Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Building my shop on a budget - My router and sander

I have never liked yards sales or flea markets. It always seems like people are trying to make money on items they would otherwise throw away. When you do see something interesting, it's often priced far higher than what I'd be willing to pay for it used. The idea of treasure hunting is appealing. The idea of waking up early on a Saturday morning to look at other people's crap is not.

Porter Cable 8259
Estate sales on the other hand are different. I've been to two now and have found that there can be some decent stuff to be had at a nice price. In fact I acquired my Porter Cable 2 hp plunge router, Porter Cable random obit sander, some unused router bits and most recently, two brand new heavy duty mobile tool bases at estate sales.

The router did not come with all its accessories like the collet wrench or dust shroud and the sander definitely looks like it has been used, but at $100 and $20 respectively I think I did OK to get two tools that will see much use in my shop. I've had the pleasure of using both since buying them and they work perfectly fine.

The experience of being at an estate sale is, well, strange. The most recent one I went to, which was practically in my back yard, started at 9am. My wife and I got there at about 8:40 and found a number of people already there, waiting. We walked up to the house the and got our numbers and waited for the sale to begin. Picture 50 or so people milling around on the front lawn semi patiently waiting for the doors to open.
There was an air of competition and stress building up as I scanned the faces in this crowd trying to see if I could determine who else would be gunning for the tools that were listed in this sale online. I saw lots of guys and few women. This must be how vultures feel as they circle above a slowly limping animal in the desert.

Porter Cable 333 Random Orbit Sander
My wife and I were numbers 35 and 36 and when our numbers were called we walked through the front door and went our separate ways. I headed straight to the garage to find the Delta drill press I saw online. It was the only thing I was really interested in, but this guy also had a nice Grizzly cabinet saw, Grizzly 6" jointer and Grizzly 14" band saw. I heard all three sold to the same person for $1000, not bad. Turns out, the same person, who happened to have ticket number one, bought all of the bigger tools including the drill press. Bastard.

I was just about to pick a few clamps off a clamp rack when I was told by one of the people running the sale that they had already been bought. I happen to walk past the guy who bought them on my way to my car and he told me he bought the whole rack for $50. It was mostly F clamps and quick clamps, but there had to have been 20-30 of them. $50 was s steal.

I did not go home empty handed. I got the two mobile bases I mentioned above for $10 apiece. They sell online for $69.99. One will be going under my band saw, the other may end up getting resold on craigslist. Why would someone buy them and not use them?

And that leads to the next bit strangeness. Maybe it's just me but was anyone anyone else wondering why this sale was happening in the first place? Did someone die? This house was obviously occupied by a couple, where are they? I was uncomfortable going through this person's house and picking through their things. All of their belongings were still in cupboards, on shelves and generally left where they would normally be and not packed boxes or otherwise organized in a way that suggested the owners were planning on having this sale. The previous estate sale we had been to was the same. I guess if you attend these events on a regular basis you find a way to put these thoughts our of your head.

Morbid curiosity aside, I continue to keep my eye out for estate sales. To simplify this I get the local list of estate sales emailed to me from This is a service that a number of estate sale companies use to advertise sales, but they will also gather information from estate sale ads on craigslist and send those to you as well. If yard sales are your thing, check out I believe this is run by the same people and it provides the same service of searching craigslist for you and mailing you the local listing of garage sales. I keep hoping to see someone list some good hand tools, without knowing how desirable, and valuable, antique planes can be.

Morris Chair
What did my wife buy? She bought a Morris chair for $25 and some casserole dishes for $10. A Morris chair is high on my list of things to build so I was hesitant to bring it home, but I figured I could use it as reference when I am ready to take on that project. This one, to our surprise, turned out to be a recliner and while it does have some wear it certainly isn't anything we can't polish up. And its wicked comfortable. Glad she bough it for me ;).

As always, thanks for reading.