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Harbor Freight Tools - Your Experiences


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#1 jdslednut OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 09:15 AM

The Tractorbynet forum has an interesting thread regarding Harbor Freight tools that don't suck. What are your experiences with their products? Which ones do you recommend that don't "suck?" Which ones would you stay away from?

#2 NUTNDUN OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 09:54 AM

We should have tractorbynet filtered as a dirty word LOL j/k

As for Harbor Frieght tools I think some of the stuff is ok. We bought our sandblaster from there. It works as it should and while there are a couple of things that need changed they are minor and to be expected. Tractor supply was close on the price but a little more expensive and it seemed like it would have been the exact same thing under another name.

I like northern tool for a lot of things. I haven't really bought many tools in the last couple years but I can see in the near future I will probably be adding to the toolbox.

#3 mjodrey OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 10:09 AM

We should have tractorbynet filtered as a dirty word LOL j/k

:bigrofl::bigrofl:

#4 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 10:45 AM

We should have tractorbynet filtered as a dirty word LOL j/k

As for Harbor Frieght tools I think some of the stuff is ok. We bought our sandblaster from there. It works as it should and while there are a couple of things that need changed they are minor and to be expected. Tractor supply was close on the price but a little more expensive and it seemed like it would have been the exact same thing under another name.

I like northern tool for a lot of things. I haven't really bought many tools in the last couple years but I can see in the near future I will probably be adding to the toolbox.



:bigrofl::bigrofl:



:bigrofl::bigrofl:

I have had bad experiences with lots of their electrical stuff. Bad drills, both corded & battery type....just not good. Gears & shafts in drills made of butter. Reciprocating saw works, but is weak as a kitten, so have to cut slow with it.
Bought a MIG welder & it made it's 1st arc for a split second...then NOTHING! I won't buy any welder or plasma cutter there period.
Bought my metal bandsaw from HF. Great bandsaw itself, but motor was junk. Tossed it & put on a good motor I already had, and bandsaw is the cat's meow now!
Air tools are super! Never had an issue with any & I have many of their air tools. With air tools, it's more in their care as to how well they perform & last.
Hand tools....can't beat them for the money. Never busted a wrench or a socket.
Pullers are good too. I have their chickenfoot puller & a special interior puller, like for pulling a bushing or bearing from it's center & it's done great and I've put the devil of pulls on both.
Metal working stuff: Their lathes & mills are pretty decent stuff! Used for their intended rating & you're good to go. Dial calipers are great, but don't get the battery type, go with std. Very accurate.
I'll add more as I think of things....lunch is ready!:D

Misc. tools are good as well. I have hole saw set, bushing driver set, their higher quality tap & die set, ball peen hammer set, 40lb sandblaster, their 2nd largest sandblast cabinet, and much more.
I shop there for most of my stuff. Rather buy higher quality American made, but simply can't afford, and hard to find these days too.
Most of my wrenches & sockets are Craftsman, but HF hand tools hold up well. Their impact sockets are super tough!

Edited by olcowhand, June 03, 2010 - 11:06 AM.


#5 daytime dave OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 01:44 PM

The last thing I bought there was a metric 3/4 socket set for my dad's farm. I spent 40.00. I have yet to use it. I do use the cheap safety glasses and knee pads tyey sell.

#6 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 02:46 PM

I have so many things from there, no way to remember them all. I have a couple different style mini torches from there also. Refill with butane. VERY handy tiny torches that I use a LOT.
On air tools, I do NOT recommend their air regulators....the type with water trap & oiler. The plastic bowls crack almost instantly. I 1st bought their cheapest one and the one bowl cracked in a year or so. So I got their best one and took an hour to install. The oiler bowl lasted all of 5 minutes! #@%$!

#7 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 02:56 PM

I have heard mixed reviews on their products......
I have not got anything from there in a while.

#8 jdslednut OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 03:31 PM

I've had good luck with their air tools and so far good luck with the portable tire changer. I have a mini tire changer on order to hopefully save some mounting money on all of those garden tractor tire changes I seem to be doing as of late. I would never, NEVER, buy any electrical tool from them. Everything I have had smoked and lost power right out of the box.:mad2:

#9 poncho62 ONLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 07:38 PM

Here in Canada, we don't have Harbor Freight, but have a chain called Princess Auto, which sells similar stuff....I have bought a couple of the Chinese knockoff engines, a big floor jack, air tools, grinding and cutting disks etc......All have been good. You can more or less tell by looking at the display item if its going to be any good.....most of the time anyways.

#10 Bill56 OFFLINE  

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Posted June 03, 2010 - 09:46 PM

I have bought items from them. I haven't purchased any electrical tools and, as others have stated, it probably is a good idea not to. I got some clamps from them a while back. Price was good, and I use them for woodworking, so they do not need to be super strength anyway. I have occasionally purchased some mechanics tools from them... mostly specialty items that I might use once in a great while, and can't justify spending the money for a name brand tool at 2-3 times the cost.

#11 Encrypt OFFLINE  

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Posted June 04, 2010 - 11:02 PM

I have to agree with George. I've bought tools from both Harbor Freight and Northern Tool. Here in Indiana we also have one called Wholesale Tool. Which is pretty good also. I usually buy tools from them if I really don't care and don't plan on using it that much... Now if I plan on buying tools that will get a lot of use then I buy American when I can. I live by the philosophy that you get what you pay for.

#12 hydriv OFFLINE  

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Posted June 05, 2010 - 07:41 AM

I usually buy tools from them if I really don't care and don't plan on using it that much... Now if I plan on buying tools that will get a lot of use then I buy American when I can. I live by the philosophy that you get what you pay for.


I'm not trying to start a war here but I see statements like this a lot on forums. There is the belief by many Americans that if you want the very best, then you have to buy products that are made in America. To me, that's a joke. American companies have made plenty of junk in the past but that fact is conveniently overlooked by many. Far too many American companies made items with the philosophy of "It's good enough.", instead of "Let's make the very best."

I grew up with names like RCA, Philco, Sylvania, Westinghouse, Stromberg-Carlson that made radios and televisions. Along came the Japanese companies like JVC, Sony, Panasonic, Hitachi, Pioneer, Denon etc and showed the world what quality was.

Chrysler, Ford and GM ruled the world when it came to car and truck manufacturing but now, Toyota is numero uno and the so-called Big 3 are working hard to scrape the skid mark off their undies as a result of the "unthinkable" taking place. Even the vehicles from the former Big 3 are loaded with parts from other countries and several models are based on "foreign platforms".

Recently, on another forum, a member wanted to buy American made shovels, rakes and other hand tools for her landscaping business. She was shocked to learn that one American company imported all of the steel heads for their line of tools from offshore, fitted them with wood handles and then labelled them "Made in America". Under the guidelines set down by the US government, they were entitled to use that label because American workers had inserted the handles and finished the manufacturing process.

Another American icon is Harley-Davidson. The old Harley's that were made before and slightly after the disasterous ownership of Harley by AMF, were all pieces of junk. Parts shook loose and fell off the bikes. Harley's broke down far too often. Ya.... all the Hog owners laughed at the Brit bikes and the "rice burners" from Japan but the Japanese bikes outperformed the Harley's in every way possible. Today, Harley is alive and well thanks to Japanese suspension, carbs and electrical components. Now, a Harley owner can jump on his bike with confidence that he'll actually make it to where he's going without a breakdown of some kind.

The bulk of off-shore products are here in America because some fellow American entrepeneur arranged for that to happen. He went to the off-shore manufacturers and had them make products to HIS standards and not to theirs. And yet, when things go wrong, it is the country of origin that gets blamed for producing cheap junk. The Japanese government figured that out many years ago and put a stop to it. Today, Japan doesn't allow "Jap Crap" to leave their shores and they have become world leaders in electronics, photography, automobiles, motorcycles, construction equipment and so forth.

Places such as Harbor Freight, Northern Tool, Princess Auto provide pretty good value for the dollar charged. I love Princess Auto because the stand behind everything they sell 100 percent. To them, no sale is every final if you are not happy. Just bring it back for a full refund. That is what has made me a loyal customer. I can buy from Princess with absolutely no fear. If I had to pay the kind of prices that American manufacturers are forced to demand, I couldn't afford to equip my shop they way I have it equipped now. As an example, back in 1989 I bought a drywall lifter to help me install all the drywall in the house I was building. It cost me almost $1000.00. Today, an almost identical model can be bought at Princess for less than a third that price and that's not even taking inflation into account.

So did I "get what I paid for"? Well, it certainly did the job I bought it for as well as several jobs since but if I went to sell it tomorrow, what could I get for it?

This whole "Buy American" philosophy is certainly understandable and everyone wants to protect their jobs but the reality is that WallMart is now the highest grossing company in the world and they don't even make a damn thing. They got to where they are by selling products made elsewhere to Americans who are now shocked that plants are shutting down and jobs are gone forever. But it was those very Americans who created the demand for the less expensive products that made the Walton family business what it is today.

#13 NUTNDUN OFFLINE  

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Posted June 05, 2010 - 08:56 AM

It is great when you can support American companies but the problem now a days is that you really don't know which ones are really completely American made. Unless you buy something from a small company that you know makes something from scratch you really don't know.

It is a very hard subject and one that I would rather refrain from getting in to because it is just like religion.

With that note being said I feel a lot of the American companies were getting the price they wanted for whatever quality they were putting out, prices kept rising but the quality didn't. It wasn't until foreign products were showing up with the same or better quality at a lower price. By then the American companies were already on loosing ground. I like to support our own American companies just as much as the next American but the problem is money doesn't grow on trees around here so you have to be frugal with your money, unless of course you have a great salary and can afford to do so.

I think the best question to ask is this. You have two products that are the same, identical, you can't even tell the difference. Let's use for example a 1/2" impact gun. One is made in America (supposedly) and the other is made in China. The China one is $50 cheaper. In all honesty ask your self which one you would choose if you were on a budget.

Like I said my money doesn't grow on trees and I honestly would buy the cheaper one.

Now there are cheaper foreign products that are junk, but it was noted in another post that you can tell just by looking at most of the stuff or picking up the display and telling if it is quality or something that won't last. Yes there is a chance that you may get a lemon but that can happen with any product.

If there are identical products and the price difference isn't as great you can bet that I will buy the American Made product but when there is a large price difference it adds up and the money saved could buy a lot more tools.

#14 hydriv OFFLINE  

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Posted June 05, 2010 - 09:25 AM

I agree and it is not my intent to bash American-made products or to getting into any sort of politics that have to do with imports. Like it or not, we now live in a global economy and trade is a two-way street. North American companies cannot expect to sell whatever it is they produce to other nations and then think that those nations should not be able to market products here in North America. Quite often, it is the recycled brass, copper, aluminum and steel along with forest products that are sent over to these countries and get turned into finished goods that consumers here want to buy.

I am not against waving the flag but let's do so by being honest. If everyone took a real hard look at everything they own and were able to trace the true orgins of those products, I think that they would be shocked at what they learn. Most of the fuel you put in your tank comes from oil pumped from some place other than America. Therefore, much of the product that you buy that is made from plastic has its origin from a foreign source. That's how complicated it is to insist on purchasing an all-American product.

#15 olcowhand ONLINE  

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Posted June 05, 2010 - 09:40 AM

I gotta say, even though I've had some bad experiences with some HF tools, they DO stand behind them & I've always either got a replacement, or a full refund. When you buy foreign made goods, you're still supporting American jobs that get the tools to you. I'll continue to buy at HF & similar stores.
Hydriv...you put it in type well. And I love my Yamaha motorcycle. Harley never showed me anything I can't get/do cheaper & more reliably. If Harley were my only choice, I couldn't afford to ride. Same with most of my tools.




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