A Once in a Lifetime Deal

Every few years I get a deal of a lifetime when buying tools. Many years ago, I bought my 15″ Powermatic planer from a company going out of business for $700. I bought my Contractor SawStop table saw from SawStop corporate through Pop Wood for $1000, and yesterday, I bought a six piece Porter Cable combo kit for $25.00.

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As you may know, I’m a sales rep for Oldcastle selling patio block, mulch and soon composite decking to Lowe’s and Home Depot. While visiting one of my stores yesterday, I walked in the back of the store by receiving to talk to the RTM clerk to see if there were any credits I needed to give for broken patio block. While back there, I saw a Porter Cable tool bag full of tools lying on the floor and asked the RTM clerk what they were doing there. She told me that it was a return that the customer said the batteries wouldn’t hold a charge. Knowing that Lowe’s will take back anything no questions asked, the first thing that came to my mind was a customer buying a tool, using it to do a job, then returning it to get his money back.

She told me she had to get rid of it somehow and asked if I wanted to buy it, so I said “sure”. She asked what I would give for them so I told her $20.00. She then told me she would have to call the manager to see if that would be okay. I told her before I buy them, I wanted to make sure that my current batteries from my Porter Cable set would work on the tools. I’ve been using the same drill and jigsaw from the same set for a few years now, so I was hopeful my batteries would be compatible. I went to my car to grab my tool bag while she called the manager to make the deal happen. When I returned, she said “what about $25.00”. I said fine and hooked up my battery to the all the tools to make sure they all functioned. I took the bag of tools and walked up to customer service to buy them. I couldn’t believe it. I just bought a $300 combo set for $25.00. I didn’t care that the tools were a little beaten up and used. Almost all of my hand tools I buy are used. Many from a hundred years ago.

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When I got home, I laid the tools on my bench to see what I got. A drill, an impact drill, a sawsall, circular saw, multi tool, flashlight, and a battery power checker with USB ports. I took the battery it came with and charged it up. It works perfectly.

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Why the customer returned the tools is anybody’s guess. There is only one battery for the set, so it may be the guy wanted a free battery so he simply didn’t put the extra one back in the bag when he returned it. I don’t care. I’m just glad as hell I got the deal of the year. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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Resizing another Shelving Unit

I was in the process of building another shelving unit for my wife’s new booth in Milford, Ohio. She originally asked me to build it four feet long. However, once I started to attach the shelves to the unit, she wasn’t too thrilled with the overall dimensions. I asked if she wanted it cut down to 36″ long instead of 48″, but she was afraid that it would be too much work. I assured her that I could cut it down without much problem.

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I slapped the unit on top of my workbench and carefully measured where the rails were to be cut. I then grabbed my Festool plunge saw and rail system, clamped it to the lines and ran down the rail cutting as deep the blade would go.

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I then flipped the unit off the bench and cut the two attached shelves in half.

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After one side was free, I unscrewed the pocket holes and broke away the rails with a hammer. I then cleaned the side up with a random orbital sander.

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I then flipped the other side of the unit back onto the bench and re-drilled the pocket holes to the shortened rails. For the two shelves that already had plywood nailed in place, I had to bust out the plywood with a hammer.

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After about twenty minutes, the shelving unit came back together a foot shorter. I cut the remaining plywood to the new measurements and installed them using cleats on the inside of the rails.

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Now it was time for the antique shutters to be screwed onto the sides.

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After a coat of black paint, the shelving unit looks really nice in her new booth.

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Making Floating Shelves

My wife, Anita wanted me to make some custom floating shelves for the dining room. We had some floating shelves from Ikea, but she wanted something that would match the coffee bar I made her.

Making the shelves were super easy. I grabbed 3/4″ pine and a couple of 2 x 2 select pine from Home Depot. I made the width of the shelves 3 1/8″ thick so that the 2 x 2 would fit inside nicely without getting jammed inside.

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I used my miter jack to make sure the sides were a perfect 45 degrees so all the pieces would fit nicely together with no gaps. Most people make these shelves with simple butt joints on the ends, but I didn’t want end grain showing so I took the time to miter the corners.

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After making sure everything fit together well, I glued and clamped the whole assembly together.  Anita then stained the shelves with apple cider vinegar, steel wool solution and gel stain to match the coffee bar.

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When it came to install the shelves, I attached the 2 x 2 frame to the wall by securing it to the studs making sure it was level.

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I then slid the shelf into place and secured it in place from the bottom into the 2 x 2 frame.  I then did the exact same thing on the second shelf.

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Here are the shelves installed with a bunch of Rae Dunn pottery on them. Anita was planning on writing messages on the chalk board wall to give it some pizzazz, but decided the wall is too dark and will eventually paint it back normal. What do you think? Should she give the chalk board wall a shot with fancy chalk board writing on it?

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She painted the wall.

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Harold White Lumber Company

Earlier this year my territory changed for my job and I acquired the Lowe’s in Morehead, KY as one of my accounts. Whenever I would drive down to that Lowe’s, I would always drive by the Harold White Lumber Co. I was always impressed by the amount of logs the mill had on its lot, but I saw no showroom or retail office, so I always kept driving. That was until a few weeks ago, when I decided to pull in and see what the place was all about. I figured the worse thing that could happen is they would tell me they only sell to wholesale accounts and kick me out.

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I stopped at the mill work office and asked if they sold to retail customers. They said they did, but I would have to drive over to the lumber office so, I got back into my car and headed down the driveway to another office. There I met the office manager who asked what type of wood I was looking for. I said “nothing at the moment, just wondered if you sell to retail customers”. She gave me their price list and asked the plant manager to show me around the mill. He took me where they keep the short stacks of lumber with loads of cherry, oak, wormy maple and poplar. He told me that the 4/4 poplar was only $.80 board foot. I usually pay $2.20 for 4/4 poplar at my current lumber yard in Cincinnati. I would have bought some that day, but I didn’t bring any cash with me plus, I was just looking for info at the time and had no intention of buying anything anyway.

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The mill is huge with thousands of logs on their land. I looked at their price list and they carry all the major domestic species, but they also have basswood, sycamore, sassafras, hemlock, and coffee tree. I was told by the office manager that they don’t always have the rare species in stock, but if you call ahead, they may be able to mill some up. You can even buy a whole log if you want to mill the wood yourself.

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So today, I went back and I told the same office manager I was interested in the four-foot shorts. She had an employee follow me back to the area they keep them so they could load it in my car. The last time I was here, this whole area was stacked with bundles of lumber. The guy told me that the shorts don’t last long. They even have a big dumpster where people can dumpster dive for one to two foot long boards.

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I came home with 20 board feet of 4/4 FAS White Oak for $30.00 for a whiskey barrel coffee table my cousin wants me to make for her. The wood should be enough to make the base and top of the table as I already bought a halved whiskey barrel last weekend. The next time I go back, I’m going to stock up on poplar, maple, cherry, and walnut. It’s nice to have place where I can buy hardwood lumber dirt cheap.

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Big Ole Wood Shelf

Several months ago, I started making a shelving unit out of southern yellow pine that my wife asked me to make for her booth. I got this far and it sat in my shop unfinished for months. After much contemplation, my wife and I both realized that the shelving unit was really too big to fit in our Ford Edge.

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The best thing we could do, is take it apart and resize the thing smaller so we wouldn’t have to rent a trailer to transport it. Luckily, I put the shelf together almost entirely with pocket screws. The part that was glued, I cut apart on the band saw.

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After, I cut the shelves shorter, I used my router and cut floating tenons on all the pieces instead of using pocket holes screws like I did before.

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A few hours later, I had the new resized shelving unit put back together. The height stayed the same at five feet, but the length was cut down from five feet to forty inches so that it would fit in our car.

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My wife always wanted the unit to roll so I added four old casters to the bottom. We actually bought the casters many months before we decided to make the shelving unit just in case someday we needed them.

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With 1/2″ plywood installed for the shelves, the unit was built, but unfinished.

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Anita wanted the unit to look somewhat old, so I smacked the wood around with a hammer and crowbar to give it an aged look.

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I bought a few piece of thin gauge metal, drilled some holes in it, bent it over in my vise, painted them black, and screwed them to the corners of the shelving unit to give it a more industrial look. The brackets and the dark stain really makes the unit pop. Now it was ready to throw in the Edge and bring it to our booth. Saved us $50 not having to rent a trailer and we both feel it looks nicer then it did before.

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The Tool that Changed my Life

It was thirty years ago this summer. I was thirteen years old visiting my grand parent’s house on my Mom’s side in Detroit, Michigan when I walked into my Grandpa’s garage and spotted this little drill press on top of his cabinet.

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It’s was a little German-made drill press. It had no manufacturer’s name on it, so I have no idea who made it, but I thought it was the coolest tool I ever saw. I played with it for a few minutes, and my Grandpa seeing I took a liking to it, gave it to me. I was stoked.

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My Grandpa was never really a woodworker. He was a mechanic who restored old cars like Ford Model T’s and Maxwell’s, so he had no use for the press. I just started to work with wood in my parent’s basement, so I was glad to have it.

A few days later, my Mom, Grandparents, and I went to the flea market. While there, I started hunting for more cool tools. I found some old wrenches and a Ohio Tool Co wooden razee fore plane that I still use to this day. The only money I had was a few bucks I saved up from my allowance of cutting the grass, so I bought all my tools dirt cheap. Nevertheless, even though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was the start of my antique tool collecting.

As the months and years went by, I started buying more and more old tools. I’d buy planes, chisels, drills, saws and clean them up. As my tool collection grew, my woodworking skills developed right along with every tool I bought as I learned how to use it. I enjoyed the process of restoring old planes so much that I kept buying more of them and before I knew it, I had collected nearly 100 old tools by the time I was sixteen years old. I used to have white bookshelves in my parent’s basement filled with all my tools. My friends would come over, take a look, and asked what the hell was wrong with me.

At the height of my collecting I had over 600 tools. Then one day, I stared at all of it and decided that enough was enough. I took some of the tools I didn’t care much for and threw them on eBay. I watched the auctions end and realized that I enjoyed that process as well, so I threw more tools on eBay. Before I knew it, I was buying and selling tools on a regular basis.

Today, I’ve figured that I have bought, restored, and sold almost three thousand tools on eBay. It’s become a hobby within a hobby. Something that I would never have believed would have happened thirty years ago when my Grandpa gave me his little drill press.