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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 02-26-2007 04:50 AM 964 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m feeling very thankful and grateful today.

I just found out that a friend of mine, Bob, the guy who helped me turn my osage orange mallet, had a series of small strokes recently. His sight and mental capacity has been severely affected to the point where he can no longer drive or operate any kind of machinery. He says it is like there is a big black hole in his head. He has a thought and before it gets to his mouth to say what he wanted to say or to his hands to move the way he wants them to move, it disappears. He knows who people are and can tell you 500 things about that person, but has no idea what their name is, things like that…

He can no longer work, which is bad enough, but it also means he has to give up one of his big joys in life, which is woodworking.

It’s hard to try an imagine what he and his family is going through. Actually, I don’t think I can. Today my family was all together for my dad’s birthday dinner (lunch? We have a weird thing in our family that the meals are breakfast/lunch/dinner during the week, but on weekends we call them breakfast/dinner/supper – does anyone else do that? I think it is something my grandmother on my father’s side did…). It was nice to sit around the collective group of parents, the three sons, and their wives and children (and one on the way w/my younger brother’s wife) and hear the laughter and the stories and share the companionship and love of a family. I paused during the meal to try and imagine life without that, and I couldn’t. Or at least, it wasn’t one nearly as fulfilling as the one I have now.

My little brother is a really close friend of Bob’s son, Nathaniel, and is one of Bob’s surogate son’s they’ve “adopted” over the years. Tomorrow he is going to go over to Bob’s shop and try to take an inventory of his woodworking tools and equipment and come up with some sale prices. They need to sell it all off to make some extra money because they don’t have the best insurance.

He isn’t really the best when it comes to details and writing and probably not that great at evaluating the sale cost of most of these things. He has a lot of practical knowledge, when it comes to woodworking, but he does lack some in booksmarts. So I offered to meet him down there and help him inventory and price everything out. I could easily write up a rough copy and write it all up with descriptions and then get on-line and come up with some appropriate pricing for most of it.

And they said I could also buy whatever I needed before the list goes out to the general public.

I guess I’m somewhat torn on my feelings for this. On the one hand, it is a horrible thing to have to sell off your tools and it is something I can’t imagine doing. Since I’ve gotten into woodworking, I’ve been to four different shops where the guy is selling everything off because he’s retiring, and you can see it in their eyes – it’s like you’re tearing apart their soul, piece by piece.

On the other hand, I know it is something that has to happen. And I know neither of his sons has ever had an interest in woodworking, which always made him sad. He has hand tools that were passed down to him from his dad and his grandfather and his children don’t have the slightest interest in picking them up and putting them to wood. So a part of me feels like I owe it to him to pick up some of these tools and recondition the ones that need it and try to carry on his legacy as best I can.

And then that first part of me says I’m trying to justify it to myself, nothing more.

I guess I can balance it out by making sure I give him more than the going market value for them. That way I’ll know I’m not trying to take advantage of him – and I know they’ll get the extra money they so desperately need right now.

Bother… I hate mental dilemas like these. Just needed to get it off my chest, I guess. Sorry if I brought anyone down, but thanks for being my sounding board.

-- Ethan,

6 comments so far

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4337 days

#1 posted 02-26-2007 05:44 AM

I completely understand…If it where me know I’d want my tools in loving hands. My carving tools (lots of $) where a gift from my sponsor from when he closed down his shop. He was a model builder put out of business by the new computer drafting programs. Give him a fair price and sleep in peace knowing his legacy is being valued!

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4199 days

#2 posted 02-26-2007 08:45 AM

Or, and this may be harder. Put in writing, reserve bids on the pieces that you want. These can be, as you have stated, “more than the going market value” but this process will determine what market value is. When the items go on the open market, only accept bids on those items that are higher than your reserve bid. That way, if you have under-estimated the value, you friend will be protected.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View frank's profile


1492 posts in 4228 days

#3 posted 02-26-2007 12:06 PM

Hi Ethan;
—-yes, I hear you and the sadness of the story! And are not all our lives stories which we hope to tell, but in the end it’s some-one else who tells our story.

Come spring and summer, I do estate sales around here looking for barn hardware and hand wood tools….and while my joy can be complete at a good find, there is usually some sad story that goes along with the tail end of the sale.

Keep sounding, keep writing….I’m hearing….!

-- --frank, NH,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4183 days

#4 posted 02-26-2007 02:02 PM

and adding to that saddness would be the day when his children/grandchildren decide that they want to try building something, get hooked, and then hear about the tools that had been passed down through generations until they (themselves) said that they didn’t want them.
How many people have started woodworking in their “later years”?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4428 days

#5 posted 02-26-2007 05:34 PM

great blog, lots of meat to chew.

Once, again, I started crafting a long reply to Ethan and decided to blog it in my own blog. Thanks for this story Ethan, it is something I have been wanting to talk about for awhile, just hadn’t taken time to do it.


P.S. now, I’m playing catch up to blog listings! Keep going brother.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4184 days

#6 posted 02-27-2007 03:22 AM

Sorry to hear about your friend Ethan. That is a shame to give up something like woodworking. Eventually we all will have to, but not for many years hopefully.

I think it is wonderful that you are helping them out, and considering buying the tools above market price as well. A lot of people would simply try to take advantage of the situation. That is when you learn who your friends really are.

You might try doing some queries on eBay to see what the price ranges are for tools as well. Maybe some of the smaller items could even be sold on eBay to help raise money.

A tough situation to deal with, but it sounds like you are handling it well.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

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