Rate your Harbor Freight Tool Experiences!

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by JimVonBaden, Dec 28, 2011.

  1. JimVonBaden

    JimVonBaden "Cool" Aid!

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    OK, so you have had your say.:deal As pointed out before, this isn't a rant about Chinese tools thread, there are plenty of them. This is a thread to identify the good from the bad at HF.

    Thanks for participating!

    Jim :brow
  2. Stan_R80/7

    Stan_R80/7 Beastly Gnarly

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    I have had excellent experiences with HF tools. My 4x6 metal bandsaw is amazing. The 5 speed bench top small drill press works great. No hand tool has ever failed. My HF electronic calipers are as accurate as any I own and the combination square set - while having some die cast metal - works fine. Welding pliers and accessories, pneumatics, taps & dies, chain hoists, even a timing light and trinkets like retracting key cables worked great. Their sheet metal forming hand tools, also made of die cast metal, have worked great for me. The o-ring sets are Buna-N material and a bargain.

    Sure, some assembly was required and it helps if you are smarter than the tool. And, I have returned a few tools - with zero problems. Overall, HF tools are a bargain compared to buying a similar tool elsewhere (e.g. Northern Tool).

    My not so great experiences were the silver and deming drill bits that had to be sharpened and a remote video camera (that was returned). The taps and dies were carbon steel and best used for light duty, such as cleaning up aluminum threads. I tend to stay away from saw blades, machine tooling (for lathes and mills), hand drills, dremel type tools, and fasteners at HF - but that is personal preference.
  3. Dave in Wi

    Dave in Wi Long timer

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  4. jar944

    jar944 Been here awhile

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    Lowes kobalt, and HF ratchets are better than what craftsman has been putting out.
  5. jar944

    jar944 Been here awhile

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    Get out of my garage... I keep all old bearings. 2t main bearings 62/28 work great as spacers and I have a large pile. Piston pins, big end crank pins all are great to press parts out as they are hardened and squared.

    Old punch die plates and jig parts also work out well
    [​IMG]
  6. sagedrifter

    sagedrifter Southern Explorer

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    I like the 20 ton press, got one last year. The power tools are too cheap for me, but I like the allen and torx wrenches. Vernier calibers have worked fine, I use the $9.99 digital offering and they are accurate and compare well to my expensive ones. I've got a couple sets of impact sockets and they are holding up fine. The sockets are not all equal, some sets are better than others. I stay away from the colored ones. Various clamps work well....
  7. xr400r

    xr400r Long timer

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    some of their stuff is good(adequate) some is not. As has been said before for the reduced price i thing some of the stuff is a good deal. I am not a full time mechanic and I do not earn my living wrenching. I have a nice sized craftsman ratchet set that I bought 20 years ago and it has served me well and never a problem with it. It has more than paid for itself.

    The great thing that i see about HF is that the specialty tools that they have for cheap. Like a harmonic balancer puller. I may use one once ever 10 years. I have needed one twice.
  8. Stan_R80/7

    Stan_R80/7 Beastly Gnarly

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    That has been my experience as well. I was pleasantly surprised with the Kobalt sockets (used one to make a custom tool). I now use a HF 1/2" drive ratchet in place of my old 'lifetime guarantee' craftsman 1/2" drive ratchet.

    I find it ironic, and more than a bit disappointing, that a company built on mail order business cannot thrive in the internet (i.e. computer mail order) age - that and Sears buying Kmart. :huh
  9. max384

    max384 Bandaided

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    You do have a good point. Maybe I was being a bit too harsh on HF... It's just that I've never returned (or needed to) anything from Snap-On, Mac, or even Kobalt or Husky (not that I'm saying everything the last two make is good). I've only had to replace a few Crafsman sockets and screwdrivers (through their free warranty program, of course), and those were only when I was making a living wrenching, so they got used real hard. However, I've had to return (or should have, but never did) such a high proportion of HF tools that it has left a serious bad taste in my mouth. I'm certainly not made of money at this point in my life, but I've gotten to the point where I'm willing to pay more money up front for a tool that will last. I'm not saying all HF will fail right away. I'm just tired of making the drive back to HF to return things.

    Anyhow, I'm not gonna spend any more time bashing HF tools, since this really isn't the place to do it, as was pointed out to me already. :)
  10. Dave in Wi

    Dave in Wi Long timer

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    I am getting the feeling that Sears may not survive. What's going to happen with our Craftsman "lifetime warranty" then? I've had my 3/8 ratchet replaced twice now.
  11. barko1

    barko1 barko1

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    The 1/2" breaker bar, $12[​IMG]
  12. CavDoc

    CavDoc Adventurer

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    Don't mind Max, he's an old grump :fishie

    I just picked up a grommet kit at HF for a project around the house.
    [​IMG]
    FAIL.

    While it WILL add a grommet the punch will need to be sharpened to punch through any decent caliber material and the grommet shaping tool is more of a grommet-mangling tool. Be careful you don't overdo the mangling of the grommet or the grommet will cut through your material, leaving an oversized hole where the grommet should be.

    I keep a bunch of the mix packs of things around - juliet clips, electrical connectors, that sort of thing - always handy!
  13. Stan_R80/7

    Stan_R80/7 Beastly Gnarly

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    The grommet kit sounds about par for Harbor Freight. Parts that need to be sharp, aren't. I expect the anvil may not be shaped quite right either - or it may not come with one, which explains the mangling. For someone who is familiar with grommet installation and has already used a (typically higher quality) installation tool, the HF version can be made to work.

    However, if the user has no clue how the tool should be used then figuring it out is more difficult with a HF tool. The welders fall into a similar category - if you are already familiar with the welding machines then they can be made to work (surprisingly well for the cost), but they are not the tools to learn with IMO. YMMV.

    Edit: ok, I see the anvil. I expect the anvil could use some touching up using another (better working tool) as a guide.
  14. bwringer

    bwringer Gimpy, Yet Alacritous

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    Agreed. That thing is astonishingly strong. No idea how or why. :eek1
  15. max384

    max384 Bandaided

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    Get off my lawn!!! :gerg

    :lol3:lol3:lol3
  16. cwc

    cwc Been here awhile

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    Same thing that happened to my Bonney lifetime warranty. I bought a ½ inch drive socket set in 1959 or 60? and ten years later I broke a socket. A breaker bar and 2 ft. of pipe shouldn't break a socket should it? I called them and they said they weren't in the business anymore and that I was SOL. OTOH, I haven't broken any more in the over 50 years I've used the set.:D
  17. pennswoodsed

    pennswoodsed lizards,bugs and me

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  18. victor441

    victor441 Long timer

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    Used mine for the first time last night and it did the job OK though fit and finish are typical HF. Pulled a fairly light 4 cyl. engine with it but not so sure I'd want to use it on a big heavy V8 as the roller hung up a bit. Still it is worth the $35 I paid and quality is good enough for an amateur mechanic like me who will only use it occasionally on lighter loads...and using a leveler did make the job much easier.

    [​IMG]
  19. BroncoDave

    BroncoDave Long timer

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    Is that a caterham ?
  20. victor441

    victor441 Long timer

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    A Birkin S3, very similar to a Caterham