How to Weld

In a post-apocalyptic world, scavenging is the order of the day and you’ll likely be able to find plenty of scrap metal lying around (or still attached to something that nobody is using).  That metal could be useful by itself, but it might be more useful if you could weld smaller pieces together to form one large structure.  Plus, knowing how to weld is a skill you can trade on, unlike that Cisco certification you spent thousands of dollars on.

Fundamentally, welding is a simple process – heat two pieces of metal until they’re nearly liquid and force them together meshing one piece to the other.  Most of the time, a filler material (commonly a more maleable, and thus easier to liquify metal than the one being welded) is used to aid in creating a cohesive bond, or joint, in the metal pieces.  Over the years, industrial welding has evolved into a futuristic world of laser welders and using ultra sonic waves to fuse molecules together, but these types of welders are crippling expensive and rare, and thus you are unlikely to have access to them after The Event.  For our purposes, there are three types of welding: forge, torch, and arc.

Forge welding is the most primitive form of welding.  To forge weld, you heat the two pieces of metal until they are red hot, but not liquified. Place them on an anvil with one piece slightly overlapping the other and hammer them back down to the thickness of either piece of metal and thus forcing a mesh of the two pieces.  Don’t expect this technique to work on steel, it will only work on more maleable metals that approach or cross the liquification point in forge temperatures (think bronze, copper, iron, etc).

The next step up is torch welding.  To torch weld, you will need a torch – the most common torch used in welding is an acetylene torch, which is essentially a nozzle that mixes pure acetylene with pure oxygen, which you light as it comes out the end.  An acetylene/oxygen flame burns at over 3000 degrees celsius which is the hottest flame you will get from readily available combustible gases.  If you are making a makeshift torch, you can use any pure combustible gas and you can use compressed are instead of oxygen for your oxidizer, but you won’t achieve the same temperatures as your would with an acetylene/oxygen mix.  Also, you need to make sure you are using some sort of non-return valve in order to ensure that you and your fuel cylinder don’t go up in flames while welding.

To perform a torch weld, place the two pieces of metal firmly together, turn on your acetylene just enough so that you hear gas escaping.  Light the torch and adjust the acetylene until the flame is barely coming out of the nozzle.  Turn on the oxidizer slowly until the flame turns blue.  Point the flame at the joint and move the torch in a circular motion until the metal begins to melt.  If you are using a filler rod, you can insert it slowly into the pool of molten metal to add more to the pool.  Once you have a large enough pool, begin moving the torch slowly down the seam.  If you go too fast, you will run out of molten metal.  If you go too slow you will have too much.  If you are using a filler rod, you will want to keep it in the hot zone of the torch (not close enough to melt it but not far enough that it cools off) to prevent a weaker “cold” weld.  Turn the torch off in the reverse order you turned it on.

The final type of welding you should be familiar with is arc welding.  Arc welding uses electricity to heat metal instead of flame and in this case, you NEED a filler rod.  An arc welder is essentially a placeholder for your filler rod that is attached to a power source.  As electricity passes in an arc from the end of the filler rod to the seam in the metal, it generates a great deal of heat, melting the rod and the metal equally.  There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different types of filler rods available.  Each one has a special purpose it was designed for, and sometimes you’ll need a certain type of rod to do any kind of welding on a certain kind of metal.  We won’t get into that here, just be aware that this is a consideration if you have access to an arc welder post apocalypse.

To perform an arc weld, the first thing you need to do is attach a grounding clamp from your power source to your metal.  This is important because if you don’t do this, the all-important arc will not be generated in order to heat the metal.  To initiate the weld, or “strike the arc,” tap the end of the filler rod against the metal and then hold it at approximately 1/8 inch above the metal.  You will see copious sparks shoot up from the metal – this means you got an arc.  Angle the welder into the direction of movement at approximately 45 degrees and equidistant from each piece of metal (this is important if you aren’t welding two flat pieces of metal together), as if you were dragging the tip of the filler rod along the surface of the metal.  Slowly move the rod across the seam until the joint is complete.

That covers the bare necessities of welding.  These procedures and techniques will get you by in a situation where you need to weld.  There are dozens of advanced techniques on how to weld in different situations, for different types of metal that I haven’t covered here.  Just remember that practice makes perfect, and if you need to weld something intricate “measure twice, weld once.”

Found on the Internet: How to Field Strip a Squirrel

No matter what the situation, a fella’s gotta eat!  And you can only survive on berries and spam for so long before you go crazy.  If you trap or hunt an animal, you need to know how to gut it down to it’s edible goodies.  Squirrels are one of the more prevalent varmints in North America and are easy to set traps for.  Creek Stewart explains step-by-step how to field strip a squirrel in a surprisingly bloodless and efficient way.

How to Field Dress a Squirrel [via The Art of Manliness Blog]

Medicinal Plants

As time goes by, pharmacuticals and over the counter medication will be harder to come by.  Because of this, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with plants that have medicinal properties.  Below I have shared some plants that will help with treatment in emergency situations (bleeding, shortness of breath, weakness, nausea, etc).  When doing research on medicinal plants and herbology, you will come across plenty of plants that fall into the realm of homeopathic remedies.  The only supporting evidence that the plant does what someone claims it does is anecdotal at best.  So without further ado:

Aloe Vera

The leaves of the aloe vera plant are used to heal burns and wounds as well as some other skin ailments.  This jagged green plant grows in arid climates and can be found all over the world.  Aloe vera has been marketed as a “cure all” and is included in products ranging from gels and lotions to yogurt.  However, it hasn’t been shown that aloe helps with anything else.


These tiny fruits grow in temperate and sub-arctic climates (such as North America and the U.K.).  They are very similar to the North American blueberry, however they are not the same.  The pulp of a blueberry is a greenish/white color and the pulp of a bilberry is a dark purple color.  On top of being a great food source, it can be used to treat diarrhea and scurvy.


Clove is a very common ingredient found in many households, but it isn’t an indigenous plant to North America.  It is native to Indonesia and can be found naturally in the surrounding area.  Regardless, if you happen upon some dried cloves they can be used for an upset stomach and as an expectorant.  If you have some clove essential oil, it is an effective topical anesthetic especially for toothaches.


The root of the ginger plant is used to relieve nausea.  Ginger can be found throughout Southeast Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean.





Indian Head Ginger

Indian Head Ginger, or costus spicatus, is a plant native to the Caribbean and South America.  If you brew the leaves of this plant into a tea it has been known to help cleanse parasites from the drinkers system.




Kava may not have a vital first-aid use, but some of the effects make this plant a good one to have around in the PAW.  When the leaves are chewed they have an anesthetic effect on the mouth and throat (similar to that of chloroseptic spray), and if enough are ingested, it can be used as a sedative.  In small doses, the kava leaf can impart a mild euphoria and increased mental acuity.  Kava is native to Polynesian islands from Hawaii to Micronesia, so unless you are lucky enough to be stranded there when at the end of the world as we know it, you probably won’t come across this plant.


Sangre de Grado

This is a tree that is native to northeastern South America.  The sap from the “Dragon’s Blood” tree is a very unique first-aid tool.  Rub this blood red sap in a wound until it turns into a white paste and it will form into a latex bandage.  On top of covering the wound it is also a verd strong antiseptic and hemostatic.



Sphagnum moss is common around the world.  There are around 300 known species that mostly look different (the only characteristic that ties them together is the way the branches cluster).  The thing about all the species of sphagnum moss is that they have an antiseptic quality.  So when you wrap a wound, put some sphagnum moss in between the wound and the wrap.


Yarrow is used to stop bleeding (topically), help wounds heal, and as an anti-inflammatory.  It is commonly found all over the Northern Hemisphere.  It should be noted that yarrow can promote AND staunch blood flow depending on how it’s prepared.  Placing the plant on the wound will cause it to staunch blood flow.

Found on the Internet: Simple Handmade Stove

In the PAW, a working stove of any kind will be hard to come by, and sometimes that’s all you need.  Sometimes you just need a small, simple fire to cook food over for a few minutes and be done with it.  Enter these instructions for a simple handmade stove.  Granted, with these instructions left the way they are, you’re devoting more resources to this “quick” solution than you get out of it.  But if you modify them a little bit, this could be a worthwhile technique when you’re on the move and hungry.

[Simple Handmade Stove via]