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Old 11-19-2012, 11:50 PM   #1
phucheneh
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Default How about a Harbor Freight tool thread?

a.k.a. discuss Chinese crap that's actually pretty damned good for the money.

I don't mean that as a generalization for the store- there's a lot of garbage. But there are also a lot of random tools in my box from there. Usually, it would be some random thing needed for one certain job on a certain make/model. No one ever wanted to spend much on specialty stuff that they would barely use; so once someone said 'hey, I picked one of these up at HF for about three bucks (...maybe tree-fiddy) and it does the job,' others usually followed suit.

There's also the fact that a lot of your cheaper tools (Craftsman on down) are increasingly made in China, anyway...sometimes right alongside the HF stuff. Hell, I've bought Snap-On tools with a 'made in China' marking (hand tools are made here, but other stuff is a crap shoot).

Anyhow, inspiration: today I was impressed with a power tool from there for the first time. I don't often use large grinders (as in, anything bigger than a die grinder), but I needed to do some cutting on some thick piping. I couldn't find the lock nut for my old Craftsman grinder, so I said fuck it and went to HF to grab a cheapie replacement that would use my existing 4" wheels.

http://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-...der-91222.html

The damn thing is nicer than the Craftsman that was probably $75 or so years ago. Feels durable...decent heft to it. Cut through some thick (not the parts store stuff) 3" exhaust pipe with no problems at all. Loud as hell, but no more so than the Craftsman. And well, you are kinda cutting metal with pure blunt friction, so I don't think that's going to be very quiet.

Two cuts and one of their cheap-ass cutting wheels is barely worn, at that. Also, they even include replacement brushes with it. I'm sure they're cheap and will wear more quickly than they should...but hey, it's the thought, I guess...

Last notable purchases there was a hydraulic press for like $120. A little wobbly, but does the job. Maybe I'll buy a $100 welder to reinforce the frame.

Anyway, anyone else care to share their experiences with this crap?
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:21 AM   #2
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HF's 1/2" click torque wrenches are very good irrespective of cost.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:32 AM   #3
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Anything made out of cast iron or similar alloy is pure garbage. EG http://www.harborfreight.com/catalog...ipe%20expander

Abrasives and consumables are crap also (dremmel bits, drill bits, saw blades etc).
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:40 AM   #4
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Quote:
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Anything made out of cast iron or similar alloy is pure garbage.
+1 on that. I know their bench vises are awful.

I think the problem is that 'cast iron' to them is 'random old shit that we melted down and poured into a casting.'
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:52 AM   #5
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Their flare nut wrenches suck. SNAP.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phucheneh View Post
+1 on that. I know their bench vises are awful.

I think the problem is that 'cast iron' to them is 'random old shit that we melted down and poured into a casting.'
Pretty much, it seems to be a problem with whatever those darker iron alloys are. These things crack essentially immediately:

http://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-...amp-37848.html
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:30 AM   #7
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Some Harbor Freight Tool (aka HF) review links (there are few good ones more out there)

http://garagejournal.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27192

http://weldingweb.com/showthread.php?t=3165

http://www.toolcrib.com/blog/2008/08...nd-the-abysmal

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=752036

Last edited by bamx2; 11-20-2012 at 04:33 AM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard View Post
HF's 1/2" click torque wrenches are very good irrespective of cost.
I like mine.

My HF oiled 10 gallon compressor I also like.

The plastic hand clamps (the ripoff of the Irwin ones you can buy a home depot or lowes) are impossibly terrible, not even worth having for free and they will let you down. Their metal bar clamps are also quite bad. My advice: don't ever cheap out on clamps, not ever.

I also bought a very cheap box of drill bits from HF which are fine. I doubt they are robust but sometimes you need just a particular size and they cover that.

These are GARBAGE:
http://www.harborfreight.com/6-inch-...der-46806.html

And these less so, but also not worth buying. I've had two, both snap at the head:
http://www.harborfreight.com/58-1-4-...amp-92490.html

I've never had a failure with any clamp bought from HD or Lowes and I put a lot of stress through some of them.

I bought a 12" laser sliding compound miter saw a few years back and have cut an awful lot of wood with it. It's loud as hell but works great. Very happy with it.

Last edited by Doppel; 11-20-2012 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
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HF's 1/2" click torque wrenches are very good irrespective of cost.
I bought a 1/4" and a 1/2" torque wrench from there last year to do the motor swap in my van. They worked great so I zeroed them out and they have been sitting in a closet since. I went to use the 1/4" yesterday to torque the main lugs on an electric panel. The thing must of forgot to stop at 50 inch pounds because it stripped my main lug out. I put it on a screw that was put in a 2 by 4 with my impact. Broke the screw set to 20 inch pounds. So I don't trust harbor freight torque wrenches anymore they are both going in the garbage.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:49 AM   #10
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The bearing and race seal driver set works nice. Made of aluminum and I've put a pretty good beating on them and they've held up.
The red US General professional tool boxes are the best tool boxes for the money. I own the 44" and am amazed at the quality for the price.
I also own some of the impact sockets yet I'm slowly replacing them with American made impact sockets as I find deals.
I will not buy power tools, wrenches, ratchets, pliers, air compressors, screwdrivers from HF.
I have heard their deadblow hammers are dirt cheap and work great.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by halik View Post
Pretty much, it seems to be a problem with whatever those darker iron alloys are. These things crack essentially immediately:

http://www.harborfreight.com/4-inch-...amp-37848.html
hah i have one of those, but the stationary part bent.

and yeah their abrasives/cheap cutting tools are junk. if you've got a power tool that needs bits/saws/blades, the tool is okay as long as you use a non HF bit.

their lathe tool holders are pretty good

http://www.harborfreight.com/5-piece...set-39931.html

the hot air guns are decent. they seem to change the design from time to time. i had an old one where the motor bearing melted the plastic housing.

http://www.harborfreight.com/1500-wa...112-96289.html
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:38 AM   #12
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I've got a HF engine hoist and cheapie engine leveler that worked pretty darn well when coated with some grease. Hard to beat for the money.

I've also go ratchet adapters, a few wobble extensions, and one of these that I really like. I damaged the 1/4in drive side of it breaking 10mm transmission bolts loose on Black2NA's WRX.
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Old 11-20-2012, 08:57 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skull View Post
I bought a 1/4" and a 1/2" torque wrench from there last year to do the motor swap in my van. They worked great so I zeroed them out and they have been sitting in a closet since. I went to use the 1/4" yesterday to torque the main lugs on an electric panel. The thing must of forgot to stop at 50 inch pounds because it stripped my main lug out. I put it on a screw that was put in a 2 by 4 with my impact. Broke the screw set to 20 inch pounds. So I don't trust harbor freight torque wrenches anymore they are both going in the garbage.
Notice I didn't say any size but 1/2"...
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Old 11-20-2012, 09:06 AM   #14
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I bought these screwdrivers to use at work and they are garbage.

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-piece...-set-9577.html

Loosening some tight screws and instead of turning the screw the metal part of the driver was spinning inside the plastic handle.

http://www.harborfreight.com/10-piec...set-37862.html

Same thing happened with those cheap T-hanlde hex keys.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:01 AM   #15
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I got a few things from them, some from my dad (who caves in to impulse buys from their ads):

Step drill set: very good quality, used many times, recommended

Corded multi-tool: bought for one task and found other uses, not bad, loud

Multimeter: junk, lasted about 10 minutes (from dad)

Squeeze clamps: not good, uneven, maybe use it on scrap you don't care about (from dad)

Solid plastic wheels: good enough for what I bought them for

Tarp: lasted a couple years, frays easily after exposed to wind and sun (from dad)

Trailer wiring kit: very thin wiring, cheap, just needed connectors

Submersible water pump: used for draining hot tub, works fine

Cheap garden hose: walls way too thin, kinks just looking at it, some kinks permanent

Hollow (thru) socket set: actually very good, great for long bolts (from dad)

Bottle jack: pretty good, used for leveling a mobile home


I think HF is a good place to buy gadgety things I don't use too much: magnetic wand, oil vacuum, parts storage bins, tool holders, ratchet straps, tarps, ropes, wedges, LED flashlights. I might hit them up for some small storage bins this winter.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:25 AM   #16
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I've had good luck with HF impact 1/2" sockets, used them for the past 7 years. The HF heavy duty 3 ton automotive jack is good (non aluminum version) - it started leaking finally after 5 years. I found a replacement o-ring that was included with the box, the leak was gone.

In addition to what has been mentioned above, what is junk is HF's tap and die sets, the steel is of poor quality and they don't last long.
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:44 AM   #17
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Forgot the earthquake series impact guns. Have the 1/2 and love it.
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Old 11-20-2012, 11:46 AM   #18
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Most of their Taiwan made stuff is not bad. If it is Chinese made, then be ready to junk it soon.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:05 PM   #19
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I've got the pnuematic floor nailer which was about 1/4th the price of a Bostich. It worked fine for what I needed.

I've also got a 4" tile saw that I used for cutting landscaping block, some other small pieces of concrete and some small jobs around the house and it performed admirably for $30.

I treat their blades and bits as use once and destroy. There's some jobs that I need to do and just don't want to kill a nice Bosch titanium bit or my decent saw blades. Harbor freight it is.
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Old 11-20-2012, 12:21 PM   #20
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I read that the nice belt sander is great, at 110 it competes with the 200 buck offereings

I have a lil finish nailer that worked well

their impact sockets have held up well
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:08 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franksta View Post
I bought these screwdrivers to use at work and they are garbage.

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-piece...-set-9577.html

Loosening some tight screws and instead of turning the screw the metal part of the driver was spinning inside the plastic handle.

http://www.harborfreight.com/10-piec...set-37862.html

Same thing happened with those cheap T-hanlde hex keys.
I had a problem with the hex keys as well... they stripped easily. The ends of a couple of them are completely round now instead of hex.
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:22 PM   #22
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Saw this on an automotive forum:
http://www.flutterby.com/images/2012..._tool_sale.pdf
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Old 11-20-2012, 04:47 PM   #23
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Eh... A lot of their stuff is pure junk. Fine for if you need a use once or use once in a great while tool...

You have to know what you are looking for and not have high expectations.

Ironically, I would place more faith in the tools and such from Northern Tool.... Hands down, better quality than HF --- On average anyway.
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:27 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theknight571 View Post
I had a problem with the hex keys as well... they stripped easily. The ends of a couple of them are completely round now instead of hex.
Grind the rounded part off... good as new! Not that new was good...
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Old 11-20-2012, 05:40 PM   #25
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same here with the 1/4 model .

FWIW- If one still wants to buy a cheapie torque wrench , I would recommend testing it before you use it via one of the DIY methods found on the web eg- http://www.toyotanation.com/forum/10...h-testing.html


Quote:
Originally Posted by skull View Post
I bought a 1/4" and a 1/2" torque wrench from there last year to do the motor swap in my van. They worked great so I zeroed them out and they have been sitting in a closet since. I went to use the 1/4" yesterday to torque the main lugs on an electric panel. The thing must of forgot to stop at 50 inch pounds because it stripped my main lug out. I put it on a screw that was put in a 2 by 4 with my impact. Broke the screw set to 20 inch pounds. So I don't trust harbor freight torque wrenches anymore they are both going in the garbage.

Last edited by bamx2; 11-20-2012 at 06:00 PM.
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