Does restoration affect a planes value?

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Forum topic by lateralus819 posted 11-09-2013 02:36 AM 2144 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2241 posts in 2031 days

11-09-2013 02:36 AM

So I’m bored and Have been meaning to ask this. What impact does a full restore have on a planes value?

10 replies so far

View ShaneA's profile


7032 posts in 2740 days

#1 posted 11-09-2013 02:42 AM

It will very depending on the collectability of the plane. The higher the value and rarer the plane the more likely restoration will not help and possibly harm value. For common bench planes a rehab and tune will add value, in my opinion.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3140 days

#2 posted 11-09-2013 03:39 AM

I am bored too, so I will give my answer for it. :)

There are very few planes that are actually that collectable and of those, the real valuable ones are not really users even if you had them in pristine condition. The rarity of them is what drives the value. Many of the spectacular plow planes for instance were given as retirement gifts or such. Now, there are some that are of historical significance by being some rare and significant planemaker or some funky patent for a plane that didn’t take off in the market that may have only had one or two ever made. The odds of coming up against some rare panther handled saw or Chealor plane or somesuch is about the same as picking the numbers on this week’s lotto. The bottom line is that unless it is some funky core box plane or fiberboard plane or other weird oddball that pretty much nobody bought and used, it will be worth about the same if you restore it or not. If you like them spiffy clean, clean it up. If you like grunge, leave it like it is.

Now, when you talk about collectors, there is no real value other than their perceived value. That some new in the box Star Wars figure or early edition of a comic book is worth thousands of dollars has nothing to do with any price justification other than what someone will pay for it. If some plane collector likes “patina” and will pay more for it? Patina is just another word for rust and crap on a plane. It has no value. There is no magic knowledge that will decipher how it was used. We know exactly how they were used.

Bench planes? Well, you might occasionally find some odd one that might fill someone’s collection out but for the most part, they were made in the tens of thousands (at least) annually for over a century.Their real value is their design and functionality more than their age. Stanley for instance used to make some fine planes. Their recent build quality is not as good as the ones they used to make. This generally makes the older and better made planes worth more than recent vintage.

Now, when you talk about restoration, some collectors want them to look like some decoration in a Cracker Barrel restaurant or such. Others want it to look like it was sealed in some time capsule that still has the cosmoline or whatever Stanley put on them when they shipped them out. About the only common criteria is that it look like one that matches the rest of their collection.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View JayT's profile


5862 posts in 2353 days

#3 posted 11-09-2013 03:48 AM

Man, David must have been really bored :-)

But he makes some good points and I agree with most of it, and share Shane’s opinion as well.

The way I phrase it is: The more you do to a plane to restore it, the more you reduce it’s collectible value. The flip side is that in order to have a usable plane, you may need to restore it.

Now you get into the starting value. If it is a common type Bailey #5, it has almost no collectible value to begin with, so you will not reduce the value by restoring and will increase the value because it can now be used. A truly rare plane, however, will have a high starting value, so would not be a wise investment to do anything to it. Of course, really rare planes have values in the thousands and I will likely never own one of those.

In the end, it is your plane, do as you wish.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 2031 days

#4 posted 11-09-2013 03:49 AM

Wow very informative info thanks for that! I myself, even though they will be used, like a new looking plane. Doesn’t have to be mint, but it definitely inspires me to want to use it.

View lateralus819's profile


2241 posts in 2031 days

#5 posted 11-09-2013 03:51 AM

Cool info. I was just curious if there was a plane that I bought and wanted to rehab it, if it would hurt potential profit down the road if I wanted to sell it.

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3140 days

#6 posted 11-09-2013 04:07 AM


I had to take a break from Youtube being in an uproar from them pushing G+ integration and my ebay order of fasteners is still taking it’s great north american tour. :)

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View realcowtown_eric's profile


617 posts in 2079 days

#7 posted 11-09-2013 06:10 AM

I’ll chime in and say, before you take the disc grinder to it, ID what it is.

No kidding I once saw a Stanley 45 in Winnipeg that had been cleaned up with a disc grinder….450$ was what was being asked. Told the guy I wouldn’t even give him 4 and half bucks. He was not happy! Told me how rare it was.

Tool turned to trash it was, from overzealous cleaning.

Eric in Cowtown.

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View Don W's profile

Don W

18959 posts in 2709 days

#8 posted 11-09-2013 11:42 AM

the only thing I have to add is what I believe is the most important part. What’s the beginning condition? Add that to the rarity of the plane and you can formulate an answer. the older and rarer the more you want to leave it alone.

For instance, a type 1 pre lateral sargent bemch is pretty rare. If it could be cleaned up to look decent, then that’s as far as you should go. If its rusted beyond recognition, japanning peeling and almost gone, then a restore may be in order.

The restored piece will never be worth what an original is worth, but it will be worth more than the rusted piece of crap.

Again, we’re talking about the pre lateral sargent. Dig up a forged hand plane from the 1st century, leave it nice and rusty.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View b2rtch's profile


4863 posts in 3190 days

#9 posted 11-09-2013 12:08 PM

I used to have with a friend a small business as cabinet maker and restoration of old furniture ( and when we say old in Europe, they are old furniture).
I was very surprised when listening to the “Antics Road Show” on PBS to hear all these experts say that one should not restore an antic, not remove the original finish and patina.

Concerning hand planes, we need to distinguish between those that we collect for their rarity and those that we want to use.
Obviously if we get an old and rare plane and that the iron is almost all gone you do not want to sharpen it anymore, just to keep what is left of it.

I listen to Jay Leno always saying that his favorite kind of collection car is an un-restored car.

-- Bert

View bondogaposis's profile


4982 posts in 2493 days

#10 posted 11-09-2013 01:55 PM

I can’t see how rust would be good on any plane, I think one should work to remove rust regardless of it’s collect-ability. I mean carefully of course, not w/ a grinder. It seems to me that rust pitting will de-value a plane more than anything. If you buy a hundred year old plane and remove the rust, it will still be valuable a hundred years from now. If you leave it to rust, it may have no value in another hundred years.

-- Bondo Gaposis

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