Inventory Control...and the Art of Dying

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Blog entry by poopiekat posted 02-15-2011 02:48 AM 5466 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I got to a point in my life where I must think about my future, er well, THE future whether it includes me or not. I’m having a great time buying a whack of used planes, mostly wooden molding planes, and a lot of transitional planes. Anyway, I’m salting them away for eventual future reference. At one point, I was carefully documenting my plane collection with photos and other means of identification. The reasons were two-fold: one, there are typically good reasons to worry about floods in my neck of the woods, and the resulting insurance claims, and two: I ain’t gonna live forever! I am disturbed by visions I have of my wife trying to sell off my menagerie of perhaps 175 planes, and myriad lifelong collecting of hundreds of other tools and woodworking devices. This is really a disturbiing situation for me. Yeah, if I’m dead, what will it matter where my stuff ends up? I mean, should I put a price sticker on each of my tools, in case the day to liquidate my treasures comes to pass? And, holy moly, I’ve got a collection of wood that would be harder to document, it changes day by day!

Anyway, I have gotten slack about continuing to document my more recent acquisitions. How do I do a good job of this without appearing as though I’m obsessed with my own mortality? A recent blog by Martin drove the point home, he did an “In Memoriam’ blog about Lumberjocks who have passed on, alll of them seemed to be mid-40s to mid-fifties…and I’m pushin’ 60!

As resistant to change as I am, I must accept my new realities and deal with it…but I really don’t know how. I am trending toward less dependence on power tools, and I do entertain thoughts of a minimalist approach to woodworking. Are you in the same boat as me? How do you cope with the sunset slide of your life, how do you prepare for it? Sorry if this all sounds morbid, I don’t mean for it to be that way, I’m just having a bit of trouble downscaling my shop, and my dreams, cuz I ain’t no spring chicken anymore. Please, no oafish offers to take posession of anything I want to downsize…sheesh! That’s what the ‘Woodworking Trade & Swap’ forum is for.

Is there anybody out there pondering the same thoughts as I have?

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

22 comments so far

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 4326 days

#1 posted 02-15-2011 03:05 AM

Thought provoking I must say. I have to admit, though that I have wondered similar things. I am only 32 now, but I swear that yesterday I said that I was only 19. I have two sons, 3 and 8 and a 10-year-old daughter. I don’t yet know if they ever might pursue wwing as a business venture, a profitable hobby or a weekend pastime. I didn’t know I was going to do this as a living until just a few years ago.

I hope that when it is my time to assume room temperature, that my tools and toys will be put to use. I didn’t buy and build tools to put on a shelf and stare at. I hope that in a hundred years, a descendant of Roy Underhill will be demonstrating how to raise a panel with one of my planes. Better yet, one of my children will be passing my tool belt down to one of their grandchildren. I won’t hold my breath, though…I might assume room temperature prematurely.

Great Post!

-- christopheralan

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3589 days

#2 posted 02-15-2011 03:48 AM

I will be reaching the double nickel this fall, so ya this thought has crossed my mind. Yes, I know I’m still a young pup, but have health issues. It sounds like you have no family members with an interest in woodworking to leave such a wonderful collection to.

Who would know better than you what the value of your tools are worth. So leaving behind documentation is a smart thing in my opinion. This will help your wife to know the value in the sale of such items.

I’m fortunate to have a daughter that has an interest in woodworking and grew up in the shop with me as a child. She once ask me what my tools where worth one time. I said to replace them or to sell them. She said she just wanted it know. This has prompted me to document my inventory so that there is a record of tools and other items of value. Since she is the one who will get my shop. I thought this should be information she will need to know when its hers to do with as she wishes. I have a grandson whom I hope will have and interest in woodworking so there will be 2 family members with and interest in woodworking to enjoy the shop.

Having good documentation is a smart thing to do so that when we go to that great workshop. Family members will have information to help them research current values in the event that they will be put up for sale. Knowing how insurance companies want such documentation for claims leaves no question as to what you have or how much our tools are worth. So should your wife have this information. I have known woodworkers whose family had no clue as to what they had or how much they were worth.

So live well, do well, play well and know when that time is near that information will be useful to your wife after your gone.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 4326 days

#3 posted 02-15-2011 03:51 AM

Well said, Gregn.

-- christopheralan

View William's profile


9950 posts in 3448 days

#4 posted 02-15-2011 04:48 AM

Please don’t think you are too obsessed with this matter, because if you are, that would put me in the same boat. I’m only thirty-six, but with my health, and the fact that I’ve already had two heart attacks, I have thought several times about this exact thing.
I don’t know yet to what extent woodworking will hold the interest of any of my kids. I know my wife won’t have a need for probably more than half of the tools I own. I know she’ll never be able to get what some of my tools are worth (to me, anyway). There are a few tools (table saw for example) that I’m sure my kids will want, but which one? I have eight kids. I’d rather my wife throw it away than for any of them to argue over it.
So, what to do with my tools? I have had multiple ideas. My most recent one has to do with maybe having it set up to donate them all to the local high school building trades class in the event of me pushing up mushrooms (that’s right, mushrooms. My wife says I’m too ornery for daisies to grow). I think I like the idea of my tools going to use to teach future woodworkers.


View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 4334 days

#5 posted 02-15-2011 06:17 AM

The unique thing about tools is that they are some of the few things we buy that have a chance to hold even a fraction of their value. When I think about the things I own, I can look at my DVD collection that I paid a pretty penny for. Now, with blue-ray, streaming videos, and netflix, these are probably worth about 5-10% of what I paid. My planes I bought on ebay are worth just what I paid, less shipping, plus any value added when I tuned them up.

In my mind, this makes my meager collection of tools some of the most valuable possessions.

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3386 days

#6 posted 02-15-2011 02:21 PM

I’m 62 and have been trying to inventory for some years, going through my books to see if I can figure a price, watching on line, but mainly just trying to figure what I’ve got..(omg, there went another pad of post it notes !) I’ve tried to create a log and keep it up as I’ve bought, but it seems to colect as much dust as my RB 10 plane ;-) Then it gets an update of sorts..
I guess the only thing is to keep trying and let those who follow be aware of my wishes. None of the boys seem interested, think the walls of tools are neat and such, and a handy place to grab something when they need it..but no, not to keep things together.. Their big one is the 496 powered ‘69 Beaumont.. Wife says she’ll sell that rather than let the guys fight.. ;-(

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View woodman1962's profile


150 posts in 3294 days

#7 posted 02-15-2011 02:57 PM

I was reading your post and had a little story that i thought i would throw in.Several years ago i was walking through home depot getting some materials for a job when an old guy walked up to me and asked what kind of work i did .I told him that i was a fence builder.he noticed that i was real particular about the wood i was getting.

Well he called about 2 weeks later and wanted me to come bye and give him an estimate.When i got there he had plans drawn up for a fence.He explained that he was a colonial and had retired from the army.He had listed on the plans that he was very particular about the quality and workmanship.Any way we agreed on a price and i started shortly after that.The whole time i did the job the man was sitting their on a step stool watching me and making sure that i did everything right.It took me a while to complete the job. When i finished the job he was really happy with the way it turned out.

About a year passed and i got a phone call it was that man again.He said that he had some more work for me so i went to see him.He sat me down and told me he was just diagnosed to have cancer and did not think he had long to live.He gave me a list of things that he needed to be fixed before he passed.So i started to workwith him sitting beside me on his stool.The list just continued to grow for the next year and we would fix what ever he wanted to.When he started getting close he had also give me a list of future items to repair.

When he passed no one in the family called for over thirty days he was buried at Arlington with top military honors.Nobody went to the funeral.

He was a clock maker his family called and he had left me his whole woodworking shop and all his clock parts it took me 5 truckloads to get it all home.He said that he had no one to give it to and he wanted me to have it .
I worked there to fix the house for about a year.I will always remember him every time that i use one of his tools.

His name was colonial Lou Gaddini and i will always remember him.He holds a special place in my heart and always will.

-- [email protected]

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4041 days

#8 posted 02-15-2011 04:18 PM

What a wonderful story, a gift from a man who trusted you with his tools. I think that many of us want to know that our precious tools and projects will be “taken care of” by some who will appreciate them and will continue to keep them in good order and continue to use them properly and get as much satisfaction as you have had from them.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View poopiekat's profile


4559 posts in 4340 days

#9 posted 02-16-2011 01:40 AM

Thanks, everyone! It’s good to know that my apprehensions are well-founded. Though we all seem to realize after it’s too late that having an overstuffed workshop is not the be-all to end-all that we thought it should be. I’ve got tools that are just insane to own, like a basin-tap reamer for reseating stem washers! Fer cripes sake, I’ve owned it 30 years and it’s never come out of the package! 2 sets of tip-cleaners for the oxy-acetalene torch I never owned! And a genuine NAPA piston-ring expander/installer, and I haven’t rebuilt an engine since 1974. Perhaps it is my unwillingness to dismantle the diorama of my life, it’s like a continually unfolding canvas of what I’ve done, where I’ve been, the failures and successes of my checkered little life. Yeah, I should do a yard sale, but jeez, I’d hate to have to deal with obnoxious people offering cents on the dollar for things that were once a part of my life. Which is why a benefactor was lucky to find ‘woodman1962’ .

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View hairy's profile


3004 posts in 4138 days

#10 posted 02-16-2011 01:56 AM

I’ve also been documenting things. When buying things like scroll chuck jaws, and other specialized tools, I keep them in the original box. That will make it easier for someone to determine value, plus it makes storage simple.

When I retired,I had a tool sale at work. I figured if I spent $300 on a tool, I would be better off selling it for $100 instead of my wife selling it for $10 at a yard sale.

All the oddball stuff I have in a box with a note what they are. I might be needing that for my benefit if things keep going as they have been. I should consider adding what I paid.

As far as insurance, not much is better than a video with you explaining what is what.

-- Genghis Khan and his brother Don, couldn't keep on keeping on...

View woodman1962's profile


150 posts in 3294 days

#11 posted 02-16-2011 02:31 AM

this is in response to mr poopiekat I was the lucky one to find Mr Gaddini he was a great person.I only wish that i knew what he had planned for me before he had passed.There were so many questions that i would of liked to ask him Like why do you want to give me all this .He had made at least 32 different kind of clocks.He made from wall clocks to grandfather clocks.He was always a very difficult man to please and his work was always documented.He was especially critical of his own work a definite perfectionist.Now it has been 7 years since he passed and i am still finding little notes to himself on tools and all sort of things.The name of the clocks that he produced was (Country Originals by Gaddini ) I was told by the family that he had made at least a thousand or more.I have tried to put some of them together and to finish some of them that he had started.I have got pretty good at the wall clocks He left about 15 all cut out i just had to figure out the right parts and put them together I think that he would be proud of what i did Although he would say that i need to tighten up and figure out the rest of the boxes of parts now.I know it brought a lot of smiles to a woodworker to go threw all those boxes and appreciate it.Like some one else said earlier there would be no honor in seeing the tools that i had collected over the years at a yard sale for pennies on what it was worth.Luckily i have 2 sons that enjoy woodworking as much as me so i know they will enjoy all my junk when i am gone and when they do i hope that they think of me.

-- [email protected]

View Jack_T's profile


623 posts in 3637 days

#12 posted 02-17-2011 05:28 PM

I am disturbed by visions I have of my wife trying to sell off my menagerie of perhaps 175 planes, and myriad lifelong collecting of hundreds of other tools and woodworking devices. This is really a disturbiing situation for me. Yeah, if I’m dead, what will it matter where my stuff ends up?

It won’t matter to you after you are dead, but it maight matter to you right before hand. More important than what happens is how it happens. If your wife is anything like mine, she hasn’t a clue about whats in the tool shop, nor what it is worth. A good inventory and maybe labels on the tools to coordinate to the inventory would be a godsend to her. I think that we owe that much to our wives. After all they let us play with our wood. The time we spend in our shops is time we could be with them, the money we spend on our toys (tools) and wood is money we could have spent on them or left them in the bank for when we are gone. I think we also owe it to our wives to tell them who to trust for advice on pricing our tools. I don’t think any of us want to see our wives become the basis of a lumberjock tool gloat when someone offers her $150.00 for that two year old Unisaw/Powermatic/SawStop and only we can prevent it. On the other hand if you can’t stand your wife, just dump everything in a big box and label it “junk for donation” and have a good chuckle!

-- Jack T, John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life."

View Stephen Mines's profile

Stephen Mines

226 posts in 3296 days

#13 posted 02-24-2011 08:47 PM

How do I do a good job of this without appearing as though I’m obsessed with my own mortality?

You know I think it’s AOK to be very aware (maybe even obsessed) of our own mortality. We are, after all, mortal…just usually takes a buncha miliage to get our attention on the subject I just turned 72 this month and ‘mortality reality’ is looking back at me every time I pass the medicine cabinet mirror. Though I think I’m in pretty good health I, too, have the same concerns about how my wife could most efficiently dispose of my ‘gear’, stuff she’ll not ever use: property, both real (I know she wouldn’t stay in Michigan if I ‘weren’t’) and ‘things’: machinery, inventory, rolling stock, etc. Not only getting the best value when transferring ownership, but trying to make the new owner(s) the right owners, those who would most benifit and best utilize the property and things.
ITwo examples (both friends) of ways it is done, neither of which I wish to emulate: the first (John) became incureably ill and dashed around like a madman putting his affairs in order, liquidating assets left and right to make life easier for his wife. She came to my shop looking for him one day and poured out her heart; she had hardly seen him for three months…and wanted/needed all of the time he had left to be shared with her. A very few days, less than a week after her visit to my shop, he transitioned. My other friend (Bud) was a terrified leftover from the Lockheed move from the San Fernando Valley. He had a fantastic machine shop, used to employ 10 A & B machinests doing sub work, mostly for Lockheed. The last two years of his journey on earth he and his wife occupied the inner and outer offices of his pretty much unlighted and gloomy shop, going through the motions and pretending that everything would be as it was during the ‘boom’ years. Bud was 84, in ‘good’ health but scared that he’d leave his wife unprepared to deal with the world without him. They went together in a freeway accident. . . and I’ve sometimes wondered about the accident part. My point, I think, in this long nose-bleed is that no, you are not alone.

-- Stephen Mines ([email protected])

View poopiekat's profile


4559 posts in 4340 days

#14 posted 02-24-2011 08:57 PM

Thank you, Stephen, for your amazing insight, and for your most relevant post. Ultimately, it is love that makes our lives worth living, though it makes the inevitable transition (great use of that word!) so much more a difficult one for our devoted spouses. Thanks again, you have an eloquent way of expressing the thoughts that I could not put into the right words exactly myself.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4594 days

#15 posted 02-24-2011 09:01 PM

I’m just trying to time my death to coincide with my wood supply being used up. That allows me to buy a few extra years. :-)

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

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