A little advice

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Blog entry by BigTiny posted 09-02-2010 11:58 AM 1546 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Greetings all.

Since I’ve been actively adding to my shop lately, cost has become an issue and has set me to thinking…

Just how much money do we have tied up in our tool collections? I think many of you would be surprised at the total.

One of our own had a fire in his shop recently and luckily it didn’t do too much damage to the tools, although the shop is in need of major repairs.

Now to my point: if (heaven forbid) you had a fire that destroyed your shop, how many of your tools could you list for the insurance adjuster? How would you prove you actually had them? How about if someone broken in and stole some of them?

MAKE A LIST! Take inventory if all your tools and make sure it is complete and up to date.

TAKE PICTURES of EVERYTHING. It’s a good idea to shine up the tools before photographing them. Keep the inventory and pictures AWAY from home! A safety deposit box is the best place, but copies left with a couple of friends will work too, but leave more than one set with different folks, just in case.

Lastly, talk with your insurance broker or agent to be sure your tools are covered. Many policies have a clause limiting how much they will pay for the loss of hobby equipment, often only a few hundred dollars. A rider may be needed to fully protect your investment. Fortunately, they’re usually not that expensive,

Imagine loosing many of your beloved “shop buddies” because the insurance company disallowed your claim…Scary though, eh?

Give this some serious thought. It may save you thousands of dollars and a lot of headaches.

P.S. Don’t forget the wood and hardware in that list. I know it’s difficult to keep that list current, but a list of changes since the last “master list” can be kept in your wallet (or purse).

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

16 comments so far

View grosa's profile


1004 posts in 2854 days

#1 posted 09-02-2010 12:57 PM

I have done all that. The problem with insurance is they will only pay you 30 percent of what they are worth. If you want total value It costs allot more.

-- Have a great day.

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3907 days

#2 posted 09-02-2010 02:03 PM

Hey BigT,

Good advice. I took pics and a small video of the rooms in my house too. Same reason.

After totaling up all my tools, I have $36.58 invested so far. Maybe a little bit more, I don’t add to well.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Sivers's profile


44 posts in 3407 days

#3 posted 09-02-2010 02:26 PM

I had a flood in my basement shop earlier this year due to a broken pipe. Unlike a fire everything is still there after the flood. Every power tool got recorded and taken away. I had to make a list of what everything had been purchased for and how old they were which was hard enough. Insurance would pay out the depreciated value for everything that was damaged and would pay out replacement value if I could show a receipt to prove I bought a new one. So it ended up working out alright.

View helluvawreck's profile


31378 posts in 2891 days

#4 posted 09-02-2010 02:35 PM

Thanks for posting this because I really do need to take care of this – good advice.

While we’re on the subject of insurance – I have noticed that many of you here have spoken of doing the wiring on your own at home or in your shop. When and if you do wiring at your home I believe that you will be very wise to get a permit so that the inspector can inspect it; that way you have his seal of approval. Insurance companies are gettiing very rough on homeowners that do their own electrical repairs or their own wiring. Actually they are getting tough on everything. Even though I know how to wire and have experience on electrical maintenance I will not do any wiring or electrical maintenance at my home.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View derosa's profile


1577 posts in 2861 days

#5 posted 09-02-2010 03:13 PM

Good advice, I added my bicycles to the insurance policy last year due to their cost. Only 3 weeks later one was stolen. No pictures our estimate for the insurance company would have left me hanging on a new 5500.00 bike.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View poopiekat's profile


4356 posts in 3759 days

#6 posted 09-02-2010 03:21 PM

Good advice, BigTiny!
Another side benefit that makes this task equally important is….as we get older, we have to think about the eventual time that we leave this Earth. I have nightmares about my widowed wife handing off my tools to friends, charities and disinterested family, having no idea what my stuff is worth. Having a pictorial record of each tool along with a presumed market value, would be very reassuring. You don’t want to be the provider of somebody else’s tool gloat!!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View dbhost's profile


5725 posts in 3257 days

#7 posted 09-02-2010 04:42 PM

That is one of the reasons I am so big on keeping up with my workshop posting here. I also have a spreadsheet with prices, and photos of the actual equipment.

On the inheritance issue, I am planning on living a good long time more, but I am also making a “just in case God has other ideas for me” plan to dispense with my shop. Specifically, I am trying to get a woodworking ministry set up in my church, and would like my shop to be passed on there if I go before the equipment does…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View swirt's profile


2780 posts in 2997 days

#8 posted 09-02-2010 05:10 PM

Good advice BigTiny. One techno solution to offsite photo storage. Start a google blog, but leave it set to “private” so that only you can see it. Then upload digital photos and possibly descriptions of all your tools. If any of them have any family history it is a good place to document that as well. Then if disaster strikes you have proof of ownership and if they live a long life and you pass them on to other family members, they have the benefit of knowing some of the history. (Funny thing, when I was a kid and had the chance to ask my grandfather about some of his tools, I had no interest in it … now that I have an interest in it, he’s not around to ask.)

-- Galootish log blog,

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2905 days

#9 posted 09-02-2010 05:19 PM

To add to your advice, if you want to make it even easier get your insurance with Auto-Owners insurance Company. They write in most states I think. I say this because they are one of the top if not the best ranked insurance companies when it comes to handling claims. I have heard horror stories of people trying to settle claims with some companies. The company that you have your insurance through can make a huge difference when it comes to a claim.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3011 days

#10 posted 09-02-2010 05:21 PM

I have done this.. and even better, my insurance agent has a copy of the list already. He’s gone through my shop with me, has seen the basics of the tools I have and has a good idea of the value. I know my case is a little different since I have some extraordinarily expensive tools (the CNC stuff) and it isn’t a hobby. I send him an updated list every quarter or so as needed. I do not have any investments into hardwood right now (everything I have was scrap materials and I’ve spent maybe $200 on wood this year. Not enough to warrant me worrying.) but when I do, I should take care to list it. I have a very large plastic inventory which I HAVE listed.

The big ticket items are listed specifically in my policy. If you can afford to do so, I think it is well worth it. I guess it does make insurance more expensive.

My agent suggested this system, which I think is wise even if you don’t have items listed specifically—after you purchase an item, keep the receipt. Take a photo of the tool with the receipt in the picture. If you have warranty info for the tool, keep that too. Bundle all of these items together. I just paper-clip them. Then, keep them somewhere safe – a firebox or safety deposit box. If you can, make a digital copy of all of the above and keep it somewhere else. (With an online company is generally the best choice for the average person – it’s off-site, you can access it from anywhere, and the information in an of itself is not super sensitive) If something major happens to the tool – either an upgrade of sorts, a modification, or an injury – document that too.

This actually saved me SO much a few years ago when I broke my camera. (My camera which cost $1500 the year before) I had scratched it pretty heavily a few months prior to actually breaking it. They were unrelated, but in the same part of the camera. When I sent it in for repair at first, they tried to claim I had not been upfront about the damage. I sent the dated photos of the initial, cosmetic injury and a couple of photos taken with it in the middle time-frame to show it still worked. This pleased them a lot and they fixed it with no complaints.

I know it’s tedious and not terribly fun, but this kind of organisation can really save the day in the end.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3008 days

#11 posted 09-02-2010 05:30 PM

How true Tiny. Also another thing to do as well is to save all your receipts as well. While on the the subject another reason for this also is for the day we all go to that Big Woodshop in the sky. I told my daughter that when I go the shop would be all hers. Which she replied Papa how much is all this stuff worth. I said to her that depends on if you were to replace all my tools or to sell them. So if you have no one in the family that is interested in woodworking to leave your shop to. Its a good idea so that if they are going to sell your shop after your gone they will have an idea of what its worth. In that way they won’t be taken advantage of. I say this because most people have no idea what to sell this stuff for used. I’ve seen so many loved ones taken advantage of because of the lack of this knowledge.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2867 days

#12 posted 09-02-2010 09:31 PM

Interesting topic. No, I wouldn’t be surprised one bit at the total cost of a woodworking hobby. I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve gotten great bargains on a lot of my stuff. I’ve even gotten certain tools like my Rigid 3650 table saw for absolutely free. Still, I have a small fortune wrapped up in my shop. The problem though is that there is no way my budget allows the constant cost of insurance on it all. I wish I could insure it, but unless my money situation gets a whole lot better, than theft or fire would just put me to starting all over again from scratch. I’ve done it several times in my life already. I hope it never happens though. I’m getting too old.
As for what to do when I die. I’m blessed with seven boys and one girl. They will be getting my tools. I have a sort of evolving will. I add to it and take away from it as life happens so it’s updated constantly as to which kid gets what. I do the same thing with my everchanging gun collection.


View helluvawreck's profile


31378 posts in 2891 days

#13 posted 09-02-2010 09:36 PM

I’m sorry about your not having any insurance, William, and I pray that nothing ever happens to it also. God Bless

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3551 days

#14 posted 09-02-2010 11:24 PM

In the past 40 some years I have had to submit twice for a very small claims and each time I thought I was covered and both times what was stolen fell into the “Gray Zone” and the insurance company did not pay. As a good will gesture of the insurance company they did increase the amount I paid for insurance the next year because I submitted 2 claims. I fixed my problem, I moved from that town and changed insurance companies. Still a left a bad taste though…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View BigTiny's profile


1676 posts in 2913 days

#15 posted 09-02-2010 11:28 PM

Hi all.

Looks like I struck a chord here. A lot of good replies.
To comment on some of the points raised, first the idea of doing an inventory and photos of every room, that is a great idea, and should be done, but since this is a wood site I was concentrating on the shop.

As for the Google account, I disagree with keeping it private, as this ignores what happens if it’s you that is MIA and not the tools. Have a short list of trusted folks added to the approved list on that account and make sure they know about it and the reason behind it.

As for value when claim time comes, you can get replacement value coverage for a bit more money, and a couple of bucks a month is a lot easier to find than several thousand dollars if a claim brings a fraction of what it will cost to replace the tools. That’s the whole idea behind having insurance isn’t it?

As for doing your own wiring, I would advise you to get a permit and inspection on any major home improvement, for your own peace of mind as well as staying out of trouble. Not only can not doing so cause problems with the insurance company, but if the improvement incurs a tax increase, not doing so can result in penalties from the tax man.

To those who don’t have insurance on their stuff, I would encourage them to look into it. Depending on the company, it can be very reasonable, often only a few dollars extra a month. If your insurer wants what you feel is too much, shop around. Nothing says you have to carry all your coverage with a single company. Some insurers issue special policies for just such situations. Check with a broker experienced in such special coverage.

On the topic of inheritances, again the inventory is very handy. If you keep it as a spreadsheet (a great idea by the way), add a column with the names of who you want that item to go to if there are special items you’d like to see going to certain folks. If the column is empty, it goes to your general estate. A column for fair market value is a good idea too, as is one for the date you got the tool and the length of the warrantee period. That also comes in handy if the thing breaks down and you aren’t sure whether it’s still on warrantee or not without digging through a bunch of papers.

The cost of not knowing can be horrendous. I used to be a financial planner and broker for life and disability insurance. My family doctor went to Switzerland on a skiing holiday with a doctor friend of his. The friend “ate a tree” and ended up hospitalized for over six months and a further six months of therapy before he could return to work. The bad part is, when he filed a claim with his disability insurer, he discovered their policies covered accidents only in continental North America! He got zip for the year he lost. Thankfully, I had my doctor covered with a company that covered him anywhere he went.

The moral is read and understand your policies! All of them, be they life, disability, health, home or whatever.

Be well and make lots of sawdust.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

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