One thing that all shade-tree mechanics have in common is a lust for tools. How many times do we tell ourselves that “if we just had ‘so and so,’ this whole job would be sooooo much easier…” Since most of us don’t have a ton to spend on extra tools, we find ourselves getting the job done with what we have. But what if there was a wealth of quality cheap tools available, at far below the market value? Would you go for it? Well, I would, and I do!
Cheap tools don’t have to be bad quality…
The photo at the top of this post shows an aluminum box that I came across at a garage sale. It was sitting beneath a table with all the “valuable” sale items, and it instantly caught my eye. Anyone who knows me knows that I can not resist a good container, no matter what warning has been scrawled on the outside. And this was no exception.
I opened it up, and what to my wondering eyes should appear, a box full of good bits and pieces, and a bunch of cheap tools. But not cheaply made, just good quality tools that this person didn’t need or want anymore. I really just wanted the box, but with a price of under $5 for the whole lot, I really couldn’t resist. When I got it back to the shop, I sorted through the stuff that was absolutely no use, and just threw it in the trash. But the stuff that was left was plentiful, and plenty useful.
Just to give you an idea of the loot, there was a specialized hand-drill, USA made, that I have seen go for $50 on eBay. Nice to have, and worst case, I sell it. There was a Leatherman, many driver bits, a bunch of magnetic nut drivers, a couple Allen wrench sets and host of other doo-dads. Not a bad haul. And best yet, I got the killer box!
Since moving up to Vermont, I have begun to take advantage of those signs on the side of the road, alerting me to possible pots of gold at the end of these tool-rainbows. You get to a point where you can usually tell if they are worth stopping or not (baby clothes galore, keep moving!). Craigslist has a section where people advertise their sales, and you can search for “tools” to bring up only those that mention them in the post.
People get rid of all sorts of things. And some of these things can add a nice touch to your toolbox. Check it out next time you pass by, you just might find just the tool you were looking for, but didn’t have the cash to pay full price for…