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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Friday, December 13, 2019

Hand Tools for the BOATYard

Our two tool boxes, vice and grinding wheel.

We carry a full array of hand tools necessary to build the boat from scratch. 

Timber tools to leverage our options with materials gleaned from beach and woods. An array of fasteners, wire, line, rod, plywood, 1x and 2x stock, aluminum plate and  flat-bar... enough to fix or fudge most anything. Goops, glues, paints and puckies. Enough sailcloth for a whole new suit. Heavy movers to lift, shift and haul the boat. Tarps to work under. 

Everything necessary for stop-gap measures or measured, permanent repair.

-- From BOATYard vs. B.O.A.TYard

Hand Tools for the BOATYard

 I wrote the above a number of years ago, about the distinction between a BOATYard - that 'yard' we carry with us - versus the B.O.A.TYard - The BringOnAnotherThousandYard we pay money to haul out into, somewhere in the Medean bosom of civilization.

Now it's winter and we're cleaning our tools... they look so pretty I thought I'd share.

Here's what we think of as a 'full array' of hand tools.

First, we have a general division:
  1. Small  'Twiddly Box' - This lives easy-to-grab under a companionway step. It contains all we need to handle about 90% of everything. 'Twiddly' cuz it's all the twiddly li'l bits.
  2. Large 'Big Box' - This lives out of the way, but as accessible as possible. It contains all we need to repair our vessel.
  3. Vice and grinding wheel - These live clamped at one end of the (galley) workbench until needed.
  4. Others (not shown) - These include a hacksaw, clamps, crow-, prise- and rockbar, sledge, jacks, hoists and pullers, crosscut and rip timber saws. Bowsaws and axe, Rigging, electrical, paint/glue and spare tools. These would (in theory) let us build a vessel from drift logs.

In this post, We'll take a closer look at the first two

Twiddly Box contents
  • Files - Mill bastard, feather, point, 4-in-1 rasp, rasp bits (rat-tail AWOL).
  • Blades - Bad Knife, razor, saber blades for the multisaw (right of tray), utility.
  • Drivers - Slotted, bit driver and angling bit driver with bits, offset phillips and slotted (top right of tray), allen wrench set, slotted brace drivers (lower right of tray).
  • Grippers - Nippers, pliers, vice grips, adjustable wrench, socket wrench and (universal+) sockets and adapters, 'universal' chuck wrench.
  • Miscellaneous - Multi-tool, saw wrest (set), raker guage, Clamptite, step drill set (lower left), knife sharpener, spark plug gapper, mini pipe cutter, zip-ties.

Main Tools

Our main tool box extends the Twiddly Box... we rarely use this one without the other:
  • Files - Mill bastard, feather, rat tails, round. 4-in-1 rasp.
  • Bits - Auger, spade, large twist, small twist drill set.
  • Blades - Good knife, drawknife, chisels and gouge, cornering tool, cold chisel, low angle block and bull-nose/shoulder planes, cross- and ripsaws (Japanese), hack-, coping- and keyhole saws, scraper.
  • Beaters - Carpenter's- and ball peen hammers, hatchet and small splitting maul (not shown... live at wood range).
  • Drivers / Drills - Large slotted (square shaft), long phillips, angling bit driver and bits, 'improved' Yankee style driver (uses bits), 'eggbeater' drill, brace, right angle drill adapter, large allen wrench set, punches.
  • Grippers - Large vice grips, adjustable wrenches, channel locks, tin shears, nibbler, clamps.
  • Layout - Quick- and leaf square, bevel guage, 12 and 50ft measure tapes, plumb bob/chalk line, compass, pencils.
  • Miscellaneous - stud finder, cutting angle guage (both to right of compass), sharpening stones, propane torch nozzle, glass cutter, small prise bar, red cedar for plugs and wire twist for threading, tongue depressors.


Most of the better tools were acquired second hand. A few were bought at full, expensive price (e.g., the bull-nose/shoulder/rabbet plane). Others are lesser tools that only need work adequately once every many years. Yet others are the rare good tool at a reasonable price (e.g., 'disposable' Japanese saw blades.

Between yard and estate sales, flea markets, local and on-line auctions (like, hardware store back alleys and the occasional grit-your-teeth purchase, I'm guessing these tool kits can be put together for a couple hundred dollars or less.

How's your haggle hangin'?


  1. Posted on Behalf of JOHN:

    Hello Dave,

    That's a solid tool list. But I was wondering how you keep the steel tools from rusting in a marine climate?

    Best regards,

    1. Hi John,

      For some reason, that's never been a problem in our toolboxes, which live in the main cabin. Maybe due to a dry bilge?

      Our clamps do get a little rusty, in their open bucket in the hold. We go over them every spring with oil, and boot or rifle grease (old military surplus stuff).

      The crow- and prise bar live on deck (supposed to have been temporary, but still there). Their surfaces have oxidized, but that's it. Don't even bleed rust.

      Our only issue is one of two, supposedly identical bars for turning our screw jacks. It rusts and pits, but the other does not. Trying successively thicker layers of grease. Maybe season it this spring?

      Lynn and Larry Pardey wrote that they used plastic tool boxes and sprayed everything liberally with WD-40 (though it's got water in it... silicon based lubes like TriFlow are better). Tristan Jones painted everything but the cutting edge with latex (said he did, but he was... let's say easy with the truth).

      We've never had to do any of these things, but keep 'em in mind.

      Dave Z

  2. I once read a convincing review of a high-end anti-rust oil spray coating costing (at that time $6 a can), in which the spray being touted was compared by experiment with WD-40, Standard Lubricating Oil, Petroleum Jelly and a handful of other oily anti-rust "solutions."

    The test showed, sure enough, that the expensive high-end stuff worked best, but a close look at the results showed the second-best stuff--petroleum jelly (Vaseline)--worked nearly as well. At the time, petroleum jelly was going for less than a buck a tub (and it's hardly more expensive, now).

    Take a wild guess which anti-rust coating solution I settled upon? I've been using it ever since, with good results.

    1. Hi Peter,

      I hear ya!

      In the last couple of years I've been associated with folks who use Corrosion Block, a high end protector.

      Yep. Works great. Nope. Costs an arm for a little gain.

      Never thought of petroleum jelly, though... thanks for the tip.

      If you can find it, anhydrous lanolin is cheap and utterly amazing.

      Dave Z

  3. We're always stuck with using our lanolin for medicine-making. I'll have to try a little as an experiment for anti-rust coating on backpack tools.

    1. I should say I haven't used it to protect tools, but rather as anti-sieze for galvanized or steel/aluminum joins.

      Some of our original shackles - with a single dose of anhydrous lanolin 30 years back - still turn readily!

      I'm guessing that, for a tool dressing, a thinner (turpentine?) might help.

      Dave Z

  4. Whilst I haven't tried it as a tool dressing, I found linseed oil to be an excellent anti-rust treatment on various things when I lived in the permanently damp UK. Smells gorgeous too. Used straight it's not hard to clean off. For a more permanent coating mix in some shellac (French polish) dissolved in meths (denatured alcohol). Seems to stick to anything then.