Parting of a Fellow Woodworker

One of the long time members of our woodturning club fell ill about a year ago. While for a time he could still turn, he eventually contacted us to say that he was going to have to downscale to a smaller lathe and focus on turning smaller things, mainly pens and wanted us to let people know his big lathe was for sale. We added the info to our newsletter and sent out the info to our members.

Two weeks ago we were contacted by his wife to say that her husband’s health had taken another turn and combined with the fact that they has sold their house and were moving, ask Tom and I if we could help evaluate his shop, inventory ad price for sale all his equipment. We were glad to do it, but it was a much more emotional process than I expected.

Tom, Keith (former Turning Arts Group member) and I made a trip to the shop and started going through all the equipment and tools. I started into the project with a woodturner’s eye, evaluating tool condition, brand and assessing what I thought the item was worth. This was fairly straightforward with the bigger tools, like the lathe, bandsaw, drillpress and turning tools. However, as we started going through cabinets and drawers, it becomes more personal. That’s where you could see the personality come through – what was saved, what things were collected, how ere items stored, etc. All of us have a personal aspect to our shop or studio. We put things away in a certain place, or for some, don’t put things away or have a favorite brand of tools or tucked away are some personal mementos.

It was clear that some of the tools were of a much older style than you can buy today and I felt they must either be tools from his youth or tools from his Father. That made me think about someone going through my shop. I don’t think they could recognize all the personal attachment and memories in tools I have that were from my Dad or Grandfather. Tom and I talked about this and we could tell origin stories for a high percentage of our tools, something we could never value properly going through our friend’s tools. You could tell when we talked to him that he had this aspect of the value foremost in his mind, so while our pricing might b more in line with the upcoming sale, they totally discounted the emotional value of his tools.

Completing the inventory and pricing we promised to come back the following weekend and run the equipment sale. However, by midweek we had gotten word that our friend had passed away. The sale would still go on because to the move, but no there was some more emotional value linked to the tools and equipment. We had seen the great work our friend had turned out on this equipment month after month at our club meetings and realized he would not be using any of it again.

Tom and I arranged items for the sale and checked our pricing and got ready for some of our club members to show up looking for a deal on some needed equipment.


 The sale only went on for a few hours and while the lathe and bandsaw weren’t sold, many other things were hauled off or saved for our friend’s children. We were happy with that since we were able both to provide our friend’s wife with a bit of cash and knowing that his son would have of the same emotional relationship with his Father’s tools that we did with ours.

It was sad though, to see the place so bare.



 We’ll go back next week and remove all the rest of the stuff and hold one more sale to see what we can sell or donate to local charities like Safe Harbor, where we teach woodturning.

I bough a couple of the tools at the sale, some to augment my collection, but more for my son to add some items to his woodworking capabilities. I’m guessing that there was some emotional value added to those purchases and years from now he’ll have his own origin story about these tools.

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