View Full Version : morbid thread - estate sales

10-21-2013, 11:07 AM
this might be a bit morbid, but I always get sad whenever I see a machinist's tools dumped in an array of boxes, machines on CL and the like, not just because that person is dead but also that none of the relatives care enough about his (sometimes hers) tools enough to use them and pass them on. I still have the tools my dad gave me when I was old enough to know how to use them (his cast offs basically!) and I know I'll have a fun fight with my brother over the contents of his garage when he pops his clogs, whenever that might be.

I'm all for a good CL or eBay find and I know that those tools will get reused by someone else, just seems a bit sad, that's all. I guess that the person to whom those tools belonged isn't in much of a position to care though.

10-21-2013, 11:30 AM
My dad has recently gone into an assisted care home. Before leaving his house, he had got to the position where he just said 'I don't care what happens to the rest of this now'. Lots of good tools, etc- no machinist stuff but still things that had value to him, but no more. I'm starting to wonder the same about my stuff. It will be no good to me when I can't use it anymore, and it will be a burden more than anything else at that point. It is sad to see it all go for pennies, but I think perhaps it's harder for someone else to see that happen. I can feel it in my bones- I'd like to see my stuff go to someone who can use it, even if someone has picked it up on ebray for a song. I think what would hurt me more is to know it has just gone out with the trash.

Dad had a hatchet that he valued because it felt good in use and would keep an edge. For some time it had become lost- I found it in his truck, wrapped in a towel. Knowing that it was something he valued, I kept it aside. We brought it to him in his new digs- absolutely no use for it there, but a keepsake anyway. He seemed happy that we found and kept it, but I could tell that he knew that it was only something to look at now- and get in the way. I used it almost right away to hang a picture, a sort of celebration of its own life. We had a bit of a laugh over that. I wonder when the staff will take it away-

A.K. Boomer
10-21-2013, 11:41 AM
I know what your saying - to me one of the most precious tools I own is my Dads 1/4" drive cornwell ratchet,,,

But that's just me and I also understand it's just for me and my comfort - although I think my Pops would think it cool that it means so much to me - but of course that thought is also only just for my comfort, in that way I think the people who just abandon the stuff are missing out,

On the flip side and as far as what happens to my stuff when im gone I really don't care much, like you also stated I won't be in the position to do so,,, and I really don't want to waste any of the time I have living worrying about dying,,,
to me the potential rewards to someone else is in the actions after, if they see that and want that and it comforts them then goody for them - if not then so be it...

Not my concern to try and force that on anyone or curb it one way or another...

taking things to the extreme is an older brother of mine who once stated "for all I care you guys can play a game of polo with my head after I kack - but be forewarned -it's not going to roll very well --- enjoy":p

10-21-2013, 11:43 AM
What you describe is a natural progression. And it doesn't even have to be about tools. You could substitute just about anything for the word "tool". Tools are mearly a collection, and folks collect many many other things. So it doesn't have to be about iron and steel. It could be dolls, art, or home furnishings.

In my case, when the big D day comes or I'm forced to a care facility, I will have no one to pass my "collection" of tools to. My son-in-law has no idea what a screwdriver is even used for, and my grandsons have taken no interest in the shop thus far. So my daughter will simply hire an auctioneer to liquidate my [worldly] possessions. And so the progression goes.

10-21-2013, 11:50 AM
While its exciting and fun to yard sale, antique shop or estate sale shop, I always think about this being the fruit of someone (who is no longer with us) working and using their hard earned money to buy. It is sad. I doubt either of my boys will share my passion to build or fix things as they don't now.


10-21-2013, 12:29 PM
When I left home and moved across the country 13 years ago, I left all of my tools with my Dad. Welders, grinders, torches, hand tools, everything.

For almost 10 years he would call and ask me what I did with something, or accuse me of losing something. (I knew that would happen, that's why I left everything).

He has since accumulated piles more tools, and I've acquired tons and tons and tons of tools.

I don't have enough room for all of my own tools, (and the tools I keep buying), what the heck am I going to do with all of his tools when he is gone??

My grandfather just passed, a garage, a pool house and 2 old pighouses, a basement and several sheds full of old tools and years of accumulated stuff,
all that stuff has to go somewhere, and I don't need it, my cousin has been going through it, and hopefully he can find some good homes for it, but I have
a feeling a lot of it is going to be donated or sold on Craigslist.

Its not that I don't appreciate the stuff, but its got to go somewhere.

How many hand saws and peach baskets could one man possibly use in a lifetime???

10-21-2013, 12:30 PM
John Stevenson has written about his practice of collecting
the toolboxes of those he has known once these are no longer
of use to their owners.

I once composed a post about a machinist I never met. Partly
to honor him and also to honor the memory of others whose
tools have come to stay with me for a time.

Remembering Machinists I Never Knew (http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net/threads/51946-Remembering-Machinists-I-Never-Knew)

(The post is also a cautionary tale about the unintended path
an estate may take once the Public Trustee steps in.)

darryl, it is a fine thing you have done in rescuing and returning
the hatchet. I have been troubled several times by the actions
of others who thoughtlessly discarded the belongings of the elderly
and told themselves they had done the person a 'favour'.


10-21-2013, 12:38 PM
I doubt either of my boys will share my passion to build or fix things
as they don't now.This does not preclude the possibility that there may be some tool which
they associate with you and will appreciate as a treasured keepsake.

As for the bulk of my items, mentoring holds promise.


10-21-2013, 12:42 PM
Yep, at almost 66 I find myself worrying more & more about who will dispose of the stuff I've accumulated through the years. No one in my family has the slightest interest in it. I hope my youngest grandson will want to work with his hands when he gets older (only 1 yr old now)

The older I get the less I worry about what will happen to my tools and more about just getting the most enjoyment out of them I can. Been working up to 70 hrs a week for 52 years now so I've earned whatever pleasure I can get from them. Looks like I won't "retire" anytime soon so I'd best be gettin' on with the pleasure thing.;)

10-21-2013, 12:43 PM
Sorry, double post, a 1st for me!

10-21-2013, 01:01 PM
Some years ago I found out that there was to be a yard sale with machine tools. I phoned the person doing the sale and it turned out to be a friend of mine. For many years I had taken care of the business equipment for him at the school he managed as principal. He invited me over the day before the yard sale so I went.

He was selling all the shop equipment for his father. His father was too old and unable to do much of anything including talking. He was there, sitting in a chair in the sun to keep an eye on me. His son showed me around and it was a small gold mine. I told him that the value was high but there were a few things I would like. I told him I did machining. His father mumbled and he went over to speak to him. A little more mumbling and he came back and told me his father wanted it to go to me. He didn't care much about the money as long as I would promise that I would never sell the the equipment to make a buck. His father had told him to charge something but to keep it affordable.

That was an understatement. I bought a Swiss horizontal milling machine, a box full of about 15 of the highest quality measuring tools including Swiss dial indicators, a top of the line square and micrometers up to about 6 inch capability. I didn't know how much he would charge and I told him that the items were far too expensive for me. He then said "How about 300 dollars?". I told him it was too cheap but he insisted that I have it at that price.

His father then mumbled to him again. His son asked me to go with him into a back room. There he showed me his father's rather large granite surface plate. He then pulled out a not very large bag, very old looking. When he opened it it was full of all the tools one needs for scraping, every sort possible and all the associated items that you need to use the scrapers.

It was his father's former day job to scrape bearings and machine parts. He hadn't used them for years. I told him they were beautiful. Then he said "My father wants you to have them, no cost." I nearly fell over. I paid him the 300 dollars and we began loading the gear.

His father mumbled something directly to me as I went by him while loading. I stopped to try to understand what he said. I could not understand what he was saying but then he broke out into a large smile and barely reached up to shake my hand.

I still have all the tools and there is no chance I will sell them.

10-21-2013, 01:51 PM
that's a very touching story Evan, the old machinist must have been very happy to know that his tools were going to someone who appreciates them. Money's largely immaterial at that point.

EddyCurr - that's a very touching thread, bravo. That's the kind of thing that makes me sad. At the end of the day, tools are just possessions like any other but to me old hand worn tools have history, almost like the essence of the owner was soaked into them through hard use. Still, better they end up in the hands of someone that can use them than just thrown out.

Next time I end up with something from a machinist that's passed on, I'll hold a little wake for him and his tools, drink some rum, introduce the tool to its new buddies, make a celebration out of it :) The wife thinks I'm crazy anyway, so no risk of changing that!

10-21-2013, 02:10 PM
My Dad passed away in 2010 and left two sheds full of hand tools and war-time artifacts. Some hand tools predate WWII that his Dad gave to him. They're still right where he left them. I still can't bring myself to go through them. Sorry, the screen is getting all blurry.

10-21-2013, 02:36 PM
I'm sorry Ken, that wasn't my intention :(

10-21-2013, 03:18 PM
Hopefully I have 10-15 years or so of useful life to enjoy making things with my tools!

I have told my wife to have a couple friends of mine (Al and Don) go through the tools if I kick off before her--not so much to get the most money for them, but to get all the collets sets, chucks, jaws and keys etc. organized so they go together, where they belong. You wouldn't want 6K collets mixed in with 3MT and 5C collets for the new owners to have to deal with. If THEY want something, let them have it for their help... what's a few dollars among friends.

She is a little worried about having to dispose of everything. I told her a few weeks of sorting in their spare time and one weekend with the auctioneer and it will all be dispersed to new owners that will enjoy the tools as much as I have.

This weekend I went to a moving-to-a-retirement-home auction in Monroe, NE and bought a few things--a tap and die set from 00 to 3/48 made in Japan for $5, a Skil 3/8 hammer drill for $6, and also some Jorgensen clamps. The owner was there and was happy as a clam to see it all go, as he couldn't use it anymore. The buyers were bidding wildly and smiling ear to ear as each new item came up. I had a great time too!

10-21-2013, 03:33 PM
I'm always afraid my wife will sell my toys at the price I told her I paid for 'em.

10-21-2013, 03:48 PM
Then it's not your problem any more!;)

10-21-2013, 03:50 PM
I'm always afraid my wife will sell my toys at the price I told her I paid for 'em.

Yeah I can relate to that!

Alistair Hosie
10-21-2013, 04:17 PM
I have it in my will, that all tools and machinery every nut and bolt will go to my eldest son Alistair, as he is most interested in them .The other two sons are not in the slightest bit interested maybe this will change but in consultation with my other two sons we have it as it is written,and I am very pleased about it. In fact we all are! my house is woth quite a few bob and it will be devided three ways equally and it has worked out quite well.
All sons being very happy with the way it is.
In fact the person who deals with all I have two workshops full will have a full time job on his hands when I go so I don't envy him LOL.
It is nice to have them remember you well I think this often when reading you Americans and your posts how much you missed your Dad as and Grandads it is quite moving when I read these posts but also inspiring as I have a faith I don't dwell on or worry about death so all is fine good luck to the rest of the contributers to this post. Alistair

10-21-2013, 04:56 PM
A few years ago I saw an ad on CL for machinist's tools. This guy was selling his dad's tools that had recently passed and he had no use for them. There were 2 kennedy boxes filled with tools. The guy was asking $250 for the whole lot and I agreed to buy them. All of the tools were engraved with the fathers name on them. I asked the guy about his father (his name was Bill) and before I knew it, we had been talking about Bill for almost 2 hours and I almost felt like I knew Bill by the time we were done talking.

Bill had a very nice Starrett combination square that I now use daily. Sometimes when I'm working alone in the shop and I pick up the square or any one of Bill's tools I find myself talking to Bill and discussing how we are going to do the job at hand.

I told my son Trevor about Bill's tools and after I'm gone, Trevor will be working with Bill too.

oil mac
10-21-2013, 05:06 PM
Some years back, I was asked to look at a collection of engineering stuff owned by an elderly & extremely clever gentleman I used to know, When I went to see it all it was awesome but extremely sad, the old fellow had passed on some fifteen years previously there was his lovely old machinery gently returning to iron oxide in front of my eyes
upon speaking to the family they understandably wanted me to repair/get it all working or whatever? however the march of time is now taking its toll on me as well, I have not the energy any longer What I did recommend was scrap the stuff that was beyond help, sell some of the reasonable stuff, & keep a core of it for memories sake, However no chance, it was all to stay as a memorial to the man, I guess it may still be there gently deteriorating & nobody will do anything It was very sad

I still have a few of my late fathers tools, which I treasure one wood working plane which he used many years ago in the coalmines on repair work, & one other little device he made up for a special marking out tool whilst on war production work in the 1939-45 era, I guess not worth anything, but sentimentally very precious to me When the time comes for me to leave I have left instructions that my daughter gets my nice oak toolmakers chest which is still lovely, inside I have left some documents for her & when the time comes a couple of the tools I first bought as a 14 year old, She can keep her sewing cotton in the nice velvet lined drawers
As Anno Domini catches up with us we have no say in the outcome of what happens to our treasures, One thing there is one character I know whom I would be extremely sad to know even happened upon a half shovel full of swarf from my scrap bin But my son, I am happy to say can get the pick of what he wants, & then they can share out what they can get
I am always ( although I am a hoarder-cant help it) aware of the bible statement " Lay not away treasures on earth"

10-21-2013, 05:09 PM
Threads like this make me miss Old Tiffie & his I'm binning everything speech.:rolleyes:

Doc Nickel
10-21-2013, 05:13 PM
A few years ago, I helped a fellow 'dispose' of his late brother's equipment. The brother had retired happily, built himself a new pretty-good-sized shop (as in an overlarge garage, not an industrial type of thing) and then proceeded to buy all sorts of tools. (I'm sure he had some prior to retirement, but I saw a lot of stuff still in shipping boxes with address labels only a few years old at the time.)

He apparently enjoyed his retirement for a year or two, then was diagnosed with cancer and passed away some eight months later.

The fellow I dealt with for the 'disposal' was not ignorant of the machine tools- he kept one of the two vertical mills and the smaller of the two lathes- but there were a lot of things he wasn't familiar with, and didn't know their value.

Fortunately it wasn't a case of having to fire-sale everything and empty the house for a quick sale. The wife was still alive and quite hale and hearty herself, and had no plans to move. So we could take our time, so to speak, and sell items individually, and for fair prices.

I came in, identified what I could, looked up what I didn't know, posted here and on PM for a few oddballs, photographed everything that was to be sold, and spent several days posting them to Craigslist with the best descriptions I could come up with. I put the seller's contact information on each post, so I wasn't involved with any of the actual transactions- I was just the webmonkey.

But, as noted above, I was able to keep the various collets where they were supposed to go (5C, two sizes of ER, a set of some oddball that we found out went to a Volstro boring head we found in a wooden case, etc.) and we bundled tooling with their appropriate machines. For example, there was a doodad that puzzled us both, 'til I discovered it was a static balancing stand, for grinding wheels for the surface grinder.

In exchange, I was given an import dividing head with plates and tailstock, a 3-phase motor, an ER-11 set with extension, and a few other useful tidbits. The seller was happy to see it all go to people who were going to use it.

In a different case, I attended an estate sale auction. Fellow and his wife had a roadside weld/fab/repair shop and nicknack/souvenir store. One day, in the middle of a job, he had a heart attack, and passed before the ambulance made it to the hospital. I knew one of the guys helping on the auction, and rumor had it, the wife took her own life that evening. The one son had apparently passed years before from a drug overdose.

The only surviving relative was something like a sister back in... maybe New Jersey, or somewhere like that. She said, in effect, sell it all and just send me a check. The shop proper was sold individually (as in, individual welders, individual toolboxes, etc.) but there were a LOT of little sheds and outbuildings and scrap piles and at least one connex, that were mostly sold in their entirety. (The connex had to be moved/taken, but the wood buildings just had to be emptied.)

Given my druthers, I'd rather see people use the first method than the second, but such are the vagaries of life.

Personally, if/when I go, somebody's gonna have an epic estate sale. :D


10-21-2013, 05:13 PM
I have been on the opposite end of this. When I was young, older guys or recent widows would give me their entire collection of tools or ham radio gear or cameras, so their jerk son/nephew/in laws would not pawn the collection and gamble or drink away the proceeds. They would rather see the stuff in the hands of someone who would appreciate it than someone who would sell it for a fraction of its worth.

ended up with a lot of angry jerk sons/nephews/in laws hating me. Doesn't hurt a bit.

10-21-2013, 06:18 PM
Interesting reading, great stories.
My one son i have left has his own shop/repair garage, and we have an agreement that he gets to clean out my shop and keep everything. (He's as much of a packrat as i am. Lol )
During the past year i got to help dismantle/clean out a friends shop who passed away, and bought a few machines/tooling etc that he had from the estate. Having no family left at all, the rest of his estate was sold off piece by piece, to individuals that were pleased to get the items for their own shops.

10-21-2013, 06:27 PM
It's sad when relatives have no idea what the items are and even some professional resellers are too lazy to research or even properly measure items.
I am preparing a file with picture, auction title, full description, high and low values at such a date to allow my executors to identify the small but significant items.

J Tiers
10-21-2013, 07:40 PM
When I buy a bunch of tools, and there is a name label on the box, the label goes up over the workbench. It's harder to know what to do about names engraved on tools, but I'll figure something out eventually.

So some among those who have contributed to the shop are "posted" in it.... Thanks, Ollie, Charles, and Walter.... and all the others.... You are all still here...

Bob Fisher
10-21-2013, 09:18 PM
Some years ago, I came into possession of some machinists tools that supposedly belonged to a machinist who worked with or for Werner Von Braun the German rocket scientist. His name was Banft as near as I can tell. Every time I use one I am reminded of where they might have been used and for what purpose. For myself at age 78, I guess my kids and extended family will absorb what they know how to use and the rest will eventually find their way to someone who will appreciate it. If someone along the way makes a buck so be it. Bob.

10-21-2013, 10:15 PM
Instead of being so glum, think of the joy you'll be giving some fellow home shop guy (or gal).

It's a little thrill to come across a really neat tool at a garage sale, flea market or CL. Sometimes you gotta buy it just to give it a good home.

I also get a kick out of discovering a hidden repair in old tooling- I bought a Lipe-Rollway Hand-I-Hack power saw from a recent widow. The thing was pretty dirty and when I cleaned it up it became apparent that the cast-iron vise had cracked and been repaired (some time ago) by brazing. Initially, I was a bit bummed out- I would have welded it- but the more I looked, the more I realized that whoever brazed it knew his stuff. In some way, its a connection to the past owner(s) and a reminder that we don't really own well made tools, we're just taking care of them for the next guy or gal.

10-22-2013, 01:23 AM
I've been told by my stepdaughters (that I have raised as my own since they were 4 and 5) that their father, who I have always been friends with (even after marrying his ex-wife) has told them that the bulk of his shop is to go to ME upon his demise. He's more of a woodworking guy, but I guess I've treated him and his family right and he thinks I'll take good care of his tools.

Go figure.

Deus Machina
10-22-2013, 04:24 AM
I've gotten some really good, useful stuff off eBay estate says cheap.
It's sad an old machinist has passed and his family doesn't know or care enough to clean it or even properly label it half the time, but on the plus side it's a final favor from him: it means that someone new to the craft or without the money to buy new (me) can make use of it.
For that reason, I'm putting anything in my will to people I know will care for it, if I can. And everything I make (that is not a single-use and then repurposed) is getting stamped with my initials and a date and/or location.

That sort of thing makes you think. Every time I use my B&S micrometer, I have to see inside the box's lid and think "Thanks, Bill."

10-22-2013, 05:56 AM
A very dear internet friend with whom I have been communicating for at least ten years recently sent me a very old copy of Alice In Wonderland as she knows I am an avid book reader/collector. The book is small, and hardcover, and the flowered cover pattern must have indeed been beautiful when the book was new. The edges are gilded and in the inside cover is an inscription - To Margaret With Love from Grace Oct.Edit 2: Dec ... sorry 17 1900. I assume this was meant as a Christmas gift judging from the date. Its well-worn aspect suggests that this book was read many times but it is still in very good condition. I remember the effect that the inscription had on me when I first read it. Margaret and Grace are surely not with us anymore but a frozen moment in time remains: the moment when that book was opened for the first time.

Such it is with all possessions be they books, or tools or land. We can only own them for awhile and in time we must give them, and all things, up. The importance is what we do with them while they are ours ... how they affect and enrich our lives. What happens to them after is a chapter in the life of someone else. I can only shake my head when the news reports how much grief and human suffering attends the strife and conflict over land possession. No one can ever truly "own" land or any other type of property. We are squatters and borrowers of all possessions. In time, however long it takes, the land will reclaim itself and possessions will be in the hands of others.

I have a very beautiful, S curve, roll top desk made of white oak. It has dozens of compartments and drawers including a hidden bar behind the hinged vanity panel. It has seven secret hiding places made in the most ingenious manner. I have hidden a sort of time capsule document inside one of them which my own family does not know about telling a bit about about myself and the history of the desk. This desk is too valuable to ever be scrapped out so I know it will have a long and valued life long after I am gone. Perhaps some future owner will find the hidden compartment and they will wonder, as I have wondered about the owner of the book, what the life and times of the writer were like. Perhaps they will value the desk more as I more highly value this little book laying on the desk before me now and feel as I do the sympathetic, time-transcending touch of the previous owner.

EDIT: Look up a movie called 'The Red Violin'. It speaks to this subject and is a cinematic work of art.

Doc Nickel
10-22-2013, 06:47 AM
[A] reminder that we don't really own well made tools, we're just taking care of them for the next guy or gal.

-Yep. Like many here, most of my machines are old, some bordering on ancient. My "daily driver" lathes, a Logan and a Sheldon, were both made around 1956. (Which, it should be noted, predates me by a considerable sum. :D ) My horizontal mill dates to '64, and came to me with two separate companies' ID plates affixed, in addition to an eBay auction sticker. Then there's the drill press that probably dates back to 1909, the shaper that could have been originally cast as far back as '38, and my latest toy is a big lathe that was probably made in early 1943.

How many people used them before me? Dozens, surely. Hundreds, possibly. Thousands, plausibly. The '43 lathe I managed to trace back through four owners, including two shops, going back some 30 years. And that's just in this small-town area.

How'd it get here? Like virtually every machine tool, it almost certainly made parts to support the War. Was it on a ship? It had five layers of grey paint, and traces of a contrasting color- possibly orange- on some of the handles. Was it in production, or was it saved for a toolroom or a repair station somewhere?

Impossible to know, but interesting to consider.

And at some point, I'll sell them, or trade them, or pass away and they'll be auctioned off, whatever. And for the next X number of years, yet another generation can enjoy them. (Assuming we haven't invented replicators by then, rendering all old-fashioned manufacturing obsolete. :) )


10-22-2013, 07:10 AM
Hey Doc,

We have a few machines here for student use which were used for war production during the 40's too. Amazing to think how much use these machines have experienced and by how many different people.

10-22-2013, 08:09 AM
I have been on the opposite end of this. When I was young, older guys or recent widows would give me their entire collection of tools or ham radio gear or cameras, so their jerk son/nephew/in laws would not pawn the collection and gamble or drink away the proceeds.

Well that's hardly the only reason, when I was a kid getting into electronics I got a lot of great deals from old guys who remembered what it was like to be a starving student, so many years later when I'm hardly a starving student anymore, the price I charge for old stuff at a hamfest gets a discount with my impression of the purchasers apparent wealth and cluefullness, a kid who knows what an o-scope is and how to use it will always be able to afford it even if he only has $5, although I'd charge a rich old guy $150, just like happened to me on many occasions when I was a kid. The middle-aged guy who walks up to the table with a brand new iphone and a $500 dstar HT on his belt and $100 sneakers isn't going to get away with a penny less than "full" price unless I'm just trying to get rid of it or some kid doesn't want it for free.

I suspect that remembering the deals he got when he was young and/or poor is probably most of whats going thru the head of old guys when then give a young(er) guy a great deal.

Also everyone thinks about their favorite tool or machine in these discussions but reality is that a good fraction of my stuff is utilitarian and given no use for it I wouldn't miss it at all. I have a laser level like that. I have stuff I wont get rid of because the cost of storage is minimal and the cost of replacement is high or difficult. Yeah I could get $10 for my old laser level, and I could pay $75 at the store for another if I need it again (and I probably will sooner or later) but that means holding down that corner of my shelf is saving me about $65, cheapest money I ever made. If I actually needed the space because I was moving or something then I wouldn't shed much of a tear for my laser level even if I basically gave it away.

10-22-2013, 09:53 AM
Toward the weekend I search CL for "estate machinist". Recently I'm finding more often than not grandpa's tools are a pile of junk from HF. Other times they're so old and worn as to be useless. The good stuff is getting rare.

Years ago when I was new to the city, having just been hired as an engineer at a large aerospace firm, I started going to sales to build up a home shop. Looking back, one sale was a machinist's dream with high quality machines and tools. Grandma was there, along with her children and young adult grand children, obviously a very close Italian family. There were also a few of grandpa's old friends there. Everyone spoke well of grandpa and how valuable the tools had been to him in his working and retirement years. It was a nice situation, almost a final memorial to this person who had meant so much to them all.

I found an assortment of small tools I wanted to buy and set them in a pile. Grandma looked them over and commented on a few that she knew about and let me know they would serve me well. As a casual comment I said to her that I was working where grandpa had worked. She just beamed and said I must have known him, no I didn't know him, he was before my time there. But, I knew he worked there because so many of the small tools had the company logo etched on them. I didn't even think about what I was saying until the words were out of my mouth. Grandma got a stricken look and turned to find one of her sons. At that point I realized I had accused this wonderful beloved grandpa of being a thief (which he was). The son and two grand sons started toward me with the son telling the grandsons I has insulted grandma and they should take me out in the alley and teach me a lesson. These were large guys. I was close to the door and ran out, and continued running down the side walk. Luckily, they didn't follow me beyond the porch so I waited thirty minutes or so out of sight until it was safe to come back to my car parked across the street.

That happened 25 years ago. Wouldn't you know it, the same scenario repeated last summer. Except this time I kept my mouth shut and bought the marked tools.

10-22-2013, 10:05 AM
well, when I'm an old codger I'll remember all of this. That is, if I still have my memory :)

For me the line between cherished and utilitarian usually depends on how much time I've spent taking it apart and rebuilding it, so even the impact screwdriver I used to take apart my lathe's carriage gets a little bit of love. Note that this does not apply to my blood sucking little vampire of a car which I have spent more time taking apart than I care to admit.

10-22-2013, 03:58 PM
Like most on here (I suspect) a large chunk of my gear is second hand. A lot of the hand tools and pretty much all the measuring gear for a start. These have come from all over - garage clearances, the owner selling up, the owners offspring clearing dad's shed and so on. Some of them stick in my mind, such as:

The tool and die maker I was 'introduced' to. I got a phone call early one Sunday morning from a mate who does the car boots and knows everyone 'We're at Murton (local car boot). There's a bloke you need to see'. Sallied forth, to find this old gaffer with a van full. I was introduced, gaffer looks me up and down, then says 'know what this is?'
'Sure, it's a wobbler, that bit goes in there, that end in the chuck, set it true...'
'Y' need one?'
Gaffer puts it on one side, and repeated with something else. Ended up passing his test and then buying half the van full at prices that were described as knock- down.

Clearing my grandfathers workshop. Now he was a woodworker, but had started as a jig and tool maker/draughtsman on the railways. The only problem - organisation had passed him by. Drawers containing mixtures such as a morse sleeve, assorted random screws, some wood shavings, the guts of a pepper mill and half a mousetrap were usual. It was all cleared, sorted, cleaned, the crap binned and now resides in my own workshop. Highlights were the set of dividers/calipers his father had made as an apprentice piece, still used and as good as the day they were made. I certainly think of him every time I enter the shop, let alone use something.

So when I snuff it (which being in my 30's I hope is a while off) I hope someone like me walks in, appreciates the good stuff for what it is and uses it. I also hope they see the pack ratted crap for what it is as well, but (if their anything like me) they'll say 'Hold onto that, might be useful'.


10-22-2013, 04:49 PM
In that case, maybe the new owner will not have to fib about how much they paid for 'em.

10-23-2013, 10:29 AM
this might be a bit morbid, but I always get sad whenever I see a machinist's tools dumped in an array of boxes, machines on CL and the like, not just because that person is dead but also that none of the relatives care enough about his (sometimes hers) tools enough to use them and pass them on.

If that's a concern, make a list of your tool and machines, your purchase price, estimated value and detailed instructions of how you want your collection dispersed. Your tool and machine collection is no different than any other part of your estate. If it is in writing, hopfully your wishes will be honored.

10-23-2013, 02:54 PM
I am a 3rd generation machinist so to speak, Tool & Moldmaker actually.
My grandfather served his apprenticeship at the Allison plant in Indianapolis in the late 20's early 30's.
My father started his in 1952 at GM.
I have a lot of my fathers tools and most of my grandfathers tools, even have some of my great grandfathers auto tools. They are only borrowed for my time, they will be passed on to whoever is fit to care for and appreciate them wether that be my decision or someone else's.
Never feel sad about old tools someone will always appreciate them for where they've been and what there used for. One of the greatest things you can ever do is to give them away to a new caretaker/ user and let them know why you gave it to them in the 1st place, it will give them an understanding of you, your passion and what is expected of them in years to come!

10-23-2013, 05:21 PM
The death of someone brings out the vultures in his family and acquaintance's. That is sadder than not treating his tools and such well.
A friend has just lost her mother and the other siblings are acting like animals over the "leavings". The ones least involved in the mothers life when she needed them the most are making the biggest scene over the possessions of the mother. Going so far as to steel the tombstone as leverage to get "theirs".
Another friends' sister was going through their mothers jewelry sorting out the costume from the expensive things while her mother lay on her deathbed watching, not caring how her mother felt about it all.
My dad was the executor for his aunt and his own brother expected him to give the aunts car to him. Dad sold it and put the money in the pile for distribution to the heirs. His brother wouldn't talk to him for a few years. An adopted "relative" raised such a fuss causing lawyers to eat up much of the "kitty" with paperwork. He, being a college professor, didn't need the money just for the spite.
Such carrion (re: vultures) tactics makes me dislike the human race even more the humans do in their daily routine.

A.K. Boomer
10-23-2013, 06:37 PM
Well said Krutch, many people are losers,

after my Dad passed my Mom told us all we could take whatever we wanted, I took just his 1/4" drive ratchet because I knew id be using it all the time and it would remind me of him, and it does...
The "friends sister" that was going through their Moms stuff while she was still alive and watching should be disowned by everybody but only after being pinned down and having a tattoo written on her forehead that state's "Hi - im an inconsiderate c_nt"...

10-24-2013, 05:08 PM
Threads like this make me miss Old Tiffie & his I'm binning everything speech.:rolleyes:
Speaking of old Tiffie. Haven't seen a post from him for a while, does anyone know whats happened? I must have missed something.


10-26-2013, 09:38 PM
This thread reminds me that I ought to take some pictures of my 1952 mint 10" Southbend lathe, the clapped out Bridgeport, and the really nice Soco cold saw that I have been hauling from job to job over the last 25 years. I don't think my wife even knows that I own them! So if I passed my employer would probably just keep them. They are all powered up and used occasionally by myself and the company, which I think is better than sitting and rusting.