Emily Winters: 10 Great Tools (Found Cheap At Garage Sales!)

Some of the best garage sale purchases we’ve made over the last few years haven’t been in the furniture or decor departments – they’ve been simple tools and building materials. I’ve been able to acquire many items for a fraction of the retail price, giving me access to products that are constantly coming in handy and allowing me to save a few extra dollars.

It’s that wonderful time of year where homeowners are embracing the spring cleaning spirit, so if you’re needing to supplement your work bench, now’s a good time to start.

Good garage sale finds!

Keep on reading to see 10 great products I’ve found, and then go keep an eye out at your local sales!

Let’s start out with some of the easy finds:

Garage sale tool finds!

1. Screws and Nails. Many homeowners start projects, over-purchase basic materials, and don’t know what to do with the leftovers. I’ve been lucky to pick up those leftovers, things like deck screws, wall anchors, and roofing and finishing nails for a dollar or two. If you have some experience buying big boxes of screws at hardware stores, you’ll know this is easily a $10-20 savings. Maybe even more, depending on what you’re buying. And if you have an organized way to store them in your workshop, it’s always convenient to have spares on hand, because you never know when your garage roof is going to blow off or when you’re going to want to save a few dollars while you install new baseboard trim.

2. Screw drivers. As far as I’m concerned, screw drivers are as handy as can be, and whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, you need them in your arsenal. There’s a set in my kitchen tool drawer. Two of each at the basement workbench. A set in the garage. A set in the shed. A set in my car. One randomly laying on the coffee table. They’re plentiful at garage sales, and they’re not a product that gets damaged easily, so buy what you find used, and invest the few dollars you save into your next DIY project.

Garage sale tool finds!

3. Levels. Whether it be a post level like the one shown below (a 50-cent garage sale find that made installing our deck posts in cement infinitely easier), or a more common box beam level, if you can find one, buy it up. They’re always handy.

4. Tape. We bought a huge roll of aluminum foil HVAC duct tape for $3 at a garage sale a few years ago, the kind that according to our local store would retail for $33.00. I see partial rolls at garage sales still from time to time, presumably from someone who patches their dryer vent and then doesn’t need the other 74 yards of tape on the roll. If we didn’t already have so much in our stash, I’d be buying more. Keep an eye out for it, it’s DIY homeowner gold.

5. Planes. Bench plane, box plane, whatever model it is, it’s always nice to have one in your collection. It’s not every day that you’ll use it, but that one time you need to shave a little bit of wood off that doorframe, you’ll be happy you have it. Bonus: many at garage sales are antiques, made really well, and nicer to have in your workshop.

Garage sale tools!

6. Ax. More than just a quick triple letter Scrabble word. All I can say is, you never know when you’re going to need one, but you’re going to be happy to have it while you dig enormous shrubs out of your yard or want to break up some firewood. Ours was 25-cents because it was dull. Whaaaa? Right. I brought it home, sharpened it right up, and now we have a great little tool.

7. Gardening Claw. If you don’t have a tiller, or you don’t have a big yard to be weeding and churning, this hand-operated gardening claw will make you a happy person. Mine was free (I love that free bin!) and has served me well for years as I loosened soil for planting vegetables and flowers in the yard.

8. Shovels. Still in the gardening theme, don’t overlook shovels. Our little orange garden spade was a great find (also free, if I recall, we’re lucky like that). Keep in mind that if the wooden handle is in bad shape or broken, you can usually replace that inexpensively and make it like new.

Garage sale saw and drill bits - a good deal!

9. Saws. Handsaws are plentiful, and you should probably have one on hand even if you have an arsenal of power tools too. Ours was just $3 (the sticker’s even still on the handle) and works great in a pinch, like when you’re trying to make raised planters in the backyard and the circular saw doesn’t quite cut deep enough.

10. Drill bits. More so than standard bits, I’ve come across a fair number of specialty bits at garage sales like this one for drilling glass. Maybe the homeowner bought two and didn’t need both? In any case, my win.

What great tools have you come across in your springtime garage sale adventures?

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

27 Responses

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  2. Ed Oliver says:

    Some great finds here. Sometimes the oldies are the goodies!

    Ed Oliver http://www.thesitebox.com

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  12. dowel pins says:

    I've picked up loads of free tools and stuff to fix the house on freecycle.

  13. Bradinsc says:

    I have found some great deals at garage sales! wood and brass levels, clamps, toolboxes! All for pennies on the dollar!

  14. Freecycler says:

    I’ve picked up loads of free tools and stuff to fix the house on freecycle.Not only that but I’ve found lots of great finds at a relative’s house who recently passed and left me a boatload of things. She was 100 years old! Can you imagine the jewels that I’ve found. It’s like a museum.

  15. Robert says:

    Several years ago I was able to purchase an electric 20" Black & Decker hedge trimmer for $5 dollars. Every spring, I luagh and brag about what a good deal I made. My most recent addition was an old slightly bang up well worn with a little rust router. After cleaning it up and getting the dirt and grim off I realized I had purchased one of the first ever Craftsman electric routers for a mere $5! It runs great so I have no intention of selling it but I wonder what it would be worth to a collector….. Nah! I am a collector and its not going anywhere!!! :-)

  16. Diy.Nutz says:

    Over here in Cyprus we have lots of people coming and going on the mediterranean island, and when they go the tools and furniture usually come up for sale… Some of the fun is finding the item, some is getting it for next to nothing… but the most fun is every time you use it!!! But over here new tool prices are very steep, you guys are so lucky… we drool over what you can get for your money in the USA. If you would like to see how we do DIY over here then look us up on facebook, warm regards… 'Diy Nutz'

  17. Julie says:

    Great to see that Disston saw,I worked there, They closed in 1994.

  18. vince says:

    my best find at a garage sale has to be the black and decker 3×21 belt sander for $5 i found a few years ago still works today

  19. yared yimer says:

    I agree that garage sales are an excellent way to increase one’s tool collection. One time I bought an old wooden tool box filled with a huge assortment of tools. I only paid $40 and ended up with 35 new tools to my collection. The best find was an old wooden drill with that you operate by turning a handle. You hardly see them anymore.

  20. Matthew Hofbauer says:

    Just a recommendation, if you buy a second hand level, double check it against another to make sure it is still true. They can get knocked around a good bit in boxes and such and can fall out of alignment.

  21. SamCConway says:

    We bought an almost new Craftsman Router a couple weeks ago for $20! Last year we found a few digging bars and some shovels for a few dollars each, and lots of other tools here and there. I love garage sale hunting and I always keep an eye open for tools.

  22. [...] via: Emily Winters: 10 Great Tools (Found Cheap At Garage Sales!) Category: Home Tags: Cheap, Emily, Found, Garage, great, Sales, Tools, [...]

  23. justdiana says:

    I love to buy tools at garage sales. My entire workshop is furnished with "experienced" tools. The sellers always ask, "Is that for your husband?"….NO, IT's FOR ME!!!

  24. [...] resourcefulness at it’s tool-finest. Check out this week’s post on DIY Network to see my Top 10 garage sale tool picks (and then go scavenging through your own neighborhood [...]


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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