Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A good day for a bargain.

I admit it. I love going to my local markets. Is it the delightful collage of people and languages buying and selling all manner of household bric-a-brac? Is it the thrill of the hunt? Is if the ever present chance of scoring a bargain? Yes, yes, and especially YES!

I am usually chasing tools at the markets. Sure, I have lots of woodworking hand tools. Some might reckon I'm a tool junkie. Teaching woodworking handskills to groups of up to 20 people, I need a lot of tools. Good quality old fashioned tools - not the cheap modern imported crap from the big hardware stores. Hence I have in my head a list of priority tools I am always seeking, and a list of tools I will be opportunitistic about given the right chance. Other than that I am always open to being surprised...

My grandaughter Paree with a bargain $5 wheelbarrow

Run by the local Rotary Club as a fundraiser each Sunday morning, anyone from the public can sell whatever goodies they have (except food) by paying a few dollars for a car bay or two in the local shopping centre car park to set up their wares. It is a cross between a giant garage sale and a car boot sale. I try to go early each Sunday morning, usually early enough that many stallholders are still setting up. This way I aim to beat the crowds and more importantly, beat the tool collectors. Tool collectors are a problem for me, as they help to inflate the prices of good second hand tools. Theirs will live in a box or a display cabinet, but I am seeking tools that will be used for the purpose they were intended. I can't afford to have 20 of everything at tool collector prices. So yes, I try to beat the tool collectors to the bargains.

Bargains. Some days there are none, but other days there are plenty. Ya just never know... that's the thrill of the hunt, eh?

Last Sunday I was there early as usual, at the crack of dawn. It takes me about an hour to cruize the hundreds of stalls, so off I went. I have been doing it for a few years so I have a good visual scanning system operating. I know what I'm looking for.
Sure enough, across several stalls I was to snap up a few good bargains:
A nice couple of 10 point panel saws. Not oldies, but good users just needing some cleaning up. A Disston and a Sandvik. At $2 each, they are a bargain just to cut them up to make cabinet scrapers! However they are worth sharpenning and putting in the pool for my group activities. They can be sharpenned until there is no blade left, unlike the saws with low grade steel and sharp but unsharpenable hard point teeth found in the hardware shops. Do the planet a favour and don't buy "disposable" hand saws!
A carpenter's mallet. In good condition, and ready for more action. A steal at $3...

A beautiful 12inch x6 inch RICHA speed cramp, also known as an F-cramp. One of the best you can get - like any tools with "Made in West Germany" stamped on them. I have a heap of cramps, but no cheap and nasty ones. I bought 20 Richa cramps new in the early 80's. Little did I know what a good move that was! This one is a nice big one - and an absolute bargain at the $8 it cost me. Thankyou, Mr. Stallholder!
These old 6 inch vises are on my high priority list, as I use them on the kids benches I make. Nobody seems to make them anymore, so I continue to scour garage sales and markets looking for these. The 12 vices I have found over the last year are a mixed bag of brands, quality and condition. What makes this particular vise so desireable is it's a DAWN. This used to be the best quality brand available in Australia, from the days long gone when Australia had a booming manufacturing industry. This vice is in brilliant condition, so I could hardly contain my face-splitting smile when I shelled out a mere $10 for this incredible bargain!

A Stanley No.110 block plane - not with original handle! Someone had put a nylon bush on the front, but it is otherwise in excellent condition. Lucky I have a spare handle. But hey, I can always turn up  a new handle. This is going to be used heaps in my group activities, remember. It won't sit on a shelf. Block planes are also on my priority list. While these are a pig to adjust for beginners, I confess I have a soft spot for them. My father gave me my first plane, a Record No.110, when I was nine years old. I still use that plane every day. Can you believe the price for this nylon handled tool pictured? I paid $5!! This, folks, was the bargain of the day.  

This week there were no really interesting finds, like very old and desireable planes. Unless a tool collector got there before me and cleaned them out. However the "users" I scored this week had me leaping with joy.

OK, I'll stop bragging now. True, some days I come home with no bargains. Then there are those other days when I hit the motherlode.

...Is it nearly Sunday morning yet?

1 comment:

  1. You are a dork, Greg. :-P But yes. The bargains are undeniable. However, just thought I should remind you what's even better than a bargain at 6-7am on a Sunday morning. A Sunday morning sleep-in. Hell yeah!