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Thread: Harbor Freight, us cheaps thank you!

  1. #1

    Harbor Freight, us cheaps thank you!

    seriously-- I have tons of their stuff. The only things that I've worn out are their old straightline sanders. The old ones have been replaced with a 3x the price model, but never bought one. Oh, and the mini-lathe I bought in '02, the motor finally fried last weekend. Otherwise, I have: 3 of their $10 angle grinders, an air sander, a 100lb. pressure pot sandblaster, a pencil sandblaster, 2 airbrushes, 5 and 30 gallon air compressors, respirator mask, several soft toolboxes, an old 'biggest they have' tool set, a few smaller tool sets, many small tools, a car-computer reader, a needle scaler, cement mixer, 4 dust collectors, a palm sander, at least 2 drills, their little-giant ladder clone, a hammer-drill, soft-start buffer, and I'm sure a lot more stuff I can't remember at the moment...

    Why I buy their stuff--for one thing, everything I have works!
    For another, right now I need 5 blast gates for my 'nighttime' blower running.
    Best price on Amazon, $8.31 each; best price on eBay, $8.56 each...

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    Harbor Freight, $2.99, plus shipping, which is $6.99 for 5 of 'em,
    which brings the each-price to $4.39, total with sales tax, $23.03
    The others:
    $8.31 x5 = $41.55 + $3.32 tax= $44.87
    $8.56 x5 = $42.80 + $3.43 tax= $46.23

    -- and these are the cheapest others, the average seems to be around $13 each, or around $70 for 5 to my door-- vs. $23 -? No contest...

    I do realize the value of GOOD tools, especially if your living depends on them. And HF does offer some questionable stuff, like, I'm not particularly impressed with their Diablo air hoses (although HD also sells Diablo stuff), I expected more than 2 years of outdoor exposure before the outer casing started cracking badly.

    But the cheapa** in me just loves HF (and no, I don't work there)
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  2. #2
    I have so much stuff from Harbor Freight it's funny. An angle grinder for $10. A multi-tool for $15. A 18ga brad nailer for less than $20! You bet I'm happy with those prices. The tools are not PRO grade but they work fine enough for me. When I lived outside of Atlanta, there was a HF store about 3 miles away. Then we retired to a small town in South Carolina. About 6 months later they opened a new store on my new home town. I was so happy I took a picture of the "coming soon" sign and emailed to all my old woodworking buds back in Atlanta.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Posts
    53,323
    Existing current thread in GW&PT...

    https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread....ls-do-you-have
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    I have had a cheap angle grinder from HF for 20 years. It has been out in the bank barn for this entire time. I use to it grind off rusty bolts, sharpen lawn mowers etc. Always works. Probably the best $8 dollar purchase I ever made. Same for the $29.99 chain sharpener. It is mounted on a shelf out in the barn. I probably sharpen chains twice a year, and then I sharpen all 6 of chains. Not heavy use, but a "good" sharpener would have been prohibitively expensive for my use and storage.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Minneapolis, MN
    Posts
    4,248
    I just bought a Chicago Electric corded metal shear from HF the other day. It can do 14 ga and the big names can only do 18 ga or 16 ga other than some $300 to $400 models. I was willing to spend $200 or so on a brand name if I could find one. I am actually cutting FRP with it.

    There are many various "brands" of metal shear that look exactly the same as the Chicago Electric model. I think one can just order from the factory in whatever color and brand name sticker you want.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    NE Iowa
    Posts
    571
    I've got a half inch heavy duty drill I bought from them back before they had any channel other than lliteral mail order. Have used it for just over 40 years now. Sparks like hell - have never been able to get smooth brush operation; chuck is pretty gritty and long on run out, and Lord Almighty, the gearbox sounds like a jet engine - but it's has never had any problem that it didn't come out of the box with, and it's got torque that will ruin your rotator cuff if you're dumb enough to hold on too tight, and freeze a bit in hole (don't ask me how I know).

    On the other hand, I've since bought a few other tools, and they were all unusable after a few uses. An impact driver that leaked air so badly as to be useless unless your bolts were already loose (and you certainly wouldn't have wanted to tighten a lug nut with it and then drive down the road). Hydraulic jack that couldn't hold a charge.

    Maybe they don't do seals well?

    And of course, if you buy something that requires a particularly quality to be at all useful (taps and dies, e.g., which must be both precise and properly hardened to be anything other than a waste of time, or any precision tool) - well, you get what you pay for.

    Haven't bought anything from them in a decade. I have enough money now that I can afford quality, and, to be honest, with the bank account looked after, I value quality in a tool more than I value cheapness.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    3,561
    Two weeks ago I saw a DC amp meter on HF for $90. I didn't know there was such a thing, but wanted it; but not for $90. But... they had a 20% off coupon. But it wasn't good on that brand.

    Then I found one just like it on Amazon for $38. Came a few days ago. Works fine.

    Moral: Just because HF is know for cheap stuff doesn't mean it is anywheres near the cheapest.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    3,561
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Elfert View Post
    There are many various "brands" of metal shear that look exactly the same as the Chicago Electric model. I think one can just order from the factory in whatever color and brand name sticker you want.
    That is partly correct. You can also specify the materials you want and the tolerances. In other words, two can look identical, yet one is well made and the other junk.

  9. #9
    Last purchase from HF was a "Pierce" coil roofing nailer. (Bought Metabo nails from Lowes.) Replaced shed roof, including rafters across the back of shop. Hitachi nail gun used to attach sheathing miss fired several times, but Pierce roofing nailer didn't miss a beat

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Lippman View Post
    Just because HF is know for cheap stuff doesn't mean it is anywheres near the cheapest.
    Definitely true. 2 years ago I bought one of HD's Husky 60 gal. air compressors, well under $600, the HF equivalent was over $600. As of now, seems HF is discontinuing 60 gallon compressors, the only 60 gallon on their website is an $850 2-stage, on clearance.

    For sure, they ain't perfect by a far sight
    ========================================
    ELEVEN - rotary cutter tool machines
    FOUR - CO2 lasers
    THREE - fiber lasers
    ONE - vinyl cutter
    CASmate, Corel, Gravostyle


  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    308
    I have some of their tools but what I'm most grateful for is all those free flashlights. Even when it's not hurricane season it's thunderstorm season and some days we have several power outages. A fist full of those flashlights and an occasional set of new batteries is the absolute #1 thing on my emergency preparedness list.

    Also good for looking for ticks where the light ain't too good.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    US Virgin Islands
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    Blog Entries
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    Not long ago, their CEO brought his TWO yachts to the harbor. One is for owner and guests, and the other is for crew and staging for play toys. We watched as a helicopter flew from one yacht to the other to pick someone up and whisk them off for the day’s adventure. The one I zoomed in on is the support vessel. He is clearly making a lot of money selling cheap tools. That smallest sailboat in the picture is 40 feet long, just for size reference.
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