Need advice on a recent ebay plane purchase

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Forum topic by pierce85 posted 09-16-2011 07:31 PM 2224 views 0 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 3042 days

09-16-2011 07:31 PM

It concerns a Stanley #3. The description mentioned the condition was very good with no functional or cosmetic issues. The pictures (below) seemed to confirm the description. However, when I received it, several problems became apparent fairly quickly.

1. The plane iron was slightly bent not allowing the Y lever thingy to fully engage – it kept slipping off.
2. The lever cap screw was also slightly bent – the two are likely related.
3. There was a tiny chip on the back side of the mouth – not a big deal. Looking at the pictures again, I can now see it knowing what I’m looking for.
4. The business end of the plane iron was badly chipped.

I was able to “fix” all but the tiny chip in the mouth, which doesn’t affect its function. The fixes are not perfect but good enough for using. I didn’t buy it for collecting and only paid $35.00 for it. The blade/iron does bug me a little – I can’t get it perfectly flat and wouldn’t expect to. Nevertheless, I’m inclined to let these things slide.

Would you say something to the seller or chalk it up to normal ebay plane purchasing conditions?


26 replies so far

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3406 days

#1 posted 09-16-2011 07:44 PM

I would contact the seller before giving them a rating, see what they will do about it. If the description was not accurate, you can indicate that in feedback and give them a neutral rating, or, a negative rating.

Most will want to keep their high rating, so would work something out with you, maybe send you another iron, etc. for a decent score.

I usually see some little thing after I get my items, and if I look closely enough, see them in the photos, so that is my own issue. Maybe yours was damaged in shipping?

All the Best! Good luck with your new acquisition!

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View CharlieM1958's profile


16283 posts in 4698 days

#2 posted 09-16-2011 07:53 PM

That’s a tough call, without seeing A) the exact description and photos given with the item and B) exactly what the item looked like right out of the box.

To a certain extent, I expect this sort of thing when I purchase an old plane on eBay. If the condition of the plane definitely contradicts the written description, then I would complain. (example: If the description says no cracks on the tote or knob, and the tote is actually cracked completely in two.) But if the description is technically accurate, even though the seller may have “forgotten to mention” a condition issue, I chalk it up to “buyer beware”.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4577 days

#3 posted 09-16-2011 08:08 PM

I tend to expect stuff like this from ebay planes and have a drawer full of spare parts to address issues like these. If the seller presents themself as a tool vendor, I might be tempted to say something. If they are a casual seller of tools, I would just replace the blade (if not completely flat), bent screw and move on. Needing to regrind a blade because of a chip in the leading edge would never be a reason to complain in my book. Where I would respond is if they intentally miss represented something related to the item. Like hiding a major crack or broken part.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 3042 days

#4 posted 09-16-2011 08:26 PM

Charlie, the description was completely accurate but minimal, giving the plane dimensions, 99% japanning, 97% wood finish, and the mention of an identification mark on the toe. I’d rather not provide the complete description so as to protect the seller’s identity – it’s not fair to the seller to hash these things out in public without their knowing about it. The pictures are what the seller provided in the auction.

I’m inclined to let it go. I just don’t know if these things are the normal expectations for plane buying on ebay or not. Other than a replacement iron as jusfine suggests I wouldn’t press it beyond that, but then that may be unreasonable to expect as well. I’m new at this…

Good points, Wayne. The seller is a tool vendor but I don’t think there were any intentions of hiding anything. I’m going to chalk this up as one of many learning experiences to come in buying used planes.

Thanks, Guys.

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4577 days

#5 posted 09-16-2011 08:46 PM

I would have opted for the $66 solution to the problem. A good excuse to buy a new Hock Chip breaker and blade. : ^ )

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3638 days

#6 posted 09-16-2011 09:19 PM

I’d say it’s the cost of doing eBay business, though I’d certainly let the seller know about it.

I purchased a Union No. 6 last month. I had some issues with my PayPal at the time (my iPad app was new to me and I used a bank account that I no longer had by accident). But because he was patient with me, I immediately gave him a positive rating.

When I received the plane, it was sticking half-way out of the poorly packaged box…and sure enough, half of one side of the body was broken off…and ALL the iron had been used (something not mentioned in the description). I was initially upset by this, but I figured that the $21 I paid for it wasn’t really worth all the effort. Had I not had the Paypal issue, then I would have nailed him for it.

Instead, I have a plane that will make a nice sacrificial electrode for the electrolysis of more eBay planes!

-- jay,

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3517 days

#7 posted 09-16-2011 09:30 PM

Pierce85, I think you are taking the exact right attitude about this. You asked if you should be worried about this, got opinions, and seem to be fine with the purchase. I think you got a great deal, and I am certain it will work just fine when you actually start using it. Congratulations on a great plane at a great price, and have fun making shavings!

That being said, this topic seems to come up every once in a while, so please indulge the following rant to the imaginary A-hole who actually thought he got ripped off (remember, this is NOT directed at anyone—especially not Pierce! I just needed to vent):

I’ll be blunt—the seller’s description was spot on. If I had gotten that plane for $35 and didn’t have to put more into it than a new blade (which I pretty much consider mandatory for old Stanley planes now that Lee Valley sells replacements for ~$35), then I would consider it a steal. The minor chip in the back of the mouth won’t impact performance, and everything else looks tip-top. If you are buying an antique plane, it will always have SOMETHING that is not perfect. This looks to be exactly as advertised: a great user that will require minimal cleanup to get working properly.

If I had gotten this plane, I would have written the seller a thank-you note for sending me such a nice item. Seriously.

If you consider the imperfections you mentioned as being “problems” with the plane, then I would recommend you avoid antique planes and stick with new Veritas or LN offerings. They truly come as picture-perfect as you could want, and you will never have to worry about tweaking a blade or chipbreaker. If an insignificant chip in the non-business side of the mouth makes you think you may have been cheated by a seller, or if regrinding a blade is a big enough deal for you to get bent out of shape about, then buying used probably is not a great use of your mental energy.

All of the old Stanley planes I have ever purchased have initially been in FAR worse shape than yours (I have #3-7 bench planes and a shoulder plane—the #7 actually came from WayneC!), and they all work spectacularly. You can’t get similar quality planes for anywhere near $35 new, which is why I have put the time into reconditioning the ones I currently use. The VERY few “mint” examples of older planes that I have come across have typically been in far worse shape in terms of usability, even if they looked bright and shiny! Soles badly out of flat, bad frog seating, etc. typically result in a plane being put on a shelf and never touched since it doesn’t work well, but they still look almost new and have almost no scratches, chips, or missing paint! Ironically, these planes cost MORE than the ones that WORK WELL!!! Good users got USED, and will almost always reflect this. Your “problems” occur as a result of a plane being used, and probably indicate that the previous owner actually (gasp!) USED the plane!!! (sorry for the sarcasm, I couldn’t resist) Take these imperfections as evidence that the plane has gotten broken in and is ready to go for lots of future work. Slap a new blade and chipbreaker in and forget about it. Counting everything, including shipping, you should be out under $100 for a top-of-the-line smoother that will last your woodworking lifetime.

Sounds like a good deal to me. . . .

-- David from Indiana --

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3517 days

#8 posted 09-16-2011 09:43 PM

Hey Wayne,

This is slightly off topic, but have you tried out the Lee Valley blades? I certainly like the Hock blades, but I have been incredibly impressed with the prep of the LV blades. The backs are absolutely dead flat, and I haven’t had to “prep” a single blade of theirs that I have purchased—I just go straight to honing. I have tried their A2 and O1 blades, and haven’t noticed a difference in the steel between LV’s and Hock’s in terms of wear, even with the Cryo treatment of Hock’s A2 blades.

I’m not really looking to buy any more blades in the immediate future, but I am curious as to other folk’s opinions regarding the LV’s vs. Hock’s.


PS I’ve pretty much discounted the IBC/Pinnacle blades due to price and prep work of the recent examples I have seen. I certainly like the steel in the two A2 IBC blades I own, but I doubt I’ll ever buy another one. I don’t see the point if I can buy a cheaper blade with a flatter back that wears as well. . .

-- David from Indiana --

View pariswoodworking's profile


389 posts in 2965 days

#9 posted 09-16-2011 09:55 PM

I would just let it go at that price. The screw and iron can be easily replaced or upgraded to a Hock and everything else was easilly fixed or does not impact how the plane functions. If It had been more like $100-$200, I would have probably said something. (maybe not give them a negative rating but at least contact them) The bad thing about ebay is that the sellers can give the buyers a bad rating to and many will wait to see what rating you give them before they give you one. Luckily, I have always had good experiences with ebay and have always gave positive ratings so I always get positive ratings. :)

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein

View Tedstor's profile


1678 posts in 3113 days

#10 posted 09-16-2011 09:59 PM

The seller referred to the plane as “very good condition”. I’d say that was his only mistake…..and a small one at that. Ratings criterion are very subjective. I personally would call that “Good” condition. But I’d still happily pay $35 for it.
In my mind, the seller rated it a bit too high. And you might be rating it a bit too low.
Just one of the enevitable downsides of E-Commerce.

View JSilverman's profile


89 posts in 3093 days

#11 posted 09-16-2011 10:59 PM

I would say thank you … and then go buy a new LV or Hock blade & chipbreaker…. $35 is a fair price for that plane.

View pierce85's profile


508 posts in 3042 days

#12 posted 09-16-2011 11:24 PM

Thanks again, everyone, for the sage advice. It’s nice to have all this wealth of experience to lean on when you just don’t know. I think this is a good excuse to upgrade to a Hock or LV blade and chipbreaker.

View WayneC's profile


14358 posts in 4577 days

#13 posted 09-17-2011 12:24 AM

I have not not tried the LV plane blades. I’ve been sticking with the Hock Blades since I already have them in most of my planes. I did get a couple of the IBC blades for my Stanley #62 but I have not sharpened or played with them yet.

David, did you get a finished photo of your #7?

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Don W's profile

Don W

19314 posts in 3048 days

#14 posted 09-17-2011 02:32 AM

If I bought a plane with the description ” The description mentioned the condition was very good with no functional or cosmetic issues” and it had a chipped mouth, I would email the seller. First to let him know if he’s going to sell planes, a chipped mouth is a functional issue, and if he will give you a few buck back, better for you. We all know we pay less for a chip in a planes mouth. Lets face it, if it was bad enough, you’d want to send it back, even at $35, although in this case, it sounds like you got a reasonable deal.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 3517 days

#15 posted 09-17-2011 03:13 PM

Wayne, the finished pictures of that no. 7 are here. It will actually be getting repainted the next time I strip a plane. I found some engine enamel that builds up exceptionally well and looks pretty close to Japanning, so I figured I would put that on all of my restored planes. I haven’t posted anything in a while since I recently started a new job and have been incredibly busy, but I guess this is as good an excuse as any to pit a little more out for public consumption.

As for the blades, I can never fault anyone for sticking with Hock’s products. They are Indeed excellent!

-- David from Indiana --

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