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Old 05 October 2021, 06:53   #1
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A lifetimes workshop kit.

This may seem a little morbid, but I would be interested in others opinions on how to deal with the eventual problem.


I like many others have a workshop, well several & being in engineering all my working life I have gathered together all manner of kit worth many thousands of pounds. For those of us in our later years some reflection is needed on what will come of all the gear once we are in no need of any of it.



For those with children who also have the engineering gene the workshop and its contents can be a thing of beauty. Being able to guide a son or daughter along a path that will give them endless pleasure in life is a real nice thing.
But for those of us who are childless or have as in my case daughters who have no interest at all in workshop toys it leaves a quandary.
I have little intention of selling off my tools just yet but see regular adverts from kin selling off "Dads" workshop contents for silly money as they dont have the time or enthusiasm to research and correctly value what they are selling or hold onto stuff as they are maybe clearing a property ready for sale.

So its not like selling off the family car which is easily valued. Should we just enjoy our kit and ability to "make stuff" while we still can and write off the real value of the workshop contents as we wont be around to be concerned? Or should we sell up while we still are able.
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Old 05 October 2021, 07:32   #2
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The sell off point is hard to judge.

Like you I have a lifetime's collection of tools and consumables collected over the past 40+ years since I started buying my own gear. They range across general mechanics, motor, plumbing, decorating, house renovation, woodwork etc.

To me the value is in their use while I'm alive so I have no real worries of their future after that point. I have two daughters so they have no more than a passing interest what's in the garage.

We have a brilliant village charity which includes an industrial type workspace which carries out repairs and constructions for locals undertaken by the retired and those unable to work for differing reasons.

I have already donated them my grandfather's lifetime of woodworking tools dating from the 1920-1950s because I have no specific use for them as they just duplicate my modern tools. So they would be one avenue for my gear if I was unexpectedly to pop off early.

Then there is a local house clearance and probate sale auction where they would come and collect the lot, sort, value and sell.
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Old 05 October 2021, 08:38   #3
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I recently came up with a solution to this which I'm happy with at the moment.

My two boys are interested in my toys, but not all of them, and since they left home I might have added to the collection 'under the Radar' so to speak as far as Lady Nasher is concerned.
That applies equally to the vehicles themselves and the huge amount of tools and equipment in my workshop.

I use Forums for my Boat, Land Rover, and mostly my old Ducati motorcycles.
There are obviously people on the forums you meet locally and get to know which are not only decent people but are similar minded with respect to interests.

Apart from the people on the forums I don't actually have friends with similar interests, in truth I have very few anyway, so was overly concerned about this.

So I now have a list that can be used in the event of something happening to me.
It's the contact details for a couple of people from each Forum that I've contacted, explained the situation to, and they've agreed to help Lady Nasher or my Boys with advise etc should they need it.

All of them have thought about it and asked me to reciprocate the favour.

So, I now know that if I do not get home one day Lady Nasher will be well advised, and won't sell my toys for what I told her I paid for them.

At some point, when I'm unable to do everything I currently do I will start to reduce the size of the impending problem myself via Ebay, but until then I know I'm covered due to the kindness of others.
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Old 05 October 2021, 08:40   #4
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Speaking of which, Iím on the lookout for a smallish milling machine, Tom Senior /Centec e.g. preferably British ďEmpire BuiltĒ not a modern Far East import.
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Old 05 October 2021, 11:03   #5
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Iíve been through this one, after cancer we decided to retire to a marina house on the IOW. This meant giving up my 20x10 foot workshop including my dadís old belt driven lathe and pretty much all of my tools.
I got good money for the lathe and gave absolutely everything else away, unfortunately quite a lot to people who wouldnít have a clue what to do with any of it.
I destroyed and binned my chainsaw and even threw out my old Oxford arc welder as I donít know anyone else who knows how to use one and we were in a hurry.
I did manage to sort out 3 nephews with complete tool kits but after that I should probably have done a free for all on here!
No milling machine though, it can all be done on a lathe!
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Old 05 October 2021, 11:50   #6
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Ö.
No milling machine though, it can all be done on a lathe!


Aye,I do a fair bit on the lathe, fine for small stuff, but the larger table would come in handy now & then. Iím using a Myford, so a bit limited.
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Old 05 October 2021, 12:18   #7
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I'm with Fenlander on this one........... "To me the value is in their use while I'm alive so I have no real worries of their future after that point".............

My kids or their partners aren't interested at all. They would sooner pay for someone else to fix or do or buy new.

As it stands all of the tools I really cared for - the hand tools, chisels, hand planes, hand drill, varies hammers, mallets, the special adapted tools to do particular jobs, the collection built up over the past 40 odd years, was stolen by some bastard who broke into a house I was renovating. Monetary value to the smack head - probably a £10 wrap but to me they were priceless.
All the other stuff, the power tools, could easily be replaced with newer and better quality.
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Old 06 October 2021, 11:22   #8
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I am going the other way as I never had a tool shop until I retired . Now I make up a job sit on the sofa buy the tools from Amazon do the job badly until I get it right ....hours of fun ...Just owning the tools is fun. My son who is a super yacht Captain is looking envious...As Oldman2 says when we are gone its someone else's problem
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Old 06 October 2021, 13:58   #9
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You make some interesting points Oldman.

First off - some folk will see tools as just garage or workshop clutter, with no interest other than getting a quick sale.

I think wood-working tools have a particular place in my heart from a historical point of view, but tools are only really useful to the people that will use them.

From my own point of view I've worked on cars and boats for 30+ years, acquiring tools as and when I've needed them for particular jobs. As I get older, the thought of crawling under a car in mid-winter isn't quite as attractive when I can throw another log on the wood burner and pour a glass of wine.

I think it's also quite difficult to sell tools. Even Ebay under-values their true worth.

My advice - use them while you're still able.

If you get a chance - check out a site on YouTube called Cutting Edge Engineering. This guy can work wonders with a lathe primarily on large mining vehicles. He's just featured his 1970s yard crane, going strong after 50 years and runs on aviation fuel!
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Old 07 October 2021, 01:30   #10
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Morning Oldman.

The reason why children very often end up just giving away their father's lifetime collection of tools and workshop possessions is because they typically are working 5 days a week and in the middle of raising a family etc while the person who has had years and years of free time and who knows what every item is and whether it has any value couldn't be arsed to catalogue the stuff that he wouldn't have want just dumped on Facebook because those left with the task simply don't have the time to do the job they should and could have done. ;£

My mother was lucky when her father passed as my father is an engineer and was willing to spend a couple of weekends sorting out the workshop and creating suitable piles for children and grandchildren, what had value and what didn't. He also knew how to sell what had value and took time to take the stuff to these places. Despite ensuring the other side of my mother's family received the larger share of tools he still got snide remarks for giving up his time to fix a mess caused by their father not being arsed to sort his own stuff and family out during his two decades of having nothing important to do. They should have just dumped everything with a rag and bone man and spared my father the effort and grief from responding to their request for help.

When my paternal grandfather passed, it was easier as my father knew the workshop inside and out and my father hadn't put certain things in his workshop because he knew he would be getting them from his father (I don't think he banked on my grandfather living to 99 so had years of just having to pop down the road to use some tools, although I do recall the pub being about half way ). Anyway, when that workshop needed clearing my father was an only child so it was easy and he discovered two old wooden ammunition chests which my grandfather had burnt mine and my sister's initials into and put a selection of useful household tools into for each of us.

My father was a watchmaker. His tools are quite esoteric and my sister and I simply wouldn't know how to deal with them and he knows that. He also knows that we don't have the time to clear up his stuff and nor should we have to. So what he has done is sort all his stuff and basically labelled things and drawn up a catalogue that explains what the item is, who might buy it, where to sell it and a crude guide on value. The things that he knows he will never use again he has disposed of himself and enjoyed ensuring they find good homes. A lot of the stuff he's given to my sister and I already on a borrow back basis. So he has already slimmed things down but crucially has listed everything as well as stored everything so as to make our lives as easy as possible.

So personally, I think the fairest thing we can do in our retirement is to sort our own possessions out by doing our own selling of things we honestly know we won't be using again, labelling everything of genuine value and advising what it is and where to sell it etc. I think my father found it quite cathartic plodding through his lifetime of tools and being in full co trial as to what happened to them.

In short, if the owner doesn't want their stuff dumped on freecyxle they need to recognise that it's their responsibility to sort it all while they can and hopefully enjoy the process.
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Old 07 October 2021, 02:04   #11
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Speaking of which, Iím on the lookout for a smallish milling machine, Tom Senior /Centec e.g. preferably British ďEmpire BuiltĒ not a modern Far East import.
Anyone here with a milling machine and feeling a bit poorly?

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Old 07 October 2021, 02:47   #12
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Some well thought out replies in this thread, take no notice of the Vulture hovering, such bad taste
Its a really good idea but the problem with spending time listing, valuing etc all the workshop items is where do we find the free time to do it, I seem to have more to in a day since retiring than I had when working ! So I understand how hard it would be for a layman/woman to undertake the task at the drop of a hat.
I had already left a hand written note with my will telling my kids the value they should expect for major items like lathe, welders & expensive items & I suppose I should make time in those dark winter days to start listing other items. I cant think of anything I would wish to sell now just in case I might need it for a job next year.
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Old 07 October 2021, 04:49   #13
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I don't think it would need to be meticulously detailed. It sounds like you've already done the key bits. And if there's nothing sitting around that you know you won't need then that's also good.

The art has to be to find that balance between keeping what you need/want and not leaving a mess for your kids or wife to clear up.

The most useful thing my father has done is to write Ebay listings for the stuff he considers to have value. This will be hugely helpful to us eventually as he is the person who knows what this stuff is and we just wouldn't have the time to educate ourselves.
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Old 07 October 2021, 05:28   #14
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The art has to be to find that balance between keeping what you need/want and not leaving a mess for your kids or wife to clear up.
For me.. That is the most important point in the whole thread TM .. My Father.. (god bless )He was a hoarder ..and kept absolutely everything. Over many years it mostly made its way into his attic as his garage was overflowing with priceless belongings..

When he died.. I had the unpleasant job of emptying it all for my mother who asked if I would clear it all as soon as I could as the memories were upsetting seeing it all around her. I hired a skip or three and chucked the lot out.

Yes..some of it was worth money..but when you lose someone close..you are not interested in money..you just want to make things easy as possible for those left. His prize Steinway piano was worth a fortune..so he said ..and I had to pay good money to get someone to take it as I couldn’t lift it and no one wanted it.. even for free.

I also discovered that some nearest and dearest will fight each other over the least wee possession left to them in a will.

I do appreciate everyone is different but that was my experience of it all..so I have nothing in my attic .. and running all my “priceless” possessions down..so there is little for anyone to do..or fight over when my time comes to leave it all to someone else to sort.

My lot all prefer money anyhoo..so it is equally divided in my will and that way they cant fight..although I suspect they will still find a way to do that.
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Old 07 October 2021, 06:15   #15
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>>>I hired a skip or three and chucked the lot out.

We have examples of both ways in our family.

When dad's father died in the late 60s we went to the house and stripped the place over a weekend... all the furniture was set afire on the veg plot and all the small items were thrown down the well in the back yard. Dad just kept his father's wooden chest of woodworking tools.

Then when his aunt died who'd kept a family house with possessions going back generations same thing... keep a few momentos but burn the rest down the orchard.

Mrs F's family are very different. They have kept the same house in the family for 120yrs or more so all those things that are in the back of drawers and cupboards have stayed put as the same furniture has been there by and large for that whole period.

Sadly the last of that family line is at end of life with cancer and Mrs F is tasked with the job of sorting all the smaller and non-furniture items plus photographs. In turn I am assisting with this. We are finding it fascinating unearthing so much interesting paperwork that is assisting making a family timeline... and so many personal possessions that link to this timeline.

I do wonder if we are getting to be one of the last generations to enjoy "old things" as six younger children (24-42) somewhat involved in this have almost no interest in the history and items.

As Donny says... they just prefer the money.
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Old 07 October 2021, 11:58   #16
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There are obviously people on the forums you meet locally and get to know which are not only decent people but are similar minded with respect to interests.

Apart from the people on the forums I don't actually have friends with similar interests, in truth I have very few anyway...
It's quite a relief to realise I'm not the only one that thinks this.
And is exactly why I started posting on rib.net again.
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Old 07 October 2021, 12:02   #17
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I do wonder if we are getting to be one of the last generations to enjoy "old things" as six younger children (24-42) somewhat involved in this have almost no interest in the history and items.
I find most kids today we employ have little interest in anything "interesting". Social media is good and all that - but they have no interest in outdoor activities, engineering, proper sports etc to compliment it.

Bit like my view of the pub - I've always seen it as a place you go to talk bollocks and tell lies about what you've been doing all day - ribbing, skiing, sailing, waterskiing, whatever - and look forward to the next time.

But these days, everyone goes to the pub just to talk about going to the pub.

If I can, I want my 2nd career to be a lecturer/teacher at the local technical college. Engineering is my passion.

However I need my 1st career to do a bit better first to fund the 2nd career.
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Old 08 October 2021, 03:57   #18
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This may seem a little morbid, but I would be interested in others opinions on how to deal with the eventual problem.
I've been a bit flippant above - mostly because this thread struck a chord with me. I'm still "mopping up" after the death of my father a couple of years back - his life arrangements were and to some extent still are a mystery and I still baulk at dealing with his shed, other than to check the working order of the household equipment. It's like he just popped out to get a coffee...

So my advice, which is largely similar to that given above:
  • Keep your Will up to date
  • Tidy up your own mess
  • Empower your family by leaving simple instructions and access to your online affairs.
  • Most of what is in your shed will be junk, albiet useful to you junk
  • If you have hobbiest pals - leave some of your hobby tat to them, it makes sense, no?
  • List the big ticket items and a suggestion as to who should supervise the sale of same. For most of us, that's not a long list.
  • The rest of the stuff is mostly worthless in monetary terms and could go to a Men's Shed or other local project. The safety jobsworths will likely dump half of it anyway.
  • If you are leaving specific items to family, be very cautious about it. Make sure they are all onboard with your plans in advance!
  • In conclusion, give stuff away while you are alive and enjoy someone else getting a buzz out of it. If you don't/can't use it anymore, move it on. Find new things to enjoy in life
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Old 08 October 2021, 03:59   #19
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There are some VERY OLD lads on this thread running down the Youth of Today. Heed me - you sound like your own grandfathers did 50 years ago! I know what you mean, but we were all wasters in our youth too and look how WE turned out!

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Old 08 October 2021, 04:32   #20
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My dad's tools were all given to someone when he died who wanted them. I'm pretty sure they will have been lost/disposed/sold since wanting them and knowing what to do with them, and having a place to store them are not the same things.

So having a decent enough workshop of tools myself, and also having seen how my dad left his estate, my learning is to just do the best you can when you're alive to share & evangelise engineering skills. And make it as easy as possible for your friends and family once you're gone.

Anyway, if anyone has a guillotine, folding machine, milling machine, slip rollers and such like - I'll be your friend..
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