Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse in a Hardware Store

*Disclaimer: This article is intended for entertainment and exercising-your-inner-MacGyver purposes only.  The weapons in this article are potentially dangerous and should only be used on the living dead or surplus pumpkins.*


I have an obsession with everything Zombie-related. I love The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead — hell, I think I’m the only one who liked World War Z (I’ve always wanted a Macro zombie movie that focuses on the global ramifications of a worldwide outbreak instead of focusing on a small group of survivors). Now I know that there is no likelihood of the dead reanimating, but I think it’s a great mental exercise to prepare yourself for a disaster situation. On slow days at work I often wonder what I would do if a zombie outbreak occurred at work and I was stuck with only my bug-out bag and pistol that I leave secured in my car, while the heavy artillery is locked in a safe at home 35 miles away.

So you’ve survived the initial outbreak and are looking for a secure location to hole up for awhile and ride out the worst of it.  You find a hardware store that is defensible, probably close to a grocery and drug store, and chock-full of goodies to aid in your survival. The only problem is that uncreative looters have taken the most apparent weapons: machetes, hatchets, crowbars, and hammers. But you haven’t survived this long without some ingenuity. It’s time to build up an arsenal for you and your small band of post-apocalyptic warriors.

Steel Bar Stock Machete

A machete is a great tool for dismembering the undead hordes. While this homemade version may not be as graceful as Michonne’s katana, it will definitely get the job done

Supplies: 24″ x 2″ x 1/8″ piece of steel bar stock, Angle grinder or metal file,  Dremel with metal grinding cone, jigsaw or hacksaw with a metal cutting blade, honing stone,  5gal paint stir stick, duct tape, black spray paint

[jwplayer config=”pjm_lifestyle” mediaid=”61390″]sword

  • Any decently stocked hardware store should have a display of metal stock. 1/8″ steel is about perfect for making a cutting weapon.  Creating this sword would be greatly assisted with the use of electricity if it is still available after the apocalypse (put that looted generator to use), but can be made with hand tools if necessary. 
  • First you will want to cut out the grip for the machete. 2″ is a bit too wide to fit comfortably in the hand. I trimmed a 3/4″ strip 8″ long on one end using my jigsaw with a 14 TPI metal blade, a hack saw and vice. I added a 45º cut at the top for a finger guard.  Make sure everything is clamped down securely  using either a bench vise or multiple clamps on a table.
  • The next step is to put an edge on the bar. I used a angle grinder because a) it’s quick and b) I’ll take any excuse to shoot a six foot arc of metal sparks. You should aim for about a 33º angle on each edge, working each side of the blade to a rough edge. Alternatively, you could use a metal file to shave down the edges if power is unavailable or you don’t want the attention the noise of a grinder makes.
  • Now that you have a rough edge, you can begin to sharpen the blade. Using a dremel or fine file, work both sides of the bar down to a fine edge, removing any burrs or rough spots. There is no easy trick to this as you will have to do it by feel.  Then, hone the edge with a whet stone till you could shave with it.
  • Finally, I made a more comfortable handle by cutting two lengths from a 5 gallon paint stir stick. Then apply a liberal amount of E6000 glue or a durable epoxy and clamp in place. After it dries, wrap it with a good layer of duct tape and then score it with a razor to give you a secure grip when it inevitably ends up covered in zombie gore.machete done

Cast Iron Pipe Mace

If you have more muscle than finesse, the medieval mace is a great tool for bashing zombie skulls and destroying the critical grey matter.

Supplies: 2″ iron pipe: 2-1/2″ pipe nipple, end cap, 2″ to 3/4″ reducer. 3/4″ iron pipe: 18″ tube, end cap. 1″ fender washer, pipe wrenches, metal glue, quick setting cement, spray paint, duct tape.

mace supplies

  • This devastating weapon is fairly easy to construct and requires no power. The first step is to attach the end cap to the 2″ pipe nipple. I used some glue on the threads for added strength as this part will never be disassembled. Now is a good time to glue the fender washer to the 3/4″ cap and clamp it, to make a pommel (or just steal the end cap off the world’s manliest towel holder if it’s handy). 
  • To put some extra balls behind the hit I filled this part with a quick-set hydraulic cement.  Just fill the end with the powdered cement and add water, then stir. Be careful, the fast set is triggered by a thermal reaction when the water is added and can get hot enough to burn skin. After about 30 minutes you can move on to the next step.
  • The rest is simply assembling the rest of the parts together. Add the reducer to the concrete-filled pipe and end cap.  Then thread on the 18″ 3/4″ pipe and finish off with the pommel. Add glue and crank everything down as tight as you can with a pair of pipe wrenches.
  • Finish it off with a coat of rust-inhibiting spray paint, and wrap the hand hold with duct tape and score it like on the machete. Now you’re ready to bash some skulls on your next supply run.mace done

Screwdriver Spear

If you need to dispatch zombies at a distance, a precision strike to the eye socket from behind a barrier is a great way to secure your perimeter from relative safety.

Supplies: 6″ Phillips screwdriver, hollow metal closet rod, Glue/epoxy, file.

spear done

  • There should be no shortage of supplies for this simple weapon in a hardware store. I used a Phillips screwdriver and a closet rod, but anything you can file to a point and securely attach to a pole can function as a spear.
  • The first step is to sharpen the point of the screwdriver using a file or a Dremel tool. You can fire harden the point by heating the tip with a torch and then rapidly cooling it in water for repeated zombie stabbing durability.
  • Then you just coat the handle with glue and hammer it into the hollow tube, then let it set. Another version I’ve envisioned is taking a paint handle and cutting it off at the bend, then filing the end to a point and screwing it onto a paint pole.

So now you are set with a trio of melee weapons for when the ammo runs out. Your ingenuity and adaptability will ensure your survival until rescue arrives.