Recons, returns, and EBay

I’m always searching for deals, I think we all do this, and have rarely payed full price for a tool over $50. I have found myself browsing Ebay more and it seems to be paying off. Recently I discovered a 10 pack of Diablo 24T 7-1/4 blades for $45 shipped.
I guess my main question is where do you draw the line on store returns, reconditioned tools, and online trades? I’m usually wary of used tools that I can’t personally inspect, but sometimes I stumble across some good deals online.

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I bought a recon cordless drill and 6 1/2" saw combo for about $100. I got it solely for the $140 worth of batteries it came with, while I really haven’t used the drill(I have the better model of the maker) I have found the saw to be remarkably useful and having a 2nd charger didn’t hurt my feelings either.

I purchased a reconditioned Ryobi 18ga nailer w/ battery/charger for $70 on EBay. Its my only recon’d tool but it was an excellent purchase.

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Before I retired after 40+ years of working, I had never bought anything on eBay or Craigslist. Over my career I bought millions of dollars in tools. Some machinery and heavy equipment, I bought new - but other pieces used from reputable distributors or at auction. Not surprisingly - we bought our shops “used”. When buying major items “used” we’d like to have the ability to inspect ahead of time - laying more than one set of eyes on the item(s). But for a $100 or so Internet bargain - I understand that it might be impossible to do this - and you might have to just roll the dice.

Early on in my working carrer, you had few choices for buying professional tools – other than buying through industrial distributors or local hardware stores – sometimes paying MSRP. Home Centers and discounters – once they appeared still catered to the mass market (DIY crowd). Then Home Depot appeared on the scene – slowly expanding their offerings – offering discounts – and driving many local hardware stores out of business National distributors like Grainger were still in business and local distributors like AW Meyer, Coastal Tool, Tools Plus, Ace Tool and Dynamite Tool still seemed to thrive in our area.

Catalog Tool companies like Acme

and more specialized ones like Garret-Wade, Rockler, Woodraft, Woodworker’s Supply, Lee Valley,

started appearing- in both catalog and bricks and mortar forms. The specialized catalogs/store appealed more to the hobbyist market – and I recall buying my first Lie Nielsen plane for personal use at Garret Wade – when they had a store on 6th Avenue in NYCity.

Once the Internet started exploding on the scene, the catalogs did not go away – but they and lots of bricks and mortar tool suppliers started using the Internet for marketing – sometimes offering better prices than available at their bricks and mortar locations… Then Amazon took off – offering special deals – and rebates on all sorts of things – including professional quality tools. While I still bought from local distributors who would service our power tools – more and more of my tool-buying dollars were being spent via the Internet. Pick-up tools (bought by my crews on the day of the job) – once bought at local lumberyards and hardware stores – now more often became Home Depot purchases. The Internet also gave me the ability to comparison shop – and even bargain with some local suppliers when buying in bulk (e.g. 10 drills, 6 chop saws etc.) More recently, we’d buy from Home Depot and ship to a store close to a job site for pickup – sometimes for oddball tools – but also for stock items – that would then be available for pickup at the Pro Desk when we’d arrive in the morning ahead of a job.

Buying for my hobby woodworking – became almost exclusively done via the Internet – mostly Amazon because of their superior service and policies (even though their pricing is not always the best – and seems to build-in shipping costs making PRIME membership less valuable) . I still have not bought anything on Craigslist or much on eBay – but do use eBay for comparison shopping. I also look at sources like those I’ve linked to above plus others like:

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Check out CPO. Just type cpo the brand of tool your looking for without a space .com. Between them and Amazon, I spend 99% of my tool acquisition money. Occasionally toolbarn has a better deal.

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