I'm a bit of a tool nut, and am thinking of starting a business selling quality hand tools for gardeners, farmers and homesteaders. Mostly tools for the garden, but would also like to delve into the world of axes, basic woodworking (drawknives etc), even sharpening gear. I'm looking for some input so 1. I can perhaps determine if this is even a good idea, and 2. to serve the potential customer better. So here are some questions:
Do you currently have all or most of the tools you want or need?
Is cost prohibiting you from buying the tools you want? which tools or brands in particular?
What are some of your favorite tools and where do you buy them?
Are you willing to pay more for a quality tool. say $80 or more for a hand forged axe? or $70 for a clarington forge spade?
Have you heard of toolmakers Dewit and Sneeboer? I hadn't until recently.
If you could get tools at a wholesale price, would you buy into a sort of "wholesale membership club" (like costco in a sense but not necessarily bulk buying).
I have been trying to assemble a "homesteader's toolkit" of non-power tools through any means necessary--scavenging estate sales, antique shops, hardware stores, online. Ships augers, drawknives, handplanes, man and a half saws, FILES and sharpening tools, scythes, and the "normal" garden and firewood tools. The biggest problem is shipping--especially since I can't get all the tools from one place. If you can figure out how to get all the good tools in one place and shipped cost effectively, you may have a good business.
You need to include good replacement HANDLES into your list of stuff. I (actually, my 16 YO son) end up making our own handles for most tools, not because we want to but because we can't find any handles that fit or the quality is so bad they won't last a day of real use. At least for the stuff you carry and possibly a few generics as well.
I will buy/have bought Wetterlings, Gransfors Bruks, Rogue hoe online. I am always looking for quality shovels and digging forks to add to my limited collection. They don't have to look classic, they just have to work.
Yes, I would consider a membership system IF it would pay off within a short time. Or if it was tied to supporting a forum like this. I have joined such clubs or paid more from certain vendors because they had kickbacks (documented as such up front) to forums or causes I wanted to support.
"You must be the change you want to see in the world." "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary, use words." --Francis of Assisi.
"Family farms work when the whole family works the farm." -- Adam Klaus
Since I am just getting started with my tool collection having a single place where one could acquire a variety of quality tools is definitely something I would be interested in. I can see how the membership could be an attractive option, providing it was structured in such a way that it didn't require a several purchases per year to make it worth the expense. Since I'm getting started, I might would make several purchases a year, but I can imagine that those with a complete collection already may be interested, but may only need to purchase one or two tools annually.
Thanks for the replies so far. I'm curious what this private support forum for members might look like. Would it simply be a place for folks to share and learn about their adventures and mishaps with tools (much like this forum)? Could we add more value to it? I love the idea, any way we can differentiate ourselves and give more, the better.
Yes, the importance of handles, that is something i've yet to source. My long term dream is to manage our ash swamp area with coppicing to produce handles, but who knows what volume and at what point i will do this.
I've had a few special demolition tools made at around $100 each for giant prybars. When I look at the cost of shipping special tools, the math generally favours shopping locally at Lee Valley or Tools and space.
There are many good old tools which need a handle. A dozen coppice hornbeam, black locust and hickory could supply enough variety of handles to make handle production into a business. Often, very good tools go very cheaply when the handle is bad. A handle business would need to serve the local market. Another option would be to take your inventory on the road to fall fairs and other appropriate venues.
I once had four decent axe heads and a guy put a good home made handle on one in exchange for the other three. Chances are that I would still be sitting on those things a decade later if we didn't make that deal. Everybody won.
I had an excellent adze made from a car spring. The maker selected a handle with a thick knob on just the right angle where the metal joined wood. His cost was almost nothing and I gladly paid $75.00
It took him 2 hours to make it. He seemed to enjoy the entire process of scavanging wood and metal, and planning tools around his finds. I gave him a couple truck springs which would produce many more tools. The beauty of his part time business is that costs are so low. Everybody appreciates his workmanship so he's constantly given good metal and hardwood trimmings for handles.