Estate Planning

Families often need help in disposing of no longer used woodworking equipment in a member's shop or estate. Woodworking shops typically contain power tools, hand tools, lumber and various small items unidentifiable to the casual observer, and varying degrees of clutter. Determining value and salability can be a challenging task. Should I try to sell these items myself, or hire a professional estate seller? Is it a good idea to donate items and receive a tax benefit for the estate? The San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association (SDFWA) may be able to assist you. 


This section outlines what we can do to help. For more information email us at:


The San Diego Fine Woodworkers Association can sometimes help families dispose of a woodworking shop with a significant collection of tools and/or machines. Woodworking tools and materials are specialized and complex. Non-woodworkers may not have the knowledge to value these items appropriately. A small hand tool may look like a $20 item when actually worth much more, while at the same time, a big power tool may look like it’s worth $1,000 but in reality be difficult to sell at any price.


We have an experienced team of woodworkers to help families deal with the disposition of a woodworking shop during stressful times.

What SDFWA can do...

  1. Conduct a brief survey of the contents of the shop and advise the heirs or executor as to the value and salability of the equipment, tools and materials.

  2. Suggest alternatives for selling or donating tools and materials.

  3. If you chose to donate these items to the our association, we will remove all the items and leave the shop clean and orderly. Donated tools will be used in our own shop, or sold to SDFWA members as appropriate. Any remaining tools will be donated to other charitable organizations, sold to the public, or discarded. For donations to SDFWA - a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization - we can provide a document for tax purposes. Your tax attorney will advise you how to best use this information.

  4. If you chose to sell the equipment and it is suitable for SDFWA to sell on your behalf, we will prepare the shop for a sale in place, schedule and advertise the sale with your approval,provide personnel - and clean up afterwards. Disposal of unsold items will be the responsibility of the seller. To compensate SDFWA for the time and effort we will retain 25% of the sale proceeds.



To contact SDFWA for advice about these alternatives, you may email us at


Take stock

Lumber usually falls into two categories:

Furniture grade - (hardwood lumber and veneer plywood) may be very valuable, especially tropical hardwoods.

Construction grade - (2x4's, fir plywood, fiberboard, etc.) are less desirable.

Additional details about lumber

Shorts & Cut-Offs – Hardwood pieces 1 to 3 feet long are usable by wood turners and high schools to make pens and other small items. The hobbyist woodworker can make use of many shorter boards, for small projects such as jewelry boxes. High school wood shop programs typically prefer larger hardwood planks.


Construction Materials – (decking material, plywood, MDF, molding, 2x4s, 2x6s cedar, pressure treated wood, pine, fir etc.) Some of this can have value, but it is not the kind of lumber used by SDFWA members.


Milled hardwoods – Surfaced hardwoods like maple, walnut, cherry, mahogany from ¼” to 1”, widths from 3” – 12”, and lengths from 2’ to 8’ are of high value to most woodworkers. Check for bug damage and deep cracks which reduce value. Small pieces of exotic and figured wood may be salable. Veneers in good condition are also of interest if they have been stored properly.


Blocks of wood for turning and carving – This type of wood can be anywhere from green to dry wood, large blocks of wood, half or full logs, burls, squares, rounds etc. These should be sealed with a waxy material on the end grain and be without deep cracks. Spalting (dark streaks caused by fungus) is valued as long as the wood is not too soft.  This type of wood is generally of interest to SDFWA wood turners or the San Diego Woodturners.

Tips for conducting your own garage sale


The following SDFWA members comprise the estate sales team - Dick Ugoretz, Dave Foti, Matt Evans, Scott Weber, and Eric Lunde. To contact the team, email


You can make the task of disposing of your woodworking tools easier for your family by leaving instructions about what to do with your shop in the event you are no longer able to dispose of it yourself. Any advice or guidance you can provide to your family in advance will be very valuable. This can be done informally, either verbally or in writing. Or you may wish to consider including directions about your preferences in your will. These directions might designate specific items reserved for the benefit of special individuals or organizations, or specify other details that occur to you. Of course you will need to consult an attorney to be sure the language of your directions meets all the legal requirements for a will. SDFWA has, in the past, been named as a recipient of bequests from former members and would be grateful for any such bequests in the future.