Using vs. selling

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Forum topic by Jim B posted 08-15-2014 02:58 PM 1193 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jim B

15 posts in 803 days

08-15-2014 02:58 PM

New member here. I have a tendency to lurk on forums without posting much, but I’d like to change that. Registering and posting here is step 1 :)

I’m wondering if other hand tool users have a strategy or some guidelines they employ when deciding whether to use tools or sell them. As I find, restore and use old tools, I sometimes end up with one that is worth a lot more than I paid for it. I then find myself struggling to decide whether to keep a tool that has some value or to sell it. The motivation to sell usually comes from the fact that money is tight right now and selling would allow me to buy other tools that I couldn’t otherwise afford. The problem is that I really don’t enjoy selling things. I tend to just worry about all the things that could go wrong. Also there is the thought that I may not come across a certain tool again or its value may inflate such that I can never afford one. (yes, I know I worry a lot) So far ‘use’ has always won, and I have kept everything :)

Here is a recent example. A few weeks ago my wife and I were at two neighboring estate sales. When I walked over to the sale she was at she informed me that she had negotiated prices for a couple planes (she’s awesome). One was a block plane I didn’t need, but the other I recognized as a bedrock. I was ecstatic since I never expected to own one, and for $15 I knew I couldn’t go too far wrong. When I got home and looked it up I was shocked at what I saw. It’s a 604 1/2c in what appears to be very good condition. Of course I was happy about that, but almost immediately I knew I had a problem. I really wanted to clean it and tune it up, but I was already having nagging thoughts like “leave it as you found it – you could sell it and buy the rabbet plane and chisels you wish you had”. Long story shorter, it’s still disassembled and stored in a container while I decide what to do :( That makes things even worse because now I’m not using OR selling it!

I assume others here find themselves in similar situations from time to time. How do you decide?


PS: sorry for the long first post

18 replies so far

View Loren's profile


8164 posts in 3070 days

#1 posted 08-15-2014 03:21 PM

I’m not sure you’ll get a much higher price by
fixing up a Bedrock. Some collectors prefer them
in as-found condition.

You can check prices similar planes have actually
sold for. Just because bright and shiny ones
are listed at high prices doesn’t mean they
sell for those prices easily.

I’ve sold a couple of bedrocks on ebay auctions
and got fair prices for them. I did get the rust
off the sole and sides and sharpen the blades
for use because I used them for awhile but that’s
about it.

I used to sort of collect planes. I still have several
but no more than I use. I sold the unusual and
extra ones I discovered I never had a need for
in the woodworking I do.

View handsawgeek's profile


591 posts in 817 days

#2 posted 08-15-2014 03:43 PM

First off…. A hearty welcome to Lumberjocks. I, too, just recently joined up after being a long-time lurker.
Now, I’ve even started up my very own LJ blog. Check it out if you is very hand-tool oriented.
To reply to your query, I believe the best bet is to buy what appeals to you when you encounter it. I usually buy vintage tools with an eye for fixing them up and adding them to my ‘user’ arsenal. Ones that don’t get added there usually find their way into one of my annual yard sales at maybe a few bucks above what I paid for them only because I spent the time to fix them up to user condition. Perhaps the one exception to this is with hand saws. I buy whatever ones I find, if they are in good condition. I have way more than I need. (hence my LJ handle). Occasionally, I have been known to give some away to friends who do woodworking, and have not yet experienced the joys of using a well-tuned hand saw. Basically, it all boils down to your own personal preferences. Every woodworker is different and has their own take on how they want to pursue this great hobby (or profession) of ours. Enjoy!

-- Ed

View helluvawreck's profile


22687 posts in 2288 days

#3 posted 08-15-2014 03:44 PM

The quality of hand tools is probably dropping a little on average every year. At the very least, good quality hand tools are certainly going up in price. They obviously don’t make the old tools anymore. Also, more and more people are collecting older tools every year. It would seem to me that collecting older tools that are in useable condition should be a good investment in the long run. You don’t have to restore them right away but you do need to keep them from deteriorating. You can fix up the ones that you need to use and preserve the rest. Just like any antique they are going to go up in value. Just think about all of the things that people are collecting and look at how they have gone up in value. Old tools will go up in value too.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View Tim's profile


3032 posts in 1383 days

#4 posted 08-15-2014 04:17 PM

Vintage tools are so cheap now that you shouldn’t feel bad using them unless you find one of particularly unusual collector value. Just revel in the fact that you got a good deal, use the tool, and if you end up deciding to sell it, like Charles said it will probably hold or increase in value anyway. If someone offers you more than a tool is worth to you, then sell it and get something you want more.

View chrisstef's profile


15472 posts in 2428 days

#5 posted 08-15-2014 04:25 PM

A 604 1/2 C in the wild? For $15? You sir, suck.

Sometimes selling things allows you to use other things that you don’t all ready own.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View TheFridge's profile


5678 posts in 908 days

#6 posted 08-15-2014 04:41 PM

Depends. If I got a ridiculous deal for say a… 300$ for a 2 year old cabinet saw with all the fixins and I needed a saw. Id keep it because even if I sold it and made a killing, chances are I would be hard pressed to find a similar deal to put some money in my pocket. I’d still need a saw. But if I didn’t new the tool or could do without I’d sell it.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Mosquito's profile


7925 posts in 1714 days

#7 posted 08-15-2014 05:21 PM

I have the same issue too… Two of mine being I got a Stanley #2 for $75, and I got a Stanley #10 for $50. Both drastically under priced. But then, similar to you, the part that says “you’ll probably never find that good of a deal again” wins out, and I still have both. I don’t use the #2, but I’ve embraced the title of “collector” now, so I’m ok with that :-)

I just tell myself, I’ll keep it until I find one that better fits the collection, and then figure it out lol

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View lateralus819's profile


2236 posts in 1311 days

#8 posted 08-15-2014 08:03 PM

A #604 1/2C, I would keep. It’s only going to go up.

Depends on the value, and the odds of finding another one.

I picked up a Record #073 for $40. I already have a Lie-Nielsen of the same size. I was going to keep the Record, but knowing it’s worth nearly tripple what i paid, plus me having one. I decided to sell it.

You seem to be in the same position i am. All my new tools (Lie nielsen planes etc) have been purchased solely by selling vintage tools.

If i know i can make a good profit I will usually sell it, unless I need it.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


13571 posts in 2040 days

#9 posted 08-15-2014 08:30 PM

Sell or use, I don’t do much more than the minimum required to get a tool in working condition. Rust and such is a different matter, of course, but honest grunge is a badge of honor. That said, I have great admiration for several LJs that can make old tools like new; it’s an art.

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View JayT's profile


4681 posts in 1633 days

#10 posted 08-15-2014 09:08 PM

Welcome to LJ.

How do I decide? Easy. Space and budget limitations say I cannot own all the tools I run across that I would like to buy. Sometimes there are tools that I just want to have, so I’ll make space. Other times I’ll buy a tool with the express intent of turning a profit. Like lateralus, I’ve paid for most of my user hand tools by selling others I’ve picked up as bargains. Deciding what to do before buying is key for me, or I would have way more tools and one less wife :-)

My 2 cents is—if you’ll actually use the plane regularly, you have a great plane for a bargain price. If you want to be a collector and keep it as a badge of rust hunting honor, great. If you won’t do either one, then sell it and buy something you will use.

Oh, and post some pics, please.

-- "Good judgement is the result of experience. A lot of experience is the result of poor judgement."

View Jim B's profile

Jim B

15 posts in 803 days

#11 posted 08-16-2014 12:33 AM

Thanks for the warm welcome and advice :) I’ll try to post some photos of the plane later. I need some help dating it anyway. I saw lots of “show your” threads I’d love to post to as well.

I should mention that when I “restore” something that usually just means removing rust, cleaning and adjusting. So far I’m too lazy to polish anything except a wood handle ;) I was absolutely planning to use the bedrock plane. I currently use a beat up old Keen Kutter K4 with a cracked casting and pitted iron that I got for next to nothing. It works and I would never get rid of it since it was my first plane, but something better would certainly be nice.

I’m planning to pick up a supposedly Swedish made wood smooth plane for $20 (that’s high for me, so a bit risky) off CL next week. I’ve been cleaning up a maple top from an old workbench I bought (another coming home tomorrow), and too much planing all at once has flared up my carpal tunnel a bit. I was thinking the shape of the wood plane with the horn may be more comfortable then the metal planes. My right hand just doesn’t feel right on the smaller metal plane totes. If that plane works well and feels good then maybe I’ll sell the bedrock so I can get some things I need more. I just took a look at the “trade & swap” forum, which seems way better than ebay or craigslist, but I haven’t read the rules yet. Do you guys recommend that as a good way to buy and sell?

Thanks again,

View sikrap's profile


1121 posts in 2781 days

#12 posted 08-16-2014 03:24 PM

Congrats on the find, that definitely deserves a “You Suck!!”. That will make a great user (assuming there are no issues) and you will be hard pressed to find another at that price, so I’d say tune it up and use it. Here’s a site that may help you in dating it. If you do decide to sell it, you could get a large portion of what you’ll need for a LN

-- Dave, Colonie, NY

View 12strings's profile


434 posts in 1806 days

#13 posted 08-16-2014 07:11 PM

I tend to aim towards a minimalistic hand tool set (& I don’t use many power tools). So I have no desire to have 3-4 Jack planes sitting around, for example…

In your case here’s what my thinking would be. I would do a general de-rusting and tune up the Bedrock to good usable condition, but not work to hard at removing patina that doesn’t affect use. I would decide if it was a plane I was going to use a lot, or if I already had a good #4 or 4.5, I would try both and see which worked better. If the Bedrock is clearly the superior in function, I would get rid of my other one and eat the loss of whatever profit I might have gained. But If I have another plane(s) that can do the same job just as well, then I would not need the bedrock and could sell it for a good profit.

-- I'm strictly hand-tool only...unless the power tool is faster and easier!

View fuigb's profile


391 posts in 2379 days

#14 posted 08-17-2014 02:34 PM

Seems that we the decision by the OP is whether he’s more user or collector. If user then it’s a matter of cost-benefit analysis, i.e. does keeping a tool get in the way of having something else that can be put to immediate use? There are times where being sentimental is justified or being a hoarder is logical (anyone know where to find .380?), but in my case I’ll take stock of my present and dream about my future. If the tool in hand stands in the way of progress then it’s a candidate for disposal. I’ll also say that I’m finally at a stage where I can afford this hobby, so liquidating an used plane no longer determines whether or not I will have wood or finish or screws, etc.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View Jim B's profile

Jim B

15 posts in 803 days

#15 posted 08-17-2014 04:32 PM

More good advice. Thanks everyone. I suppose I may be a collector in the sense that I have too many tools, but that’s really just because I can’t resist cheap old tools and I never sell anything :) At this point I have no interest in owning anything I won’t use though.

Based on the comments here I think I should be safe to do some minimal cleanup on the bedrock and try it out. If it doesn’t work noticeably better than my current plane I guess I’ll have to suck it up and try to sell it :( I think some people might be uncomfortable buying from a brand new LJ member though, so I’ll probably wait a while.

The photos of the plane I took with my phone are even worse than normal, so I’ll have to get out my real camera tonight and take a few more. Thanks again for all the input!

showing 1 through 15 of 18 replies

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