Sorry I haven’t been blogging the past few days; this week at work was a rough one. I’ve not been this glad to see Friday afternoon in a long time. I’m afraid this blog is going to be a long one, as I probably need to get a bit out of my system…
When I had any spare time, I’ve been doing some freelance documentation work – love it! – and trying to generate a pricing list for Pop’s tools – not so much fun. I guess it is more important than ever now, as he had one or two more strokes this week and now has some paralysis on most of the right (?) side of his body. I didn’t get much of the details, as my little brother just left a message on my voice mail. I’ll check up on him this weekend and see how he’s doing.
Monday after work I drove down to Pop’s and met Noah there to start writing up the sale list of Pop’s tools. The cataloging of the tools didn’t go so well, but I’m glad I did it. His wife tried to help me out as much as she could, but the whole process of going through his tools and cataloging them for sale because he could no longer use them was pretty trying on her emotions. I think it was important for her to stay out there, though – or at least she felt it was, because she toughed it out and spent most of the three hours out there in the 40 degree weather.
My little brother was there, too, but as much as he tried, I ended up doing most of the work. He was ok when we were cataloging power tools, but pretty much useless when it came to any of the hand tools, especially planes and the like. But that’s ok; he tried, and that’s all I could ask for. It was probably pretty hard for him to see Pop’s in the condition he was in and his wife in the state she was in – they’re like family to him.
I was actually quite surprised at my own knowledge of the different tools he had. I spent over three hours in the shop, writing up as much as I could. Even after that much time, however, I didn’t scratch the surface on the smaller, more common tools. As I was driving home that night, I realized I’d forgotten to write down the 16 or 20 hammers he had on one wall.
During any free time I’ve had the last few evenings, I’ve been trying to come up with accurate sale prices on as much of the tools as I could, using eBay and the two or three… ok, six… antique tool sites and listings I frequent quite often. I even sent a list of what I thought might have a little more collector value to Patrick Leach of Patrick’s Blood and Gore fame. He did finally get back to me; this evening, in fact. He was most helpful, but didn’t feel any of the tools I’d listed were rare enough for him to purchase and have shipped up to the New England states.
I think I’ve been quite successful, coming up with fair and accurate pricing, but I’m afraid some of the numbers I’ve come up with aren’t going to be the kinds of numbers Mrs. Pfitzinger wanted to see. I think she thought she was sitting on a goldmine of power tools and antique hand tools, and that really isn’t the case.
A few of the forty-five power tools I catalogued are notable, like the old Rockwell Bandsaw, an antique General Electric Planer Blade Sharpener (that I have NO idea how to use), and a NIB Dewalt 12” miter saw, but a lot of the power tools are well-used and/or of lesser quality – not really anything for a collector and some of them don’t seem to have much life left in them. Did I mention he had 45 power tools in his shop? Wow. Ready for the router count, Obi? Seven.
His hand tool collection had a few highlights to it, but as Patrick pointed out, even those were not “rare” by any means. Let’s face it – Stanley FLOODED the market with planes and tools over a period of more than 100 years. Most of them are going to be quite common. Pricing them has actually been a lot easier than the power tools, though.
But one of the problems I’m going to run into is giving the Pfitzingers accurate prices on some of the items they feel have much higher value than they really do. They had a few things they wanted me to list at specific prices, like a Ryobi 3HP router for $400 (might have cost that brand new four years ago, but it’s nothing like that now-a-days), a 1970’s Craftsman table saw and modified Delta dust collector (must sell together) for $500 (it isn’t a bad table saw – I’ve used it – but that might be a bit high, too), and a full set of Shapleigh bevel-edge socket chisels, from 2” all the way down to 1/4” (just missing the 3/8”, I believe – the problem is, apparently Pop’s was offered $300 for the set a few years ago and he turned it down; Patrick says he has had a hard time trying to sell antique and vintage chisels lately, and they’d be lucky to get $150 to $200 for them now).
I think I’m going to have to come up with two lists to give them… One list will have each tool and the Asking Price for that tool, but I need to give them a list that has each tool and the realistic price they should consider accepting for that tool.
That’s one of the dilema’s I’ve had to face this week. The other is more along the lines of Mark’s blog on the subject from last week. After three hours of hard work, I was packing up my bag to leave and Mrs. Pfitzinger asked me if there was anything from the shop that I wanted for helping them.
I told her compassion doesn’t cost anything, but she started getting upset and insisting I take something, so I thought about it a bit and walked over to a wall of the shop and grabbed two things. They weren’t particularly valuable to most people, but they were two things I knew I’d keep forever and use often in my shop. One was a Lignum Vitae mallet, marked HAITI on the end of the head. It was the mallet Pops and I had used as a model for my own mallet we’d turned on his lathe. I’ve never actually been able to force myself to use my Osage mallet, so I thought this one would serve the dual purpose of reminding me of Pops and would give me a really good user mallet. The other tool was his 14” bevel gauge. Pops used it on probably 75% of the projects he worked on, and the smoothness and patina of the handle reflected that.
So I took the two tools and put two crisp $50 bills in her hand and told her, “No give backs.” Sometimes you have to throw a bit of humor into a situation to give it some levity…
Dana asked me this evening if I was planning on trying to buy any of the other tools, like the Rockwell Band saw (wow, does my wife know me…). I told her I’d thought about it, but… I’d decided that I could more honestly and fairly appraise everything if I did not try to buy any of it for myself.
She thought that was a great idea. And I felt a ton better with myself after making that decision, too.
Well, I need to get to bed. I have an early day tomorrow. I’m going to go to Woodcraft and pick up a replacement Hock blade for my NEWLY TUNED Bailey #5 that I worked on in my Hand Plane Tune-Up class last night! I’ll have to blog about that in the morning…
-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com