Whether starting a new hobby or you broke something for an existing on, there is always a price tag. For most of us, we want to try and keep the price down, so I decided to lay out some of the top things I do (and my reasoning) when looking to add to my collection.
So, what are the top places to purchase used tools for woodworking? Here’s my go-to list:
- Antique Shops
- Garage/Yard Sales
- Flea Markets
- Clearance Shelves
Why these? Although this isn’t an exhaustive list, I wanted to try and order it, at least semi-order it. There are plenty of things to be weary about with such a large purchase, so don’t make some common mistakes when doing this.
One of the main reasons I ordered the list this way is locality, but more importantly, the ability to get hands on the tools before buying.
Craigslist is going to be a great source for local tools. It is one of the largest places to find things, and is often used in more rural areas which makes chances of finding something great. If you are in a city, no doubt you’ll be able to find what you need here. Don’t forget to barter. That holds true for most of these places, bartering is a common practice and can decrease your cost a lot.
I love the Facebook Marketplace. If you read my post on finding live edge slabs of wood, you know how I love this.
The large advantages of Facebook are: it is used by more people than just about any other service, it is super easy to use and search, and (my favorite) you can adjust location and distance. This means you can search nearby places, and places you’ll be in the future or go regularly. People here are also very accustomed to being offered lower prices, which makes it nice for bargain deals.
The other day, I found a wood planer on here marked way down and barely used!
This is going to surprise a lot of people. It shouldn’t be your primary source of tools, but when it comes to hand tools, antique shops are super great. Old tools are often build sturdy, and just need a little TLC to be able to get them working perfectly. I get pull knives as well as hand saws and clamps there. This is also nice because less populated areas often have antique shops around that rent space, so the sellers and items are ever-changing.
For a tiny population in New England, these would be called “tag sales”. I like stopping by yard sales pretty regularly, sometimes you find a diamond in the ruff. If you are on any time crunch though, or don’t want to waste random times on random days, then don’t use this method. I often look for old furniture to use and tables to make into work benches as well though.
Flea markets are similar to antique shops, except occasionally you’ll find a nice power tool. If this is available, check one out one weekend. You may really like what you find, or there may be nothing. Either way, it can’t hurt to check if the option is there.
Not to go out and search frantically here, but sometimes you find just what you need! And sometimes, just what you didn’t know you needed haha
I do this every time I’m in a Lowe’s, Home Depot, Harbor Freight, etc… I go by whatever clearance they have and see if something I will need in the future is there. It’s a great way to get new stuff cheap.
This is always my last resort. Although you can find great deals here, you don’t get to use the tools or even really see them. Make sure you have returns, and that the seller has good feedback. Of course, most of the time it’s safe. Another tip – make an offer. This is the easiest bartarting system in the world. You can submit an offer, they can say no or yes or make a counter, but either way you lose nothing.
That all being said, there are a lot more considerations to take into account when searching for new (or new to you) tools!
What Tools Do You Want?
If you’re looking for high end power tools, maybe going used isn’t the best idea. Although that new planer or fancy saw may be a couple hundred dollars off the price, if it breaks in the next year, that can cost you a a whole lot more. If it’s a staple tool, that you will use regularly, make sure to pay a little extra to get something that will last.
How Much Can You Spend?
You obviously have to ask yourself this. If your budget is pretty low, follow the steps, do the research, make offers. If you are higher on the budget, even if not approaching the “new” price, you probably have a good shot at getting exactly what you want.
If you are looking for cheaper tools, or just small pieces, go to antique shops first. This will be the easiest way to get high quality but affordable hand tools. I love my old school pull knives and hand planer. They have a lot more character and make me feel just down right skilled and BA to use.
If it’s a large purchase, definitely make sure you search farther away. Going a hour or two drive will be worth a couple hundred dollars to most people.
How Patient Can You Be?
This is the biggest factor to get cheap tools. Sometimes you’ll hit the jackpot right away, but often you want to wait. Not a lot of people are buying specialized tools, or going to travel for a small tool. You have the freedom and ability to wait as long as you want, and then take the best deal that comes along. Sometimes it pays to have a lot of patience when looking to get the best deals.