Old hand tools, more value restored or left as is ?

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Forum topic by gavinzagreb posted 03-23-2012 02:12 PM 4216 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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210 posts in 2774 days

03-23-2012 02:12 PM

Topic tags/keywords: old tools

For my own use, I would restore them to working order but probably not to ‘as good as new’ look.
First I guess it depends on whether you plan to use it or display it.
Is there a general rule to this or are there two schools of thought amongst collectors ?
I ask, because the flea market here has a lot of old tools for low prices, but i don’t need them all (yet).
The antique market here has some old tools for higher prices but not much, if anything has been done to them apart from cleaning.
I was wondering if I might be able to turn a profit restoring old tools to sell to collectors that probably wouldn’t use them. Not sure if those types of collectors prefer the tool to look old.

4 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

19295 posts in 3022 days

#1 posted 03-23-2012 03:09 PM

I do exactly what you are looking at doing. I restore the tools and if I don’t need them in my collection or my shop, I sell them. Tools like a Stanley #5 bench plane, its worth more restored. If its an original Bailey #9, leave it alone. Common tools meant as users are worth more in usable or even shiny conditions. Real collectors tools are best left alone.

As far as the question of turning a profit, all I’d say is don’t make it your day job.

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

View gavinzagreb's profile


210 posts in 2774 days

#2 posted 03-23-2012 07:35 PM

Thanks for the advice. I basically don’t have a day job except for during the summer when I make the majority of my income. The idea is to try to make a little money here and there throughout the winter utilizing and paying for my hobby.
Selling stuff made from wood and maybe reselling tools locally. Might just have to try and see if there’s interest.

Wow, just checked out your site. Inspiration ! I’m going to have to at least try restoring the big wooden jointer plane I got the other day. Yours look fantastic.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4102 days

#3 posted 03-23-2012 08:17 PM

I think how it works is the serious collectors are skeptical of
“restoration” work and many prefer to do cleaning themselves.

There is apparently money to be made by making old tools all
shiny to appeal to gift buyers who then pass the shiny old
tools onto loved ones.

I’ve made a few bucks here and there buying and selling old
tools. I seldom do much more than get the rust off. I leave
the brown patina on planes for example. In any case, the
only way I’ve come out ahead is by buying the tools at
considerably below market value. There isn’t a stable supply
of such bargains in most areas… but if you learn your values
you can certainly make some extra green to buy tools you
do want for your own use.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19295 posts in 3022 days

#4 posted 03-23-2012 09:26 PM

If you don’t count your time, you can certain show a profit. If you ever start counting hours again a profit-loss statement, you’d be in the red pretty quick, even at a low hourly rate.

you’ll see this statement floating around I made once. “I like Vintage tools. It’s what I do to forget about what I do when I need to forget about what I do. Saws, planes, chisels, hammers, it doesn’t matter.”

Here was last weekends playtime:

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

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