10 Of The Best Tools To Look For And Buy At Garage Sales In 2024

Going on a garage sale can be like a thrilling treasure hunt. The joy of uncovering a hidden gem and snagging a fantastic deal is a rewarding feeling. Who doesn't like to find a bargain? Investing in pre-owned tools, whether gently used or in mint condition, still in their original packaging, can prove to be a smart decision. These purchases can maintain value and enhance your toolkit, making DIY tasks more enjoyable. After all, one person's trash is another's treasure.

Before setting out on your garage sale adventure, however, it's crucial to know what to look for. We aim to find tools known for their durability and longevity, which can outperform many modern alternatives. This list is hand-picked based on personal experience buying tools at actual garage sales, advice and top posts on the Subreddit r/BuyForLife, and customer reviews from the manufacturer's website.

These tools typically defy the concept of planned obsolescence and fall into the "they don't break — you lose them" category. Let's channel our inner Gary Vaynerchuk and discuss some of the top 10 tools to look for at garage sales in 2024.

Occidental Leather Tool Bag

When you're out at a garage sale, finding the right tools for the job is important, but equally so is having a practical way to store them. We've all experienced the frustration of needing a specific tool only to find it mysteriously missing when you need it most. Keep an eye out for items that can enhance your tool organization, like a high-quality leather tool bag. Bags can keep tools within arm's reach and stick with you around the waist, making them perfect for many projects.

One brand to consider is the Occidental Leather Tool Bag. Many owners praise its durability, quality, and superior craftsmanship. Handcrafted by artisans in Sonoma County, California, these leather tool bags use only the highest-quality materials, proven to withstand the rough conditions of any job site. It's a great bag for storing various tools, especially Menards tools, which are useful for most carpentry jobs.

Because Occidental offers a variety of bags, they're customizable and can be designed to adapt to the way you work, as well as different body types and working styles. Even if this leather tool bag looks rough and raggedy, it can hold up for decades. Your back will go out before the bag will. With a little TLC, you can resurrect it to look brand new. Next time you're at a garage sale, consider this bag an investment that keeps your essentials organized, protected, and ready for action.

Stanley No. 1 Plane

This next item is like finding the Holy Grail of rare tools. Given its unique design and historical significance, collectors highly seek the legendary Stanley No. 1 Plane, one of the smallest planes in existence. The plane measures only 5-½" long and can fit in the palm of your hand. The blade is narrow (1-¼"), and it may not be practical for heavy-duty woodworking projects but more as a cool historical collectible. It can also fetch a fair price, sometimes ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

A proper plane is crucial if you're a woodworker and need to prepare surfaces for finishing, fit joints, and ensure that wooden surfaces are level and smooth. Even though the Stanley No. 1 Plane was made from 1869 to 1943, it still allows for precision and control that would be difficult to achieve with power tools, making it invaluable for certain aspects of woodworking.

Starrett Combination Square

It's your lucky day if you ever come across a Starrett Combination Square at a garage sale. This nifty tool is known for superb precision, durability, and versatility, making it a favorite for professionals and hobbyists. It isn't just any old measuring stick either; there is more than meets the eye.

It can be used for precision measuring metal, wood, or even stonemasonry tasks. The square head slides and locks into place for 90-degree measurements, and the protractor head adjusts to any angle, making it super versatile. If you're working on a project dealing with pipes or round objects, the center head is a game changer.

The Starrett Combination Square was developed by the L.S. Starrett Company in 1880 in Athol, Massachusetts, and has stood the test of time. It's built to last and withstand heavy use, so snagging one at a garage sale price isn't just a steal; it's a smart investment. The older it is, the more valuable it could be as a collectible.

NaceCare Canister vac

It's hard to miss a NaceCare Canister Vacuum at a garage sale. With its cute face and design on the canister, it's like unexpectedly adopting a pet — you might not go there looking for one, but once you see it, you can't say no!

NaceCare vacuums are often affectionately called "Henry" by their owners. These vacuums are tough and long-lasting, like the AK-47 of vacuum cleaners. They're a great investment and can be used for both residential and commercial environments. The suction is powerful and can also come with advanced HEPA filtration systems if you're concerned about air quality. Also, check to see if the automatic cord rewind works.

Spotting a NaceCare vacuum at a garage sale is a real bargain, considering their usual high price when bought new. Acquiring a Henry is a smart move for maintaining a clean workspace. Next time you're browsing a garage sale, keep your eyes peeled for a NaceCare; it could be the most valuable "pet" you'll ever bring home.

Disston D8 Hand Saw

You've stumbled on a real treasure if you spot a Disston D8 hand saw at a garage sale. The legendary Henry Disston & Sons has manufactured this classic tool since the mid-19th century, and many carpenters and woodworkers love it. The magic of the D8 saw is in its design and long-lasting, high-quality steel, with its taper-ground blade that thins from the tooth edge to the back, which reduces friction.

The D8 makes it super easy to handle smoothly and make precise cuts. With its hardwood, ergonomic handle, one can use this hidden handsaw handle trick that may be helpful for your next DIY project. However, inspect the blade's teeth, as they can come in various tooth configurations that make them adaptable for fine woodworking and general carpentry jobs.

The Disston D8 Hand Saw is not just a tool; it's a testament to American toolmaking history. Built to last, it can serve you faithfully for years, even decades. These saws are not just functional; they're also highly collectible. If you chance upon a weathered one at a garage sale and are inclined towards restoring old tools, consider it a rewarding endeavor to bring it back to its former glory. The Disston D8 Hand Saw has functionality, beauty, and history that modern tools can hardly match.

Snap-On Impact Sockets

Scoring Snap-On Impact Sockets at a garage sale can feel like hitting the jackpot. These sockets are made with special alloys to withstand the very high torque and force of impact wrenches, making them perfect for mechanics or engineers. The sockets are usually finished with a sleek black oxide that looks great and helps them resist corrosion so they can last longer. If you find these guys at a garage sale, they're a bargain because they can be pretty expensive new.

Despite being used, Snap-On Impact Sockets are built to last, so you should be able to get many more years out of them. Their precision engineering means you'll experience less wear on fasteners. The resale value of Snap-On tools remains high, so if you ever find that you're not getting as much use out of them as you thought, you can recoup a good portion of your investment. Besides the sockets, many Snap-On mechanics tool sets are worth the price.

Snap-On Adjustable Wrench

Sticking with the Snap-On theme, if you're rummaging around a garage sale and spot a Snap-On Adjustable Wrench, don't hesitate–snatch it up! Like striking gold, this alloy steel wrench is known for superior quality and durability. You'd likely find this tool used in automotive and heavy-duty situations as it features a precision jaw design that grips firmly, preventing any slippage that may cause fastener damage. And with an ergonomic handle, it won't bite back and makes for a less tiring experience. Because it's adjustable, you can keep your tool kit minimal.

Its versatility means reducing the clutter of carrying different-sized wrenches for different jobs. It can handle a broad range of fastener sizes; some come with a handy laser-etched scale on the handle so you can easily measure. Why grab one at a garage sale? As previously mentioned, Snap-On tools can be quite expensive when new. Some Snap-On tools over $200 are worth the investment, and because they're built to last, finding one in the wild means you've got yourself a wrench that will outperform many of the brand-new options from other brands and maintain a high resale value if you ever decide to part ways.

Craftsman Ratchet Set

If you spot the Craftsman brand at a garage sale, it's a no-brainer; you snag it. Say you happen to spot a Craftsman Ratchet Set, now we're talking. And if it's a V-Series, even better because those are collectibles that offer up nostalgia to collectors, so we're in business then! This is a legendary set among professional mechanics and DIYers. The beauty lies in the high-grade, chrome-plated steel that can stand up to rigorous use and fend off corrosion.

The versatility of these sets is another huge plus because the variety of socket sizes that come with the set can tackle a wide range of tasks. Just make sure to check if all the pieces are in there. Craftsman Ratchets are an ease to work with, too, with their quick-release mechanism that makes swapping sockets a breeze. You won't get tired of using this ratchet set. Craftsman tools typically come with a lifetime warranty, so picking up a ratchet set at a garage sale is an incredible investment, whether you're just starting to build your toolkit or a seasoned professional looking to replace older tools.

Leatherman Skeletool CX

In DIY circles, the Leatherman Skeletool CX is a bit of a cult item but also the type of garage sale item likely overlooked. Even though it's pretty unassuming, this all-in-one multitool is lightweight, versatile, and portable — perfect for any DIYer or outdoor enthusiast. It's an excellent choice for hiking and camping. It comes with a 154CM stainless steel blade, needlenose and regular pliers, wire cutters, a large bit driver, and a bottle opener (you can't have a multitool without a bottle opener!).

The locking blade mechanism makes it a safe and secure addition to your tool collection. What's also nice is that many of the tool's features can be easily accessed even when folded or closed, so you can use it with one hand if you're a multitasker.

The carabiner is useful for clipping this five-ounce EDC (everyday carry) multitool onto your backpack or pocket. Leatherman products are built to last and maintain their value for a long time, which means even if bought second-hand, they'll serve you for years to come.

Makita Circular Saw

Spotting a Makita Circular Saw at a garage sale would be a dream come true as the Makita brand is underrated. These saws are built tough and, if well maintained, can be used for years and years. These precision cutters have a great design and are top-tier in woodworking and construction.

The Makita Circular Saw packs a punch with a high-power motor that can easily slice through hardwood, plywood, MDF, and more. Smooth like butter. They're lightweight and ergonomic, so they're easy to control, and you won't get tired of using them. If you come across one at a garage sale, check the blades, as they're known to have top-notch ones that offer exact cuts. They're safe to use, too, and offer quick-stop electric brakes with protective blade guards.

Picking up at Makita at a garage sale is a solid investment that gives Ryobi a run for its money.

How these garage sale tools were selected

The decision behind hand-picking these specific top tools to look for at garage sales involved a combination of personal experience and research. It involved successful finds, such as the Leatherman Skeletool CX and NaceCare Canister Vacuum, which the writer of this piece continues to use. Top tools were also discovered from the 2.1 million member community on the subreddit r/BuyItForLife, a sub known for its focus on long-lasting products.

Customer reviews from manufacturer websites were used to confirm and gather an in-depth understanding of each tool's performance and reliability. This combination of personal testing, community insight, and direct customer feedback formed the foundation of this curated list, which aims to help you identify the best tools that offer quality and value at garage sales.