a day at the woodworking auction

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 04-22-2007 04:04 AM 1448 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

About 10 or 11, I got my first “real” job. My grandfather had an auction house. All types of strange and wonderful objects passed through there. Lots of strange and wonderful people found their way their too. I was always on the end of a sofa or moving a box. I did a mans work…well kinda. I have pretty much stayed away from auctions most my life simply because I don’t need more junk. Today I made an exception. A local cabinet maker was “downsizing”. I was hoping to pick up a band saw or a nice lathe. Mine are both old 70’s sears hobbyist models.

What a flashback! I swear the same old guys buying the same old $2.00 boxes of the same old unidentifiable treasures. This was a second generation shop. The tools where from the 50’s or 60’s. Just the type of stuff my high school had. Great big old powermatic mortiser. The band saw was a 36” 3 phase monster. If I only had the room! It sold for less then a new 14” model. It would have resawn a 16” log. Wonderful old tools. This is what really broke my heart a 25 inch Powermatic planner sold for under $600.00! I swear I’ve seen them at around $12,000.00. EBAY doesnt look like such a bad way to sell now. A 48” wide-belt for under $1200.00. I’m suffering for the poor guy who sold it, somehow it just doesnt seem fair.

Fairness did not stop me from taking advantage of a few things. I found Virutex biscuit cutter for $25.00. A large box of small shaper cutters (I have no idea what I’ll do with them) for $22.50. I picked up a few of the $2.00 boxes of treasures I’ll never use, but they will be real nice if I ever have an auction. This is what got me…a 24” porta-cable omni jig for $70.00. All of this is tax deductible including the gas to get me there…if I remembered to record it.

I’m a big fan of second hand power equipment and old tools, but some things just never show up. This was a woodworker selling off stuff so you know the only clamps for sale where old metal C-clamps. I saw very few old hand tools and those brought what they were worth. I missed one old wooden plane it was buried in a box.

I’m not sure why, but the best part was the hamburger. Why is auction food so much better than restaurant food?

10 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4097 days

#1 posted 04-22-2007 04:12 AM

I’ve not been to auctions looking for tools. I normally look at flea markets, antique stores, eBay and yard sales. Every once in a while I find something nice. Like you said in relationship to staying away from auctions for years it is easy to end up with lots of junk.

Sounds like you need to buy a shaper now. You will have to start watching Craigslist.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Karson's profile


35121 posts in 4400 days

#2 posted 04-22-2007 04:14 AM

So what did the powermatic mortise sell for. Sounds like a buyers paradise, and a sellers nightmare.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4314 days

#3 posted 04-22-2007 04:17 AM

Karson, it was around $500.00. He also had a matching tenoning machine. Same deal. These were the BIG old floor models. Beautiful tools. Broke my heart.

View Diane's profile


546 posts in 4123 days

#4 posted 04-22-2007 04:50 AM

They can be fun, I’ve only been to one once, my father brought me to one when I was little. I’m glad you found some items you wanted.


View PanamaJack's profile


4483 posts in 4077 days

#5 posted 04-22-2007 05:17 AM

Great story Dennis. I remember a few of those days-gone-by auctions like that myself. The new auctions one just doesn’t know. A buddy of mine did just get a 40-42” belt sander and a 30”+” Delta band saw both from the 50’s or before, for about $1100 for both! Again like yours; a cabinet company going out….If I just had the room......can I get a big AMEN for that??!

One day!

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4092 days

#6 posted 04-22-2007 06:20 AM

Man Dennis, I used to go to these things all the time years ago and your story really makes me miss them a lot. Even if you don’t buy anything they’re just fun to be at. And the people are usually great too. Think I’ll spend some time snoopin around a few now that you’ve given me the bug again. Thanks very much for posting.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4246 days

#7 posted 04-22-2007 08:05 AM

Yea Dennis I’m a junk picker at heart also. When we were kids, of course we had open dumps like you talked about, and every Saturday Dad, my brother and I would take a load to the dump. Mom was always ticked off because she said we’d bring more trash back then we took. You know old bike parts, skates anything we could find that was useful. To us anyway. Jockmike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4094 days

#8 posted 04-22-2007 04:09 PM

Auctions can be pretty fun yet so dangerous for the old pocket book at the same time.

That is tough for the guy who was downsizing. I’m sure he didn’t like seeing his long-cherished (I’m assuming) equipment go out the door like that.

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4314 days

#9 posted 04-22-2007 06:13 PM

He was real calm during the whole thing. I think he was just ready to get out of the big shop side of cabinetry.

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4161 days

#10 posted 05-05-2007 05:58 PM

Found any more of those sales Dennis? If things are slowing down for housing, I would expect more of these to be happening. I have not seen any around here yet, but I am sure there must be.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

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