Inventory? How many know what they have?

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Forum topic by Charlie posted 08-08-2013 12:17 PM 1492 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1100 posts in 2283 days

08-08-2013 12:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

A friend of mine recently had a break-in of his garage which also housed his tools. Basically, they cleaned him out. The insurance company wanted to see receipts and any other proof of what he had. He couldn’t come up with anything meaningful. A couple of receipts he found for a few items. He ended up getting squat. They paid out maybe 5% of what it would take to replace the stuff he had, even going into the used market.

So my question is, “How many of you know what you have and can prove it?”

I’ve recently embarked on a photo inventory of my shop. I have receipts for the big stuff, but man…. there’s so much SMALL stuff! Stuff I’ve had for years and there’s no way I kept receipts for all of this. I figured since I’ve recently gained another 100 sq ft of shop space and therefore had to clean and rearrange stuff, now would be a good time to get started.

I took individual photos of the bigger stuff. Table saw, band saw, circular saw, planer, jointer, clamp rack, drill press, etc., but then I started opening cabinets and drawers and…. wow. I need to do some more cleaning! I took photos of each wall because I have stuff on pegboard all over the place. Even if I don’t have an item individually listed on a list of items, at least I have a photo to look at and go, “oh, look…I almost forgot about….”...whatever.

I live in a relatively low-crime village with great neighbors and we really do all watch out for each other, but these things can still happen. I’m not the doom and gloom kind of guy, but…. forewarned is forearmed I guess.

23 replies so far

View kreitzm's profile


22 posts in 1969 days

#1 posted 08-08-2013 12:29 PM

I have been meaning to do this myself. I had a break in at my old home, before I got all my major woodworking tools, and they stole quite a bit of my electronic items. This causes me to have lingering fears of it occurring again and now that I have invested thousands into woodworking, it worries me more. I have a lot of my receipts and owners manuals to show the items I have but I think the photos are a great idea.

View Charlie's profile


1100 posts in 2283 days

#2 posted 08-08-2013 12:41 PM

I have 15GB of free storage space on my Google Drive account. I made a folder called Shop and inside that is one called Inventory. I started dumping photos into there (renaming each one with a meaningful name). So far there’s about 50 hi-res photos and I’ve only used 1% of my space. I looked at some “home inventory” type programs and some programs that allow you to add notes to each photo, but I wasn’t sure they’d be accessible without the program that created them, so… plain photos and I’ll be typing in an inventory list as time allows. Even without receipts, I think what the insurance companies need most is proof that you actually HAD something and aren’t “padding” your claim. I’m going to talk to my wife’s cousin. He handles our home owner’s insurance. I’m going to ask the question about “what if I have photos, but no longer have all receipts?”

Not sure when that conversation will happen, but…. it’s on my to-do list :)

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2967 days

#3 posted 08-08-2013 12:59 PM

I made a spread sheet of all my shop tools and what I paid for each item, where I got it, and when. Did this about 4 years ago and frequently go back to it and up date it. I want who ever is left with this when ever I’m gone to know what it was worth; at least what it was worth when I acquired it.

Also, I just did a photo inventory. Doing the photo inventory I ran across bunches of stuff I need to add to the list. Just goes to show, you can never be completely covered, but you have to try or you will really be out in the cold should you need to make a claim.

Good post Charlie. Thanks for reminding us.

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3338 days

#4 posted 08-08-2013 01:02 PM

i have read in the past
that even when the cops catch the thief with your reported stuff
they won’t give it to you
unless you have said receipts with serial numbers
or your name and social security number etched on each tool
(like with a carbide pen) to prove ownership

might ask about that too
some tools don’t have the space for all that
(who wants to ruin a good set of chisels with freehand written etching)

they can laser engrave diamonds
but that sounds like an expensive game

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2967 days

#5 posted 08-08-2013 02:09 PM

David, I know what you are saying is what many people have done, but in today’s reality wouldn’t putting your social security number on your tools increase their value to the criminal element. They could use that information to steal your identity and open up credit card accounts, make loans, mortgage your house, etc.

Maybe only use part of the number, or part of the number with a consistent false number added in; like the last 4 digits of your SS# with a 6 appended on the end, for instance. That would still be unique to you but would be less likely to be used for ill intentions.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18711 posts in 2564 days

#6 posted 08-08-2013 05:28 PM

or your name and social security number

That’s not an open invite to identity theft now is it? If that’s true, they need to get their laws updated.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View natenaaron's profile


442 posts in 1794 days

#7 posted 08-08-2013 05:28 PM

David, every tool I own has my initials or my father-in-law’s initials etched into them. A habit formed while working as a boat mechanic.

They are tools. They might be pretty but they are tools.

View patron's profile


13603 posts in 3338 days

#8 posted 08-08-2013 05:35 PM

i agree with all this guys

it is a shame that the insurance and real laws
accommodate them more than us

we buy the goods
we buy the insurance
we vote for the officials

yet we are strapped with all these rules
they make up
to mostly help themselves
while we struggle thru them all

and pay for everything

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View TerryDowning's profile


1077 posts in 2114 days

#9 posted 08-08-2013 05:54 PM

I have to rely on photos most of my items have no receipt as they are hand me downs and many have no serial number as they are vintage hand tools.

I better get busy documenting the details.

Photos also give an indication of condition.

-- - Terry

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3037 days

#10 posted 08-08-2013 05:58 PM

I try to keep photos for that very reason.

I also keep 3-ring Binders with all the Manuals I can get my hands on for the tools I own.

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

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5857 posts in 3191 days

#11 posted 08-08-2013 06:13 PM

Same as all of the above you guys posted…... shop photos, (A lot in Photobucket), machine tool photos, hand tools, but like all of you, I have tools that were my grandpas, and my dad’s old hand tools…..But I have a pretty good list of everything, too, but still need to add more…..I think this is one thing shop owners overlook…...We know where every large tool is, how much wood we have on hand, but small tools and hand tools…...not so much…......

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View mummykicks's profile


109 posts in 1799 days

#12 posted 08-08-2013 06:35 PM

Take pictures of everything and the name plate with the model/serial number. Burn a CD or two. Keep one at home, one someplace else if you can. Get a flickr/photobucket etc.. acct and upload there as well making the photos private. Having gotten into this hobby recently, just about all my stuff was ordered online and I have emails of order confirmations which I export to the CD as well. Never know when a fire is going to hit, especially if you like blo :-)

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2069 days

#13 posted 08-08-2013 08:31 PM

In Austin, if they follow the law, if a tool has name and/or phone number on it, it must match an ID to be pawned. My tools have been etched in the past, but because it is a business we have a record of every, model and serial number, with description. IT IS A LOT… I know cause the city just hit us up for property tax. :( Any how, I will be using metal inventory labels at the next inventory.

My favorite story from this comes from the old shop. It got broken into, and an air compressor was stolen… a few days later a rather drunk crack head came by asking if I wanted to buy an air compressor… classic.. the guy forgot where he stole it, I told him I was sending my employee for cash, offered him a beer, went inside and called the police… and got my compressor back for the price of a beer!!! Old us made emglo.. did not want to lose that.

-- Who is John Galt?

View JoeinGa's profile


7736 posts in 2004 days

#14 posted 08-08-2013 09:08 PM

Yep, I took over 200 pix of my shop in 10aSEE. Opened every drawer in my triple-stack mechanics box and took at least 2 angles of every drawer. Took several angles of all my power tools and also every square inch of wall space and inside all the cabinets.

Even took some of the nuts & bolts cabinet I have, it weighs probably 300 or 400 pounds and all that hardware , nuts, bolds and screws would cost a fortune to replace.

I also took pix of all my lawn tools and extensive pix of my motorcycle gear.

When I get a shop built here, I’ll do it all again.

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15349 posts in 2615 days

#15 posted 08-08-2013 09:13 PM

I have a spreadsheet containing every tool put into the shop over the last four years, price paid, and reference to the written log book page where it was first discussed. Lots of pictures of them on the cloud, too (many of them visible on LJs). But no way I’m etching crap into the sides of bench planes, joinery planes, etc. That’s a risk I’ll have to take…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

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