Improvised E&E Tools.

Working with E&E tools and equipment, understanding the properties of different materials and attempting to improve on some old MI9 designs along with working on some new ‘Q’ gadgets, well every now and again I just like to go back to basics, real old school stuff. Some of my old favourites back in the day were making handcuff picks and compass needles. In the world of bushcraft you often hear people describe their kit as multi-purpose, or a tool should have at least two or preferably even three uses before its worth carrying.  Another common saying among the type is  “knowledge weighs nothing” so with this thought  “weighing heavily on my mind lately ;-)” so to speak-

Handcuff key made from Mini Clipper Nylon Polyamide flint/spring barrel.

-I thought it might perhaps be helpful to have a quick refresher and walk through some basic improvised tools and some easy modifications.  Being able to modify or even fabricate tools on the spot from materials normally just found lying around e.g. hair clips, bobby pins or coke can shims. Lock picks and torque wrenches from paper clips, pen pocket clips, windscreen wiper blades and bicycle spokes. Some basic but never the less very effective concealment aids are easly made for the ever popular / multi-purpose safety pin and a pen spring. Improvising tools on the move from discarded objects is a great mental challenge, a bit like Chess , Meccano and hide and seek all wrapped up together in one cryptic challenge. With very little practice and a bit of research one quickly learns which lost, salvaged or scavenged materials normally just found lying around can potentially make good substitutes for useful pieces escape equipment, all you have to do is keep a good weather eye open for any opportunity.

First up some basic home made picks made from wiper blades “fairly amateur picks granted“ but still, easily within the scope of any pocket multi-tool with a file and wire snips.

Lock picks pen & spring concealment









Dual purpose magnetised diamond wire saw / compass.


Diamond Wire Saw / CompassCompass   Diamond Wire Saw.

Another simple improvised dual purpose compass, this time made from a ferrous handcuff slim shim on board a wooden float.

Magnetised Shim  improvised Compass

The compass needle is a relatively straightforward build, using the North end of a strong  magnet simply rub the metal in one direction around thirty times  lifting the magnet away from the  metal after each stroke.

Trying to replicate something you have never seen before say something like a handcuff key, or a lock pick would be nearly impossible however once you’ve seen the tool first hand, preferably hands on and know how it works its far easier to replicate e.g. there are probably half a dozen methods for escaping PlastiCuffs on YouTube, all very good, and all very useful to know, however once you’ve seen a shim and know how it works and used it to open a set of handcuffs or PlastiCuffs, then you’ll know what to look for in a substitute shim, fortunately in the case of PlastiCuffs you don’t have to look to far, most conveniently often found on the end of the PlastiCuff itself.


Shiming PlastiCuffs with PlastiCuff

Pictured below, a

 simple, inexpensive and effective method of attaching small E&E tools to clothing, in this case home made wiper lock picks using a pen spring and safety pin.

Windscreen wiper  lockpicks


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