Friday, October 29, 2010

The Schwarz Effect: An Academic Rebuttal

First of all, wow.  Response to my previous post about Chris Schwarz and his effect on the market for No. 80 scraper planes has been amazing.  Thanks to Chris for spreading the word.

Gye Greene went a few steps further down the rabbit hole.  He asked for a copy of the data that fed my charts, and ran it through a series of statistical contortions to determine the true likelihood of a lasting "Schwarz Effect".  I had originally recorded a few extra details of each auction, such as the condition of the scraper, the shape of the casting (there are a couple varieties), and whether the blade was missing.  Gye included all of this in his methodology, and found that price was controlled more by these factors than by Schwarz' Mojo.  Gye did confirm my observation that even the crustiest piece of crap from the bottom of the ocean would sell in the post-Schwarz era.

So it seems that Schwarz has the power to stir us all up into a frenzy of buying every tool in sight, but not necessarily to make us overpay in the long term.  Shucks.

Gye's amazingly detailed analysis is available at this link, please check it out.  Thanks to Gye for taking the time on this!  A few of his key insights:
  • Expect to pay more for a scraper in the original box. This commanded about a $25 premium.
  • Early castings have a base with a straight trailing edge, instead of the later concave curved edge.  The straight version will run you almost $10 more at auction.
  • No blade?  Expect to pay about $11 less.
You may also want to check out Gye's blog over at for more Gye goodness!

Oh and in case anybody out there finds themselves in possession of a number 80 that needs a little rehab, you may find this post by Pickering Mike interesting over at Ramblings of a Novice Woodworker.

Think Gye and I are nutjobs?  Chris Schwarz does!  Tell us what you think in the comments!


Eric said...

I think there is some truth to the "Schwarz Effect" just because he has such a large following, and his opinions are trusted. So when he suggests that an item is worth having, a lot of woodworkers will buy it in the hope it will up their level of craftsmanship....not that I'm referring to myself or
One really good outcome of his mentioning your blog is that I found it and will stay subscribed because it's very good.
Thanks Aaron.

Gye Greene said...


Hey, thanks for posting that! Another finding that I (at least) thought was interesting is that although Schwarz Effect on pricing is debatable, there was a pretty clear effect on demand:

Before his WIA announcement, half the eBay auctions for #80s went un-sold.

After his blog announcement, 100% were sold. ;)


Aaron said...

Eric, I am always willing to take guidance from guys like The Schwarz. There is just so much I am able to figure out on my own, so it's great to get a brain dump from guys like him who have been around. Glad you like the blog! Good to have you here!

Aaron said...

Gye, thanks again for the great effort and writeup you did. I also checked out your blog & hope your leg does not require "letting blood" with leeches - yuck!