Eight Tips for Buying Used Power Tools

Buying used power tools is one way to outfit your shop without breaking your budget. Here are some tips to help you buy secondhand power tools that are in good, useable shape.

Tips for buying used power tools:

1. Look closely at electrical cords and plugs. The cord should be firmly attached to the tool. The insulation on the cord should be intact. You shouldn't be able to see bare wires. If the power cord originally had a three-prong grounded plug, it still should have it.

2. Plug the power tool in so you can see and hear how it runs. Look and listen. Does it start easily? Does the motor sound smooth and even? Do you hear any grinding, rubbing, or slipping that you shouldn't hear? Do the parts that are suppose to move, move? Do see odd vibrations or movements that shouldn't be there? And, smell. Does the motor smell burned?

3. You may find some excellent deals on used specialty tools. Most do-it-your-selfers know what an electric drill is for and have a good idea of how to use it. Same goes for circular saws. But, when you get to the specialty tools, fewer people need them and know what to do with them. So, they can be harder to sell. That means if you can find one at a thrift store, you'll likely get a great price on it.

4. Secondhand power tools can be better than new. A good quality power tool that is used may have more life left in it than a bottom of the line, new one.

5. The prongs on the plug should be nearly straight. If they are severely bent, they may break off when straightened. The cord should not have wads of electrical tape on it. Nor should the power cord have cuts in it.

6. Check used tools to make sure the guards and safety features are there and properly functioning.

7. Check the plastic housing. Is it cracked? Are there screws missing? Look at the air vent. Is it full of grime and crud? Do you see any signs of burn, such as smoke trails?

8. If a used power tool needs a new plug, you may be able to get one at a hardware store or home improvement center and replace it.

I was told years ago by my very wise and practical husband that you can never have too many tools or too much fishing equipment. Following these tips for buying used power tools will save you enough to have a bigger and better selection of power tools than if you always buy new.

See more tips for shopping for secondhand merchandise.