Friday, August 23, 2013

Auction of Dreams

I knew when I read the auction add in the paper that this one would be a rare one. I could tell two things from reading through the list of things for sell. This guy had been an avid gun collector and woodworker. I'm not into guns but I am into working with wood and this guy had good taste. His collection of tools were high end stuff, from the best brands and were all fairly new. I grabbed my checkbook and showed prepared to spend my entire Sunday afternoon there.

The auction started out pretty good for me even though they were selling most things as 'choice'. When they sell things choice, they usually hold up a half dozen or more things that are similar in nature and the highest big gets to decide which one and how many things he wants. If the winning bidder chooses multiple items, his bid is multiplied by the number of items he chose. If there are things leftover after the first round of bidding, the remainder are held up for another round of choice bidding. This continues until most of the best stuff has been taken and then the scraps are lumped together and sold as one bid. This leaves other bidders gambling with their bids. Do you let someone else win the bid and hope they don't want the same item you wanted so that you can perhaps get it cheaper the next go round of bidding. If you win the bid, do you take everything you wanted right now or try to get it in another round of bidding that goes cheaper. I don't like this style of bidding because I usually know the one item I want and I'm too cheap to pay a high price for it and someone else inevitably snags the item I wanted first.

The first item I was interested was a pneumatic pin nailer. I have two other pneumatic nail guns of bigger sizes and love them to death but would like to have a smaller version for more detail work. This guy had four Bostitch nailers for sale, two of which I already own and one that is bigger for things like roofing. They sold them for choice and the winning bidder took the biggest one for $75. I won the second bid for $40 and took the pin nailer which retails for about $110 brand new. I was stoked. About a half hour later I won the initial bid for choice of large pipe clamps, something I have been looking for a long time. Brand new, they sale for $40 per clamp for cheaper versions of the ones being sold at this auction. I won the bid at $12 and picked out 10 of the nicest ones leaving the oddballs and not so nice to be picked through in other rounds of bidding. The second round went for $12 as well so I did pretty good.

The thing about clamps is that they only have one moving part and thus never break or wear out which is why you never see them for sale used except for the occasional auction. Normally I try not to pay more than 1/3rd of retail for something at an auction but for things like heavy duty clamps that probably will still work well for my grandchildren, I am willing to up that as far as 2/3rds retail price.

A few minutes after the pipe clamps they had two dozen medium sized bar clamps for sale with the twist handles. I love them over the bar clamps with the quick squeeze action on them because I can get them much tighter. They too sold for choice and I won the initial bid for $5. These things sale for about $20 to $25 each in stores so I stocked up and bought all eight that were matching. For not liking choice auctioning, I was doing alright.

They moved onto the large gun collection so I took a break and carried all my purchases to my car and relaxed for a couple hours until they got to the rest of the tools. Although I didn't buy any of the small power tools because I had most of them already, the routers, drills and such went for fairly decent prices. I had high hopes when they moved to the large power tools of which there were a couple I was pretty interested on. These were all sold individually which is the style of auctioning I prefer but the first few items sold for probably 80% of retail value. There were a few items sold next that I already owned or wasn't interested in. Finally they got to the industrial bandsaw which I was most definitely interested in. The brand and size that this guy sells brand new for $900+ dollars.

Because it was six years old and has lots of moving parts that can wear, I decided that I probably wouldn't bid more than 1/3rd of new value. They started the bidding at $2000 which I thought was a joke and after a couple minutes backed down to $250 before someone bid. It quickly shot up and eventually sold for $500. I was disappointed but because I don't really have a need for a bandsaw until I cross numerous other projects off my list first, it just didn't make sense. So I paid for my nailer and clamps and drove home. I was happy and don't regret not buying anything that sold. I couldn't help but think though that this auction was kind of a dream auction for someone who didn't have much for woodworking tools. Normally at auctions you find tools that are 50 years old or cheaper new ones. There were none of these at this auction.

The next morning I headed out to the garage early while it is still cool to build a new clamp rack to hang up all my newly bought clamps along with some of my older clamps, a project that I hadn't yet done in the year we have been living here. My small clamps are loose in the bottom drawer of my tool chest which is fine but my larger clamps were just tossed into a corner. All but the blue and silver clamps are new to my collection.


Anonymous said...

Good for you. I'm thinking of getting a van via that route also.

Anonymous said...

You did well. I'm a sucker for the sales.

sage said...

Although they have a lot of auctions around here, I've never been to one, but it is probably a good way to collect good tools and those clamps are nice.

edifice rex said...

Wow! what a deal! I have a set of the bar clamps just like those and I LOVE them.

Ed said...

Vince - Thanks.

Woody - Fortunately I mostly impervious to sales unless it is something I need and then I am not afraid to stock up!

Sage - Auctions are a great way to get things slightly used at reasonable prices. Also, they are a great place to pick up even older stuff that was made to last for hundreds of years instead of the cheap stuff made today.

Edifice Rex - I haven't used them yet but I have big plans!

warren said...

Looks like a great haul! I am never allowed to go and play at auctions have a forgiving wife I think!