Trouble finding old hand tools

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Forum topic by Brett posted 05-23-2011 11:53 PM 1265 views 0 times favorited 2 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brett's profile


660 posts in 2710 days

05-23-2011 11:53 PM

When I read web articles about fixing up old hand tools (saws, planes, hand drills, etc.), they often say that these tools can be found at antique stores, flea markets, etc. Trouble is, I’m having a hard time finding old tools locally. For example, I’ve made several trips in the last few months to four antique malls with over 100 vendors each, and I have seen only two Stanley Bailey hand planes (one rusted and broken) and one or two Disston saws. Recently I went to one of the largest flea markets in the country with literally thousands of vendors, and I saw exactly one old bit brace, one hand plane, and one hand drill. There were dozens of vendors with modern wrenches and such, but almost none of the tools being sold was over 60 or 70 years old.

I live in the southwestern U.S., which might explain the problem. When Stanley and Disston were at their peaks, there weren’t nearly as many customers in my part of the country compared to the northeastern U.S. Maybe there just aren’t as many tools in the area to be sold. (On the other hand, maybe there are so many hand-tool woodworking enthusiasts in the area that they are buying up the good stuff before I can find it!)

I’m not complaining (too much). I’ve found a decent Bailey No. 4 hand plane and a good-quality old rip saw at area antique malls, but it just seems that old hand tools are very hard to come by. Most of the other tools I’ve purchased have come through sites like eBay, which isn’t the end of the world, but the shipping costs tend to drive up the overall cost.

Apart from the obvious (like looking up flea markets and antique malls on the web), can anyone share some advice on how to find old hand tools? Thanks.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

2 replies so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4124 days

#1 posted 05-24-2011 12:00 AM

I would check ebay. Also, you can check yard sales if that is your thing. As people migrated in they may have brought stuff with them. I have also had good luck at antique “street fairs”. Dealers can come from a significant distance.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3308 days

#2 posted 05-24-2011 12:46 AM

You should consider joining Southwest Tool Collectors Assn. You’ll find tools at the SWTCA meets more reasonably priced than junk shops. You’ll also meet a great bunch of folks with similar interests.

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