Most of my woodworking tools were bought on ebay. Over the years I learned how to identify the good tools from the mediocre or even the bad ones. I gained experience in spotting items that might look rusty and poor on first glance, but turn out to be marvelous gems following a simple restoration. While most items on ebay can be easily tracked down and bid on, others are listed ineffectively and are consequently difficult to find. Items that are accurately listed, that is, displayed with good pictures, detailed descriptions, accurate spelling, size, etc, will generate more attention and more competition from potential bidders. For example, a seller lists a Lee Valley plane, but because of time shortage or lack of knowledge describes it as "Carpenter shaver" or "Carpenter tool." This will not attract folks who are looking to buy a Lee Valley plane. If you are a seller and want to succeed in listing (and selling) your items, you have to do good research before listing your items. Remember, ebay's search engine will not notice an item that was mislabeled, and buyers will not be able to locate your listing. The fact of the matter is that most sellers spend time on describing their items correctly, and most ebay searchers find them easily. If you try to sell an item successfully, make sure you include all the relevant key words in the item name/title, and its description. If you try to sell a plane you might want to add the name "planer" after the name "plane"; some buyers are used to calling a plane "planer" and you want them to discover your listing too.
I sometimes surf ebay's cyber space for potential lucky finds, items that are sold as a lot, misslabeld, or just sloppily listed without much attention or motivation on behalf of the seller. These orphaned listings might include a group of crapy tools, yet among them you might find one trophy worth your effort and money. Such was the case of the tools I bought three months ago under the listing name: MISC CARPENTER TOOLS PLANE-AUGER-CALIPERS ETC.
When I noticed this listing, I immediately zoomed in on the jewelers saw, which looked promising and could be instrumental in dovetail making. The saw did not appear on the listing name but I spotted it in the listing's poor quality picture. I thought that the plane looked okay, though nothing to write home about. The rest of the items looked kind of uninteresting. I decided to take my chances and see if I can win this lot, but I also made a promise to myself not to spend more then $15 (items+shipping) on it. Luckily, I was the highest (actualy the only) bidder. Here are the pictures of the items after I received them.
Next time I will show how I restored the folding ruler you see in this last picture.