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Forum topic by Minamoto posted 10-05-2011 03:05 PM 1966 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Minamoto's profile


1 post in 2447 days

10-05-2011 03:05 PM

Is it just me, or does anyone else think that the prices for used hand tools are spiraling out of control? It used to be you could get used planes, saws, etc on the bay or in antique shops, etc for 5 or 10 bucks (of course, there were always the rare models that would be fairly high priced) fettle them and be on your way. It was a nice option to have when you did not have the money to buy LN, LV, etc

Now, you cannot buy a rusted out, broken down #4 or #5 for that price. Was at a flea market over the weekend and someone wanted $300 for a Stanley 71. If one looks hard, or gets lucky, you can still find the diamond in the rough – but it seems to be getting more and more difficult. Why would i pay $100+ for a used hand plane on the bay that i am not even sure will work, when I could take that $100 and be almost half way towards buying a LV, etc

I was curious what other woodworkers experience has been. I actually use all the tools i buy and it is kind of frustrating to think that I cannot get affordable tools to use in my craft because I am competing with people buying these tools just to resell or put on a shelf. The optimist in me would like to believe that it is because there are more hand tool woodworkers, but I doubt that can account for the recent boom in prices.


18 replies so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#1 posted 10-05-2011 03:13 PM

Try E-bay, I think it because hand tool woodworking is becomeing more popular.

View helluvawreck's profile


31340 posts in 2888 days

#2 posted 10-05-2011 03:24 PM

Hand tool woodworking is becoming more popular, they don’t make anymore old tools and some are lost every year, the tools 50 – 100 years or more ago were good quality if a good brand, and the newer really good tools are becoming more expensive because of inflation so there are many reasons for it. It’s the good old supply and demand routine. However, you still run across bargains.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4240 days

#3 posted 10-05-2011 03:31 PM

If you ever watch “Antiques Roadshow” on PBS you know from listening to the appraisers that the value of items as collectibles comes and goes. A certain category of things will become popular and prices will rise, A few years later, interest in those same items will be lukewarm, and something else will be hot. I have not followed the market for old hand tools very long, but from what I see it does appear that old planes are a pretty hot item right now.

I have to confess that I am one of those who has purchased quite a few in the past year or so, and probably helped drive prices up. Every time I buy one I rehab it as a potential “user”, but I admit I have grown fond of collecting them for their unique differences. In other words, I know I don’t need a half dozen #4’s in my shop, but when I see an old, beat-up one that looks like it has potential, it is kind of like searching for buried treasure. I just want to take it home and restore it to it’s original beauty and functionality.

Having said that, most of my planes were purchased in the $10-$40 price range, so I’m not contributing too much to inflation. :-)

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4149 days

#4 posted 10-05-2011 03:32 PM

FWIW, I’m still buying old planes for about $20 – $30. The most I have ever paid was $35 for an old joiner plane still in working condition.

-- 温故知新

View hairy's profile


2717 posts in 3554 days

#5 posted 10-05-2011 03:46 PM

Just like real estate: location, location, location. I picked a Stanley #24 transitional and a cool old chisel for $20 last Sunday at a flea market. Granted, it’s not a show plane, but it’ll do fine. Not really a gloat worthy price either. He wanted 40 for the plane and 4 for the chisel.Don’t pay what they want.

I’m like you in that I won’t buy it if I won’t use it. I think collectors have run up the prices.

-- My reality check bounced...

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4119 days

#6 posted 10-05-2011 03:49 PM

I would also say that eBay has run up the price. Anyone can quickly search eBay and get a reference price. People really do not have to know the collectables market these days. Kind of makes it harder to get deals. (Though I did get a great Miller Falls #2 drill for $3 last weekend)

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

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3096 days

#7 posted 10-05-2011 04:08 PM

It’s hard to generalize about the price of used tools. Some our antiques and considered collectors items. Others are perfectly functional but look pretty bad cosmetically and there is everything in between. The prices are all over the map.

I think the best value lies in functional tools that need a good cleaning. I recently bought a Starrett combination square set that was perfectly functional (and probably always will be) that just needed a good cleaning for $40. It sells new on Amazon for $239. With some cleaning, mine is truly as good as new.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Tedstor's profile


1643 posts in 2654 days

#8 posted 10-07-2011 06:54 AM

I’d argue that used hand tool prices were historically too low, and are now correcting. Hand planes have increased the most because there is no competition from modern manufacturers. The only planes currently manufacutred are either cheap garbage or ultra-expensive jewels. Anyone that wants a decent hand plane at a realistic price has no alternative but the ole’ Stanleys.
Besides, I wouldn’t say the tools have exactly skyrocketed. I see decent planes all the time for $20-30 (I just bought a #5 as matter of fact $20). Thats certainly not too steep for most woodworkers. Certainly still WAY less than a LN.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3080 days

#9 posted 10-07-2011 07:05 AM

Most of the sellers are becoming a bit more saavy. The antique dealers more so than others. They know that some sap will pay $100 for that rusted out plane because that’s what they want. The people buying from an antique store are mostly people looking for something to put on a shelf and look old. They don’t really care what it really is so long as it looks like what they want. Unfortunately, that means the good user stuff gets jacked up too. Still, you can find a good deal out there. You just have to dig a bit harder.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View krisintoronto's profile


8 posts in 2819 days

#10 posted 10-07-2011 06:55 PM

I think hand tool woodworking is certainly becoming increasingly more popular and the rising prices reflect that. There simply aren’t too many options for certain tools. I was looking for a skewed combination dado (#46) for some time and eventually got one, without a single blade, for over $80 on Ebay. I paid $100 for a set of blades and I think the combined price, $180 is a great deal. Why? Because this type of plane is not very common, there is no contemporary equivalent and most likely there never will be. So if you want to make your dados by hand it is one of very few options. Still cheaper then buying a full set of dedicated Stanley dado planes…

Besides, let’s be realistic. $5 doesn’t even get you a beer (at least not in Ontario)... $20-40 for a good quality bench hand plane is certainly a very fair price.

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 2902 days

#11 posted 10-07-2011 07:18 PM

There are still plenty of great deals out there on hand tools. Like some of the others I have also purchased most of my bench planes in the 20-40 dollar range. I think thats a very reasonable price range for the old Stanley planes… The specialty planes will usually be a bit higher but most of the time still reasonable especially if your going to be using the tool. A new good quality blade for a table saw or miter saw is going to run 60 dollars or more and it wont last a life time. You can get a couple good planes for 60 bucks and they will last the rest of your life.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3818 days

#12 posted 10-07-2011 10:49 PM

Several years ago, when I first started buying tools, the prices were much lower than they are now. However, I think there are a number of factors. One is inflationary. Money isn’t worth quite as much as it used to be and therefore prices increase accordingly.

The other is that indeed, more people are taking on hand tools. When I joined LumberJocks 1,372 days ago, I was one of the few “hand tool” guys on here. There were a couple of others, but not that many. Now there are a lot more. Not only that, but you come across more and more people who are picking up a plane to make a joint fit a bit better versus sanding the stew out of it, or they’re taking up hand sawing their dovetails. Obviously, this increased demand can most definitely raise the costs of vintage tools because, even at these higher prices, they’re still cheaper than new tools.

Do collectors raise the prices some as well? On some things, sure. On others, I’m not so sure about. Tool collectors, for better or worse, aren’t the problem for folks looking for user grade tools. Collectors are generally more interested in the higher grade stuff. No, the problem comes from those who simply want rust because they think it’s “cool”. However, I think those folks make up a very small number of folks.

As with a lot of things, I doubt there’s a simple answer to why prices are increasing. It’s usually a combination of factors, and not just one thing.

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View pintodeluxe's profile


5701 posts in 2835 days

#13 posted 10-07-2011 10:57 PM

I think collectors are driving the price up. Wood River makes some moderately priced hand tools.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View krisintoronto's profile


8 posts in 2819 days

#14 posted 10-07-2011 11:03 PM

Wood River planes are made in China. I would never ever consider buying one…

Collectors don’t usually jump on user grade tools, so I would not think they are responsible for rising prices.

I’d also like to point out that even here on Lumberjocks the “hand tool forum” is a “new section”, which means more and more people are rediscovering the pleasures of hand tools…

View hairy's profile


2717 posts in 3554 days

#15 posted 10-08-2011 06:40 PM

Just keep looking. I got these today , $20 for the pair. Stanley Baileys, #4 and #5 . They will clean up and work fine.
They want your money more than they want to keep that old plane.

-- My reality check bounced...

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