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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. 7HC

    7HC Active User Active Member

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    That makes me feel better...now I know I'm not the only one to do that! :nuts:

    M
     
  2. Mike Nash

    Mike Nash Active User Active Member

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    Item Numbers would be really good on this thread. Many times a sales flyer will list 2, 3 or even 4 item numbers for the same "part" and they are not even really close to the same. Older item numbers get dropped entirely off the Harbor Freight site also and the new replacements are often either much better or much worse, so generic descriptions don't mean a whole lot.

    I liked the 94822 500 LB Hydraulic Lift Table so well I just bought another about 2 weeks ago. Now it's not even shown on the site. They have a 60730 instead, which has a handle with a bend and it folds down. The handle bend wouldn't be much of an issue, but I added a second stage to my first table to double the lift height and it is a dangerous finger hazard on mine since the table goes above the handle and my fingers are "right there." I also changed the leverage on the pump pedal to drop the 30 strokes to about 17 for full lift. Whoops, that first stroke is now about 10" and pretty much means it can barely lift its own weight. I usually use it as a variable height work table and it is pretty much my favorite tool of all.

    Has anyone else noticed the trend away from "Central" whatever to "Pittsburgh" whatever in the brand names?
     
  3. Mike Nash

    Mike Nash Active User Active Member

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    Whoops, just checked and it only moves 7" first stroke but only takes slightly more than 8 strokes to make 49" max.
     
  4. richl

    richl United States Active User Active Member

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    HF tube roller, as is common with many of their tools, some mods and it works pretty good.
    I also purchased a tile cutter in the spring, I have been doing bathroom, kitchen remodels, as well as plain flooring jobs. Works very well, not something I would trust if this was all I do but it works very well out of the box on ceramic and porcelain tiles... not enough overhead for bricks unfortunately.
    The tube roller has made outdoor furniture, gating, fencing and railing... keeps pumping out 4130 .083 tubing with no real issues.

    Rich
     
  5. ToddK

    ToddK United States Iron Registered Member

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    This is a great thread! It makes me realize how much HarborFreight stuff I have in the garage.

    8x12 bench lathe #44859- awesome! I bought this when it was $499, Today it is on sale at $799 from $999. I have done all sorts of projects on this lathe, and have never had a problem.

    4x6 band saw #93762- fairly good. I need to do a little more alignment work on it, but it certainly beats a hacksaw! To be fair, I opened up the gearbox when I first got it, and found clean oil with no debris.

    Ulrasonic cleaner #95563- fairly good. I especially like the heater option.

    6" calipers- Mine have a black scale rather than the white scale on #47257- awesome. They tend to start blinking low battery half the time, but the overall battery life seems to be OK. I have never had a problem with accuracy or repeatability.

    5" cross slide vise #32996- wish it were better. It doesn't always stay where I put it, and the bottom of the fixed jaw is radiused, which prohibits using parallels.

    Rotary tool #97626- under powered.

    Vibrating sander- couldn't find the model number online. Complete garbage! It tore itself up within the first two hours of use. I boughht a DeWalt palm sander and have absolutely loved it!
     
  6. Pmedic828

    Pmedic828 Active User Active Member

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    Does anyone know anything about the HF Plasma Cutter - it is supposed to be 40 Amps. I am hesitant to purchase one because they never have the disposables in stock. I am a hobbyist and won't use it day after day, but would like to cut 1/2 inch steel as the plate is too big to put on the 4 X 6 Band Saw. Could anyone take some time that has some experience with it to comment. Many thanks!
     
  7. David Kirtley

    David Kirtley United States Active User Active Member

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    I don't know that particular one but it appears to be at it's maximum capacity. Although I am all for acquiring more tools, if you don't use it that much, you can get a lot of stuff cut at a welding shop for $600. I keep thinking about getting one myself but I just know I wouldn't get enough use to justify the expense (and having to get a compressor as well)
     
  8. bvd1940

    bvd1940 United States Active User Active Member

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    There circular saw grinder is a waste of time buying IMHO. Sloppy guides, low flexibility & no repeatability on grinds.
    Just my 2 cents worth but what do I know:jester:
     
  9. 7HC

    7HC Active User Active Member

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    While it may be no good for saw blades, one member here has turned it into an effective toolpost grinder.

    M
     
  10. sinebar

    sinebar Active User Active Member

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    I once bought a HF planetary drive torque multiplier for wheel lug nuts just to keep under the back seat of my pickup for roadside emergencies. It's good thing I decided to try it out when I got home. The 1/2" drive snapped off at the socket on the very first lug nut! It looked like the drive was made of cast metal. - Colossal fail!
    I brought it back to the store and they offered an exchange, but I took a refund. I didn't want to make another trip to return a second one. On the other hand, some of my other HF purchases are passes.
    #34552 small tire changer is a pass. I have used it to change tires on my kubota bx tractor and on my classic mini cooper (it has 10" wheels).
    The static wheel balancer does a passable job (after fine tuning it).
    I have used the #67224 6pc. rotary saw blade set to cut screw slots in CRS and the blade used is still sharp, so they get a pass.
    The snap gauges are ok (they need a little massaging).
    The HF transfer punches also pass except for the cheap plastic storage holder, but I have only used them on aluminum so far.
    HF acid brushes and chip brushes are the best bang for the buck.
    I bought the #94447 6pc. "technical" measuring set just for the inside and outside calipers and they are ok, but the scales and the slide caliper are junk.
    The HSS drill bits haven't unwound on me yet and they are reasonably sharp.
    HSS tool blanks pass (What can you say bad about a single piece of steel).
    At only $20, I am actually quite pleased with the P37772 digital multimeter.
    I have bought other small tools and items, but never any power tools.

    I share the opinion that if an item has no motor or not too many moving parts, you might find a good deal at Harbor Freight.

    jj

    If you don't have high expectations, you won't be too disappointed.
     
  11. sandama171

    sandama171 Iron Registered Member

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    Pass on my book!
    I m doing hardwood floors in our home and acquired saws and various other tools there to do the job to include Pneumatic tools i have been beating the crap out of them and they are standing tall and looking good!
    The floor nailer especially when comparing to the Top Brand there is nothing left to wish for the tool is sound and guess what the dimensions and capabilities are exact the same just change the color and name lol love it...... top brand $600 HBF $149 need i say more!
     
  12. jaded13640

    jaded13640 United States Active User Active Member

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    For the most part I think HF is a "you get what you pay for" kind of a joint but some items are exceptional. The angle grinders as mentioned are great and darn near impossbile to kill.

    I have a shop press that's served me very well, sandblast cabnit, aluminum "racing" floor jack, air sander, couple of die grinders, all great. No issues. But I'm not using the heck out of them either.

    The only thing I've have an issue with that I bought from HF was the air recipricating saw. The first one quit the second time I used it and I wasn't abusing it. The second one died the third time I used it and the fourth one hasn't been used yet but I got the warentee for it so I guess I don't care if it fails or not. They can keep sending me new ones.

    I got a transmission jack that has been great.

    I don't have one of the small band saws yet but that's something I should probably have.

    Their cutting wheels and disks are pretty crappy but hey, they are dirt cheap...what more can you expect?

    I couldn't list everything I've ever bought from Harbor Freight, but some things are to be avoided. Air recip saws, impact sockets, impact and air ratchets, those are items that if you use to make a living with, you're probably better off getting from a big name vendor.

    Other than that, HF has served me very well. I really can't complain about the quality vs the price. It would be nice to be able to buy American but quite frankly, often American made stuff isn't any better and can be 5 or more times the cost.

    Wayne
     
  13. jpfabricator

    jpfabricator United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I bought the hilti style hammer drill that was on sale. With a 20 % off card, the price was under $90, with the 5 piece 12" masonary bits. I have used it punch over a hundred holes with no problem. I have rented this style drill before for $45 a day, without bit, so I figure Im ahead by 3 rentals.:)

    Sent from my H866C
     
  14. 66FJ40

    66FJ40 Active User Active Member

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    Have been very pleased with these from HF:

    44" base tool roller cabinet
    60 gal, 5 hp US Gen air compressor
    media blast cabinet--did a couple of minor upgrages
    hvlp spray gun--cheap model, has 16 in part number
    air die tool--has taken as much use as the I/R model
    chip brushes and bench brushes---regular buy to maintain supply

    4x12 fabric drop cloth at $8---cut in half makes excellent tool covers

    tool stands; have bought couple of different sizes; well made and sturdy (much better than C-man)

    mig welder cart--yesterday's buy; nicer than one I bought with the mig that had Miller on box
     
  15. kwoodhands

    kwoodhands United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    I bought the HF 4 x 6 band saw about 5 years ago. It was on sale plus I had a coupon for 20% off.I paid about $159.00 I think . I have it working fine now,only took about 25 hours of modifying and trashing the blade cover. I should have spent another $100.00 and bought a Jet or Grizzly.
    I had to mill and remake the pivot to get close to plumb and square cuts. Adjusting the rollers was easy enough after the pivot was modified.The transmission gunk was replaced with the correct oil.
    The blade stretched to the point it could not be tensioned. I replaced the stock blade with a Morse bimetal 14 tpi blade.
    I bought a few things from HF that I am satisfied with,parallels, magnifying head band, compressor hose etc.I don't even look at anything with a power cord.
    mike
     
  16. Maddogmech1

    Maddogmech1 United States Active User Active Member

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    I purchased the Eastwood Versa Cut 40 amp and have been very pleased with it. Comes with a 3-year warranty, which is unheard of with this kind of equipment. It will do 1/2 plate, but not very pretty of a cut. If you are looking for precise cuts in 1/2", I'd go with a 60 amp, also available at Eastwood. The HF cutters just look too cheap with not much support after the sale. Same price range too


    ---------------------------------Why buy something when you can build it for twice the price!
     
  17. tmihelick

    tmihelick United States Iron Registered Member

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    I have a good 50/50 mix of HF and name brand tools. I try to get something decent for tools I use often. For specialty stuff or things I will use once or twice then they will collect dust. A few of the Jems. Have been the 5 drawer tool cart I bought it about 2 years ago. I was working at a place that builds custom water jets. Used it every day up to a year ago I gave it to my brother and he is a diesel mechanic who treats it like trash. And its still intact. I also got a dial indicator with 1" travel it is pretty nice. The fail is the fancyest wood lathe they sell. I bought it for my moms bday. The castings on the headstock were cracked, I exchanged it only to find the exchanged one had same problem. In the end I drove to 2 diff harbor freights they all were cracked I argued with the manager BC I was driving all day trying to clear this up and I didn't want to go home empty handed. He discounted it extremely so I decided to take it. In the end the headstock got worse and it became loose and potentially dangerous. I could not weld the low quality casting so I created a welded steel cage to clamp it together and attached it with a few bolts. In the end she uses it all the time so its not a com peat fail Also the $20 tool set they sell for it was garbage until I hardened then re ground them.

    Sent from my XT907 using Tapatalk
     
  18. cjtoombs

    cjtoombs United States Active User Active Member

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    The Good:

    I have the 13 x 40 lathe, and it has been good, except that the change gear box leaks, and I havn't been able to locate the leak and fix it (in spite of removing and dissasembling it). I think I am going to take it back off and grease the gears and call it good. If I were going to get one of these lathes today, I would get one that doesnt have the sealed change gear box (since it didn't stay sealed anyway). Overall it's been a good machine and made a lot of chips.

    Engine Hoist, grinder stand, engine stand, floor jack, Hand tools, abrasives, dog beds, bench with casti iron ends and wood slats, sandblasting cabinet, parts washer, cement mixer, Porta power, casters, 1 hp electric motor for my drill press.

    The Bad:

    Air tools in general. I have written them off for air tools. I got an air crimper, longboard sander and air hacksaw that didn't work right out of the box. I've had two of thier air niblers and on both of them the pintle broke, well before I think it should have. I will no longer buy air tools there. I also bought a hydraulic gear puller that crapped out as well.

    The Ugly:

    The motor went out on the drill press, but that was after a number of years of use. Throw away the chuck that it comes with and buy a Jacobs. The belt changing mechanism won't stay tight, so I drive a wooden wedge into it to keep the belt from loosening when in use. I just don't like the whole belt changing mess, I'm going to do something about it (some day).

    The 12" disc sander, which I bought as a display unit and got a great deal on has been a great addition to the shop, I use it all the time. That being said, when it was new, I had to remove the sanding disk and face it, as it was warped about .040. That requied that I rebalance it. If you don't have the means to face a 12" diameter cast iron disk, I would pass on this one. Oh, and don't bother with HFs disks. They last not time and are murder to get off the plate. Get some good quality disks like 3M. They last 10 times longer and don't have quite the mess to scrape off the wheel (they are also much more expensive, but when you spend 45 minutes changing a disk because you have to scrape ALL the old one off, the price seems worth it).

    The Baldor look alike carbide grinder. Again, this has been a good tool and I got a great deal on it, but I had to debur the tables to get them to move, and they still arn't smooth. I also had to weld up the aluminum hubs and re-cut them to get them to properly center the wheels, and then ballance the wheels. The wheels it comes with are so bad you may have to put a bolt and nut in one of the extra holes to get it ballanced. I have one o the original wheels on one side that I ballanced and a diamond wheel on the other side that required no ballancing and it runs smooth, now.
     
  19. Fabrickator

    Fabrickator United States Active User Active Member

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    Harbor Freight...wow. I remember back before they were in most every major city and a local friend started the first "Taiwan Tool Store" I ever saw and we joked about it. I bought a Floor Standing Drill Press in 1979 for about $100 and I still use it today, and I do mean that - I used it today! I've never done anything to it including changing the belt that's coming apart. It's OK for what it is. How accurate does a hole through 1/4" plate have to be if your bit can follow a center punch?

    For the most part, I believe in buying quality tools if it's for professional work. When I was wrenching Harley's in the 70-80's, I invested in nothing but Snap-On tools (quality, comfort and respect). When I started buying expensive machinery, I decided that I can't afford to buy a new South Bend lathe and so I bought a import and made several mods to increase the ease of use, reliability and accuracy.

    As far as tools I've purchased from HF, I can name a bunch of small stuff, a few mid-size things (sander, saw, hand tools) and I the only large purchase would be a new $200 air compressor (it's noisy as hell).
     
  20. CluelessNewB

    CluelessNewB Active Resistor H-M Supporter-Premium

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    We just got a new Harbor Freight in South Portland ME a few weeks ago. Picked up a handful of free stuff, tape measure, magnetic parts tray, flashlight. My wife bought a set of number-letter stamps (for copper jewelry) they had a bad letter "R". A few days later we brought it back and exchanged it for another which had a different bad letter "F" went back inside and they combined the sets to make one good one. (got more free stuff). I picked up one of the 3" electric cutoff tools since I had a good coupon and it was recommended by a neighbor. I haven't used it yet but it seems worth what I paid for it. I looked at a few things like the MIG cart but decided to pass since it looked like junk and weight capacity was listed as only 100lbs which seemed very, very optimistic to me. The store and everything we took home smells like burning tires.
     
  21. Walltoddj

    Walltoddj Active User Active Member

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    Just like everything in life you get what you pay for. I've had some good worth while tools and I've had some crap I've brought right back. I've got a 7x10 mini lathe, a 6x48 w/12 disk sander, a 1000lb hyd lift table, and a few other toys. The thing I still have I've had for awhile and they work well and serve their purpose so I still buy from them.

    Todd
     
  22. Squatchhhammer

    Squatchhhammer Active User Active Member

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    Its really a grab bag for what you want. For cheap and sometimes one offs, HF is good for that. If the one time tool lasts longer than you needed it, well you get your moneys worth out of it. I do own a digital calipers from them and a set of mics because I got them as presents. Mics are good but nothing like the names when it comes down to having a digital set but for something needed and not costing much they work pretty well. The other thing I got was a screwdriver set and hex sets for both standard and metric.
     
  23. zman

    zman Active User Active Member

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    The switches were getting a little weird on most of them, both the Chicagos and the Drill Masters. Up on the left side, hard to set, and too easy to knock off. At least the Chicago Pro kept the paddle switch.
    Happy to say, though, that judging by this week's catalog, they moved 'em all back up where you can reach them, up on top, right in front of your thumb. And i got to respond to my own post, 5 months later, heh heh.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2017
  24. visenfile

    visenfile United States Active User H-M Supporter-Premium

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    Very leery of edged and cutting tools unless Drillmaster or some non-Chinese source e.g., bought a set of (get ready) Russian metal drills-excellent. Also the the little pack of slitting saws good (used on plex). Sleazy feeling power planer has been very good, trimmed doors, warped deck joists, can sharpen the cutters easily. Early "600 ft lb" air hammer a huge joke-After 10 years and no receipt local retail sold me a new "earthquake" for $10-it is much better except for nose piece into socket which is not easy. Thirty ton press and hydraulic jacks -good. Circular sander good, but sw failed. Mill drill good so far. Hi temp KE thermocouple good.
    Big red sandblaster -good sometimes-mostly big problem with clogs thought to be moisture . Vises good. Aluminum punch set-does not work. Slide hammer-good. Ten ton hydraulic portable-good. Vacuum box (intended for AC work)-have used it to bleed brakes for 20 years. Wrenches India -fair to poor. Grinder buffer with stand-good. Grinder wheels 8" -fair sometimes not concentric , arbor must be opened for some shafts. Metal cutoff wheels-ok. Wood rasps ok. Tiny flashlites-very handy. Electric drill (hand) rough, but ok. "Warehouse Misc"- hose clamps have been worthless,still, just bought the latest hoping better,Copper washers -good, O rings unknown, Nyloc nuts-good. End mill set -good. Parallels-ok. Machine vises fair to poor. Elect stethoscope (trying to detect bad wheel bearings)-surprisingly good. Aluminum scoop shovel-good, at least 1/2 going price.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  25. ManicMechanic

    ManicMechanic Swarf Registered Member

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    I can't rate Harbor Frieght as a whole. I purchase from Harbor Freight. I like Harbor Freight. I hate (Ok Dislike) Harbor Freight. There are some items that work just fine for what I need and how often I use it. I purchased a set of Cobalt drill bits. The large set with the lettered, numbered and fractional sizes. They seemed "OK". I learned that the had a cobalt coating. I have another set of cobalt bits. (Snap-On and a small set of Matcos) They don't compare. The coated bits from H.F. are better than the titanium coated bits from anywhere. Once they are sharpened they are an acceptable ordinary drill bit. On automotive work there are times when a semi disposable drill bit is just what I need. With care and good lubrication the H.F. cobalts have a place. It did give me a nice metal box, indexed for the sizes. I replace them with various types of bits, black oxide, real cobalt, etc. It depends on the size and what I may have in loose bits. I do like their rolls of emery cloth as I use a lot of it. It is not as good as more expensive name brand rolls, however the much lower cost offsets the quality because I use a lot of it on jobs that make it useless after a while due to grease, dirt, etc. I have a few power tools. I hate to borrow tools, so I will get certain ones from H.F. if I don't expect hard use. I have, however been pleasantly surprised by a couple tools that I expected light use, then ended up using them often and hard. I read the reviews (which sometimes help) and it just depends.
     
  26. Andre

    Andre Active User Active Member

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    HF Digital Multimeters are a great buy. Fairly accurate and easier to use.
     
  27. Fabrickator

    Fabrickator United States Active User Active Member

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    My Delta 4" belt/6" disk sander finally died after 20 years and so I shopped around for a new one. I looked at Enco, HF and others and found that HF advertised a 3/4 hp motor, so I went with it. I wasn't surprised that they "mis-printed" the specs and it's only 1/3 hp like all of the rest. After setting it up, it's basically a POS, but for the price I paid it'll do for now ($60 on sale w/coupons). I certainly don't expect it to last 20 years like the Delta, and I probably should have taken the clerk's advice and bought the ext. warranty...

    I was also shopping some machine tool websites for a nice set of new drills to replace my 20 YO set of Hanson's. I saw them on sale @ HF for $10 and thought, "how bad can they be?" I got home and chucked every one and found 4 that were mis-ground and I had to regrind them before they were even usable. Go figure.

    :roflmao:
     
  28. projectnut

    projectnut United States Active Member Active Member

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    Over the years I've purchased a few items from Harbor freight. The 2 most successful purchases have been hydraulic tables. I have 1 that's rated for 500 lbs. and a second rated for 1,000 lbs. Both have held up well. I've also purchased several 2,000 lb. and 3,000 lb. winches. While I've never attempted to find our their maximum capacity I do find they work well for lifting castings up to 500 lbs., and pulling trailers out of the mud.

    My least successful purchase was a pedestal grinder. The shaft was not true and caused the wheels to wobble. It took a fair amount of effort to disassemble it and straighten the shaft. It works fine now but I probably spent 20 hours getting it to work right. If I had known at the time what it was going to take to make it work properly I probably would have just returned it.

    Once I tried some lathe tooling. I found I got what I paid for. If it's an item I need for a particular job and the alternative is an outrageously expensive tool from one of the machine tool houses I'll take a chance. For most things I find patiently looking for used industrial tools a better choice. While generally their tools are adequate they aren't up to the standards of industrial tools.

    To be fair there is a surplus dealer in our area that specializes in industrial machine tools. I frequent the place every few weeks and have found many lightly used machines, and new tooling at less than the cost of HF tools.
     
  29. Ghoulardi

    Ghoulardi Active User Active Member

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    6" dial calipers for $16. Hard to beat at that price. Very accurate when checked against my Jo blacks. While I was there I needed small button cells for my readouts Been payin' around $5 ea at Radio Shack. HF had them on sale for 39 cents ea. {reg 49 cents). Bought 6. We'll see how they last but at that price who cares? :jester:
     
  30. Marco Bernardini

    Marco Bernardini Active User Active Member

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    Diano San Pietro

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    In Italy we don't have Harbor Freight, but there are some brands selling products of a similar quality, as I understood from the previous posts.
    The most diffused brand here is Valex.
    I'm sure if you look at their catalog you'll find many things identical to those sold by HF:
    http://valex.it/webvalex/valeximg.n...ILE/MENU_PROMOZIONI_PRIMAVERA_ESTATE_2014.pdf
    (Remember: 1 euro =~ $1.39)
    BTW, the price of my drill press doubled since November 2009, and I think it totally don't worth 100 euro.
    Some things are good (for the price), some other are just "natural fertilizer", but often we have to buy these products because in the area where we live there is nothing else.
    Alas, we don't have a "middle range" of tools: there is a large empty gap between cheap Chinese things and 4-figures industrial machines, but to explain this I'd have to go very deep into historical, cultural and political reasons (I'm thinking to write a book about this gap, anyway).
     

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