eBay is probably the one source that automatically comes to everyone’s mind when you mention a place for buyers and sellers to find one another online. eBay was founded in 1995 and has now become the 9th largest internet company in the world when comparing revenues. Whether you are looking to add some tools to your shop or unload a few to garner some extra cash, eBay is definitely a source to consider. If you are a buyer, eBay will likely offer an assortment of options for any specific tool you are looking for. If you are selling, you will have millions of people visiting their site each day who could become a customer of one of your listings.
The one negative to eBay for buyers or sellers, especially when it comes to woodworking equipment is shipping. Many times, items are large or extremely heavy. One you add shipping costs on to a listing, it can make the item cost prohibitive to purchase. Typically, buying and selling of tools on eBay is limited to small items that can be easily packaged and shipped via normal transportation options such as USPS, UPS or Fedex.
One solution to the handling of large items is an option eBay labels as “Local Pickup Only.” These listings appear like a normal eBay listing, however the seller is stating up front that they are not willing to ship the item due to its size or weight. Therefore, the buyer will need to visit the seller’s location to pick up the item.
For sellers, this is a nice feature because you are clearly stating upfront that you are not willing to ship the item. The downside is that your pool of potential customers is greatly reduced, especially if you don’t live near a major city.
For buyers, this can be an advantage because you can get great deals in your area with low competition from other buyers.
Sellers can expect to pay about 10% in eBay fees for items sold. On top of that, there’s an additional 3% or so that will be paid to Paypal as well. Buyers pay no fees.
Local Auction Companies
Another place to consider when buying or selling used woodworking tools is local auction companies. These are commonly referred to as “Personal Property” auctions. In my city, there are 3-4 auction companies that list these types of online auctions about every week or two. The great thing about these sites is that the auction houses will usually give you 2-3 weeks to place your bids. This allows buyers to research the items prior to bidding to ensure they are paying a fair price.
It’s also common for these auction houses to have preview days. This allows buyers to visit the location of where the auction is being held so they can carefully look over all the items listed. This way you can check to ensure the pictures tell the full story and see for yourself what kind of shape the item is in before bidding.
This option may be appealing for someone who is trying to liquidate an estate and does not have a solid understanding of the tools they are trying to sell and their values. The auction company will take care of everything from start to finish.
When you contact these companies, they will want to come out and look over the items that you are wanting to sell. If the company representative thinks the items will sell, they will have you sign a contract. In my area, once the contract is signed, they bring a team of workers on to the property to photograph and write descriptions of each of the items. Then they upload everything to their auction site and soon after the auction begins. Once bidding had ended, the auction company will come back to the property and people with winning bids will stop by to pay for their items and take them home.
Buyers typically pay an auction fee of around 10% of their winning bids. The structure of payment for the sellers varies between each auction house. Expect to pay a flat fee in addition to a percentage of total sales.
Over the last few years, Facebook has made more of an effort to bring buyers and sellers together on their platform. They have used Facebook Marketplace as their means to do this. It works by sellers using their Facebook profile to post items they are selling. The primary intent of these listing is for the buyer and seller to meet locally to complete the transaction. However, sellers do have the ability to offer shipping options.
Sellers can also take advantage of advertising in Facebook by promoting their listing. Facebook offers numerous options for the seller to choose from so their focus their promoted listing to a specific group of buyers.
The nice thing about Facebook Marketplace (excluding promoted listings) is that it’s free! There is no cost for the buyer or seller.
Another option on Facebook that many people don’t consider is the use of Facebook groups. Buyers or sellers of used woodworking tools should look at joining groups on Facebook that are devoted to woodworkers. Many times, these groups will have listings for equipment people are looking to buy or sell. Depending on your area, you may even find a regional group of woodworkers. Again, no cost on this Facebook option either.
Craigslist is probably the most obvious option to make our list. Craigslist actually started in 1995 as an email list. Though in 2016, it recorded revenues of almost $700 million.
My experience on Craigslist list has always been hit or miss. As a buyer, it’s certainly possible to find great bargains on the site. I scored a Rigid joiner with a lifetime transferable warranty for $200. I was lucky because I responded to the seller within minutes of him posting it. He had several people in line behind me had I passed on it. So if you are looking for a good deal on a particular tool, you have to be watching the site constantly and quick to not only reach out to the seller but actually pick up the item too.
As a seller, I’ve been left frustrated by Craigslist numerous times. Buyers can be very indecisive and just plain inconsiderate. If selling, you will need to be patient and fully expect people to commit to meeting you at a particular time and then never showing up.
For both buyers and sellers, there is also the safety concerns. Buyers and sellers are able to remain anonymous for the most part. If you do decide to meet for a transaction, it’s highly recommended that you do so in a public setting and don’t go alone.
Craigslist is completely free to use for both the buyers and sellers.
Local Woodworking Clubs
Check your area for local woodworking clubs. They can be an excellent source for both buyers and sellers. Odds are one of the members knows someone who has a tool they are willing to part with or someone interested in buying. Most moderate size cities will have a woodworking club.
Similar to woodworking clubs, there are also woodworking forums on the internet. These can be a great resource a couple of ways. First off, they typically offer a classified ads section which will allow you to buy or sell specific pieces of equipment that you may be looking for. Some of these sites are location specific as well so they target a potential section of the United States which can eliminate the problems caused when shipping.
I’d recommend buyers look at these sites before buying a used piece of equipment to ensure you are paying a fair price. Simply posting a quick question on a forum asking if a certain machine model is a good price has saved me money in the past. Sometimes items that seem like a good deal in the listing aren’t so great when you get opinion of others who may have the same machine sitting in their shop.
A couple of forums to check out are: sawcreekmill.com, woodnet.net and toolexchangeworld.net.
Govdeals.com (Buyers Only)
Government surplus sites are a great way to big up a good deal when you are limited on a budget but want to increase the tools in your shop. I love Govdeals.com. They have a section specifically with woodworking equipment listings. You can pick up some heavy duty machines like Powermatic table saws for a great price. These tools will always be used. Most likely they have been used in a school or even a prison.
They may need to be cleaned up and have some maintenance done, but you can typically get them for a nice price. Be sure to read the pickup deals and reach out to the seller if you have any questions. Sometimes the pickup requirements can be fairly specific (such as when you pick up something from a prison!).
Advice for Buyer & Sellers
When selling your used woodworking equipment, be sure to be as descriptive as possible. Search for the model number and serial numbers and post them if your machine has them. This will help potential buyers date the machine in some cases.
Also, describe how the machine was used. Was it used by a hobbyist or full time carpenter? Where did you acquire it? Did you buy it new or used?
Finally, before listing your item, do a simple Google search to find out some details on the machine you are selling. Many older machines come with lifetime warranties that are transferable. If you find out your equipment has an existing warranty, be sure to mention it in your listing. A lifetime warranty is a major selling point!
My advice to buyers would be to not let transportation and shipping get in the way of a good deal. If you’ve found a machine that is well priced and in good condition, consider making a road trip. If you don’t have a truck to get it home, consider renting one!
I needed to pick up a large table saw about 3 hours away and my truck wasn’t running great. I ended up renting a pickup truck from the airport in our city and making a day trip to retrieve it. Renting the truck for 2 days over the weekend only cost me $65. If a pickup truck isn’t pick enough, consider a U-Haul truck with a ramp if you need.