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Buying useful old planes on EBay

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Neil

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Some of you (i.e. Alf :wink:) may remember that I inherited some planes (along with some other items) which Alf very kindly advised me on in this thread . I'm ashamed to admit that these planes (Stanley-Bailey #7, Record #77 and Record #405) represent my entire collection apart from the usual doorstop new Stanley which everyone seems to mistakenly buy when they first start butchering wood.

I would like to expand this collection a bit (for use, not for c*ll*cting) so I have something more suitable for smoothing, a jack and one or two block planes. My rough shopping list is:

#4
#4 1/2 (maybe)
#5

#60 1/2 block
#220 block

#20 Compass Plane (because I've wanted one since I was a kid, although I might have to wait until I have that miraculous dream find at a car boot sale :D)

Having lurked on ebay in the Tools Hardware, Collectables section I've noticed that the planes I'm interested in seem to go for not much money - about 5-10% of the price of the equivalent L-N. My question is, how do you tell a good Stanley from a rubbish one? I can recognise the really new Stanleys, but when did they mutate from something useful into the modern junk? For instance, here is a typical ebay Stanley #4 - is it possible to tell from this as to whether this will tune up into a useful plane?

I realise I'm probably asking the impossible here - maybe I should just send my shopping list & a blank cheque to Alf! In case anyone wants to suggest it, I can't just go for L-N/Veritas/Clifton instead at the moment - it is a case of either getting old Stanleys/Records, or not getting anything :cry:

Thanks!

NeilCFD
 
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You could always go to Ray Iles - probably more expensive than what you get off eBay, but well reconditioned kit, and cheaper than new Records or Stanleys.
 

ike

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apart from the usual doorstop new Stanley which everyone seems to mistakenly buy when they first start butchering wood.
Why do you say this? What is about the modern Stanley plane that is so bad? I'm really interested to know why it was a mistake for me to buy a Stanley No.5. I can't compare judge it against a comparable plane of another make as I don't know anyone personally who has a LN for example. I keep the blade as sharp as I can with my 1200 waterstone and leather strop and it seems to do the job to me. Is there a significant and obvious difference between plane makes, only to be seem when working figured hardwoods for example? Or is it a more touchy, feely "I can't really describe why I like it so much, but I just want one" sort of difference? (oh yes!, I do admit to certain tool cravings!).

Please, I'm genuinely intrigued by the discussions about what planes to buy (or what not to buy as the case may be). Perhaps this could form another topic with the emphasis towards educating plane numpties like me.

So, come on fellow forumeers - blind me!

Ike
 

Alf

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Neil":zv44uh8g said:
I'm ashamed to admit that these planes (Stanley-Bailey #7, Record #77 and Record #405) represent my entire collection apart from the usual doorstop new Stanley which everyone seems to mistakenly buy when they first start butchering wood.
Everyone has to start somewhere. You wouldn't believe how long I went with just one plane.

Lamb to the Slaughter":zv44uh8g said:
I would like to expand this collection a bit (for use, not for c*ll*cting) so I have something more suitable for smoothing, a jack and one or two block planes. My rough shopping list is:

#4
#4 1/2 (maybe)
#5

#60 1/2 block
#220 block

#20 Compass Plane (because I've wanted one since I was a kid, although I might have to wait until I have that miraculous dream find at a car boot sale :D)
Just for the record, so as you can't say I didn't warn ya -
Step Away From The Edge While You Can, Neil!

Having said which, for the starter on The Slope, I'd cut that back to one block (60 1/2), one smoother (I like the 4 1/2's extra mass, but it's a personal thing. Anyone near you who can let you have a try, like Waka did?) and the jack... Well let's be a bit controversial here. You're doing all your stock prep by hand? Get a jack. You're not? Don't bother just at the moment. The compass plane is outside the parameters of this answer - I can't advise on long-wished for plane wants. :wink:

Seasick voyager adrift on the 'Bay":zv44uh8g said:
Having lurked on ebay in the Tools Hardware, Collectables section I've noticed that the planes I'm interested in seem to go for not much money - about 5-10% of the price of the equivalent L-N. My question is, how do you tell a good Stanley from a rubbish one?
Ahh, the $64,000 question. After about 2 or 3 years of solid and consistant reasearch and reading up, learning to operate a good image programme to inhance the frequently useless Ebay pics, learning all 307 questions you need to ask any seller to have a remote idea if the plane is even in one piece, accumulating a large number of duds and generally wasting a lot of time and money; well, you may get as good as only buying 3 or 4 duff tools a month... I've managed to buy useless planes in the flesh; I've never even bothered to get in the quagmire that is buying sight unseen. Save yourself.

Neil then":zv44uh8g said:
I can recognise the really new Stanleys, but when did they mutate from something useful into the modern junk? For instance, here is a typical ebay Stanley #4 - is it possible to tell from this as to whether this will tune up into a useful plane?
Could be. But what about that crack through the cheek on the other side? <What crack through the cheek on the other side?> The one the seller's not showing you, for all you know. :p Anyway it's a Made In England, stained beech handles, could be anytime from 50s to the 80s I think. Earlier maybe, 'cos the rear tote's quite shapely. Might be a great plane, might be a stinker. Who knows?

Impossible question asker":zv44uh8g said:
I realise I'm probably asking the impossible here - maybe I should just send my shopping list & a blank cheque to Alf!
Now you're talking... :twisted:

Esp speaks wisely; Ray Iles' reconditioned are worth a look if they're not out of your budget. Old block planes are considerably harder to come by in this country, so you could be out of luck there unless you go to a dealer. A list of same in the UK is on my website, "How much is that tool chest in the window?".

Ike, there's lots of things really. The castings aren't allowed to season and do any of their movement thing before machining, the machining itself is much rougher and less well done than times past, the blades are pretty ghastly, the cap iron often needs fettling to stop the plane choking, the handles are gawd awful plastic, the adjustments are sloppy and unresponsive... That's a few of them anyway. If truth be told, if you're happy with it then no worries. Just don't pick up a c.1930s US Stanley with shapely rosewood totes, that's all. It's what did for me... :roll: Although you're right; if you're using softwood all the time then a modern Stanley can just about cope. Start in on pickier hardwoods and suddenly your life's quest is to find the Ultimate Smoother, which eventually always seems to turn out to be an infill, and then you've had it. :wink:

Cheers, Alf
 

Adam

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Espedair Street":2qxiwiso said:
You could always go to Ray Iles - probably more expensive than what you get off eBay, but well reconditioned kit, and cheaper than new Records or Stanleys.
Actually I lost out on three auctions for a Bullnose #90, each time I bottled about £50-£53 pounds, and mine would be the 2nd to last bid, so they invariably went for £50.01 to £53.01 - just my luck :cry:

Anyway, I couldn't be bothered in the end, and rang Ray Iles, and got one for £55. So their wasn't much in it.

I did however, pick up this bargain, but that must have been beginners luck!

https://www.ukworkshop.co.uk/forums/viewtopic.php?t=1915

I'd certainly recommend a Ray Iles, - doesn't he surface grind them - so you don't have to do loads of fettling when you get them?

Adam
 

ike

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Oooooooooohaaaaahhahhaaa!
 

Adam

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I'd say a 4.5, rather than a 4, its a bit quicker.

60 1/2 I got recently, and it's already been in use - not sure why you need two of them for?

I've had a Marples #5 sitting in a drawer for several years now, I've never quite got around to finding a use for it.

Perhaps it's time I flogged in on ebay, as I'm normally ruthless about chucking out junk, which is defined in my workshop as anything I don't use for any extended period of time, as I can't afford the space.....

I do like, however my #7 jointer (which I also replaced recently) and have now given the #7 with ray iles blade away, and have kept a #6 for when I'm working on reconditioned stuff (very rare, but it's a nice security not to have to run your best plane through something.......)

Adam
 

Neil

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Esp - good suggestion, thanks. I might see what he has now that my wishlist has shrunk a bit. And thanks for seconding the suggestion, Adam.

Ike - I'll defer to Alf's technical reasons. Mine is just horrible, horrible, horrible compared to the old #7. It doesn't even say Stanley on mine (maybe they were too embarrassed) but I'm sure it said Stanley on the nasty plastic packaging it came in. It was much cheaper (new) than the Stanley #4 in the Axminster catalogue which is a bit puzzling, so maybe it is much lower quality than your #5 - Do they have different versions of the same plane I wonder? Admittedly, it had about 10 years of dust on the packaging when I got it from a local Irish hardware store - cost 20 punts if I remember rightly.

Alf - ROTFL as usual :lol: Thanks for all the advice - I'm suffering from shock that you actually encouraged me to reduce my plane wishlist :shock: . I'll avoid the temptations of ebay unless something irresistible appears at a price I am prepared to pay if it turns out to be a duff one.

So - please would you bear me in mind if a nice 4 1/2 or 60 1/2 finds its way into Alf's Tool Emporium? When is you next sale, BTW?

I guess the alternative is for me to come up with a nice box :wink: although this could be hampered by a lack of skill and equipment :cry:

Thanks again,

NeilCFD
 

Neil

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Adam":3d69ou4z said:
60 1/2 I got recently, and it's already been in use - not sure why you need two of them for?
The idea was to get a 60 1/2 for fine work, and a 220 (which there seems to be a lot of on Ebay, going for between £8 and £12) for abusing when I'm doing stuff which wouldn't exactly be described as 'fine furniture making' :oops: For the abusive work, I wouldn't need an adjustable mouth so the 220 would be fine...

I might just end up getting the same 60 1/2 as you did - got to try an L-N at some point, haven't I? :wink:

NeilCFD
 

Chris Knight

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Neil,

I will certainly defer to Alf's no doubt greater experience with eBay and maybe I have just been very lucky but apart from a grotty transitional I bought (and my fault really - I should have learnt more about transitionals before buying it) I have always been happy with eBay purchases.

I do tend to buy from folk that sound as if they know what they are selling and I always ask a couple of questions. I then bid the max I am prepared to go and wait till I get an email - If I win fine, if I don't also fine.

The tools I have acquired this way have all been accurately described and I have never felt ripped off. None of which says that I necessarily had a bargain of course!
 

mudman

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Neil":etstcjin said:
My question is, how do you tell a good Stanley from a rubbish one? I can recognise the really new Stanleys, but when did they mutate from something useful into the modern junk? For instance, here is a typical ebay Stanley #4 - is it possible to tell from this as to whether this will tune up into a useful plane?
I don't think you can ever be certain of what you're getting from eBay, especially if they are old planes. I just go by 'blue paint bad, balck paint good' although of course not always true.
I think you can be taking a bit of a risk, that #4 for example, it does look nice and if I was looking for one, I'd bid on it. But, the sole may be awful, or as Alf said, there may be a crack somewhere. However, #4s don't go for very much, probably because there are so many out there, so this one will probably be very reasonable and quite likely a good buy. Just be prepared to do a bit of fettling.

Don't discount the tatty looking planes though. Mint examples will go for a lot of money but the nastier looking ones will go for less and if you're willing to do some work on them, then it can be a good bargain.

Sometimes though, you can't tell either way and you have to ask yourself if you want to risk it.
I was looking for a #5 1/2 and bid on one that had minimal description and a really bad dark picture. Bit of a risk, and when I received it, it was the rustiest plane I had ever seen. :shock: Terrible. I was surprised to find though that the sole was absolutely flat and the sides absolutely square to the sole. Took a while but I cleaned it all up. Tried it on a piece of ash with some wild grain that I was having problems with using my new #6 doorstop. I was amazed at the difference. Loverly, no tear out, smooth, wafer thin shavings. It probably cost me more in time than it was worth. But to me it is was well worth it in the end and I have a really nice user.

Like Chris, I set a limit and won't go beyond this and I always take the cost of postage into account in this limit.
I won't bid on an item where the seller is obviously trying to make money with extortionate postal rates. I also won't bid on an item where the seller wants to pass on paypal charges. I'm also wary of those who don't put on postal charges. I can't be bothered to chase with questions so if I do bid, it will be a very low limit I set for myself.

Saying all that though, it can be great fun. :lol:

Cheers,
Barry
 
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The planes you mention are common and it is relatively easy to find these in GOOD or better condition fairly inexpensively. The #20 might not fit that bill and the #4 1/2 is usually around twice the price of a #4.

Buying on eBay can be a gamble. It is best if you can find someone who deals in tools and is knowledgeable. I used to sell quite a few tools on eBay and my policy is always that a person can return a tool for any reason for a full refund of the auction price and a full refund including shipping if there were any problems I failed to point out. I never had a tool returned or a negative feedback. I got above average prices which I believe were because the buyers felt less risk.

The most sought after Stanley planes were made between 1907 and WWII. Before 1907 the frog design left a little of the blade unsupported and there was no frog adjusting screw. These weren't bad planes but after 1907 they planes were more user friendly. During WWII, planes were made a little more crudely and materials varied, often the totes were made of an unspecified hardwood and painted black. Some people like these planes because the castings were a little heavier. The early Stanley blades were laminated with a thin piece of hard steel bonded to softer steel. The hard steel would take and hold a keen edge and was easy to sharpen.

My first real plane was a modern, made in England, Stanley #7. I could do good work with it but would not buy another. First, they cost more than a good vintage plane. Second, those plastic totes will blister your hands after a couple of hours. Third, the blade will sharpen OK but it won't hold an edge for long. You can tune a modern Stanley or Record, replace the totes and add an aftermarket blade and have a decent plane but you could have had a nice set of vintage planes for the same price.
 

Alf

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Neil":2r7krmap said:
So - please would you bear me in mind if a nice 4 1/2 or 60 1/2 finds its way into Alf's Tool Emporium? When is you next sale, BTW?
When I get round to cleaning up enough stuff to make a decent list. :roll: I might well have a #4 1/2 in fact - there was one in the tool chest, and as I already have "a number of them" (number unspecified for reasons of I can't remember :roll: ) there may be re-adjustments in the plane arsenal. You might have to bear with me though; I'm currently in the midsts of a workshop reorganisation. :x

Neil":2r7krmap said:
I guess the alternative is for me to come up with a nice box :wink: although this could be hampered by a lack of skill and equipment :cry:
Ah go on, take a shot at it. You never know, do you? And you've got to be in it to win it. :wink:

Chris, I've never tried Ebay. I just know I'd unerringly pick the duds every time. :roll: You need to be lucky, and after all I am the person who bought the bandsaw that literally fell off the back of the lorry... :(

Barry, you're quite right about tatty-looking planes. Some of my favourites wouldn't even turn up to compete at a beauty contest.

Roger":2r7krmap said:
You can tune a modern Stanley or Record, replace the totes and add an aftermarket blade and have a decent plane but you could have had a nice set of vintage planes for the same price.
Thanks, Roger. That was the clinching argument I'd forgotten until I'd logged off. I always feel Axminster (UK tool emporium, Roger) miss a real marketing opportunity in not doing a favourable rate on a Clifton iron, cap iron and set of Crown replacement rosewood totes as a "souped up plane customisation kit". Maybe Stanley would sue them for honesty...

Cheers, Alf
 

Neil

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Thanks Chris, Barry & Roger. Maybe I will dip a toe into the water, just for something cheap like a #4.

It was very interesting to see the auction picture of your 5 1/2, Barry - in that dim light it didn't look too bad. I'll also take on board your comments re: postage bandits.

NeilCFD
 

Neil

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Alf":3jp6ymcx said:
I might well have a #4 1/2 in fact - there was one in the tool chest
Well, keep me in mind, Alf, after your 'workshop reorganisation' - why do I get the feeling I'll be waiting a long time? :lol:

NeilCFD
 

Alf

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Neil":1b5y1g2m said:
Alf":1b5y1g2m said:
I might well have a #4 1/2 in fact - there was one in the tool chest
Well, keep me in mind, Alf, after your 'workshop reorganisation' - why do I get the feeling I'll be waiting a long time? :lol:
Why, you cheeky... :p

Cheers, Alf
 

mudman

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Neil,

Well, that #4 does look quite nice. Check out the completed items as well to get an idea what they are worth. Probably about a tenner with the £5 p&p on top.

By the way, there's a #4 1/2 on there at the moment, may take a bit of work though. :wink:

Alf,

ROTFLMAO

Cheers,
Barry
 
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Neil

I bought one plane from ebay - once. It was the low angle Stanley block that I sold on here asap at a loss to myself in money terms but a gain in experience. I don't look at ebay any more.

However, I know loads of poeple who have bought stuff from ebay and been chuffed to bits - look at Adam's recent plane acquisiition.

I think several people here have offered sage advice. You may win, you may lose but that's what auctions are about.


Ike
I too was concerned about buying LN when my tuned Stanley with new Hock blade and Clifton chip breaker seemed so good.
Well after 5 seconds with the LN 4.5 I knew that the stanley could never be tuned enough. Chalk and cheese.
The LN is smooth, cuts full width shavings more cleanly (leaving a glowing surface) it 'feels' better in the hand, is better balanced, and it's extra weight makes planing an easier and more enjoyable experience. I made a shooting board yesterday and used the old stanley to plane man made boards - it felt flimsey and inaccurate.

Ditto for my Clifton number 5 - I would not be able to choose between an LN and a Clifton when it comes to performance.
 
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