I’ve always been a fan of the old saying that free is worth what you pay for it. My wood shed has much in it that was free or free for pick up—a small rotund log placed on the bandsaw yields stock for spoons, small bowls, and boxes. I do, however, live in terror of free tools and other objects being dropped off at my shop by the well-meaning.
Friends and even people you do not know are happy to dump stuff on you simply because they know you are a woodcarver or a woodworker. Once a friend dropped off a case full of old chisels. It was left one Sunday evening- conveniently in the dark. On Monday morning, it proved to be a solid mass of rusted together chisels and gouges. Twenty years ago, when grandpa died, it may have been a splendid collection of tools. Now it was only a lump of rust. Another time I was gifted with a garish painted No mask; these masks are frequently painted. But in this one had been poorly painted. Some indulgent parent had let a little barbarian loose with the paintbox. The result was an impossible job of stripping the paint.
So free is not always worth what you pay for it. The people responsible feel that they are contributing something, or at least recycling a usable object. It ain’t necessarily so. The horror of finding some behemoth of 19th century wood shop tool on your porch. is not to be underestimated.
I now set limits on what I accept. sooner or later I have to get rid of free junk. For example, at the last big house cleanout, I filled half of a dumpster with “possibles” – things I thought at one time I could possibly use. I am, however, still accepting wood.


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