Pricing old tools
Greetings oh exalted fellow knot-heads,
I have one of those questions that even I would shake my head at when first reading. But time is short and I need help quick! (please, please, please!!!!)
A friend of the family (and a d*mn fine woodworker) passed away last year. His widow is looking to pass his tools along to someone who will put them to use, ie. me as their kids aren’t interested. It’s possible she’ll simply pass them directly to me, but I want to be able to offer a fair price as well.
Here’s the part where even I must laugh at myself — I haven’t seen any of the tools yet, just second hand information I have received from non-woodworkers (aka my parents). I know there is a bandsaw and a lathe. I strongly suspect there is a large assortment of hand tools as well. Most of the tools would have to be at least 15 to 20 years old or older, and I believe they’ll be mid to high grade hobbyist tools. At this point, I’m assuming they were stored properly but there’s a good possibility that I’m going to have to do quite a bit of clean-up / restoration on the tools. Due to health concerns, it’s been quite a while since he was able to work with his tools.
How can I figure out what would be a reasonable value for any of these tools? Firearms have the blue book, but I don’t know what’s comparable for wood tools.
Glen, unless I was looking at a bunch of Lie-Neilsen planes and the like, I'd say used tools can't be worth much more than 20% of original value, and additionally, how many of those things do you already own (that would make a second one worthless)?
Hi blewcrowe,Thanks for the feedback, that's the type of advice I'm looking for! I have zero experience shopping in the used market, so I don't have any rules of thumb to go by.Glen
http://www.astragalpress.com/book_index.htm publishes books on old tools and the values. More for collectors. For regular tools use Woodcraft, Craftsman, etc
I've done a little more searching and I'm going to slightly revise my question:
Given that none of the tools are likely to be antiques, how do you decide what you're willing to pay for a tool? Some of the tools might be an upgrade from what I (you!) currently have, and some of the tools are things not in your current toolbox.
Glen... My woodworking club recently lost a 'Gentleman Woodworker.' He always purchased 'top shelf' stuff, used it very little, and spent lots of time talking shop with the rest of the gang. His wife had no idea of what he had purchased or what it was worth. Several club members gathered tools from his collection, deducted about 30% of their original value and put them up for sale to the club members. Lots of L-N planes, band saw, table saw drill press and on and on. Also lots of saw blades, router bits and everything you could think of. Smaller 'stuff' was discounted about 50%. ALL, and I do mean ALL, the proceeds from the sale went to the wife. We're comming up on the third sale, as there was just too much to do in one sale. He really had no 'old' stuff, so prices, interest and value was high. In this area (Downstate NY), older woodworking tools and machines usually go for about 25% - 35% of their (replacement) value, again depending on condition, manufacturer and wear. Table-saws and bandsaws go MUCH higher, small tools and off-brands, etc, go low.
I hope this info helps. SawdustSteve
Hi Steve,Thanks for sharing your experience, it really helped give me a good idea of starting points for value. I must admit I chuckled at your description of the Gentleman Woodworker. Fortunately in this case, my family's friend put his tools to good use when he could, and I suspect several times even when he probably shouldn't have.Your comments have made me think about what to do with the stuff that I won't really need or want. I think it will end up being a "take it all" situation, which has its associated pluses and minuses... I like the idea of working with the local guild for taking care of some of those items, but I will ashamedly admit I'm not involved in the local guild. Glen
A GREAT way to sell them is on Craig's list. Are you familiar with Craig's list on the web? Just type in http://www.craigslist.com in your browser and click "enter". If you are near one of the Craigs List cities, it is phenomenal. You can look for tools in that list and check out the system. It is easy to put stuff on it for sale.
Now about pricing. It is impossible to give your a precise answer to that. But I can help. I suggest having the people with the tools check to see if there is a cabinetmaker or woodworker in the town where they live. If they know the guy, all the better. That person can give them some suggestions. At least he can tell them which are the "Collectables" and which are the miscellaneous, and which aren't worth listing separately. The final group can be put in a box and sold as a group.
If they have any "web savvy", they should be able to make a list of the bigger tools and look them up on the web to see what something similar sells for now, and then figure a quarter of that (or some such thing.)
If there is a person in their city who has a business selling things on EBAY for other people, then that is possible too. They may make out better that way. I can't tell from here.
If one looks and sees a Sears 10" table saw of undeterminate age, I would say to ask $150 for it, if it turns on and runs. If it is a Sears radial arm saw, I'd recommend $25 to $50. Planers, drill presses or nondescript names and ages could be around $100 to $150 in general. Of course, there are exceptions to everything. I am just giving you my opinions on what to do if they can't find anyone to help.
I hope that helps. If they can't find anyone they know to help them with the pricing, send me an emai, and we'll set up a time, and they can call me, and I'll talk to them on the phone and ask some questions, and give them some advice on prices. Obviously I wont charge them, and I wont buy what they have for sale.
Measure your output in smiles per board foot.
A great way to calculate 'fair market value' is also Craig's list. Go on there, do a search on a specific tool e.g. band saw (be sure to try it both spellings band saw and bandsaw) and see what's available in your local market. A couple weeks of this and you'll get a idea of what fair market value is for tools. I have found Craigs List to be a fantastic resource, I recently bought 1000 board feet of maple that way, also bought my 19' travel trailer off of Craigs List and doing what I suggested to you all, allowed me to know what that trailer was worth in 'my neck of the woods' if ya know what I mean. Good luck.Jeff
Hi Jeff,Thanks for the tip. Your suggestion combined with Mel's made me truly not like Craig's list for the danger it put me in. ;-) I found some very nice deals on hardwoods that I chose to pass up on for the moment.How are you using CL for a reference? Do you just look over the ads related to what you're interested in and then come up with an aggregate price? Kinda like throwing darts but having a smaller set of numbers to throw against?Thanks,
Hi Mel,I have now concluded that craig's list is evil. Mostly because I was severely tempted to start buying some of the lumber that was advertised there. The only downside is that you can't really tell if something sold or not. However, thanks for the tips! We're in a burb of Kansas City, so that definitely affects things as well. The general level of what's being traded about is of a newer vintage than what will be in this particular lot. A useful analogy is an "older" car -- it still runs and has inherent value because of that, but because it's not "vintage" it will be a lesser value and a smaller interested audience.The widow is definitely not tech-savvy, and I think her main goal is to see her husband's tools go to someone that will appreciate them and put them to use. So I may end up getting a "family" deal out of this, but I'm certainly not expecting it to go that way.SawDustSteve's comments made me think about the pending deal more from her (the widow's) point of view, and I think the 'right' thing to do in this case is to give her an offer for everything, including all the old stains and crud that simply need to go to hazmat recycling. However, that makes me wonder if I'm taking on an undue liability there if I try to turn around and sell the items I can't really use. And now I'm just wondering out loud....Perhaps I'll end up with a post in a few days of "identifying collectors grade tools..." ;-)Thanks again for the help and the insight, most appreciated.Glen
Glad to help.
Have fun. I hope it works out. I ran into a similar situation with a stamp collection from the grandmother of my son in law. Those are very difficult situations. I almost got in trouble for trying to help. Maybe I should just keep to myself.
MelMeasure your output in smiles per board foot.
Although there are used tool dealers with much more experience than me, I have bought and sold hundreds of hand tools at local flea markets, ebay, and with individuals.
In these days of the internet there are multiple markets and multiple market levels. On ebay a well taken care of used Lie Nielsen will sell at 90 to 110 percent of retail. Crazy, I know, but they do.
Stanley bench planes 3 thru 8 will sell for more locally than on ebay. An 8 will bring more than a 3, but they generally won't sell for much. Might be an exception if it is a type 11 with 3 patent dates. Or comes in the original box.
Odds and ends of screw drivers and other miscellaneous handtools are generally going to be garage sale prices -- again, unless they are a particular collectible model. 750 and 720 chisels, depending on condition, are going to run from 25 to 75 bucks.
In a similar situation, a widow here sold her husbands tools. I asked her about a price on a couple of handplanes. She gave me a price. I then gave her twice that much. I paid a fair price and she got more than she thought it was worth.
Sounds like your ethics are in place. Your local market will help you determine value. If you have questions about others I am sure you could give the type and model number of the tool here on Knots and people would give you their input. No shortage of that here. :-)
Alan - planesaw
Hi Alan, Thanks for your feedback, and you certainly qualify as having way more experience than I do in this realm!I have noticed the "bargain hunter" phenomenon before where the hunter ends up paying more than they would have for full retail simply because they thought they were getting that great bargain. Now that I think about it, I think some of my relatives are like that. ;-)You make a good point regarding the value of the average hand tools. Not much really stands out, and they are so plentiful as to not be worth much. It's a tip well appreciated.I spoke directly with the widow last night at dinner, instead of through my intermediaries. I'm (still) in line behind her daughter for claim to the tools, but that's how it should be I think. I expressed that it would be better if the daughter took some (all) of the tools as they would have more meaning for her. But, she doesn't do any woodworking, so it's somewhat doubtful that she'll take anything.Sounds like you did the right thing as well when dealing with the widow you had mentioned.Thanks again for the help,
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