A Turn for the Worse...

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 03-03-2007 08:18 AM 924 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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,

3 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4156 days

#1 posted 03-03-2007 01:45 PM

a rough time for everyone. My heart goes out to you and the family.

When my husband died the hardest part was getting rid of things and taking his name off the household bills – it was like wiping out any indication that he was ever on this planet.

The added heartache that you are enduring is knowing that they need the money as well. I can imagine the pain.
(a silver lining of my life – we didn’t own anything of value so I didn’t have any expectations).

I hope that, for you, now that this process is over that next week will be better and I hope you get/got a good night’s sleep.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4309 days

#2 posted 03-03-2007 06:27 PM

Good job.

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4401 days

#3 posted 03-04-2007 06:44 AM

wow, what a week. I didn’t put it in my blog, but I found the same thing as you, the widow and daughter thought the big power tool stuff was real valuable. What surprised them about value, was the Starrett machinist measuring equipment that was well cared for. They didn’t think it was worth that much.

Here are some misc. things on prices I have seen in the past 2-4 years around here.

Old 1970’s hobby quality power tools just aren’t worth more than $5-$50 to anyone.

What people seem to pay better money for is the good quality professional tools. The kinds of things a machine shop has, or a cabinet shop has. Hobby quality tools are just so prevalent that there is more supply than demand. I think it will get more so as the baby boomers start to unload their tools. Another thing I have seen is that the manufacturers have gone to Asian production, reducing the price of new tools, that the old tools are worth less as well.

A small 9” three wheel bench top bandsaw, probably about $10.00 tops if it works. I was given one once because it had a broken wheel, couldn’t get parts for it, tossed it away saving the motor for some reason.

I have an old Oliver tool makers’s wood lathe that came out of one of the airplane plants in Wichita, that was retrofitted with a 220V variable frequency drive, works great, weighs about 600 lbs, paid $300.00, and that included a bunch of accessories, including a big shield that pulls down to stop the chips from flying.

I have a Rockwell/Delta Bandsaw, 14”, paid $200 for it used, about 25 years old probably. Probably was worth about half of that, but that is ok, I like the older man that was selling it. After I bought some decent blades, and added a Carter stablizer, it works ok. Wheels still bounce the blade. Nothing like what I wanted to have, but I am happy with it for the price.

An old 1970’s era chop saw, if the bushings are still good, about $25.00. Most I have seen have bad bushings and so the blade wiggles, meaning it is worthless for cutting anything other than 2×4’s for a construction site.

Radial arm saws are worth very little, unless they are old Dewalt 16” blade saws. I paid $100 for a good looking old Craftsman Radial arm saw, and I have never used it, just a place to hold scrap wood. The Chop saw technology just made them obsolete.

Used routers aren’t worth much, esp. Ryobi’s. The bigger brand names might bring half of the current new price, if they are in new condition.

Cordless drills with bad batteries….trash can.

A 3/8” chuck drill motor from the 1970’s is in the $2-$3 range.

I bought a laminate trimmer Ryobi at an auction for $19.00, probably more than I should have paid for it, but it was a good friend’s auction, and he wasn’t getting much for bids.

I paid $2.00 for an old pipe wrench, 12” I think.

I paid $10.00 for a big box of misc. wrenches. About the same for screwdrivers.

I paid about $25 for 8-10 of those plastic storage boxes with all of the little plastic drawers for storing bolts and screws and stuff. The only reason it went that high, was that two of us noticed the pocket watches in one of the drawers. I bought it, but the watches weren’t anything special. After I spent three nights sorting the drawers out, I’m just about as prepared as a hardware store now. I would buy more of those drawers at an auction, it has been helpful to have all of those small parts, nails, screws, bolts, etc.

The table saw is not worth near what they hope, probably more like $100.00 would find it a new home, but maybe not.

That old power tool technology is so heavy and out of date, not many people want it unless it is a steal of a buy. I’ve seen those old Craftsman contractor style table saws sit at garage sales with $25.00 on them, and nobody buys them. I have one up in the barn I should probably just throw away some day. The fences are terrible, and they vibrate when they run.

I’ve seen auctions where a set of chisels brought $50.00 for a box of a couple dozen of them. The same with files, drill bits, etc. I bought a huge bunch of drill bits at the last auction for $3.00.

I saw a set of about 25-30 profile trim hand planes, the type that were made obsolete by routers and router bits, sell at $3.00 per handful, about 3-4 in a handful. I’m sure they are worth more on eBay.

Shopsmiths hold their value pretty well compared to Craftsman stuff, but a pretty well equipped system with several accessories will run no more than $750-$1000 in this area. They sell quickly, but not at high prices.

It was good you took the Mallet and Bevel Guage. I wish I had honored the widow by accepting her gift, I think it would have made her feel better.

You’re a good man Ethan, and I am glad you were able to help out your friends, a good ministry of service you did for them. Thanks for sharing your trials.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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