This summer we took a trip to England to visit family. My wife and kids went two weeks ahead of me, since I couldn’t take a whole month off. For the few weeks leading up to the trip and the two weeks that family was away, I kept myself quite busy on eBay UK.
I have done plenty of shopping on the US eBay before, and though I was well aware of the UK version of the site I hadn’t bought much from the site in the past. Usually the cost of shipping from England to the US negates any good deals you can get. Also, many sellers won’t ship outside of the UK. I thought that I would take advantage of being there and had some things shipped to my family’s house.
Is eBay UK better than eBay US for woodworking tools? I don’t think so. It’s not better or worse, but it is definitely different. I have found that there are things that generally cost more in the US and can be had for a bargain on the UK site. For example, tenon saws usually go for $40-50 and up on the US site. I picked up six for an average price of less than £5 (about $7.50). The UK site is smaller and does not have as many auctions at the US site, and there are things that are cheaper in the US.
After my wife had been at her mum’s house for about a week, she called me and asked if I had gone mad. She said that there were about 10 packages waiting there for me. I responded “That’s great, about half of them have arrived already then.” She wasn’t amused.
In all, I ended up winning about 20 auctions. Here is what I got:
There are six tenon saws:
- Two Tyzack & Turner
- A Copley
- A Crownshaw, Chapman, & Co
- An I. Sorby
- A Parry & Sons
The saws were in pretty rough shape but have cleaned up amazingly well. I will be posting soon on the restoration process that I used. This is how they were when I bought them:
I bought three “pig sticker” mortise chisels, two Isaac Greaves and a Sorby. I paid £5.57, £6.50, and £10 for them each. This averages out to £7.36 or about $11.40 a piece. On the US eBay site these usually sell for about $40.
Five firmer chisels cost a total of £18.50 or about $28.67. That works out to $5.73 each.
A Stanley No. 151 spoke-shave for £5.19 or $8.04.
One of the best deals that I got was a Stanley No. 4 1/2 smoothing plane for £7.37. That’s only $11.42. I can’t believe that luck. Those things are routinely over $100 on the US eBay.
I bought two Eclipse No. 77 saw sets for £1.99 and £3.35. That’s an average of about $4.14 each. I don’t need two of these, but I figured at that price, I could keep the better of the two and sell on the one that I don’t want.
I bought three mortise gauges. In the picture above, the center one and the one on the right appear to be rosewood and brass. I paid £11.49 and £9 for these. But the real deal was the one on the left. It has an ebony head and a solid brass stem. The picture and description on eBay were terrible, but I recognized what it was. I won the auction for £6.50 These routinely sell for $50 – $100. My average price on these three mortise gauges was £8.99 or about $13.94.
I bought a Record No. 050 Improved Combination Plane with the full set of cutters that appear unused. It also had the original box lid and instruction booklet, extension arms/rails, two extra optional cutters, and cutter clamping bracket. I paid £ 17.50 or about $27.13.
My final auction was for a pair of compass dividers. The seller shipped be the wrong set but later sent the correct pair and said to keep the first. Cant beat that! I paid £1.46 (about $2.26) and ended up with two pairs of dividers.
Once I was in England, I picked up a Thorex 712 mallet based upon a recommendation on the Paul Sellers blog. I think I paid about £11 (about $17.05) for it at the local village hardware shop. I also bought a card scraper for £3 (about $4.65).
The hard part was getting all of this stuff packed in our suitcases to bring it all back. I don’t know how, but I managed it with no extra or over weight bag fees.
There are some good deals to be had out there if you are willing to invest the time combing through eBay and the time it takes to restore the tools you buy. All of this cost around $230. I did not include the price of shipping in the above items and that can not be ignored as it is not insignificant. However, by having everything shipped to a UK address and bringing it all back myself, I was able to save a lot of money.
I have been back for about six weeks now and I’m still in the process of cleaning and restoring some of these tools. I will have some posts about that soon.