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Thread: Tool Quality

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Mobile, AL

    Tool Quality

    I'm always scouting around for new or better toys, while keeping in mind that I'm on a budget (grrrrr). Just wondering what the quality is on the tools from HF. I've been there a few times and they seem to have some pretty good deals, but I'd like to get some outside opinions first.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    It all 'depends'.

    In general, the simpler the tool, the more likely it is to be acceptable.

    I.e., a Jack Stand is likely to be of 'ok' quality.

    Whereas a power tool, like a table saw, or anything that requires precision, is going to be questionable.

    That being said, I do love going to the local harbor freight and looking for bargains...

    If it's a few dollars, Meh, It might be ok. More that that, do some serious google searches. There are a few gems from time to time and some lemons.

    Let's see, I've got some HF chain hoists that work very well.
    I've got a set of HF Transfer punches that do exactly what I want.
    I've bought HF jackstands and jacks that work quite well...
    I've got a set of HF HSS Turning Tools I bought for learning how to sharpen turning tools. They seem to work ok for that and I'm not all that nervous about grinding an 1/8th of an inch to put a new profile on them.

    I did buy a slow speed wet grinder from them once that was a disappointment.

    So, Like I said, Do your homework on the Internet first and don't let the cheap price trick you into wasting your hard earned bucks...
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Austin TX

    You know the saying "ya get what you pay for", right? In my opinion that speaks volumes. I've bought a few small tools there and they've been ok. I've looked at some of the power stuff and I just can't do it. Everything is a function of what you have to have and what you can live with though. I'm one who prefers to buy a good tool once and likely not need to replace it. My father-in-law was the opposite as was my grandfather. They spent the least possible to get the immediate need resolved. Neither way is right or wrong. Just what fits you best.

    Lee Laird
    Austin TX

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    ABQ NM
    In my experience, Harbor Freight is hit or miss, sometimes even with the same item. For example. I have a HF right angle drill that gets a lot of use and has stood up well. Stu got one of the identical drills (I bought them both at the same time and shipped one to him) that didn't last a month. My HF dust collector (souped-up with a decent cartridge filter) has worked great for me, although I did have to replace the on-off switch a couple months ago. I've also put a lot of miles on a HF Forstner bit set, but it's about worn out now. I've had other things like air filter/water separators for my air lines that have shown more mixed success. Some have worked fine and others have been junk right out of the box.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Reno NV
    Don't get me started on my Delta Dust Collector that had the start capacitor go up in flames on me...

    It was stuck in a corner of my shop and I was lucky to hit it with a fire extinquisher before the whole house went up!.

    Fortunately, I got it quickly and the part was cheap and easy to replace, but even 'quality' brands can sometimes have QC issues.

    So basically, you pay your money and take your chances.

    If you go with a good brand name though, their customer service may prove to be worth the extra cost, should something go wrong.
    Programmer - An organism that turns coffee into software.
    If all your friends are exactly like you, What an un-interesting life it must be.
    "A door is what a dog is perpetually on the wrong side of" Ogden Nash

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    I like the deals on the expendables that HF sells,....
    Wire ties, automotive electrical crimp connectors, electrical tape
    and alike.

    I have bought some Ingersoll Rand 1/2" & 3/8" drive impact sockets
    from them that are holding up well. I have had a set of long handled
    pry bars by Pittsburgh Tool that has held up a long time.
    I bought an air scraper, 1/2" air impact gun and air drills
    that has been through some pretty ruff jobs over the years.

    As far as hand power tools? ... Nah, no thanks.
    I think if I had a really dirty nasty job to do, I would
    consider one of the cheap power tools as a sacrifice power tool
    to save on my good power tool.

    I have bought a few smaller bar clamps at about $2 bucks apiece.
    They work reasonably well, but you really have to look them over
    for defects before you buy them. at $2 bucks apiece I couldn't resist.

    Hand tools wrenches ETC, Nah, I value my knuckles too much!
    Last edited by Dave Trask; 10-30-2008 at 09:11 AM.
    Donít have the best tools, don't use the best woods and projects donít always turnout perfeck.
    I just feel the need to work with wood!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Odd ball items that may get used only once or twice a year are OK. Generally, I avoid things that are powered. I know I may be missing the occasional very good deal but without better knowledge of the item in question, I would rather err on the side of caution. That said, their stores are fun to shop in, I almost always buy a couple gadgets.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    DSM, IA
    I've bought a few things from HF, clamps, wrenches, HSS lathe bits, drill bits, a brad/staple gun, air hose fittings and a few others. Most have held up nicely. Like others have said, most of what I have I don't use that much. The brad/staple gun I picked up on sale for $10 has done everything I've asked it to, but I've only used it 6 or 7 times in the 2 yrs I've owned it. The HSS lathe bit sets I've bought there have been used up/replaced twice, but at $3 for 3 bits my oland and hollowing tools keep going and going and...The best thing is if you have one local there return policy is quite good if you do have a problem.
    A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone. -Henry David Thoreau
    My Website

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    St. Louis, MO
    I usually walk in that place with a skeptical eye. But, over the years, i have bought some tools there - some good, some junk. Recently, i picked up a bunch of 18" squeeze clamps for $10 each. I've been using them on some casework i'm building and am really impressed. They're every bit as good as a pair of Irwins i've got - almost as nice as a pair of Jorgensens i've had for many years now. I've heard good things about their drill presses and dust collectors too.
    That said, i won't be buying any mechanics tools from them again. I had a small set of box end wrenches. Two of them broke off during use, allowing me to drive my fist (still clenching the tool handle) into a nearby chunk of metal. I've also split open a socket or two from them. Definitely not worth it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    North West Indiana
    Again as others have said, very hit and miss. I bought a chainsaw chain sharpener, plastic but used it for two years, at $6.00 a sharpening per chain, it more than paid for itself. Dad bought a couple of hammerdrills for some cement work, the first one did the 3/4 of the job while the contractors went through two DeWalts getting his 1/4 completed. Dad gave me the second one (wanted the "good" one!) as the other new one will most likely be like Stu's. Have bought tools for the tractors (no problem if lost in the field) and for the girl's first tool boxes. They have their place but wouldn't plan on them for earning a living from.

    God and family, the rest is icing on the cake. I'm so far behind, I think I'm in first place!


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