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Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

  1. #1
    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck


    We all know there's a bunch of Harbor Freight tools that suck, my most recent favorite is their flap disks which seem to explode instantly upon contact with metal. That said, I've had some pretty good buys there that have allowed me to put a lot more useful tools in my garage I otherwise wouldn't be able to afford. A lot of these I wouldn't trust for everyday commercial use but for occasional garage use they've been great.

    2 ton engine hoist:
    http://m.harborfreight.com/shop-cran...obile_redirect
    At $220 this thing has been excellent. I've pulled and installed a few engines with it, picked one ton axles out of a pickup bed, and move heavy items around the shop. Significantly cheaper than "brand" hoists and the cylinder is the only part on it I couldn't fix with the welder and some scrap steel.

    Impact sockets
    http://m.harborfreight.com/13-piece-...obile_redirect
    $23 for a 13 piece set. I've been able to build a nice set of impacts both standard and metric with standard and deep well. I use these frequently with a quality impact wrench and have yet to break one.

    Tap and die set
    http://m.harborfreight.com/60-piece-...obile_redirect
    $40 and a great buy. I've used this tons of times for cleaning out threads on old rusty crap, fixing booger'd threads, tapping new holes, ect. Great to have in the tool box plus all of the taps and dies are available individually for when you break one.

    Lots more to list but I figured this would get the thread going. Discuss.

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    Last edited by loudbeard; 02-22-14 at 11:56 AM.
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    Permanent N00b -Dutch-'s Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    5-speed bench lathe

    I forget exactly how much I paid for it, $150-ish I think. Reviews were great and I've been happy with the performance. Don't buy the chisels they carry, though.

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    Mophead going grey dontpanic's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I'm happy with my electric impact wrench, too.

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    Lifer obsolete's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    For tools that aren't used very often I have no problem buying their stuff.

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    Lifer golden chicken's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I have quite a few tools that are from HF, probably the ones I use the most are 1/2" impact sockets and a 3" air cut off wheel.

    I have no problem buying hammers and large size wrenches and other seldom-used or practically unbreakable tools from there.

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    Don't bother me! R7's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    When I saw the thread title, first thing that came to my mind, there are none that don't suck!

    Wish I had better luck, everything I have bought there pretty much sucks, as I expected anyways.
    Bought a sand blaster, never got it to work correct.
    Bought some cutoff wheels and wire wheels thinking, how bad can they be? They fall apart as soon as they touch metal!
    Bought the large 1" drive socket set, have to fiddle with forward/reverse lever to make it work, and the sockets are oversized to the point where they damage the nut/bolt you are trying to remove.
    Recently bought a 1,000lb engine stand only to put a 700lb engine on it and find I need to use 2 pairs of vice grips to keep it from bending.
    Picked up some air hose fittings, they all leak..internal leaks, not the actual connection to the hose.
    Engine ring compressor, worked for 1 (yes ONE) piston install..I should have bought 8 of them, woulda saved me a trip to buy a good one!

    Only thing that was somewhat good for me, I bought 4 moving dolly's rated for 1,000lbs each and they have worked well...though I haven't come close to testing the weight limit.

    Most of the things I bought with intentions of one time use, maybe a twice. I've been frustrated with the shitty products to the point I'm never stepping foot in China again

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    Permanent N00b -Dutch-'s Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    Dude, you can get the stuff here. No need to go to China for Harbor Freight tools.

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  8. #8
    Lifer
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    I got a bunch of success:

    Pancake air compressor
    Accessories for that was a framing nailer and staple gun, both used to do baseboard in my house and reupholster.

    Safety wire tool (ok to be honest I've used nicer) I was in a short bind and was hoping for one..they had it.

    Paint gun.. you need to use a high capacity air tank for this, there are youtube instructions on how to make this A+

    All the free stuff..yes I always get extra screw drivers, today they just gave me a free multimeter... I was there to get a screw extractor since I broke my craftsman one and didn't want to brave the mall...it worked great.

    I have tons more success including ramps and rear stand.. it's not my pitbull stand, but it cost me $27? Awesome... the list goes on.

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    Last edited by rice_rocket; 02-22-14 at 04:26 PM.

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    Lifer Stromper's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck


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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I have bought two sliding clamps that seemed "adequate" at best. Very nearly everything else is at best, "single use tools" and more often, "no use garbage."

    When I absolutely, positively have no other choice because it's 8:30 on a Friday night and I have an emergency, ONE_TIME_ONLY job to do, I might drive the 1.5 miles from my machine shop to there for a tool I know might work once.

    As long as I can suspend my feelings about sending yet another dollar straight to China, Harbor Fright lives up to my very low expectations.

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    Lifer loudbeard's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I stay away from precision tools and anything with complex moving parts. For example the 1/2" drive impact sockets I have, not a perfect fit but close enough to do the job on a stuck 9/16" bolt without buggering the bolt head. That said there's a quality impact wrench and air compressor behind it.

    Extractor set I got from there has done a great job when needed. I have sets of 3, 6, and 12 ton jack stands that are great and use all the time.

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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    $70 ultrasonic parts cleanerr. Works excellent.

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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    Quote Originally Posted by dontpanic View Post
    I'm happy with my electric impact wrench, too.
    I bought one of those. Biggest piece of shit ever. Can't back out lugnuts set at 80-ftlbs. I've since bought a name-brand cordless that works 50x better.

    I have drawers full of HF hand tools that do just fine for my needs. All my oversized 1/2" drive sockets are HF and they do the job. I have a T-handle hex set that I use constantly, came from HF. Vice grips, deadblow hammer, safety wire pliers, etc. I buy zip ties, safety wire, heat shrink, lots of consumables there. All work. I'm setting up a small tool box for track days; most of it is HF.

    And the aluminum hydraulic floor jack. I love that thing.

    Oh, and the ultrasonic cleaner. Works the balls.

    If you make your living by your tools, you are probably better suited with something else. But for the rest of us..

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    Lifer obsolete's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    If you make your living by your tools, you are probably better suited with something else. But for the rest of us..
    Yup. Just like anything it's a matter of knowing what you're getting into and the where the value lies for you. most of my tools are Craftsman but I can tell you if I ever need to buy a ratchet again it won't be them or anything below them. I'll be buying a high dollar jobbie. But when I needed a pipe wrench to use maybe once a year HF it was.

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    Hand Bra Designer Garandman's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    Quote Originally Posted by ArticRubi View Post
    I stay away from precision tools and anything with complex moving parts. For example the 1/2" drive impact sockets I have, not a perfect fit but close enough to do the job on a stuck 9/16" bolt without buggering the bolt head.
    That's my strategy. Small sockets, hammers, etc.

    I've found some of the same tools sold at HF sold under other names at much higher prices. A tool cart we paid $99 for was $189 on sale at Sears. We also bought an occasional-use vacuum pump that we found was also sold elsewhere, at higher prices.

    Bought an automotive jump starter to jump start our boat and it barely started the boat, only after about a 10 minute soak. Returned it and bought a Clore that was only about $10 more and starts it in seconds.

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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    My buddy gave me this air compressor a few years ago as a housewarming gift. I've had no problems with it. For minor stuff like nail guns, filling tires, blowgun, occasional cutoff wheel, it's been great. I like that its on wheels too, so I can fill it up in the garage, unplug it, wheel it out into the driveway and fill car tires with the short coiled hose, rather than pulling out a 50' or 100' hose.

    http://www.harborfreight.com/2-horse...sor-68740.html

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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I took a sheet metal fabrication course last year from a guy that was the ultimate authority on which HF tools are garbage and which are the deal of the century. I remember he was a big fan of their clamps and I believe his favorite tool was their electric handheld sheet metal shear:

    http://www.harborfreight.com/18-gaug...ear-92148.html

    This tool is a copy of a very expensive German tool (which he also had), he said the HF version was about 85% as good for about 1/20th the price. He said he bought them two or three at a time.

    I think if you go to HF and just buy a tool randomly there's about a 70% chance you'll get a total piece of garbage. However there are some serious diamonds in the rough over there -- you have to read the reviews before you buy. All these tools come from different Chinese factories and you have no way to know whether the factory is a dirt floor shack with 6yo workers or a modern factory that also produces iPhone components.

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    Senior Member B440's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    Not sure if this is the one, but I bought the biggest crescent wrench they had. Sometimes you need to bring out the BFG on stubborn bolts/nuts.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/24-inch...nch-39621.html

    The "Predator" engines. Have one on my log splitter. You can always get these for a buck.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/65-hp-2...ine-69730.html

    Titanium Nitride drill bits. I buy the small ones in bulk. I usually break the shaft before they wear out (cordless drill use).
    http://www.harborfreight.com/1-8-eig...ack-93079.html

    Precision screwdrivers. These are excellent for electronics use.
    http://www.harborfreight.com/6-piece...set-96075.html

    I still have and use all of these products. Great prices too.

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    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    Quote Originally Posted by obsolete View Post
    Yup. Just like anything it's a matter of knowing what you're getting into and the where the value lies for you. most of my tools are Craftsman but I can tell you if I ever need to buy a ratchet again it won't be them or anything below them. I'll be buying a high dollar jobbie. But when I needed a pipe wrench to use maybe once a year HF it was.
    Exactly. The rest of my tool chest is Craftsman. Which I've also heard pros spit down on. Whatever. Been doing what I need for 10-15 years now. I've yet to 'wear out' a ratchet.

    I have family that wrench for a living. One has $14k just in his tool chest, nevermind the tools in it.

    That said, I've made some really bad purchases at HF. R7 mentioned the sandblast setup.. I have one as well; crap, pure crap. I mentioned the electric impact. Doesn't work for me. Some of their utility straps have turned .. defective .. very quickly. I'm sure there were others.

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    Lifer obsolete's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I have an old US ratchet that has been awesome for ever. I've completely shredded the Chinese ones. My biggest reason for going Craftsman is they are the cheapest no questions asked lifetime warranty company that is very accessible. I've never really been more than 15 minutes from a Sears. I'm just a hobby and home owner guy, would I love a 10k roller filled with snapon, obviously. Justifying that is completely impossible.

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    Lifer golden chicken's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    When I was just starting out, Craftsman was the value brand that allowed me to turn most bolts for under $300. I then upgraded my ratchet to a Snap-On but continued to turn Craftsman sockets. I love my Matco and Snap-On ratchets, but I don't mind skimping a little on the sockets where I needed to.

    I'm a little value-conscious on my tool boxes as well. I opted for a NAPA roller and top chest and a Blue Point cart. Under $1500 total. Do I yearn for a MAC Tech1000 or similar roller? Yes, but my current setup has done the job every day for 6+ years so far. It's hard for me to justify spending more than a bike or a car on a tool box.

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    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    Quote Originally Posted by obsolete View Post
    I've completely shredded the Chinese ones.
    I suppose that's a fair point. I think all (or most) of my Craftsman stuff is older US made. I have a 1/2" drive 'pro' series ratchet that is really nice and IMO on par with my uncle's Snap On stuff. I pray it never breaks. I'd hate to have to swap it for a newer chinese one.

    Doesn't HF warranty some of their hand tools?

    I've been buying some Kobalt stuff (the Lowe's brand) lately. It seems solid, on par with Craftsman. Also warrantied for life. And their stores are more convenient for me than Sears. Way more convenient than schlepping back to a HF store.

    Side note. I think HF has the worst in-store CS ever. Checking out takes forever.

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  23. #23
    Lifer obsolete's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I can't even count the times I've been in a full on row pulling on a rusted Jeep bolt only to have the ratchet let go and send me on a tumble. Took a few time punching myself in the face to learn to move my head.

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  24. #24
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    I won't ever by Crapsman again the result of poor customer service about 40 years ago, I went to Sears to get a replacement ratchet, not the first time that this particular ratchet had been replaced.

    when I got there, they told me they no longer replace ratchets, they give you a rebuild kit instead, great is that fixes it, but when the ratchet head is worn, even a rebuilt kit won't fix it, I proceeded to take the ratchet apart and install the rebuild in the store to demonstrate that it still slipped, and sure enuf, it did, sales person tells me "I'm sorry, we only do rebuilt kits now"

    I'm sure I just had a jerk sales person, that's ok, I no longer shop Sears or KMart

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  25. #25
    Lifer golden chicken's Avatar
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    Re: Harbor Freight tools that DON'T suck

    So, what do you use now instead? Has it ever worn out in the last 40 years of use? Was it resolved to your satisfaction?

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