Whether you’re an experienced woodworking craftsman or a total rookie you can save money by purchasing used woodworking equipment instead of new tools. Used woodworking tools still have plenty of useful life left in them and usually are being sold by someone who is looking to find a good home for them.
Where to buy used tools
When looking for used woodworking tools, several sources come to mind.
The first is garage sales and estate sales. Many people buy tools with great intentions but after a few years of the tools collecting dust in the garage or cellar, the original owner is ready to part with them. That’s good news for you because you just know that they have barely been used and the seller needs the cash. The next place I would look is in the local classified ads and the local thrift paper or penny saver newspaper. Weekend flea markets are another good place to find used tools, and lastly I would look on eBay.
When buying woodworking tools, be sure to inspect them closely before parting with your money. Yes, there will be some wear on them, but they should not be worn out. Hammer handles should be tight in the hammer-head. Saws should be still sharp, not bent or missing teeth. Hand planes should have blades without any nicks or gouges.
Chisels should not have any deep gouges in the cutting edge (although chisels are fairly easy to get sharpened). Rulers should have legible markings. If you are buying power tools, be sure to ask the owner to plug them in and demonstrate that they actually work. Don’t forget your most important tool and that is your Eye Safety Glasses or goggles!
When buying tools, be sure to buy the tools you need to complete your project. Your woodworking project plans should be telling you what tools and materials you need to complete the project. Be sure you have the right tools for the job. If you cannot find the tools you need used, then by all means, go to your local home improvement store and buy new.
While you are there, ask the floor person if they have a bargain bin or a section where returned tools are on clearance. In this slow economy it’s not unusual for people to by a tool for a home improvement job and then return it when they are done using it. You might pick up a good used power tool like a circular saw just because someone decided to return it to the store. By the way, if you have any doubts about what tools you need for your woodworking project, your local home improvement store is a great place to get advice from the pros who are happy to help you.