Looking for input on used hand tool market in these times

Turtlewood

Kevin
User
Hey Everyone,

I've been away from woodworking and ncwoodworker.net for about 6+ years. Used to be semi-active here with group-buy/lumber-runs and looking at my post history, the last post before this one was Jan 2015:

The world of hand tools, especially LN (and some Lee Valley) appears to be in quite an odd state. Like other stuff, especially hobby small manufactured items, surely are impacted by COVID. I've spent some of my time away from here with guitars and that hobby was affected as well pricing and availability wise.

I was thinking about selling some unused LN/Veritas hand tools that I bought back in the day, so I started checking online. Completed auctions prices on eBay are at crazy levels. It kinda blows my mind. I also came here (and sawmillcreek) to check for more inline "real-world" references, but do not see many similar hand tools here on https://ncwoodworker.net/forums/index.php?forums/for-sale-wanted.151/

So I don't intend this post as a "seller out fishing", but it is kinda hard to not come across this way.

I'm a ncwoodworker.net member who left the room 6 years ago and walking back in, humbly asks for a "does what I'm seeing make sense" summary?

Thanks,
-Kevin
 

Turtlewood

Kevin
User
Sorry for being vague. I didn't want to make it specific to the tools I had, but intended to be of a the state of the used hand tool market question.

But to be more specific, here are some examples of where to me things appeared a bit off the map...

I have a pair of Left and Right No. 140 Skew Block Planes, new in boxes still. Looking on www.lie-nielsen.com they still have the brass right side ones listed at $275, but out of stock. They don't have left one listed at all.

So, I went out on ebay and looked up "completed listings" for "lie-nielsen 140":

Those ebay prices on completed listings with sales completed of $376, $610.75, $425, $560, and even $785 for a Left Hand one:


Another example would be the new-ever-sharpened LN chisels.
Mortise Chisels Lie-Nielsen Toolworks
New ones if in stock should sell for $65.

Looking at completed eBay listings that sold, many new-ish chisels are selling in the mid $100 range:

So that is what made me wonder what the state of the used market is right now.

I know for example, that high demand computer CPUs and Graphics Cards are selling for more than retail in the used market, but I did not expect this in hand tools.

Thanks for your time and insights.

-Kevin
 

tvrgeek

Scott
User
Lots of current demand, lots of out of stock, crazy asking prices and some actually paying it, but look more at what things actually sell for. I saw a Harbor Freight lathe, new now $450, listed for $1200! Worth a good solid $250 used.

So what is actually fair price? Some" like new" tools a fair price can be a pretty high portion of new. Some are more desirable, like original rosewood/brass Bridge City are probably worth as much as they were sold for. Of course come are actually collectables. Hint, not every Stanly plane is a collectable. Most are just good tools to be used!

Of course the great equalizer is an auction. I see more and more only "buy it now" and fewer auctions. What anything is worth is what someone will pay for it. Sometimes it is worth more to you.
I have done "fair" by the forum and Craig's list. So many games on e-bay.
 

jlimey

Jeff
Senior User
Kevin,

What you are seeing on ebay for prices on LN tools may make sense for some of the tools, but certainly not all.

Short answer is that if you have a LN tool that you will never need, there has never been a better time to sell it. As you have seen, prices are crazy.

Long answer - the price surge has been driven by LN discontinuing quite a few tools due to COVID. There are no assurances which of these will be put back into production. Some will likely never return, others may become special productions (with likely higher prices), and others will go back to normal production. I spoke with someone at LN and they are noncommittal.

This uncertainty has led to the surge in prices. This may explain the prices (1.5x - 3x new) for those not being made now. I don't get that even ones in production are selling for more than new. I just bought a 4 1/2, waiting for a month to get it. I paid $335 as I was afraid htat it too might be discontinued. On ebay they are selling for $40 more than that. Wow - just saw that >1 low-angle jointer has sold for about $1000. That is crazy.

I wish I had a crystal ball to know which models would come back. I would sell those and make a killing. I have a couple that I never use that I may part with - but probably not! :)
 

bbrown

Bill
User
Sounds like a good time for some competitors to start making quality planes that normal people can afford.
I have seen this with saws for example . Florip comes to mind, but Veritas makes quality users that are reasonably priced. Would be great to see this happen with other hand tools, especially planes.
As mentioned, the used L-N prices are insane.
 
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tvrgeek

Scott
User
A Stanley Bailey #6 ( simple version) from Home Despot goes for $62. Add a Hock iron and you have a decent plane anyone can afford. Their "Sweetheart" #4 goes for $250 which is actually a good plane. Fully adjustable. Do they make all the nifty patterns of boutique makers? No. But that market is very small. If it was larger, they would fill it. That there are many boutique manufactures is actually amazing.

The logistical supply chain is all messed up. Many products have long lead times. Companies make what they believe they will sell and not what some bystander who does not buy them thinks they should produce. Smart companies are shifting production to items that are selling at the expense of low volume products. Why should a company spend money making products that may sit on the shelf when they are back-ordered on others? Even boutique companies need to follow sound business practice or they won't be in business. If you have a better idea, there are plenty of empty buildings here in NC you can start your own boutique tool manufacturing business. Smart companies are not over-expanding and over-leveraging because they know this is a surge and will dip drastically next year.

As far as what people are willing to pay for a tool? A tool is worth what someone is willing to pay. If you are in the market for a boutique tool just because you want it, then price is probably not a factor. Those of us without that kind of money just have to be left out. That is how it has worked for a hundred thousand years. It is not going to change by whining.

FWIW, Bridge City has a huge sale going on right now on their planes. Only make a few though.
Clifton, WoodRIver, Bench Dog, Veritas, L-N, Kunz, Primus, Infinity, Stanley, Apologia, Holtey, and even some home-shop specialty planes on e-bay. Seems a pretty robust market actually. Even low to middle end like Buck and Quangsheng* are perfectly useable tools capable of stroking your work if not your ego. Heck, half my planes are Handyman. With a hock iron, they work just fine.

If I were to whine, it would be for those who collect to put on a shelf denying those of us who want to use them as a tool.

*Of course some companies who OEM to major brands, or those who totally rip off other companies products can't ship to the US.
 

jlimey

Jeff
Senior User
Sounds like a good time for some competitors to start making quality planes that normal people can afford.
I have seen this with saws for example . Florip comes to mind, but Veritas makes quality users that are reasonably priced. Would be great to see this happen with other hand tools, especially planes.
I'd bypass L-N and go with Veritas at this time. As mentioned, the L-N prices are insane.
Bill, to be clear, I was referring to L-N prices on the used market. The manufacturer hasn't raised prices yet. L-N has been around for 40 years. If someone could make similar tools in quality in the U.S. for much less money, it seems like it would have happened by now. Veritas makes similar quality planes for similar money in Canada. It seems as Lee-Valley has upped their prices and the planes are as expensive as L-N.

BTW, Florip dovetail saws now cost more than a L-N. Their low introductory, make a name for low priced quality saws phase is over.
 

mdbuntyn

Matt
Corporate Member
@Turtlewood Auction prices are usually the result of people getting into a bidding war. When you combine lack of supply, with a need to win, and (in the case of Left-handed #140s) a discontinued product, you can expect crazy prices. Look at the completed "Buy it Now" listings, and you'll probably see more "reasonable" prices.

Tom Lie-Nielsen recently did an interview explaining what the company has gone through: Where have all the planes gone? An interview with Thomas Lie-Nielsen – Hand Tool Book Review
 

Turtlewood

Kevin
User
Hey Everyone. Thanks for the background info on the current state specific to LN tools.

Odd times for sure, and just another example I guess.

-Kevin
 

bbrown

Bill
User
Bill, to be clear, I was referring to L-N prices on the used market. The manufacturer hasn't raised prices yet. L-N has been around for 40 years. If someone could make similar tools in quality in the U.S. for much less money, it seems like it would have happened by now. Veritas makes similar quality planes for similar money in Canada. It seems as Lee-Valley has upped their prices and the planes are as expensive as L-N.

BTW, Florip dovetail saws now cost more than a L-N. Their low introductory, make a name for low priced quality saws phase is over.
Yes, I was referring to the used market. Was not aware Florip had increased their prices. Thank you for the update.
 

Turtlewood

Kevin
User
Well, I posted them for sale on local craigslist.

As many said, the current level of pricing for LN tools in new-or-close-too is more speculative than practical.

Looking at the "Rules for the For Sale / Wanted forum" it appears that I am able to post there even though I've been away for 6+ years, so I will do so out of respect to the forum for helping me understand where some used tools, specifically LN are at in these odd times.

Thanks again.
 

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