Self-reliance also means being able to fix bits of old kit

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

It also means being able to make things yourself and not just fixing old kit and tools but the fixing of old things and tools it a very important skill to have for self-reliance.

Self-reliance is all about making do and mending to a great extend, aside from making things yourself and to some extent the skills are almost identical.

When it comes to tools and old machinery, especially the kind that work without gasoline, batteries or such like, which is important when you do live off-grid or just wanting to live a simpler life, the older ones are the better ones but often they do require, when you get hold of them, some TLC.

This may just be fitting a new handle to a hammer, a hatchet or an axe, or even making such handles and then fitting them. It also many, more often then not, mean refacing said hammer, or resharpening the hatchet or axe.

In a self-reliance setting knowing how to maintain your tools and how to fix an old engine, or what have you, is important indeed for there may not be (1) the funds available to employ a repair person and (2) it just may not be feasible for other reasons, such as remoteness, lack of mechanics and repair shops, and such like. Try finding someone who can repair leather goods, be it boots or bags, today, is a challenge and the same is also almost true with regards to many other repair tasks. So, what is a man (or woman) to do? There is only one answer to that conundrum and that is to learn to do it oneself.

As part of self-reliance, it is important to be mostly comfortable with the prospect of maintaining and fixing various bits of equipment, be this motorized equipment, hand tools, or whatever else, and not just equipment.

Not only is it important to learn and know how to fix things but also how to make things one needs or wants from scratch or by repurposing, reworking, reinventing, upcycling, or whatever other way, using things already in existence or by simply making things from “raw” materials, be this wood, leather, or whatever. Often something that you want or need to do a particular job just cannot be bought “off the shelf” and may not be found – for a reasonable price – as an “antique” neither. So, what is a man (or woman) to do? There are only two answers to this dilemma – one is to do without and the other is to make it oneself.

I have come to that position many a times and only recently again when I wanted a pouch, or call it holster, if you wish, for an Opinel #6 folding knife, but one that could be worn around the neck. As far as I know there is nothing like that available, though maybe from custom leather workers at a steep price, and thus do-it-yourself was asked for, and the result, I think, turned out quite pleasing.

DSCF1800-webThis is not the first case and won't be the last case, I am sure, where I have had to result to making my own bits of kit and one can learn (almost) everything, as far as crafts and making things and repairing things are concerned, by having a look at books, by watching craftspeople do things, and my perseverance and practice.

Knowing how to sharpen knives and other cutting tools is a skill that, in my opinion, is an absolute must for self-reliance, and especially if one lives in the boonies or otherwise a little remote. In addition to that finding a service to do it for you is no longer easy as we seem to throw a blunt knife rather and buy a new one than to get it sharpened.

The same goes for the repairing of leather goods. In many areas it is now almost impossible to find anyone capable of doing this or if one can find someone then they are mega-expensive. You so-called shoe repair outfit today, in the UK at least, cannot even sew a leather midsole back to the upper; they haven't got a machine to do that. Erm, no, erm, sorry, you use two bent needles to do that and thread.

And we really wonder why nothing gets repaired anymore nowadays, aside from the fact that many products are designed and made in such a way that they cannot be repaired. But even when they can be repaired the cannot because there no longer are the skilled people around who can do it. Leaves but one option, and for the ones living the life of self-reliance anyway this is often the only one, and that is to to things ourselves.

Knowing how to sew, in order to be able to repair clothes, and other textiles, and/or even making clothes and other things yourself also is one of those important skills for self-reliance and learning it, to be done by hand, as well as by sewing machine, ideally using a manual sewing machine, as there is less to go wrong with and easy to repair if it does.

© 2016