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Rate the Harbor Freight Tools Thread- Pass or Fail?

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Charley Davidson

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Anybody have experience with the Harbor freight soda blaster? I have a bid in on a small job stripping paint off of a concrete porch about 4x4. They want to leave it natural concrete. If it works ok I would be farther ahead buying one than renting as I would have another useful tool and a couple bucks in my pocket.
http://www.harborfreight.com/40-lb-portable-soda-blaster-67625.html
 

restoreit1

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I purchased a band saw blade welder 5 years ago ( no longer listed) that is still going strong.

spot welder(110 volts)

10 ton press does every thing I need.

Sand blast cabinet, have wore out 2 nozzles but the cabinet is great.

Had a inverter TIG welder until I moved up to a miller but it also preformed well.

Air riveter works great riveting AK receivers.

Tool carts/all do the job.

Shop supplies

HF is good to me
 

Ebel440

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I have had good results with my tools from harbor freight and one bad. I try to check reviews on the web before making any large purchases.
The good tools if gotten are as follows

They sell a set of carbide mini drills and rasps is what I believe the package says around 7$ they are actually drills and End mills about 20 in the package. These are 1/8 shank micro drills and End mills the drills seem to be carbide tips brazed to a steel shank I have gotten from .012 to .125 diameter. The end mills are solid carbide 2 flute I think I have gotten .018 to .125 diameter. The sets are a mix of tools and sizes I look for the larger sizes and more end mills. Some sets seem to be more drills then ems. I have used these for production parts when I needed a size we did not have on hand I have used them on invar, kovar, aluminum copper and plastics they work as well as the "real" tools that sell for 5$ or more each. This is by far the best thing I have ever gotten from HF for the money

A blade for my 12" bandsaw I think it's a 42" blade with fine teeth not sure of the tpi but it's better then the one I got at the big orange store. Cuts aluminum, magnesium and plastics well my saw runs to fast for steel but the package says it can cut it

The 20$ reciprocating saw always on sale or a coupon. I have had mine for over 2 years and use regularly I have cut steel aluminum wood and most recently used it to cut roots from 20 tree stumps I was digging out of my lawn. I had it plunged into the dirt up to the front hand guard and filled with mud and dirt still works fine. I wouldn't have even tried that with an expensive one

The cheapest oscillating saw I think it was 20$ as well I bought it to scrape carpet and glue off a concrete floor worked great. I have also used it to cut wood and plastic molding and pvc pipe it cuts fast and nice clean cuts. I use hf blades which have worked well except when a contractor my wife hired decided to use it with the included blade to try and cut steel it destroyed the blade but I bought a metal cutting blade and it works fine.

A set of metric and standard stub length and regular length box wrenches on sale again for around 20$ . They have taken a lot of abuse I bought them to remove ahead studs from a vw vanagon engine. Some of the studs were so tight I had to double nut and weld the upper nut to the stud then used a pipe over the wrench and the wrenches had no damage at all.

The 1.5" 14 amp electric wood chipper I think it was 120$ I used it for weeks chipping the branches from 20 , 20' ceder trees it chipped anything I fit in. It was a very light wood so I don't know how it would work with harder woods. It would jam once in a while usually when jamming a bunch of smaller branches in at once. Easy enough to open and clear out. The blades came loose after about 10 hours I do not think they were tight enough from the factory I tightened them and they stayed tight.

Other cheaper tools which I have bought and work well include a rivet gun, screwdrivers, wood chisels, sawzall blades and more I'm forgetting right now

The bad items follow

A 18 gauge nailer stapler air powered less then 20$ the first one I bought shot 3 staples then gave up. I returned to a different store and got another with a different lot number on it and has worked well jamming once in a while but it may have been due to me loading nails in the wrong side I haven't used it since I discovered that but a contractor who worked on my house used it instead of his own porter cable?
 

brightonmike

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Guess I lucked out on the 4x6 bandsaw. Only had it about a month or so, but it cuts straight, the cutoff switch worked fine right out of the box with no adjustment. I did buy a spare bimetal blade but the blade is cutting 303 stainless just fine for now, so I guess i'll leave it on there. I haven't adjusted anything. we'll see how long this lasts
 

Andre

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HF/CM chainsaw blade sharpener. Works nice, a hair fussy with the clamp but once you do one chain you can do the next in minutes.

HF 18" handle crescent adjustable wrench. Very nice, I have groinked on it with no fails. Cheap, too.
 

Lornie McCullough

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I like to buy their wrench sets, and disperse them individually around the shop attached to the machines that need set up all the time. Much better quality than the stamped wrenches that come with the machines, and always right there where and when I need them.
 

GarageGuy

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I own a complete mixed bag of tools, including Snap-on, Craftsman, Husky, SK, Thorson, and many others. I don't have any allegiance to any brand, as every brand has their winners and losers.

I *always* check the on-line reviews before I buy a HF item to see if it is OK, or "junque". Usually you can tell if the tool needs a minor alteration, or is just a fail. Some of the reviewers are very knowledgeable, and some are clueless. You can usually tell if you read between the lines.

I've been using the hand held infra-red laser thermometer for years with excellent results. I originally bought it to monitor the turkey fryer temperature, but use it for all kinds of things now. Great for monitoring powder coat oven temps.

The carbide tipped cutting tools (lathe) are brittle and usually chip on the first couple of passes. I won't buy them again.

I bought the $10 (4 1/4") diamond cutting wheel (it comes with a red abrasive wheel in the same pkg) that I think is a replacement for their chainsaw or circular saw sharpener. It works excellent on my 5" grinder for sharpening TIG tungstens and touching up chipped carbide tipped cutting tools.

I bought the little bench top drill press at least 10 years ago (it cost $45 back then), and it has worked OK. Not very precision, but usable. It hasn't broken! It does complain a lot when it is very cold, though.

The cheap tarps, bench brushes, and batteries are regular favorites.

The little coin cell batteries are dirt cheap, and last a long time in my Igaging DROs, and garage door remote controls. The 24 packs of the alkaline AA and AAA batteries ($5 with coupon) work good, and I've been using them exclusively instead of the name brands. It works out to about $20 for 96 batteries.

My $125 (1/2") Craftsman digital torque wrench broke after 6 months of use, and Sears informed me that it had a 90 day warranty. I bought the HF 1/2" torque wrench and it has been working great for over a year. It only cost me $20. It is used mostly for lug nuts, with an occasional set of head bolts thrown in.

I like the 6" dial and digital calipers, although the digital one times out and shuts off while I'm making a pass or two on the lathe, and that is annoying. They seem to be fairly accurate. Also have the digital angle gauge. I just used it to level my lathe in the garage. I was impressed with it's sensitivity. It also likes to shut off while I'm making adjustments, and that is annoying. I would rather just buy more batteries.

The dial indicators are good for centering work in my 4 jaw chuck, and I certainly wouldn't feel as bad about damaging one as I would with my Starrett or B&S.

The little 9 LED flashlights are awesome. At a buck (on sale) you can have one everywhere. Out of a couple dozen, I've only had one bad one.

The LED headband light is a fail, though. If you bump it at all, the light part separates from the headband and falls, breaking open and scattering the batteries on impact.

The 3 piece set of folding allen wrenches (SAE, Metric, and Torx) are pretty good. It is handy to have them next to the lathe or mill, and the tips have lasted better than my Craftsman T-handled allen wrenches.

Those are just a few off the top of my head. Your mileage may vary.

GG
 

Charles Spencer

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As others have said, you have to look carefully at what you are buying. Also, the listed capabilities are blatant propaganda. And you frequently have to tweak their tools to get them to perform satisfactorily.

That being said, I have had some successes and failures with them.

In my younger days I mostly went to Sears for tools I used at home, discount department stores for one use items, and the many industrial suppliers we had around here for work tools. Each of these were priced accordingly, though we did get a price break by being located near so many major manufacturers (Starret, Brown & Sharp, etc.). Now in my opinion Sears quality isn't what it used to be, though the prices are also not as high comparatively. So I basically believe there are three price ranges now: cheap, really cheap, and very expensive. I think we all know where Harbor Freight falls in this scheme.

With that as a background, here are thoughts on Harbor Freight items I have purchased:

PASS C Clamps: You can never have too many. Also it pleases me when I don't have to use an assortment of sizes that aren't exactly suitable. I like them a lot.

MAJOR FAIL: 1,000 Pound pickup truck crane (60732): I used it once to pick up a 350 lb item. It was set in the 750 lb position. The cheap cast collar on the jack shattered and the thing was stuck in place.

PASS Axe (937757): Good blade, solid, it chops.

PASS Flashlights (69112): For Free or around $1.00 each these are fantastic. I keep them near machines so one is always handy for a quick peek at something. I also mounted one in a short section of pipe using a binder clip and a small hose clamp. I can set it up and aim it at the piece I am working on, leaving my hands free.

PASS Pick set (66836): Very handy for cleaning small areas/recesses in parts.

PASS Moving dolly (39757) Good for schlepping things around, especially as I got mine for $8.00 on sale.

PASS 5 gallon shop vac (94282): I got mine on sale for around $35.00. I use it on my woodworking tools to suck up sawdust and in the shop for general cleanup.

PASS 2 drum rock tumbler (67632): Bought one when I was in Afghanistan, which has a large number of interesting rocks and minerals. Used it throughout my deployment for myself and other guys. Bringing back unfinished rocks is illegal so a lot of guys got to keep free souvenirs due to this machine.

PASS Ear muffs (43768): Great for the price (around $4.00). I wish I had used these when I was younger so I wouldn't have some hearing loss now. I always strongly encourage using hearing protection.

FAIL Wire brushes, both hand and tool mounted: I think they stick the wires on with school art paste. They seem to fall of almost immediately.

FAIL Hacksaw blades: Don't cut well and wear out fast. Irwins are a much better deal.

PASS Bench grinder (37822): The tool rests and wheels are junk, but the grinder itself has served me well. I put Norton stones on it and fabricated a better rest for the fine side. I use no rest for the coarse side as I generally grind freehand.

There are probably more, but that's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Charles
 

110octane

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As Mr. Spencer says (interpretation) there a some good values to be had at HF and some total failures. I have noticed that over the past several years that Harbor Freight is marketing towards more consumer products. They sold some very good Russian made MIG welders about 10 years ago that were excellent. Of course, one would have to make their own replacement parts; once they discontinue something, and that is often, forget any parts or service. HF has discontinued a lot of commercial/industrial items. They don't sell wheelbarrows any longer (?).

As to the mention of hacksaw blades, I couldn't agree more. However, I do want to note that I bought some very reasonably priced 3" T-shank jig saw blades, "Warrior, Item 68929"-21 tpi metal cutting, and I have found them to be outstanding for cutting metal. I have cut 3/16" mild steel plate and some 14 gauge with them. They out perform the expensive equivalent Bosch made in Switzerland by a noticeable factor. I don't want to overstate things, but these are the best jig saw blades for metal I have ever used. I just hope that the next batch I buy is from the same labor camp and heat treated in the exact same fashion, or I will be eating crow on here.

Regards, Geoff Morgan
 

Mark in Indiana

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Hi Friends,

I will be the first to admit that I am a tool snob. Years of using tools in industrial maintenance, I'm more comfortable with the quality name brands. I would never buy anything that my safety would depend on (ex. electrical meters) or many precision measurement tools (calipers). However, in my opinion, HF is a great source for "seldom use" tools. They also sell some excellent quality tools.

Below is a partial list of my P & F HF tools:

1. Parallel set (#789): Pass+. I paid around $22.00 with a coupon. Thought they would be fine for my level of milling preciseness. They preformed well and found them to be very accurate after measuring a couple of sets.

2. HLVP 20 oz. gravity feed paint gun (#67181): Pass+. For around $11.00 on sale you can't beat it. I bought one 5 years ago to paint a motorcycle (I'm not a professional painter...I just pretend to be one). After setting my pressure, flow & pattern, It gave me as good a job as a $200.00 gun. Currently I use it to paint wood & metal working equipment in my shop.

3. Any of their vises. Mechanics, machine, or woodworking: Fail-. I restore vintage American vises so I can compare them. HF vise castings are way too light. The jaw movement is waaaay too sloppy.

4. Hammer drill (#69274): Pass. My wife bought one for me on Christmas a couple of years ago for around $70.00. I've used it 3 times with no problem. I couldn't rent one for a day at that price.

5. Open side hose reel (#46342): Pass. I've had mine for 7 years and it's still doing it's job. I didn't like the crank handle that it came with, so I replaced it with a high quality one. Be sure to blow out the ports before you use it. You might find shavings in it.

6. Low profile transmission jack (#61232): Pass. I bought mine around 10 years ago for a one time job of rebuilding a transfer case. Since then it got me through 4 clutch jobs. The only issue that I had was the retaining collar on the jack screw, which was replaced.

7. Any of the LED flashlights: Pass+. I use the 27 LED light when I go pickin' for tools & equipment in a barn or shed. The ones that you get for free with the coupons, I use every day.




Happy trails
 

ericc

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I like good quality tools, but I also like "bad" quality tools. The 7" sander-polisher is one of these. It is cheap, weak, and often is found on sale for $29.99. Mine is used exclusively for cleaning up forged ironwork with a power wire brush. But, the weak Harbor Freight is great for this application. First, it is slow (3600 RPM max speed), second, it is weak. Putting a wire wheel on a 4.5" Makita angle grinder, or even worse, on a B&D Wildcat is just scary. There are just too many stories of these things getting out of control. The Harbor Freight tool has caught when I have been tired or not paying attention, and there was no harm. Also, if you work it too hard (which means that you are tired, and you should take a break) it will emit a "I'm working too hard smell." If you keep working, it will poop out and you will have to buy another one. I would rather receive that kind of reminder than the slashed belly kind of reminder :phew:.
 

MikeWi

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I bought their lawn tractor/atv lift http://www.harborfreight.com/high-lift-riding-lawn-mower-atv-lift-60395.html a while ago and only now got around to trying it.
Seems my 50" Cub Cadet is to heavy for the lift. The lift is rated at 300lb. and I find it hard to believe that lifting the front end of the mower would be to much for it (and how many ATVs would this work on then?), but it gets about 3" up and and it's limit valve kicks in and keeps it from going any higher.

Edit: finally figured out that I would of course need to unlock the rear axle so that the tractor could roll forward. Works like a charm now. Operator error as usual.:*****slap:
 
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Video_man

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Not a shop tool, but the #60341 Ratcheting Bypass Lopper (for trimming branches and stuff) is a big fail. The blades are soft as butter, causing them to bend apart sideways, rather than staying in alignment and cutting cleanly. Or cutting at all, in fact. Tightening the retaining nuts helped for a few minutes, but basically the metal just springs apart rather than cutting.
 

Pmedic828

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Transfer punch set - 29 piece set in plastic tray - looks good until you use them - if the dimple that marks the center don't smash flat, the punch bends.
 

brav65

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Transfer punch set - 29 piece set in plastic tray - looks good until you use them - if the dimple that marks the center don't smash flat, the punch bends.

Yes" I second this experience. Can anyone recommend a good quality set?
 

alloy

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Like others I've had mixed success with HF tools.

40lb blast cabinet. Fail.

I know others have this but for me it was worthless. I used over 1/2 tube of silicon to seal it up. The light was a joke, and it didn't have much sand flow at all. So I converted it to a pressure blast cabinet and it just leaked worse. I know there are kits to upgrade the cabinet, but I cut my losses and sold it for $100 and got a professional cabinet and converted it to pressure blast using one of the HF pressure blast tanks. See below.

http://www.harborfreight.com/40-lb-capacity-floor-blast-cabinet-68893.html.

110 Pressurized Abrasive Blaster. Pass.

Fairly happy with this unit. Used it for a long time with the 1/4 turn ball valve blast gun. It worked great for glass beads. But after a few months the beads wore out the nut that holds the nozzle on. Online there is a part list and it gives the part number for the nut and other parts. So I called and was on hold for 45 mins and was told NO parts are available for this unit. I asked why there was a parts list online and didn't gt an answer. I was told to look on ebay for spare parts. So I tried the HF dead-man gun. See Below.

http://www.harborfreight.com/110-lb-pressurized-abrasive-blaster-60696-10377.html

Abrasive Blasting Deadman Valve with 4 Ceramic Nozzles. Major FAIL

The valve wouldn't even close and seal at 50lb of pressure. There was a 1/16" gap between the nozzle and the sealing block. I took it back after about 1/2 hour of trying to make it work. I bought a deadman vale form Norther Tools and couldn't be happier. The spring is a little strong on the handle, so I take a break every few mins to rest my hand, but it seals and works great.

http://www.harborfreight.com/abrasive-blasting-deadman-valve-with-4-ceramic-nozzles-60491.html

Adjustable steel welding table. Pass

For the price it isn't bad. I like the slots in it that allow me to clamp something onto the table. I've found other uses for it besides welding.

http://www.harborfreight.com/adjustable-steel-welding-table-61369.html

100lb capacity welding cart. Pass..........barely.

It's fairly sturdy, had all the bolts it needed to put it together, even a few extra. But there is no handle and the biggest problem is the setup they use to secure the tank. It only has two chains, one is placed so low it just falls down to the bottom of the cart and does nothing. The other one is up high enough, but there is no "V" for the tank to seat into to keep it upright. So there is just the one chain trying to hold my 150 tank up. I'm thinking about cutting a couple of 2"x4"s with a "V" in them and attaching them to the back of the cart for the tank to seat into.


http://www.harborfreight.com/welding/welding-accessories/100-lb-capacity-welding-cart-61316.html

I have other HF tools and might write something up about them later. But for now these are the latest things I've got from them.
 
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Mark in Indiana

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Yes" I second this experience. Can anyone recommend a good quality set?
Spellmaco transfer punch set. :thumbzup3:

They will last a lifetime, as long as you don't use a sledge hammer on them. I've had my set for >30 years.




Happy Trails!
 

Mark in Indiana

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Just picked up a new HF Telescoping gauge set, at a flea market for 6$. It doesn't feel as smooth as a Starrett, but it seems to hold position well. For my hobby needs, I will give it a pass.
 
I

illbeda

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I don't normally shop there because of the quality of a lot of their junk... I mean stuff,sorry.
I wander in there from time to time just to do a visual and the stuff still
looks as cheap as it did 25 years ago,no improvement whatsoever.

I bought a used HF self standing Media Blasting Cabinet off craigslist.Its made from very thin
sheet and I had to scab on some scrap bed frame rails(very strong) onto the legs to keep it from
folding in on itself.It's now at a strength level where it should be.

I totally stay away from their bench grinders/buffers.They simply don't have enough iron
and copper to hold up against the heat.Especially the buffers,buyer beware....you get what
you pay for.Its that simple.I actually wound up designing and making my own buffer out of 1 inch
drill rod,couple of pillowblocks and a 1hp made in the USA Baldor motor,and some angle iron.

I tried their transfer punch set after much soul searching and wanting it to be acceptable,i really did.....
but it wasn't to be.I used 1 transfer punch 1 time on some HR steel and it totally wiped out the tip in one blow.Back
to the store it went.

McMaster Carr.......... ru there???

I believe the whole philosophy behind HF is to pray on the unenlightened and unlearned of the population,
not a seasoned mechanic,tinkerer(yes im a tinkerer)builder,anyone with experience working with hand
and power tools more than a few days a month.I think some people actually think they are getting a great
deal at Harbor Freight when they look over the sale ad's and see some items marked extremely low.Its a simple marketing
ploy to get you into the store and it works great on a lot of people.I guess that's why they are still around.

Just one more quick story about the HF angle grinder.I was working with one several years ago and and spilled some
Acetone or Paint Thinner,cant remember exactly now and it literally attacked the recycled plastic housing that
it was made from,totally ruining the tool.You can spill anything on a Metabo,Makita,Dewalt,etc with no ill effects.

It seems im still drawn to any place that sells hand and power tools though,I guess Harbor Freight is no exception.
I just look though,where is the exit:panic:
 

silence dogood

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Here's some things that I do with HF tools. 1) a one shot deal. I needed to drill some holes in concrete. Bought a HF rotary hammer. got the job done. Paid for itself and still works. 2) Under rate the specs. the arbor press I got cheap says 1000lbs. I try to keep it under 750. 3) Modify. bought their 6 piece pipe tap and die. Made inserts to hold 2 of the dies since HF does not seem to have a handle for them. Also use these mainly for chasing with lots of cutting oil. 4) change procedure. Transfer punch set works great for soft materials such as wood, plastic, and soft metals, On hard metals, I use a light tap, then go over with a center punch. Or I take a marker, then hand press with a slight turn using the transfer punch and follow with a center punch. I also heard one guy retempered his transfer punch set since it is made out of carbon steel (have not tried that yet). Mark
 

kizmit99

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I got one of these welding cabinet/carts from HF (item# 61705):
image_24024.jpg
I was very pleasantly surprised. The cart is very sturdy and works well. Definitely a PASS.
 

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Andre

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Harbor Freight 90* corner clamps for woodworking, one passed one failed. Two others have not been used. Just got some drive pin punches and one ton arbor press from HF for "Testing." :lmao:
 

epanzella

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To sum up HF I would say it's 2/3 the quality at 1/3 the price. Sometimes you just don't need a tool that will work all day long for 40 years.
 

Dusty

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How does Northern Tool compare to HF? Both are about hte same distance for me ( about 70 miles )
 

NightWing

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Let's see... I have the 4X6 bandsaw, motorcycle jack, mini tire changer, engine hoist and probably some other small stuff. Everything worked to my satisfaction. I get the fliers in the mail each month that are full of specials and coupons. My local store is about an hour away but worth the trip.
 

wolframore

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I've posted some great things for a great deal at Harbor Freight, I have some things that are just horrible also:

Mechanics Stethoscope - FAIL - doesn't stay on your ears because the metal "spring" doesn't spring" whole thing is cheap and feels like it will come apart any minute. But it does work.

Heavy Duty Chain Breaker - FAIL poor design does not hold the chain like other designs, and just doesn't work well.

Hand pump vacuum brake bleeder - FAIL but can be re-worked to PASS I got it a while ago and just had to use it recently. Would not hold pressure. Took it apart, cleaned it all up. Put a little silicone.... better... was still leaking. Changed the bleeder valve (auto tire type) Now it works great!

8 inch benchtop drill press - FAIL - poor run-out, vibration and cheap stamped metal stand and table bends and flexes. Horrible! Useless dim light, holes are not round - getting cleaner holes with a hand held drill... that's sad. Not sure how it fix it... might be a total waste of money.

Recently I've noticed their prices are getting higher so much that we can find better deals for no-name Chinese tools are other stores like: Menard's, Home Depot, Advance Auto, Wal-Mart. It's too bad. I miss some of the stuff they used to sell like their carbide tool & die grinder, rotary table and other machinist tools. Not sure what market they are going for but I personally do not like the changes. Higher price and worse tool/selection.
 

calstar

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Both items below are super deals!! PASS :thumbzup3:

Got a 1ton chain hoist(aka chain fall) for $29 on sale. I've used it several times on loads up to 500, worked great and didn't have to bother someone to help me lift, has already paid for itself plus some in convenience alone. Would never attempt any lift of more than 1000lbs with it, just don't trust it (but I may be wrong, one previous review here said he used to max capacity). I definitely recommend it for saving your back within reasonable weight limits, and it stores in about a 10x10x10" box.

3ton low profile(fits under anything over 2.75") hydraulic floor jack for about $90 on sale(isn't everything?) , great deal, saw them being used at a local tire sales dealer, if it's good for their daily use I figured it's ok for my sporadic use.

Brian
 
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royesses

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6 Amp Heavy Duty Variable Speed Portable Band Saw Chicago Electric Power Tools - item#47840 Pass

I purchased this a couple of months ago when on sale for $59.00 US. I used a 25% off coupon for a final cost of $44.00. The first thing I did was remove the motor and clean out the old dried grease. I packed it with moly-grease. Next I replaced the kung foo blade with a Lenox 24 TPI bi-metal blade. My son then cut a 1.125" 304 stainless tube in less than a minute. The cut was smooth and straight. I then cut a piece of 1" 4130 rod with the same results. It sure has saved me a bunch of time and muscle versus a hand held hack saw. I feel that this is a very good value.
 
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