Buying them while I still can

The Wen 33013.

It occured to me that while people are willing to give me useful items for some of these funny pieces of green paper, I might better move on an item I’ve wanted, a mini vertical mill.

These clones of the Sieg x2 (and the Sieg itself) are getting thin on the ground. A year ago, they were all over eBay for $750 or so. Now, the only one available is by Wen, and it’s going for $875-$1300. Yep, I should have bought it sooner. But the price seemed to be drifting slowly down, so I just kept watching it. At $873, I almost pulled the trigger but figured that if it had come down that much, it would come down more. Besides, there were 16 in stock, and how many could they sell in a day or two before I checked again?

All of them. Every single one. I was irritated, but decided I’d just keep watching. Patience was rewarded in a few days when one showed up on Amazon for $875. I hit the “But It Now” button so hard that I may have injured it. Then I settled in for the now interminable 10-day wait for delivery.

Remember when we used to send in 6 cereal box tops and 25ยข and wait 6-8 weeks? Yeah, we’re seriously spoiled as a society.

Eventually, the day came when the freight handlers would arrive and set it just inside of my garage door, a service of Amazon, usually $9.99 but free this time around. The guy arrived and told me “I’ve got your crate, but it’s in kinda rough shape. If it’s broken, get in touch with Amazon and they’ll handle it.” Great.

Sure enough, the crate was in very poor shape, held together only by the two metal straps around it. I cut the straps and it fell apart to reveal my mini mill, complete with at least 3 broken parts I could see and the accessory kit missing. Par for the course in my excursion into small-scale machining.

So I get on Amazon’s site and drop into a chat with a customer service type in India. Hey, at least they aren’t trying to hide their actual names, though I couldn’t have pronounced this person’s name without a week of tutelage. But he (?) was on the ball, got the details and told me he would need to get a supervisor due to the dollar value of the item.

The supervisor jumps in and says “Hi” and before I can answer tells me they are refunding my money and don’t worry about returning the item. Seriously? I asked twice if he was sure, that I thought I could get it re-crated, but no, have a nice day and is there anything else I can do for you?

Well no, seeing as you just gave me an almost $900 item that I think I can repair with some time and thought. Have some fantastic ratings on the customer satisfaction survey, my man. ๐Ÿ™‚

I used about half of the money I “saved” to buy various bits of tooling, such as a collet set, a set of cheap-ish end mills and the like. I had expected a wait until I could do that, so this actually puts me a bit ahead of the curve on this. Yeah, assuming I can fix the mill.

At the recent Denton Farmpark Carolina Pickers event (link is for the next event) I pretty much struck out. As good as the last one I attended was to me, this one frankly sucked. It seems that the vendors have gone upscale, such as the two Snap-On tools guys. Nice stuff, but I’m not paying $175 for a 3/8 flex-head ratchet. Other vendors were similarly high-priced or just didn’t have anything I was interested in.

I was able to find a couple of bargains, $1 each, pictured at left. The top item is a Buck Brothers 5/8″ wood chisel. This line, with the phenolic (?) handles, was a mid-line tool for them. At first, I thought it might be new old stock, but it’s used but well-cared for. It had the cutting edge wrapped and then dipped into some sort of rubbery compound to protect it. Thank you, good sir. I’ll try to take equally good care of it.

The lower item is a Vaco 1/8″ slotted screwdriver. Back in the 80s Vaco was one of the gotos for electricians. I have a set of Vaco nut drivers that have served me well since that time. They were one of the first “good” tools I ever bought. I didn’t really need it, but for a buck, how can you go wrong?

At my club’s yearly hamfest, I ran into this old guy. It’s an Atwater-Kent Model 49 broadcast receiver. Founded by Arthur Kent in the 1920s, Atwater-Kent was one of the higher-end brands of the time. This one has a solid mahogany case. It’s also missing half the tubes and possibly some other parts and I’ll have to hunt down the appropriate speaker. In the meantime, I plan on cleaning it up and setting it on a shelf to look at. Some things should be appreciated simply for having survived almost a hundred years, you know?

When I first saw it, I noted the seller appeared to be well into his 80s. He had a table of old radios, and I figured the story as one I’ve seen before–he is getting old and either has no one to leave his beloved collection to or worse yet, no one who is interested. The story turned out to be the latter. His son is into ham radio, but not collector’s radios. His loss is my gain, as his Dad sold it to me for $40. He wouldn’t take more for it.

The last items for this post are two Ideal screwdrivers that I picked up at the local home big box store. The YouTube channel Last Best Tool had done a video on Lowes and Home Depot going through some odd realignment in their tools with accompaning big sales, so I thought I’d stop and see if I could score a deal or two. I wound up with two.

These are a 6-in-1 stubby on the left and a 12-in-1 on the right, both from Ideal Tools. Ideal used to be USA-made, but has started manufacturing a lot of their tools in China. According to the packaging these two are made in Taiwan, which is several steps up from the average Chinese hand tool, but not Made in USA. However, the price was right, so I decided to grab them. Tools like this can drastically reduce the size of a toolbox.

Realistically, I have all the tools I’ll need and then some. My continued purchases I’ll attribute to my long-running case of “If you want it done right, do it your damn self.” I have a hard time finding tradesmen who work to my admittedly exacting level of quality. Mountain Man has this same problem, and we often commiserate over it. Having good tools, and the right tools, are part of doing a good job and doing it easily.

I guess that, overall, I’ve had some wonderfully fortunate buying experiences lately. I attribute that to clean living. ๐Ÿ™‚

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