Buy secondhand tools?

I often get asked about buying secondhand tools and while there are some tools that you could consider, there are others you definitely don't want to buy.


Secondhand tools might be cheap by comparison to new tools - and there are lots of tools out there with plenty of life in them - but when buying secondhand power tools, it's difficult to know how hard they have been worked. You might save a few bucks on buying a secondhand drill / driver only to find that the battery no longer takes a full charge and the tool constantly dies on you when you're using it.

It can be tricky when buying cordless power tools because, not only are replacement batteries pricey, they're also hard to come by. Also, what's a new model today can be obsolete in a couple of years. Even top brand names are continuously modifying and upgrading their models. Doing a bit of research on the brand will let you know if you can still purchase replacement batteries.





If the seller gives you the opportunity to view the tool - do so. While viewing the tool you'll also be able to test it out for yourself and ascertain that it's in good working order.

When you're looking to buy larger power and woodworking tools for your workshop, how do you know which are good-quality items, and how do you avoid paying too much for these items?

Before you buy, do a bit of online research. This should bring you up to date on the current retail price for the item you are considering buying. Alternatively, pop into your local Builders store to check out the price of various tools, or visit their website to view online details.

Another way to check that pricing is reasonable is to pop onto online auction websites. Sites like,, and will provide you with hundreds of power tools that are for sale, and you should be able to ascertain at least a guideline of what secondhand tools are going for.

Brand name does matter. A brand name in itself is an indication of the quality of the tool and you could always ask for a bit of history about the tool before you buy it, or only buy tools from a little old lady! There's always the possibility that the person selling you the tools, especially larger power tools, is prepared to offer you a 3-month guarantee on the tools you buy, but this is doubtful and generally an exception to the rule and most sellers sell 'voetstoots'.

Having said that brand name matters, it's best to stay clear of discount tools, or tools sold as a bundle. These tools are generally of inferior quality and you could probably buy them brand new at minimal extra cost. While great for a beginner, when secondhand these tools have probably already outlived their use.

If you need to buy some tools secondhand, try to limit this to hand tools and workshop accessories. Tools like chisels, for example, can be sharpened, but keep a look out for tools that are pitted or rusty. That means the tools haven't been properly cared for and they're just not worth the money, unless they are antique pieces that you are willing to restore.


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