Considering the cost

A week or so back I said that for around £200 you could buy the tools to make the cabinet I had just built (above). Someone commented and suggested it would be nearer four times that much and that for that you could buy a nice machine, or words to that effect. It really made me think and ask myself, ‘was I saying something that was not true?‘ I rose to the challenge and within about half an hour I had bought some tools that he had considered prohibitive because of perceived higher costing. It wasn’t at all out of sorts to suggest the prices will be too high because of course prices of hand tools have risen markedly according to their scarcity. I recall buying a #4 plane for 99p one time ten years ago, and a Stanley router for £10. via eBay. That’s not going to happen again in my lifetime. Now it is hard to make comparisons because different countries have different cultures and most of the countries never had an industry that produced the Stanley plane types or the Record ones either. The USA had many different makers ranging from Craftsman in the Sears Roebuck range and then, of course, we have Millers Falls and others too. Prices have risen over the past decade, that is true, and rightly so they should. A Stanley #4 smoothing plane is well worth £100 and so too a #4, #41/2, #5 and a #5 1/2. Anything longer than these, I have no time for.

This was the first tool to come in. I did what is always suggested and saw that the pin through the frog casting that retained the yoke had been replaced with a galvanised round-head nail. Not an issue and easily replaced with a mild steel pin when I am ready.

The plane cost me £34.95 with free shipping and arrived four days later carefully boxed and well protected. I knew too that it had plastic handles but that has never really bothered me. If or when I find a spare set of wooden handles I will likely change them out. All in all, I got the tools I wanted for under the £200 price cap I had suggested. It will take me no more than an hour of pleasant metalworking to get the plane in the same condition as my now 54-year-old version that’s been used every single day over that half-century. Hence, my comment about the planes being well worth £100.

The next tool to come in was the tenon saw with the black plastic handle. Now, it’s not pretty, I know, but it’s going to be fine. Trust me. The teeth are a little big for a 10″ saw but it will do what I want it to do just fine. I just need to sharpen it and it will be good to go. Can’t complain about the cost of £1.99. I have a similar one that I bought back in 1968 that has a Teflon coated plate and it has cut many a hundred dovetails over the years. The Teflon on mine is still on but has thinned out some.

Addendum: I just sharpened the teeth and the teeth are perfect for sharpening because whereas as they are hard enough, the hardening is even throughout and not too hard to be sharpened which is sometimes the case with lesser quality saws. Can you tell the quality of steel just by sharpening? With experience, yes, you can, but it might take you a while to register the differences you encounter.

This third tool so far was just £28 and arrived so well packaged and shipped. The previous owner had carefully wrapped every piece in bubble wrap and as I unpacked it I realised that it had not actually been used as far as I could tell.

Now this plane comes from the maker with only three cutters, 1/8″, 3/16″, 1/4″ but almost any cutter will fit and you can make one in under 20 minutes if you’ve a mind to. I just slipped a 1/2″ Record cutter in to show you it takes them. We never really plough wider than 1/2″ anyway.

91 thoughts on “Considering the cost”

  1. I can vouch for this post. There are TONS of old stock options available if you just take the time to look. Sure there are “nicer” options, but I want something time tested that won’t kill my bank account (which I think is the point of the above exercise). As with everything, there will be nay-sayers who can find issue with any-and-every-thing, but as someone who started following you around 2014, I’ve acquired almost everything I need just in this past year, and it’s been at or around $300-400 USD. For a lifetime of woodworking fulfillment, I’d say that’s a reasonable cost.

      1. That’s the trouble. Children not interested. Grandchildren too young. When the time comes will there be up and coming apprentices in need of good tools? Perhaps there should be a suitable Facebook site?

        1. Séa Ó Neachtain.

          Mike, I think you have hit on something very important.
          If only there was a charity organisation to support trade apprentices in acquiring and compiling toolkits. Even if it was accessable to sincere hobbyists, it could benefit from donations and bequeathed tool collections.
          Just a thought Sir.

          1. If you check out you will find a program for putting together pretty good kits for beginning woodworkers, specializing in military veterans, especially those with a combat wounding award, or Purple Heart. No reason why any of our national or regional organs could not do the same thing.

          2. Séa Ó Neachtain.

            Hi KeithW.
            I believe you have identified the crux of the issue.
            Solution:_ Establish a Liaison with, and thereafter provide through an established reputable concern, ie.. a Veteran organisation, Men’Shed, or such. They would be the recipient of the donated tools, and there after,,,, they could pass them on to a deserving recipient, or sell them on themselves to raise funds.
            Either way, its a Win-Win for all concerned.

          3. If your charity extends that far try Tools with a Mission, Workaid or others on Google. That’s for the UK but I am sure Google can help in other countries.

        2. Passing your tools on to your children, grandchildren. etc. Have specified in my Will (now in my 80s) they may sell, give, etc any tool that plugs in or battery powered, BUT ALL HAND TOOLS may NOT be disposed of until after they reach the age of 40. I have been into tools since a kid and have a few that belong to my Grandfathers. But I did not really appreciate old hand tools until I was in my 30s. I have over the years acquired quite a collection, some new but most at auctions and garage sales. You name it and I probably have one or more. Just my experience and tip for what it’s worth.

          1. That is truly sage advice, Gil. I did not get started woodworking until I was 45. Woodworking has changed my life in ways I struggle to explain.

        3. Mike, I’m 76, my grandson is 7 years old. He and I have been ‘in the shop’ for at least three years. His interest length was relatively short. But, he first started pounding little nails into a bunch of 2 x 4 cutoffs. About 2 years ago, I found a MillersFalls #8 hand plane at a flea market (~$45). I made him a small workbench with clamps about a year ago. Now he will spend 30 – 45 minutes “making curls”. So far, just using basswood, pine and other softwoods I have lying around. I have also helped him to safely learn to use a handsaw and chisel/mallet. Safety is my biggest concern. (Well, except for attempting to temper his expectations of what toys, trucks he expects me to help him make.) Other than outside, his favorite place is the shop. Now, I need to use Gil’s thoughts on updating my will.

          1. I absolutely agree Alan, my grandson is the same.
            He will happily plane a bit of scrap down to nothing, and fiddle with the settings, just to see what happens.
            All good.
            He is building muscle memory and making shavings for the hen house 🙂

        4. I am one of those who inherited hand tools.
          I had taken up cabinet building in my 65th year. Retirement has allowed me this luxury. My brother found this out and somehow he produced several of my Great grandfathers tool. They had nearly skipped 3 generations. I cleaned and tuned them all up.
          I use at least one of them nearly everyday. So don’t lament that you think know one will ever use them after you’ve gone. It just may take a couple of generations.
          PS: As a good reminder to me to stick to hand tools. My ancestor was killed by a kick back in the early 20s.

      2. I can’t believe that someone can’t find used tools at a reasonable price. When I read your post I immediately went in to my garage and took a picture of several planes that I have awaiting restoration. Unfortunately I can’t post that picture here, but it showed about 17 Woden, Stanley and and Record planes from a 3 up to a 7, regular and corrugated. This along with plough planes, routers, wood planes, saws and saw sharpening vices. All of these I purchased just to enjoy restoring them an I looked at my purchase figures and ball park it is a total of C$350.00.
        Keep looking and you will find. It only took me a couple of years to pick up the above items.
        Keep up the good work Paul.

      3. Hi Paul
        I’m a Brit now living in New Zealand. I’ve recently started following your excellent site / videos etc. and my first purchase last week was a Stanley No.4 plane with wooden handles, barely used, in its original orange box, with the instruction sheet, on Facebook Marketplace for $15NZD or £8 … it can be done! 😁

      4. Hi Paul, I got a Varville and sons wooden no5 equivalent for £4 in a charity shop. Inspired by the efficacy of this, I got a smoother for £3, and a wooden spokeshave for 50p…👍 Fabulous tools, with a certain tactile joy

        1. Oh, and I believe the Varville Ebor Works at York closed in something like the late 1700’s, so it’s a hell of an age, but still working today 👍

    1. I have been inspired and got into woodworking by stumbling on to one of sir Paul’s video on woodworking bench making. I do have similar question on the cost of these hand tools as I live in Canada and despite keeping an eye for over a year on any local or Canadian site that sells used planes, cannot get even a single decent plane for even under $150 so I ended up buying a new baseline Stanley #4 similar to one sold by box stores here. With all the tips and tricks learned from dear Paul on getting the first plane ready, and my journey to woodworking began a year ago. Ended up buying Irwin 10″ pull saw and then made a few poor man’s tools as sir Paul showed and there I am, in my confined garage area, working away weekends and making simple stuff all by myself. The pride and joy I get is close to nothing I have ever done for a long time. Even turned Paul’s workbench idea to morph into a foldable bench as in a garage with 2 cars parked, not enough space. The point is we can argue all day long what the cost of cheapest woodworking tools is but you got to start somewhere and if you keep looking, you will find just the right fit for yourself. Paul has really changed my life during covid when I was looking for a new hobby and never new this would be the one for me where I can be up all night and don’t feel tired, all because of Paul Sellers!!

      1. Manu: Links often will automatically not show. I try as much as possible to keep my site clean and clear otherwise it gets taken over by stuff that just does not fit with our ethos for many different good reasons and I cannot monitor things as that is not my job.

    2. Paul,
      I think you misunderstood my poi t when I made the comment about buying a machine. My point was tvat even if you did spend 4 times as much on the tools, that would barely cover the cost of a single machine (left unsaid, but implied is that you would need more tban one machine to complete the project). Anyway, I am very glad tbat you have continued to pursue this topic. Also, per our previous conversation, I am still envious of the selection of hand tools available to eBay shoppers in the UK!

      p.s.; I did find a good deal on #80 scraper a few weeks back. The first good deal I have found on eBay since the pandemic!

  2. Minor quibble, many of the Craftsman & hardware store branded planes were made under contract by other manufacturers. So many, were made by Union, Stanley, MF, etc. but have other badges.

    But yes, there are still a TON of used hand tools floating around out there. So long as somebody has the patience and knows that if you don’t get it today on the giant auction site, another will be along soon. Same for garage (boot) sales, FB marketplace, Craigslist (does anybody still use CL?). Even better is word-of-mouth. Let a few people know you are looking for certain things and suddenly you are inundated with “my grandma’s sister’s husband passed” offers.

    1. Of the tools I have bought myself, 60% are off CL. Word of mouth is a great method. My friend is a skilled wood worker that has friends that are getting older and opting out of the hobby. We basically get first pick the night before estate sales! My Jet table saw, dust collector and Rockler router (yea, I am not all hand tools… lol) came from a friend losing his basement after a move to an apartment. $600 for the lot only a couple of years old. I even restored my grandfathers handsaw and brace saw from the 1930’s! Ask around, there are a lot of “grandma’s sister’s husband’s out there.

  3. If someone really is having a hard time finding tools you might try Estate Sales. I found a #4 Stanley for under $30 US. And I got a Disston D8 for free. It had some surface rust and the handle was cracked but all the parts were there. I followed Paul’s video on restoration and I made a new handle (easier than I thought it would be) and it’s a beautiful saw now.

    If you are patient and don’t mind hunting around a bit, there are values to be had. 🙂

  4. I took my time and lucked into a record 5 1/2 for 19 quid plus p&p. It has a damaged handle that has been glued and will probably work fine, however as Paul has shown you can make them. I have bought three planes so far with damaged handle a 4,51/2 and a 6, it seems to reduce the price by about 30%. There is a fantastic offer of a full carpenters box on eBay uk at the moment for 200 quid with numerous tools including a philli disson d8 which is worth 100 on its own. Unfortunately it’s collection only and I live in guernsey so can’t travel to get it but anyone who fancies a drive to north wales check it out. Thanks as always Paul and from personal experience my growing hand tool collection has cost me less than 500 and that includes a rebate a 71 a 45 and numerous hand planes and saws. You can do it be patient, restore, and learn how to use them. I am 34 and I know that my son and daughter will be able to use them after I’m gone( if they choose to) keep it up Paul you are an inspiration to so many and you walk the talk. Rob

    1. I think it is said often enough by old men, like: “I wish I was 34, again!” You can c0ntinue to accumulate and trial different tools for the rest of your life, yes, but creating well-made pieces for you and your family will be a treasure very, very few people will have or look forward to. This alone saddens me greatly! And it is not just household things either. What about sheds and workshops, canoes and kayaks and dingies too? I made my first canoe at age 16 and used to canoe on the canals around Manchester. My sons were all in the workshop with me by the age of 3 years because of my hand tool working and were starting on their own spatulas not too long after that. Joseph and I made his first cello when he was 16 and I was 55.

      1. It’s a wonderful craft to pass on, my boy of only 5 enjoys being it the shed with me. I feel that in these last generations (mine included) of instant gratification and technology it will be very valuable to have some type of hand work. To see the challenges faced and the reward of hard work and the very act of doing something where your mind and body are as one without distraction or compromise. The workspace is freedom and joy and distant from outside distractions. As alway thank you Paul for setting me on the right path

      2. I still have, and am still using, my first woodworking bench. I made it back in 1974 when I first went into High School, soon after my very first woodworking lesson. I’d never seen a woodworking bench before so I went straight home and decided to copy it. It’s what is now labeled the “English style”.
        I grabbed old pallets from the factory around the corner and dragged them home, I salvaged the 4×3 hardwood for the legs and frame.
        I used dad’s old brace and bit to bore the holes and dad gave me the nuts and bolts.
        It’s about 4’x2’6”.
        The top is old form ply also from the factory, it has 2 layers for the working surface (about 18”) which then gives a shallow well at the back. It even has a front and rear apron.
        I picked up an old lightweight 6” woodworking vice from the side of the road and used off cuts of the ply for the jaws.
        47 years later and I’ve changed nothing apart from added to the patina.
        The vice barely works anymore but the bench is still rock solid. It’s had an enormous amount of use.
        I’m in a dilemma though, I’m nearing retirement, I want to retire the bench but my children won’t let me; problem is I have no where else to put it.
        I’m not that much taller than I was in 1974, but I’m a lot older and my back doesn’t bend so well anymore.
        I want to build a decent dedicated woodworking bench to work on (with a decent size vice that actually works). I want it to be the centre piece of my small shed because I want to live out my days doing what I’ve been passionate about since I was 2 years old (yes, I’ve wanted to be a woodworker since I picked up my uncles hammer and saw at 2 years old and my uncle found me trying to make something; this is my oldest memory).

  5. Some secondhand tools are expensive due to being bought by collectors who often restore them to their original condition. However, many of these high prices are for rare, much older tools. I find it sad that often they then don’t get used, depriving others of their use. However, you can find tools very cheaply. Others are often put off by rust, but a little bit of rust is easy to remove. I restored several brace bits that were covered in rust recently, a wire brush, buffing mop and files soon had them shiny sharp and cutting. They came as part of a box of junk tools, and were why I bought it. In the same place was a Stanley 4 for £20 that looked fine with wooden handles.
    I prefer to buy from physical stores because I can see, and handle what I am buying.
    I am always on the lookout for bargain tools. Sometimes I will buy tools just because I like them, even if I have no immediate use for them. Partly caused by the memory of not buying a router plane some years ago for £5. I have since made my own version of the poormans allen key router, but with a brass body. I recently added wooden handles. I have toyed with the idea of buying a new router blade for it, and modifying it further.

  6. On Thursday I called into a local antique shop. I bought a Stanley No5, a Record No3 and a lovely wooden moulding plane which is in very good condition. Got the lot for £22.

  7. I think a few of the comments have hit the nail on the head…all you need is plane old patience and bargains will pop up in time. Planes and chisels often need a little adjustment. Saws I find more often then not need a sharpen and de-rust, but I have found after many years, I can cut a piece of wood in half just by looking at it. It’s true, I saw it with my own eyes.

  8. I have bought a number of old tools here in Ontario, Canada mostly from FB Marketplace. I have to say ‘Canada’, because some will always think of Ontario, California.

    I bought two beat up #4 planes for $15 just to get a cap screw. Turns out one of the planes was made by Footprint in England, and is now serving as a pretty handy scrub plane. Worth it for $7.50, and some elbow grease/fun.

    I have a blue body Canadian made Stanley #5 from a flea market that’s a great scrub plane (my first), and a Canadian Bailey #5 that’s a great jack plane.

    I bought 11 saws for $60, and more than half of them are worth more than that, after cleaning. The 20 inch, 10 TPI panel saw is now my go-to saw. Now my elbow doesn’t hit the door when I use the vise 😉

  9. I always enjoy your posts. In the past, you have recommended Aldi chisels. I don’t think it is currently possible to buy them. Any chance of another recommendation for reasonably priced chisels of decent quality? Thanks.

    1. I use Narex as a new chisel plus vintage ward, marple and sorby from eBay you can find random job lots for cheap full of semi useful filler like screwdrivers and dull files (although I do use old files for turning scrapers and the like) but you can find some real gems, ward are my favourite chisel by far and the ones I use most size permitting.

      1. Narex are great chisels – I think they are about the last manufacturer of firmer chisels. I was always taught you can hit a firmer chisel with a mallet but not a bevel edge chisel due to the risk of bending the outer corners that have very little support. Bevel Edge chisels were only used for getting in corners less than 90 degrees.

    2. I have a set of the Aldi chisels, which I like, but many others bought second hand for not much money. At times I have considered making them look more uniform with new handles, but i sort of like the fact that they are mostly different. I have even left the obviously ex- plumbing fitting as the top hoop on a mortice chisel, although I might file the still visible thread away at some stage. Some I have modified in terms of thickness. I prefer what I regard as “firmer” handles #, but others have plastic, boxwood, double hoop, london pattern or obviously homemade handles. Some of my sub 1/8″ ones I made from 01 silver steel.
      # I had always regarded firmer chisels as rectangular in section with a particular style of handle, but i now understand that the original meaning was referring to steel, as opposed to earlier laminated chisels.

    3. Check on Amazon where you can find chisels very similar to Aldes for just a little more but still quite inexpensive. Harbor Freight also has some even cheaper although a bit “rougher” with not-so-nice handles, all of which you can improve yourself. All of these Chinese-made chisels are made from the same chrome vanadium alloy steel and all have metal chisel blades formed to shape suspiciously nearly identical to one another. Rough grinding and crappy handles are all things you can improve yourself and take a lot of pride in doing.

  10. Hello Paul, I am really glad to see that you have continue this line of discussion! I think my original comment might have been slightly misunderstood though. I was not implying that at 4 times the cost you might as well go buy a machine, but rather that even if you did spend 4 times your original cost estimate of £200, that would ONLY cover the cost of a single machine, certainly not all the machinery needed to complete a project.

    As per the conversation we had, I still am amazed at the hand tools you can find in the UK as compared to what we often find available in the US. eBay in the US has really become a venue for hand tool “pickers” to sell to hand tool “collectors” willing to pay exorbitant prices. As others have said, looking for estate sales and swap meets is probably a better option.

    Anyway, I hope to see you continue this line of discussion. It would be great to see you take on a project using the tools you acquired.

    1. Then you might be shocked at what we don’t have here in Australia and the massive prices being asked for the few items that are available. I read about what you can purchase in the US and the miserably small cost of them and weep.
      The tools are always cheaper on the other side of the border. 🙂

      1. I do get your point. The other misconception is that a country as large as the US (or Australia for that matter) is uniform in terms of culture and customs. There are parts of the US, like the Midwest and parts of the South, that have much more active hand tool communities with swap meets and local woodworking shows where hand tools are traded at very reasonable rates. In my neck of the woods, choices are much more limited. We get one woodworking show per year with the all the usual big name vendors trying to sell you all the usual big ticket machines. Flea markets tend to be loaded with chotskies and brick-a-brac and if there is tool section at all, it will be limited to a few old drill drivers, some Craftsmen socket wrenches and maybe and old Skill Saw or two.

        1. I live 7 miles from Stanley’s old manufacturing site (and current headquarters) in central Connecticut, and a mere 50 miles or so south of Millers Falls, Massachusetts, with New Haven (Sargent) 40 miles in the opposite direction. Old tools in New England are ubiquitous, and relatively easy to find, though the prices have gone up considerably in the past year. I have gotten pre-war Stanley and Sargent planes at junk shops, flea markets and on FB Marketplace for less than $10 each. They are a bit more expensive now, but you can still find them for under $30. Braces and saws (Disston, Atkins, Simonds) are available for less than $10 each. Likewise, chisels, marking gauges and Starrett or equivalent squares, etc. are also not terribly hard to find. It does require some patience to wait for availability, or to hunt them down, but having a limited income, that’s preferable to me instead of investing considerably more on new Veritas or Lie-Nielsen tools.

          1. Hello Chuck,
            I grew up in New Britain (not that far from the Stanley Works) myself and still live in Connecticut. Would love to hear about any are flea markets or other local sources you know of that have good hand tool selections. I regularly peruse Craig’s List, but rarely see much there. I have held off on setting up a FB account, but maybe I need to take the plunge there to find some good local markets too.

      2. My experience is that you can buy vintage electric tools, which are generally not collected, at least as cheap as hand tools. I paid a lot more for my router plane than I did for my most expensive used electric router. You can easily buy a used table saw, sander, router, jointer et al for less than $250 at estate/garage sales here in the rural Midwest us. I have never even seen a router plane at one.

        On the other hand you can find used bench planes for very little. I picked up a stanley bedrock #4 for $10 recently. That was an unusual find, but the going price for #4 and #5 ‘s is about $15 and they are pretty common.

      3. Clive Buckingham

        I know the feeling, a modern Stanley 4 left to rust in the shed for a few years. Antique Stanley 4 good condition $450.

  11. Hi Paul,

    Thank you for the post. Just a thought, it might make a good YouTube video for you to film to talk through the topic and the tools you purchased when they arrive. I could see one more video for YouTube in which you make something exclusively with just those tools such as a table or nightstand.

    I don’t need to see these videos as I fully believe you. I just think it would be good for many to see this. At some point, will you in a blog post the total list of tools you purchased for an essential kit?


  12. Recently picked up a 14″ Disston backsaw for $3 at a local charity-run thrift shop, lightly rusted, fairly dull with a loose handle. Saleslady asked if I was going to paint it (aargh). About 2 hours spent cleaning the rust, steel wool on the handle and re-assembly, and a sharpening. Etching now visible and it works nicely. Some of my favorites were free, or almost. Keeping eyes open pays off.

  13. William Dickinson

    I couldn’t agree more with Paul. So many used, unwanted hand tools available. And with Paul’s wisdom, we learn how to get them working! Recently I found a nice rip saw on EBay. Made at the turn of the century or about then. New ones cost an arm and a leg. and I have never owned one, but needed it for an upcoming project. It arrived yesterday packaged beautifully, and it was even sharpened by the previous owner! I could have paid $150 easily for a new one, but this one cost $60 which included shipping. It’s a Springfield, 5 TPI rip saw made by the Fulton Saw Company. I know little about the company, but there is some faint etching, almost a paragraph on the plate. I’ll need a magnifying glass to see what it says. Anyway, I am happy to have it and carry on its work. Thanks for your inspiration Paul.

    1. I have a Stanley 12-250 that upon first getting was considering this very thing, but after using it so much, have found no valid reason to do so, other than it is just plane ugly. .Never the less it functions fine as is.

  14. Quick question on the 13-030 plough. I am thinking of making a wood handle for mine following the techniques outlined in the plane handle video. The bottom toe is quite long and I am concerned about short grain, would a laminated plywood blank be a good choice of material for strength? What woods have good interlocking grain to make strong handles?

  15. Hi Paul,

    Over the years I have also purchases/restored many fine wood working tools. Partly due to need and partly because I enjoy restoring tools that I know will give many years of quality service.
    Thank you Paul for all that you have done for us! Best wishes.

  16. Dr. Christian Rapp

    Used to buy some tools from UK (old ones from Ebay, new ones from the many shops you luckily have). With Brexit things got more difficult. However, found a reseller in Germany who sells old Stanley, Record planes for roughly 60 Euro (just got a number 3 for the kids). They have no flaws and are derusted. Then Paul’s “routine” and after 1-2 hours all set. For me, well worth the extra price knowing nothing to be sent back etc.
    Also found a sharpening service (Dictum) asking 12 Euro for sharpening plane irons, including carefully flattening the back. So they are perfectly initialized, allowing to easily be resharpened.
    For saws I found that Jakob’s Saw Revival is just prefect if you want an old but perfect saw. Add 1 or 2 of the Spears and Jacksons Paul discussed (I also like the cross-cut for larger carpenter stuff), and no issues on the saw front any more.

    In short also options for those people that do not want to spend too much time on restoring but their limited time in the shop.

    Different issue Paul: Our kids are 3,5,8. Would be great to have some more projects to be done with kids. Also, not sure when to start with joints with them. Seems to be a step from shaping (saw, planes, spokeshave) to using chisels.

    1. When I started woodwork at school at around 12 the first thing we made was a ‘skills piece’ which needed planing flat & square, various housings & mortises cut and one end rounded to get practice with a spokeshave. This gave practice in planing, accurate sawing and using a chisel as well there may have been some holes to practice the use of a brace & bit but I am not sure after 50+ years ! We used wooden planes in those days so setting those was an interesting exercise. I think I still have it somewhere but can’t post images here so I can’t show you but I an sure you can come up with your own ideas. I can’t remember what we made after that but it probably had some simple joints to develop the idea of accurate chiseling & sawing as well as marking out. Make sure the kids start with hand tools – power tools are more dangerous and can be introduced later.

    1. Dr. Christian Rapp

      Many thanks! I think the cutting board is great, maybe the spoon too, but the others might target kids already 10+. Anyway. Have a piece of cherry and birch left. Will give it a go on the weekend!

      Cheers Christian

  17. Two points from some of the above comments. I am very lucky to have a son (43 years old) who is interested in woodworking. He has concentrated on finding used machines on Kijijji that were bargains. I have tried to steer him towards more hand tools and have gifted him several hand planes that I refurbished. I also found and transported a great used work bench from Halifax to Ottawa (1400 kms) for a Christmas gift in my car. I may be making inroads on his machine leaning viewpoint. Second I have donated some carpentry tools to the local community college programme. They always have a need for good quality used tools for some students who don’t have the financial means to acquire their own. This is where my hand tools will go when I finally quit.

  18. When I found Paul on YouTube about six years ago and got bitten by the hand woodworking bug, I managed to buy 99% of my woodworking tools for very reasonable prices on that well known bidding site and the odd antique shop. However, in the last couple of years prices have rocketed, but as I now have almost all the tools I need or will ever use, I can count myself lucky. Oh and I did manage to buy two sets of the Aldi chisels (but from Lidl which were the same) before they too went AWOL. Having said all that, yes I think if you look hard enough and are patient and are prepared to do a bit of fettling you could still get a starter set for £200.

    My biggest problem has always been things like combination and rebate planes which, being totaly left handed, means I’ve never seen an old left handed version for sale. Therefore, if I want one I will have to go for a new one and with Veritas being the only makers of left handed planes of that sort I know of, at their prices is a non-starter.

    1. Hi Paul, as a fellow left-hander, I have (fairly) easily trained myself to use “Rightie” tools, much as we adapt to things like scissors. Most combination tools are a two-handed operation, so not too difficult at all, with a little persistence. Our brains quickly learn to conform. I have even found using the left-handed scissors I indulged myself with a few years ago to be a new learning experience, having adapted to the Rightie ones early in life!! Veritas market their leftie products as much for appropriate grain direction as for handedness, but the one I do have IS a pleasure to use – left-handed!

  19. I buy and source my tools from a variety of sources. Some of my best finds are at car boot sales. It may take a couple of hours of pleasant searching but often gems are there to be discovered. For example I picked up a Groves handsaw (4tpi rip) made early 19th century, missing a handle screw and rusty but cleaned up beautifully – I paid exactly £1 for it. From another seller I bought 3 modern S&J 22″ handsaws for £2 each plus a lovely Stanley No 4 for £20, and from another seller 3 x No 4 Bailey planes including a nice Sargeant for £6.50. It took me about 3 visits to amass that lot but I was busy cleaning and sharpening in between (as well as Building my ‘Sellers’ woodworking bench!). When I found my Groves saw I also managed to find a 1 pint paraffin blowtorch covered in paint and grime for all the change in my pocket – £2.38. The blowtorch cleaned up beautifully and works well with a new leather grommet. Tools don’t have to be expensive – for less than £40 I had a lovely basic tool kit. In addition I have a box of British firmer, bevel edged and mortice chisels but use my Aldi £7.99 wooden handled set along with my car boot tenon saw – but that’s another story

  20. In the UK, it is actually possible to get kitted out for even less.
    I’ve used Freegle in the past and have picked up several tools in similar condition to those shown – Particularly planes, handsaws & chisels – for free, when people are clearing out their garage or discarding things that were used by a relative, etc. but prefer to recycle them to a new home instead of throwing away.

    It’s unlikely that you’d find many plough planes on there, and mine cost about £35 a couple of years back on eBay.

    So if you’re REALLY frugal, you could probably get what you need for just £50-100 with a little time and patience, plus a bit of cleaning & sharpening time.

  21. That nail in yoke is handy as you can remove the yoke to flatten the frog. Only then, the side adjuster is in the way, and its got a special rivet holding it in. I wish there was an easy way to remove that rivet and put back.

  22. Craigs List has lots of good tools. Over the past year, I bought a second Bailey #4, one Stanley #5, and two Disstons.
    Planes were $50 each. Saws were $50 for the pair.

  23. I suspect the person that had the 4X estimate may have been looking at buying new tools from “good” sources
    #4 Smoother (Lie Nielson) 300 USD
    Tennon Saw (Lie Nielson) 200 USD
    Chisel Set (Stanley) 200 USD
    Plow Plane (Veritas) 260 USD
    Router Plane (Veritas) 185 USD
    Total 1145 USD ( 830 british pounds)

    This is not to say that purchasing this way would be smart and with a little effort in the purchase process and restoration one could clearly save a LOT of money.

  24. Thank you Paul for this post.
    Just yesterday I pulled out six old saws that I purchased from a garage sale years ago for $10US and sorted through them. All were rusty but salvageable. Of the six, two are Diston 5-1/2 rip saws, one is a Taylor Brothers crosscut, one is an Atkins crosscut and two had no medallions or markings I could see on the rusty plates. Four of the saws still had handles that were complete, some cracked but whole and the other two had broken handles.
    I selected A Diston rip saw, disassembled it and scrubbed the blade down with oil and fine sandpaper until it felt smooth. I have never sharpened a saw before but decided to give it a try figuring that if bad came to worse I could make something else out of it. It took about one hour to clean the blade and twenty minutes to sharpen the saw and it cut well if not perfect.
    At the end of the afternoon I had not only a usable rip saw (somewhat sharp) but a sense of accomplishment and the joy of having spent time in my workshop.
    The point of my story is that you can purchase used tools for very little that may look terrible. However, with a little effort you can restore these to a usable state and in the process gain a decent tool, a skill, a sense of confidence and more joy in the shop. There is no way to do this with a machine tool even if it has been given to you. I have tried.
    Again thank you for sharing all of your education with us.

  25. tayler whitehead

    people seem to be of the idea that price reflects quality. i have seen many top end products in every category from clothing to tools etc, that are no better and sometimes worse than the “cheap” ones. high prices tend to satisfy ego rather than need.

  26. I picked up an old homemade toolbox on FB Marketplace for $75. When I got it home and went through it, it was packed with three Disston and two Warranted Superior handsaws, a cast iron level, a nice combination square, a folding rule, four or five chisels, an awl, a couple of rasps, and a no name No. 4 plane. I felt like a kid at Christmas. With some patience and elbow grease, I vastly improved my woodworking tool kit.

  27. Hi to Paul and your Team.

    I have been meaning to write and thank you all for what you do. I was not sure where to write this.

    Firstly, I am not a woodworker and I don’t have any electric in my garage (it is in a block away from the house). My thing is paint abstract paintings and I have always wanted to make my own frames.

    During my search on how to go about frame making I came across Paul Sellers websites etc. This got me thinking could I buy a couple of second hand tools to see if I could produce my own frames from lumps of wood.

    I did not want to spend a lot of money in case I could not learn the skills necessary. I bought 2 rusty quick release Record vices (£38 the pair Vintage shop) and various rusty Stanley and Record planes #4 (x2), #4 1/2, #5 1/2 (£70 Gumtree) and a fully refurbished Stanley #78 (£42 online). Everything bar the #78 required me to learn how to get them working again, admittedly it did take many months (Lockdown helped).

    I made a bench (from recycled wood) with both vices fitted and working as well as all the planes above. I already have some basic saws etc from years of diy around the house. After much practice with my planes etc I can now make a recycled scaffold board into picture frames.

    I apologise as I digressed from your original point, yes you can do most things considering the cost you will have to put more effort into it and be imaginative. But boy is it worth it, once again thank you all.

  28. Just bought a lot of planes , spokeshaves, scrapers for $80 from a school auction in Texas. There were four -no 5’s, one no 4, three no 80 scrapers, one no 82 scraper, one no 151 spokeshave. Not the best Stanley had to offer, but with some tuning, they will do everything needed of them.

  29. Valentina Longo Faussone

    My two cents: for 800£ (the 4 times the reader suggested as budget for a nice machine) you can buy ONE prosumer (high end, but non professional) machine like a bandsaw.
    One machine is not enough to do all the tasks and you will anyway need hand tools to refine.
    I Italy, an average 2.500/3.000 euro is considered the starting budget to set up a shop with a band saw, a tabletop circular saw, a planer and a router. And obviously you also need the space, the safety conditions to work, a dust collection system…
    So with hand tolls we are anyway way lower than with plugged ones.
    If time and serial production is not an issue for the worker, unplugged is anyway better.

    1. Hi Valentina, I think that it is true to say that using a tablesaw is not the same as taking on a laptop and a power planer is not so inclusive as a smartphone. Some people naturally adapt to powered equipment in the same way they feel no risk in driving a big truck or an off-road four-wheeler. I say this because, in my experience, a vast percentage of people searching to become woodworkers couldn’t find any support over the decades prior to recent years with the emergence of the internet. The internet freed people from woodworking magazines controlling massive spheres that promoted the use of machine-only methods. All they could sadly find were machinist advocacies when they were looking for skilled woodworkers and machinists were all they could find. Following the path you outline as a machine route put them off, and for many good reasons, not the least of which was cost, space for machinery, major safety concerns, noise, inexperience with power equipment and much more. Thankfully they discover the true power of woodworking using their own physical bodies and minds. Once they did, well they never turned back.

      1. Hi Paul, I better explain my position.
        I am an unplugged woodworker, and I am this exactly for what you outlined. I found support on the web, from you.
        I did not want to turn a machine that can cut me a hand away before knowing the basics of woodworking, and even then (whenever this will be) I am not sure I will want to work powered.
        I work in a tiny basement, with no possibility to implement safety measures for machinery. I don’t have money enough and I prefer to spend the money for good quality wood.

        I love hand planing, it frees my mind from stress like nothing else did before.

        Sadly Italy is very devoted to plugged woodworking, but something is changing. I’m happy to be a tiny part of this change.
        Thanks for what you teach us.

      2. I am so unplugged that my last project starting is making myself a Roubo frame saw 🙂
        I want to be able to resaw thick boards: this way I can spend the money in good quality different woods, and not on the lumbermill machine resawing that wood for me.
        Nothing wrong with them: it’s my budget that is tight.

  30. In the years I’ve been following Paul through blog, Utube, and WWMC, someone always makes an argument about machines. To me it’s like telling a Jockey that a stock car is better and faster. The stock car may win a race against a horse, but not a horse race. Thank You Paul for your teaching and unbiased reviews.

  31. I would argue that yes, you can find the tools for cheap, but only if you know what you are looking for. With experience one can tell that plastic handle plane A is a good buy, but plastic handle plane B is actual poor quality and should be passed on. That leaves the person without the tacit knowledge of these tools needing to instead shop by brand name and a few more coarse parameters. E.g. Pre WW2 Stanley that looks like it is in good condition (lacking the knowledge of what is okay and can be fixed up and what should be passed on from pictures alone). And these are the tools that command the premium hence the divide between the “you can’t get them that cheap” and “you don’t need to spend a lot” groups.

    1. We shouldn’t lose sight of the reality that just about any Stanley plane will work though. I have yet to find one, regardless of which plastic-type handle it has, that will not fettle for use just fine. I am saying this because I don’;t want someone who finds a £15 plane to think it won’t work for them.

  32. Hi, Paul,
    Just a quick thank you for all your videos/advice. Recovering from bypass surgery and your videos have been a god-send, keeping my spirits up. I’m working on finishing a Roubo style down-sized (6ft.) bench, hickory top and maple legs: project is on hold. I have been able to pick up a very nice #4 and a # 41/2 plane on ebay, both less than $100. Am waiting on a Record spokeshave and a Stanley bullnose plane to arrive from your side of the pond. Each less than 30.00, although shipping is pricy. I think you are pretty close in your estimate…does take some searching, antique shops, flea markets, garage sales. Adds to the fun.
    Keep up the excellent work!

  33. Ha Brilliant. ! I never considered buying a plane with a plastic handle and just replacing it. I don’t know why they’re just as good as any.

    1. The only one I replaced was on a stanley no 4, the only plane I bought new, after it cracked. I bought a record one and replaced it. easy to buy them in hardware stores at the time. The front plastic handle has developed a lovely patina over the 50 odd years.
      spent part of this afternoon trying out a wooden tongue plane I bought recently. decided i didn’t need the grove plane as I already have a plough plane. Also repaired a split chisel handle using, more or less, the PS method. Planed the split sides flat, glued on new pieces of ash from an old handle. Used a 102 block plane, curved spokeshave, stanley knife and sandpaper to remove anything that wasn’t “handle”. Turning the chisel whilst holding it by the blade made it easy to get back to a round handle whilst using the small block plane. Shellac improved the final appearance. In terms of time, possibly not cost effective, but I enjoyed it. I guess some might buy a new handle, or new chisel.
      I did consider putting a cross dowel through the handle, near the top, for extra support, but decided to rely on the glue alone.

  34. I mostly buy from eBay. Trading sites, car boots are good sources but I find it easier to just use a single source. Recently I bought a record 78 which was complete with depth stop for £15 incl p&p. Earlier in the year I bought an s&j handsaw, a disston handsaw and a Bowdon & co tenon saw for £18 total. There was also record 43 plough for £21 and a Stanley 4 for £16. I did have an issue with the yolk pin on the 4 but a rounded over and cut hex key did the job. Plough seller said cutter was useless but as it had no blade advancement a (range of) chopped off chisel blades sufficed. I also bought a job lot of mixed tools for £8 all in – there was some rubbish but I got a square awl, bevel gauge, marking gauge and mortice gauge out of it amongst others. Quite often the expense is on replacement parts cutters/blades so try to buy complete (unless the missing fence/stop is unimportant). If you’re prepared to sell too then I’ve bought a bundle of 4 antique panel gauges for £40 and resold 3 for £49.
    I actually missed a job lot which included a Stanley #5 (which was paint splattered but complete) – also included a pein hammer, pad saw, marking knife, drill bits, rules, Yankee drivers etc – which went for £32 all in.
    So I’d agree that you could get almost everything for under £200 – but files n rasps I buy new + a Vernier.
    My biggest ‘nonessential’ expense has been £70something for a hand router plane.
    All that said, I’d still rather use my pair of poor man’s rebate planes and sellers gauges than bought ones.
    Ps. I’m currently watching a couple of Prestons for no real reason – router plane is up at £300+ and bullnose at £50. I would like to get a Spiers infill if only because they were made down the road but I’m sure price will prevent that.

  35. This is my favourite “tool review” of all time, it’s for a low angle block plane:

    ” I bought this after doing some research. Collected from ‘redacted’ and spent some 2 hours trying to get the blade to go below the sole plate. Instructions were poor with one sentence missing. Returned to ‘redacted’ and the manager couldn’t get it to work either. They were very helpful.. This is not a criticism of ‘redacted’ who are always helpful, but of the product. Maybe I just got a rogue one, but was not impressed with the quality and couldn’t get it to work. “

  36. In the US you have to look hard to find the bargains, and forget it with planes. Since the prices have risen, there are a large number of mercenaries who scour all the garage sales and craigslist adds, buy up all the planes that come to market, and price them like they are made of platinum. I did mange to pick up a Craftsman no. 4 for $35 about 18 months ago. I tuned it up and it cuts beautifully. Saws are cheap and plentiful an cheap chisels are cheap and plentiful. I also bought a Stanley 923 bit brace for $18 this past summer and got lucky when I got a full set of vintage Irwin tapered, square bits for $6 at a garage sale. Tapered, square bits have gone nuts in price as well, but braces are surprisingly cheap. Considering the quality of the Stanley brace, with rosewood handle and sleeve, I’m surprised it wasn’t more.

    1. We just had a community garage sale here. I have a bunch of planes that I have collected over the years that I am never going to use and tried to sell off my excess. I may have sold one or two. I sold one Stanley Bailey 4 for $15. There was little interest in the rest. I think the key to finding bargains may be going with off-brand non-bailey planes that aren’t of interest to collectors and don’t sell on ebay.

      You can find braces and (rusty) tapered bits at almost any estate sale around here. Braces are pretty durable and every household had one. Finding sharp bits is a different story but you do run across them.

      There is also a huge supply of almost new files. Augers are less common, but the four in hand files with auger sections are ubiquitous. I don’t think you really need a file to be all that sharp for woodworking. Even the rusty ones found literally by the bucket will cut wood.

      Rusty hand saws are also all over the place, although finding older ones with blades that aren’t pitted or handles not broken is not very common. They are mostly priced to be painted at less than $5. Backsaws are different issue. I have never even seen a brass backed tenon or dovetail saw for sale. “Miter saws” only show up occasionally. There are lots of butt chisels with plastic handles but most of the others have badly pitted blades.

      My problem, is that I have found myself spending more time restoring tools than doing any woodwork. If you want to do woodwork, I don’t think you will have a hard time finding one plane, one saw … its when you get caught up in finding better tools instead of developing better skills that things go off the rails.

  37. I don’t disagree at all with the main thrust, that especially for US and UK buyers, secondhand tools can be had for a reasonable investment of currency, search time, and restoration time (in some cases). Low cost, Low search time, low restore work needed … pick any 2.

    What I do want to point out is that for someone getting started, it’s a real challenge to know what to look for and determine its quality/state/completeness in the search phase (ie what to avoid, what’s able to be or even worth restoring). Once delivered, it can be a second challenge to determine what if any tuning or modifications are needed and doing them sufficiently.

    Without the benefit of the mentoring and apprenticeship of the past, would-be woodworkers may stall in the conundrum of the chicken vs the egg. How to build the knowledge and, most critically, the experience to make good choices without already having the benefit of said experience and knowledge.

    It is all simple and easy stuff with 50 years at the bench but it likely wouldn’t have looked so at 16. I do think working through fettling is a critical component of gaining the experience needed but it can also be a discouraging experience, especially early on. Nothing worse than going to take your first shaving/cut and an getting immediate clog and tear and not knowing how/why or how to fix.

    1. In this day your assumptions are quite a ways off the mark. You bemoan the fact that beginners today don’t have the benefit of an apprenticeship to help them in learning how to take care of tools or to restore older ones. This does not hold up for several reasons: First back in the day there were not nearly a large enough number of apprenticeship slots to handle the vast percentage of the population that wanted to learn enough to successfully work in their own shop. These slots went to people who were serious in becoming Master Woodsmiths not hobbyists.
      Secondly, people who wanted to learn the enough to successfully enjoy a hobby of woodworking were able an did take classes, either public or private. These classes gave the serious hobbiest the skill needed as shown above.
      Now, here in the present we not only have in person learning centers we have written instruction available both in paper form or over the internet. Plus we have available to us the great woodworking shows on the IoT such as YouTube, Pinerest, Etc. These resources are of great utility, I for one have gone from No idea how to sharpen a bevel down plane iron or knowing that the back side of a chisel must be shown the same care as the bevel side. I’ve gone from having no idea on how to cut a dovetail or the idea of a spline joint to building A&C furniture to the extent of having a sound local market for my works.
      All is not lost.

    2. And that’s why I wrote the exhaustive experiences down in two books. I wanted to minimise the guesswork, so, to take a misused and even abused plane is covered quite fully. The experience you speak of would indeed be more unlikely at all rather than likely, it’s been more a rarity and scarcity in my experience restoring a few hundred such planes over the years and indeed working with students of mine in classes one on one. Following a few simple and basic enough steps and techniques, all written down in my blogs and books or verbalised on my videos, over an hour will always yield a good plane in full working condition and the experience gained from such restorative work is invaluable. Doing so remains through the ensuing decades too. It takes but a few hours of restoring a plane and not the 50 plus years at the bench as you say t all. I would hate to take what you are saying and discourage hundreds of others for the sake of an odd one that could cause a problem but most likely will not.

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