sonoran and Mojave desert, in woods in Kentucky, Missouri, Georgia, and North Carolina, on tropical Pacific islands, or even on the Asian mainland, so of course you got this right. In fact, I never even sharpened dozens of pine, sycamore, maple, or any other sticks all the way back to before grade school, when Kennedy was president, out of sheer boredom, and made it work exactly as advertised.

But maybe, just for the helluvit, how about you go try it yourself, instead of forcing me to shoot a YouTube video of this and posting it just to embarrass you.

Just a suggestion.

Because if you knew anything about a pencil sharpener, you'd know that any stick small enough to fit in the hole (3/8" or less) can be sharpened with it. This obviously doesn't include 2x4s or full tree limbs, but being an expert and all, I assumed you'd know that much.

There's even YouTube How-To vids in case you're unclear on the concept.


If those sticks are still kicking your ass, maybe the problem isn't the tool.

Aesop said...


And they'll leave them all sharpened for you too, no doubt. ;)

Anonymous said...

This is the tool that I always trip up the B.B.& B. Survival crowd with. I ask them the question: "How many pencils and sharpeners do you have? And if none - do you know how to make a pencil" I always get the deer in the headlights look. As you are trying to get sparks from your wet mag stick can you send a note to your OP asking for some gas? They also work extremely well for teaching younguns.

The Freeholder said...

24 of the metal ones for $9 on Amazon. Kit out the neighborhood. https://www.amazon.com/TecUnite-Sharpeners-Sharpener-Students-Supplies/dp/B07BKZP4VC/ref=sr_1_16?crid=AJDL5B9NBG2R&keywords=metal+pencil+sharpener&qid=1563476414&s=gateway&sprefix=metal+pencil%2Caps%2C154&sr=8-16

Anonymous said...

Gotta feel a bit smug as I've had these in the inventory for some time, along with pencils. They weren't as difficult to find as grease pencils were. Not often I find I MAY have been slightly ahead of Aesop in some tiny thing.
So many once-ubiquitous things are nearly impossible for me to obtain anymore. I have been thwarted in my quest for Desert water bags once carried in most western has stations and the inexpensive good for one summer only straw cowboy hat.I

Boat Guy

Aesop said...

I'll keep an eye out for the Desert water bags next time I'm on the road between San Berdoo and Blythe, or out towards 29 Stumps.

Anonymous said...

Please do! Been a generation since I was on that road.
Found a site some years ago where I could buy a pallet of them but that's past my purchasing capacity. They were the one "good thing" on OP Left back in the day.
Would be good for a dozen or so if realistically priced.

raven said...

Good grief. Sounds like you have a pencil sharpener fixation. Really. I have traveled in many places and never, not once, needed one. And never come across anyone else who needed one. It is the definition of a "survival gimmick". Just a another piece of crap to accumulate. Spend $15 and buy a Mora companion if you need a light weight sharpener.
Your argument, as we used to say, is pushing a rope.

Aesop said...

Asked and answered.
A machete is not a Kukri is not a Kabar is not a Mora is not a razor blade.
There's nothing any $15 Mora will do in lieu of a 8¢ pencil sharpener that the sharpener won't do better, faster, and safer.

Don't believe me. Go soak yourself in a cold shower until you're shivering. Soak your hands in ice water for 20 minutes or so. Then get your Mora, and some sticks, and make tinder. In the dark. (Have 9-1-1 on speed dial.)

Never been in that situation?
You've been glamping, not surviving.

A plastic pencil sharpener weighs a few grams. A brass one is an ounce or so.

Notice no one said anywhere carry the sharpener instead of a knife.
But for an ounce or two, you can do detail work endlessly that your Mora couldn't do for an hour without needing half an hour with a stone to fix. And maybe gacking yourself in the process. Now you need a knife, a stone, and a first aid kit.

Without needing any of that, I can turn any small sticks of wood into tinder, in small mountains. For hours. For 8¢.

Your argument, as we still say, is overtaken by reality.

Still don't care?
It's a free country.

And don't, by all means, read Jack London's short story, To Build A Fire.