I used to LOVE ebay

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Blog entry by Jarrhead posted 01-20-2016 03:02 PM 1487 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Am I the only one who thinks that ebay has gotten out of control? When I started woodworking nearly 20 years ago, ebay was in its infancy. It was fun and a great place to find some real bargains on all manner of goods, not just woodworking tools. Nowadays I find ebay shopping to be more painful than fun. Most sellers are just retail outlets, offering little in the way of savings that we used to associate with the word “outlet”. Even the sellers who aren’t retail, all seem to think their used property has some intrinsic “collector” value. This is especially true when it comes to woodworking tools. I have a plane till full of useful workhorses that I acquired at fair prices on ebay, back in the day. Now, when I look for anything on there, the prices leave me gasping. Sure, some of those old and rare specimens do have collector value. However, most are rather common and ordinary tools. Personally, I want tools to work wood with. Not tools to sit in a display case and look at. But the sellers think they have some gold mine they uncovered in the rusty, pitted, and broken garbage they found in a dank basement estate sale somewhere. More power to them, if that is how they want to spend their time. I’m not going to waste my time paying inflated collector prices for tools I intend to use.
Allow me to illustrate with a current example:
I have been wanting to add a scraping plane to my arsenal for a while. I had some spare internet time today, so I thought I would check ebay for one. The low end of the spectrum of the decent specimens offered was approximately $150. There are a handful well over $200. One delusional seller in the United Kingdom has one for nearly $400!!! Contrast those options against the superb offering from Lee Valley. Loosely modeled after the Stanley #112, the LV scraping plane is a modern marvel of tool engineering, and quality manufacturing. At $179, I would also call it quite a bargain. For someone who intends to use their tools, why put yourself through the ebay quagmire, risk, and expense of purchasing a used tool (that you have no idea of how it was used or cared for), when you can have a brand new version for similar (and in many cases less) money. You’ll have a warranty and a manufacturer that stands behind their product. I own at least half a dozen LV planes, and they are all a joy to use.
I’ll still prowl ebay occasionally looking for a good deal on a useable tool, but generally only when I have time to kill. Because killing time is usually all that happens.

-- trn2wud

5 comments so far

View Dj1225's profile


75 posts in 2827 days

#1 posted 01-20-2016 04:58 PM

I guess it really depends on what you are looking for, and how far you are willing to travel. I have bought several big items off ebay where the buyer would not ship. A large woodmaster 18” planner that I was able to but at less than 1/2 and it looked like it had hardly been used. Also I find cripe distributor on ebay to have some very good Porter Cable router bits, that are US or Taiwan made that have been very good. Veneer is another area where I have had very good success. I have also bought really nice turned table legs at a fraction of what typical online workshops are selling these for. I picked up a great source for 3 pin iron legs for mid century modern furniture. They are made in Ohio, and now I go directly to them forgoing the ebay 10% cost. So I do agree just like craigslist there a re a lot of people who think there stuff is gold, you just have to be patient

-- Dave

View WillliamMSP's profile


1104 posts in 2212 days

#2 posted 01-20-2016 06:06 PM

I dislike ebay and paypal as much as anyone, but, especially with the goods sold in an auction format, it’s the buyers that dictate value. The answer to “how much is X worth?” is always, “the amount that someone is willing to pay for it.” Although I am of a same mind as you on some things (like a router plane – I’ll buy a LV before paying the going rate on a vintage one), any rising prices on ebay should be attributed to a more robust group of buyers, rather than the marketplace.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

View BurlyBob's profile


6912 posts in 2873 days

#3 posted 01-21-2016 12:07 AM

Dave, you mentioned Cripe Distributing. I bought a dozen Jorgenson #2 clamps from them for $16 each. I had trips to Boise, Ida planned and picked them up while I was there. Saved me a bunch on shipping.

Ebay is getting to be like anything else. You got to know what your looking at before you drop your cash. It truly is the age of intelligent consumerism.

View dschlic1's profile


464 posts in 2577 days

#4 posted 01-21-2016 05:37 PM

There are some bargains on eBay, but they are few and far between. You must have patience. Most of the sellers on eBay are professional in the sense that is how they make their living. The days of an individual selling on eBay are long gone. Most individuals have moved to Craigslist and other local listings. However beware that many pawn shops also list on Craigslist.

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2811 days

#5 posted 01-14-2017 09:28 PM

ebay definitions

A seller: some have a inflated ideas of what a second hand item is worth.

Auctions: Very suspect of the process in my opionion, I think the systen should extend the closing time for 5 minutes if a new bidder makes their top bid at the death knock.

Second Chance offers: many times I have beed outbidded by only 5 cents then offered a second chance by the seller.

A Buyer: needs to be aware of the value of what they are buying first

Bargains: yes there are some to be had.

Clinkers: yep bought some of them too.

Technical missrepresentations: had some posiive results obtaining refunds on incorrect descriptions

Over all its still possible to get a far better price than normal retail, and then again so it should be! along with the advantage of free postage but you have to be prepared to wait for it

-- Regards Rob

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