Bargains and barrel bottoms

I regularly visit places like eBay and Craigslist just to see what’s out there. There’s some good stuff, but also a lot of junk. Sometimes hilariously awful.

Don’t get me wrong. Do your homework, study the listings, and ask questions of the sellers, and you can often find buried gold. I’ve gotten incredible buys for the shop, and will continue to look often. But some sellers have a very – ahem – inflated opinion of their offerings.

A post on WoodCentral this week highlighted one such listing for a workbench praised by the seller. This thing was – and I’m being kind here – just sad. A saggy sheet of something (Plywood? Old countertop?) atop a pair of banged together 2×4 legs. It looked like it’d collapse if you turned the shop fan on. Asking price? $150.

To make things worse, some sellers are too lazy to write a description of their bottom-of-the-barrel offerings and include a link to, say, an Amazon.com listing for the same item. Frequently, the Amazon price for a brand new one is less than what they’re asking for their beaten-to-pieces castoffs.

My favorite was a Craigslist listing for a recip saw where the seller clearly had no idea what it even was. Maybe it came with his house, or he found it lying beside the road after someone chucked it out the window of their car. It was visibly falling apart so I’m guessing the latter. The body casing was cracked with a big piece missing. The cord was frayed to the point of having bare wires sticking out.

The key that he was clueless was the description. “For sale is this rare hole saw, for cutting square holes. One square hole blade included.” An inexpensive model, it probably cost about $80 new, but he seemed to think this rare machine was worth $200.

Yeah, there are bargains to be had out there – I know, I’ve gotten many – but it often seems that there are a lot more good laughs.

A.J.

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