Copyright 2002 - 2007 IFORGEIRON, All rights reserved.
S0003 Acquisition of Tools
By Richard Hanson © 2003
Foreword: The "GUY RULE" states: "He who dies with the most toys wins." Therefore in pursuit of victory, it is our sacred duty to acquire as many tools as possible. The supply of good used blacksmithing tools is becoming scarce for several reasons: The guy rule. More and more people are taking up the art of Smithing. Yuppies buy perfectly good tools as antiques to hang on the walls of the den or use as doorstops. More and more of us are descending on a dwindling number of shops that still deal in the tools of our trade to the extent that the third guy through the door gets to select from the best of the worst. I visited an antique shop in Lubbock, TX in December 2000. The place had a considerable array of blacksmith tools including an anvil, numerous pair of tongs, and several hammers to name but a few. I visited the same shop in October 2001 and there was nothing in the line of tools except a pair a of old rusty nipper. I asked where all the tools went and the proprietor said "I took them all up to Colorado where rust sells". Fie on all yuppie scum unless they are paying handsomely for your works, then fie on them after the check clears unless they have ordered more. To acquire decent tools, one must search a wider area, at times use various ruses and disguises, in some instances resort to chicanery or when all else fails, buy new ones. Therefore, I have assembled some instructions and techniques that you can use to augment your supply of toys and hopefully retain enough hard-earned lucre to occasionally buy a wee dram of your favorite beverage.
Buying Used Tools:
Grooming and Dress: If you dress like a rube, you will be taken like one. If you walk into the place looking like P.T. Barnum was right, and you took care of about an hour's worth, you are going to pay high dollar for junk. If you walk in looking like a yuppie, you will pay even more. You need to dress like your sole source of income is a "Will work for food franchise". That don't give you license to go around dressed in rags and smelling like a goat, but you need to look like you work hard for a living and don't make much money. This look is not difficult for most smiths, it is the truth. If you are taking your wife to town and will end up staying late to buy her dinner as some fancy restaurant like Hardy's or Burger King, take fancy boots and clean jeans to wear for dinner, take your work clothes to wear for tool shopping. The clothes had better look like you actually did some work in them. If they are clean, you will be mistaken for a yuppie dressed in shabby chic and you will end up being sheared like last spring's lambs. If you shave, don't shave that morning you can shave in the bathroom of the local gas station at the same time you are changing your clothes if you are going out later. Same goes for the smell goody, you go in smelling like $40 a bottle cologne and you are going to get fleeced. Remember that the guy in the dirty bib overalls and crumpled straw hat with 3 days of stubble on his face chewing on a piece of Timothy Grass that owns the place is trying to do the same thing to you that you are to him, and he has had a damn site more practice. Those are his selling clothes; at night he wears a Brooks Brothers suit and drives a Caddy when he takes his squeeze to some fancy Frog Restaurant to spend all the Shekels that he squeezed out of honest people like you.
Mannerisms: The particular Simon LeGree you are dealing with is an expert on mannerisms and body language. He is like a leopard stalking prey. He can spot the easy ones from a great distance. Park your pickup several blocks away and walk. Don't drive a new pickup and park in front even if you own one. Walk like your back and feet hurt, once again that is easy for most of us. Be knowledgeable of what you are looking for and know the fair price. Don't however act like it. Be respectful and acting a bit bashful helps, but you got to be convincing. Act like you have just escaped from a Nazi POW Camp, and you are trying to talk your way through a Gestapo CheckPoint. Remember if you screw up, the Gestapo would have more mercy on you than this guy. You get caught in this ruse and you will end up paying double the yuppie scum price plus 1000% for trying to fool him and you can bet he will make copies of the tape from the security camera so him and all his buddies can get together that night and drink Single Malt bought with your hard earned cash and laugh their butts off at your sorry act. When you are asked if you need any help, say "no, just killing some time while my wife visit's the doctor" or something similar. It doesn't hurt to throw in "never can tell when a body might find a bargain". Make sure your wife does not accidentally pop in to the shop. Also make sure you are not seen with her unless she is dressed like you are. Make sure your accent matches your local. You do a Yankee Accent in some parts of the South, you will not only get separated from your money, you may also end up 3 days later with six of your best friends carrying you by the handles. It works the other way too, don't go Y'all'ing all over New York and Pennsylvania. Them Damn Yankees have been known to sell a mule that has been dead for 6 months. Walk carefully through the shop. Look at everything, but stare at nothing. Keep a blank look on your face, once again; this isn't hard for most of us. The first time through the shop, don't touch anything you intend to buy. Simon is trying to get a handle on you and determine what you are looking for so he can start calculating how much you can pay plus 50%. Less time he has to figure, better off you are. Second time around you might casually pick up a piece or tap it with your foot if it is lying on the floor. Look at it like you just saw it for the first time and you are trying to figure out what it is used for, don't ask. Don't act like you really want it, or you will really get it, along with the tool you selected. Never call what you want by its proper name. "How much is that big pair of rusty, pliers, I could use something like that to clean the fertilizer clumps out of the wheat drill" will get you a cheaper pair of tongs than "Oh, there is a beautiful pair of Champion Tongs just like Grandpa used to have." Remember the language must match the occupation. You may be talking farmer to an ex farmer. Never have a large roll of bills in your pocket. Money clips are definitely out. So are large bills, and new bills. Keep you money in various pockets, but know how much you got in each pocket. Keep a small amount in a small clutch type coin purse. Occasionally open the purse and pretend to count the money while looking at an object you have no intention of buying
Making the Deal: Now that you have made your selection, it is time to close the deal. You have done your homework and know what a fair price is. He had done his homework and knows what a fair price is. The price on the price tag is for Touristas, rubes, pigeons and yuppies. It is not the price you are going to pay. NEVER EVER! Any reputable dealer (that's an oxymoron if there ever was one) will automatically take 10% off the sticker price if you ask. If you ask for more, they usually say, "this is on consignment, I would have to talk to the owner." Tell them to call the owner. If the owner is not available, tell them you will come back later. It is amazing how many "owners" suddenly become available 30 minutes later. Once you are in touch with the person who can make the deal, it is time for some serious haggling. It is alright to cajole, growl, shuffle your feet, and even threaten to leave and say you will probably have to buy a new Chinese one from Harbor Freight. When you have the price about where you think it is fair, it's time to fight dirty. Say something like "ok I guess we could have a deal if you throw in that rusty old anvil over there for another 50 bucks". Remember the best deal is one where each party thinks he screwed the other guy but if there is going to be one screwee, let it be he. When you pay, if you have the exact change, count it out. It will make him think he got your last penny. Remember mannerisms, it will also make him feel like he got all you have if you have to dig through several pockets to come up with the cash. It don't hurt to dawdle a bit looking for that last $10 spot. Make him think he has already picked you clean. Get a receipt when the transaction is done. Then go get the pickup and have him help load that anvil, remember your bad back.
Buying New Tools: Many of the same techniques that apply to buying used tools can be used to buy new tools, however, the price will be a lot less negotiable. When you ask the price of the fancy new Franistan Fibulator you can't live without and the clerk says "$399.95" gasp sharply, look him right in the eye and say "how much for one". When he says, "that is for one" feign a heart attack. Most retailers are a bit desperate for customers. They will usually match some other stores price on the same object. Look at the sales flyers, you may be able to get your local Ace Hardware to match the price of Hardware Hanks 50 to 100 miles away. Some will even cut the competitor price by a bit just to have your business. Once again, ask for a discount, the worst they can say is no.
Financing Tools: This is the hard part. Ever since women began burning certain pieces of their underwear back in the 60's they have become much harder to deal with. Those of you who weren't alive back in the 60's will just have to take my word for it. It turns out all that free love wasn't all that free. It was a clever ruse to get us off guard so they could seize power. Where once we could say "honey I am going to the hardware store, I need a new hammer" we now have to resort to subterfuge and even deceit to obtain a lowly striking instrument. You would have better luck talking Atilla the Hun out of 100 bags of gold on a bad hair day than getting the Domestic Goddess to grudgingly advance you $9.99 for a POS hammer made by Hong of Kong. Ask for $60 for a new Peddinghaus hammer and you will meet Atilla the Hun on a bad hair day. Remember there are only three differences between a Domestic Goddess and an Arab terrorist. 1. Lipstick. 2. You can negotiate with a terrorist. 3. At worst, a terrorist will only kill you. That said, here are a few tricks you can use to obtain funding. Remember that how good you do depends on your salesmanship abilities.
Bait and Switch: Here you bait here with a high priced item. Honey I need a new Hammer, the gold plated double faced doobob wahoo is only $150 in the Centaur Catalog, but look the very same thing from Peddinghaus in only $50. You saved $90. NOTE: Women have a special gene in their DNA that makes them unable to pass up a sale. Use this to your advantage.
If I Only Had A______: This is sort of a twist on the bait and switch. If I only had a wire feed welder, I could make you a beautiful railing with flowers and leaves for the top of the stairs in the living room. Hey this worked for me; I got a wire feed out of it. NOTE: Women also have the Elephant Memory gene. They will eventually expect you to produce what you promised to make.
It Has Additional Benefits That YOU Will Enjoy: I know it costs a bunch to have the shop wired for 3 phase for that power hammer, but just think, it will also run an industrial sized air conditioner which will cool the whole house too. You will love it just as soon as I can find a good used unit and get time to install it myself.
I Need A__________: To Finish The Project: Honey, I have that railing all made, but I need a Craftsman Professional Electric Die Grinder to grind down the welds so I can paint it.
It Isn't Really a ________ It's a ____________: It isn't really a power hammer, it's a high-speed garbage compactor that also hammers steel. NOTE: You damn well better crush a few cans for her to prove it now and then.
Play Dumb: Gee honey, I don't know how that new electric drill got into the bag of groceries from Safeway. I better take it back down to the grocery store and see if anyone reported losing one.
Bluff: What do you mean new drill press, that old thing has been standing there for 3 years. Where you been. Them hormone treatments sure haven't helped your memory much have they. NOTE: Women are also vain, they would rather pretend that they remember something than admit they don't.
I Just Borrowed It: Make sure you use the name of a person she has never heard of. This is a good reason to belong to a Blacksmith Association; you get a membership list. Use it often.
Multiple Choice: Honey that angle grinder broke. They want $159.95 to fix it and a new one only costs $109.95 what do you think we should do. After comparing your IQ to that of a ball of string, she will suggest the obvious. As soon as you get your hands on the money, re-set the circuit breaker and clean up the angle grinder so it looks new. You are now $109.95 ahead of the game. So what if you had to take a few shots about not being too smart.
Death of A Friend: Use Blacksmith Association List. Honey Jerry died last week. The association is taking up a collection of $50 per person to give to his widow so she can buy food for the 12 starving kids. They want cash because his widow is too proud to take charity and she would send checks back. NOTE: Make sure there is no Jerry in the association, or if there is there is no chance she will ever meet him. Otherwise, the association will really be taking up a collection for your widow. She will have no qualms about taking a check; she will need it for legal fees.
Semantics: You don't need $700 to attend a Blacksmithing Seminar, you need $700 to attend a Metal Art Appreciation and Sensitivity Seminar. It is for men only because when we get in touch with our inner selves and begin to weep, it would be too embarrassing for us to have them see us cry. You don't need $900 to attend a Bladesmithing Class; you need $900 for a Culinary Cutlery Creation Class. The secret here is to talk fast and keep a straight face.
AFTERWORD: "It is not a sin to lie to your wife in order to obtain more tools, it is necessary." Tom Stovall, Feb 2003.
For those of you that are rolling in the floor, you have recognized this as humor. For those of you that think this is for real, it is not. It takes too long to explain it here, but after you have been married a few years, you will recognize it as humor.