Q. How do I become a member ?
A. Joining our organization is easy. In the navigation window select "Membership", here you will find instructions on how to download a PDF version of our application form, or if needed, a link to an on-line printable form. Just follow the directions on where to mail the form and membership dues. Its that simple.
Q. Can you tell me what my tool is worth ?
A. We do not offer appraisals of tools through our website. Mid-West Tool Collectors Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to the history, manufacture, and preservation of tools and related ephemera. Questions regarding tool values do not fall within the purpose of our organization. There are many fine books available today that you may purchase from independent book dealers (listed on our links page) that can be a valuable resource. One simple approach is to search for like items at some of the larger online auction sites, in most cases a diligent search will provide an answer. For a complete professional appraisal of any item you should contact a dealer who advertises such services, bear in mind that there will most likely be a fee for such services.
Q. I have a tool but have no idea of its purpose or use, can you help identify it ?
A. If you email as much information as possible and can include an image, we will attempt to provide an answer. There were however, many tools that were manufactured for one specific obscure purpose, they are next to impossible to identify. We call those tools "What's It's", only time will provide an answer.
Q. I am interested in old tools, can you offer any advice on where to start as a novice collector ?
A. Collect what appeals to you and that which you have acquired sufficient knowledge about . The best way to acquire this knowledge is by joining a tool collecting organization, I know this sounds like a sales pitch but here's why. If you join an organization and attend the meetings you will have the opportunity to view many specimens and learn from veterans on what to look for, you'll actually save money by avoiding costly mistakes caused by lack of knowledge. Buy books on the subject, learn from the experts who have spent years studying and researching the history of tools and trades. Books are one of the best investments you can make when starting out.
Q. I have an old tool that is dirty and could use some cleaning, can you give me any tips on what I should use to clean it ?
A. Here's a loaded question that causes more controversy among tool collectors than almost any other. Usually if this question is asked, it is by a novice collector or someone interested in selling the piece and wants to make it look better for the sale. There are many techniques that can be used to clean and restore tools, some very gentle and others extremely radical. If your intent is to sell it then I would suggest just wiping off the dust with a dry soft cloth or soft brush and let the future owner handle its restoration. If you plan on keeping the tool, the discussion can get pretty deep. The techniques to employ depends on the condition, value, and rarity of a tool. Every tool restoration is different, before proceeding be sure what your doing will not compromise the integrity of the piece. The patina a tool acquires from decades of use and aging is impossible to restore once removed. Tools of extreme rarity and value should only be restored by an experienced tool restorationist, or should be left as they are. An entire website could be dedicated to this subject, as time permits a section on basic restoration will be added. One generally accepted technique is to wipe a tool with mineral spirits and 0000 steel wool to loosen and remove dirt, followed by an application of high quality paste wax to protect it. From here you'll need to do some homework as there are many ways and many opinions on how to clean tools.
Q. I am a member and have moved and need to update my address, where should I send the information ?
A. Use this page to send us your information.
Q. I have a tool / tools I would like to sell, can you give me the name of someone I can contact.
A. Our websites purpose is to promote our organization, the value of being a member, and to present information deemed valuable to those dedicated to the history, usage, and preservation of tools. We do not endorse nor actively promote any individual or entity regarding the buying and selling of tools. We do provide a links page for the convenience of visitors, it lists individuals who advertise themselves as professional tool dealers, active in the commercial aspects of tools . The only advice offered would be to always solicit more than one appraisal or bid for your item and to do your home work before selling. There are of course commercial auction sites where you may list your item/s for a nominal fee.