Tanaka Pro Force TLE-550 commercial lawn edger, $10.

Many companies make expensive mowers, edgers and other such lawn equipment, and the brands that I've found do the best on eBay are Echo and Tanaka. But even with these brands, the only time I'll fool with them is when they're in really great shape, as in 'hardly used.'

This lawn edger is a great example of the heavy duty quality you should always keep a keen eye out for. Of course, quality doesn’t always equate to money unless someone actually wants or needs the item in question. When the folks at Tanaka made this machine, they obviously didn’t have the cost-conscious home user in mind. As you can see from the way this machine is built, it was intended for heavy, commercial work, much more rigorous work than the needs of the average homeowner.

Here are several things that caught my eye on this edger. The 50cc engine is really large for an edger, much larger than those normally found on small 2-stroke yard machines.

Power gets to the blade not via a belt, or one of those flex shafts you see on weed eaters, but by means of a heavy duty, enclosed drive shaft. A company simply is not going to put shaft drive on a product unless they expect it to last for quite a while.

The air filter on the end of the carburetor is connected by a hose up to another, separate filter up on the handle. The cleaner the air going into an engine, the longer that engine will last.

Wherever you look on this Tanaka edger, you see quality and utility, and learning to spot quality and utility is one of the most profitable tools you can develop in this business.

Equally important here is the fact that this edger is in excellent, little-used condition. Lawn equipment that gets used regularly is notorious for accruing wear relatively early on in life, and this one has obviously not been used more than a few times. All the paint is intact, there’s no rust, and even the tires (which, by the way, are an excellent indicator of how much use a lawn machine has seen!) were nearly like new.

Although I didn't start this edger up before I bought it - because there was no gas in it and the owner didn't have a gas can handy - if the seller had been asking much more for it I would've wanted to hear it run before shelling out my cash.

This edger sold on eBay for $365.

Photo of Tanaka Pro Force TLE-550 edger