I recently got very lucky; I’m really excited about this and thought I’d share the story.
To provide a little background, I used to have a nice garage workshop in our house in San Diego. The centerpiece/anchor of the shop was a Grizzly 1023S cabinet saw. But when we lost the house (mortgage adjusted up by over 50% at the same time that my wife became disabled and we lost over 1/3 of our income) the saw went into storage for 3+ years until financial necessity (combined with the low likelihood that I’d be doing any woodworking in the near future) compelled me to sell it – for a fraction of what it was worth. Adding insult to injury, we moved from CA to AZ (where I now have a nice garage where I could’ve used it) just a few months after I sold it. Now on with the story…
A few days ago, I got a handyman call from an elderly couple (I’ll call them Nick and Norma) who wanted a ceiling fan installed in their kitchen. I went to take a look at what the job would entail and give them an estimate. While there, I noticed that Nick had a Grizzly cabinet saw. It was a G0478 – a lower model than the one I had but still a nice piece of machinery. I mentioned my love for woodworking and the Grizzly saw I used to have. Nick told me that his was for sale. He can no longer use it – he’s 76 and has very shaky hands. He also has vertigo and a fused right wrist from an accident. The last time he tried to use it, it kicked back on him and he broke his thumb.
With my wife’s disability and high medical expenses, we just barely scrape by on the money I bring in doing handyman jobs, computer work, and web design. I’ve tried to find a good full-time job since moving to the Tucson area in February, but so far, no luck. So Nick’s asking price ($550 for the saw, $750 for the saw and $500 worth of accessories) was way beyond my reach right now.
When I showed up the next day to install the ceiling fan, they told me they also wanted two can lights installed. Happy for the extra work, I took off for Lowes where I spent $60 on the materials I needed. The can lights were reasonably easy; one was to replace an existing (hanging) light fixture. The other one was going into a spot where there was no existing fixture or power, but it was less than 10 feet away, so I ran power from the first one, putting it on the same switch. The ceiling fan was also a new installation, with no fixture or power where they wanted it installed. But there was a can light just a few feet away, and they didn’t mind having the ceiling fan on the same wall switch as that (and two other) can light(s).
After two hours in the 110 degree attic heat in the late afternoon, I was exhausted and drenched in my own sweat. I tested he two new can lights and they worked properly. The ceiling fan also worked properly – but the nearby can light (that I got the ceiling fan’s power from) did not. It was obviously a simple connection issue but Nick didn’t want me going back up in the attic in my obviously exhausted state. “Come back tomorrow,” he said. As I was loading up my tools, I kept looking at that table saw. Before I left, I asked Nick if he was in a hurry to sell it. He wasn’t. I told him I was hoping to find a full-time job soon and would hopefully be in a position to buy it from him in 2 or 3 months.
He asked how much he owed me for the work I had done that day and I told him. “I’ll tell you what,” he said, “I can’t do anything on my current workbench because it’s too low. When I look down or reach down to do anything, my vertigo acts up. I’ve been wanting a big 4' x 8' work table with a higher work surface so I can still work on stuff, but I can’t build it. If you’ll build it for me, that plus the work you’ve done for me today and the table saw and all the accessories are yours.”
I was pretty flabbergasted. I gratefully accepted but told him that I would have built the work table for him for nothing – just for the pleasure of doing some woodworking and using his table saw. But he said he’d be happy to see someone use it and enjoy it and he wanted me to have it.
On the way home, I got to thinking about the downsides to this deal… As great a deal as it was, my wife and and I weren’t in a good position for absorbing the $60 I had spent at Lowes. (But could I really turn down such a great deal over $60???) Another problem was going to be the expense of getting a 220V circuit from the breaker box (at the opposite end of the house) to the garage. I went home and told my wife, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news…” She was very happy for me – but also worried about the $60 and the cost of getting 220 to the garage. We decided to sleep on it.
The next day, I went back over to Nick’s – bright and early – to fix the can light before it got too hot in the attic. It was a quick fix and I was done in half an hour. As I was loading up my tools, Nick handed me a check. It covered the cost of the work (as I’d quoted him the day before) plus a nice tip! “But I thought…” I said. “No, no,” Nick interrupted, “the deal is still on. You supply the materials and build me my worktable and the saw is yours. But I know you need the money so I’m paying you for the work you’ve done.”
I was speechless but finally managed a very heartfelt thanks. On the way home, I stopped at my Dad’s house (just around the corner from Nick’s) I’d already told him the story up to that point and wanted to tell him about this latest development. He was really impressed by Nick’s generosity and offered me his truck to go get the materials for the table. He’d also been doing some thinking about my 220V problem. “I bet you have a 220V hookup behind your dryer,” he said. My dryer is maybe 5 feet from the back garage wall. “And isn’t your dryer gas?” Well, it is gas, and I do have an unused 220 outlet there. It’s not going to cost much to extend that circuit and put an outlet in the garage.
There’s still another problem, though. All the garages in this area were built with only one AC outlet in the garage. My dust collector needs a dedicated 15 amp circuit and the garage is very poorly lit. But here’s the icing on the cake…
While I was working on my garage last weekend (trying to get it ready to become a wood shop – and maybe even hold a car, too) I noticed a blank wall plate up above the water heater. I climbed my ladder and pulled it off. It’s another 220V circuit (2×30 amp legs) – for an electric water heater! Our water heater is gas, so I’m going to use it to supply a subpanel with 4×15 amp circuits – one for my dust collector, one for lighting, and two for other tools. Plenty of available power for my wood shop!
This story is continued here.
-- Founding member of the (un)Official LumberJock's Frugal Woodworking Society - http://lumberjocks.com/topics/29451