1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. PLEASE: Read the FORUM RULES BEFORE registering!

    Dismiss Notice

Rate the Harbor Freight Tools Thread- Pass or Fail?

Discussion in 'TOOL JUNKIES - TOOLS & TOOLING (Love Tools? This Is Your Forum)' started by Nels, Dec 2, 2011.

  1. Nels

    Nels United States Founder Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    739
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Eastern Queens, NY
    City:
    Eastern Queens
    State:
    New York

    -Return to Top-

    I saw this idea on another forum, and it is a great resource.

    So here goes, of the Harbor Freight tools that we use as home shop machinists, which ones are satisfactory (pass), and which are not (fail)?


    Nelson
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2012
  2. Pacer

    Pacer United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Greenwood

    -Return to Top-

    I am unabashedly a HF fan, I buy a good bit of 'stuff' there...

    I think I have 2 items that jump out as a super bargain and astounding wearability -

    First would be the 4 1/2" angle grinder (orange one) that sells for around $15 - I have had mine for some 10 years and it just wont seem to wear out, its a bit noisy now, but still chugs right along, whether grinding, cutting, sanding, etc.

    Second would be the air die grinders in the straight and angle versions that sell for around $15-20, I have 5 of the straight and 3 of the angle with different mountings - with a cut off disc being one of the more handy tools in my shop, with a 3" sanding disc being awfully handy, also grind stones carbide cutters, etc. Here again, I have a couple that are some 6-8 years old and they just keep a going.

    Nothing comes to mind right off as to 'bad' stuff. Tho there is some crappy stuff there, it seems to be less common than in the past (as does the import tools across the board)
     
    Neiko and catskinner like this.
  3. Video_man

    Video_man United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Miami
    State:
    Florida

    -Return to Top-

    <sigh> There's a HF store not a mile from me and I am loaded with discount coupons. Temptation, get behind me!

    The 4 inch orange angle grinder (saw a vote for the 4 1/2 inch, haven't used it but I notice there's lots more accessories for 4 1/2 inch grinders, should have bought it instead) is the pink-rabbit-with-a-drum of inexpensive tools...I have one and there are 3 at the machine shop in our rail museum and they just keep goin' and goin....

    Doesn't apply to machining, but their heavy-duty power planer is a real nice tool and beats the Crapsman one I've had for years....OTH their 1" sanding belts for my small belt/disk sander last maybe 30 seconds before they come apart. Can't win 'em all. Have to admit, for the price, most of the things I have bought there have been good value.
     
  4. jworman

    jworman Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16

    -Return to Top-

    I'm 65 miles from a store. I do like to look at their stuff as sometimes I find a nasty surprise.

    Once I mail ordered a bunch of 1/2" pipe clamps. They were terrible!

    I have the tool grinder and I like it. I have a hand full of 4 1/2 and 4 inch angle grinders. They have performed very well. I bought the chain saw sharpener (electric) and I'm pleased with the results.

    I once heard of a fellow taking a HF digital caliper down to the Boeing tool room and laughingly asked them to tell him how bad they were. When he retrieved it the tech told him there was no problems with it. It met all requirements. I have a drawer full of them.

    I bought the 5 drawer service cart the other day. I like it a lot.

    I have a hand full of various air tools. They all work pretty well. I'll have to admit my Porter Cable brad driver jams a whole lot less than the HF or CH ones.

    I like their cut-off wheels, the flap sanding wheels, and angle grinding wheels. You don't feel bad wearing one out, then tossing it.

    I have the pipe bender which makes pretty poor bends. I have the tubing bender that makes pretty nice bends. I got a plashing hammer on super close out, but I haven't used it much.

    One time they had a large window auto dark welding helmet on clearance for about $20. I ordered one right away. Some people got them, some didn't. I was lucky. I use it all the time rather than my older big window Jackson EQC. It's a nice helmet.

    I'm sure I've got a 100 other things, but I don't think of them right now. If you can hold it in your hand, you have a bit leg up on getting something useable.
     
  5. jworman

    jworman Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16

    -Return to Top-

    I think it's a great idea. I often look for information before I jump at buying something, especially at Harbor Freight.
     
  6. nctoxic

    nctoxic Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6

    -Return to Top-

    Being a hobby type, I don't put any of these things to a real hard test, but I've been very happy with the 4 x 6 Metal cutting bandsaw. I did a little tuning to the roller guides, replaced the blade with a better one, and built a stronger stand, but it has worked well for about 3 years.
    I have one of their abrasive cutting chop saws and even though the trigger switch failed this year, they sent me a new one for a few bucks, it has also served me well.
    I just bought the tool grinder mentioned above. There was a chip out of the wheel on the left side, and they are sending me a new wheel at no cost. I will replace the wheels anyway with better ones, but I can't complain about their service.
    I'm careful what I buy from HF, so I haven't bought anything over $10 that I wouldn't recommend.

    Tim,,,
     
  7. krh0003

    krh0003 Iron Registered Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1

    -Return to Top-

    I have a media blast cabinet from HF and it works great.
     
  8. brucer

    brucer Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    36
    City:
    Kentucky
    State:
    Kentucky

    -Return to Top-

    The 4x6 horizontal band saw is a pretty good deal and i use mine about every time i'm out in the garage...
    I plan on buying another one sometimes and mounting it on a vertical stand.
     
  9. irishwoodsman

    irishwoodsman Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    stlouis
    State:
    Missouri

    -Return to Top-

    i bought a manual tire changer for a atc the first tire i mounted and went to break the bead and the bead breaker arms bent in half, straightend them out and welded some cold roll bark to help suport them can break car tires with it now lol, made the best of a bad situation lol
     
  10. bvd1940

    bvd1940 United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Blackfoot
    State:
    Idaho

    -Return to Top-

    The 4 inch grinder, I have never paid more than $9.95 and have only killed 2 in 20 years after abusing them badly. There flush cut hand trim saw is real good for flush cutting on wood. The tile saw is a good deal and its on its 3 remodel on same blade $39.95 and still salable in garage sale:biggrin:
    There diesel compression checker works as good as any I have used and only $39.95.
    18 Ga brad nailer, still trying to wear it out :drool: There plastic hammers are good if on sale.
    Just my 2 cents worth.
     
  11. DMS

    DMS United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    38
    City:
    Santa Clara
    State:
    California

    -Return to Top-

    I have the 4x6 horizontal/vert bandsaw. Got it for under $200 with a coupon. Works great with a new blade.
    Have the 4.5 inch angle grinder. Works good for little projects, but vibrates like hell, so you can't use it for long. Switch is also difficult to actuate.

    Cheap place to buy tarps, and those work just fine too ;)
     
  12. flutedchamber

    flutedchamber United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Mays Landing
    State:
    New Jersey

    -Return to Top-

    Many, many, many years ago I ordered two sets of metric impact sockets, one 3/8 drive and one 1/2 inch drive. I also ordered their large set of air hammer chisels. Now keep in mind this is way back when the only Harbor Freight was in California. Probably 30 or perhaps a few more years ago. The metric sockets I never thought I would have a need for a "good" set, so I bought some cheap imported crap. The chisels rounded out the order, they were on sale and shipped for free. All three sets are still alive and well. I thought at least the chisels would break or be soft..or the tapered end mushroom. Nope..still as good as the ones from Chicago Pneumatic or Sears. Ditto for the sockets. Some show a little, and by that I mean very little wear in the drive hole, but no more than my Snap-on set that cost five times as much. No socket split it's side out, even when used with an adapter on a 3/4 inch impact. Oh..yes..the impact adapters. Bullet proof. No wear whatsoever..they just got shiny in the drive holes.

    Their chip brushes are great..as good as anyones but much cheaper. Their air hose on a retractable reel is great, both the 25 and 50 foot ones. Five years and no leaks or complaints.
     
    Silverbullet likes this.
  13. bobbyjim

    bobbyjim Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    State:
    Florida

    -Return to Top-

    I have so many HF tools I would have to inventory my garage. But recently bought there 18V drill with battery and charger for $14.99. Can't believe how good it works and can buy a replacement batter for about $10.00 with coupon. I have at least 6-7 other 18V & 24V tools all with expensive dead batteries.
    I also have there tire changer, wheel balancer, about 3 different size air nailers, half dozen or so varous air grinders & saws. There 14" cut off saw, welding wire, sockets etc. They all work and just wish they were closer than a 60 mile round trip. And now there offering cheap insurance on there tools. Sure like getting all those free gifts. Got lots of free flash lights that work great, free multi meters, gloves, screw drivers, scissors and more.

    Think I need to make another trip to HF.
     
  14. arvidj

    arvidj United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Minneapolis
    State:
    Minnesota

    -Return to Top-

    Though the pictures are great and an important part of the review I think the item number is even more important. If this thread grows to be many pages long ... similar to what is on the garage journal forum ... then searching to get feedback on a particular item will be tough if all we have is pictures. Searching on the item number would make it a no-brainer.
     
  15. Weldfab

    Weldfab Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6

    -Return to Top-

    Based on a "Pass or Fail" rating my opinion would be a fail. Only been there a couple of times but ended up walking out empty handed. Found the quality to be low and not to my liking.
    I do have some friends who buy a lot from them and are very happy with the items. Mostly motorcycle equipment like lifts and tire repair tools.
     
  16. Dirty1

    Dirty1 United States Iron Registered Member

    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    3

    -Return to Top-

    I got a few things from there, 4-1/2 in angle grinder i bought 3 at $9.99 two are still working good the third one the four screws on the head loosened and the gears stripped. The other two i removed the screws and put in good grease there was hardly any in them, if you have one i suggest you do the same. I also got the 7x10 lathe when it was $299.00 with a 20% off coupon,now its $499.00 DONT wast your money on it,all plastic gears and alot of sanding on the gibs to get a halfway descent cut on alluminum i wouldnt even consider trying to cut steel. I also got a Motorcycle lift not the platform one its item#99887 it works great i had it two years with no problems at all, i paid $129.00 now since people left good reviews its $199.00. If people would stop leaving good reviews, the prices would stay down to what there worth. Well thats my 2 cents Thanks Dean.
     
    bss1 likes this.
  17. havnfun

    havnfun United States Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    City:
    Sault Sainte Marie
    State:
    Michigan

    -Return to Top-

    I have purchased lots of stuff from HF, mostly stuff that will see little usage. My favorites include the popular 4 1/2 inch grinders(only Chicago Electric), 2 1/2 ton large frame hydraulic jack(which they dont sell anymore nor stock repair parts), impact sockets, blue flame welding helmet, and chip brushes. All of these items have seen much more use than anticipated and have performed well. My oldest grinder is over five years old while the hydraulic jack is over ten but was recently rebuilt. Price drives my HF purchases. Their prices are rising which will hurt their sales.
     
  18. cjsamples

    cjsamples United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Hiram
    State:
    Georgia

    -Return to Top-

    The Five drawer tool cart gets my best rating. I moved out of my big tool box at work and have not looked back since. It can be had on sale for $169. Better quality than the name brands on that item. Item number 95272.
    Chris.

    image_11938.jpg
     
    Jmkimsey88 and tmihelick like this.
  19. ScrapMetal

    ScrapMetal United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    92
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Elkhorn
    State:
    Nebraska

    -Return to Top-

    I don't have a lot from HF even though I have one within a short driving distance. For the most part what I do have are things needed for "one-time" jobs where I want to spend as little as possible and it wouldn't matter if the tool didn't survive. The exception to this, so far, is the little band saw I got a couple of months ago. Haven't used it enough to really evaluate it and the few issues I did have with it may have been the crappy blade. Time will tell.

    I have a real love of quality tools and to tell the truth walking in to the local HF just gives me a dirty kind of feeling (and not a good kind of dirty either :biggrin:). I will avoid it but find it to be a necessary evil at times.

    -Ron
     
  20. arvidj

    arvidj United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Minneapolis
    State:
    Minnesota

    -Return to Top-

    If you are talking about the portable band saw then my recommendation ... and it is similar to the recommendation I have for most things I get at HF ... is to take the cover off the gear box and (a) remove the chunks of what I assume were at one time grease that are in there --- note the chunks were no where near the gears but at least inside the gear box -- and (b) put some good grease on the gears. After that you may want to get a blade from a reputable source just to have one on had but the one that came with mine has worked just fine so the extra blade is simply a spare.

    If you are talking about the ubiquitous 4x6 band saw, there is a group on yahoo that can provide lots of support but the usual "new owner" incantation is to take the cover off the gearbox and remove whatever you find in there – a liquid that might be a lubricant, casting sand, bugs, etc. – and then refill the it with a quality gear oil. Replace the blade with a quality 64 1/2 inch bimetal and enjoy many years of service.
     
  21. llarson

    llarson Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    City:
    McMinnville
    State:
    Oregon

    -Return to Top-

    Generally, I avoid anything from HF that has moving parts, experienced and heard of too many problems. I have a 4x6 bandsaw [build date on the motor is 1979] that I got at an estate sale about 20 years ago, and it has served me well since. About 8 years ago, the company bought a 4x6 bandsaw for cutting thin stuff, 1/8 and thinner, as the big saw we had lost too many teeth on this mtl. I set this saw up, and had to spend about half a day shimming and aligning it so the blade would stay on track. It's been a problem since, but far better than when new. The one thing I speak well of from HF is the orange 4 1/2" grinder, bought one to use in a necessary but abusive environment because it was cheap compared to our Milwaukee's, and the thing just won't quit.
     
  22. nicky

    nicky Canada Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    18
    City:
    Wyoming
    State:
    Ontario

    -Return to Top-

    Well I visit HF quite often but usually only buy little things. However I did buy a 5 ton large frame floor jack to lift my camper and tractor with and it works fine. My camper weighs in excess of 6000 lbs. and my tractor an old IH W6 with calcium filled tires, at least that much. I also bought a pallet jack from them, works great.
    On the other hand I bought one of those little spot welding guns to use on my stick welder and it was useless. I have not bought any power tools but have bought several hydraulic bottle jacks several being long rams use in my auto rotisserie and a 20 ton for my hydraulic press and am very happy with them
     
  23. Old Iron

    Old Iron United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Andalusia
    State:
    Alabama

    -Return to Top-

    When I was working for a living I had and still have DeWalt Drills ( 2 ) small Skill Saw, Rec Saw and others all the batterys are shot now.

    I was losing the DeWalt stuff so I picked up 2-12 Volt drill, 3-4 1/2 grinders and the grinders have out lasted the 4 DeWalts I had. One of the grinders lost a brush cap about two years ago and its still working with out it.


    The HF drills are still working and the batterys are cheap so I'm hanging on to them.

    Paul
     
  24. kd4gij

    kd4gij United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    814
    Trophy Points:
    113
    City:
    St. Petersburg
    State:
    Florida

    -Return to Top-

    I have the 13 Drawer Red Industrial Quality Roller Cabinet Item # 90320 along with the top and one side box. It is verry havey duty I have it full of hevey tools and the drawers clide verry smoothe. Alot sturdederyer than what craftsman sells at 1/4 the price. I have had it for 5 years and it has held up well. I give it 5 stars. Also there US Genral air compressors are made in the USA. I don't owen one but when I was looking for parts for my Ingersaw ran found out the HF us general is the same compressor.
     
  25. Nels

    Nels United States Founder Staff Member H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    739
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Eastern Queens, NY
    City:
    Eastern Queens
    State:
    New York

    -Return to Top-

    I've owned an engine hoist 3 years. It was left outside in the elements and took a pounding. One of the casters lost its ball bearings. Other than that, it was stellar. The newer one depicted below has the legs skewed and no adjustable legs. The skewed legs allow you to surround the machine better, and I never adjust the legs anyway. I used it to lift an 1800 pound milling machine. It's a good product. On sale now for $199.

    image_11913.jpg

    image_11913.jpg
     
  26. krh0003

    krh0003 Iron Registered Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1

    -Return to Top-

    I forgot but I have the engine hoist as well. I've had it about 7 years and have pulled/installed at least 20 motors with it without issue.
     
  27. coal miner

    coal miner Active Member Active Member

    Likes Received:
    7
    Trophy Points:
    6

    -Return to Top-

    + 1 on the 13 drawer HF roller cabinet . Had one for a year now and it gives a lot of storage for the mill . The rollers actually roll when it is loaded w/ tools . The top serves as a work area and also plenty of room for the Gerstner , that holds the mikes and such .

    IMG_0061-1.jpg

    After looking at Sears and others , Remline comes to mind , the HF is better in weight and quality , drawers have rollers and move easy . Don't remember the price , but used one of the 20% off coupons and they honored it on a sale price to boot . So it was a least $150 cheaper than the others .
     

    Attached Files:

  28. Bartolo

    Bartolo United States Steel Registered Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    City:
    Rio Rancho
    State:
    New Mexico

    -Return to Top-

    I had one of their portable grinders years ago. I was giving it a work out one day (cutting up a car fender) and it got so hot around the brushes that the plastic caught fire! As it was burning I could still turn it on and off which kinda amazed me. Not enough to NOT throw it across the yard in disgust though. Never bought another – fail (because my DeWalt handled the rest of the job with no issues)

    Had a heat gun that did not last long enough to shrink the first piece of heat shrink – fail (the why is obvious)

    I’ve had one of their small bench top drill presses for maybe 20 years now. Still going but like most of their equipment is underpowered. By no means a precision, balanced piece of equipment but handy sitting on the corner of my bench– pass (but only because of how long its lasted and I’ve learned to live with it only drilling small pilot holes)

    Recently I bought one of their lithium battery 3/8 drills on sale (item#68126). Light weight, small little drill but again no power. It has a 3/8 chuck but no power to run a 3/8 drill. If I stick to maybe half that size it does OK – fail (not enough power to operate as advertised)

    While others seem to like their powder coating gun I did not. Too hard to control the powder flow and very clumsy – fail (just my opinion)

    1" chip brushes and shop rags – pass (cheap - disposable)

    Motorcycle lift should get a fail because of the cheesy, useless front wheel chock and leaking hydraulic ram. Once I built a real wheel chock it turned out to be a handy little devise that has seen plenty of use. The leak is still there (with a small drip pan under it) – fail right out of the box but changed to pass with modifications and because of sale price and coupons. If I were to do it again I’d buy item# 96349 along with the lift, throw away the wheel chock that comes with it, and bolt this motorcycle chock in its place. I have one of those chocks bolted into a trailer and it works fine - pass

    Pneumatic powered bottle jack – fail because of the amazing amount of compressor air it requires to operate!

    I’m sure there are other items but this is what comes to mind right now. I’d include more item numbers but most of my experience with them is dated and the item numbers have probably changed. For years I’ve stayed away from anything they offer with a plug attached to it. I deviated from this rule with that little drill and got a fresh reminder of why. IMHO their stuff is almost expected to fail and is a surprise when it works as advertised. When I was younger (with no $$) I had the patience for their equipment. I try to buy more reliable items these days.

    Just my .02
     
  29. Old Iron

    Old Iron United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

    Likes Received:
    25
    Trophy Points:
    48
    City:
    Andalusia
    State:
    Alabama

    -Return to Top-

    I have the 13 drawer HF roller cabinet with the middle section and the top chest. I got one of the ones that look like a Kennedy A few months ago.

    SWMBO saw it Saturday and all she said was nice tool box. I had to go to the Pensacola VA Clinic yesterday so we stopped at HF on the way home. I looked around but didn't get anything, It was raining really hard so I told the wife I'd go get the truck so she didn't have to get wet.

    I pulled up to the store and she was standing there looking to the back of the store. A guy came up there with a cart and a new tool box for her. Well I knew I couldn't say anything so I got out and helped him load it up.I unloaded it this morning put the casters on it set it all togather and told her she could put the handles.

    I picked up one of the big hammer drills at a salvage store for $7.00 it had the case and manual but know bits its working fine.

    Also have the engine host that folds up, It has pulled a few motors moved a few machings and help me put some togather.+ a bunch of other stuff!

    Paul

    Tool Box.JPG
     
  30. bedwards

    bedwards United States Active User Active Member

    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    City:
    Birmingham
    State:
    Alabama

    -Return to Top-

    I have bought a good bit from HF. Some was really bad, a lot has been good. I'll try to post the good ones here.
    the tool grinder #46727, only needed the wheels trued, I trued the edges of the tables to the slot also
    4x6 band saw #93762, really needs a bimetal blade to work well though
    digital calipers seem to work well, need to be re-zeroed regularly
    4 1/2 side grinder #91223, their disks seem to hold up good also
    2 18volt drills just don't drop them from the top of a 8' ladder (don't ask) they have since been discontinued
    18 volt skill saw still works well the flashlight that came with it is not worth a flip though discontinued also
    grinder 39798 no problems, could use better wheels
    3" grinder #43533 works well alone but the plastic shaft with it is a joke
    bought this to replace it shaft grinder #40432 works well
    7" tile saw #40315
    digital multimeters #90899 great for the price
    have the free flashlights all over the house #65020
    10" trim saw #98199 great
    jack stands #38846
    auto welding helmet #46092
    mig welder #97503

    I'm sure there is more. I've bought waaaay too much there

    be
     

Share This Page