Living on a homestead is a life centered around frugality and self reliance. Every person that chooses this lifestyle is typically a hardy do-it-yourselfer. Additionally, many homesteaders live in homes and cabins they’ve built themselves. If this sounds like a lot of work, you are right. However, the rewards are immeasurable. The other thing you must realize is that all of this work becomes a lot easier if you have the right tools for the job. There is enough work to do on a homestead already. Why not invest in quality homestead tools that will save you time, work, and money.
That said, acquiring those necessary homestead tools is something else all together. After looking at the following list it may seem as if you will have to invest a small fortune to acquire all the necessary tools. You may be right. In fact, I’ve accumulated all of my tools over years of working on the homestead. I have a combination woodshed/toolshed, as well as a storage shed for some of the more expensive items. If you are relatively new to this game, you are probably a bit overwhelmed. So, how do you get started?
My best recommendation is to start out with a good basic set of tools to get things rolling. First get a basic set of carpentry tools. Then as you tackle more and more projects, buy the tools needed to complete the job the job at hand. The following is a list of what I consider the 100 best homestead tools. I know this seems like a lot. However, I use everyone of these on a regular basis.
1) Hammer: Get a nice carpenters hammer. These usually have longer handles and weight more than the standard “household hammer”. If you are driving nails all day long, the extra weight and leverage will make all the difference in the world. Get a hammer with a steel handle because you will never have to replace it. Carpenters that use hammers for a living actually prefer a wooden handle because there is less vibration. However, for the average homesteader, this is usually not a problem.
2) Carpenters square: The smaller ones are used to mark lumber in order to make a square cut. The larger ones can be used to square up corners of a building such as a shed or small room off the barn.
3) Carpenters pencil: These are sturdy pencils used to mark boards for cutting. They are easily sharpened with a utility knife.
4) Chalk line: Used to mark a straight line over a long distance. For example, cutting an 8 foot piece of plywood. Get a 50 footer and extra chalk.
5) Tape measure: A 25 footer is great for everyday construction work. A 100 footer is useful when measuring corner to corner to square a wall of even a foundation on a smaller structure.
6) Tool belt: Get a good quality carpenter’s tool belt with two pouches. These are invaluable when working on a project so that you have quick access to tools.
7) Level: Get three sizes: 8 inch, 2 footer, 6 or 8 footer. The smaller ones are great for leveling and squaring concrete blocks while building a wall or footings for a structure. They are also useful for tile work. The 2 footer is great for leveling smaller concrete forms prior to pouring the concrete. The 8 footer is best to leveling walls during a construction project. A level any greater that 8 feet gets expensive.
8) Circular saw: Get a good brand name such as Skill, Dewalt,or Craftsman. Get a rugged saw that will stand up to regular use.
9) Jig saw: These saws come with a variety of blades for cutting wood and metal. They are great for smaller jobs not suitable for a circular saw.
10) Table saw: These are used to make precise cuts on interior and exterior siding, trim, and wood flooring.
11) Electric drill: Hand held drills come with various chuck sizes. Drills with larger chucks will hold larger diameter bits, etc, and typically have more torque. A drill with a small chuck is okay for simple drilling. But if you are driving larger holes for lag bolts or drilling through concrete you will need something stronger. Lots of people recommend cordless drills. But I find they just do not stand up to the abuse I put them through. Additionally, you have to purchase spare batteries and you will have to eventually replace the batteries. A stand electric drill lasts much longer and is a better buy.
12) Drill bits: Get a variety of drills bits for cutting through wood, steel, concrete and tile. Over time, you will end up with a nice collection of different sizes and length.
13) Drill bit gauge: This is a handy tool for measuring the diameter of a drill bit or a bolt. If you leave one loose and need to check the size, this thing comes in handy.
14) Wheel barrow: Get a heavy duty model designed for construction work. I’ve had the same one for over 20 years.
15) Shovel: Square face and pointed tip. I would also get a small shovel with a shorter handle. These work great in tight spots.
16) Pick: The universal digging tool.
17) Landscapers pick: This is a shorter version of the larger pick. It is great for working in an area with limited space. For example, when I was digging 4 foot square 5 foot deep holes for foundation footers, it is impossible to swing a large pick in such a tight space.
18) Post hole digger: This is a great tool but only if you live in an area with soft dirt. The soil at my cabin is far too rocky to ever use one of these.
19) Post pounder: A basic necessity for driving T-posts. These posts are useful for many things other than fencing work. I also use them as end posts for stacking firewood.
20) Waterproof tarps: Get a variety of sizes. I prefer the canvas tarps because they are extremely durable. I’ve had the same ones for 20 years. However, they are a bit expensive. I use tarp all the time to cover the wood splitter, the ATV, the generator, the water pump, etc.
21) Water pump: If you have to haul water for any reason, a good water pump will save you time, money, and a heck of a lot of work.
22) Utility knife: One of the most useful types of knives to have around. The blades are replaceable and inexpensive.
23) Electric sander: Once I had one of these, I never sanded by hand again.
24) Axe: Fantastic homestead tool. I use it mostly for splitting smaller pieces of firewood for kindling and for chopping a hole in the ice to get water in the winter.
26) Masonry trowel: Smooths out the surface of concrete.
27) Sledge hammer, hand held: Great for driving nails and spikes that are too big for a standard framing hammer.
28) Sledge hammer, 10 lb: Splitting wood my hand is a lot of work. If you do this, a sledge is a necessity. These are also great for driving large spikes through logs when building a log cabin.
29) Socket wrenches, standard and metric: These are basic mechanic tools.
30) Open end wrenches, standard and metric: Basic mechanic tools
31) Set of plier and channel locks
32) Adjustable wrenches of various sizes
33) Allen wrenches
34) Screw drivers
35) Pipe flaring tool: This is used for sizing the flare on a piece of copper pipe especially when the fit needs to be precise. For example, fitting a copper gas line to a propane cabin lantern. The fit needs to be precise to prevent leaking.
36) Pipe cutter: When performing plumbing work, whether it be water or a gas line, the cuts across the pipe need to be precise so that the fit and the seal is precise. The pipe cutter does just that.
37) Chisels: wood and masonry: I used these a lot when building my original cabin. They also make good demolition tools.
38) Wire cutters, strippers, and crimpers for electrical work.
39) Volt meter, DC and AC: When doing basic electrical work, these are handy for making sure the juice is turned off before touching open wires. You can also check polarity before hooking up anything. They are also great for trouble shooting connections.
40) Battery tester: If you use a lot of rechargeable batteries, these are useful for determining the general state of charge. However, this is a subjective determination, NOT scientific.
41) Electrical tape
42) Duct tape, pack tape, waterproof tape.
43) Bailing wire: Many, many uses for this stuff
44) WD 40: Great all around lubricant.
45) Hack saw with spare blades
46) Crow bar, cats paw (for removing nails) for basic demolition work
47) Bolt cutters: These are great for cutting cattle fencing, chains, etc.
48) Tin snips:A necessary cutting tool for sheet metal work.
49) Staple guns: There are two types I recommend.The standard construction type for stapling plastic, roof felt, etc is a great universal stapler. Additionally, the large air driver, as in you connect it to a compressor, is useful for flooring, siding, etc. This type of stapler is expensive so only get one if you absolutely need it.
50) One ton manual engine hoist: Fantastic tool for lifting heavy objects. I used one of these for building my log cabin because the logs were too heavy to move by hand. I have also used it to move wood stives, lifting the ATV, and removing camper shells from my trucks.
51) Come-along: Get a heavy duty model sufficient for moving a vehicle. I also use these for pulling down trees to make sure they fall in the right direction.
52) 100 feet of polypropylene rope: Very strong, water proof
53) Racket compression straps: The smaller version of these are great for general use. However, be sure to also get some with at least a 2000 pound weight limit. These are useful for scraping down heavy cargo, moving logs, taking down trees. Foot for foot, these are stronger and less expensive than ropes.
54) Tow strap: For towing vehicles and equipment if needed.
55) Extension cords: light weight and heavy duty outdoor type, 100 foot each
56) Ladders: extension type, stand alone type at least 6 feet tall
57) Heavy duty work gloves: An absolute must. Keep spares around all the time. I purchase 6 pairs at a time.
58) Air compressor: There are multiple uses for these from running paint guns, nails guns, staplers, etc.
59) Shop vac: These are relatively inexpensive through your local home improvement store.
60) Pressure washer: These make clean up jobs extremely quick and easy, from washing vehicles, equipment, cabin siding, and deck flooring.
61) Jack Hammer: This can save a tremendous amount of time and work when digging holes especially if you live in an area with rocky soil. Also, if you have to dig through frozen ground it is very helpful. I have an electric one that I plug into the generator. I purchased it for about $200.
62) Heavy duty floor jack: I use this not only for lifting vehicles but also for lifting a number of other heavy things. For example, if I have a loaded trailer and need to hitch it to the truck, it is easy to use the floor jack to lift up the tongue. If you need to move a 400 lb wood stove, this is an easy task with a floor jack.
63) Variety of nails and staples: The more construction work you do the larger a collection you will acquire.
64) C-clamps: Many jobs can be done solo with a few clamps and straps.
65) 5 gallon buckets: There are many, many, many uses for these.
66) Dremel set: I do not use my Dremel very often but it is handy for fine work such as sanding in small cracks while refinishing wood.
67) Hand held cross cut saw for the smaller jobs.
68) Wood splitting metal wedge
69) Wood splitting maul: I split most of my wood with a gas powered splitter. Then I use the maul and axe to split pieces down into kindling as needed.
70) Axe: Great tool for splitting wood, cutting smaller trees, and chopping through ice if you live in a colder climate.
71) Chain saw: If you are going to be cutting a lot of wood, go with a larger more powerful saw. It will save you a lot of time and work. I also have a smaller chainsaw that I use for limbing trees prior to blocking them up for firewood. The smaller one weighs a lot less and is easier to handle. If you can only afford one chainsaw, go for the larger one.
72) Log roller: When blocking up a large log that is laying on the ground, I seldom cut all the way through. I have ruined many chains by hitting rocks. So, I cut most of the way through then use the log roller to reposition the log so I can safely finish the cut.
73) Chains, carabiners, clevis hooks: Moving large logs with a truck or ATV saves a lot of work.
74) Gas powered wood splitter: A good splitter will cost around $1000, if not a little more. I split wood by hand for years. Once I got a gas powered splitter, I was determined to never split wood by hand again. These things are pricey but they will literally cut your work time by 75%. If you live at high altitude, as I do, you will likely need to install a high altitude carburetor kit.
75) Electric chain sharpener: This is another tool that will save you a tremendous amount of time and money. The sharpening is more precise than doing it by hand. I purchased an electric sharpener from Northern Tool for about $120 USD. I never regret it. Having someone else sharpen your chains will likely cost you $7 to $8 per chain. That adds up fast!! The electric sharpener will pay for itself in not time.
76) Grinding wheel: for sharpening axes and pick edges.
77) ATV with snow plow, winch, and utility wagon: My ATV is the work horse for the homestead. I use this thing every single day. It is one of the best purchases I ever made.
78) Generator: If you have acreage, you will often find your self working in some corner of the property where there is no electricity. Having the generator means you can still run power tools. I have a 4500 watt generator for running larger power tools such as circular saws and the jack hammer. I highly recommend purchasing a unit with a wheel kit. It makes these things so much easier to move around. I also have a smaller 2000 watt inverter generator that I can pick up with one hand. It is used for smaller jobs and is much more efficient on gas.
79) Vice: Great for holding pipe and other things that are difficult to cut.
It is best to keep a variety of firearms as each has a specific purpose.
80) 22 long rifle for taking small game.
81) Large bore rifle such as a 30-06, or 308, for taking large game.
82) Hand gun such as a Colt 45 for personal protection. Also a 9 mm makes a great weapon for folks that cannot handle a more powerful handgun.
83) 12 gauge pump style shot gun: These may have limited range but they are the classic gun for home defense and up close encounters. If you have ever been charged by an angry bear as I have, you will be thankful for such a weapon.
84) Hearing protection: I cannot recommend this highly enough. I always wear hearing protection because I am constantly using some loud tool equipment such as the wood splitter, chainsaw, etc. Get high density foam ear plugs and/or the classic ear muffs used by shooters. The foam plugs are a little more inconvenient to take in and out but are very effective and you can keep them in your pocket. The ears muffs make your head awfully hot in warm weather.
85) Rake: Get a good leaf rake and a garden rake.
87) Garden shears: A great pruning tool for smaller branches
88) Pruning tools: Get strong shears that will cut at least a one inch diameter branch
89) Pitch fork: Classic barn cleaning tool
90) Coal shovel: This picks up large amounts of dirt, fecal material, and stray when cleaning the barn. It also makes a sturdy snow shovel.
91) Hot water bath canner: These are inexpensive and will get a lot of use.
92) Pressure canner: A good quality canner will cost around $150. Be sure to get one that is made of heavy duty aluminum and has a metal-to-metal seal. Canners with rubber gasket seals are typically less expensive but the gaskets dry and crack over time and need to be replaced. Modern canners have enough safety features that it is unlikely to ever have one explode unless you are extremely irresponsible.
93) Good quality knives: These are an invaluable tool from the kitchen table to butchering game and food animals on the homestead.
94) Knife sharpening tools: Keep things sharp. Working with a dull knife is far more dangerous than working with a sharp one.
95) Scale: Get a large dial scale for weighing meat and vegetables. I would also get a smaller digital gram scale for weighing spices, etc.
96) Other food processing equipment: cutting boards, meat grinders, sausage stuffers, electric meat cutters.
97) Merck Veterinary Manual: Due to my profession, I use this manual every single day. It is an extensive reference manual for the signs, symptoms, and treatments of diseases of livestock. Most homesteaders have some sort of livestock around and this manual is a must-have reference tool.
98) 30 to 50 gallon gas caddy with dispensing pump: If you are running equipment such as generators and ATVs, having spare gas on hand is wise. A nice hand operated dispensing pump is also a great idea. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve spilled gas while trying to lift a 5 gallon gas can to fuel up the ATV. Having a dispensing pump makes life less messy and a bit safer.
99) 2.5 to 5 gallon gas cans
100) A grand sense of humor: Without this you are doomed. No matter how you scheme, plan, and work, things are just not going to go right 100% of the time. Even if it did, you would never learn anything right??
I’ve tried to be as complete as possible with the above list. I have no doubt that I’ve missed something. If you have any other great ideas, please let me know.
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