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Where to get hold of second hand-tools in New Jersey (lost in translation?)

 
pollinator
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I have very few tools. When I left the UK I gave nearly everything away - I was moving to a small apartment in a city. Now I'm back where I should be and I'm slowly acquiring tools. I've already made some made choices.

The obvious thing to do, is to get hold of some second-hand tools, maybe some with great potential, just needing some love. It's all well and good reading tips on going to yard sales etc, but that's not working out for me so far. What I'm looking for I would recognise immediately in the UK - a big barn size shop full of antiques and stuff from house clearances, or just a generic second-hand shop.

So I need some help from my US friends here.

Does such a place exist here? Am I right in thinking, second-hand is a British word? This is very confusing and makes online searches very hard.
For instance:
Yard sale in the US is called a garage sale in the UK.
I've been to an antique shop but it didn't sell anything old - it was all fake or is that faux?

I'd really like to get my hands on some hammer heads, axe heads, splitters, mauls etc and make some handles. Also chisels, planes, rasps, files, vices . . . etc.

Thanks for your help.
 
pollinator
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In my area yard sales, flea markets, estate sales are all good places to pick up tools but I live in a rural area where things like old shovels, rakes, hammers, and so on are still fairly common and not of much interest to most people anymore. That is changing though as more people look at those things as decorations they getting harder to find at good prices. Fortunately I have accumulated a good stockpile of garden tools as well as wrenches, fishing tackle, hand saws and other useful things.

I'd say get out into the most rural areas you can find and look for those types of sales. Stay away from shops in towns and especially anything advertising, "antique" "upscale" or "repurposed" all code words for overpriced junk.
 
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We usually look for tools on Craig's List. We have bought name-brand table saws, miter saws, and tool chests on Craig's List.

That was after we looked at Pawn Shops and Second Hand Stores where the tools were way overpriced.

Also, another good place to get new tools for a reasonable price is Harbor Freight.  I bet there are some stores in New Jersey. The tools are not the super great name brand tools but they serve their purpose and if they break the tools were cheap enough to throw away and buy another one.

We have built or finished several houses this way.
 
Edward Norton
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Thanks Anne - great suggestion. I've heard of Craiglist but never used it.

Harbor Freight is the other side of a major highway which could be a fun challenge on my bike.
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Another place to look (and a place you should go anyway) is the Habitat for Humanity Restore, there is one in Bergen County and another in Wayne. I haven't been to these specific locations so I can't say for sure whether they have lots of tools but the folks who work there are usually great, you could call up and ask before you make the trip. (this store sells donated goods, focused on home repair and construction.)

(as for your terminology- When we come to the US on trips we buy a lot at second-hand stores/thrift shops/consignment stores, what I imagine you might call a charity shop, but it is nearly all clothing. Occasionally you'll find a thrift shop with other things, even tools, but in the last 5 years or so it seems the quality has plummeted, prices have shot up, and we rarely find anything fabulous. My kid and I did some serious thrifting earlier this year in NY/NJ/PA and I can say we did not see one single blessed tool.)

When I cleaned out my mother's house in NJ a few years ago and sold everything, tools were one of the first things to go. Nearly every subsequent person who bought something asked if we had tools to sell. People are always looking and they go like hotcakes.
 
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Hi Edward,

I think Anne is correct about Harbor Freight.  On the whole, I don’t like cheap tools because I just hate it when I am fixing something and the tool I am using itself needs fixing.  Cheap socket sets come to mind.

But a hammer is pretty solid, even in their cheap configuration.  In fact, most everything you mentioned sounds like it would be a pretty good HF deal.

Also, garage sale, yard sale, estate sale and flea market are all usable terms in the USA.  Getting away from urban areas sounds like a good idea when looking for any of these options.

Good luck finding tools!

Eric
 
Edward Norton
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Tereza Okava wrote:Another place to look (and a place you should go anyway) is the Habitat for Humanity Restore



That sounds like somewhere definitely worth visiting. I actually bookmark this video a few months ago and then totally forgot about it.


Yard sales around here are mostly large plastic preschool toys - I guess it's the neighbourhood demographic. There's clearly a good market for snapping up tools and reselling online.

Thanks for the info and translations!

Eric Hanson wrote:Getting away from urban areas sounds like a good idea when looking for any of these options.

- very good idea. Cheap socket tools really suck . . . been there, done that. I'll go and check out HF anyway. Cheers.
 
Anne Miller
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Edward Norton wrote:Thanks Anne - great suggestion. I've heard of Craiglist but never used it.

Harbor Freight is the other side of a major highway which could be a fun challenge on my bike.



Look at their tools online to see if they have anything you might want and use this as a good comparison for checking to see if something is overpriced.

I didn't consider the bike thing when I made my post.  I rarely see anyone on a bike.

I had a boss once who was into bike racing so I have heard a lot of stories about bike adventures.
 
Edward Norton
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Anne Miller wrote:I rarely see anyone on a bike.  

I can relate! I can always get a lift at the weekend but the other half isn't that enthusiastic when it comes to hardware stores.
 
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Yes, posting an ad for working tools (not decorative antiques) on Craigslist is a good idea. Up here, Kijiji seems to be more popular.

What about contacting companies that clean out self-storage lockers? I'll be they get a ton of stuff that's worth hardly anything -- except to you.

Recycling depots and metal junkyards often have a bin of this sort of stuff for cheap/free.
 
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You might check if there is a local auction house that has weekly estate sales. That is where I get most of my stuff. It is the only place I've found where I can get good quality vintage tools at a good price. They have become quite collectable, so while they can be found on ebay, and maybe in some stores, they are pricey, sometimes insanely so. Axes and hatchets are very collectable now, so expensive. Handsaws are not, at least in my area, and some top quality vintage ones in decent shape can be had for 3-5 dollars. Vices of decent size seem to be in unreasonably high demand, but saw vices (which are quite rare antiques here) go for a few dollars. Vintage chisels, especially without handles, are quite cheap, but a full, matching set in good shape can go for quite a bit more. Planes here are relatively cheap, as long as it's not a Bedrock or something. I would avoid modern versions of these tools if possible. Files and rasps I would buy new, unless you just happen to run across some old ones in good shape. Most old ones are worn or mistreated.
 
Edward Norton
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I braved the stroads of NJ and live to tell the tale.

1) Discovered a massive thrift / second hand shop. 90% cloths, which I wasn't looking for, but good to know. Household / tool section was as to be expected. Mostly the cheap plastic end of the market.
2) Harbor Freight was a challenge - initially nowhere out front to secure my bike. Ended up locking it to a lamppost but meant I could only use one lock, so I was in and out in five minutes. Picked up a hatchet I had heard about - hickory handle and need of some upgrades, but very highly regarded. Will sharpen for a BB of course but files all had nasty plastic handles and one was already broken.
3) Went to Lowes - I normally go to Home Depot, it's much closer. Ours has been closed since Ida dumped 8 inches of rain in one hour and the store had a four foot deep river running through it. I can't say I like either store. Didn't find anything I wanted to part cash with, except a 12 foot board in the reject bin - strapped to the bike for a BB to make a bird box and another BB! On the way out spotted dowels for handmade loom - another BB and a basic and better quality file.

I dipped into Craiglist . . . nothing within bike range and not a lot within car range. I'll keep an eye out. I'm guessing pickings are a little richer in rural areas.

 
pollinator
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Haha about lost in translation! I work with a Scot, so I get thrown a British-ism now and then... what? carbooting is not a valid search term in New Jersey?

As far as finding tools, especially garden tools, "moving sale" is a better bet than "yard sale" or "garage sale", since most folks won't have space for them or won't pay the movers to haul them.
Go early. Not impolitely early, but early... if you want to find a good selection. Although arriving late can net you some great deals on a lot of stuff that folks just want GONE!!
"Multi-family" sales can be crap, and a lot of baby stuff... made worse since they all trade with each other beforehand... Unless something specific you want is advertised, don't make one of these your first stop.

Craigslist is great since you can do an advanced search on distance, and whatever terms you want such as:  tools, plants, garden, sledgehammer, moving, etc... and you can search both listings in  "for sale - tools" and within "garage sales".

Another good place to try is run by and benefiting the charity Habitat for Humanity. Their "ReStore" is a thrift store for tools, furniture, building materials, household goods. There's 8 in NJ, plus a few nearby.
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