2015-01-22_14-08-20One Saturday late in July 2014 I called up a friend and fellow woodworker John and asked if he was doing anything. I told him I was heading to Avoca NY, about 2 hour drive west.  While Avoca is in the heart idyllic country, it is no tourists destination, but people flock to the 17 acres, ‘World Headquarters’ of  MJD Tool Auctions. For three days each year  Avoca becomes ‘Tool Woodstock’.

2015-01-22_13-56-15Martin J Donnelly (MJD) is the founder of the company that this year will host no less than  9 tool auctions from New Hampshire to Indiana.  But the Avoca one has an almost family picnic atmosphere.

John jumped at the chance and so we headed West to look at tools.

I had been the year before and knew what to expect… but this time there seemed so many more lots – over 3200, spread out over the three days.  A lot might be a single item or a box of ‘well loved’ planes or a chest full of rusty saws.  To see what is being auctioned check out their latest online catalogue for Avoca. You can also search the catalogue. You will see that not everything being auctioned is a tool – the day John and I were there, a huge (3′ x 6′) butchers chopping block went under the hammer (or should I say cleaver?), there were many books, tools chest of various sizes and medical equipment?  Some Items went for many times the ‘book value’ and many didn’t sell.  You are also competing with online bids that have been received prior to the event, but there are bargains to be had! The auctioneers are fast and furious but once I had tuned my ear to their auction chant “One dollar bid, now two, now two, will ya’ give me two…”I felt confident joining in.

In addition to the tool auction there are other enthusiasts with stalls selling – you guessed it – more tools.  So if you are looking to get some really good quality tools at below E-Bay prices, or just have a fun day people and tool watching head to Avoca.  Maybe I’ll see you there this year – let me know if you are planing to go.

Here are a few of the tools I brought home over the last couple of years.

IMG_0440 Early Stanley No.60 double spoke shave with circa 1920 blades. Sweetheart logo on Blades.  These are frequently found cracked. Japanning was still intact – just needed a slight amount of honing – nice tool. Overall 10 in.Paid $12 list price $20
IMG_0342 Stanley No 20 Victor circular plane (or compass plane) , 9 1/2″ Long, made between 1880-1958.The thumb screw allows the bed to flex to follow a convex or a concave profile.  You’d be surprised at how many times I have used this.Paid $15 list price $50- 80

A complete set of 13 Russell Jennings double twist bits all arked in 16th inch from 4/16 to 16/16 inch in 1/16 increments.

They are Nickel plated and considered one of the best bargains in the used/antique tool market today. Complete sets with good nickel are highly sought after by collectors and old tool users alike.  This set was in mint condition and all but a couple still had the original brown paper soaked in Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor or “VCI oil”.

Paid $23 list price $100+


 IMG_0433 This is a Stanley 10″ sliding T bevel gauge with protective brass plates and end caps and rosewood handle. , with blued spring steel blade held in position by brass lever screw.Paid $5  list price $15-30