Why I Buy Used Power Tools
Alright, below is my spiel on why I buy used tools. Just like the rest of my posts, I am not claiming this to be gospel truth, but this is my thought process when it comes to making large power tool purchases. Hopefully this won’t overlap with my craigslist blog too much, but I feel they are different topics and each deserve their own post.
When I acquired a real shop (a garage) for the first time about 18 months ago, I happily set out to look at purchasing my big tools – tablesaw, jointer, bandsaw, planer, router, drill press, you name it. As I stated in my second blog post a while back, I prefer to purchase the tool that I want forever when I make my first purchase (the reasoning for that is listed in the other blog). Much to my chagrin, I found that the new retail prices on those types of tools were astronomical. Below are some current prices on brand new machines without tax or shipping, the first two are enough to scare you away:
3 HP Unisaw w/ fence: $3,299.99
2 HP Powermatic 20” bandsaw: $4,650.99
I know what you’re thinking. “Well he’s quoting all of the expensive ones. He should be quoting a Grizzly or a Rikon or a Laguna”. Ok, let’s do that too. But, I will only quote them to the size that I ended up purchasing in the end.
3 HP Grizzly 1023RLX: $1,525.00
3 HP Grizzly 19” Bandsaw : $1,425.00
Ok, well that is better. Still a lot of cash, but much better. Well, as I started to look on craigslist, I would see tools from much more reputable brands, many of them made in the USA back when Detroit was still bustling, at cheaper prices than the “cheap” Grizzly prices listed above(Just an aside, I am in no way trying to attack Grizzly or Rikon or any of the other cheaper brands, but I think it is safe to say that the majority of us would consider a USA Made classic Delta or Powermatic better quality than Grizzly, Rikon, etc). Thus far I have made three large used power tool purchases for the following prices:
3 HP Unisaw w/ Excalibur fence, extension table and a 3 hp router to boot: $1,050
1.5 HP Powermatic 20” bandsaw: $1000
2 HP 13” RC-33 Delta planer: $200
Still a decent hunk of change, but in return, I got half of what I needed to satisfy myself and surely most woodworkers when it comes to setting up a VERY nice shop. I saved about $1000 to $1500, even when compared to buying the cheapest comparable power tools on the market. Buying used tools is not only cheaper but can also be a bit nostalgic. When you see the name of the guy who inspected your tool at the factory in Tennessee in 1965, it makes you feel pretty cool. They do take some calibration and can bring some additional headaches with them, but in the end I believe they are the best bang for your buck option when looking for power tools, and often times hand tools as well.
To summarize, I will list what I feel the major pros and cons of buying used are.
Pros: Cheaper, Easier to work on, Nostalgic and totally awesome
Cons: Lack of custom options, lack of safety widgets (dust collection and flesh detection come to mind)
For me and for many of you, what it really comes down to in the end is this: How can I get a lot of tool for the cheapest price? I believe used tools are the best answer. In general, this can and does apply to hand tools all the way up to stationary power tools. If you have never considered it as an option, I implore you to give it a shot.
-- The Wood Is Your Oyster