Am I the only one who thinks that ebay has gotten out of control? When I started woodworking nearly 20 years ago, ebay was in its infancy. It was fun and a great place to find some real bargains on all manner of goods, not just woodworking tools. Nowadays I find ebay shopping to be more painful than fun. Most sellers are just retail outlets, offering little in the way of savings that we used to associate with the word “outlet”. Even the sellers who aren’t retail, all seem to think their used property has some intrinsic “collector” value. This is especially true when it comes to woodworking tools. I have a plane till full of useful workhorses that I acquired at fair prices on ebay, back in the day. Now, when I look for anything on there, the prices leave me gasping. Sure, some of those old and rare specimens do have collector value. However, most are rather common and ordinary tools. Personally, I want tools to work wood with. Not tools to sit in a display case and look at. But the sellers think they have some gold mine they uncovered in the rusty, pitted, and broken garbage they found in a dank basement estate sale somewhere. More power to them, if that is how they want to spend their time. I’m not going to waste my time paying inflated collector prices for tools I intend to use.
Allow me to illustrate with a current example:
I have been wanting to add a scraping plane to my arsenal for a while. I had some spare internet time today, so I thought I would check ebay for one. The low end of the spectrum of the decent specimens offered was approximately $150. There are a handful well over $200. One delusional seller in the United Kingdom has one for nearly $400!!! Contrast those options against the superb offering from Lee Valley. Loosely modeled after the Stanley #112, the LV scraping plane is a modern marvel of tool engineering, and quality manufacturing. At $179, I would also call it quite a bargain. For someone who intends to use their tools, why put yourself through the ebay quagmire, risk, and expense of purchasing a used tool (that you have no idea of how it was used or cared for), when you can have a brand new version for similar (and in many cases less) money. You’ll have a warranty and a manufacturer that stands behind their product. I own at least half a dozen LV planes, and they are all a joy to use.
I’ll still prowl ebay occasionally looking for a good deal on a useable tool, but generally only when I have time to kill. Because killing time is usually all that happens.