We all love a bargain when buying old tools but genuinely it only happens on rare occasions when we are in the right place at the right time, more often than not people like to tell ourselves we bought well even if it wasn’t the case.
I buy tools every week from a range of sources and see first hand how far those tools are from preforming to their optimum performance. It often takes a considerable amount of time to get them right which some are prepared to do for themselves given that they are quipped properly.
The fact is we revitalise tools every day and often those old tools have rogue or foreign parts which we replace out of our stocks but most tradesmen or hobbyists rarely have these to hand, which will often cause issues with refurbishment. Stanley for example have their own thread so other parts are not compatible then you have other threads to contend with for a missing screw for example, so often what might seem a minor problem results in a headache in the waiting.
Take planes for example, I see many sold on a internet auction site in varied conditions but what I am certain of is 95+ percent will require setting up if they are complete. Saws are often sharpened unevenly and rarely jointed to get them straight as this requires more work. Chisels on the other hand require sharpening, lapping flat, re-handling squaring up whilst many other tools require other checks which to the untrained eye wouldn’t be seen.
What’s your time worth? Most won’t spend time sharpening their own saws and opt for a plastic throwaway instead but somehow think a plane will work OK just by sharpening it. But is ‘OK’ the standard you want your work to be? passable maybe? or do you want it to excel and aim for perfection? It won’t happen unless the tools you use match your skills when using them.
There is a reason why the best use premier quality tools, but the best often understand how to get the best out of a tool because their understanding of it is superior. This may be the case but given their expertise even they realise there is a far better solution when buying used tools than doing it themselves especially when buying them if they are already refurbished correctly.
If a tool is for use it should be the best it can be, if its not then the finish of your work will suffer, that’s the true cost, so ask yourself is saving a few quid on a tool that has no standard really a saving at all?
Every plane that comes in is checked for flatness on a precision 5″ thick granite surface plate, we don’t chance it unless the tool is in mint condition, nor should you, otherwise you are simply inheriting, importing and accepting another persons cast offs which may well be the reason they are selling it in the first place.
Buying quality used tools should be a good experience and one that offers genuine value for money over buying the equivalent quality new, not by name I hasten to add because many known tool makers are a far cry from their past. Similarly a cast off or a tool sold by someone with little experience or knowledge is equally misleading as is what you get from them isn’t the same at all.
A real bargain or just a poor imitation of the same thing.