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I Remember When I Could Easily Buy a Vintage Handsaw Without Spending My Life Savings

Yesterday, I went to my favorite used tool website, Sydnas Sloot and once again discovered that I was too late to consider buying a vintage saw from Mr. Moss. Sandy Moss is one of the best used tool dealers to buy from on the Internet, several of the tools in my arsenal I purchased from him.

I also realized that the last tool I purchased from Sandy was seven years ago (I reached a saturation point in tool collecting about then) and that the world has changed mightily since those days. There was once a time when you had a few days to consider buying a hand saw from an Internet seller before it would be sold to another, now you must snap up a vintage saw immediately or it will be sold. I also remember when most hand saws were priced under $50 and most saws at a flea market were under $20. Again, those prices and saws have gone the way of the buffalo.

There is currently a Handsaw Craze that is sweeping the nation, when did hand saws become so popular? Am I the only 50 year old man who remembers when the old timers discarded handsaws for a bandsaw and table saw because they thought those machines were the best things to use for ripping and crosscutting wood?

These days writers for the glitzy woodworking magazines have discovered the potential of hand saws. That has created a "revival" among men who retired from their regular day jobs and finally got the chance to do what they wanted-work with the wood. There is nothing wrong with that, but I wish that they didn't drive the prices of tools out of the reach of those of us who haven't retired or, in my case, never will.

I use power tools at my day job because they make me more efficient. I use hand saws to make guitars, to use a bandsaw or table saw for me removes a very personal aspect of guitar making. A guitar is such an intimate instrument, why instill noise into the wood and then into the spirit of the guitar?

I honor an allegiance to my father, grandfathers and great-grandfathers by using hand saws. For me a handsaw is not a fad and the last thing I want to do is drive the price of a vintage handsaw so high that a newbie to traditional woodworking would be better off buying a $235 saw from Lie-Nielson or Wenzloff and Sons. I guess I could say that for the entire vintage tool market at the moment.

I don't apologize for this rant. A woodworker should use the tools that they need and should be able to purchase them at a reasonable price. I plan on working with the wood until I can no longer get out of bed, woodworking for me is not a fad, but a way of life.

All of us need to make wood working accessible to those who are younger and make it fun for them. I do not want to deny a young person an education just because the market is driving up the price of the tools (or college tuition for that matter) needed to get ahead in life.


  1. I have had a lot of luck at garage sales and junk shops. Most people where I live are not looking to buy hand saws. I have gotten most of mine around 5-7 dollars. I need another hand saw like I need a whole in the head, but every time I see one priced cheap I buy it anyway.

  2. Thank you so much for saying something about this. Being a college student used/vintage tools are my primary tools, yet online they are getting so expensive, so I have to pray to find some cheap useable ones at flea markets/garage sales. I have also wondered how many are actually buying them for use and how many are collecting/hoarding them. If in the future I come across some great many tools I would be glad to pass them on (gratis) to a younger generation, isn't that what a craft is about? Giving others the ability and means to find the joy within it? The greed within the woodworking community needs to cease, how many dovetail saws does one person really need?

  3. Thanks for the comments, Frontier Carpenter and Make a Good Life! I am like you Frontier Carpenter, I need another hand saw like I need a hole in my head. Make a Good Life, I recommend that you find a tool collecting club/association near you, right now those folks are the best to buy vintage tools from. I've often wondered what will happen to all those hand tools that are being snatched up when the owners die. In 10-15 years will the used tool market be flooded with wonderful vintage tools again?

  4. Hi,

    Just found your blog and I think I will end up reading all your posts! Have to agree with you on the price of used WW tools. I believe it's the collectors and the newbies who are driving up the prices of these tools. Anywhere I go, I see every Stanley #4 marked up even if it's crappy. That said, I have managed to acquire some tools (a #4 for $20 and a #45 for $30) but it takes a long time.

    The other common sentiment I don't get is the willingness to spend on the name brand tools. Buyers seem to be paying exorbitant prices for the luxury of being able to use hand tools right out of their boxes without having to learn to adjust and sharpen them.

    All this is just bad news for those of us who just want a well-made tool at a reasonable cost.

    Thanks for letting me rant as well :)


  5. Thanks for the rant, Phil!

    Just keep at acquiring the tools that you need, not what the glitzy wood working magazine articles say that you should have!

  6. Wilson,

    Sorry I'm a little late with the reply here. I sometimes get busy and forget to check my blogs for a while.

    I know several members of the local woodworking guild who seem to need to collect every kind of tool. They brag about having a full set of Stanley Type 11 bench planes. And a full set of the Bedrocks, as well. And then they have a full user set (also mostly Type 11s, of course). And then they have saws - tons of saws. 40-50 hand saws, another 15 backsaws, not including their dovetail saws.

    The list goes on.

    Every now and again, I'll be at a garage sale and see a quality bench plane for $20 or less. I don't need it. But I'll buy it, take it home, and fix it up. Then the next time someone says they're interested in trying out hand tools, I give it to them to use.

    This feeds my desire to grab a tool from the brink of destruction and breath some life back into it without having to keep it.

    Like you, I have enough bench planes. I have enough back saws and hand saws. For the most part, I don't want or need anything more in my shop.

    In my eyes, the worst offenders are those who just take the tools out of the market; they buy them when they see them, drag them home, and throw them into a corner somewhere in the shop, where the tools sit for years on end, not being used.

    Anyway... I do my best to keep the hand tool world in motion. Let me know if you're ever looking for something specific; if I see it at an auction or yard sale, I'll snatch it up for ya and send it your way.



  7. Thanks, TKW!

    I will let you know if I'm looking for a specific tool!


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