Host a Gear & Tool Swap, Clean Out the Garage

I’ll admit it, I have a tool problem. And an outdoor gear problem.

My problem is that I don’t have the money to just purchase new stuff all the time. I don’t mean new as in brand new, just new to me. My vices are hand tools and bike parts, but I find that I end up with things I never use, and want things I don’t have. I often find myself reading through tool guides and information regarding new designs and always have the feeling of wanting to try them, even when I know I probably will not be needing them.

Several times a year, my wife either attends or hosts a clothing swap for women, and it’s never struck me as being a particularly useful activity for men. I’m not sure if it’s because I tend to hang on to clothes that work well for me (and wear them until they are worn out), or if it’s because clothes aren’t that important to me.

However, tools and outdoor gear are items that I do either accumulate or wish I had more of (or at least wish I had different ones). So I’m suggesting a variation on the swap theme for men.

Host a gear swap or a tool swap and invite your guy friends and relations to participate – you can pick up new items and clean out your shop or closet at the same time!

Here are some ground rules for a swap:

  • Only bring items that you are ready to let go of completely (no take-backs).
  • Bring only items that have some life left in them or that could be repaired fairly easily (no junk).
  • In order to take items home with you, you must contribute items to the swap (no free-loaders).
  • Set a start time and stick to it. If you don’t, you’ll have people picking through the stuff and claiming items before everyone arrives, which isn’t really fair to the rest of the guys (no first dibs).
  • Set an ending time and stick to it. That way, you won’t be forced to kick people out when they stick around all day (no hard feelings).
  • If you have room, people can drop off their stuff the day before so it can be sorted or organized.
  • If possible, sort the items by type (put hand tools in one area, power tools in another, keep the winter gear all together, and summer gear in a separate area). If stuff is all jumbled together, it can be tough for people to find the things they want, so if you have a few ‘organizers’ among your friends, have them show up early and help sort stuff out.
  • Don’t ask the other guys “Do these ski pants make my butt look fat?” Asking “Do you think this left handed hammer is the right tool for hammering out the dents in my biofuel dragster?” is OK.
  • Find a thrift store, church, or charity that will take the leftover items. At the end of the event, pack up all the stuff that didn’t find a home and donate it to the Salvation Army, Good Will, or other local second hand store.

If you end up hosting or organizing a tool and gear swap, come back and let us know how it turned out!

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

3 thoughts on “Host a Gear & Tool Swap, Clean Out the Garage

  • Nice idea. It seems like this would work well for kitchen gadgets as well– people usually seem to have many that they’re not using.

    • Derek Markham

      Kirsten – Yeah, that’s a great idea!

  • Richard J. Kovach

    Could you please notify me of any used carpentry & mechanics tool sales in my area; by e-mail and/or by postal mail, Thank-You!

    Richard J.Kovach
    10 Rimbach Street # 4
    Hammond, Indiana 46320


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