I wanted to cover the most common and arguably the most important tool in a woodworkers kit and try to explain how to value these when the opportunity arises. The same equation and rules should apply to other sized planes in the range. Prices are current 2018.
Below shows how we value a particular tool such a Record or Stanley No: 4 prior to refurbishment as they require different levels of work to get them to the standard we feel is paramount for competent woodworking.
There is a range of conditions to consider first, they consist of the following.
- Parts – Usually damaged with broken handles but are useful for spares, probably worth a fiver if its got a half decent iron.
- Poor – Again usually complete but heavily rusted and will require extreme attention and lots of hard work to restore. £5
- Average – This covers most used planes that require a major overhaul to use and generally look tatty. £6-8
- Fair – These would be in usable condition and suitable for odd jobs rather than competent woodworking, generally with all the right parts. £8-12
- Good – Clean and serviced tool in good sharp and well looked after condition. £20.00+
- Very good – Good clean and serviced tool in good sharp and looked after condition. £30.00+ Like our Planes
- Mint – Boxed and lightly used and very original, generally in need of fine tuning and set up. £40.00+
Most vintage planes found tend to be fair condition at best and require a lot of work to get them to work to an optimum standard. Anything less than “very good” will affect the tools performance and this is the standard we sell all refurbished planes, however there is a big step up from “good” to “very good” as this involves ensuring the plane has been lapped on a precision flat surface plate amongst other things.
If you ever wondered why people online only show how to refurbish a No: 4 smoother it’s generally because they know doing larger planes is a significantly harder job when it comes to lapping them flat!
Things to avoid and to be aware of when buying old used planes.
- Avoid pitting as a plane with this will require extreme attention and many hours of hard work to rectify the problem and there is every chance it cannot be solved as the pitted areas tend to re-rust even in dry workshops. Every pitted plane is a major gamble.
- Until the plane has been stripped down there is always a chance that incorrect parts have been used, never assume otherwise.
- Rust hides a multitude of sins and there in no guarantee the sole hasn’t got hairline cracks, treat rusty tools as poor.
- Test the plane adjusts correctly by setting chip-breaker to a fine position and check the iron protrudes beyond the sole, if a plane doesn’t adjust assume it is in poor condition.
- Avoid planes with mixed maker parts as these are often incomparable, including screws.
- Beware of refurbished planes when undertaken by a novice, paint and polish have little impact on a tools performance.
Whilst there are always going to be those who want to save a few quid to do it themselves this generally translates into risk as noted above and costs for abrasive materials, paint if required and most likely 1/2 a day and the need a good scrub up afterwards including those clothes worn. Even after this, most would find it difficult to reach the standards we achieve here but even if this was matched i’m sure those who did it would soon appreciate what is done for the price of our planes.
All too often we see people pay over the odds for planes that require a lot of work, this unfortunately has an effect on what people expect for used tools when they sell them, we try our best to keep prices down but an overpriced market place only puts pressure on this.