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How I Find Free, Inexpensive, And Cheap Tools

Tools for DIY projects can get expensive.  Over the years, I’ve managed to accumulate a pretty decent set of hand tools and power tools – most at discount prices, and some for free.  Here’s how –

I shop the discounted / returned items section at “big box” stores.  I purchased a gasoline-powered pressure washer for 50% off retail a few years ago.  The original buyer couldn’t figure out how to connect the soap dispensing feature – so they returned it to the store.  I bought it, fixed the soap dispenser, and it still works great!

I shop at pawn shops.  We have several pawn shops in our area – and most have a big bin, loaded with very inexpensive hand tools, drill bits, etc.

I shop yard sales / garage sales / flea markets.  These are great for finding power tools – often rarely used.  A few years ago, I purchased a brand new, in the box, drill and driver, for five bucks.  As with any item I buy post-retail, I check for recalls and defects.

I shop the Amazon Tools section. Last year, I found a great deal on a set of router bits. Since I only use my router a few times a year, I wasn’t looking to spend a lot of money on expensive bits. Using Amazon, I found an entire set of inexpensive bits – and they work fine for what I need.

I shop eBay.  I just checked, and I’ve been using eBay since 1999!  Wow.  I love eBay for hard-to-find parts and tools.  A few months ago, I purchased a set of small screwdrivers, used for repairing electronics.  (I have never had much success with Craig’s List.  I think it might be because we live several miles from the nearest city on the list.  If I lived in a bigger city, this might be a resource I used more often.)

I shop our local hardware stores and farm centers.  These are great places for things like nuts, bolts, and fasteners.  This past summer – I checked online and with five different major retailers, before finding a part for my lawn mower – at the local hardware store, 5 miles from my house!


I borrow from friends and family.  Once in a while, I’ll need a use-it-once, never-need-it-again tool – and I’ll ask friends and family.  For instance:  I needed to jack-up our kids’ playhouse, but I didn’t have a set of bottle jacks.  Rather than go buy a set, use them once, and then have them sit in storage – I asked my Dad.  He had some, I borrowed them for a couple of days, and returned them.  When I borrow tools, I’m extra-careful with them – and I’m always ready to pay for a replacement, should I break them.

I let folks know that I’m into DIY projects.  On a couple of occasions, folks who know that I like to build stuff have just given me their old / unused / unwanted tools.  I have a ladder, a chop saw, and a belt sander – and all were gifts from folks who know that I’ll use the tools.

I check the for-sale section at the scrap yard.  One of our local scrap yards has a for-sale section, where they sell items that were “scrapped”, but are still in good condition.  Last week, I purchased two big spotlights for three bucks.  I used them to illuminate our back yard during a party – and there great for lighting a work area.

I shop the aisles at the “big box” store – and look for close-outs.  Each year or so, manufacturers refresh their product lines.  This is a great time to snag usually-expensive items for less.  Last year, I purchased a table saw for 50% off, just because the manufacturer was ready to clear shelf space for a new model.

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to acquire a decent amount of tools.  I’m still looking for a drill press – and I’d love a biscuit joiner – but I’m pretty happy with what I have.  If you have an idea for saving money on tools and DIY projects – leave a comment in the section below – or connect with me via twitter.com/NCN.  Have a blessed week!


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