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Makeshift Workshop Skills Paperback – May 1, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

As far back as James Ballou can remember, his interests have included survival activities - hunting, fishing, exploring, treasure hunting, backpacking, shooting, making and using tools, and just plain improvising. The author of dozens of magazine articles on various subjects, he also served four years in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 220 pages
  • Publisher: paladin Press (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581607059
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581607055
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for ideas for a pending shop project, and also I thought it might give some useful tips for when I am in the sticks. I have experienced vehicle breakdowns while tens of miles up some river or trail that required exceptional creativity to get home. Much of what is shown can be handled for a few dollars in any hardware store, this book is about when there is no hardware store. I was pleasantly suprised by the content, and am glad that I purchased it. It's thorough and systemic approach to materials, techniques and tools made it feel like a textbook to me, which was precisely what I wanted. The book was easily absorbed in a hour and even after decades of doing everything from car repair to blacksmithing to building my own home, Ballou managed to show me some tricks I didn't know, and while I hope I never need these techniques, its good to know them. If your into the new "extreme sport" of survival and self reliance, you owe youself this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recieved this within days of ordering it. As far as the book goes it's pretty good. There are a lot of good ideas for making/doing all types of things. I'm very excited about this book. The one point of criticism I have is that there are a few things that really don't need to put in a book. Example: using duct tape to tape things together, anyone who needs a book to point that out to them probably shouldn't be allowed near tools. Otherwise a really great book. I especially like the low tech approach. I recently built a forge in my backyard, I built it from scrap and about $100 worth of new supplies. Most of the forge plans I'd seen before were too sophisticated for me, not that I couldn't handle it, just that I didn't care enough to build a fancy forge. There's a plan in this book for a homemade forge that is really similar to the one I built. Easy to make and requires almost no specially purchased materials.
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Format: Paperback
In these economically distressed times, the mantra of 'reuse, recycle, repair, re-purpose' has never been more applicable. That's why James Ballou's 'do-it-yourself' instruction guide, the "Makeshift Workshop Skills For Survival And Self-Reliance: Expedient Ways to Make Your Own Tools, Do Your Own Repairs and Construct Useful Things Out of Raw and Salvaged Materials" is so timely and so valuable. Profusely illustrated, this 'how-to' instruction guide will enable anyone to create homemade tools (hammers, drills, screwdrivers, wrenches, pliers, saws, files, chisels, vises, clamps, and more!); make successful repairs using glue, tape, cord, wire, dowels, nuts and bolts); construct useful items out of coat hangers, old care parts, 2 x 4s, wooden dowels, nails, rebar, coffee cans, and other readily available materials); "Makeshift Workshop Skills For Survival And Self-Reliance" even shows how to build a homemade forge out of an old barbeque, perform soldering using a road flare, and do quick weld repairs using care batters, jumper cables, and a pair of pliers. From makeshift metalworking, to practical calculating, to salvaging, along with a wealth of practical tips, tricks and techniques, "Makeshift Workshop Skills For Survival And Self-Reliance" is a welcome, thoroughly 'user friendly', and highly recommended addition to personal, family, and community library collections.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good start to a lot of DIY projects, but there isn't enough detail to really get into anything really deep. Many times, he'll direct the reader to another text (in his section on knots, he names a number of knot-tying guides, for example), which is handy, I guess, but I was hoping that Ballou would include the information instead of telling me to read someone else's book. At other times, the projects lack depth--Ballous briefly discusses making a plastic analogue out of milk and vinegar (a very cool idea), then says it can be used for any number of projects (he mentions knife handles, for example) without going into any detail as to how one might go about that. Most of the projects would be more suitable for a school classroom project than any sort of self-sufficiency--bending coat hangers into fish hooks and making coffee cans into mugs makes a fun diversion, but it isn't going to do me much good when (sarcasm incoming!) the zomies invade and we're living in a Mad Max-style wasteland (end sarcasm).

On the positive side, Ballou writes in a very accessible manner, and his instructions are always clear and easy to follow, with adequate B&W photographs. His section on metalworking would make a great jumping-off point for an amateur blacksmith, although it is frustrating that he simply recommends another text (in this case, The Complete Modern Blacksmith) instead of providing the relevant information himself. Some of the projects (like the milk plastic, or the idea of using a 5-gallon bucket or some PVC as improvised Kydex) are genuinely interesting.

Bottom line: this is a good start for someone looking to get into self-sufficiency, reuse/recycling, or DIY. But is NOT the resource you need for actually gaining proficiency in those skills.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The information provided is solid and easy to follow but very entry level. I'm not a pro-makeshifter but if you are already a do-it-your-selfer, mechanic, plumber, or even just a home hobby tradesman you will have more than likely used most of the methods addressed in the book. Personally speaking the less experience you have the more likely you would gain something useful from the information contained within...but what do I know I'm just a mechanic.
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