Buying Hand Planes on e-Bay

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OK, so I have read some posts in this newsgroup and many peopl recommend to purchase old stanley planes off of e-Bay. I guess the 2 questions I have are:
1. How old? 2. How do you tell from a picture what you are getting? Are there any tricks to use? It seems like people on e-Bay give some of the markings on the planes and such, but that doesn't mean much to me as a newbie.
I guess the good news is that, based on the prices I saw, if I don't get something that really works, I'm not out a lot of money.
Any help would be appreciated.
Thanks Craig Orput Cave Creek AZ
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Here are some of my bookmarks...
http://community.middlebury.edu/~harris/typology.html http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan15.htm http://www.tooltrip.com/tooltrip8/stanley/stan-bpl/bailey-types.htm
Jamie

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Hello there,

the
Buy a #3 or #4 with a keyhole (not kidney) shaped hole in the lever cap. The lever cap is the topmost part that sits on top of the blade with a screw that passes through it. See that there are no cracks in the casting, that the handles are useable and all the parts are there. You should be alright.
See Canadian Woodworking Magazine for a good article on buying and restoring handplanes,
http://www.canadianwoodworking.com/issue.php
This may seem like a shameless plug, but I am the guy who wrote the article.
Thanks,
David.
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I'll add to David's good points:
Ask the seller if there is any serious rusting or pitting on the sole. Rust or pitting on the sides isn't too critical and more cosmetic (if you don't plan to use a shooting board), but major rust or pitting on the sole may hamper getting a nice flat sole, especially on a smoother. Also, ask the seller if the mouth (the part of the plane where the iron sticks out of) is free of cracks or chips. A plane with a cracked or chipped mouth is all but useless. A cracked or chipped chipbreaker is also useless, but can be replaced, perhaps with a better designed Hock or Lie-Nielsen chipbreaker.
I've bought a few planes off Ebay with good success. If the seller has taken good, detailed pictures and the plane looks good in them chances are the plane is in good shape.
Hope this helps,
Layne
On Wed, 24 Sep 2003 23:19:35 GMT, "David F. Eisan"

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<Layne> wrote in message

I agree with the mouth needing to be in good shape, but some pitting on the sole is not a big deal in my opinion. As a matter of fact I have a number of planes with big gouges out of them. The factory put them in and called them corrugation.
Generally old planes (unless they are rare) are cheap enough that it is easy to justify spending $10 more and get a better one instead of trying to save a few bucks with a trashed one.
-Jack
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So what is a "smoother". Is this something to make the sole flat if it is no longer true? If not, its a great question I have. If I buy a plane off of e-bay and the sole is not flat, how do I make it so?

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A smoother refers to a type of plane, usually a #3, or #4 -- so called because it's used for final 'smoothing' of surfaces (rather than 'jointing', or rough surface prep <'jack' or 'scrub'>).
If you get an older Stanley (someone earlier in the thread mentioned looking for one with a 'straight' keyhole slot in the lever cap, rather than a 'kidney' shaped slot), unless the plane has been severely abused, or badly dropped, it will almost certainly be more than flat enough.
You can check here for a great website on tuning planes:
http://www.amgron.clara.net/ (Jeff Gorman's most excellent website).
Regards, JT
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John Thomas wrote:

Mine is one of the new ones, and I can't wait to become conscious of how not flat it is, because that will mean I have graduated to the next level. :)
It sure seems flat to me.
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Mike,
It all depends on 'how new' -- I've got a later (probably late 50's) 5 1/4 that's really pretty good. It's got more 'slop' in the adjustment than my earlier ones, but the sole's good.
For Stanley, the real era (apparently) to avoid are the ones painted blue. I haven't looked at any recent production to have any idea how they fare.
For real 'crap', I have a new Buck Bro's that I bought at the borg before I knew any better. You don't even really need a straight edge to see how badly formed the sole is, esp around the mouth. It's bad; very, very bad.
Re: ebay, that sucks that you haven't gotten any feedback despite paying promptly. I've done maybe 30 transactions, a variety of things, and I've always paid promptly, and always got good feedback; it sometimes took awhile, but always showed up.
And about sniping -- that seems really endemic in the tool world, but it's about the only way I was able to successfully buy planes.
Regards,
JT
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John Thomas wrote:

Mine is brand spanking new, not from eBay. Made in England. It has the kidney shaped keyhole that evidently is a thing to be avoided. Plastic handles, but I really don't care about that.
Like I said, I'm only an aspiring plane guy, but it looks reasonably well-made to me. I might try that surface plate bluing test to see how flat it really is, but it's flat around the perimeter at least. Doesn't rock on a piece of granite, but that could just mean the sole is uniformly concave, and the mouth is actually badly made.
I haven't actually used it for much of anything yet, because after three days beating my head against the workbench, I still can't come up with a shop made honing guide that works (specifically, I'm coming up empty on a roller), and I'm determined not to ruin another plane iron by attempting to sharpen it freehand.
I spent my money on the plane, and there's nothing left to buy a honing guide for awhile yet. I guess I put the cart before the horse, in retrospect. Ah well.

I looked at those. I said to myself "Hmmm, I've never heard of Buck Brothers. The new Stanley stuff is supposed to be a pale shadow of the old stuff, but I'll bet it's better than this." I guess I was right. :)

I just checked. 0 feedback. I should go find all the people I bought from, if the record still exists, and leave them negative feedback for not giving me positive feedback. :)

Yeah, I know. Keeping them running for a week is a joke. 99% of auctions are won or lost in the last 60 seconds. They might as well just show the thing for a week, and not allow bidding until five minutes before the end.
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Mike,
I think the MIE ones are typically ok. The 'kidney hole' lever cap isn't a sign of badness, per se; it's just a really easy way to identify older vs newer planes, and it's a really easy thing to point out via pictures (ie, shopping on ebay, or as a way to help identify rough age if you find something at a flea market, yard sale, what have you); and it's also based on the assumption that the plane is completely of the same vintage (IOW, that someone hasn't just thrown a bunch of pieces from random planes together). (The hole shape changed from 'straight' to 'kidney' ca 1940 or so; in 'type speak' it's the demarcation between a type 15, and type 16 plane s-- which brings up a whole 'nother issue. Do a google search for 'stanley plane dating' and you'll turn up a number of different websites that have slightly different ways to ID how old a given plane is. It's an 'art', rather than a 'science').
As for the flatness of the sole, just lay a straightedge along the sole; if you don't see big honkin' gaps underneath, you're most likely ok. Don't stress over 'slivers' of light, especially if away from the mouth.
The mouth on the Buck Bros plane I've got is visibly depressed around the edges -- it's clearly really hosed. It looks almost like it was punched out of the sole, rather than cast in, it's that bad, and that visible.
Hang in there ...
Regards,
JT
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to
It isn't that hard. If the blade is new and sharp, you don't need to do a whole lot of sharpening to get it in decent shape.

from,
giving
Next time you buy, mention about feedback in your followup message. Tell the seller you will leave feedback after you get the item and check it out and you would appreciate them leaving feedback as well. After 90 days the option to leave feedback expires. If you really want I'll sell you some the rare 1997 penny I happen to have in my pocket for a couple cents and you can get some glowing feedback. I also have an ultra-rare only been used to buy gum 2001 nickel that I'm planning on listing with a reserve of five cents. Let me know if you are interested and we can set this up.

Sniping is the most logical way to buy. It is the equivalent of a sealed bid auction. The presence or absence of snipers on an auction should not change the price you are willing to pay. The winner is always the person who is willing to pay the most for it.
-Jack
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JackD wrote:

Yeah, but I've demonstrated that I suck at sharpening plane irons freehand, even a little. I round them over, and they don't cut worth a damn when I'm through with them. I've been experimenting with a low quality block plane, and the more I fool with it, the worse it gets. I've ground off 1/4 of the iron and still haven't gotten it right.
I ordered the Veritas jig Friday, thanks to lovely SWMBO for sharing some of her craft show money with me (she made $400 this year at a one day show, which was pretty cool!), so hopefully really soon now I'll be sharpening everything perfectly. Sometimes you really just need to suck it up and buy the right tool for the job.

I've done that. Nobody bothered to hold up their end of the deal.

Heh... We could do this if I ever really need to be able to bid one one of those items that require a minimum level of feedback. I really appreciate the offer, but for the moment I'm broke, and I'm going to be broke for a good bit yet, so I'm not seriously looking at buying anything anyway.

All true. Snipers are just annoying because they make you think you're really going to get it that cheap, and then whammo, somebody comes along to pay a more reasonable, or sometimes an extraordinarily unreasonable price at the last second.
Also because auctions almost never end when I will actually be around to snipe them myself. ;)
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David, following your link we don't get the article but the opportunity to buy the issue or subscribe. I'm sure you know that, but you may not appreciate how irritating that is for those of us who don't want to follow a link without warning to a site that give us only a sales pitch. So, for those of us who don't care for that (and I realize not everyone here feels the same, yet...), please indicate that the next time you supply a link (i.e., that it's not the article but an invitation to buy the article).
I for one would appreciate it, H
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no_spam@no_spam.com says...

Another option, which at least allows you to examine the plane before buying it, is to frequent estate sales. It may take a while longer though.
That said, I've bought two or three planes off Ebay with no problem.
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Jamie posted links to some of the best information available. Keep those links close-by and refer to them often. I saved those webpages locally just in case those sites ever go away.
Pops wrote:

Use http://www.tooltrip.com/tooltrip8/stanley/stan-bpl/bailey-types.htm if you want to "date" a plane.
My preference is for the Type 10 or 11 planes made between 1907 and 1918 because they have all the "best" features, and I like the feel of the "low" front knobs. Aesthetically, I also prefer those because they have the "plain" lever caps without the Stanley logo. I don't mind the Stanley logo, as long as it's not the nickel-plated variety with the orange background; I rather dislike those.

More often than not, the sellers don't know squat about planes, and they seem to know even less about taking good pictures. Rarely do they capture the important information in the photos. I'm always emailing the sellers asking for more information, whilst trying to refrain from commenting on their intelligence.
For the first "trick" I would suggest that you go here http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan1.htm#num3 and read the entire section.
The quick tricks I use when looking for planes on eBay (or anywhere else):
1. Stay away from anything that carries the "Handyman" moniker.
2. Only consider planes with black japanning. Stay away from the maroon or blue colored models.
3. I like planes with a "low" front knob, so I immediately look for that. If you prefer the high-knob models, stay away from the type 12's and 13's; that is, look for the supporting "ring" cast into the base. The high wooden knobs tend to break without this support. In the link I referenced above, the third picture clearly shows this ring.
4. Look for the presence of a frog adjusting screw (see #46 in the diagram at http://www.supertool.com/StanleyBG/stan1.htm#num3 ); it's an important feature that a low-knob plane might not have, so try to make sure the plane has one. I typically have to pry this information from the seller because the photos are so crappy. Good luck with that.
5. Look for the presence of a lateral adjustment lever (#9 in the aforementioned diagram). Leave the "pre-lateral" planes for the collectors.
6. Unless you want to replace the blade, make sure there's plenty of meat left on the cutter. If you can see a significant portion of the lateral adjustment lever protruding beyond the top of the cutter (like an inch or so), the cutter is shot.
The presence of the magic "Three Patent Dates" on the base between the frog and the tote is a popular thing to look for, as it usually means the plane is a Type 11 and has "all the best features". I look for it too, but not at the expense of ignoring my previous criteria. I've seen planes with 3 patent dates that don't have the frog adjustment screw, for example.

That's true. A good #4 or #5 should be easily had, and try to hold out for a GOOD one. This shouldn't cost you more than $20 or $30, maybe less if you catch the right auction at the right time. Don't get in a hurry or bid too much on a plane that looks to good to be true. Another one just like it will probably come along tomorrow.
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Best way to get an idea of current prices on eBay is to follow the auctions for a while without getting caught up in bidding. Keep track of final sale prices of planes in good condition over a period of a few weeks. Many serious bidders don't come in until the last few minutes of an auction so the final selling price is often much higher than it is during most of the time the item is listed. I would say that you are VERY lucky if you can get one of the more desireable #4 or #5 user planes (types 10-15) in good condition for $20-30. The last time I was buying buying on eBay they were going for more like $50-80. You may get better deals at estate auctions but that takes lots more time.
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Hello there,

Rather than follow an auction, simply click the "completed items" link on the left of the screen to see all the auctions that have ended for the items you are searching for.
Thanks,
David.
Every neighbourhood has one, in mine, I'm him.
Remove the "splinter" from my email address to email me.
Newbies, please read this newsgroups FAQ.
rec.ww FAQ http://www.robson.org/woodfaq / Archives http://groups.google.com/advanced_group_search Crowbar FAQ http://www.klownhammer.org/crowbar
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Steve James wrote:

Damn snipers. $30, $30, $30, $30, $40, $40, $40, $40, $175
Heh. That's funny. This thread got me looking, and I've been piddling around a bit.
Same old eBay. Caveat emptor. I'm not a plane guy yet, and even I can see that this seller is an idiot:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item244352978&category 874
I really don't like eBay all that much. For one thing, I've only won a handful of auctions over the years, but I've won _some_, and yet I still have a feedback of 0 because nobody could ever be bothered to take the time to give me credit for making good on the cash-ola.
I always pay within 24 hours after winning. I don't bid unless I have greenbacks in my hot little hands. Yet there are numerous people out there who won't even sell to me because my positive feedback level doesn't reach their magical threshold.
That just bugs me.
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Silvan wrote:

Ok, I must be dense. What specifically about that seller makes him (or his offering) idiotic?
O'Deen
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