Tips on maximizing resale value of old Stanley Bailey hand planes

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Forum topic by Brett posted 07-13-2011 07:47 PM 5185 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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660 posts in 2708 days

07-13-2011 07:47 PM

I have three Stanley Bailey hand planes that I’ve purchased from eBay or antique stores and fixed up for personal use. Occasionally I come across other planes that I don’t need (I’m not a collector), but are priced low enough that I might be able to buy and resell them at a profit.

What are some tips on maximizing the resale value of an antique hand plane? Should I flatten the sole and sharpen the iron, or leave them untouched? Should I clean up the knob and tote, or leave the original finish (even if it’s kinda cruddy)? Should I remove as much rust as possible, or leave some (or all) of the original patina in place?

I’m not expecting to get rich off these planes, but if I can turn a little profit, I’ll be able to buy some additional hand tools that I want.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

4 replies so far

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1121 posts in 3384 days

#1 posted 07-13-2011 08:14 PM

I do pretty much the same thing and, unless its a rare plane, I find its best to clean them, tune them and then sell them as users. I take off all the rust, flatten the sole (if necessary), sharpen the blade (including flattening the back), make sure the chip breaker lays flat across the blade, make sure the frog seats properly, and make sure the depth and lateral adjusters work like they should. I don’t do anything with the knob or tote, but that’s because I hate sanding/finishing. Besides, some people want BLO, some want poly, etc. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but I can usually rehab a plane in a couple of hours. Good Luck!!

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2906 days

#2 posted 07-13-2011 10:11 PM

If you buy a plane for cheap with the plan to resell it my best advice would be to spend as little time as possible on it. I would do nothing more then clean it.

Planes on ebay seen to jump up and down in value that its hard to figure out if your gonna make a profit. I have seen people list restored and tuned planes and they sell for less then the dirty rusted ones. In fact it happened to me and I will never sell a restored plane on ebay again. I listed a #5 that was fine tuned and restored and it looked amazing and worked amazing. I got 2 bids and it sold for less then another of the same type that was not tuned or restored…

Its such a gamble that I think if your going to buy them to sell its not worth investing a bunch of time on it because chances are it wont help it sell for more at all.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

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10476 posts in 3673 days

#3 posted 07-13-2011 10:28 PM

Most bench planes aren’t worth much to smart money. Most antique shops
overprice them, hoping some dumb money comes walking through buying
old tools.

Learn to spot the sought-after, uncommon tools. Bedrocks and things like
that. The common Bailey bench planes are in general worth only about
$20-60 each. Those planes were turned out in the millions.

I wouldn’t put your time into spit-polishing planes. If you know how to
sharpen and tune the chipbreaker, you can clean the bodies up and sell
the planes as razor sharp and ready to work and that may add some value
for buyers who have fears about getting a lemon.

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4123 days

#4 posted 07-13-2011 11:41 PM

I would say clean to the point the condition of the plane can be easily determined via photos. I would also make sure that your able to clearly identify the type of the plane. I would be selective in my buying. E.g. avoid 1950’s and later planes unless they are in perfect condition and a few dollars.

The other part is how you market the plane. You want to take good photos that show key factors on the plane including the sole/mouth, patent dates, etc. If at all possible, list the type of the plane in the title of the ad e.g. Stanley Baley #5 (Type 11). Also a good description can be helpful in getting a better price.

I would also spend as little time as possible on cleaning and reworking the plane.

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

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