Old tools vary in quality of workmanship. Those that could be classified as collectibles are made of superior materials and workmanship, and include such names as American, Atlas, Craftsman, Stanley, Bailey, Norris and Delta. However, there were hundreds of manufacturers of old tools, and collectors have not yet identified all of them. When establishing the value of old tools, several variables are considered, condition and rarity chief among them.
Examine the tool for its condition. Factors to take into consideration include the amount of wear, whether the motor works (if electric), damage such as dents and chips, the patina, rust, whether all of the parts are intact (nothing missing) and whether any replacement parts are proprietary or generic.
Identify the brand name and tool line. Major manufacturers sometimes produced two or three lines of tools with different levels of quality. Collectors are usually only interested in the best lines of tools made with high-quality materials and precision.
Determine the rarity of your old tool. Rarity is a major factor when it comes to establishing the value of an antique. Factory workers used hand tools extensively until the mid-20th century, usually throwing away the damaged and worn tools. As a result, there are fewer surviving tools for collectors in some categories.
Locate the original packaging and paperwork for your old tools. This will increase their value.
Assign a grade to your tools. There are two grading systems that are usually used. One system, the FTJ scale, uses the grades new, fine, good +, good, good -, fair and poor. Dealers also use a numerical system for old tools with grades from 1 to 200. This system includes the FTJ scale plus two lower categories: 1 to 10 for unusable junk and 11 to 20 for tools that need one major repair to be usable.