Friday, July 30, 2010

Preppers, Survivalists, and Military Publications

Welcome Preppers and Survivalists,

The Military has a lot to offer the prepper. They have developed rugged useful gear, written detailed "how-to" manuals, developed appropriate training, and offer relevant experiences.


The Military also has a lot of inappropriate (experiences, information, and techniques) for the prepper such as moving towards the battle instead of away, expensive specialized equipment, lack of improvisation experiences, outdated technology, reliance on a team, and willing to sacrifice a few for the many.

Now, don't take what I just said as an attack on the United States' Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, or Airmen. Because it isn't, it's about the limitations the military has for preppers.


Each branch of the military, Army, Navy and the Air Force, has its own publications. (This has changed in recent decades as each branch tries to integrate with the other branches. It's called "jointness")

The U.S. Army has publications called Field Manuals (FM), Technical Manuals (TM) Soldier Training Publications (STP) Graphic Training Aids (GTA), and the Army Correspondence Course Program (ACCP) to name a few. They have many more.

FMs deal with how to do something. STPs are military job specific information. TMs deal with how to repair things. GTAs are picture (graphics) based mini-instructions, and ACCPs are, just like the name says, correspondence course over a variety of subjects.

The U.S. Marine Corps has publications called Marine Corps Warfighting Publications (MCWP), Marine Corps Reference Publications (MCRP), and Marine Corps Doctrinal Publications (MCDP) to name a few for the Marines

MCWPs provides the Marine Corps' "doctrine and supporting tactics" for a subject, similar to field manuals. MCRP are basically a references "on tactics, techniques, and procedures" of a subject. Lastly, MCDPs describes "the theory and philosophy" of a subject by the U.S.M.C, the "Big" picture.

I have limited experience with the United States Navy and the U.S. Air Force publication systems. I do know some things.

The United States Navy has Naval Education and Training (NAVEDTRA) publications. These are similar to correspondence courses. The booklets, some are over 300 pages, cover "the subject matter that reflects day-to-day requirements and experiences of personnel in the rating or skill area."

The United States Air Force has Air Force Handbooks (AFH), Air Force Regulations (AFR), and Air Force Manuals (AFM). To me, all three seem to be interchangeable, so the survivalist must read each publication to see if it provides relevant information for you and your family.

Now, you can buy the printed manuals from a military surplus store, order a compact disk (CD), or you can download them for free, excluding the federal taxes you have already paid, from various places.

U.S. Army
click on "Public Access to Reimer Digital Library (RDL):

This will take you to
click "Official Departmental Publications" the page will reload
then select what you want.

If you leave Type: and School: on "Any," it will list every publication available. There is a lot of them. To narrow the search, select "Field Manual" or "Training Circular" under Type: and "Any" under school.

To find the manuals I have listed later on in this article, you will need to select "Medical," "Engineer," and "Infantry" under School:, so you don't have to wade through all of the publications.

Note: Some publications are classified. You can't get them unless you're in the military.

U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps
The Navy formerly allowed civilians to download the NAVEDTRAs, not any more; however, I downloaded my copies to Scribd. Here is a direct link to my page on Scribd Someone You Know on Scribd. You can also do a search for "NAVEDTRA" on Scribd.

The Marines, being part of the Navy, no longer allow civilians to download their manuals, either.

Oops, I made a mistake because I just found a link for the Marine Corps Publications Electronic Library at Their electronic library has a few links to the different services, but the real juicy Marine Corps manuals are at this link

Note: The Army and the Marine Corp are probably the most integrated of all the services when it come to publications, but they still have their differences.

U.S. Air Force
scroll, not very far, down to "Product Index" and click on the tool bar and links will appear in the box.

As I said, I am unfamiliar with the the Air Force's publications, so you will have to explore their publication system to find relevant manuals for you and your family.

Now, these military publications are a two-edged sword.

Some of them are fantastic references on how to conduct combat operations such as patrols, attacks and ambushes; repair weapons, properly use equipment, and maintain vehicles; and other survival skills such as map reading, first aid, and survival.

But they also suck.

These manual assume access to a multi-billion dollar budget, a high level of physical fitness, access to a knowledge person when the reader has questions, and there may be incomplete information on a subject because the info is supplemented during a military school.

So what's a prepper to do?

I would suggest the following manuals be downloaded, read, thought about, then the appropriate information practiced by you and your family

From the United States Army


FM 4-25.11 - First Aid

FM 21-10 - Field Hygiene And Sanitation

FM 4-25.12 - Unit Field Sanitation Team

FM 6-22.5 - Combat and Operational Stress Control Manual for Leaders and Soldiers


FM 5-125 - Rigging Techniques, Procedures, and Applications

FM 5-103 - Survivability

FM 20-3 - Camouflage, Concealment, and Decoys

FM 5-102 - Countermobility


FM 21-20 - Physical Fitness Training

TC 21-21 - Water Survival Training

TC 21-3 - Soldier's Handbook for Individual Operations and Survival in Cold-Weather Areas

FM 3-25.26 - Map Reading and Land Navigation

FM 3-21.8 - The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad

FM 21-18 - Foot Marches

FM 3-21.75 - The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills


FM 6-22 - Army Leadership: Competent, Confident, and Agile

From the United States Marine Corps

Doctrine Pubs

MCRP 4-11.1D - Field Hygiene and Sanitation

MCWP 3-11.3 - Scouting and Patrolling

MCWP 3-11.2 - Marine Rifle Squad

MCWP 3-1 - Ground Combat Operations

MCRP 3-40.3B - Radio Operator's Handbook

MCWP 4-11 - Tactical-Level Logistics

FMFRP 12-15 - Small Wars Manual

MCRP 6-11A - A Book on Books

MCRP 4-11.8B - War Crimes

FM 20-32 with Changes 1-4

Note: As you can see, I did not create direct links to the publications listed. You will have to go to the various sites and download them yourself. I also tried to put them in a priority list from most important to least important.

The NAVEDTRAs are different because there is such a wide range of information, so you will have to go to Someone You Know on Scribd and look through the 92 courses to see which one you want. Be warned, you have to register to download from Scribd. A good reason to have a burn e-mail address.

Remember, you have to watch those opinions because, I assume, you are seeking general knowledge, about a wide range of subject like first-aid, sanitation, camouflauge, scouting, and basic military defensive skills, to protect you, your family, and your neighbors.


There are some publications I did not list. Some of these are the weapon's manuals, TMs and FMs. Some folks would disagree with me. Oh well, they can find them on their own.

There is a reason for that statement.

If they truly need the FM and TM for say the M240, M2, or M60 machine gun, because you have acquired one with a whole lot of ammo, this country is facing some serious problems that are beyond the scope of this blog.

I also didn't list, probably, the best manuals for dismounted Infantry. (Soldiers with guns that walk everywhere; yes, everywhere.) They are FM 7-70 - Light Infantry Squad/Platoon and FM 7-71 - Light Infantry Company. The reason, they're not on any of these sites. The only way to get these manuals is to buy them from a book store. Don't buy them because FM 3-21.8 is a good substitute.

I also didn't list five other manuals for various reasons. The manuals are Student Handout (SH) 21-76 - Ranger Handbook, Soldier Training Publication (STP) 21-1-SMCT - Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks, Skill Level 1, STP 21-24-SMCT - Soldier's Manual of Common Tasks, Skill Level 2-4, and Training and Doctrine Command Pamphlet (TRADOC Pamphlet) 600-4 volume 1 and 2 - Initial Entry Training Soldier's Handbook

The reason I didn't list the TRADOC Pamphlet 600-4 volume 1 and 2 was because these two manuals have been updated and combined into one manual, TRADOC Pamphlet 600-4. I also didn't list STP 21-1-SMCT - Skill Level 1 and STP 21-24-SMCT - Skill Level 2-4 because they are both from none military websites. Lastly, I didn't list the Ranger Handbook because I couldn't find a copy, anywhere.

OK, I lied, sort of.

The real reason is I wanted to get your attention to three manuals  that provide a wide range of basic military knowledge and two manuals (Ranger Handbook and STP 21-24-SMCT) that provide basic military leadership skills.

Now, a lot of the information in 600-4 is worthless to a prepper, but it has some gems; additionally, SH 21-76 can be ah ... "advance."

OK. I have to stop because I am starting to ramble.

Really, I going to stop, right now!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Building Shelves, Part 3

Welcome Preppers and Survivalists,

In my first article, about building shelves, I built some shelves that were 8 feet long, 2 feet deep, and 8 feet tall. The shelves were 2 feet apart for a total of 4 shelves. Lastly, I used 2x3s for the shelf supports (horizontal pieces), 2x4s for the legs (vertical pieces), and OSB for the shelves.

In "Building Shelves, Part 2" I wrote about a mistake I had made on the shelves my family and I are currently using. I also wrote about the modifications I had made to the basic design and a few ideas on how to store your stuff. Lastly, I talked a little about how to figure out a walkway disatance between each sets of shelves if you built more than one shelf.

In this article, I am going to cover using 2x4 shelf supports and 4x4 legs for building shelves. You can thank Riverwalker, over at Stealth Survival, for this post because he had asked about using 4x4s and 2x4s for building shelves. Thanks Riverwalker!

OK. Let's start.

The first thing you want to do is have a plan. I sometimes draw out my ideas on a sheet of paper, this allows me to test my ideas.

For this article I plan to build a 12 feet long by 2 feet wide workbench. (I know it's not a shelf, but you can use the techniques to build shelves) The workbench will have 2 eight feet shelves and one 4 feet shelf. The 2 eight feet shelves will be about 12 inches apart, and the 4 feet shelf will be about 30 inches from the workbench's top. Plus, I wanted the lowest shelf supports to be 3 inches from the floor to allow me to sweep under the workbench.

Oh, I forgot. The workbench will be 3 feet high.

The next thing I do, after making my plan, is cut the eight feet long 4x4s into 2 three feet pieces. Now, I measure from each end then mark the 4x4. If you are using a circular saw to cut your lumber, make sure your 3 feet saw line mark goes all the way around the 4x4. The reason, a circular saw blade won't cut all the way through a 4x4. If you are using a hand saw, you just need to mark one line for your guide.

After, I mark all my 4x4s; I cut the 4x4s to length. Because I am doing a large project, I complete one step before going on to the next step.

Once the 4x4s are cut to length, I mark the 4x4s for the notches I will be cutting. Now, I usually mark the height I want my shelves then mark where the bottom of the notch will be. Because I will be using 2x4s as shelf supports, I will need a 3 1/2 inch notch that is 1 1/2 inches deep.

For the next step, there are a few different ways of doing it. You can cut the top and bottom of the notch than cut the sides and use a chisel to finish up; You can chisel the wood out of the notch; or you can do it some other way.

Either way you use, you will have a notch, but let me give you the easiest way I have found, so far, using a circular saw.

First, you need to set the blade of the circular saw to the correct depth. One way to do that is unplug the saw then set the saw on top of a 2x4 laying on its widest side. Loosen the blade depth knob and push or pull on the base until the bottom of the blade is a little bit past the bottom of the 2x4, as it rests on the 2x4.

Next, cut the top and bottom of the notch then cut a bunch of cuts between those two cuts. After you have made all the cuts, take a hammer and knock the wafers of wood out of the notch. Once all the little pieces of wood have been knocked out, you can use the hammer's claw to smooth up the notch. If you look at the picture to the left, you can see what the 4x4 will look like as each step is done.

Sometimes I use a chisel to smooth up the notches in the 4x4, but I couldn't find my chisel until after I was finished. Plus, look at how smooth the notches are just using the hammer's claw.

Once, all the 4x4s are cut and notched; I lay out the 4x4s for putting the shelf supports on. Just like the first set of shelves, I have a leg every 4 feet. Next, I lay a 2x4 into the notch and, using three nails, nail the 2x4 to the 4x4. After I have done that, I nail the 21 inch pieces of 2x4 between the shelf supports. Next, cut the plywood shelf to the proper width and depth. Lastly, notch the plywood and put the plywood on the shelf supports.

However, I'm not finished because for this 12 feet long bench, I am using "found" lumber that includes having only two 4x4s, one 2x4 by 12 feet long, a bunch of 2x3s that I cut the wrong size, last time, and some 2x4s. Yea, I don't have any plywood, yet.

Since I was short two 4x4s this caused me to make my own. The way I did that was to cut some 2x4s to a three feet length. Next, I laid a finished 4x4 next to the 2x4s and marked where each notch was. I put a "W" where each notch was, so I wouldn't get mix up. Next I cut 2x4s to fill in each part between the notches. The picture to the left shows a progression of making these "4x4s"

Next, I put the 4x4s on the ground and laid the 2x4 shelf supports into the notches. Since I have only one 12 feet long 2x4, I put that in the top notches that will be the front of the bench.

In the photograph to the left, you can see the basic layout of the shelves.

After I did the front side of the shelves, I laid out the back side of the shelves. This part of the project had me thinking about the placement of the shelf supports. I wanted to make sure that the legs were as solid as possible.

You will notice in the above picture; how I staggered each  8 feet long piece of lumber to try and get that strength. Next I filled in the missing pieces with 4 feet long pieces of 2x4.

Once all that was finished, I took 21 inches long pieces of 2x4 and 2x3 and nailed them between the shelf supports.

Here is a picture of the finished shelf supports and legs. It is the ugliest bench I have ever made, but most of the wood was found or given to me by friends.

As always, I took some photos that don't fit into the narrative of the article. Here they are

The first picture shows how much sawdust and little wafers of wood are produced when notching the 4x4s. The sawdust is about 1/2 inch thick on the left side of the picture, and No, I didn't sweep it before taking the picture.

The next picture shows how to use a piece of scrap lumber to make pulling a nail out of a piece of wood a whole lot easier. Plus, you don't end up hitting yourself with the hammer because you had to use so much force without the scrap lumber.

The last picture shows an error I made when I put the bench together. Because of this miscalculation, I had to tear apart the bottom part. I ended up breaking some of the wood, but I was lucky; I had more wood.

My mistake. I couldn't put the two assemblies together because the shelf supports, and some of the legs, where in the wrong place. (See the picture, from the top, that looks like this one)

I never use 4x4s for shelf legs when I am building shelves because they are expensive compared to 2x4s. I have found that using 2x4s are just fine. I have also found that using 2x3s for shelf supports keeps my costs down, but Riverwalker made a point. Some folks don't have 2x3s in their lumber stores.

If you want to use 2x4s as shelf supports and shelf legs, that's cool. Just remember, you will have to have 3 1/2 inches notches for the shelf supports to fit the shelf legs.

Virginia Tech - Portable Circular Saw

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Building Pallets, Part 2

Welcome Preppers and Survivalist,

Modifying an Existing Pallet

Modifying an existing pallet can be fast and easy if you remember one simple rule.

The rule: Get the Best Pallets You Can Find.

You can find pallets at many places. I have had lots of luck at local lumber yards, home improvement places, and local paint stores. If these folks don't have any pallets, when you visit, always ask if they will have some in the future or if they know anybody that has some pallets.

Be warned. Some folks might ask you to pay for the pallets; I had to pay 25¢ per pallet, one time. All the other times, people are happy to give them to me for free.

OK. You have the best pallet or pallets; you can find, in town.

The next thing you want to do is review your plan because you plan determines how you will need to modify the pallet to fit your needs.

For this article, I will be doing a pallet modification to fit under two shelves; I built a few articles, ago.

So, I need a pallet that will fit a 48 inch wide space that is 24 inches deep. Nope, I really need a 45 inch wide pallet because the shelf's legs make the space 45 inches wide [48 inches - 3 inches (two 1 1/2 inch legs) = 45 inches]

But I have a problem, I can only find 41 inch wide pallets that are 48 inches deep, in my area. Oh well, I will have to settle for 41 inch wide pallets because that's all I can get around here.

Back to the plan.

Since I need two 24 inch deep pallets, I am going to slit the pallet in half. You will notice in the picture to the right that one of the top deck boards (slats) are going to be in the way, so it will have to be removed.

When I remove a slat, I want to be careful.

Now, I have tried removing slats a bunch of different ways. (Hitting the slat on the back to pop the nail, prying up on the slat to pop the nail, carefully digging the nail out to pull the nail out, and ...) Most of the time, I ended up splitting the slat. Sometimes, I would end up breaking the slat making it useless. Until, I discovered a method that gave me consistent success.

This method requires a claw hammer with straight claws and a rubber mallet. First, starting on one end of the slat, position the claw hammer, so when you hit the hammer with the rubber mallet, you knock the claws under the wood. Next, you work the claws under the wood by hitting the claw hammer with the rubber mallet. Hit the hammer pretty hard with the rubber mallet. Next, hit it a few more times then move the hammer to the other side. Do the same until the slat moves. (You might jam the claws under the wooden slat, don't worry, just hit the hammer in the opposite direction)

Next, you move to the middle set of nails and do the same thing. Once the middle set of nails are loose, you move to the other end. Once all the nails are loose, on that slat, pry the slat up with the claw hammer. There should be no problem and the slat should be in good shape.

Make sure, you use a rubber mallet because a metal hammer may chip or shatter if hit with another metal hammer.

Once all the slats were removed that I needed removed, I was ready to cut the pallet into two pieces.

To cut the pallet in two, I measured and marked all three stringers. For these cuts, I used a circular saw. (You can use a handsaw; it will just take a little more time and effort) Next, I cut one of the outside stringers. To cut the outside stringers, I put the pallet on end and cut the stringer. I turned the pallet over and cut the other stringer.

Lastly, I set the pallet down, just like normal, and cut the middle stringer. Turn the pallet over (the cut won't go all the way through) then cut the other side of the middle stringer.

OK. I was lucky and this pallet had to have two stingers removed, so I then nailed one slat to each smaller pallet and ta da. I have two pallets 24 inches deep and 41 inches wide.

The picture above, shows the almost finished pallets with all of the tools and safety gear, except my brain and safety glasses, that I used on this project.

Back to the project.

I say almost finished; the small pallets are unstable. It seems the bottom deckboards are too close to the middle, so off they come.

To be attached, at the end of the stringer. Just like the other bottom deckboards.

Now, all I do is turn them over and place the pallets under each shelf, and start loading it up with supplies.

Lastly, this was a simple modification. I didn't have to change the distance between each slat; take a slat off of one pallet and put it on another pallet; or replace one of the stringers because it was broken, or ...

But, with a little imagination and the basics introduced in this article, you can now handle most problems modifying a pallet and modify pallets to fit most of your needs.

Tools Needed:
Saw, curricular or hand
Extension Cord if using circular saw
Claw Hammer with straight claws
Rubber Mallet

Safety Equipment:
Hearing Protection
Eye Protection
Your Brain

Robbins Resource Management - Pallet Parts Terminology
Scroll down to "Stringer Design"

Safety Xchange - Pallet Hazards and How to Control Them

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Building Shelves, Part 2

Welcome Preppers and Survivalists,

A few posts ago, I explained one method of building shelves for you and your family to increase your storage space. This article will illustrate some of the modifications; my family and I have made to the basic shelves to fit our needs and one of my mistakes when I built our shelves.

One Mistake
In the last post, I suggested nailing 20 inch pieces of 2x3 to the shelf support. The reason for this suggestion; you can see in the picture ...

sagging shelves.

I didn't add the 20 inch pieces of 2x3 to the shelf supports. Oh well, I hope to add them this winter.

When I started this article, I went with a simple 2 feet between each shelf for an easy explanation. That is all good and well, but our basement is 7 feet 7 inches to the bottom of the floor joists. Plus, I wanted to have the shelves anchored to the joists, to prevent tipping. Oh, I almost forgot; the basement floor slopes in three directions.

To solve the anchoring requirement, I took 2x4s and screwed them to the floor joists then I measured from the 2x4 to the floor. I then cut a 2x4 to that length then I test fitted the 2x4 to make dang sure it was the correct length.

Now, I can get a little crazy, but I made sure I always measured twice and cut once. Sometimes I measured three and four times before I make a cut because we don't have the bucks to buy extra 2x4s.

After test fitting, I would measure from the top of the cut 2x4 for the notches for the shelf supports.

Why from the top?

Because, if I had measured from the bottom, the shelves would not have been level. All the 2x4s are a different lengths because of the sloping floor.

After I did all the notch cutting to the cut to length 2x4s, I unscrewed the 2x4 screwed to the floor joists and screwed the cut 2x4s to the end of the 2x4s, I just removed from the floor joists. Then I screwed everything back onto the bottom of the floor joists. Yeah, I know that sounds confusing, but that's what I did.

I used 2 screws per 2x4. This is a pain because I had to have a support to keep the lumber from slipping when I was putting the screws in. Next time, I will probably use nails, Not.


It's easier to unscrew a screw than it is to pull a nail out of a piece of wood.

Another modification I did was to look at the actual distance I wanted between each shelf. Since we were going to use 12 inch high flip-top storage boxes, I needed 16 inches between each shelf (12 inch high box plus 2 1/2 inches for the support and another 1 1/2 inches, just in case) This distance between shelves also worked for the canned food we store because we could stack the cans three high.

Another modification we did was to make a set of shelves to fit four 55-gallon drums under the shelves. This required us to build a set of shelves a little longer than eight feet (just under 9 feet long). For this shelf, I had to use 2x4s that were 10 feet long as the shelf supports, so each notch is 3 1/2 inched tall and 1 1/2 inch deep.

For this set of shelves, I cut one end of the plywood just like I did in the first article. The other end I left uncut because the shelf is just under 9 feet long. Because I wanted the shelves to meet in the middle like the other shelves, I had to add short pieces of wood to the shelf. For the bottom shelf, it is about 50 inches above the floor, I took a piece of plywood and cut it into an "H" shape. The top shelf, I just cut a piece of plywood to fit.

This set of shelves is also only 20 inches deep. I wanted to be able to empty the 55-gallon drums with a hand-pump without hitting my hand on a shelf. To accomplish emptying the 55-gallon drums, I positioned the drums with one hole at the very front, so I can easily fit the hand-pump into the drum.

To get the correct height for these shelves, I put a 55-gallon drum on a pallet, a piece of plywood on the drum, and a flip-top box on top the plywood and measured the height of everything. This distance was the bottom cut for the shelf supports. I measured up 3 1/2 inches, because I was using 2x4s, then a measured again for my next shelf.

Another modification, we did was to have the middle "floating" 2x4, from the last article about shelves, stop at the last set of shelf supports. This gave us almost eight feet of clear space on top of the shelves to store stuff.

Storing Your Supplies
When you are planning your shelves, you also need to plan how you are going to store stuff on the shelves.

Let me explain.

First, you want heavy stuff on the bottom shelves, and light stuff on the very top shelves. Next, you want any liquids on a bottom shelf or on a shelf that if it leaks the liquid won't cause any problem like contaminating your stored water supply. Lastly, if you live in earthquake country, you want to put glass jars on bottom shelves and add pieces of wood to the front of the shelves to keep stuff from flying of the shelf during an earthquake.

Well folks, that was it.

Until Riverwalker, from Stealth Survival, wrote me and told me he had never seen 2x3s and thought the 2x4s in the picture were 4x4s, so I will be doing a small project to round out this series of articles.

The project will be making a work bench. The techniques, I will write about, can also be used to make shelves using 4x4s and 2x4s.

Updated: 3 Jul 10
Distance for the Walkways
When we planned our shelves, we set aside a space 14 feet wide and as long as the basement. It took some thought and many redesigns to get the maximum square footage of shelves.

Once I had two sets of shelves built, I moved them back and forth to get the best (for us) distance between the shelves for the walkways. I finally settled on 32 inches. This allows us enough space to stand in front of the shelf and pull a storage box off the shelf.

But, I ran into a problem. One walkway would have be 26 inches, if I used 2 feet deep shelves. I found that too narrow, so I cut one inch off the depth of each shelf. So, in all the pictures for this post, the shelves are only 23 inches deep, except for two.

The shelves that are not 23 inches deep are the one for the 55-gallon water barrels (20 inches) and the one for our canned goods. (It's the third picture from the top) It's 18 inches deep. The perfect depth to hold cans six deep.

Now, all of the shelves are eight feet long. This allows a 6 foot walkway at the ends of the shelves. This six feet allows us to use pallets to store bulk food in five-gallon buckets, such as wheat, rice, and beans, and I still have about a 3 feet walkway.


Finally, make sure you plan your homemade shelves. Take your time and remember ...

If you don't like the way the shelves turned out, you can start over and do them again.