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Thread: Harbor Freight 8" Jointer Review

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    N.W. Ohio
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    86

    Harbor Freight 8" Jointer Review

    A while back I purchased a Harbor Freight 8" Jointer for $350 on sale. The idea behind the jointer was to buy something that could be used in my basement shop and removed without too much trouble. The DJ20 clones looked like they would be a bear to remove and also cost about $500 more. I figured it was worth the gamble.

    Anyway, I purchased the HF jointer on sale without too many expectations. I figured for $350, I could use it for a while and then upgrade when I moved the shop out of the basement (already moved, but no need to upgrade unless I want a larger unit). After setting it up and running it for a bit, I can tell you that it has by far exceeded my expectations.

    Here is the completed jointer.



    I can tell you that it was an exercise in patience getting it put together. It comes in a steel banded crate with the base completely disassembled in about a gagillion pieces and the instruction manual for setting up the base consists of a parts diagram. If anyone decides to buy one, plan on doing it slowly - very slowly and patiently. Despite my doubts a few times, everything does fit together.

    I was concerned about the tables being co-planer, but they seem to be right on. Fit and finish is not as nice as some of the more expensive jointers out there, but it's very functional and exceeded my expectations.



    Dust collection was an afterthought with this thing. It has a dust chute, but chips still escape through the sides. On my short to-do list is to fabricate a DC cover for the chute.



    Overall, I'm very happy with the jointer. I immediately replaced the HF knives with some new Freud knives which work exceptionally well. Here is a reclaimed board that I planed down to remove the brown slathering of stain that the original user put on there.

    Stained side:



    Jointed side:



    It's got a 2hp 115v Motor.
    The length is a little over 52"
    3 Knife Cutterhead

    The tables are flat and co-planer. It makes a nice, flat, jointed edge.

    The fence is an old-style fence that I lock in at 90 degrees and it stays that way. It works well for what it does. I wouldn't want to be changing angles on it as it is a pain to get locked in at the desired angle. Angles will be cut on the table saw anyway.

    The cutterhead is an old style, but is easy enough to setup with a Jointer-Pal. I wouldn't want to setup this style without one. With the Jointer-Pal it took about 10 minutes to set the three knives.

    Overall, I'm more than happy with this jointer for the price. There was no shipping cost or long transport as I ordered through the store and picked it up a week later.

    I'm very happy with it!

  2. #2

    Good review!

    Robert,

    Thanks for the thorough review. I've been lurking about HF for a few years now, and although I do see quite a bit of stuff that gives me a complete "wave off", slowly I'm seeing stuff that has a little better quality to it. It's a lot like looking at "made in Japan" products 30 years ago, when they were considered just above junk status. Today, the MIJ label usually means very good quality. Perhaps the MIC label will eventuallly have the same cachet.

    By the time I'm ready to replace my 6" jointer (a used Grizzly), perhaps the HF stuff will have made another step forward. I know that everyone here can't afford Lexus-quality tools, so getting some feedback/review on the other end of the scale will certainly be useful information to someone who would not otherwise be able to enjoy the use of a jointer...especially an 8" one.

    Thanks for your courage, and thanks for the review.

    Lon

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Bucks County, Pennsylvania
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    940
    Glad it worked out -- I have purchased quite a few things from HF -- and have had very few duds. I have never purchased a machine tool -- nice to know


    By the way -- I like the planer base.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati Ohio
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    4,474
    Thanks for the review. Keep us up to date with any problems down the road. Nice to read a review on a tool no one has but always wondered about.

    I always wondered about there large bandsaw. At $899 why buy it over the Grizzly, But would just like to know what the quality is like.
    With Harbor Freight you never know. I was looking at electric motors and a large air compressor in the store. all with the Harbor Freight brand names. You assumed made in China right? but they were made in the USA. You never know.

    "Remember back in the day, when things were made by hand, and people took pride in their work?"
    - Rick Dale

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Greeneville, TN
    Posts
    1
    I have the same one. Seems decent for the $; though the blades are garbage. It is definitely a pain to put together. Which Freud blades did you replace the stock blades with?

  6. #6
    Thanks for the review.

    I concur with Tom, nice planer base. How about some more pics of it?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Ames, IA
    Posts
    466
    Robert,

    Thanks very much for your post and info. I plan to add a jointer within the next few months as I just sold my bench top 6" Rockwell. I've been eyeing the Delta 6" that is on sale at Woodworkers Supply. However, your report on this 8" may sway my thoughts. I think there is a HF outlet in Des Moines (40 mi); hopefully, they will have comparable pricing.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Windsor, MO
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    761
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Lehnert View Post
    I always wondered about there large bandsaw. At $899 why buy it over the Grizzly, But would just like to know what the quality is like.
    Because the equivalent saw at grizzly is 750??


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    N.W. Ohio
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    86
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Ridley View Post
    I have the same one. Seems decent for the $; though the blades are garbage. It is definitely a pain to put together. Which Freud blades did you replace the stock blades with?
    Jim, I picked up some that fit an old Rockwell 8" jointer and they worked.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    N.W. Ohio
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    86
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmie Mayfield View Post
    Thanks for the review.

    I concur with Tom, nice planer base. How about some more pics of it?
    Lol, the planer base is a metal cabinet stand for a piece of old medical equipment that I found at a thrift store. It even has a tray on one side. I took off the legs and put some casters on the bottom. It didn't turn out too bad for $15.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    N. Florida
    Posts
    101
    Robert,
    My HF has the 6" jointer on sale for $229.00. Looks similar to the 8" you have.

    Seems like a good deal. What do you think?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Cache Valley, Utah
    Posts
    1,505
    I had the little 6" Harbor Freight jointer for about five years, no problems. Before that I had an older 6" Grizzly with lever adjusters; I hated them and the fence adjuster and sold it after a few years. A couple of years later I got the HF on sale for $199, I believe, and it was just fine. Tables were flat and the fence was less trouble than the old Grizzly, even though it's the old Delta front table mount design from the 40s or 50s. I recently upgraded to a Grizzly G0593 8" with the helical head, and I really like it. I was able to sell the old HF jointer along with a lunchbox planer, an old lathe and some other odds and ends.

    Dave C

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    Posts
    4,712
    Thanks for the review Robert. That's a machine I've pondered on a few occasions, b/c I often need more width on my jointer than my 6" Griz offers. I'm a weekend warrior who's shop closes for most of the winter, so my needs aren't very extreme, and my budget is usually pretty tight. I currently own two HF machines...a benchtop mortiser and a 13" 38142 benchtop DP....both have worked out well. The mortiser has been well worth the $100 asking price, and the DP has far exceeded expectations (on sale for $144)...it's honestly hard to imagine being more pleased with another DP in the same size classification at 3x the price.

    I still tend to approach HF items with general skepticism, as they definitely have some junk and their QC isn't exactly best in class, but they do have some very functional tools at great prices on sale, and their return policy is very good so I really don't worry too much about losing much. I'm fortunate to have two stores near me, but I'd be more reluctant with mail order for sure.
    Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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