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Chickens for preppers: Important considerations

I wanted to put out a guide for preppers who are interested in keeping chickens or other poultry for long term food security reasons. This is a discussion of important concepts for improving self sufficiency in flock management, not a guide for basic animal care. Please add your thoughts/comments/additions!

1. Select the right breeds and flock mix
For preppers, I recommend going with a mixed flock of hardy, dual purpose breeds that are bred for egg production levels of about 200+ eggs/yr. These birds are big enough to make a good soup/stew bird when their laying days wind down and produce higher amounts of larger eggs than fancy and bantam breeds. You want a bird that can forage well, and safely manage all season conditions without heaters or other special care requirements. Popular breeds in the dual purpose category include barred rocks, Rhode Island reds, New Hampshires, orpingtons and australorps, among others. Hybrid production/efficiency birds like ISA browns/red stars can be added to amp up egg production. I also recommend keeping a couple hens of dual purpose breeds that tend to go broody, like brahmas, in the event you want/need to produce chicks without the aid of electric incubators and brooders.

2. Size your flock for your anticipated long term needs
Egg production varies by breed, age of hen, the animal’s health, and environmental/seasonal conditions. Birds under 2 produce more eggs than older hens past their prime, and the dark days of winter can dramatically reduce egg production on a cyclical basis. Even very high temperatures in summer can throw a bird’s laying schedule out of whack. This means that a very small flock of only 3-4 birds is unlikely to produce enough eggs for a family over time, even if they produce enough when they are at their peak. So if you want 3-4 eggs a day from your birds, you will probably need about 6 hens to consistently achieve that.

3. Buy vaccinated chicks from reputable hatcheries/breeders
Many backyard keepers buy, sell, and trade the chicks they produce at costs that are much lower than big hatcheries. The trouble is that most small keepers and breeders dont manage their lineages for health and performance (they just breed whatever rooster they have to whatever hens they have) and more importantly, they ususally don’t vaccinate their chicks for Mareks ( Every year, I see backyard keepers on chicken forums looking for help with sick and dying birds infected with Mareks. Many times they lose multiple birds, and the surviving birds become permanent carriers (which means they will infect any unvaxxed new birds the keepers try to get to replace the dead ones). In my opinion, for preppers, it is especially important to maintain a vaxxed flock if at all possible because you don’t want to be losing your birds in a time of food/chick shortages. A 100% vaxxed flock also means that if you want or need to breed your own birds without access to the vaccine, those new birds will be safe. You also don’t want to be contributing to the spread of Mareks in backyard flocks in your region if you sell your birds to others, as that can destabilize the local food supply when you need it most.

4. Use a multi-flock/purpose 20% protein feed in anticipation of changing flock needs
There are a number of different bird feeds out there – chick, grower/raiser, maintenance, layer, etc – and it can be hard to know which one is best. I recommend going with a 20% protein all-flock grower/raiser as your standard feed for your birds once they are off chick crumble for two reasons. First, a 20% feed can be used at all stages of life and for a wide variety of birds – meat, layer, males and females, winter, birds in molt, birds without access to forage, turkeys, ducks, etc. Conversely, layer-specific or general adult maintenance pellets don’t have enough protein for the rapid growth required of young and meat birds, have too much calcium for male birds, and often don’t have enough niacin for waterfowl. This means that if you have your hens on layer pellets and then you get a rooster, now you need to switch feeds. Or if you get ducks, or turkeys, or broilers. You get the idea. Second, as preppers, you should be storing extra feed. If you don’t know how your flock might change over time, you want to make sure whatever feed you have stockpiled will work for everyone in the future, or else you could end up with hundreds of pounds of food that is poorly suited to your animals.

5. Plan on rotating in new layers to keep production consistent
Due to the natural decline in egg production over a hen’s lifetime, your flock’s production will dramatically decrease after a few years if you don’t keep resupplying it with younger hens. Many keepers follow the 1/3 rule: replace/add 1/3 of your flock size every two years to keep egg production high. So if you have 6 hens in 2020, that means you should plan to add 2 new birds by 2022. Older hens do continue to lay, just at a reduced rate, so if you don’t plan on culling older birds to make way for the new additions, be sure to make your coop big enough for a larger flock than you start with.

6. Have a multi-faceted backup feeding plan in the event of feed shortages
The obvious first line of defense for feed shortages is storing enough feed for your animals to get them through at least a couple of months without needing to resupply. Long term situations though, like a complete collapse in the supply chain, will require mutliple other backup food sources in case you can’t resupply when you run low. Fostering a healthy pasture environment for your animals to range is one important strategy. This means preferably offering your animals something more than the typical lawn, and adopting grass/property management strategies that maximize seed production and insect populations (basically the exact opposite of what most suburban lawn care seeks to do). But even with a good pasture available, poultry need supplemental feeds. You can make your own scratch feed by grinding/crushing a mix of dry corn and grains from your own food stores, and you can crush/powder cooked animal bones, eggshells, and crustacean shells for calcium supplementation. Kitchen scraps can help round out the diet. A mix of pasture, kitchen scraps, homemade scratch feed, and carefully rationed amounts of dwindling commercial feed is hardly ideal, but it should hopefully allow you to keep your birds alive longer in a true crisis scenario than if you don’t take advantage of all these methods.

7. Have a backup bird resupply plan in the event of chick shortages/shipping issues
When the pandemic hit, there was a run on chicks and hatcheries were overrun with a surge of orders ( But eggs hatch on their own time frame regardless of how many humans want birds and why. So the orders got backed up, important production breeds sold out, and many people had to wait far longer than usual to get the animals they did manage to order. Issues struck again just recently when problems with the USPS resulted in serious shipping delays, causing thousands of chicks to die enroute to their destinations ( USPS is the only shipper of live birds in the US. If they can’t get the chicks to farmers and keepers, then only people/businesses local to the hatcheries can get birds from them (and there aren’t many hatcheries). These problems highlight the importance of having a backup plan to restock your birds as needed. Keeping a rooster in a laying flock can be a major PITA but it has the major advantage of allowing you to make your own chickens without relying on the agricultural supply chain. If you live in an area where you can’t have a rooster, or if you really don’t want to deal with their general ridiculousness, you can still plan on hatching your own eggs by connecting with other local keepers who are willing to sell/trade fertilized hatching eggs or chicks to you (the pro of hatching eggs vs chicks is that they are cheaper and you don’t have to worry about disease introduction, the con is that hatch rates can be dodgy).

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Navigating the healthcare system in the USA

Looking for any advice or learned lessons on navigating our healthcare system when you have something more than a minor illness. I know many of us have gone through this and would like to hear some of the things you have learned.

Any trustworthy apps to keep track of your medical records so you have it on hand for each doctor?

How to deal with the insurance company when the code given is ineligible or incurs extra cost?

How to not eat through your savings?

When to recognize a test is necessary or unnecessary?

How and when to get second opinions?

How do you research doctors you are referred to so that you get one of the best for your case?

Anything I haven’t mentioned please feel free to offer ideas.

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Preparing for home fires

Hi all! With the recent wildfires in Maui, I realized that I never made any plans to help preserve the originals of important documents at home from a fire. While they are backed up to the cloud, I think it’s still important to save the originals if possible. I purchased a small fireproof safe (the recommended choice from the NY Times Wirecutter site; the review link is below), but I’ve noticed this doesn’t seem to be a topic covered by many prepper sites.

Anyone else have suggestions or recommendations for this issue?

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Prepping books

I enjoy reading and collecting prepping books (nonfiction).  I’m also making a prepping journal (supplies, gardening, what to do kind of stuff).  I have collection of magazines (Mother Earth News, Grit, Country Side).  Hardcopies are beneficial for me and my grandkids in case we ever loose power for an extended period of time, i.e., SHTF.  The below pic is most of my books.  Please recommend books you find useful. Thanks very much. 

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survival books 

Best home or neighborhood security system 2023

What are the best options to detect, deter, and prevent breakins in your home or neighborhood? My neighborhood had a nighttime burglary recently (involving a car, not the house) which has raised the issue of security in my neighborhood. I’m interested in recommendations for my own home’s security, especially detection/alerting, as well as neighborhood-wide options that I could present to the HOA.

Here are some relevant previous security articles and discussions, but I suspect some of the technology has advanced in the years since these were written.

Please share both ideas and experiences about how to setup home or neighborhood security systems.

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For UK members: April 23rd 3pm (1500 local) Alert Test, What do you think???

I checked in here to see what you all thought of this alert thing? is it useful? does it have the potential to help anyone in a real situation? etc…

because I went to a busy motorway service station near me to see what would be like in a crowd, how people would respond and how easily heard it would be so that I would get the most from the test, and I know that other country use similar systems so I guess it must work

What I experienced:
– there was a loud noise because there was enough people with compatible phones for everyone in the crowd to hear it
– my phone was too old (you need android 11 or later), I did expect to receive a text at the very least but I got nothing
– I think it was about one in ten people with a version of android new enough to receive it
– This 1/10 included a group of Indian tourists (so where your SIM is registered doesn’t matter) you can still receive the alert, but it came through on there phones in English so the children had no idea what it was until there farther translated it for them
– There is no alert through FM or DAB radio, just phones

If I was on my own I would have had no way to receive this, but it is still better than nothing, so should I upgrade my phone?

What are you thoughts on the UK Alert System?

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Is using natural gas a realistic option in most grid-down scenarios?

Given the number of electrical grid-down scenarios over the past year or so, I’ve been thinking about how to heat my home should that happen in the dead of winter.

My question is this:  Does natural gas ever get disrupted, specifically in locations like the Rocky Mountain West?  Power outages exceeding more than a few hours in my area are rare, perhaps once a year at most.  I don’t recall ever–in my lifetime–having a natural gas outage, period.  Though, obviously, anything is possible given the right bad circumstances.

It occurred to me that in a simple extended power outage (ranging from a few hours to a few days) due to, say, downed power lines in a snowstorm, I could simply plug the fan for my gas fireplace (or, possibly, the fan for the main house heater, which uses forced air) into a Jackery or DIY power station and keep heat circulating through the house.  While I haven’t yet taken a look at the setup in the basement furnace room, my initial thought is that that electric fan on my fireplace would require significantly less electricity and would be sufficient to keep our small two-bedroom ranch style home “warm enough” in an emergency situation.

Obviously, as well all things prepping, I wouldn’t want to put all my eggs in the same prepping basket.  So being prepared to function without natural gas ultimately needs to be part of my plan.  But, it seems, that many if not most grid-down situations would be no electric BUT natural gas still available, allowing me to battery power the fans to circulate the heat.  And, obviously, for an extended outage, natural gas–if available–is in much greater supply than the amount of propane I can realistically (and safely) store onsite.

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Pooping in a pail and other prepper pastimes

I am in the middle of a plumbing problem and thought I’d share what I’m learning AS I’m learning it, since I learn a lot from the “what went well/what didn’t” threads elsewhere in this Forum. To the extent possible I’ll try not to repeat what is in the “Toilets when there’s no water” thread. 

It seems our outbound sewer line is blocked. We are lucky that we have an unfinished basement so the disgusting backup is mostly in our non-living areas. But though we have plenty of clean incoming water, if any of it goes down the drains it just makes the backup WORSE and more disgusting. My preps are coming in handy, but I’ve learned some things!  Warning, this thread is – kinda gross. 

You need more trash bags than you think. I’m peeing in the toilet as usual but not flushing, and throwing the wet TP in the trash. Despite my husband’s objections, I am also Pooping in a pail, using my “luggable loo” for “#2”, with two trash bags inside and a big scoop of kitty litter. It still smells, though, so I take it out to the trash afterward and thus the need for lots of trash bags. 

I wasn’t thinking clearly when this first happened and at first I was trying to practice “hygiene” outside – hand washing, etc. using the outdoor faucets. This sucked since it is freezing here. I quickly realized that all I really have is a drainage problem, so I put big bowls under each house faucet to catch the hand washing water and then I throw it outside.  From this I learned a few other things:

Pails are REALLY handy.  LOTS of pails.  In addition to the “luggable loo” pail, which is serving its purpose, I have a pail in the bathroom to dump the hand wash water into, and a pail in the kitchen for dishwater. To the extent possible I’m using biodegradable soap and as the pail fills up I’m dumping it on the edge of the woods.  I also had to use a pail for cleaning up the backup in the basement. It was disgusting. Thank goodness I had dish gloves and plenty of hand sanitizer.  At first I was cleaning up with the ol’ wringing out a wet rag method, but this took forever. I finally figured out that using a squeegee to push the water into a large dustpan worked much faster. I probably made thirty trips to the woods with buckets of gross water. My next prepping purchase will be a water vacuum. Would love a review of those for a  future guide. 

The stuff I bought for hurricanes – shampoo caps, GoodWipes, wet toilet paper, etc. (plus the hand sanitizer that has basically become a staple in pandemic times) have been absolute gifts when I need to use as little water as possible. Here are some other tiny things I’ve noticed:

Habits are VERY hard to break. My husband kept running the faucets etc. without thinking, thus making our backup worse. I made signs with a big red magic marker and post-its saying “STOP! Minimize water use!” and posted at each sink and toilet, and that helped.  My preps were not as – prepped – as I thought. It took me a while to find the Luggable Loo, the trash bags, and the solar shower (which I ended up not needing).  I thought I was SO organized! I wasn’t.  We always say we should practice but does anybody really? These “mini emergencies” – only a drainage problem, instead of a full on emergency – are the ideal scenarios in which to work out the tiny details (which is why I am writing about it).   We should have a list of hotels with in-room laundry and kitchen facilities.  This problem has been going on for three days now (a plumber came on day one and SAID the problem was fixed – it wasn’t!) and we are considering moving to a hotel. However, with Omicron raging I really, really don’t want to be around other people, so finding a place with in-room laundry and kitchen facilities would be ideal.  Good to learn this now as in the future I might need to find one quickly, and WHEN you’re dealing with a literal “poopy situation” is not the time to figure stuff out like that. I found myself remarkably reluctant to use my preps. Example: The kitty litter with the Luggable Loo. I thought, Well maybe I should save this for a “real” emergency. I decided the situation definitely warranted the use of my supplies and that I can buy more kitty litter later! Very grateful for my “not quite BOB”. In addition to my full-on BOB, I keep a fully packed suitcase with three days’ worth of clothes, toiletries, and medications in case of a family emergency. I haven’t needed to use it yet but knowing that it is there is a stress reducer.  Given that we can’t do laundry just now, having three days of clean clothes set aside is a blessing.

Well, the plumber just called and is on his way.  Stay tuned. My next post might be about my hotel room kitchen kit, that allows us to have hot healthy meals even in a hotel without a kitchen. I put it together last summer in case we had to travel in the pandemic but haven’t tested it out yet. 

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What do you keep in your BOB for menstruation?

This came up in a different thread about prepping resources for single women,

Wanted to start a separate thread to dig deeper into period prepping! 🙂 Everyone was so generous with suggestions on the other thread, thought we could continue and consolidate here.

These were the main ideas that came up so far

Menstrual cups are a good idea because they’re washable and reusable, though the learning curve can be steep and there might be hygiene issues Diva Cup seems popular but not all brands work for all people Period underwear such as Thinx may be better for bags since they can be worn regularly and won’t add more weight Disposable paper products are cheap and can be used as a fire starter too, but you are limited to what you already carry

One person mentioned getting a UTI from her cup, so obviously everyone’s experience will be different. Whatever you choose, you should be sure to practice with it in real life. Don’t switch to a new method the same time you’re dealing with an emergency.

So… what do you keep in your bag? How do you think about prepping for periods when you’re not at home in an emergency? Has anyone gone through this, like at a shelter?

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Personal first aid kits for families

Hi, new here. Trying to put together go bags for my family. Thoughts on specific items to put into first aid kits for kids bags. Would prefer to do this so everyone has one in the event we were to get sperated. Kids are 10-14. Also, ideas on how not to spend a fortune doing this.

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Military surplus: Favorite online sources and items

Question for the group:

While I recognize that there are limitations to military surplus items (tend to be heavier, can attract unwanted attention, govt purchases from the lowest bidder, etc.), I’ve been considering them for longer-term preparedness. In other words, I have my premium/lightweight items for bugging out and my heavier more durable items for bugging-in/homestead cache, etc.. Military surplus seems to be a good mix of durable, inexpensive, and quality enough for the military to use them. 

Any particular favorite online surplus stores and/or items that you all have added to your stash (or milsurp items that you AVOID)? 

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When and where to not carry concealed firearms

I sometimes see signs like this on the entrances of businesses and restaurants. Banks, hospitals, schools, and even The Cheesecake Factory prohibit firearms on their premises. Is it outright illegal to carry a gun in these places or just their company policy? Will disobeying these signs result in a felony, a misdemeanor, or just being asked to leave? 

The bad guys who are going to shoot up a place are not going to care if there is a sign on the window or not and might even target these locations knowing that all the good people inside are going to be disarmed. Weighing the pros and cons, I am leaning more to conceal carrying in my purse and worst case scenario being asked to leave rather than be left vulnerable against an active shooter like what happened in the Brooklyn subway the other day.

It probably will depend on the state or city you are in, so there might not be one overall right answer, but if you have any thoughts I’d like to hear. 

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Test your gear and run scenarios in advance of a real emergency

I used the recent power outages as a dress rehearsal of sorts and it was a good thing. I have not yet had the proper electrical corrections installed for a direct hookup for the generator. Cost and time just hasn’t been there until now. So….I had to run extension cords to power the basic necessities. Ran into a couple of minor issues I’ll have to sort out but we had lights & refrigeration while most of my neighbors didn’t. For the new-to-prepping, don’t just assume that the stash of stuff in your basement/garage/shelter will do the trick when the time comes. PLAY WITH IT! Do those dry runs in advance. You may be surprised what you run into that hadn’t been considered during planning.  

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How often do you run your portable generator?

For those who have portable generators, how often do you run them?  

I have 2 generators that I run for 30 minutes once a month that coincides with the monthly siren test on the first Saturday of the month.  I also run one of the generators to power the whole house for 30 minutes twice a year.  I have an interlock setup versus a transfer switch so I can select which circuits I want to power.

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What dry dog and cat food would you recommend?

What dry dog and cat food have a decent shelf life, and good quality that you would recommend? Not too concerned about canned food, which can last a few years. 

Thanks in advance.

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Sling bag for basic lightweight prepping equipment

Hi guys,

First things first, I am new to prepping and do find this website very useful and by far the most elaborated and well-structured on the topic. Thank you for making prepping easier for people like me. Having said that, I have travelled the world for 6 months with a single bag pack (I will come back on that) and I used to travel a lot for my work; a bit less nowadays. All this to say that I am use to travels and backpacking.

Now comes the interesting bit. The way I see things, my wife and I will keep our least compact and heaviest prepping hardware ready to take off, at home (most of the time) in our backpacks. I have a Kajka 65 – Fjallraven and she takes the Abisko Friluft 45 (both are Fjallraven – have a look at these, they are more mountain types backpack but worth considering for prepping). I had the 65 L Kajka for my 6 months travel and it never disappointed me nor let me down.

For our lightest gear, I would like to invest in one or two sling bags. This is not in line with The Prepared recommendations but we would not use these sling bags for long walks and travel. The idea is to have our lightest gear with us most of the time, to get used to it and try it when possible. We do a lot of offroad driving short walks to discover areas, look for mushrooms, etc. and a sling bag would be perfect to be able to quickly access knife, multitool, the equipment to make fire, water, etc. not shelter and night orientated but really day basic equipment and the gear we want to try to get to know how to use it when we really do not have other choice but to use them.

In terms of sling bag there is a variety of choice and, from what I could see, there is no real good article on the net comparing them against each other’s. I liked the idea of the messenger bag or the satchel near the hip but I think that will not work in the long term. Hence, the sling bag on the back with a secondary strap to maintain it in place (I think this is important). In terms of volume, I do not want nor need much. Again the idea is day trip with light and compact equipment. at the moment I am looking into the following bags and would appreciate any thoughts or guidance:

– Plan B from Hazard 4; it looks good; maybe a bit too big (visual at least).

– Paladin / SOTech Go Sling Bag; I liked this one a lot initially but got to understand that the main compartment is really not what I am looking for.

– Crosshatch Sling Pack from First Tactical; I like this one a lot but understood that the people were disappointed when receiving it, expecting higher grade/quality/finish.

– Sitka Maxpedition; this is also one of my favorite.

– Vanquest Javelin Sling, 2nd Gen; probably my favorite one at the moment.

As I said, I am new to prepping, gearing up gradually and following all the good advice I can get. I like spending time outside, best in the nature. So from all angles, prepping makes sense to me and I want to keep it fun and enjoyable.

Thank you all for reading me and looking forward to your feedbacks.

Cheers, Mathieu

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How to sew and repair a leather glove

I have a pair of deerskin leather gloves that are fantastic. They have far outlasted any other pair of gloves I’ve owned. However, the stitching on the tip of one finger has ripped:

I want to repair them, and I suppose I could take them to the local shoe repair shop. But I think this is a good opportunity to learn how to fix it myself – I just don’t know the first thing about sewing. Can anyone guide me on how to do this and/or point me to a good YouTube video? (It’ll probably look like Frankenstein’s neck when I’m done, but I don’t care. 🙂

As an aside, the gloves were from the Oregon Glove Company. If you’re looking for holiday gift ideas, these would be a great gift. (And no, I’m not associated with the company in any way – just a happy customer.)

Thanks in advance,

– WS

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Old hand saw restoration guide

In preparation to restore some old hand saws, I assemble a guide drawing on multiple sources. I was motivated to do this as sources that I read disagreed with each other at times or left out useful tips mentioned in other guides. Thought it might be something y’all would be interested in. At the end of the day, hand tools are a necessary backup to power tools, and they just don’t make hand tools like they used to. At least, not without them costing an arm and a leg. 

Here is the following information in PDF form:

Apologies that the formatting is not the most pretty here, it is better in the PDF. Also in the PDF, all the sources have hyperlinks to the website for easier access. 

Also, does anyone have any experience with restoring saws or other old hand tools? I’m particularly interested in saws, axes, chisels, and hand planes.  

Old Hand Saw Restoration Guide – Noah Holkeboer – March 2023


To take old, rusty, dull hand saws and restore them aesthetically and functionally. Also aiming to preserve any etchings on the blade and/or carvings on the handle.


Acquire saw → Disassemble → Clean pins → Remove rust and grime → Enhance etching (optional) → Sand or clean handle → Protect handle → Reassemble → Sharpen → Set teeth → Protect and maintain


Old saw to restoreBench viceScrewdrivers Wood mallet Punch for pinsSandpaper (80-600 grit)Sanding blockRubbing Alcohol (for etchings)

WD-40™Steel Bluing Agent (for etchings)Boiled linseed oil Wood finish (if desired)Oil or wax for protecting steelSaw filesSaw tooth set toolWood for cut testing


1) Examine the saw. Look for a maker’s mark and etchings on the blade by viewing it from different angles in the light. Medallions on handle pins are also worth examining. Note carvings on the handle. These observations could help you determine the age of the saw, and they will also inform how the saw is restored. See the bibliography for references to help with determining the age of antique hand saws (von Sneidern, 2009; Clark & Dima, 2019).

2 Remove the handle from the saw blade. Loosen the saw nuts and medallion. Use a large screwdriver that fits snuggly, so as to avoid stripping or marring the nut, as these are often made of soft brass. Old saws might have “split” saw nuts, and require a special driver or a flathead screwdriver modified by filing a notch in the center. If the nuts are stuck, spray some WD-40™, wait a few minutes, then try again. Then push out the rest of the saw nuts. You can try to just push them out with a pencil, but they might need to be gently tapped out with a hammer and punch. Make sure to record which nut came from which hole, as over years the holes can become uniquely conformed to each nut (Farnsworth, 2022). Carefully slide the handle off of the saw plate (blade). If it does not come off easily, secure the plate in a vice and pull it off or tap it off with a mallet. Consider using WD-40™ to lubricate. If restoring a back saw (tenon saw) that has a rigid steel or brass back, do not remove it, as the blade might bend out of shape after removal (Farnsworth, 2022).

3) Clean the saw nuts. Saw nuts can be cleaned and polished in multiple ways. For grime that is really stuck on, you could consider soaking the brass nuts and medallion in a 1:4 solution of laundry detergent overnight before scrubbing off grime (Foster, 2021). However, the effectiveness is probably dependent on the type and concentration of laundry detergent, which Foster does not specify. Avoid anything that would have negative effects on the metal. After the soak, proceed with cleaning and polishing as described below. In most circumstances, this soak should not be necessary. Use fine steel wool (#0000) and a brass polish such as Brasso™ to clean and polish them (Farnsworth, 2022). Wipe off any excess polish with a rag.

4) Remove rust and clean the saw plate. Some guides suggest removing rust with a solvent or acid, while this can work effectively, it can go too far. In the process of removing rust, the acid can remove an etching, darken the color of the blade, or leave pits in the metal. For the best restoration, these products should be avoided. Manual removal of rust and grime is usually sufficient, though it does take a little more work. However, some do recommend these products for saws with a lot of rust, even those that have etchings (T, 2016).

Large pieces of gunk and rust can be removed with a razor or scraping tool. Filing the corners of a razor blade can prevent it from leaving lines (Foster, 2021). If the saw does not have an etching, rust can be sanded off more aggressively. However, caution should be exercised unless it is obvious that there is no etching, as grime and age can hide a faint etching. To remove rust and clean the blade, use wet dry sandpaper, starting with more coarse grit and moving to more fine grit. 400 grit followed by 600 grit seems to be a common recommendation (Foster, 2021; Farnsworth, 2022), although starting with 120 grit has been practiced when there is no etching (​​Eoin Reardon, 2022). When sanding, using a solvent such as WD-40™, mineral spirits, or Simple Green™ is recommended. Using a sanding block helps to keep the depth of the sanding consistent. After sanding, using a surface cleaner and a cleaning pad can help remove dirt from areas that sanding can reach (such as teeth and pits in the metal).

5) Enhance etching if present on the plate (optional). If there is an etching present on the blade, you can consider attempting to enhance it. The results may not be dramatic, but it is possible to increase the contrast of the etching. To enhance an etching, start with a clean saw plate. Some recommend that the metal is polished before enhancing the etching (Enhancing a saw etch, n.d.). The blade is further cleaned and degreased by wiping it down with a solvent. Mineral spirits or acetone has been recommended (Enhancing a saw etch, n.d.), as isopropyl alcohol (T, 2016). Wipe down the blade and let the solvent dry before proceeding.

Next, apply a bluing agent like Perma Blue™ gun blue paste. It can be applied only to the area with the etching or can be applied to the whole blade. It will darken the color of the steel but can be sanded to your preferences. If only applied to a spot on the blade, it will change its reflectiveness, leaving a “halo” when viewed from certain angles in the light (Enhancing a saw etch, n.d.). After applying the blueing compound, one guide recommends letting it sit for “a minute or so”, then washing it off in cold water (T, 2016). Another guide suggests that the bluing agent should be allowed to dry “thoroughly” and “completely” (Enhancing a saw etch, n.d.). Either way, the bluing agent should not be touched while it is setting, as it could lead to inconsistent bluing. Next, the area of the etching is carefully sanded, only a few strokes at a time. Sanding is stopped when the etching is revealed and the background is an appropriate color. Just a little too much sanding could destroy the etching forever. The area around the etching and the rest of the blade can be lighted with additional sanding. Use a sanding block for this to avoid sanding unevenly. Use 600 grit or finer sandpaper (Enhancing a saw etch, n.d.). It has been suggested that this process could be repeated two or three times to improve the results (T, 2016).

6) Clean or remove saw handle coating.In many cases, the restoration will involve sanding the wooden handle of the saw. However, one should consider not sanding the handle, and only cleaning it for two main reasons. First, old saw handles that have seen lots of use can have a desirable patina due to years of exposure to the oil in a worker’s hands, which can be aesthetically pleasing and very comfortable to hold (Farnsworth, 2022). Second, if preserving the saw as a historical object is of interest, irreversible restoration processes, like sanding, should be avoided. Gentle use of #0000 steel wool and mineral spirits can be used to clean a wooden handle without removing the patina (Farnsworth, 2022).

For saw handles that will be sanded, thick layers of varnish may be able to be scraped off first with a razor blade scraper, this can be eased by heating the handle. If varnish must be removed from the small groves of decorative handle carvings, a chemical stripper like CitriStrip™ may be the only option (Foster, 2021). If a chemical stripper is used, clean the handle with mineral spirits and steel wool afterward to remove traces of the chemical before sanding (Foster, 2021). Sanding the handle down to bare wood can start with 60 or 80 grit sandpaper, especially if there is still varshish on the handle. The handle can be made smoother by using progressively fine grit sandpaper, up to 220 grit (Foster, 2021).

Saw handles with minor damage can be repaired (The Write Biz, 2013). However, badly damaged handles might need to be replaced entirely.

7) Protect saw handle.If desired, a staining finish can be added to the handle wood. Alternatively, the handle can be protected with an application of boiled linseed oil for a more natural look. Be careful with used rags, as apparently than can self-combust if not laid out to dry or intentionally burned (Foster, 2021). To apply either, wipe on evenly. Boiled linseed oil may warrant additional applications over time. In any case, refer to the instructions for the product being used.

8) Reassemble saw. Reattach the handle to the saw blade, putting the pins back in the same hole they came from, in the same way they were if possible. Do not over-tighten the nuts.

9) Sharpen saw. Sharpen the saw to your preference. Most saws are set up as either rip-cut or cross-cut saws by changing the shape of their teeth. After teeth are sharpened, they are set if it is necessary. This is done using a tool to slightly bend the teeth outward, alternating between sides. Other guides and videos exist detailing how to sharpen saws in various styles (Paul Sellers, 2013; Eoin Reardon, 2022; Farnsworth, n.d.).

10) Protect and maintain the restored saw. The metal blade of the saw can be polished with metal polish if desired. It can be protected by applying wax or oil. Boiled linseed oil can be reapplied to handles treated with it for continued protection. With use, the saw will need to be resharpened, and eventually, the teeth will need to be set again.


Clark, Joshua., & Dima, Barry. (2019). A buyer’s guide to antique handsaws – finewoodworking.


Enhancing a saw etch. (n.d.). Loon Lake Tool Works.

Eoin Reardon. (2022, July 4). Restoring A vintage tenon saw [Video]. YouTube.

Farnsworth, Joshua. (n.d.). How to sharpen hand saws for woodworking | wood and shop.

Wood and Shop.

Farnsworth, Joshua. (2022, February 4). How to restore an antique back saw. Wood and Shop.

Foster, Joe. (2021, February 28). How to restore an old hand saw, A complete guide | growit

buildit. Growit Buildit.

Paul Sellers. (2013, May 6). How to sharpen a woodworking handsaw | paul sellers [Video].


T, Jay. (2016, January 26). Hand Saw Restorations – How to bring back the detail of an etch.


The Write Biz. (2013, January 13). Repairing a vintage handsaw handle. Hand Tool Journey-A

woodworking show of hands.

von Sneidern, Erik. (2009, January). Online reference of disston saws — the medallions.

Disstonian — Online Reference of DisstonSaws.

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Hands-on experience with a Scout Rifle?

Does anyone have any actual hands-on experience with any of the current Scout rifles (ex. Ruger GSR, Savage, Mossberg)?  What’s been your experience (good or bad)? 

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What are the best solar panel/generator brands?

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DIY air filter protects an entire room from COVID-19

Will this pandemic ever end? We finally have vaccines, and we still have breakthrough infections. We finally reach herd immunity from vaccination, then a new variant is 50% more infectious and brings the pandemic roaring back. We’re not even recovered from that when another variant comes along, even more infectious and a bit resistant to vaccines. At this point we need 150% of people vaccinated to reach herd immunity again, and 6 months after that another variant will set us back to the beginning.

The problem is that we’re relying too much on vaccines. They’re a great tool, but just not enough on their own. That’s why we need a layered approach.

Every COVID precaution has some failure rate or side effect that prevents it from being the magic bullet that fixes everything. That’s okay. We can make up for this by using several layers of protection. If one layer fails 20% of the time (vaccine) and another layer fails 20% of the time (N95 mask) then you can combine both precautions for a failure rate of only 4% (odds that both fail at the same time). If that’s still not enough, just add a third layer.

Here’s one more layer you can add, either for added protection or as a replacement when, for whatever reason, you can’t wear that mask.

One of the most overlooked precautions is also the easiest to keep up long term. The virus can only spread if you breathe it in. Cheap and effective ventilation systems remove viruses from the air, so that you can safely breathe that air without getting infected. With enough room air filtration, it becomes possible for people to share a room together without spreading infection, even if none of them are wearing masks. This is especially important for places where people need to remove their masks, such as dental offices or restaurants. It also makes a great backup layer for especially high risk environments, like classrooms or shared offices, where it’s difficult to wear a mask properly for many hours at a time.

Just build one of these filtration systems for each place that you want to protect. One unit is enough to hang out with friends, especially if you spread out a little with the fan placed between you pointed up. Three of them will provide supplemental protection for a typical, crowded classroom, in which everyone is still wearing masks.

The best part about layered defenses is that you can always afford to drop one of the layers, and the remaining layers will still take care of you. A filtration system is just one more layer you can use, so that you can safely drop any other layer if it’s getting in your way.

There’s a whole menu of layers that you can choose from:

Filtration System – keep the above air filter near you Outdoors – because the ventilation is built-in N95 Masks – for when you need to visit areas that you haven’t secured Vaccines – 5 months of easy protection Distance – just stand further away while talking

(BTW, hand washing and scrubbing doorknobs don’t belong on this list. They might help a little bit, but not nearly as much as any of the above. COVID-19 usually spreads through the air, not by touching surfaces.)

I always aim for at least two layers of protection, and sometimes add a third if I need to be in a crowded room. Decide how many you feel comfortable with – you definitely don’t need to use all at once.

And the best part about filtration systems? If one business owner installs filtration, every single customer is that much safer and doesn’t need to work so hard on protecting themselves. Bring your own filter, or ask your favorite businesses to take care of it for you. You and everyone around you will be that much safer.

Imagine if all of our public spaces had good ventilation. Everyone would be protected, even those that refuse to protect themselves. We might finally end this pandemic.

Until then, this is one more tool that you can use to protect yourself and your community.

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For as far back as I can remember, I’ve been saving up coins inside one of those two-gallon water jugs with the hopes of adding it to my account later on. Now that I actually can do that, though, I’ve been hearing some conflicting stuff about what I should do with the coins. 

My Dad seems to believe the coins wouldn’t lose their value in a major financial crisis and tells me to keep them where they are, but I’m not so sure about that. However, with the bank situation getting a little more volatile in recent news I don’t want to lose anything I’ve saved over the past 16 years. 

So, what’re your recommendations?

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Nat gas “sniffers” for friends who can’t smell anymore due to Covid

So here’s a fun prepping mashup: Both my mom and one of my friends have recently had gas leak scares when a gas-powered appliance began to malfunction and they realized, suddenly, that they would not necessarily be able to tell if it was leaking gas because they’d lost their sense of smell due to Covid. In my mom’s case, it was actually kind of funny, at least in hindsight, because she texted my husband and said, “Please don’t tell Sarah, because I know she’ll be worried, but…” My husband (who was sitting right next to me on the couch, watching Andor, and dutifully concealed their conversation from me) told her to call the utility, since they make free house calls 24/7 when a gas leak is suspected, and of course this is ALWAYS the best thing to do if one has any reason to believe that there might be a gas leak. That said, he and I were thinking that we should gift my mom and our other friend who can’t smell some portable gas “sniffers” (like this, for instance) as an added layer of assurance/protection (especially in my mom’s case, since she’s probably now going to lie awake at night worrying that there is a gas leak she not smelling, even now that her gas dryer has been ruled safe and repaired).

So my question for y’all: Do any of you have experience with these types of units? Are they reliable in general? (When we’ve called out PG&E because we thought we smelled gas, the technician has checked the house with a handheld detector, so presumably this technology can be good, but who knows what kind of units the utility uses? Not I!) Can anyone recommend a model? I searched for past threads on this but couldn’t find any (perhaps because there are so many candidate search terms… gas, propane, detector, sensor, sniffer…), but please feel free to redirect me if I missed something!

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Has anyone read the book “Easy Cellar” by Tom Griffith?

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What are your tips for hiding food/valuables?

I was wondering where people hide their food/valuables? And by valuables, I’m talking about tools, solar panels, gasoline, medical supplies, etc… 

It gets to be quite a load, especially food for the family. I have a few ideas, and have a few stashes around our property, but I’d like to hear some other ideas please….

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