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Thread: Wooden molding/rabbet/dado plane value

  1. #1

    Wooden molding/rabbet/dado plane value

    Hi guys,

    I'm just wondering, what would you expect to pay for decent quality old wooden molding (basic hollow and round, etc.)/rabbet/dado planes, respectively?

    I see a lot of dado and rabbet planes on ebay in the range of $20-25, of course you have to add shipping, but it does save some time in terms of not going to every local garage sale, and I haven't seen really any wooden planes on my local craigslist (and even not so local). Are these basically fair prices?

    The iron Stanley dado and rabbet planes are about the same, though usually a little more I guess. I've heard they aren't as great to use, though. They say they're not as comfortable to hold. But, what's a decent price for iron Stanley's as well (both dado and rabbet)?

    I'm just curious, because I feel I might be missing out on some decent tools every now and then.

    Thanks,

    Joe

  2. #2
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    $10-$15 for an individual H or R that's in good shape with a good iron and with a pitch that you'd want (no common pitch if you're going to use it with hardwoods). If a plane takes more than a little wedge work and possibly matching a profile to a similar sized hollow or round for a match, leave it for someone who likes to put planes on their walls. It's really a lot easier to wait until you can find a half set from someone else, and pay a little more than that per plane but not spend dozens of hours looking for individual planes you need. Shipping pairs from ebay makes them cost prohibitive if you're really intent on getting more than one or two that you need for a specific project.

    Rabbets - $10 for a small one that's straight and maybe up to $20 for a large one.

    Dado planes - if you can find one that's actually being used and is sharp with a good nicking iron and a straight bottom, maybe consider up to $50 for one that's exemplary. Most of them are in disuse with pitted nicking irons that you'd probably be better of just making another iron than repairing, and the runner in the front and back may no longer line up, especially if they are planes where the stock was not properly chosen. I would cap it at $20 for any plane that needs any work, you're just buying a lot of trouble if you need to start making irons or refurbishing planes that haven't been used for 50+ years.

    Moulding planes generally go a little too high for me on ebay, unless it's a set.

    to me, it's easier to make H&Rs than it is to find good ones.

    Dealer prices will be higher than all of the above, probably.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  3. #3
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    Joe - I use wooden molding planes almost exclusively in my shop. My router table has 1/2" of dust on it, and has not been turned on for several years. I own approximately 350-400 molding planes, and I've "been through the wars" as the saying goes. I would strongly advise you not to purchase wooden molding planes off of e-bay. The vast majority of the sellers have no idea what the difference is between a usable antique and one that needs to be hung on the wall at Cracker Barrel. To the uninitiated, these two extremes of condition look identical. And you will definitely not be able to tell from a photograph.

    Instead, I would advise you to purchase at least your first few from a dealer that knows wooden molders. The king of the hill for this is Lee Richmond at The Best Things. He sells both users and collector's items, and he knows the difference between both collector's items that are not usable, collector's items that are usable, user planes that are usable, and user planes that are unusable (which he doesn't sell). Rather than just sort through his listings, I would suggest that you give him a call and tell him what you're looking for (users in good working order). You will pay approximately double e-bay prices for individual planes, but in the end, it will be far cheaper to buy from Lee than on e-bay. Once you buy a few that are in good working order from him, you will know the difference b/t junk and usable, and you can go to a few MWTCA meetings and amass what you want for considerably less money.

    Friends don't let friends buy wooden planes on ebay!

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Keller NC View Post
    ...Friends don't let friends buy wooden planes on ebay!
    May be good advice for beginners, who I'd advise to not buy any tools on ebay. Once a woodworker has some experience though, ebay can be a great source of tools, even the "mistakes" can be valuable.

    Pam

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Keller NC View Post

    Friends don't let friends buy wooden planes on ebay!
    Well, at least no moulders.

    If the pictures are thorough enough for bench planes, you can do OK with those there. But you have to know what you're looking for and for every one good one, there will be 80 junk ones and 19 that could be salvaged but that are horribly overpriced.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pam Niedermayer View Post
    Once a woodworker has some experience though, ebay can be a great source of tools, even the "mistakes" can be valuable.

    Pam
    It's a good place for used japanese tools from known makers. people on the japanese woodworking forums tend to want new or almost new price for lightly used tools. On ebay, unless it's a currently heavily retailed maker (like tsunesaburo) a lot of the good makers will go for 1/2 to 2/3rds of new.
    Unleaded tastes a little tangy, supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

  7. #7
    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the reponses, I appreciate them. I'm worried about buying tools off ebay too. I've only bought one or two things in the past (not tools, but an antique typewriter for instance), and they turned out problematic. For that reason, I passed on a few planes this week. Plus, like you're all saying, if I don't know everything to look for (and I probably don't), I might be in trouble.

    I've seen The Best Things website, and they do seem to have nice tools, but I think they might be a little too expensive for me right now. We'll see. I'll probably wind up waiting on Craigslist for a very good deal, where I won't be at too much of a loss if they need some work or aren't great.

    I've considered making my own planes, some simple molding planes and a rabbet or dado plane. I think I could laminate it and get pretty accurate results, but it's making the irons that make me nervous. I've thought about possible going to Home Depot and buying a cheap Buck bros. or Stanley plane blade and splitting it into an L-shape. Then I'd cut a skew into it or shape. Has anyone tried doing this? Or would the blade be too thin for a plane without a cap iron? I suppose you could double the blade too, one bevel down, the other on top, with the bevel up. There have been old planes with two irons like this, right?


    For a cheap rabbet plane, I've thought about using an old butterfly or spade bit. Someone on here made a nice looking one. I just don't know if the bit's shaft is wide enough, or if it will cause the blade to rock back and forth and shake too much. I guess for a rabbet plane, though, it would pay to buy a replacement blade (ECE I think makes a fairly inexpensive blade), instead of making the blade.

    But anyway, what about the old Stanley #39 dados, and 78 rabbets? Any good? And what would one expect to pay for a decent one?

    Joe
    Last edited by Joe Fabbri; 06-19-2011 at 5:07 PM.

  8. #8
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    Joe,

    Your profile does not list your location. Perhaps a fellow SMC member lives somewhere nearby and could allow you to sample some of these planes. If you're near Indy, I'd certainly throw out this invitation.

    -Mark

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    Joe - What you mentioned is specifically why I advised you to call Lee. He has wooden molding planes from anywhere in the $20-$40 range to $1800 for planes made before the revolutionary war. Obviously, you're interested in the ones that are serviceable, possibly with a replaced wedge, from one of the bigger late 19th century makers that are in that lower price range. These are much cheaper than ones in high condition made by individual makers. Lee is not the only reputable dealer - Patrick Leach and the guy that runs hyperkitten are good as well; they just don't have quite the depth of experience in this one particular area.

    If you choose to make your own, I would strongly advise purchasing blank irons from Lie-Nielsen, at least for the first few planes. They are already tapered and already correctly shaped, and are good steel. All you must do is fit your plane to them, and heat-treat them. Heat treating isn't all that complicated, and can be done with a propane torch and a bucket of used cooking oil. I would also strongly advise that you purchase and view Larry William's plane making video. Even if you decide to make them by the lamination method, there is an awful lot of very good advice on how to correctly bed the iron and fit the wedge in a plane.

    Finally, check out the MWTCA. Unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii, there will be a local chapter and a tool meet within the next several months. Guaranteed there will be at least one, and probably several, members that collect, use, hunt, refurbish, sell and covet wooden hand planes.

  10. #10
    David, I'll keep my eye on Lee's website and see about getting in touch with him. (I'll also take a look at the other guy you mentioned as well). Once on Best Things, I saw a pair of planes, but without the blades. The description said they were in good condition, other than the blades. That might also be a way to go, rather than making the wooden body too. I do have an oxy-acetylene torch, but I'm not sure if tempering could be done with that.

    Mark, thanks for the nice offer. Unfortunately, I'm a little too far away...I'm in New York, and there's no one around here that friendly, haha.

    Joe

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Fabbri View Post
    I do have an oxy-acetylene torch, but I'm not sure if tempering could be done with that.
    Of course! In fact, you may have the opposite problem from most of us that have a cheap 'n crappy propane soldering torch - too much heat. There is quite a bit about heat treating on this forum. If I recall correctly, Bob Smalser wrote a thread on this topic.

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Fabbri View Post
    Mark, thanks for the nice offer. Unfortunately, I'm a little too far away...I'm in New York, and there's no one around here that friendly, haha.

    Joe
    You could not possibly be better positioned to get old woodworking tools - they are found in great variety and abundance in the NorthEast where they were largely made, and their density drops off the farther you get away from New England. Folks in the West have a much harder time.

    If you take no other advice from my posts - JOIN the MWTCA!!! (Mid Western Tool Collector's Association - http://www.mwtca.org/) Heck, you can go to the next area meeting without joining - they will be glad to have you, and there is always stuff for sale at the meets, it's one of the key activities.

  12. #12
    I've been fairly lucky with my 'bay planes. However, I'm looking for a specific maker. Each of the planes I bought on the bay I would have bought if they were at an antique store. If there is only one picture, I probably won't bite. Each of the planes I bought had a lot of pictures and a thorough description. If I had the money, I could have probably put together a decent half set by my preferred maker (E.Baldwin, in case you're wondering) by now. But I'm patient and only pull the trigger if I'm certain that the plane in question is a good one. There's a few up there now that I'm interested in, but the money is tied up in something else. Long story short, if antique tools are not plentiful in your area, and you're patient and diligent, you can do ok. Oh...and I'm TOTALLY not an expert at this stuff!
    If it ain't broke, fix it til it is!

  13. #13
    Yeah, that's part of my concern, getting it too hot too quickly. I'll see if I can find that old thread, thanks for the heads up.

    Regarding the North East and tools, yeah I know a lot of the old tools were made around here. In fact, one of my great-grandfather's small coffin smoothers, the only wooden plane I have, was made by Benson and Cranell in Albany, NY. I'm not sure if that was a large or famous manufacturer, but it's a cool little plane, and I just found it laying around in an old box of junk in my basement. I was lucky that the wedge and blade (though the blade is just a generic slotted Miller Falls blade) were still in the same box.

    Anyway, yeah you see a fair amount of old tools for sale on Craigslist around here, it's just seems no one's giving anything away. It's either overpriced, or junk, but I guess that's almost always the case, right.

    I've checked out the MWTCA website. I see they have a listing for an upcoming NY meet, but I don't see an exact location listed yet. I'll keep an eye out for any updates.

    Thanks for information, David.

    Joe
    Last edited by Joe Fabbri; 06-19-2011 at 11:14 PM.

  14. #14
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    Joe, you might consider calling Lee Richmond at the Best things and explain to him exactly what you are looking for and your level of experience. When I first started collecting "user" grade molding planes that is what I did. He was very helpful, and guided me thru my 1st few purchases, I ended up with some decent users for a pretty good price. He usually has more molders available then what is listed on the website, and many of them are available in a price range that is cheaper then buying irons.
    Good luck on your journey into collecting wooden planes.
    John

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Keller NC View Post
    ...Patrick Leach and the guy that runs hyperkitten are good as well...
    Hey, that's me!

    I'll give you two pieces of advice for buying molding planes site-unseen: First, buy from someone who uses them and knows what to look for in a user molding plane. Second, buy from someone who will accept returns for any reason. Molding planes are simple tools, but there are a lot of things that can go wrong with them over time that will make them unusable. The prettiest planes today are sometimes pretty for a reason.

    Patrick is an excellent source for molding planes- he knows what he is talking about and always finds the most interesting stuff. Now that I have my basic molding plane kit filled out, I look to him for the more arcane stuff.

    If you want a good lesson on tuning and using molding planes, look at the DVDs Lie-Nielsen produced with Don McConnell and Larry Willaims. They are both excellent.

    Good luck, it's a steep slope.

    Josh

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