Cheap Tools

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Cheap Tools aren’t Crappy Tools

A man with a well appointed set of tools has laid out some serious money, but there are ways to reduce your costs. I live in Kansas City, the original home of Trans World Airlines. The first TWA headquarters is just five blocks from my office (the rocket is still on the building), and they had a huge aircraft maintenance facility at the Kansas City International airport, which was later taken over by American Airlines and then moved to Texas I think. Some years ago an old guy several houses down passed and the family was having an estate sale. This guy had a detached garage in the backyard and I knew he was a tinkerer. What I didn’t know until I got there, was that he was a retired TWA aviation mechanic with a butt load of tools, some were marked “Property of TWA”.

TWA Headquarter until 1964. Located 18th & Main, Kansas City, MO.
TWA Headquarter until 1964. Located 18th & Main, Kansas City, MO.

I had a lot of what he had, but I was light on clamps and he had them by the boxes in all sizes. I loaded up with those, and an old electric buffer for very little money. Plus I got some hand tools to add to my son’s collection.

Estate Sales and Craigslist are Goldmines for Tools

Want a quality table saw, but don’t want to spend $300 or more? With a little patience you can get one off Craigslist. Yeah, it might be dirty and dinged and not have a laser site or guide, but if it was maintained it will cut just as good as a $500 table saw, and you will save a huge amount of money. Just to prove my point, I’m looking at Craigslist right now, and in less than 30 seconds I found an old Craftsman table saw for $75, plus this Rigid TS2410LS table saw below with collapsible rolling stand for $275. Really great for portability and storage space in a small garage. The guy bought this one reconditioned, and this was originally sold about then years ago, but the newer version runs $500 at Home Depot.


Insist on a Test Drive

You wouldn’t buy a used car without test driving it. Same goes for tools. Have them run it for you and cut some wood, drill some holes, grind, sand whatever. Make sure it runs and doesn’t have any loose mechanisms, or obvious missing pieces.

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