It’s not until you use a flat plane can you tell the difference, however it’s easy to forget what a good plane feel like to use. I would compare it to using new and used sandpaper, the latter will work but not as effectively and the new stuff.
The same applies to used planes, yes most work but not as effectively as they once did.
Below illustrates how out of plane a used plane can be and over the years it has gradually worn to the users action, this action will more than likely differ from user to user, whether they are left or right handed is a good example.
Notice how the first image shows low points to the center at the mouth and to one side, this is caused by the users action.
For a plane to work to its optimum the back of the mouth should be flat and parallel to the toe and heel, the last image shows how this particular sole was finished.
Simply cleaning planes when selling them merely hides this.
Knowing what you are buying:
At Tooltique you can be assured this work to get the planes back into plane again is carried out. There may be cheaper used planes out there but they wouldn’t be finished to the same standard as we want our used tools to be as good as they can be for the user. We also strip and clean every component plus sharpen the iron to approximately 22 degrees and hone them as part of the service.