10 Helpful Tips for Buying a Used Planer

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This is 10 Helpful Tips for Buying a Used Planer. In this post, I’ll show you what to look for in order to ensure that you not only get a great deal, but you also get a quality tool that is going to last. Enjoy.

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Buying a Used Planer

10-Helpful-Tips-for-Buying-a-Used-PlanerThe thickness planer is one of the least appreciated tools by beginners, and it mainly stems from not knowing exactly why it’s important. Once you understand that, it becomes an awesome tool to have in your shop.

It’s amazing being able to create perfectly flat surfaces for gluing your projects. It’s also amazing to be able to make them in mere seconds, instead of having to fight your way through hand planes or sanding blocks.

To make this experience even better, you can find a used planer for a really good deal a lot of times, you just need to know what you’re looking for. There’s also some things to pay attention to, which can help protect you from a bad purchase.

After all, the goal is to get a nice tool into the shop without paying full price, and I’ll show you several ways that you can do that.

Here are 10 different strategies that you can use to evaluate whether or not a used planer is worth buying, and I’ll go into each one of them in detail coming up.

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  • Look at the Overall Condition of the Unit
  • Check for Signs of Abuse
  • See How Long It’s Been in Use
  • Turn on the Planer and Use It
  • Check the Knives
  • Make Sure You Can Buy Replacement Knives
  • See if You Can Buy Replacement Parts
  • Google Recalls and Safety Issues
  • Decide if the Price is Worth Buying Used
  • Decide if the Repairs or Cleanup is Worth It

See Also: 10 Reliable Tips for Buying a Cheap Bandsaw

Look at the Overall Condition of the Unit

The very first thing that you should do when you arrive on the scene to evaluate a used thickness planer is to just look at it. Look at it, and trust what your gut is telling you about it.

There are so many times and we allow the excitement of getting something new to overshadow our good judgment and our gut instinct. This is one of those times where you really need to silence that excitement inside of you, and focus on your instincts.

If you take one look at that planer and you just know that it’s garbage, you definitely need to walk away. Don’t worry about not coming home with any new toys, it’s just not worth buying junk to save a few dollars.

Even if you don’t know a lot about tools, you know what junk looks like. When your gut is telling you that it looks like the tool was left outside in the weather, or it was buried under a bunch of other things for years, you definitely need to look at that as a stop sign.

See Also: 10 Best Woodworking Projects that Sell Well

Check for Signs of Abuse

If you get past the initial smell test, and you’re still a potential purchaser, the next thing to do is look for obvious signs of abuse. While it may be difficult to see some of the minor things, you can definitely see the major stuff.

A thickness planer is a fairly technical item that can create perfectly flat surfaces of even thicknesses across the board. It requires a bit of care when operating the machine to ensure that these tolerances are still achievable.

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If your thickness planer takes a fall off of a workbench, odds are that the boards it produces will no longer be even across the width. Once the alignment is ruined from abuse, the tool will no longer do what it’s designed to do.

To identify that, look at the corners and the edges of the piece to see if there are any that look crushed or dented. This can be a sign that the tool had fallen at some point, and it’s also a sign that it’s not going to work properly.

Another thing that you can check is for signs that the tool is stored outside in the elements. This can range from rust, to sun fading, and plant debris in the tool. All of these are signs of abuse, and a significantly shorter lifespan for the tool.

See Also: The Secret to the Most Profitable Woodworking Projects to Build and Sell

See How Long It’s Been in Use

Another thing to do is ask the user how long they’ve had the tool, and more importantly how long they’ve been using it. This helps you establish how much motor life is left, and what they’ve been using the tool for.

When you ask someone this question, it will lead easily into the next question of what they were doing with it. They may tell you that they were flattening boards, or they started a project and never finished it, or something in between.

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You might also find out that they got it as a gift, never really understood it, and decided that it just wasn’t for them. Stuff like this happens, but you might also find out some things that you didn’t necessarily want your planner to have done before you owned it.

Take the answers that the person gives you and consider them as you make your decision on whether or not this particular used tool is as good of a deal for the future as it is right now.

See Also: 6 Genuine Reasons You Need a Jointer Planer in Your Shop

Turn on the Planer and Use It

Once you get through the preliminary questions and conversation, and you still feel like advancing the process farther, it’s time to use the tool. There is no test better than actually turning it on and using it.

This is where someone who is being deceptive will start making excuses or getting a little bristly. Under no circumstances should you buy anything from anyone that tells you they can’t power the tool up or show you that it works.

It doesn’t matter if they forgot to pay the electric bill and the power is out, or they’re getting electrical work done and they can’t plug anything in, or any other excuse they tell you. If you don’t see that thing turn on, you don’t buy it.

Believe it or not, there are people in this world that won’t turn something on before they purchase, and less than honest sellers take advantage of this all the time. Sometimes, they even meet you at a different place so you can’t find them afterwards.

When you turn on the tool, listen for things that don’t sound right. Again, even if you don’t know a ton about thickness planers, you know when a motor sounds like something is really wrong with it.

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Listen for random bangs and clings that indicate a problem, and again don’t let your desire to get a new tool overshadow your logic and good reasoning. If it’s junk, it’s not a deal.

See Also: 11 Killer Tips for Using a Wood Planer in Your Shop

Check the Knives

Once the planer passes the motor test, take a look at the actual knives themselves. At this point, you’re determining how long it’s going to be before you have to buy a replacement set, which is not necessarily bad, it’s just part of maintenance.

The only time that this could actually be bad is if the used price on this planer is not much less than the new price, and the knives are very dull. Once you add the price of the new knives, you might be the same or more than the price of a new planer.

However, if it’s a good deal, and the knives still look nice and sharp, you can feel a little better that you might be getting a good price and you won’t have to replace them for quite a while.

See Also: How to Make a Planer Riser

Make Sure You Can Buy Replacement Knives

When it comes to replacement knives, something that you really need to pay attention to is whether or not you can actually even buy them. There are some planners that don’t sell replacement knives, and others are very hard to find.

It doesn’t make any sense to buy a tool that you can’t service. If you can’t find the knives, they are not made anymore, or they’re overly expensive, then it’s not a deal. Figure this out first, and don’t just assume that you’ll find them.

Some people end up making this mistake with their planer, and then they just decide to offload it on the used market so they can go buy something else that’s more serviceable. You don’t want to be the one that falls for this exchange.

See Also: Make What You Like and Sell What You Make

See if You Can Buy Replacement Parts

Another thing about really nice tools that you can typically buy replacement parts, and you can do your own maintenance. Obviously you need to make sure you know what you’re doing, but in most cases it’s a matter of pulling out one part and putting in another.

Check the brand and the model, and verify whether or not you can buy replacement parts from the manufacturer, or aftermarket. Most of the time, aftermarket parts are going to be less expensive, unless you buy high-end versions.

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In general, if you can’t find parts, that’s not necessarily a hard stop, but you do want to keep that in mind. In the future, if something were to break, know that you’re going to have to fabricate the part yourself, or possibly buy a new tool.

See Also: 5 Important Measuring Tools You Need as a Woodworker

Google Recalls and Safety Issues

It’s important to check whether or not your tool has been recalled due to safety or performance issues. When buying use planer, all you need to do is type the model number into Google along with the word recall.

Do a quick little search and see what comes up, and make sure that you are buying something that hasn’t been deemed unsafe. You also want to make sure that what you buy is not always falling apart for some specific reason.

The internet is a great place, and people who get the short end of the stick on a purchase now have a place to tell everybody about it. In most cases, if there are any significant issues with that particular model, somebody will have written about it.

See Also: Why You Need a First Aid Kit in Your Shop

Decide if the Price is Worth Buying Used

Another part of the valuation is looking at the price versus the price of a brand new unit. In some cases, the discount on a used tool is not necessarily that much, and it might be worth it to you to buy the new unit instead.

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This is something that is largely a personal taste issue, because your version of a deal and my version of a deal may feel different. If this has just passed your personal test, then make sure you feel good about the price you’re paying for what you’re getting.

In reality, most used tools that were taken care of well are not that different from a brand new tool. In a case like this, your discount may not be very big, but it might be enough that it tips your decision one way or another. 

See Also: How to Calculate Board Feet the Easy Way

Decide if the Repairs or Cleanup is Worth It

When deciding whether or not the discount is worth it, the other thing that you need to take into consideration is the condition of the unit, and whether or not there are going to be any repairs or replacement knives involved.

If you know that you are getting a $500 discount, and the total requires about $100 of maintenance, then you know you’re saving only $400 off the brand new price. Plus, you’ll have to do the work, or pay for it.

Once you add in your time, effort, and potential learning curve associated with setting planer knives, it may not be worth the discount at all. However, if those things do align properly, then you should feel better proceeding with the deal.

See Also: How to be a Modern Renaissance Woodworker

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know all about used planners and the little tips and tricks you can use to make sure you are buying a good unit, it’s time to take action. If you’ve been thinking about getting a planner but the price has been prohibitive for you, maybe you should take another look.

The used market is great for tools, and in most cases they aren’t really any different than buying a new tool. When you find something that’s well taken care of, and that you can demonstrate, it could be worth it.

If you have any questions and 10 helpful tips for buying a used planer, please post a question in the Q&A and I’ll be glad to answer it. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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