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Old 08-07-2010, 08:21 PM   #1
blime81
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The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

While we all dream of a shop full of Snap On or Mac tools for many of us that simply isn't in the budget so we go to Harbor Freight (especially for that not used so often or need it right now tool).

I thought we could all post up what items we had picked up at Harbor Freight that were worth having and what to stay away from.

Here's a few that come to mind:

The Good
Bench Grinder (had mine for years and it's never missed a beat)
Heat Gun
Heat Shrink Tube (it's like $2 on sale for lots of it)
Solding Iron w/light (the case is cheesy but it works great for $10)
Multimeter (have a name brand for my box but these are cheap enough for every vehicle)
6 ton Jackstands
Vacuum gauge
Pickle fork (how can you mess this up?)
Digital Calipers (no kidding, these are as accurate as my Starret dial set and cost $10)
Spring loaded center punch


The Bad
Drill bits (soft or break way to easy)
Drill bit sharpener (won't sharpen even the above mentioned soft ones)
Grinding wheels (for a buck more you can buy dewalts that last)
Cut off wheels
Saw blades
All cordless tools (I've never bought, but a buddy picked up a few and battery life is laughable)
Most of their air tools are pretty weak (though I have a ratchet that isn't too bad)
Hand tools wrenches, screwdrivers etc (I've gotten these for free from their flyer coupons and figured hey it's free perfect for the truck box but the metal is just too soft for them to be useful)
Grinder

The Ugly
Pittman arm puller (shattered without my pittman arm moving at all)
Hole saws (useless unless you need a 2" hole in warm butter AND the blowmolded case broke the second time I opened it)


Probably a few more in all categories that I can't think of now.
There is probably another post out there that covers this but I couldn't find it.
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Last edited by blime81; 08-07-2010 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:08 PM   #2
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

This will probably save many from buying crappy stuff I don't have anything to add......... I hate cheap Chinese crap but getting hard to avoid.

Last edited by HOGDADDY; 08-08-2010 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:30 PM   #3
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

good:
large chop saw
pry bar set
welding magnets
welding cart

bad: tube notcher, works if u shim it

got a air compressor from em, ill let y'all know
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Old 08-08-2010, 01:55 PM   #4
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

I got quite a bit from them...

good:
2k? lb wheel dollies
3k lb jack stands
adj. height stool

OK:
3k lb aluminum jack
750lb 4wheel engine stand (not meant to roll?)
12ton press - (works but can get off center and bind left or right)

bad:
4.5" grinder - died after 10hrs or less of heavy use.

unknown:
heat gun


the items mentioned:
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:15 PM   #5
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

The good: Impact sockets. I got metric and standard, deep and regular. So far so good.
The bad: Plain vanilla spraygun. Wouldn't spray any paint out of it, no matter what the settings. Still need to send it back.
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:42 PM   #6
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

Here's another

Good
Heavy duty 36" pry bar $9
Worked great to help "assist" removing a crossmember after I got the rivets out.
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:12 AM   #7
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

Good -- 12 Ton jack stands.- Massive! And TALL! which is what I needed more than the weight. I dropped the truck on that stands. A good 2 inch fall when the spring shifted(axle install). All I got was a dull thud. Like I said. Massive.

-- 6 ton jack stands. - Never had the lest bit of problem.

Dead blow hammer. Beat the crap out of it for years. finally beat the rubber face off of one end. Still use it, but I bought another one.

-- Multi function tool-- one of those cutter, sander, jobs that oscillate the blade. The tool is amazing to use, but will it last? We'll see.

-- Pack of acid brushes. What can go wrong with a use once brush?

-- Pack of wire brushes. Again, short life is expected.

-- Blue Nitrile gloves. Other than the Smurf color, great gloves.

-- Two ply latex/Nitrile gloves. No Smurfs! Last longer than plain nitrile, thicker.

-- Engine stand. 4 wheels, 1000 lbs. Works OK for small blocks.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:47 AM   #8
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

X2 on the 4" grinders. A friend of mine had one that needed new brushes every other time he used it I think. Why else would it come with an extra set of brushes

Stay away from 1/2" power drills if you want to use them like a real drill. A helper of mine tried mixing thin set mortar for a tile job we were doing and he burned it up the second time he used it. I warned him, but he tried...
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:43 AM   #9
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

Here is my good and the trash can list.

Good
6 inch palm sander [air]
3 inch buffer [air] looks like a air drill,but the pads suck
chop saw,ok

BAD
6 inch backing pad for a DA
Casters
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:32 AM   #10
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

I like Harbor Fright for a lot of items. Have a look over at reviews on here:
http://hfreviews.com/
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Old 08-18-2010, 12:15 PM   #11
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

ive actually got a lot of use from my 4.5 grinder. beat on it alot and it hasnt died once.

my sazwall is another thing. ive replaced it about 10 times this summer. it has warranty. i use it when i clean the scrap i collect before i take it to the yard.
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:13 PM   #12
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

Snap ring pliers JUNK

Latest wrenches, so far so good. Jury is still out.

Greyhound 6.5 hp engine, has issues jury out on this too. have seen mostly good reviews however.

Disc/belt bench top sander JUNK

Floor pad (creeper style) Love it ! disposable I'd bet, who cares worth the $
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Old 08-18-2010, 01:18 PM   #13
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

I have had success with the following:

1000 lbs small furniture dolly ($9.99 on sale) Work great for trans, motors, furniture, and even engines. Not good for wheel dollys and a 95 explorer. Did the job, but bent the wheels on one. Straightened them out, and it works for light duty stuff still. I've bought 12 so far .

1000lbs 4 wheel Engine stand. Held a Buick 350 for over a year without tipping. Then held a Pontiac 3.8L motor for 2 years and then an old 3400 motor for 6 months. After all that, there was a slight downward bend, but still held weight and moved easily.

Palm sander. OK, but not for heavy work.

1/2" Beaker bar. Don't even bother. 1/2 a turn and the end broke off.

Glove like people mentioned are nice

4.5" cut off wheel 10 pack worked decent, but do have a shorter life than others.

$10 socket set. Surprisingly these work well as a junkyard tool set. Keep it in my bag and use it most often so I don't need to worry about leaving it there. Still break easily if you have rusty bolts, but work decent otherwise.

1/2" deep well impact set. Bought the metric one and it still works good today.

Die grinder - Unused as of yet.

Air Hammer - Used once. Was ok, but not great. need to try again before making a decision.
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Old 08-19-2010, 11:15 AM   #14
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

Good

- 2 ton foldable shop crane. Does what it's supposed to. 4+ years & several engines, no blown seals.

Bad

- 40 piece carbon tap & die set. Friend bought one of those (i know better) and they couldn't hold an edge for crap.

- red welding cart (for gas bottles). The bicycle tires only held air for a month.
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:11 PM   #15
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

Good: Creeper
Creeper seat- gets lots of use
4.5 inch grinder- so far so good
1000lb saw horse set
my $4.99 PRYBAR
solar powered shed light
florescent drop light
oil filter claw
adjustable wrenches
ball joint press and adapters
axle nut socket set

Bad: wrenches are cheap, work ok, just soft and size isn't exact
power steering pump pulley remover/installer, poor fitment of adapters
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Old 08-19-2010, 03:09 PM   #16
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

saw blades might as well not have teeth on 'em. don't even take them if they are free. not worth it.

hole saws work okay for woodworking soft pine. other than that forget it.
drill press works great!
4.5" grinder works great
sawzall works great if you get decent blades
impact sockets so far so good
drill bits suck, but okay for drilling in cinderblock walls and tossing.
screw drivers are okay, a little soft
Love the magnetic organizers
wire loom, cheaper than other autoparts store
heat shrink doesn't shrink as much as i would like but works okay.
the 6" buffer, sander, polisher isn't worth much. erratic speeds most of the time it is WOT or nothing
hand trucks are okay, but the wheels bend easily and get wobbly
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:51 PM   #17
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

ill go a head and throw my .02 cents up

Multi meter great for the price

latex gloves and acid brushes... what can go wrong with lets use it once and throw it away items...

Torque wrench... i was very schepticle on this one but i said what the hell for 20 bucks lets give it a try... im in the air force so i took it to our PMEL people... they calibrate items for us.. when i first got it it was right on point at all inch lbs.. well two years later i took it back and it still is right were it should be

Jack stands work great no problems what so ever
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:18 PM   #18
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

1/2inch Impact sockets work great
1/2inch impact extensions are great
3/8 inch Impact extensions are great.
All have been used daily at work and havent broken anything.
3 inch air cutoff tool. Used daily works fine. Just dont use there cutoff wheels
4pc prybar set great so far.
There regular jack and jackstands works fine
Ball point press works great.
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No more truck for now. Parted it out and sold everything to fund buying a house.Next truck will be another 67-72 most likely LS powered. Shortly I will be looking for preferably a 71 or 72 in decent condition on the cheap as long as it isn't a basket case I don't care about condition. Its the first time since I have had my license I havent had something fun to drive and I dont like it
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Old 12-11-2010, 10:37 AM   #19
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

the bad, this place and the people that buy from there are the reasons, we make nothing anymore, and why vicegrip is now also not made here..
I will gladly look for made in america,, as I don't want freedom to die without a shot fired,, wake up.
and everyone wonders why unemployment is 17% (the real #)
just keep buy'n junk..

Last edited by powerdriver 1958; 12-11-2010 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 12-11-2010, 10:44 AM   #20
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

the good
cherry picker
6" dial calipers
1" travel dial indicator with magnetic base

the bad:
the hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent on other stuff at the store. everything else fell apart right away, and is long gone. I am money ahead by buying non Chinese stuff and paying a bit more. I drive my old truck because its made of quality. I want the same from my tools. it doesnt have to be top of the line, but no more harbor freight for me. I just cant afford it.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:16 AM   #21
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

Quote:
Originally Posted by stich626 View Post
the bad, this place and the people that buy from there are the reasons, we make nothing anymore, and why vicegrip is now also not made here..
I will gladly look for made in america,, as I don't want freedom to die without a shot fired,, wake up.
and everyone wonders why unemployment is 17% (the real #)
just keep buy'n junk..
I agree in principle...but how do you expect anyone to own tools if they buy only made in america? That's a serious question. I would have an almost empty tool box if I had only made in the USA tools... I have purchased rigid power tools that at the time I knew were made in the USA, but only because I found them on clearance for SUPER cheap at a Home depot.... (like 75% off for new in box). I purchase used or clearance tools made in usa because that's all I can afford...but the used ones don't provide factory jobs and the clearance ones don't pay the wages needed anyways at the prices I buy

I could get into the economics of this and ways we can compete... but it would be too political and lock an otherwise usefull thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allensracing View Post
the good
the bad:
the hundreds and hundreds of dollars spent on other stuff at the store. everything else fell apart right away, and is long gone. I am money ahead by buying non Chinese stuff and paying a bit more. I drive my old truck because its made of quality. I want the same from my tools. it doesnt have to be top of the line, but no more harbor freight for me. I just cant afford it.
Why not just take it back and either get a new one or get a store credit? I won't buy cordless tools or other items that seem cheap by feel and the parts, but I've bought a couple angle grinders for under $10 on sale and have used them for many hours grinding on my nasty frame and suspension and grinding welds down...they held up better than a cheaper dewalt one my buddy had where the discs kept binding to the screw when it got hot...,

And...I a final note...purchased a "made in USA" bridge wet tile saw at Lowes. Got it on sale plus a 10% off coupon....ended up finding the EXACT same one with different paint and label on box but looked at display model and same motor for saw, same blade, and same pump to recirculate water.....and on sale at HF it was $120 less The saw has worked well for three complete bath remodels at my house and four others by friends/family....but I'd rather have paid $120 less for the same thing
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Last edited by powerdriver 1958; 12-11-2010 at 12:16 PM.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:24 AM   #22
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

I took a lot of stuff back. it got tedious after a while. and I have a funny story about the $10 grinders.
the company "diamond walnut" decided to buy a hundred of those grinders to save money. they got a fire inspection and guess what? they werent UL listed!
the fine was $500 per grinder.
if you like harbor freight, thats great. I would rather buy a tool once. I hate having things fail, returning things, etc.
i would much rather buy from a store that doesnt need a return policy.
someone needs to buy from harbor frieght. there are millions of chinese kids that really need a paycheck....

strictly my opinions, of course. and yes, I am very opinionated on this
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:47 AM   #23
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

I grew up with snap on tools. My dad spun wrenches for 25 years. I was the only kid on the block working on my bike with a 300 dollar wrench set. I also have just about given my first born to the snap on man. I have seen quality across the board drop. Snap on tools arent what they once were neither are mac,matco,craftsmen etc. Everyone has cut corners to make a cheaper product. Most people dont have an extra 100,000 dollars laying around to fill a tool box with snap on stuff. I use and abuse my tools and have to be able to trust what im using or I will get hurt and if im hurt im not working and no work = hungry kid. Im not willing to take chances like that. I do have some stuff from harbor freight in my box at work just because its absolutely insane to pay the money snap on wants for some tools. Axle nut sockets are like 50 bucks for an entire set at harbor freight yet snap on wants like 50 bucks a piece. Both have a lifetime warranty and you arent going to break either one I dont care whos name is on it. They are big obnoxious and strong. The point is American companies constantly are shipping jobs out of country and product quality suffers. Its almost impossible to buy all American made stuff. Even stuff from the ole snap on and matco trucks is coming out of China or taiwan
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No more truck for now. Parted it out and sold everything to fund buying a house.Next truck will be another 67-72 most likely LS powered. Shortly I will be looking for preferably a 71 or 72 in decent condition on the cheap as long as it isn't a basket case I don't care about condition. Its the first time since I have had my license I havent had something fun to drive and I dont like it
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:50 AM   #24
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

cable, you are absolutely correct about everything being made overseas now.
I do sometimes forget that buying american is a thing of the past
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:58 AM   #25
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Re: The Good, The Bad and Ugly from Harbor Freight

It trips me out to buy an overpriced snap on or blue point tool and see made in (insert third world sewer here). Its annoying and its hard but people have no choice but to shop wisely now. Harbor freight has allowed a lot of people to buy "specialty" tools that otherwise they would have no access to. Like the ball joint press for 40 bucks. That looks identical to the same unit otc sells for 350 dollars. I have used both A LOT and theres no difference. Theres good and bad with everything but the store and the products sold arent the problem. The problem goes much deeper than that within our country. But we cant get into that without it becoming political which never turns out good. So we will refrain.
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No more truck for now. Parted it out and sold everything to fund buying a house.Next truck will be another 67-72 most likely LS powered. Shortly I will be looking for preferably a 71 or 72 in decent condition on the cheap as long as it isn't a basket case I don't care about condition. Its the first time since I have had my license I havent had something fun to drive and I dont like it
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