How dumb am I? Allow me to regale you in my little tale …
Harbor Freight recently had a sale on all their clamps, so I started foraging every magazine and newspaper ad we had looking for the 20% off coupons. I managed to scrounge around a dozen or so and I had several more that were expired. And I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything at Harbor Freight without a coupon, so that tells you how plentiful these things are.
My local Harbor Freight is less than two miles from my house and they are ALL ABOUT that coupon policy. One per person, per day. Spread over a few trips, some with my wife’s help (so clever), I picked up an assortment of about a dozen clamps. Bar clamps, pipe clamps and two toggle clamps. They were priced in the range of three to seven dollars each after the coupon. I figure I spent around fifty dollars total, though I wasn’t really keeping track.
After buying my table saw on Craigslist, and going through it to clean and tune it, I decided I would change the arbor bearings. They are just a bit noisy and I might as well get it out of the way. I picked up an arbor press on Craigslist for twenty bucks.
Yesterday, while perusing the saw’s diagrams and pondering the steps of arbor carriage reassembly, the arbor press popped into mind and so did my recent clamp fiesta. Ummm … why the hell am I not looking for clamps on Craigslist?
I punch in a search on “clamps” … eh, too broad. So the first name that comes to mind is Bessey. Ok, let’s try “Bessey”.
The first friggin’ post to pop up and some retiring cabinet maker’s son is selling nearly 100 made in Germany Bessey bar clamps. For three dollars each.
DAMMIT!!! — SERENITY NOW! SERENITY NOW!
However, he is a far drive away. About forty miles from where I work, and I work about forty miles from where I live. Good thing the VW Jetta gets 35mpg, because I am going.
I get there yesterday, and there are STACKS of Bessey clamps. I grabbed all the largest I could find. 18” and 16”, I think. Fourteen in all. For forty two dollars. Killer deal. But wait … there’s more. Probably because of his location, he hasn’t had much interest. He’s a really nice guy and he starts throwing in free clamps. Two more of the big bar clamps, 12” I think. Three smaller Bessey bar clamps, one old Brink and Cotton bar clamp and two old Record Marples bar clamps that say Sheffield England on them.
Twenty two clamps for forty two dollars and six dollars in gas. I’ll be going back for more if he still has them.
The two Marples clamps are bent. One is bent, twisted and beyond use. Wonder how it happened, because these clamps are beastly chunks of metal. Maybe a blacksmith can fix them?
Craigslist to the rescue? Not really.
I did find an Arizona Blacksmith association website on a Google search. The three smiths I reached weren’t interested in fixing the clamps. One said he doesn’t do that type of work and another said he was much too busy for that small a job. The third simply said, “Sixty Dollars”.
Do you know how many clamps I can get for sixty dollars??? Twenty clamps buddy! I’ll hammer on these things myself. I couldn’t possibly make them any worse.
Maybe I’ll try reaching a couple more during the week. I’m not sure what it would cost to fix them, or if it is even worth pursuing, but is Blacksmithing the recession proof profession?