Estate sale guilt?

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Forum topic by Brett posted 08-24-2012 04:00 PM 2212 views 0 times favorited 21 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2590 days

08-24-2012 04:00 PM

I’ve picked up a few hand tools at very good prices at estate sales in my area.

I usually locate them through online sites that show a Google map of the estate sales’ locations.

Sometimes, when I see a listing for an estate sale with hand tools that is located close to my house, I think, “Hooray! Somebody died close to where I live!”

Should I feel guilty?

-- More tools, fewer machines.

21 replies so far

View poopiekat's profile


4329 posts in 3642 days

#1 posted 08-24-2012 04:11 PM

Brett: I try to take the high road when negotiating for tools at sales conducted by the late woodworker’s family. They often have no clue of a tool’s value. I’d prefer to assist them in properly valuing these tools, rather than make a quick hit and run. However, if an item has been clearly priced, I really have no qualms about buying it for that price. It IS their estimation of its worth. I hate to see these slime-balls beat up on the hapless widows, aggressively offering a fraction of the tools’ worth. And then there are situations like the new-looking McCulloch Eager Beaver chainsaw… the woman said it won’t start and so $3. Got it home and realized that the rope knot had unraveled and spun the rope up inside the recoil. 10 minutes later, I had a new chainsaw. There’s plenty of deals if you want to go out and look for them, no need to chisel trusting homeowners out of their woodworking treasures with aggressive low-balling.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View Bill White's profile (online now)

Bill White

4861 posts in 3868 days

#2 posted 08-24-2012 04:12 PM

Absolutely. Don’t buy any of the great bargains. Save ‘em for me. After all, the person could haunt ya. :)
Didja see my smilie face?
In a whisper:
Go after the good stuff.


View CharlieM1958's profile


16272 posts in 4126 days

#3 posted 08-24-2012 05:05 PM

Unless you miss grandpa’s funeral because you are shopping at his estate sale, there is no need to feel guilty.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View chrisstef's profile


17182 posts in 2914 days

#4 posted 08-24-2012 05:17 PM

IMO its only worth what someone would pay for it. Now if you turn around and sell items for 1000% profit i might be entitled to feel guilty. Karma can be a nasty little son of a gun.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Bertha's profile


13508 posts in 2600 days

#5 posted 08-24-2012 05:20 PM

As long as you didn’t kill the deceased, I wouldn’t worry about it. I’ve killed a lot of woodworkers, bought their tools, and felt guilty about it. That’s a joke.
I’m with both Bill and Poopie. Offer fair price and avoid hauntings;)

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 2948 days

#6 posted 08-24-2012 05:35 PM

Consider yourself lucky, you got a good deal…

As for the deceased, they will be very happy with you getting a good deal, After all they are already at the place we are all dying to get to…...

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View AandCstyle's profile


2978 posts in 2164 days

#7 posted 08-24-2012 06:30 PM

The deceased might have been very happy to give the item(s) away to have them used by a wood worker as opposed to having a “collector” put them on a shelf to collect rust.

-- Art

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18195 posts in 3583 days

#8 posted 08-24-2012 07:42 PM

Do you feel like a grave robber?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Richard's profile


400 posts in 2599 days

#9 posted 08-24-2012 07:58 PM

Grave robber? No.

If you stop and think about it, those of us using vintage/antique tools are almost certainly using “a dead man’s” tools. I prefer to think that I am honoring the intent of the dearly departed by giving their old tools a home where they will be valued for their utility, instead of cast aside as the debris from someone’s life.

As for pricing, I am with poopiekat, if they put a price on it that is way below market I am not going to argue, I am going to pay it and walk away happy.

-- "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2590 days

#10 posted 08-24-2012 08:08 PM

I have no problem buying the tools; the pangs of guilt are because of the momentary feeling of gladness I have that someone is having an estate sale with tools (which means a momentary feeling of gladness that someone died and I might get to buy his/her tools).

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 2893 days

#11 posted 08-24-2012 08:11 PM

Generally items in an estate sale are there because nobody else in the family wants or needs it. I don’t think it’s bad to get excited about them.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7669 posts in 2236 days

#12 posted 08-24-2012 08:15 PM

As long as you’re not taking advantage of anybody through deceit, you shouldn’t have anything to feel guilty about. The survivors want to convert artifacts into cash, and that’s their right (provided they’re the lawful owners). You’re simply helping them to do so.

Years ago, I rented a little house from a 99 year old retired machinist. All of our dealings were with the grandson, who was very nice. Once while he was telling me stories about his grandfather, I expressed curiosity about whatever happened to his machinist tools. His face went grim as he explained that soon after his grandfather entered a nursing home, somebody came and swindled his (now deceased) grandmother… purchasing a complete machist tool set for a pittance.

Be kind to old people. It will come back to you in blessings.

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 2679 days

#13 posted 08-24-2012 08:25 PM

When I die, I would love to see my tools live on and help out another woodworker, regardless of price .. I’d imagine most woodworkers feel the same. A lot of times, people are happy to see their loved ones stuff go to someone who will care for it just as much as they did .. and I don’t think price is as much an issue then.

I could be wrong who knows.


-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer:

View Tennessee's profile


2750 posts in 2422 days

#14 posted 08-24-2012 08:29 PM

I know that neither of my sons are into wood. Probably, in my will, I intend to have my shop donated to a good cause, like a woodworking shop for underprivileged people, something like that.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View jlasersmith's profile


45 posts in 2059 days

#15 posted 08-24-2012 08:37 PM

Don’t feel guilty.. I dont. just last week I went to an estate sale and picked up a craftsman lathe, a craftsman router table with 1hp router, a 1948 craftsman band saw not sure on the size but its huge, 8 blades for it plus extra belts, a dozen chisels for the lathe, and the entirety of his wood collection, a 3/4 full tub of finishing paste, a 20ft roll of canvas, and a dozen paint brushes for less than $200. A friend told me the wood alone is worth 3 times what I paid for the whole lot tools and all. I am 31 and I don’t have a lot of money and am new to woodworking. I would like to think that the previous owner would be happy that I am getting lots of use out of his tools rather than some relative who wouldn’t appreciate what they inherited. The family thought they were asking too much for the “pile of firewood” that was stashed in his workshop. They asked me if I was crazy the next day when I came back and bought the rest of the wood.

-- I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different. -Kurt Vonnegut

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