How I Approach Craigslist

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Blog entry by TheWoodenOyster posted 06-28-2014 11:53 PM 2621 reads 1 time favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

How I approach Craigslist

So, if you have hung around LJ’s enough, you have all probably gotten used to seeing craigslist forums and hearing craigslist references. I am a pretty devout craigslist user and have come to realize what an interesting source it is for buying, selling, and trading. Craigslist is sort of like one of those girlfriends you have that bothers you a lot of the time, but every once in a while totally redeems herself. I’ll explain.

I have bought three major tools on craigslist: my tablesaw, my planer, and my bandsaw. All were bought on relatively short notice, so I didn’t really haunt craigslist for a really long time like some of you. But, I’ll tell you why I feel that buying on craigslist on short notice isn’t always bad. There is something I like to call “Craigslist Syndrome”. It is a temporary psychological condition that results from checking craigslist 4 to 5 times a day trying to find that deal. Side effects are depression, a fatalistic view of the world, back pain from sitting down to check your computer too much, frustration when you miss out on a deal, frustration that you cannot find a deal, and driving all over tarnation to look at machines. That may sound weird, but I really do get into a kind of funky mood when I am really looking hard for something on craigslist. Like I said, most of my tools were bought because of a relatively immediate need. Many of your approach the site differently as a sort of long term investment opportunity, but I know there are still plenty of you who have been in my shoes. Through my three purchases (well I actually got lucky with the planer), I have sort of come up with a battle-plan for craigslist every time I approach it to make a significant purchase on a 1 to 2 month timeline, which is usually the time frame I have in which to buy a tool.

My approach is this:

Step 1- Figure out what specific tool, brand, and model you want or make a list of acceptable tools, brands, and models. If you are new to craigslist, this means taking a look at pricing to see what is in your price range. If you are a CL veteran, you probably already have a decent idea of prices. BUT, once you decide what you want, don’t back out and pick something else just because it is available. Get the tools you want, but you must use your jedi-patience to do this.

Step 2 – Freakin check your computer all the freakin time. This is the part that drives me bananas. I really dislike this part of the CL experience, but it is what we must do, especially for those highly sought after tools. My bandsaw, for instance, is a 1965 Powermatic 81, a 20” throat and a 12” resaw. Big saw that doesn’t come around much. That is the sort of tool that you have to hop on because there are other people out there watching closely. So, keep on watching and don’t forget your jedi-patience.

Step 3 – When you see the tool you want, go out to see it ASAP and take all the cash you need. This is where what I do probably differs from what many of y’all do. If you are standing in front of a great tool that is exactly what you want, don’t be too picky about the price. It is hard to be the first one there, and odds are it will be a while before another one comes up (at least for a lot of the tools I buy). Haggle a little bit, but don’t go crazy and lose yourself a great tool. For me, it is worth getting the exact tool you want that you can see and test in person even if the price is a little higher than you would like. You are still getting a hell of a lot better deal than you will almost anywhere else. Obviously there is a line, but for me, ending the search and getting a great tool is my reward. If I lost out on 5%, oh well. 5% of the total tool cost is usually worth it to me to not have to keep watching, driving to see more tools, and be out of a tool that I need until I can find another good one.

Now, I know a lot of you see things differently than me, and that is no problem. My timelines typically rush my CL searches a little more than I would like, but by no means do I ever feel like I get the short end of the stick. Maybe when I retire, I can become one of those toolheads that is constantly turning over tools, buying and selling off tools for a little profit and fun. For now though, I am building my collection of users.

I know a lot of you dabble in auctions and things like that and great deals can be had. I know that can be a really good route, but I just haven’t gotten into that yet. I’d love to hear about that side of the used tool market from any of you who do it.

Hope you enjoyed the read. Comments welcome!

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

16 comments so far

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4116 days

#1 posted 06-29-2014 12:39 AM

Enjoyed reading about your point of view. I haven’t had a good experience at all with CL. Several times, I have found an item I was really interested in. However, the only way to contact the seller is via the CL email. Never got a reply.

Then one guy that did reply went up about 50% on his asking price for a Porter Cable dovetail jig, new in the box, unused. That was aggravating. I know I didn’t read the add wrong. He changed the price in mid stream.

So, I have basically give up. Maybe I need to watch a little closer. There are a couple of items I wouldn’t mid having. finding floor space for them is another thing. :-(

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3575 days

#2 posted 06-29-2014 12:41 AM

I love CL.
Bought my sawmill and my 18” planer sight unseen off CL. My best friend checked them out for me as the best buys always seem to be in Arkansas!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Alan72's profile


222 posts in 2918 days

#3 posted 06-29-2014 02:57 AM

I’am glad to see that I’am not the only person with this problem. I thought I was done with my tool purchases, but this past Father’s Day I found a ” like new ” Steel City 3hp Shaper with a grizzly 1/4hp feeder for under $800.00 I was soo excited I packed up the wife and kids and went for 1hr drive. That beast is so heavy, I thought I was going to bust a N_T getting it out of my truck with the help from brother. I would say 50% of my tools have been bought off of craigslist and only once I had a problem. The Steel City Shaper was missing 3/4” spindle nut, Call the company and they don’t have any and can’t tell me when the factory will send them. I finally found one in Canada under the Craftex Brand. I hope it fits!

View Don Broussard's profile

Don Broussard

3951 posts in 3137 days

#4 posted 06-29-2014 03:10 AM

I visit the local CL sites, and others within a 90-minute drive radius, and I just look in tools for stuff that’s interesting. Part of the looking is getting educated about how much things are valued, but not necessarily what they’re worth. I’ve equipped my shop with several CL finds, along with others given to me for rescue. I like your philosophy to look for something specific that’s needed, but that’s not what I do. I look for interesting things that I might be able to fix up and use in the shop, and I look closer at vintage hand tools (yeah, I’m one of those partial galoots).

Interesting post—thanks for starting the conversation.

-- People say I hammer like lightning. It's not that I'm fast -- it's that I never hit the same place twice!

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3560 days

#5 posted 06-29-2014 03:28 AM

Yup, I have a different approach….
I have been outfitting my shop for 3 or 4 years now. I read posts and reviews here on LJ, so have a pretty good idea of quality machines to be on the look out for. I check CL 3 to 5 times a day. I may or may not be “in the market” for any particular machine, but when a deal appears….I pounce!!! I would say 75% to 85% of my machines are CL GLOATS.

DeWalt 735 planer: $100.00 (+ $250.00 in parts) retails new for $500.00+
JET 1442 Lathe: $375.00 (+ $100.00 in parts) retails new for $1,400.00+
DeWalt 788 Scroll Saw: $100…. retails new for $500.00
Grizzly G0458 Drum Sander: $200.00 ( + $1.50 in parts, that’s 150 pennies) retails new for $850.00+
Craftsman 113 TS: $125.00 came with Her-Cu-Lift & 40” Vega Utility fence
Jet Mortiser: $150.00 (+ $50.00 in chisels) retails $300.00?

Those are the major machines, then there are clamps and what not….

Be the first to contact the seller and have cash in hand!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1335 posts in 2820 days

#6 posted 06-29-2014 05:12 AM

Mike – That is a bummer. I have had a few backfires as well as a fair share of no replys. Never had anyone raise a price. Sorry to hear about that. I have actually found that the more expensive the item gets, the more professional and serious the seller typically is. The two men whom I bought my tablesaw and bandsaw from were both very nice and helpful.

Don and DIY – I think later in my woodworking life I might be in your shoes where I can sort of just casually look and jump on good deals when they come up. I look forward to that time, but right now the time is a little tight to do that. Your approach is what I hope to do a little later.

Thanks for the responses everyone

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View kepy's profile


293 posts in 3159 days

#7 posted 06-29-2014 02:23 PM

I have found CL to be a waste of time. Did find one item I wanted, called and made a deal but couldn’t get there for a couple of days and by then he sold it out from under me. My only good experience was my dog which I adopted from a family that even refused to take the rehoming fee because we were a good match.
The only tools I find are usually way over priced in this area.

-- Kepy

View English's profile


689 posts in 2362 days

#8 posted 06-29-2014 07:40 PM

When I was building up my shop I watched CL daily. I found some great deals there. Below are some of my finds.

Grizzly 24” Drum Sander G1066R….................................................$600.00..$1,695.00
Grizzly Heavy Duty Lathe G1495…..................................................$600.00..$1,095.00
Craftsman Cast Iron Frame 14” Band Saw….......................................$75.00…..$495.00
Craftsman Cast Iron Frame Combination Sander 6” x 48” Belt 9” Disc…..$75.00….$395.00
Craftsman 113 series Table Saw w Cast Iron Wings…..........................$75.00….$495.00
Dewalt DW735 Planer…................................................................$250.00….$649.00
Dewalt DW682K biscuit jointer….......................................................$50.00.. . $199.00
Harbor Freight Dust collector…..........................................................$75.00.. .$199.00
w Wynn 9L300NANO Nano filter….......................................................$0.00….$165.00


Some of the items have been passed on to other woodworkers through CL, but I still have most. I still watch for great deals

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 4116 days

#9 posted 06-29-2014 10:54 PM

I have never seen prices like that around here.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2998 days

#10 posted 06-30-2014 03:08 PM

I tend to find Craigs List full of tools in pretty tough shape around here. If they are in good shape the prices are close enough for me to buy new and have it shipped here.

Where it works good for me is looking for industrial three phase equipment.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1335 posts in 2820 days

#11 posted 06-30-2014 09:03 PM

Interesting to hear that CL is not a good option for a lot of you. I guess I am just lucky in my area.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View TheFridge's profile


10861 posts in 2371 days

#12 posted 06-30-2014 09:10 PM

Baton Rouge/ New Orleans, LA area has nothing but crap most the time. Haven’t seen a thing in months that makes me think I have to have it at that price.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View JoeinGa's profile


7741 posts in 2892 days

#13 posted 06-30-2014 10:27 PM

Small towns usually dont have good prices on CL. The closest 2 towns listed are an hour drive for me (in opposite directions), same as it was back in 10aSEE. In a year, I’ve seen ONE ad for a tablesaw (Grizz) and it was sold in less than an hour)

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View English's profile


689 posts in 2362 days

#14 posted 07-01-2014 01:05 AM

Check out the Norfolk Va CL it has great prices. You just have to be patient and wait for the good deal.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View abmorse1's profile


16 posts in 2569 days

#15 posted 07-11-2014 03:37 PM

I agree with Andy. The best CL deals I’ve found have all been in Arkansas, rather than Tulsa. I picked up my TS there for $150, when the exact same model has been listed in Tulsa for $300 and $350.

I try to use searchtempest to look for specific tools in CL markets around my area, and I’ve also heard good things about to get alerts when something matching your criteria is posted, although I haven’t used it yet.
Tulsa, OK

-- Aaron, Tulsa OK

showing 1 through 15 of 16 comments

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