Old Tools, New Tools

Thrift Store Swag (clockwise from top) - hand saw, drill, rip saw, mallet, crowbar, sickle, pruning shears, hand file, cast iron skillet

Let us spend an hour or two in a thrift store, and it's laughably predictable what we'll end up with. Mrs. 101 will score on booty the likes of vintage tablecloths, glassware, quilty stuff, and assorted tchotchkys and knicknacks. For me, it's used books and old tools. Here's a grab bag of hand tools from a recent excursion:   All but the skillet and the handsaw were priced from 1 to 5 bucks.   The Made-in-USA hand shears were from a yard sale, priced at 25 cents.  They've outlasted a couple of Chinese shears already, which have either snapped handles or couldn't stay sharp. A very cool thing about the pruning saw is the way the once broken handle was repaired with a little judicious whittling and addition … [Read more...]

The Time Value of Serendipitous Opportunities, and Last Week’s Links

Random Doodle #1 (recycle)

Life and My Finances writes a worthwhile article on opportunity cost and the value of your life: What is Your Time Worth? Well, yesterday morning, it was worth about a hundred bucks an hour in assets and direct savings.  We spent a couple hours tooling around, going to about a dozen yard sales, and bargaining away.  Or at least, I was the one to haggle, beg and plead, josh and jive for discounts and last offers.  Mrs. 101, on the other hand, mostly just pays the asking price.  Where’s the fun in that? Some of the swag: Item Yard Sale Cost Market Value A dozen assorted hand tools, vintage, but in great condition $2.00 $30 to $40 Two jars of assorted screws, nuts and bolts, including some large carriage bolts … [Read more...]

Auction Strategies

Image via Wikipedia Mention the word auction these days to someone and the first thing that springs into the conversation is online auctions.  Second thing, are sheriff’s or storage space auctions, as seen on those A&E reality TV shows.    What I mean instead are those little country or small town auctions, where you might find a mix of antique, modern, vintage and used furniture (and frequently, just junk).  Names like Col. Bud Phipps, Auction Service & Appraiser, or Uncle Bob’s Country Auction, that’s what you’re looking for.    Even estate auctions out in the country are great.  With a little knowledge and experience, it's a good and frugal way to spend a couple hours, and hopefully pick up a few great … [Read more...]

Garage Sale Swag, part 2


Here's an update from a post from last month. Before: and After: The total cost was actually more than the estimated $37.  The paint was about $20, but the main cost came from the foam and the indoor/outdoor fabric and trim for the cushions.  The seat cushions were not originally estimated, so over my objections we faced some project scope creep.  I'm also told that fire engine red is much better than plain white.  However, since what I know about home design is minuscule compared to the vastly more knowledgeable Mrs. 101,  compromise was hastily reached.   Mrs. 101 fired up the sewing machine, and out came a nice seat for the settee and for the chair (not pictured).  With the original $7 cost of the set, plus paint and … [Read more...]

Garage Sale Swag


Here's one for the missus.  She'd been thinking about a patio wicker set for some time.  New ones at Lowe's, Ace and Home Depot are exorbitantly priced (at least to me), even accounting for end-of-season sales.  Used ones on Craiglist start from $100 for a similar combination of settee, chair and table. This one was priced right at $10 (to start).  It wasn't even early on a Saturday, about 9:00 a.m. or so.  Didn't even have to strain the haggling muscles too hard to get the price down to $7.00.  These folks really wanted to clear stuff out, I guess. This set is in reasonably good condition, with some unraveling only at a couple of legs (easily fixed).   We'll have to give the set a fresh coat of paint, but with both primer and … [Read more...]

Yard Sale Negotiating Tips

Yard Sale in Norther California (photo by JimmyJazz)

There have been many reams and words written on the best way to plan a garage sale, promote a garage sale, price it, prop it, and profit from it.  But not so many, as far as I can tell, from the perspective of you the customer, and how to negotiate the best possible deal. Everything is for sale, and everything is negotiable.  A yard sale may have Grandma's timeless paint-by-numbers acrylic painting, but the simple fact that it's been relegated to a corner of the garage with a masking tape price sticker is proof enough that it's not *that* valuable. Tip #1: Dare to make a low-ball offer. Some folks have unreasonable high expectations of what their "stuff" will fetch on the secondary stuff market.  Well, when I bought this … [Read more...]

Garage Sale Finds – Books, Books, Books

I love the feel of a leather bound book.  Love the embossed cover, love the way the fine pages feel, love the thunky sound it makes when it closes. These we found at an estate sale.  There were many more, but I limited myself to titles that I'm currently interested in: Vegetable Production and Marketing - Copyright 1945 Men, Meat and Miracles  - 1952 Soil Erosion and Its Control - 1936 Crop Production, Principles and Control - 1930 Elements of Forestry - 1947 Elements of Botany -  1933, 1940 Fundamentals of Soil Science - 1943 The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture - 1877, 1947 The Return of Sherlock Holmes I know, Sherlock Holmes doesn't fit with the rest of the agricultural theme titles, but our oldest son has … [Read more...]