Estate sales are great places to find a variety of different types of tools--everything from gardening to power tools to antique hand tools. It is not uncommon to find tools that have barely been put to use and are in pristine condition and are still in the box; or used tools that are usually in not so bad shape that can be repaired to like-new condition on the cheap.
The tools will usually be spread out in the garage or basement at an estate sale, and they will be easy pickings if you can get to them first. If you are unfamiliar with tools (especially ones that use electricity or gas), it may be difficult for you to tell the excellent from the bad and determine whether they are worth the price on their tags. Bring a friend who is well-versed in tools and can assist you in making an informed decision.
Antique hunters are always on the lookout for ancient tools with interesting backstories. Woodworking tools from the 1800s, for example, are a popular collectible with a high resale value. Even if the blades are rusted or the wood handles are dusty, many of these prized instruments are still valuable to tool collectors who are willing to put in a little elbow grease to bring them back to life and add them to their collections.
Here are a few pointers on how to buy tools at an estate sale:
Use your iPhone to investigate tools before you buy them whenever feasible. If you conduct your research on eBay, you may come across hundreds or thousands of results. If you know exactly what you'll be doing with the tool, power ampage should be a consideration. Will an 18-volt power drill suffice, or will you require something a little more powerful, such as a 20-volt drill? The more you understand about what you require, the less research you will need to conduct.
This may seem foolish, but when you buy a power tool, make sure it works by plugging it in! You don't want to go home and realise the gadget is silent because you pressed the "on" button. This may be more difficult with fuel-powered tools, such as gas-powered things. If you need to set the tool down and go get a can of gas, go ahead and do so. Check the oil as well, as a tool that has been sitting in oil or fuel for years could be troublesome.
If you want to save money, a quick price comparison is the best way to go. The identical used tool you find at an estate sale might be purchased brand new for the same price at your local home improvement store. Even if the tool is $10 or less cheaper used, it is still best to buy it new. Craigslist, Amazon, and eBay are all excellent places to look for refurbished tools, and many vendors offer free shipping.
Make sure you know how to use the tools you bought at the estate sale before you put them to use. This is a safety concern as well as a concern about potential malfunctions. You're in luck if you bought the tool and it's still in its original box with the instruction manual. Don't be a knucklehead and read the damn thing so you know how to use it properly. If you can't find the instruction manual, look for it online or contact the manufacturer directly to request one.
Check the state of the instrument you're buying to make sure it's not in bad shape. Check for any missing or broken parts, as well as cracks, and make sure the handles are secure and not wobbling. If an electrical cord is frayed, you can quickly replace it for a few dollars by taking it to a repair shop. You'll want to make sure that any wood parts aren't splintered or dried to the point of being unsalvageable. Heavy filth or grease will be difficult to remove, so make sure the tool in issue will benefit from a thorough cleaning.