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.

20171122_160102.jpg

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.

20171122_133927.jpg

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.

20171122_160821.jpg

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!

 

Advertisements

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.

20170709_124131

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.

20170709_124139

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.

The Downfall of Sears

This morning I had some time to kill in between store visits, so I decided to stop in a local Sears to browse their tool department for a few minutes. I wasn’t expecting much since I knew that Sears had fallen on hard times in recent years, but what I encountered was just plain sad.

20170608_102711

I was so taken back by their tool department that I grabbed my cell phone and took some pictures of  their shelves. There was hardly any selection of any kind. I remember about twenty years ago, Sears was one of the main places to buy tools. They had a huge selection with competitive prices. I used to buy all my tools from Sears. From clamps to power tools, to automotive wrenches. In fact I still own a Craftsman bench top radial drill press that still works like a champ to this day.

img_20170608_103022_267

I was wondering if this was a store that was closing so, I looked around for clearance signs, but found none. The only reason I could think of why they don’t have any products on their shelves is because they may be on COD-only terms with the majority of their suppliers. I remember the company I used to work for a few years ago had the same problem. They couldn’t order any product from the manufacturers to resell it to their dealers and ended up going bankrupt within six months. It’s been so bad for Sears lately that they sold the Craftsman brand name to Stanley Black and Decker late last year to generate cash.

img_20170608_103022_285

This is what’s left of their machinery selection. A radial arm saw and a cheap looking band saw. There was one old lady working the entire department who looked like she was 82 years old. I remember back in the day, there would be at least three or four clerks around to help you out.

img_20170608_103022_265

When things get this bad, there’s no way I would even buy anything from them in the first place. There’s a good chance that if I did buy something from them and the product ended up breaking within the 30 days of my purchase, with my luck, the company’s doors would be closed leaving me high and dry. When was the last time you bought something from Sears? I can’t even remember the last time I did.

img_20170608_103022_269

 

 

Springfield Antique Show

Last Friday, my wife and I, went to Brimfield, Massachusetts for their antique show. This Friday we headed to Springfield, Ohio for their Extravaganza. Even though the amount of vendors attending is a third of who sets up at Brimfield (2000 vs 6000), I was hoping to find better deals as I usually don’t do too bad at the Extravaganza.

20170519_091439

There are a lot of professional dealers at Springfield, however the majority of them are concentrated in the center of the fairgrounds. As you venture out onto the outskirts of the show, that is where you’ll find people just setting up tables to sell some of their junk. These are the places where I find the best deals. It’s always nice to visit the tables with a bunch of tools from tool collectors, but that’s not typically where the deals are.

img_20170519_204638_625

On this table were a Stanley BedRock No 604 for $150 and a Stanley No 8 for $100. Not bad prices if you wanted to pay retail, but I’m always looking for a deal.

20170519_113657

Occasionally you’ll find good deals at these tables. Here were a couple of Stanley planes and a Keen Kutter No 5. The two No 5’s were $15 and the Stanley No 4 was only $21. I passed up on these planes as I wasn’t feeling it for some reason. I only had $40 left in my pocket and still wanted to walk around and see what else was available before I spent all my cash, so I walked away.

20170519_113827

I always love checking out old anvils even though I haven’t set up my blacksmith shop yet. The big boy anvil in the front was a mere $1000. Too rich for my blood.

img_20170519_141842_852

After we walked around the fairgrounds for six hours, I came home with a few nice tools. Two Stanley miter boxes, two Stanley No 3’s and two Hartford Clamp Co clamps. The clamps are the most interesting thing I bought as after I researched them, they were primarily used for gluing up thin panels. The bars ride on both sides of the panel so the wood won’t bow while being clamped. I’m going to clean them up and see how well they work.

img_20170519_175909_077

As far as deals, I believe I did better at Springfield than I did at Brimfield even though I spent a little bit more money. Now I need to go back to the bank and get some more cash for the Burlington Antique Show in Kentucky on Sunday.

Brimfield Antique Show

Last weekend, my wife and I drove to Massachusetts to go to the Brimfield Antique Show. We heard about Brimfield for years, but finally decided to take the plunge and drive out there to see it for ourselves. With 6000 dealers attending, we were excited to see the show.

20170512_094352

We drove to Connecticut the night before and woke up Friday morning at 5:00 am to drive up north to the show. We arrived into Brimfield around 7:30 am and the first thing we noticed was that it reminded us of a very large stop on the World’s Longest Yard Sale. Dealer tents were set up on both sides of the street which stretched down for nearly a mile. We came up to a gate where a few people were waiting until 8:00 am for it to open and noticed that there was a $5.00 entry fee to get inside. Given we had a half an hour wait, we walked across the street trying to see if any ther dealers were already open, but only a handful were.

About a half an hour later, we came back to the gate where a large group of people were now waiting. We thought to ourselves that this area must be the place to be, so we handed the attendants $5.00 and waited for the gates to open. As soon as they did, we saw people literally running in like it was a black Friday sale. Anita and I started laughing thinking what in the world could be inside the show area worth running for.

Once we got inside, we looked around to see what all the fuss was all about. There were plenty of dealers selling quality antiques, but they came with dealer prices. After about an hour of buying a few things inside, we went out to see what the other areas had to offer.

20170512_082104

The majority of tools that I saw were being sold by collectors, so there was little opportunity to snag a good deal. I was hoping that since I was on the east coast, I would see a lot of good deals on old Stanley planes, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.

20170512_081523

I used to think that all the old tools were on the east coast since that is where Stanley plant was located, but I now think tool collectors have all the old tools, not the east coast. It’s just getting harder and harder to find them in the wild for a good price. Most of the planes on this table were $40-85 in price. Even the broken casting block plane was $30.00.

img_20170513_185227_627

It’s impossible to see the whole show in one day, but after spending seven hours all over Brimfield we saw 80-90% of it. Unfortunately, these are all the tools I came home with. An old razee smooth plane, a Stanley No 4, a Ohio Tool Co No 4, a Wards Master No 7,  a Sargent block plane, an egg beater drill, and a turn screw. Not terrible, but I’ve done better. Anita faired better than me as she ran out of money and had to borrow mine. It was still a lot of fun and is definitely worth it, if it is on your bucket list.

20170514_152031

 

Saving a Millers Falls No 9 Plane

Last month my wife and I were at an antique show in Columbus, Ohio when I passed by this Millers Falls No 9 plane. I looked at it and decided that the rust on the right side was too much to deal with, so I walked away. About ten minutes later, something told me to go back and examine the plane better to see if it was worth saving. I thought to myself if nothing else, it could be used for parts as the handles and frog were in good shape. I asked the dealer how much he wanted for it and he told me $10.00 so I handed him a ten-dollar bill and walked away.

img_20170304_120015_038

The first thing I do when restoring an old plane is to take everything completely apart spraying PB Blaster on the parts if necessary to break free the rust.

20170304_121257

Once apart, I soak the plane in a citric acid bath for a few hours. I use an old planter box as my tub and fill it half way up with water. Then I’ll scoop out about a cup of citric acid and spread it over the water. Sometimes you can buy citric acid at the grocery store in the spices section, but I buy mine by bulk on eBay. I buy about ten pounds worth for $30.00 which is much cheaper than the grocery store which is usually about $7.00 per pound.

img_20170304_155902_905

After a few hours, I take the parts out of the bath and use a wire brush to scrub the residue off the parts. The acid does a great job of removing the rust from the tool.

img_20170305_101028_318

I then polish all the parts with sanding sponges and apply my own homemade rust protection solution which contains, mineral oil, orange oil, and beeswax. I also steel wool the handles of the plane and apply a couple of coats of shellac to them.

20170305_200606

Once everything is cleaned and polished, I put the plane back together to see how it looks.

img_20170305_202015_812

If all the plane was to do is to sit on a shelf and collect dust, then I would be done. However, I want this plane to be used again, so I needed to focus on the blade. As you can see in the picture, the blade was roasted and desperately needed a new edge. Some people feel a blade that is in this bad of shape would automatically need to be replaced, but I like to see if I can get it to work again first.

20170401_102354

I took the blade over to my high-speed grinder and ground a new edge making sure not to overheat the blade making it lose its hardness.

20170401_103001

After the major grinding was done, I switched to my slow speed water-cooled grinder and worked on the edge some more. I also flattened the back of the blade on my grinder at the same time.

20170401_104744

After I was satisfied with the grinding process, I switched to my water stones to hone the edge. I sharpened the blade with a series of 800, 2000, and 5000 grit water stones.

20170401_105348

I set the cap iron about a 1/8″ from the edge of the blade and put it back in the plane. After adjusting the blade up and down, I was able to get the plane to cut off a nice thin shaving.

20170401_105936

I took one of the shavings and measured it with my calipers. The shavings produced were .002 of an inch thick.

20170401_110035

The shavings are nice, but the real proof is the way the plane leaves the wood with a nice sheen. No sandpaper needed. Not too shabby for a rusty $10 plane.

20170401_110434