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Old 12-28-2011, 06:39 AM   #1
JimVonBaden OP
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Joined: Feb 2005
Location: Alexandria, VA
Oddometer: 54,568
Rate your Harbor Freight Tool Experiences!

Please rate your experience with specific tools/items purchased and used from Harbor Freight. Note the link to the item, if you got it on sale, a photo if you can, and your DIRECT experience with that item.

Anyone who is interested in buying inexpensive tools and items from HF can use this thread to see if what they are interested in has a chance of being worth the price!

This thread is NOT about wheather or not you should buy things from China, or anywhere else. It IS about helping people decide the good values from the bad at Harbor Freight. Please do not waste our time with rants about HF and Chinese crap.

I'll start out with examples!

Three years of hard labor:

Major Pass, and only $289 for the air/manual lift version on sale!
Similar three years:

Pass. It is great for getting a bike on the lift alone, and holding it while tieing it down!

Pass, lasted three years, for $9.99 on sale.

Pass, excessive use, and the Allen sockets, with no failures, and lots of abuse.

Got on super sale for $12.99. MAJOR PASS! Works great, especially for the price. Now if only I could weld worth a damn.

Pass, but beware of using them on assphault as they will sink in.

Pass, strong and cheap at $39 on sale.

PASS! This thing is great! Holds the HF 7" rubbing and buffing pads (also great!) and the other accessories.

Pass, but the dust collector is worthless!

FAIL Cheap and bend easily!


I have used LOTS of HF hand tools, and most are OK, the screwdrivers are generally crap, unless you use ones with replacable tips, but otherwise they do NOT do well.


PS Yes, I know Poolside (Jim) has a similar thread, but this is about pass or fail on specific items, so different.
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Old 12-28-2011, 07:36 AM   #2
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Joined: May 2008
Location: Richmond, Va
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Originally Posted by JimVonBaden View Post
I also have the blue flame version. I paid $39. Works fantastically, and has enabled me to weld much better than before I had an auto-darkening helmet. Mostly just because now I can start my welds in the correct place. Anyway, I'm not blind, so I'll say PASS.

I use it with:
(I can't post the images from work)
I paid $69 for it refurbished. I've probably burnt 50 pounds of rod with it. Never had a problem with it, ever. I've used it with 1/16, 3/32, and 1/8 rod on both 120 and 240 volts (It likes 240V MUCH better). PASS.
(actually, I can post the images...but they come out rather large:

FAIL. Where do I begin to describe this piece of shit? The power supply is basically a tiny bit larger than your average cell phone charger. It buzzes and spins, but when you touch a spinning cut-off wheel to a peice of PLASTIC (forget about metal) it instantly stalls and wimpers. It has no power. If you intent to use this to drill, grind, cut, or even scratch something, forget it. My ex had vibrators ten times more powerful than this crap.

I think I have this, but mine only came with 5 bits...

FAIL. it doesn't ratchet just works like some kind of torque wrench, where after about 1 foot pound of force, it disengages and spins. If you switch it to the "locked" position where it should work like a normal screwdriver, it spins in both directions. Also, if you are lucky enough to make the screwdriver actually work, the bits break. This might be the first time I've ever bought a screwdriver that didn't work.

7 Function Digital Multimeter- I think I paid $3.99. PASS. It's worth the price just for the transistor test, where it shows the Hfe of any NPN or PNP tranisitor you plug in, as long as you get the trannies in *just* right so it can read them. The resistance (ohm meter) function works well, but be aware that the signal voltage and current it uses is surprisingly high (over 3 volts), which is strong enough to damage some ultra-sensitive component and will light up LEDs. The probes are crap and will fall off the wires if your not careful, so solder them on or something.
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Old 12-28-2011, 08:10 AM   #3
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Phx. AZ. The land of shake and bake
Oddometer: 5,607
I have the heat gun, ' GOOD" the metric hex head sockets "REAL GOOD", and I used to have the orange o-ring picks "JUNK as you indicated.

Probably my best one is an old HFT 5 gallon pan cake compressor. I'd guess 15 or so years old. It won't die. I've used the heck out of it. It won't run any air tools. But it is great for tires and to blow the fecal matter off tons of anything I tear apart. Which is almost daily.
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:08 AM   #4
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Joined: Jun 2003
Location: Durango, Colorado, USA
Oddometer: 10,601
I have the 1000lb motorcycle lift as pictured, Excellent!

Also, the wheel chock on the lift as pictured, Excellent!

Also, the heat gun as pictured, Very Good!

Also, the motorcycle tire changer. Good. (With some aftermarket additions, Excellent!)

Pain in the Butte Ranch
Durango, Colorado

- Calculated risk or forbidden fruit?
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Old 12-28-2011, 10:48 AM   #5
Dave in Wi
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Joined: Feb 2007
Location: Madison WI (40 Square Miles Surrounded By Reality)
Oddometer: 2,053
I have used both the Cen Tech digital calipers and micrometers. They were cheap, dead nuts accurate (checked them against my feeler gauges), readings are repeatable, and my eyes LOVE the fact that they are digital. And you can get readings in metric or inches.

I also recently bought a single 6 point socketat HF to loosen the clutch nut on my atv (24 mm or something like that). 99 cents on sale. How can they do that? It worked fine and now I have it whenever I need it.
Dave in WI
2002 ZRX1200R
1975 XL100
1988 DT50
"Daddy, it's five o'clock sometime!"

Dave in Wi screwed with this post 12-29-2011 at 06:20 AM
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Old 12-28-2011, 04:03 PM   #6
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Cin City, OH
Oddometer: 6,943
Had one of their 4'x8' folding trailers with the 12" wheels. Piece of 4x8 plywood and you were in business.

For less than $300 delivered at the time, it did what it was supposed to do, carried two bikes with no problem.

Used it millions of times to haul homeowner stuff, etc.

Not pretty, not particularly strong, but it never failed. Paint sucked, had to watch for rust, and wire brush and touch it up occasionally.

But when I sold it, I actually got more than I paid for it, so it literally owed me nothing.

This one


Bought a set of their circlip pliers, you know the ones with the 2 tiny points that fit into the holes. When the tips weren't bending, the part of the pliers that held them wouldn't hold them, kept letting them move out of place.

These things

Oh I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused-E.Costello
'01 Kawasaki W650, '05 Yamaha XT225

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Old 12-28-2011, 04:06 PM   #7
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Joined: Oct 2006
Location: Middle of Suburban Hell- Long Island, NY
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Rob VB
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Long Island Tag o Rama II 2014 - Click Here
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:03 PM   #8
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Joined: Sep 2007
Location: In the TARDIS
Oddometer: 3,075
I have lots of HF tools. 3 trailers, 110V flux welder, auto darkening helmet, bench top drill press, air compressor (oil type), 4.5" angle grinder, vise, combination wrenches, ratchet wrenches, 800/900 watt 2 stroke generator, battery charger, battery disconnect switch, soldering gun, soldering iron, hammer drill, 3/8" drill, orbital sander, car polisher, saber saw, vacuum pump, paint sprayer, automotive code reader, multimeters, propane bottle refiller, Vice Grip type pliers, gear pullers, tire plugs, tire patch kits, motorcycle tie down straps, bungie cords, tarps, safety goggles, hearing protection ear muffs, even a zippo cig lighter copy and hand warmer. Lots of stuff I can't think of at the moment. All excellent.

I did have a reciprocating saw that blew the gears after about 2 hours use, a 1000 watt generator that developed a bad valve seal after 2 years (replaced under extended warranty but could have easily fixed it myself), a butane torch that fell apart.
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:32 PM   #9
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Location: Eastern WI
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I have the 12 ton shop press

And it works great!! Pass!

Had the Auto Wire Strippers

You had to turn the tension up so far to make them work right that they last about 15 tries, the something went SNAP inside and they ceased to function. FAIL!
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:46 PM   #10
CA Stu
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Joined: Aug 2004
Location: Riverside, CA
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Originally Posted by FatChance View Post
I have the 1000lb motorcycle lift as pictured, Excellent!

Me too, I added a wheel clamp I bought off ebay and it has been a super-handy lift.
Unfortunately, the bottle jack in mine leaked out some fluid and I had to top her up...

The black drill bits they sell are junk, pure and simple. FAIL Spend the extra for good drill bits.
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:47 PM   #11
JimVonBaden OP
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Location: Alexandria, VA
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Way to go guys! This is the kind of information I was hoping to gain.

I too have the 110V Flux welder. I suck at it, but I suspect it is more me than the welder! I did find that the HF welding wire was not nearly as good as the Lincoln wire at Lowes.

I also have the Motorycle Tire changer, or did. It is no longer available, so I left it out. It was worth every dime of the $70 I paid for it with over 250 sets of tires changed.

Thanks, and keep it coming!

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Old 12-28-2011, 05:54 PM   #12
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Joined: Mar 2008
Location: Greater Chicago
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PASS but slightly lower pass than the other two, the metal shelves and door feel a bit thin/tinny. Has functioned well, but the drawers on the other units are pretty impressive, the door on this feels a bit thin, but that's because its a large flat door, needs reinforcement trusses to not vibrate/make noise when opened/closed. Overall good.

PASS - But the abrasives and accessories are subpar, get goot abrasives and cutters, patterns will not match very well however, so I would avoid this particular tool if you require the toothed cutter attachments, or if you do, just clamp the blade down hard. Dremel makes a good toothed cutter but their electric version is 100+.

I have the cordless version of same and enjoy it so far I use this with a cast blade for a portable cast cutter.

Pass - Not greatest drills ever, but a complete set. If you do a lot of (insert specific task) buy a good bit for that task, but having all the drills = yes.

Low Pass - Not great stepped drills, but for around the garage they have come in handy many times.

Medium Fail - Usable on occasion, but they don't cut very well, I usually utilize my regular wood drill bits over these, but haven't thrown them away.

Pass - Have these in standard and metric, Mine have worked OK, not overly stressed because I use a set of snap on socket drives for anything critical, but once things are loose these work great for spinning things in/out. And general around the shop usage. Have not broken them or worn them out. Bondhus feel way better, solid metal core in rubberized handle, but these are ~5 bucks a set, less when you get the right flyer.

Fail - Readings seemed wonky, brother left in back window of car and it seemed to "cook" to death in the sun. Can't handle the heat....

20 ton shop press - Pass with modifications (glue rubber in to shim the press a bit)

Digital Calipers Pass

Welding Auto-darkening - Pass

Fail/Pass - Bit softer than ideal, if you want to transfer to wood, plastic, or soft metal = OK.

P B G screwed with this post 12-28-2011 at 06:00 PM
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Old 12-28-2011, 05:55 PM   #13
Joined: Sep 2005
Location: South Salem, NY
Oddometer: 2,617
I have the air/hyd lift as well, over two years now and has worked perfectly. I never use the air part of the lift because my compressor is small and it's really easy to just pump it by foot. I love it!

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Old 12-28-2011, 05:55 PM   #14
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Location: Mallorytown Ontario
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Good thread!

I'm not going to say Pass or Fail but I'm going to weigh in.
First, we don't have HF in Canada but we do have Princess Auto which is very similar.
These calipers sucked me in because they were $10 and just beyond the end of sale date but the staff let me have them at the sale price anyway.
I got them for measuring stuff under the car during the Winter.
Hard to complain about 10$ digital calipers but they have no depth gauge and a resolution of .01" which I really don't like.
Just a warning to those who may also get sucked in.
To coin a new phrase, "You get what you pay for".

So far, everything that has surprised me has been completely unexpected.

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Old 12-28-2011, 06:03 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by MotorradMike View Post
These calipers sucked me in because they were $10 and just beyond the end of sale date but the staff let me have them at the sale price anyway.
HF has this

For ~15-30 depending on the sale in process, this is a very good digital caliper for most uses, if you need more accuracy you better have an expensive lathe.
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