Some woodworkers online will offer advice about buying cheap used tools online and refurbish them yourself, here is some pitfalls to this and some considerations.
- New tools
- Old tools do offer good value
- DIY Restoration what’s involved
- Dealers or Sellers
New Tools: There are various makers of tools but in the main you generally get what you pay for. Cheap tools inevitably become less cost effective over time and will be less effective in general, whilst expensive new tools will offer quality but offer less choice unless you have very deep pockets.
Old tools do offer good value: Old tools should never be compared to the cheaper tools available today, whilst traditional brands aren’t the quality they were back in the day. Old tools offer quality at affordable prices but finding good examples is becoming ever harder to find.
DIY Restoration what’s involved: Restoring old tools is first and foremost a messy job and if done correctly creates lots of dirty dust which has to land somewhere, namely in the area involved. Don’t forget to use a good dust mask as those rust/metal particles aren’t exactly good for your lungs, whilst a good set of overalls which the wife will just love cleaning along with the bathroom afterwards. If done correctly a precise flat area is required and plenty of elbow grease will be needed.
Time: Is it worth your time? Professional rates for woodworkers are generally much higher than that of a tool dealer or tool restorer. If you are retired and time isn’t a factor then have a go, but some tools can be hard work to restore! It’s almost ironic the choices some people make (my tongue is firmly in my cheek may I add).
Pitfalls: Buying old tools online from just a photo can be misleading, whilst the item may look complete it’s often the case that inferior replacement parts may have been used in it’s lifetime, you also cannot judge the wear the tool has encountered and whether it’s actually fit for purpose. Saws are a prime example, as they tend to erode inside the handle and there is no way of telling what you have purchased, until you take it apart and by then it’s too late to return.
Prices: Well here is where it gets tricky, what is the overall price including shipping? how much have you really saved? opposed from buying a fully refurbished tool? More importantly how much time will it take you to get it to the same standard?
Dealers or Sellers: Speaking from experience when buying from the public and occasional sellers of old tools, things can go wrong and there are hidden flaws, this is exactly why dealers tend to carry many spare parts. It will be the same for all other buyers of old tools, however as a reputable dealer I would never sell tools with hidden faults, as I always replace any faulty parts from the spares I hold in stock. There are many unscrupulous, less knowledgeable sellers of tools, who fool the best of tool dealers let alone those who take up woodworking as a hobby. This would put many off from buying old tools or at least reduces the value of old tools in their eyes. So if you ever wonder why dealers may be that little bit more pricey, consider the above and the many spares they have accumulated in bringing that good tool back to market. There are many people who have bought a dud tool from occasional sellers and many who will have these sitting in a corner somewhere, but unfortunately there are also those who will resell their problem onto someone else. It’s a viscous circle until someone reputable eventually turns it into spares, now there is no need to guess who eventually cops the final losses but that’s the nature of the game for us dealers of quality used tools.
It’s also important to understand in this day and age of the internet, we don’t have access to a mountain of cheaper used tools and our prices directly relate to the time involved in refurbishing them to a high standard and eradicating misfortune you as a buyer could experience as a result of the above.
I provide a very good service to those who appreciate good things and good value when everything is considered, whilst also having worked hard developing skills, used by old tool makers and those passed down from my father, who was used tool dealer for many years.
I deal with the wise and those who have better things to do with their time than DIY tools refurbishment, such as refining their tool sharpening & set up skills, for their area of expertise used by the best old school tradesmen.
It’s never to late to learn and develop old skills commonly used but that’s another subject I will cover in a separate article.
Thanks for reading.