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Thread: So lets talk Harbor Freight tools

  1. #31
    I have a moving fillister plane, two spokeshaves, a dovetail saw, chisels, stamps, screw box and three taps and assorted sandpaper, steelwool, etc. from Harbor freight. The edges on the spokeshaves and plane and chisel needed sharpening right out of the box and need it more than other, better, tools. I also had an angle grinder I used with a launcelot blade for carving. Within one day of heavy use the angle grinder began switching on when unattended. The use wasn't that heavy. Otherwise, I consider Harbor Freight an inexpensive alternative for hobbyists who, as much as they want to, don't get to spend everyday in the shop but want to make good stuff when they are there. Anything they have without a power cord and a placard announcing "Chicago" has been a good purchase for me, at least.

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Sopchoppy Florida
    Posts
    95
    Bought a 1 ton chain hoist.
    Cheap. Works fine.
    I'm leary of most of their stuff.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    4,712
    Good:
    - mortiser ...works well, even the bits are ok, hold down needs help ($100)
    - 13" benchtop DP (38142)....totally impressed with this so far ($144)
    - Pittsburg bar clamps (very handy, very inexpensive on sale)
    - DP vise ($5)
    - Shop rags
    - small compressor (no complaints for the size)
    - floor mats

    OK:
    - Dovetail jig...castings are a bit rough but it works
    - Woodworking vise
    - Aluminum bar clamps
    - TiN coated 7 pc forstner bits
    - 18 ga nailer (jambs alot)
    - remote control airplane is alot of fun for the price (~ $30)
    - Dowel set

    Bad:
    - Hair clippers were awful
    - Triple head shaver was awful
    - "Quick Grip" type clamps
    - Sand paper
    - black HSS steel bits (lots of breakage)
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Eddington, ME
    Posts
    538
    Quote Originally Posted by scott spencer View Post
    - 18 ga nailer (jambs alot)
    I had the same problem. I nearly gave up on them, but decided to see what was wrong. I figured out the nose piece was not lined up propperly. What I did was loosen the allen screws to loosen the nose piece. Then while continusly sliding some brads back and forth into the nose, retighten the allen screws. Both my 18 gauge nailers now work great.

  5. #35
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    columbia, sc
    Posts
    600
    good: 1" SDS hammer drill
    1" (?) slow speed drill (for stirring grout)
    sliding tile saw ... no issues at all
    their work lights

  6. #36
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Indianapolis
    Posts
    1,430
    HF had a really decent knock off of a Delta mobile base for years. Unfortunately it is no longer available (or wasn't the last time I tried to find one). I ordered 2 of them a few years ago. They sent 3. When I notified them, they thanked me and told me to keep the extra unit. These units were well worth the $20 price. I wish I could get more.

    Other things I have from HF seem to be in line with what others have said about their products.
    ________
    Ron

    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio
    Posts
    4,513
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Jones near Indy View Post
    HF had a really decent knock off of a Delta mobile base for years. Unfortunately it is no longer available (or wasn't the last time I tried to find one). I ordered 2 of them a few years ago. They sent 3. When I notified them, they thanked me and told me to keep the extra unit. These units were well worth the $20 price. I wish I could get more.

    Other things I have from HF seem to be in line with what others have said about their products.
    When they discontinued the mobile base, a HF store here in Cincinnati had them on "Managers Special" for $12.00. Lets just say I have a stack in my shop to last a lifetime.

  8. I have actually bought a lot of HF chisels.. I agree they aren't great quality.
    The metal is soft. But they are great for stuff like tearing up floors, etc.
    They dull quick, but I use a honing guide on fairly course wet dry sandpaper. I think I use 150 or 220 grit (maybe 100).. Anyhow, I only use one grit and they sharpen up to get abused again.

    Their pliers are junk..
    Their pipe clamps are ok. Not top of the line, but good value.
    Glue brushes ok.

    I've been disappointed in everything with a sharp edge there.. saber saw blades= junk.. drill bits .. all junk

    All in all, I've found a few gems, but I've also wasted a lot of money there. It's been years since I've been there. I figured I was further off ahead to just get better stuff and avoid the cursing. I'm not trying to be a snob, just saying it's not worth it for me.
    Last edited by Paul Johnstone; 05-30-2008 at 9:43 PM.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Roseville, MN
    Posts
    326
    the usual "hit & miss" for me too
    Windsor turning tools:hit
    14" bandsaw:hit (but no US delta)
    CI lathe: pure junk but still usable
    Resip saw:no sawzall, but gets the job done
    4 pc. woodworker's safety set:hit
    brushes, gloves, drill bits etc.:hit
    I guess you just have to careful what you buy.
    Last edited by Simon Dupay; 05-30-2008 at 11:51 PM. Reason: hit wrong key

  10. #40
    Never had much faith in HF but after I bought a couple of tools I needed for just one job and replace a few that were stolen. I was more than surprised.

    Air compressor still running good
    Framing air nailer, heavy but works great
    Power planer still working after 2 years needs new blades
    Small laminent trimmer. Still going strong.
    10" Sliding Miter saw still working but use a PC now. I use it mostly to cut alum.

    Biggest surprise the power planner. I bought it to plane some high 2x4 studs and actually used it on doors! On sale for 19.99

    Always thought these tools would fall apart when I bought them. When asked if I wanted to buy the extended warranty I laughed, and said "I'm buying these for a one time job and don't expect them to last that long". But they have stood the test of time in my book.

    These are not the tools I rely on everyday for my line of work.
    "You can lead them to Linux
    but you can't make them Think"

    Retired and testing my woodworking skills

  11. #41
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    East Central Illinois
    Posts
    532
    I've sworn them off; just like Sears.

  12. #42
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    N.E. Ohio
    Posts
    5,693

    Fool me once?

    Hello,
    Total miss:
    - 28* Framing Nailer.
    Fired maybe half a dozen nails before it jammed. The good news is that I'd bought a box of 28* Bostitch nails, which I'd opened and tried in it, and was into "things" for $59.00 for the nails and $79.00 for the nailer at that point. Not wanting to let the $59.00 nails go to waste, I picked up a Bostitch framing nailer.<--awesome tool.

    - Quick connects. "Leak air", is a bit on the mild side. "Hemorrhage air" is more like it.

    - Their cheaper knee pads - the soft ones - ($2.99 on sale). Straps disintegrated.

    Total Hit:
    - 1/8" 10 pack of Ti Ni drill bits ($.99 on sale) Since I break more than I dull , it's a good value for me.

    - 6" digital caliper. Absolute best ~ $10.00 I spent on anything tool related.

    - Their cotton drop cloths when on sale. I've spent 3 to 5 times more for a drop and gotten less in return. <--IMHO, when on sale, the best value you can find anywhere. Heck even not on sale - they still rock!
    $8.99 for a 10 oz. double stitched 4x12 "runner" is a heck of a price.

    - $5.99 (on sale) "hard" knee pads. I looked at the ones at Lowes that sell for nearly $40.00 and darned if I can see a difference. I'm inclined to think the HF ones are "seconds" from the same factory.

    My biggest "problem" w/HF stuff is what others have pointed out.
    Their goods are so hit/miss in QC & consistency.
    It's nearly impossible to base a decision on someone else's experience with them.
    Whenever I buy anything from them, I expect the worst.

    I'd thought about taking the framing nailer back, but decided I'd rather wait until I have my shop put together. Once I'm done, I'm going to mount it on the wall as a reminder:
    "You usually get exactly what you pay for/let the buyer beware./YMMV."
    My granddad always said, :As one door closes, another opens".
    Wonderful man, terrible cabinet maker...

  13. #43
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    4,712

    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Cadotte View Post
    I had the same problem. I nearly gave up on them, but decided to see what was wrong. I figured out the nose piece was not lined up propperly. What I did was loosen the allen screws to loosen the nose piece. Then while continusly sliding some brads back and forth into the nose, retighten the allen screws. Both my 18 gauge nailers now work great.
    Hey...thanks Ben!
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

  14. #44
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Doylestown, PA
    Posts
    6,140

    typical "Chinese Import" stuff

    My experience parallels others posted here. I bought a 1 ton shop crane from Harbor Freight. Some of the caster threads needed to be chased but it went together okay. It does seem to leak down very slowly with a load on it. I wouldn't lay beneath a load supported solely by this crane but I wouldn't lay beneath a load supported solely by any other hydraulic crane, either,

    I had an experience sort of like Ben with an air locker P630 23 ga. pin nailer. It would occasionally not feed. Looked at at and found an aluminum burr on the edge of the magazine next to the driver. Sanded that burr smooth and it has fed fine since. Expecting to get perfect out of the box for cheep is expecting a lot, methinks. If I worked where the environment caused tools to grow legs and run off, HF tools would be a consideration

    Curt

  15. #45
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Independence, MO, USA.
    Posts
    2,472
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Luter View Post
    Woodworking Vise - Trash (I was a newby and didn't know better). Suitable for use in my garage to hold mower blades, etc.

    Please be more specific!?!

    They have at least two woodworking vises, one with and one without a benchdog. The one without, looks (to me at least) about as cheap as every other one that other places sell cheap. The one with the benchdog, while no Record (what it tries to clone), was well worth the $25 I got it on sale for.

    The dust collector, while it hits the gems list, I would give it mixed due to all the switch failures I read about. (makes me wonder why we don't just replace the switch when buying it).
    Hand tools, VERY mixed. Thankfully I have a HF close, so I can shop/look at them. I picked up a long wrench set that worked fine (one job, didn't want a high dollar one for one job), but a friend (I know pro mechanics that buy there), bought a wrench set I said to avoid, and the first open end, broke the first turn.
    A LOT of mechanics around here, will use their impact sockets, as they are the older, heavy wall design (works pretty well), and they are cheap enough you don't mind modding (compared to your Snapies).
    They have a pancake compressor, that with the addition of a $5 regulator, works good for the nailers and tires (what it was bought for).
    Goodyear air hose, great buy.
    One gem that they no longer locally carry, the zero pressure, safety pnuematic coupler (all I will use is safety couplers). You hit a button on this style and it releases the air pressure so you could have your wet finger on the trigger of anything and it wouldn't shoot.

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