Saw shop tech: How to sell me old tools.

Vern Burke, SwiftWater Edge Tool Works

Skowhegan, ME

Yup, it’s true, I buy “barn fresh” old tools! Since I’ve had quite a few people bringing antique tools to me recently, I thought I’d give some guidelines about what I’m looking for.

None of the tools that I have for sale in my inventory ever start out as good as they look finished. Rust, dirt, cobwebs, deteriorated finish or wood, homely is a generous term for the way most of them come in. But how do you separate the cosmetically ugly from the truly bad?


Severe rust (rust that’s bad enough to significantly pit the underlying metal) is usually a disqualifier (surface rust is no problem). Cracked handles that are intact are usually not a problem, broken handles that are missing pieces are a reject. Any tool that’s been through a fire is a candidate for the trash bin (heat removes the temper from the steel).

Any tool missing parts or accessories is going to be a lot less valuable than one that’s complete. Any tool that is modified from original is also going to take a hit as well (including painting things that aren’t supposed to be painted).

Hand saws:

Hand saws with severe bends or pinpoint dents in the blades aren’t recoverable. Saws with laminated plywood handles, stainless steel blades, and anything made in Asia have little to no value. Saw blades missing teeth, cut down, cracked, or broken, or severely misfiled (the tooth line is curved instead of straight) are also junk.


Missing parts, missing finish, or damaged wood all lowers the value of a hand plane. Cracks in the body casting or missing pieces from the body casting render it junk. Cutting irons that are missing or sharpened out may affect the value if the plane requires a hard to find iron.


Large chips or missing chunks from the bit(s) or a warped or broken eye is a killer for an axe. Loose handles are a small value drop as long as the handle itself is sound. Missing, damaged, or deteriorated handles is a larger value drop but I’ll even buy the head just by itself. As usual, nothing made in China!


A bent chisel is one for the junk pile (a good quality chisel will break before it bends significantly). Less value for damaged or missing handles.

Crosscut saws:

Severely bent, cracked, or twisted (end to end) blades are no good as well as blades where the teeth are sharpened out. Damaged or missing handles on a 2 man drop the value, broken handles on a 1 man break the deal.

Finally, for most everything else, the guidelines in the General section apply. Just remember that anything made in China, Taiwan, or Korea are off the list, and you won’t get stuck with a tool I can’t buy from you!

Visit me at any of the following locations:

Elm Plaza, Waterville, ME (Mondays)
Arundel Flea Market, Rt 1 & Log Cabin Rd, Arundel, ME (Fridays)
298 W Front St, Skowhegan, ME (all other days)

If you’re looking for a special tool, please drop me an
email and let me know and I’ll restore one just for you!

SwiftWater Edge Tool Works provides mobile sharpening services across Maine and mail in services around the world for handsaws, carbide blades, planer knives, hand planes, chain saws, knives, scissors, hair clippers, router bits, and almost any blade!


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