Do you want help finding hand tools?
If you’re new to the world of hand tools you may have no clue on where to buy them. The good news is that hand tools not only are easy to come by, finding hand tools is fun too!
Today we’re going to take a look at where you can find them. I want you to come to take a journey on where to find hand tools!
Hand tools are durable, and very long lasting. You can use this to your absolute advantage, and I encourage you to do so!
Our first stop on our finding hand tools journey is…
The Flea Market
When you think of some of the best places, and best deals, this should be the number one stop for finding hand tools. With how long woodworking has been around, there’s a huge chance someone will be selling off their relatives tools at some point.
This is where you can find absolute gold if you take your time. If you’ve never been to a flea market before it can be very daunting. There are literally hundreds of tables and thousands of people at most times. Don’t let this deter you! Spending a few hours in a flea market, every weekend, was my entire childhood. My grandparents would take me there, first thing in the morning on Saturday and Sunday. Walking around this monument of consumerism was awe-inspiring. You could find anything, literally anything.
This is what makes the flea market so good!
You may not walk out of there with a ton of stuff, but you will walk out with a DEAL. Negotiating and knowing what you’re looking for are paramount!
Next, we’ll talk garage sales, while similar to the mentality of a flea market they are quite different! Finding hand tools at garage sales takes a lot more planning in advance. Since garage sales are usually spread out quite a bit, you need to plan a route based on the likelihood of finding what you want. You want hand tools so looking in more rural areas, or suburbs are your best bet. Somewhere someone had the room to do woodworking. Maybe they dipped their toe in and realized it wasn’t for them, or maybe they got hand-me-down tools they just never use.
Try and avoid urban areas, apartment complexes and row homes won’t have much if anything to help your woodworking journey.
The key to your success, if you’re going the garage sale route, is to not be afraid to call (if a number is available) and ask if they have any tools. You don’t need to be specific, since most of the time the people selling may not know what they have. Garage sales are time-consuming, and gas consumption is high, so make sure you factor this into your tool budget!
What if you’re in an area where flea markets and garage sales aren’t practical?
Excellent question! Next, we’ll look at some places online to help you find exactly what you’re looking for!
This website dedicated to woodworking and hand tools is run by Joshua Clark. Once or twice a month he updates the ‘for sale’ with new tools. Everything from planers, saws, and chisels (and everything in between!) can be found here. Joshua makes sure every tool has pictures of the exact item itself that you’re buying, and the condition it is in.
An advantage of you utilizing this resource is it takes little time. Click on “Tools for Sale” on the left-hand side of the webpage and you’re immediately taken to the list of all tools. There are sub-categories to narrow your search as well. Another great thing is he also sells PARTS for your vintage tools here as well. Need a specific blade for a planer? Check out the parts and projects section!
With this website constantly being updated, it’s always good to sign up for the RSS feed he provides so you get the updates as soon as they happen!
One downfall is there’s no wiggle room for negotiation, and you have to factor in shipping as well. This can affect your budget, but if you want to pay a little more for convenience this should be a must visit!
If you’ve never used Craigslist before it can be very daunting. When you first arrive it will ask you to share your location, if you choose to not do this you must select the closest city to your area from a huge list. Once you’ve found your local area you’re presented with another list of everything you can look for!
Luckily there’s a ‘For Sale’ section with a sub-section of ‘Tools’ right there for you! Take your time and check out all the options on the left-hand side! You can narrow down your searches to making sure there are pictures, and even set how far from your location you want to search. Also, you can set a budget amount, so you don’t overspend!
Check out the search features, check out different sections (because sometimes people put vintage hand tools in the antique section!), and finding hand tools on craigslist can be easy and fun.
Craigslist is a great resource but there is a small caveat, you have to be careful!
There’s a huge amount of scammers out there and while I haven’t encountered many who are selling tools, be careful! Always meet in a public place, preferably with cameras around. Being safe is insanely important! Some local Police stations now have ‘craigslist’ spots out front of their stations specifically for transactions. Unsure of where a safe spot would be in your town? Check out SafeTrade Stations which is a great resource for finding places! They list local meeting places that have surveillance so that you can do local transactions safely!
Moving on, let’s take a look at…
Like a monster looming over your shoulder begging you to shop, eBay has been a go-to place to find anything you want. This is my must-search resource when I am trying to find something exotic, though finding basic tools is easy as pie here too! If you were looking for a Japanese planer, you’d come to eBay and check out what can be found! It’s ridiculously easy finding hand tools on eBay. One thing to look out for, however, is the quality.
With eBay, there’s no way of being able to fully know if what being offered is in good shape, or even worth the money. For instance, a quick search for woodworking chisels could yield a 12-piece starter kit. It may say it’s steel with polished wood and all, but at $12.99 you’re taking a risk. The steel could be soft. The edge might need to be sharpened immediately. You never know.
Not to say cheaper is automatically bad, I’ve gotten quite a few insanely good deals on eBay that have lasted me a VERY long time so far, kept their edge, and are very good tools! Just be sure to check return policies!
Admittedly, I use eBay a lot to just price things I find at other places sometimes. Also, it is great for ‘throw-away’ tools that you may need for only one quick project. Use it to your advantage and have proper expectations and you’ll be golden!
What if I’m not comfortable buying online?
Excellent question! Finding hand tools online is convenient, but not everyone wants to do it. You can’t be blamed for apprehension! So we’ll look at some other ways to find hand tools, but locally!
Okay, okay. I’ll get this one out of the way right away! Chain stores like Harbor Freight, Woodcraft, Home Depot, and Sears (to only name a few) can still be good places to find hand tools. They’re a safe bet that you’ll find what you want, usually from several companies. You’ll have a variety, can handle the tools before buying, and have the backup of a warranty and guarantee. This can be invaluable to some people and worth the trip out to one of these types of stores.
If I am looking for something brand new and I’m out and about already I head to my local Woodcraft store. Woodcraft has several stores in over 30 states, so they might not be around you but they’re my #1 pick of chain store for my woodworking tools. However other stores are just as useful!
Wondering how a certain tool feels in the hand before buying? Hit up your local chain. They always have demo tools out ready to go and there’s no shame in window shopping before you search elsewhere for the best deal!
Mom and Pop Stores
They still exist, and they’re hard to find. However, finding a small family-run local business is an amazing thing. Not only are you helping support local businesses, but you most likely will be building a long-term friendship. This will help you network and learn from others who are more than willing to share their knowledge!
Local mom and pop stores tend to have no online presence, so there is quite a bit of searching you need to do. Whether it’s driving to a new location in your town you’ve never been to, or checking your local newspapers, you have to spend the time to find one.
Finding hand tools in stores is like finding a gem. They tend to have new tools and small consignment sections for vintage tools. Working out deals can happen as well!
This one is not recommended, however, if you go in with the right attitude and follow some of this guide I will be laying out you may walk away with a deal! Pawnshop shopping is not for first-time tool buyers – so keep that in mind!
First, you need to make sure you’re capable of checking out the tool quality yourself.
Knowing what to look for in terms of quality of the steel, wood, and other components are absolutely needed! Fair prices are hard to come by, so have your smartphone ready!
Ask what the best price they can do is.
This is your first step of negotiation! Just asking this question can get the pawnbroker’s brain moving, and up to 20% can come off the top of the price right away. Sometimes this will be a great deal and your job is done. If not…
You have to know how to haggle, and not give up.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of Pawn Stars, you know that they mark up the product by a LOT. Some things can have 50-300% markups on them over the price the pawn shop paid for the tool. Look at the price on the sticker, then offer way lower than what is there. Starting low will give the wiggle room for better haggling. This careful back and forth can save you a lot of money and snag a good deal. IF you’re good at it.
The good news is hand tools, as I said previously, can last a long time. So finding hand tools in places like this isn’t as huge of a risk as if you were looking for pneumatic or battery powered tools (Avoid those at pawnshops! no matter what!).
Now that you’re armed with some information.
Take what you’ve learned and head on out into the world!
Finding great deals is an adrenaline rush and once you get into the swing of things you’ll find it very rewarding!
Spending time with my grandparents in places like flea markets and driving around to garage sales built memories that lasted my entire life. They helped shape me from a young kid. I learned about people, money, woodworking, and crafts in general. Make your memories!
Thank you so much for joining me on this journey of finding hand tools! Once you’ve found your hand tools grab some lumber, head to your workshop, and get woodworking!
Check out some of my other articles for more tips: