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What's a nice tool like you...


What's a nice tool like you...

...doing in a place like this?

That's a question I ask myself all the time.  See, I attend four venues; auctions, I visit estate sales, I walk onto yard sales and I enter second hand stores - and I do each with equal enthusiam.

Ours is a small valley and our newspaper comes out every Thursday - I'm certain they picked that day in an effort to remind everyone the week's almost out and I can tell you a lot of the people around here need it.

"Hey Jake, what day is this?"

"I dunno fer sure.  Ohh, wait... I got the paper a couple days, I'm thinking mebbe it's Saturday?"  This apparent display of simpleton isn't because the valley is crawling with bubbleheads, it's just that we're so laid back we don't really care what day it is.

A friend came into the shop not long ago to drop off an old Monkey Wards "table saw" and for me to describe it as being pathetic would be a complement.  Its generously sized table measured a whopping 9' x 12" and sat proudly on a miserablely cobbled together rickety wooden bench.  Let me put it this way...the bolts holding it in place were the only things I was interested in.  And this friend is, quite literally, another Joe and I hadn't him seen him for six newspapers.  He's also a rancher.

"Hey Joe,"  I said, shaking his hand, "How'd your calves make out?"

"I lost a few, it was a hard winter.  Here's that saw I talked to you about a couple newspapers ago.  What's it worth?"

People stop by the shop constantly, in fact, if they see any vehicle parked there, they're stopping.  It's exactly like Walt Disney World...only I don't have a monorail to comfortably glide them in and out of the place.

When the newspaper came out on this particular Thursday it advertised an estate sale on Saturday so the first thing I did was call my best friend, Bob.  "Hey, Bob, I absolutely must go to the dump tomorrow can you go with and help me unload some stuff?"  Bob's a pushover for going to the dump and he's almost as bad as me (I go there when I have nothing to take).

"Sure, you bet, what time?"  We settled on 9 o:clock but I purposefully left out the rest of my plan for that morning because Bob has a problem; he doesn't like being a burden to someone or take anyone for granted.

We found a few things to bring back but on the return trip I took the opposite turn and headed for town.  Bob looked over to me and said, "Ummm, where're you going?"  He said, thumbing to the door, "We live over yonder."

"I know, but we have to go to this estate sale that starts tomorrow."

"If it starts tomorrow then why are we going today?"

"I wanna beat the rush."

We pulled in front of the house and while opening the doors to jump out of the truck, I looked at Bob and said, "Follow my lead, don't you dare blow this!"

The nice lady at the house door told us we would find everyone and everything in the garage and we were almost to that door when a man came out and stopped us cold by blocking the doorway with his considerably wide shoulders.

"Howdy,"  I said, as a greeting and extended my hand, "I know your sale doesn't start until tomorrow but I have a problem, I gotta be in Missoula tomorrow so I can't be here, is alright if we look around now?"

"Sure, have at it."  He said, waving us inside."

Imagine my surprise when we walked in to find the estate sale was nothing but tools and shop equipment and everything had a price tag on it!  It was nirvana, no, I take that back, it was adrenalin on steroids.  Everything I picked up was old but new that's how well-cared for these things were.  We had barely got past the first table when I deployed my pop-up "woe is me" tent and said in a voice loud enough to reach Heap-um Big Shoulders' ears.

"Bob, now when you come tomorrow I want you to get this and this..."  and with that we began to play like an orchestra.

"I can't be here tomorrow either, Joe, I'll be at the family reunion, remember?"

"Aww, geeze!  I thought that was next weekened!  Ohh, that's right, it's your grandmother's 97th birthday, isn't it?  Goshdarnit, I gotta be in Missoula to help that poor lady with her water heater!  You gotcher cell phone, call Brad and see if'n he can be here."  It was then the Shoulders of Gilbratar came over and said, "Hey guys, the prices on this stuff ain't gonna be any different tomorrow, if you want something here you can take it today."  I was elated and yet saddened because I didn't get to use my old..."Ohhh, look at this, my grandfather used to have a <insert tool name here> exactly like this...I remember the day he showed me how to use it" line.

We were now armed  with carte blanche to peruse the whole place by ourselves and not have to worry about some knucklehead swooping down on the goods.  It also was a time to appreciate the old gentleman's love of his tools for there were a mixture of both old and new; a lot of them in their original boxes.  Moving further along the tables that were lined up neatly in the garage brought us to the power tool section and my eyes were immediately locked on what is easily considered to be the Holy Grail of belt sanders.  You've probably heard of the famous "Locomotive" Porter Cable belt sander...the A3 Take-About model?  Well, meet the bigger brother...

 The belt on this is 4" x 27", it weighs 28 lbs and it was pristine.  Original dust bag, original cord, original switch, original...everything.

It was definitely strange to me so when I got back to the shop I called a friend of mine who is a walking Porter Cable encyclopedia to tell him about the strange belt sander I found.  "Ohh, Joe,"  He said with obvious trepidation, "You've got yourself quite the find there.  It's early 50's, yes, I have parts for it, the wife is fine and to answer your last question you can easily eBay it for $600."

"Jeepers, you sure know how to dry up a conversation, doncha?  Ok, talk to ya later."

Ohh, I almost forgot...back at the estate sale?  When I saw this belt sander sitting on the table?  Well, ever so timidly I reached down to turn over the price tag.  $50.00

The moral here, folks, is to never pass up an opportunity to attend any of the four venues.

And to answer your question, no, I won't be eBaying it.

Until next time,

Joe Johns,
Twisted Knot Woodshop, "There's never been a classier joint"


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