Curiosity made me do it #2: Used Power Tool pricing (AKA Is this tool a good deal?)

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Blog entry by CaptainKlutz posted 05-24-2019 12:43 AM 1726 reads 1 time favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: Grizzly Paint Colors Part 2 of Curiosity made me do it series Part 3: Harbor Freight Coupons? Come and get them: »

There are hundreds of threads with folks asking about used tool pricing. Getting tired of posting same information over and over in threads, so decided to list all here:

What is Great price on used tool?
What is Good price on used tool?
What is Fair price on a used tool?

All these are hard to answer. Let’s discuss some areas that impact tool pricing.

Condition is important. Every tool is unique in the use/abuse, maintenance, and/or refurbishment; that defines the condition. A rusty, crusty, long abandoned in field, tool is worth less than a well kept tool that is ready to use in shop without need for new anything. Generally, value of tool is reduced by cost of any parts required to fix it. Example; 15” planer needing blades is worth $50-$70 less than one with new blades.

There are also regional variations in availability to consider. If you live in small town with out many folks working wood, tools can be harder to find and more expensive. If you live in big city and used tools are constantly being sold, tools are easy to find and often cheaper. Country/farming folks have more room to store and use tools, so sparsely population areas can mix of the above, or have bipolar pricing. Typically, most large cities across the USA have similar values and prices on similar tools. This is especially true of single phase industrial tools. The dual use by small commercial shop or avid hobby shop helps maintain constant value in used market.

Sales Medium:
The selling source also can create differences in pricing. Auctions can be a great place to find cheaper used tools, but not always. Depends on supply & demand at time of sale. But buying from an industrial wood shop being auctioned means the tool has seen heavy use. Industrial auction tools almost always need new bearings and other wear parts replaced for peak operation. The parts cost and time required lower the value of tool. When buying used tool, always trust – BUT verify. Not every tool was used by a little old lady that only ran it once a month to make a new cutting board. LOL

Age of tool:
It is not uncommon for larger single phase wood working equipment to last 50 years or more. It is hard to create specific value loss curves for each tool, but just like car – highest value loss is during 1st few years, and over time value loss slowly reduces. After about 10 years, the value doesn’t change much as long current similar models are still being made, and tool is still in usable condition. If a tool becomes discontinued and parts become scarce, then the value becomes the value of spare parts you can sell, when it stops working for you.

Tool Supply:
Another challenge determining used tool pricing is difference & similarities between manufacturers. It’s no secret that majority of the US OEM all use the same group of wood working machinery mfg in Taiwan and China. Folks like Geetech, CKM, Harvey Industries, Sanhe, etc; make the same basic tools for each and every one of them. This is why many machines look and work the same; except for color, warranty, and name on side.

Manufacturer reputation and parts availability:
There are differences between how mfg define/control quality by overseas mfg sources; and this usually means a long established brand like Delta or Powermatic can be worth slightly more than same tool from Jet or Grizzly that was never made in USA way back when. But in reality, the value of low end tools are nearly same as high end tools after 5-10 years. Taiwan made tools are historically a little bit better made than China produced tools, but even that gap has closed in last 10 years.
Many times the high end tools that sold/sell new for 2X what same tool costs from Grizzly; have a used tool price influenced by Grizzly tool of same configuration. Reason for this is simple, why buy a used Delta 15” Planer for $900, when Grizzly sells the same thing for $1100? Unless the tool is brand new, actual OEM brand and original price becomes less important as time passes when all the tools are made in same factory, and often have interchangeable wear parts.

Enough generalities, how about some prices!

I’ve always put used tool prices into 5 categories:

1) Price is > 75% of new equivalent tool cost
IMHO this is ridiculous pricing for used tool. Only considered this fair price range for NIB or never used tools.

2) Price is 55-75% of new equivalent tool cost:
While seldom called a good deal, prices > 50% can be warranted in some situations. They are:
- Tools < ~5 years old with purchase receipt, or
- tools that are seldom discounted like Sawstop or Festool with single OEM model and have no direct equivalents.
- location is middle of no where and need to drive more than 6+ hours to reach a market with higher availability and lower prices.

3) Price is 40-50% of new equivalent tool cost:
This is good deal area for newer tools. Any time you find a new tool priced below 50%, run don’t walk to buy it. Most used tools offered in this range are fair prices for tools in great/excellent condition. Some sell in less than a day, others take a week. If it takes longer than a week to sell, then price/value doesn’t match. [Don’t be afraid to send reasonable offers to folks with those week old listings. They can get tired of waiting!]

4) Price is 30-40% of new equivalent tool cost.
This is ‘good’ deal pricing on most used tools. Even really old tools in great condition will sell in hours in this price range. This is price range where tools sell really fast. Blink and you miss this bargains.

5) Price is < 25% of new equivalent tool cost:
If/when you find a tool below 30% of new cost, it is a bargain (you suck!) price. Jump on deal or you miss it. These bottom dollar bargains are sold in less than 30 minutes IME, unless they are rusty and broken machines that are only worth selling off as parts.

Tips, Tricks, and other important stuff:

Speed is everything.
Good deals disappear fast, really fast! Usually less than 30 minutes and always sell in less than 24 hours. So if you see a tool languishing on CL or FB for more than a couple days, the price is not a good deal, for the condition or compared to other tools available in area.
If you want to buy used tools, set up email alerts! Once set up; check them immediately after getting notification. You will be amazed at how many tools are actually listed and sell before you can search CL to find them.

Example: About once a week on average I see an old Unisaw listed for < $600 on PHX Craigslist. The ones priced $200-300 (< 25% of new Grizzly G1023), sell in less than 15 minutes, and ad is gone in less than 24 hours. The only listings still posted after 2-3 days are the ones asking $500-$700 ( ~35% of new Grizzly G1023). The reason they take longer is usually due < 3 HP motors, tube rail fences common on older saws, or 3 phase motor (or owner is really slow to respond).
We have several retired wood workers who buy cheap, refurb and flip industrial wood working tools. Those exact same $200-$400 Unisaw will show back up on CL few months later for $800-1000 (~50% of new Grizzly G1023), in perfect working order, no rust, and maybe even fresh paint and updated fence they bought used. Then we have the $1000+ listings that take many weeks, a month, or longer to sell; all because so many wood workers retire in AZ, and the pass away; which recycles used equipment for very long time. :)

While being 1st to show interest in newly listed tool is best way to get it, Patience and restraint is sometimes required. There are many people who LOVE the tools they own. They think they are worth more than used market defines, and ask for 80%, when it’s worth 40-50%. So when you see that old Powermatic PM66 saw listed for 80% of new tool, don’t send your low ball offer the first day. Wait awhile. This can be hard, as wait to long and you miss it, don’t wait long enough, and you are just another scammer with low ball offer. If you really want the saw, wait a week or two, and then check it out. If you offer a FAIR price (45-50%) and provide supporting information on why you think it is fair; you might bring the tool home where others have failed.

Research Early!
Need for research is best summarized by OWWM Rule No. 5:
In the time between finding a machine and asking others if you should buy it someone else will come to the proper conclusion

If you are interested in buying ANY used tools, ALWAYS research before you look for tools. This can be hard when you stumble across a $200 6” jointer or 15” planer, but the buying process will be much more rewarding if have learned about ALL the possible used planers and price ranges BEFORE you go used planer shopping.
By now, you know those prices are great deal, and if you hesitated you probably missed it. :)

Researching used tools in web forums can be frustrating. Why? IMHO – you can only believe about half what you read/see on the internet and it’s always hard to know which half, until it’s too late. :(

Use ALL the World Wide Web resources for research!
- Reference pricing can be found all over, such as industrial used tool auction sites, Craigslist, Face Book Market Place, Offerup, Letgo, E-Bay, etc. Look at all of them. Not just for used tools to buy, but also prices posted on older listings to learn prices the market defines as high end of FAIR.
- Reviews on mfg sites will always be good. They remove the bad ones. So read ALL the reviews looking for problems with a ‘good’ tool. Amazon has reward system for new products and early reviews. Some even get stuff discounted or free in exchange for reviewing the item. Amazon will even remove bad reviews if seller complains the customer is being unreasonable.
Reviews on wood working (I.E. Lumberjocks, etc) and wood working machinery sites are much more reliable source, as long as you note the experience level of person posting the review.

Sorry, Lumberjocks, but for USA made tools, best to refer to Vintage Machinery wiki and OWWM forums. They have huge repository of manuals, parts, re-build instructions and folks who buy/sell/use old US made tools. Be sure to read complete list of ‘OWWM Numbered Rules’ for buying used tools, as they apply to tools made in Asia also.

Hope this helps and
Best Luck in your rust hunting.

PS – This is work in progress. Done typing for now, but will edit/fix/add things I missed.
If you note something I missed, thanks in advance for letting me add it to the OP.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

2 comments so far

View Redoak49's profile


5274 posts in 3108 days

#1 posted 05-24-2019 03:48 PM

I agree and a very good write up.

I start at 50% and then make adjustments.

View Kelly's profile


3577 posts in 4063 days

#2 posted 04-23-2020 04:25 PM

ONE, add to number five, an ignorant public makes for some bargains.

For example, I picked up my first Red Wing “dental dril for ten bucks. It sat for sale for months, before I grabbed it. all I knew was it looked like a buffer (it is).

Years later, I bought a Handler floor model version for one hundred bucks. It has a squirrel cage and filters to drag all the uglies away from you, and it does catch a LOT. That one sat for a week or so before I found it. It’s been a gold plated addition to my shop. It buffs my copper plating, my acrylic turnings, a bit of brass here, a knife there and so on.

Saw a PM cabinet saw with 3phase go for three hundred. For about the same, one could have tossed a single phase motor on it and still been under the wire on a good buy.

Annoyingly, I couldn’t get through a kid’s head his daddy’s farm, with 3phase, would make a good home for it. He’s learning wood work and building a shop.

I have several other items in my shop killer bargains that I seem to have been the only one who knew their worth.

TWO, there is lazy, or it could be back to number one. For example, I bought a Hilti mag drill for thirty, because the magnetic base wasn’t working. It was a cool looking toy and came with brand new core bits. I sold it to a buddy for four hundred, and he was tickled pink to get it and learn it only cost two hundred to repair (could have been cheaper, it was a switch problem).

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