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Should I buy new or second hand tools

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There’s nothing like buying shiny new kit for the job, but is it always worth buying new when there are so many secondhand options out there? Here’s what to think about before you spend your hard-earned cash...

It’s hard to get much work done without the right tools for the job, and over time you’ll probably become very fond of your favourites. When it comes to replacing or updating your tool kit, you can buy brand new, or take a look on the secondhand market to see what’s available.

The choice of new versus second hand depends on a range of factors, including your budget, what you’re looking to buy and the market near you.

Here’s how they compare.

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Advantages of buying new tools

  • You can access the full range of products on the market, not just what’s available that day or in your local area.
  • Your tools come with a warranty (typically a year, but this can be extended). Make sure you keep any paperwork you get when buying your equipment, or save the emails if ordering online, so you can make a claim if you need it.
  • Some shops let you pay with flexible credit, spreading the cost, which can make it more affordable.
  • If you are VAT registered, you can reclaim the VAT.
  • In the future, you could sell the tools second-hand, and recoup some of your investment.
  • New equipment will be certified as safe and working by the manufacturer straight out of the box.

Downsides of buying new tools

  • You’ll be paying full whack for a piece of kit that might do the same job as something at a fraction of the cost.
  • The value of your new tools will drop as soon as you use them - just like with buying a new car, it stops being brand new as soon as you start using it. You can’t be precious about them though - they’re meant to be used, not looked at.
  • Just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good. Do your research, read reviews and ask around to see what’s worth buying. Quality secondhand tools can be better than low-quality new ones.
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Benefits of second hand tools

  • The initial cash outlay is lower, with second hand equipment costing substantially less than new tools. Discounts can range depending on how much wear and tear they have, but you could expect to pay around half the new price.
  • Prices can be even lower if you buy from a private seller and you can haggle to get the best price.
  • Buying cheap means you can purchase more equipment on the same budget compared to buying new.
  • If you choose to sell your equipment on after using it, then assuming you’ve taken care of it, you’ll be able to recoup most (if not all) of your money back.
  • If you buy refurbished equipment from a shop, it will often come with a warranty. Three months is standard, but some offer more extended warranties (up to 12 months).
  • High quality second hand tools could last longer and perform better than cheaper new tools.
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Downsides of second hand tools

  • The tools will have seen a bit of life, and might have taken a bit of damage along the way. Check closely to make sure they’re up to the job.
  • If you’re buying from a private seller, do your due diligence to make sure the tools are legit. Tool theft is all too common, and you don’t want to handle anything stolen. Ask the seller about the tool’s history and look for any markings that its owner might have made to try and protect it. If you’re buying via an online marketplace, always ask to inspect the item before handing over any money. If they insist on a deposit first, avoid.
  • You have less choice buying secondhand - you might have to compromise on your ideal purchase to get what’s available.
  • Be cautious if you’re buying mechanical tools second hand, such as a cordless drill. There’s a lot more to go wrong with it than a hammer or set of screwdrivers.

Tools and equipment