Village tool set
June 25, 2021

Making What You Need from What You Have: The Village Tool Set

Village Tool Set

Photos by Larry Bentley

Note: This is the first in the series “Making What You Need from What You Have,” a collection of handmade tools around the world, developed or discovered by Larry Bentley. 

Life without tools is barbaric. But even simple tools can be expensive in the world’s underserved communities. Import duties bump the costs up higher than they are in the global West, and sometimes only low-quality brands are available.

In response, we’d like to show how to build a simple tool set on a very low budget.

“Without tools, kids don’t take stuff apart, and without taking stuff apart, you don’t learn how things work,” says Larry Bentley, the man who figured out how to make these tools.

These tools, Bentley says, could be in the hands of the next William Kamkambwa, who made a working wind power generator from backyard scraps in a village in Malawi.

So, this tool kit could make a difference in education. And it allows people to repair broken things and repurpose old things.

“When you see, as I have in Cotonou Benin, a street side blacksmith with a blower using a wheel off a bicycle, to get air to his forge with a charcoal fire and a hand cranked grinder wheel, I think what would I do if that was me,” Larry says.

The answer, obviously, is that he would make his own tool set. Here’s Bentley’s quick guide to DIY tools, hosted on Instructables.

Tools in this guide:

  • Saw
  • Pliers
  • Wooden vise
  • Wood drill bit / star drill bit
  • Chisel
  • Strap hinge vise

How to make a village tool set

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