Ideas for finding inexpensive hand tools?

sdrawkcab(7)January 3, 2011

My wife and I just moved from a tiny apartment to a house on just over an acre of property. Due to space constraints and the fact that you simply don't need a bunch of lawn and garden tools when you have no lawn or garden our tool collection consists of a pair of Felco pruners I use at work, and a shovel.

Money is pretty tight right now so while I know I need some handled tools for our garden that a neighbor is kind enough to come plow and till for us, I hate to go pay retail for them and end up having to buy the cheapest of cheap tools that won't hold up.

Does anyone have tips or tricks on where to go find inexpensive lawn/garden tools? I've been trying to watch craigslist and look for local garage/estate sales but I'm wondering if anyone else has any tips on getting tools for cheap or free?

Thanks in advance,


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Check the garage sales, free stuff in Craigs-list, go to flea markets, estate sales. Buy foreign tools made in Korea, or Japan. Stay away from chinese junk. Or, buy tools made in America. Folks whose grand-paw has died recently and are having a garage sale, will usually have tools for sale. Look for older Craftsman, Snap-on, and other U.S. made tools.
I have older socket sets made in Korea, and they compare with Craftsman tools.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 3:58PM
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I second the flea markets, garage sales, and estate sales. Why pay full price plus sales tax? Garage sales and estate sale will probably be the cheapest and sometime able to buy in bulk (more than one bundled togather). Be wise to know what stuff you want costs new before you go to flea market, sometimes that's not a good deal unless you know what it worth?

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 5:34PM
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I loved garage sales when I was in a suburben area with many available in the local area but in the country they are almost nonexistant. I would suggest Auctions (at the owners home). You would need to waste a couple of whole days but you can come away with a massive number of useful tools and supplies at either reasonable or absurdly cheap prices. Occasionally you might hit an auction overloaded with guys who all need or covet tools who will overbid prices, but this is rare AND you should leave.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2011 at 9:35AM
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A warning about those estate sale auctions: Most, if not all, auctioneers will have an accomplice in the audience who will bid the price up, to bring more money on the sale of the item. Watch carefully, and if you see anybody bidding the price up on everything at the sale--there's the "shill" as they are known in the trade.
Here, near Pittsburgh, there was an "Auction Barn" where they had an auction every week. I knew the fellow who owned the barn, and allowed the sellers to use his name on it. I went there for about 2 months, and finally knew who the shills were, and i quit going.
My friend asked why i stayed away, so i told him why, and fairly soon--the auction went a lot further up the road--like 40 miles, or so.
If you do go to an auction--sit where you can see the crowd, and observe it. And watch who seems to want everything that is being sold, as they will bid on everything, and usually get it, with their high bid! And next week, that same item will still be there!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 11:39AM
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I'm sure that shilling can be a problem on occasion, but many of the people who attend auctions are regulars who would not tollerate such activity for long. I have not seen any. I did attend an unfortunate auction that was poorly advertised and appeared to be a shilling case where one guy kept bidding and buying stuff. It turned out that he was the owner and was upset that the prices were so low that he was buying his stuff back. I found this out from his son the next day (while I was picking up the large stuff that wouldn't fit my truck the first day). The apparent shilling made several people leave, which left even fewer people (less competition) to bid even lower on the stuff. This auctioneer was allowing any bid (usually there is a minimum of $2.50 or $5.00) and I became known as 'Mr. Buck' that day.

Anyway, as I said in the post above, I would only go to auctions at the home. This also goes for garage sales. There will always be more varied stuff at home sales because the stuff doesn't have to be moved and selected on the basis that it is worth packing and carrying to the auction barn. Now that it is clearly 'worth something' the minimal bid will be higher and the other stuff that happens to be useful to you won't even be there.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 12:42PM
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I went to a home auction one day, and it was well attended. The bidding went well on almost everything. The "piece de' resistance" was a fine, full size pool table that sat (well, it loomed) down in the basement family room. It was the last item for sale.
there were two fine looking young ladies waiting there to bid on it, and when the bidding started---they bid $25, and the auctioneer said:"SOLD"! WOO-HOO. And then-they went over and tried to pick up one end of it! OOOOFF!
I guess they didn't have any idea of how heavy a regulation pool table is. They Asked some guys to help, but i don't think if they had offered them a hundred dollars, they would have helped! I don't know if they ever got it out and home, as i left! Those tables do come apart, but the slate pieces inside are HEAVY!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 3:23PM
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Tools are you get what you pay for. I buy craftsman sets and when they break replace them with snap on or mac.ex 1/4 drive set with 1 9/16,1 1/2 1 8mm sockets one ratchet. I have had 1 snow and neally axe and a aimes # 5 shovel for over 40 years. You don't need the best for all uses but if you are going to use it alot the best will serve you better.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 1:46PM
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