How Do I Choose the Best Used Woodworking Equipment?

Dan Cavallari

Buying used woodworking equipment can save a woodworker a bit of money, but it is important to inspect the tools carefully before purchasing to ensure they will not break down too quickly and turn the investment into a loss. Decide ahead of time what type of used woodworking equipment you want to purchase, and learn as much as possible about each piece of equipment so you know what to look for when examining a used tool or piece. Remember that an inspection of a power tool may go well, but the tool may still break down shortly after purchase without warning.

A used power sander, which is used for woodworking.
A used power sander, which is used for woodworking.

Whenever possible, buy used woodworking equipment only from reputable sellers. Buying from a dealer may allow you to return the tool if it is immediately defective, whereas buying from a private seller will leave you no recourse if the tool breaks immediately. If you buy from a private seller, ask that seller if you can test out the used woodworking equipment before purchasing. An inspection and a test of the tool's usefulness will usually give you a good idea as to whether the tool is worth buying.

When woodworking, a miter saw is ideal for making precise crosscuts.
When woodworking, a miter saw is ideal for making precise crosscuts.

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When buying power tools, do a visual inspection and look for obvious signs of damage. Look, too, for signs of recently replaced parts, as this may be a sign that the seller recently had problems with the equipment and is simply looking to unload it. Unfortunately, it is rarely possible to tell whether the tool has been well maintained, and you should be prepared if the tool breaks down quickly after purchase. Inspect power cords for damage as well, as this can have an effect both on your own personal safety and the effectiveness of the tool. Sometimes examining the seller's workshop can give you a clue as to whether the tool has been well kept; a messy shop may indicate the tool was not kept as well as it could have been, while a neat, tidy, organized shop is a better indication that the tool has been cared for.

Know what you are buying before you pay for used woodworking equipment. Buy brand name components and tools whenever possible, as this will help ensure you will be able to get replacement parts for the equipment if necessary. Do a bit of research to find out which brand names are considered high-quality, and which are worth avoiding.

A jointer, which is used in woodworking.
A jointer, which is used in woodworking.

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