Makita 5402NA 16" circular beam saw, $75.

You must know about beam saws, because they can represent such a fantastic profit opportunity. Have you ever even seen a saw like this? Most circular saws (the saws with the large circular blades that are held by hand to saw stuff like plywood and boards) use blades that are about 7" in diameter. But beam saws like this Makita are different tools altogether.

Those smaller saws work fine for materials like plywood, two-by-fours and even four-by-fours, if you flip them over and cut them from both sides. But the average circular saw can only cut about 2" deep, so if the wood being cut is more than about 4" in thickness, you won't be able to cut it all the way through, no matter how many times you flip it over! So, what do you do if you have to saw a really thick beam, like the ones used in ceilings, which are often more than 8" thick? You certainly can't haul a big table saw up to the roof and cut a huge ceiling beam that's already in place! That's where this Makita beam saw comes in handy.

With its 16" diameter blade, this Makita will cut over 6" deep in one pass! As you can imagine, you can't just make one of these big beam saws by simply adapting a larger blade to a regular circular saw, because there wouldn't be nearly enough power to get a blade this size through the wood. The bigger blade on this saw also means a bigger motor is required, which naturally means that a much heavier construction is required to handle all the additional forces placed on the saw as it cuts.

At this yard sale, the lady had a bunch of other items spread out on a number of blankets in the side yard of the house, with no prices on any of them. As I looked over the goods, I noted that there were some really interesting - and potentially profitable - things there. But as with so many of the yard sales I get to after noon on a Saturday, I always assume that most anything valuable that's still there is there because the seller wants too much money for it.

As I asked the lady the prices on her various items, this turned out to be the case - her prices were unrealistically high. But remember, people often screw up, and this saw is a prime example of how you should never let a few high prices discourage you. You never know when a seller is going to screw up and price something too low. I asked the price on one item, then another item, then another, and when we got to this saw and she said $75, I knew I was in the money. But I really wanted it for less.

Then I encountered a problem that I run into on a regular basis: the dreaded absentee owner. Someone has a yard sale, and a friend or family member drags over a bunch of stuff, tells the seller how much money he wants for the stuff, and then leaves. The seller, afraid to stray from the owner's orders, refuses to haggle with prospective buyers. This saw happened to belong to the lady's husband, and he had given her the prices he wanted for his stuff before leaving for work that morning! So, since she couldn't call him, and refused to stray from his 'orders,' I ended up paying the full $75 for the saw. But since these Makita beam saws cost a fortune to buy new, $75 was a great buy.

A final thing I'd like to discuss here is what's shown in the two photos that appear right under the saw. These pics are obviously of a different tool (the Kett panel saw I have in another Gallery Entry), but they represent a great example of something I want to point out. Whenever a power tool is used around wood, sawdust has a tendency to collect where traces of oil are present on the tool. This normally has little effect on a tool's operation, but it does tend to make the tool look old and dumpy - not the image you want to portray to your eBay bidders!

As ugly as it is, this sawdust-oil combination is usually pretty easy to remove with a whisk broom and a small, stiff bristled brush. The long bristles of the whisk broom allow you to reach into the tighter, less-accessible areas, and the stiffer brush can be used for the more stubborn deposits. On the tool above, I did no cleaning other than a quick whisking with the broom, and it looks much better already!

This Makita 5402NA beam saw sold on eBay for $420.

Photo of Makita 5402NA 16-inch beam saw