Flea Markets out West

Flea Markets out West 2015-07-22T14:18:26+00:00
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  • #2026941

    Steve
    Participant
    Post count: 5

    I often hear that flea markets are the best place to find woodworking tools. I prefer to call them “experienced” tools rather than used or vintage. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any tools out west. I live in Utah and I’ve only been able to find tools in antique stores which usually way overprice the few tools that come in. If anyone could share info on tool flea markets out in my neck of the woods, I would be appreciative.

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  • Bill
    Participant
    Post count: 72

    I’ve had the same experience at flea markets in NV.  There are not a lot of tools to be had, and those that are there are typically garbage or overpriced.  Thus, I’ve had to resort to more creative methods of finding tools.

    Here are a few things I’ve done that have worked:

    1.  Look for auctions – most people go to auctions for the machinery/bigger items.  I’ve had very little competition when bidding on hand tools and have got some good bargains on very nice tools.

    2. Talk to people at garage sales – ask if they have old tools they’d be willing to sell.  I’ve had limited success with this – sometimes people forgot what they had hidden away that never made it to the sales table.  I had one lady bring out a collection of moulding planes.  I was dumbfounded.  Not sure how someone could forget they had those!  I would have loved to purchase them, but they were not serviceable (leaving wooden planes untended in the desert for 15 years will do that to them).   It’s not a 100% win method, but if you approach people about tools, you can get good deals.

    3.  Craigslist – “want to buy” ads.

    Hope that helps – I certainly understand your frustration.  If all else fails, you can also order from other places where there are a good selection of tools – like Ed Lebetkin’s shop at Underhill’s place in NC, or numerous other dealers.  Good luck!

  • Mike in TN
    Participant
    Post count: 258

    Hi Steve,

    I go along with what most of what Bill has to offer. Unfortunately, the availability of “experienced” tools is greatly affected by the population density and the history of the area you are in. I try to hit the flea markets, hit antique stores and check out the Craigslist ads when I am in a given area. Some people buy T shirts and I bring home old tools, what can I say? What I have found is that areas of the country that didn’t have a lot of native forests and thin population densities never had many woodworking tools. Also, areas that had much of their development after the era of hand tool woodworking never saw many of the better quality tools. Much of the Northeast has been gleaned by collectors and dealers over the years and you don’t even see many tools in the antique stores there anymore unless they specialize in tools. The best offerings I have seen there are either with the speciality dealers or are in estate sales.

    The areas of the country that still seem to have lots of tools are the middle sized towns of Appalacia and the farming areas of the mid-west, most noticeably Ohio and Indiana and Illinois. Another tool rich area is retirement communities in Florida where the retirees have located from other areas and brought their collections with them, Those are now showing up in estate sales and filter down to the markets sometimes.

    You an also find offerings in areas that became craft centers during he 1970’s such as Seattle. A lot of those folks are getting up in years now and their treasures are being passed on.

    I have tried posting “looking for” type ads with little success and some of the dealers have told me they will sometimes, but not often hear back on them. I think you would be better off getting together with local estate sales professionals and letting them know what you are interested in. I always look for estate sales and shop liquidation sales. A lot of folks selling several pieces of larger shop equipment will have hand tools available but they don’t advertise them because they don’t see them as big money items. It always pays to ask.

    If you ever get to London in the UK try the southern end of Portobello Road market and Bermondsey market. I have been lucky there on a couple of occasions. There seems to be a lot of traditional tools in the UK and I would love to spend some more time there hitting the markets and boot sales. As a last resort, there is always EBay.

  • Greg
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    The truth of the matter is that when these tools were manufactured the population out west just wasn’t as big as it was in the East so there are less tools. Also in Utah you’re going to find that people hold on to them because they were handed down. But in Utah you can still find high quality tools and get a good deal. Your best bet is searching the classifieds on KSL.com. I’ve found Lie-Nielsen tools on there before and some older Millers Falls planes. Right now there’s an “antique” Stanley #45. They’re asking way to much, but half the fun is talking them down on price. Heck, most people even expect it. There’s also some rusty old handsaws on there for $5 each. It’s really hit and miss. Good luck on your hunt.

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