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 Finding electronics tools on a low budget

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FrankB
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Join date : 2010-11-22

PostSubject: Finding electronics tools on a low budget   2014-09-12, 10:25 pm

Hi,
My name is Frank and I am a junk store addict.
(Hi, Frank)

Enough of the humor- for the moment.- maybe....

I hate trying to pay the new price for good electronics hand tools. They can get expensive in a hurry, like my different Snap On pliers.
So I have seriously started rummaging through the bins at the junk stores for suitable electronics tools.

get to know the owners and sales people. I can't stress this enough. You will get some great deals on tools and materials this way.
One store I "haunt" has the owner yell at me as I come in "I just got a new load of tools in, go look through them". They are often still in boxes piled on the floor. I dig through them and find the most amazing items at times. Last one I filled a 5 gallon bucket almost full of the new stuff he got in. Weller guns (2) , Craftsman ign. wrench set- great for those little chassis nuts and such- Screwdrivers, Torx drivers, sockets, wrenches, new hack saw blades, sand paper, new cans of spray paint (Can't go wrong for a new can of Krylon or Rusteolum for a buck!), a manual tire iron for dismounting car tires, nail puller, a rock chisel, 2 pry bars, a sweet, small ball pean hammer, pop rivets, Xcelite and Vaco & Craftsman nut drivers, Craftsman torx drivers, a panel meter or two, hookup wire, soldering tools, solder, a very old can of Nokorrode flux- prob. in the '20's, and more. Sockets - 1/4, 3/8 and 1/2" drive- Craftsman, Snap on, Proto deeps(!), Williams, Mac, etc. All for under $50.00.
Yes, it may take time to collect a full set of tools, but certainly worth the savings.


Its amazing what turns up from time to time. Nut drivers, needle nose, FP twist tab tools, socket sets, wrenches, vices, cans of spray paint & primer, jars, boxes and even 5 gallon buckets of assorted hardware. Boxes of estuchin (sp) pins in brass or bronze, nuts & bolts by the box, jar, etc.

Now I used to exclusively buy Craftsman tools, but with their apparent discontinuing of the items in my local store, and the inability to get replacement items for anything "Not on the shelf", (Yes, they just recently changed their policy, as per the tool counter lady in Lacey, WA Sears) I am buying alternative tool brands.

Most 2nd hand places charge a premium for the Craftsman hand tools, but not the other brands.
So I am now buying the other brands with lifetime warranties. Husky, Kobalt, Proto, Williams, SK, Snap On, Mac, Chicago, etc.
Not that I will turn down Craftsman nut drivers, screw drivers, and, sockets, and wrenches if the price is right-AND they are still exchangeable.

Also Vaco and Xcelite will turn up at times in the stores too, as well as at garage sales and estate sales.

Here a while back I even found some radio chassis punches, soldering tools and Weller guns-( all 3 models!, as well as the WTCP stations from time to time) , as well as copper soldering bits back from the 20's when you heated them on a blow lamp or a gas stove.

One antique shop nearby even has a nice stock of test equipment and a lot of old radios, but a bit pricey, I feel. But way in the back are boxes of wrenches, sockets and screwdrivers for a buck each. If you buy a pile, they will even dicker.

Also don't forget the Habitat for Humanity stores. Try the ones in the out of the way areas, and the ones NOT in the strip malls. (The strip mall one here tends to way overprice items- like used outlet boxes for a buck and I bought a pile of them at home Depot for .19 ea. NEW!).

So know your prices. It does pay to have a "route" of them to visit also. I have found that in one area the store will have an abundance of one specific item- usually dirt cheap, and the store in another area will have different items dirt cheap.
I have found NOS chassis and boxes in them, power transformers, old radios(!), many electronics hand tools, rolls of solder, etc.
The ones on my "regular route" tend to remember me and I often will ask them for a price on an entire lot of an item like boxes of screws, rolls of wire, fittings, insulators, etc.; and they will lower the price even more. I have even found entire antique radio chassis at some of them, as they know I look for that stuff, and will set it aside for me.
Remember that what you spend there goes back to help the community.

Hint,
Before you shell out the bux for that really nice looking pair of Diagonal cutters, hold them up to the light. See that the jaws tightly close. If you see light through the closed jaws, forget them. I have tried to re-grind the jaws, not successfully.

Sometimes you can find a deal on some old rusty tools that no one really wants too. If they are good quality, the rust can be cleaned off with a wire brush, acid, molasses, or electrolysis.
If you use acid, take all safety precautions and use common sense. Be sure to clean off ALL the grease. I didn't get it all off and had to clean the tools and re-acid bath them.

After taking tools out of acid, electrolysis, or wire brushing, clean them down well and wipe with mineral spirits or paint thinner. Then prime and paint immediately. Rust will set in really quick. I have seen it come back in an hour after sand blasting some hand tools!
If you are missing the insulated handles, I have used Plasti- Dip with good results, but be sure you have a lot to coat before opening the can. It will set up quickly. I have also used vacuum tubing on the handles, and multiple layers of heat shrink tubing.

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MEZLAW

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Join date : 2012-10-28

PostSubject: Re: Finding electronics tools on a low budget   2014-09-15, 6:18 pm

There are always tool vendors at the auto shows and flea markets. Many times I find new tools at a faction of the cost in stores. I have several pairs of Napa diagonal cutters and needle nose pliers as an example.
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