Shopping for Used Hand Planes

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Forum topic by DylanC posted 08-17-2012 01:30 AM 1245 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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204 posts in 2669 days

08-17-2012 01:30 AM

Topic tags/keywords: used planes hand planes

The little town I live in is having a huge city-wide flea market this weekend, with vendors from all over the midwest. I’m thinking of picking up a decent (usable) older plane or two. Currently all I’ve got is a Stanley block plane. We did a bit of looking around some of the booths as they were setting up and I saw a fair number of older Stanleys in the $15-$20 range. I didn’t get a real good look at too many, but saw that at least a few were Stanley Handyman style planes. I’d like to go and pick up a plane or two for “less than new” cost, but I’m not sure what I whould be looking for to make sure I get a decent plane. Obviously a flat sole, no rust pitting, intact handles are all good places to start, but is there anything else I should be looking for? and how much is a used plane worth? Just an FYI, most of these vendors are antique dealers, so I doubt I’ll be finding any “hidden gems” this weekend. Just used planes looking for a new home.

Thanks in advance…

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

9 replies so far

View DylanC's profile


204 posts in 2669 days

#1 posted 08-17-2012 02:20 AM

If you’re reading this thanks for taking the time to help out. After I posted this I searched through the forums and fount this post and dug up an article from FWW on the topic. I think I’ve got the basics:

1. No missing parts
2. No seized parts or excessive rusting/pitting.
3. Look for cast adjustment levers and good quality knobs, screws, etc.
4. Clean throat, no gouges or large cracks
5. Good condition sole.

If you have any other advice, I’m all ears.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2558 days

#2 posted 08-17-2012 02:34 AM

not sure what FWW article dylan was refering to but I’d suggest getting issue #216’s article about fixing up bargain basement planes. It will give you some insight into ways to fix them, from there decide what you can/will do and what you wont and use that to influence your purchasing decisions

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Lifesaver2000's profile


551 posts in 3106 days

#3 posted 08-17-2012 02:54 AM

When I go to flea markets I take a printout of this file:

to be able to get a rough idea of when the planes where made. I don’t have enough experience with a wide variety of planes to have an opinion, but most of the things I have read indicate that pre-1945 bench planes are the best for users, with the ones before about 1932 (?) being the best, because they have the solid face to the frog instead of the machined outline.

I have bench planes made anywhere from about 1905 to the WWII era, and with a sharp blade and everything set up correctly they perform very well.

View bondogaposis's profile


4720 posts in 2345 days

#4 posted 08-17-2012 03:00 AM

In addition to the items mentioned above. Look at the frog. Are the screws missing, is it rusted. Are the screws seized, etc. I little rust can be cleaned up but if the screws are rusted in you make break them when trying to remove the frog to clean it or adjust it.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 2252 days

#5 posted 08-17-2012 03:32 AM

I would recommend bringing a small flat head screw driver in your pocket. You can use it look between the chip breaker and blade for pitting there (that would prevent you from ever getting a sharp blade) and looking under the frog for damage. I would shy away from some of the lesser brands unless you can get them for a steal.
4s and 5s are very common so they don’t demand a premium so I would hold out for one in good condition. They can go from as low as 15 to 40. Next are 3s and 6s, they are fairly common so they cost a little more than a 4 or 5 would. You can expect to pay around 20-60 Next would come 7s and 8s if you are into preparing your own stock or gluing long boards I would get one. You can expect to pay from 50-100 for one of them. If you run across a 2 or a 1 in good condition for under 200 its a steal especially the 1. Most people don’t use them and they are just eye candy. If you have kids that want to help you in the shop they are about the right size.

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2158 days

#6 posted 08-17-2012 07:19 AM

I suggest grabbing one 3 or 4, two 5s, and a 7. One 5 will rough your boards, the 7 will joint and a 3 can smooth. The other 5 is for a shooting board, they are a nice size for that work.
If you are patient, even with shipping, on EBay you can buy a 3, 4, or 5 for under $25, but it will take some time to find it, a 7 will cost about $60 or $70 with shipping. If the photos don’t show you all the screws, don’t buy it.

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 3353 days

#7 posted 08-19-2012 02:31 AM

I suggest you look for certain brands such as Stanley, Bailey, Sargent, Union or Millers Falls. If you find Stanleys, don’t buy the Handyman line or the blue ones. The Handyman models can sometimes be tuned up okay, but the blue bodied ones are CRAP (IMHO, of course). The old Millers Falls, Unions and Sargents are also excellent tools. Surface rust is no big deal, but pitting is a problem. Check to make sure the depth and lateral adjusters work properly. Last, check the mouth (where the iron comes thru the sole). If there are cracks or chips, leave it. I know that there are a lot if guys who can make planes with these problems work fine, but these are not issues you want to deal with your first few times out. Good Luck and have fun!! Oh, and welcome to the slippery slope :))

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View DylanC's profile


204 posts in 2669 days

#8 posted 08-19-2012 02:42 AM

Thanks for everyone’s advice. After looking through all that were available, I decided none were worth the price. One guy even had a nice 606 Bedrock…for $225. And another slightly smaller Bedrock right next it (with cracks on both sides of the throat) for $25.

Anyway, it worked out allright. I remembered my father-in-law had a few of his dad’s planes in a drawer somewhere. One turned out to be a Type 18 Bailey #5 1/4. The others were a handyman (14”) and a #220 block plane. He’s going to let me take care of them for a while. Just need to get them cleaned up and put to work.

Again, thanks for all the advice. I’ll still be on the lookout for a decent #3, I think. And I might have found a good deal on an older 6” craftsman jointer, but that’s for another post.

-- Dylan C ...Seems like all ever I make is sawdust...

View waho6o9's profile


8187 posts in 2571 days

#9 posted 08-19-2012 02:48 AM

Very nice planes Dylan, put them to good use and have some fun.

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