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Harbor Freight


Jhill3544

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I want to get people's opinion on Harbor Freight tools. Specifically hand tools. I have had some good experiences with there stuff and just want to see what everyone else has to say. What is some harbor freight tools in your box? What are your experiences with them? 

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Bungee cords, drop cloths, brooms and trailer balls. Crowbars and impact sockets. An aluminum ramp. Nothing important or vital.


That’s all I will buy there. No pneumatic or electronic or electric tools. Even Ryobi is better than the Chinese crap they stock.

The only thing I hate more than broken tools are junk tools.


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I bought there Saw and Metric combination wrench sets for $5.99 each and there hex key set that was like $5.99 and they have been good tools. I use them everyday at work and abused them to death and there still going strong. There sometimes free and $1.99 4 in 1 screwdriver is pretty good too. I had bad luck out of the $4 dollar socket set and alot of there bits for bit drivers are weak and break. It's kinda 50/50 with there hand tools some are good some aren't 

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Go over to Garage Journal. The HF pass/fail thread posts are in the thousands. There is another thread, Worst thing you ever bought at HF. That one is filling  up pretty fast, too. The bottom line is some stuff is OK, some is junk and the quality control is terrible. On some items you are OK if you manage to get a good one. Some stuff works with some modification. The tool cabinets are well regarded. I bought the 44" set a while back and have no regrets. The Earthquake impact stuff is usually OK. Their new higher end tools are too close to the name brand stuff to bother. Warranty is basically an exchange. Forget about replacement parts. It is a very mixed bag. Against my better judgement I bought an electric band file (hand belt sander).  Amazingly, it still works.

 

 

 

r

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  • 1 month later...

In addition to the above advice, I'd urge a potential buyer to confirm model numbers before making a purchase.  A lot of their products have multiple item numbers.  A couple of years ago I was considering buying a wooden work bench (I never did, though).  It had extremely mixed reviews, then I found a few reviews that stated there are two model numbers, one with mostly positive experiences and one with mostly negative ones. 

 

The "free" tools are usually worth the price.  The exception to this is if you end up being lured into buying that expensive tool you realized you can't live without that is now 50% of the "regular" price.  Walk in for a free flashlight, walk out $100 poorer.

 

As for me, I generally buy nitrile gloves there and pick up the free batteries when I do.  That way I have a constant supply of cheap batteries for toys and remotes as well as decent disposable gloves that they sell in a few different thicknesses.  Also, notice the two different tiers of tools: the mostly garbage Pittsburgh and the mixed bag Pittsburgh Pro stuff.  A $5 Pittsburgh socket set will be noticeably less refined than its costlier Professional counterpart. 

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On 9/30/2018 at 9:46 PM, fm2176 said:

In addition to the above advice, I'd urge a potential buyer to confirm model numbers before making a purchase.  A lot of their products have multiple item numbers.  A couple of years ago I was considering buying a wooden work bench (I never did, though).  It had extremely mixed reviews, then I found a few reviews that stated there are two model numbers, one with mostly positive experiences and one with mostly negative ones. 

 

The "free" tools are usually worth the price.  The exception to this is if you end up being lured into buying that expensive tool you realized you can't live without that is now 50% of the "regular" price.  Walk in for a free flashlight, walk out $100 poorer.

 

As for me, I generally buy nitrile gloves there and pick up the free batteries when I do.  That way I have a constant supply of cheap batteries for toys and remotes as well as decent disposable gloves that they sell in a few different thicknesses.  Also, notice the two different tiers of tools: the mostly garbage Pittsburgh and the mixed bag Pittsburgh Pro stuff.  A $5 Pittsburgh socket set will be noticeably less refined than its costlier Professional counterpart. 

 

Look at coupons and do your research before buying. I ONLY buy three items at a time, even if it means walking out then walking back in and buying three more. One is the item you wanted with a 20/25% off coupon, one filler (something cheap you need like a paint brush or zip ties) and one freebie. For the freebie, microfiber towels, magnetic strip, magnetic bowl, grabber tool, tarp or moving blanket. I use the magnetic strip to make shelves or something to stick to a tool box, etc. Magnets are expensive, I honestly don't know how they can give those away.

 

Avoid cheap screwdrivers and their tape measures are not accurate.

 

The Pittsburgh Pro stuff is pretty darn good, IMO. I load up on their gloves when there's a coupon, they're cheap for gloves and work just as well IMO.

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The harbor freight  fastener organizers are keen. They have the pull out plastic tubs, they stack together, albeit without locking, and they are 10 bucks. I have four of them. 

 

Other than that, the shop jack is pretty universally regarded as HFs best tool, because they stole the design from snap one then won the ensuing lawsuit. So the floor jack is pimp too, and stolen intellectual property. 

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  • 1 month later...

I have used their sockets, impact and regular deep well and they have held up well for years. Their pocket hole jig (similar to a Kreg K4 except that it is all metal) has been good so far as has their heat gun (the Bauer one) and the two hammers I got (one framing and one dead blow).

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Another consideration is quality control or the lack of it. One guy's great buy may have been a failure for others. Read the reviews or comnents here or watch videos and you will quickly find out about the high failure rate. On some items you have to pick through the stock to get a good one. Early failure is not uncommon in electrical tools. The warranty on most things at HF is 90 days. Their hydraulic stuff is not too good, either. They sell extended warranties on some stuff but then it is often not still a bargain. A lot of their stuff is poorly designed and Youtube is full of fixes for HF stuff to make it work. For me, it took 2 kitchen scales to get a good one. The tractor lift had a bad bottle jack . When I walked in the door the sales lady said "bad bottle jack?" Forget about replacement parts for most things. 90 day refund or exchange and then you eat it. I have had good luck with the alkaline batteries and buy them on sale. The cheap free screw drivers have lasted quite well. It is a very mixed bag. My impact wrench has lasted for years and the 44" tool cabinet set is a good deal if you can get an undented one. Mine had a ding in it beneath undamaged packaging.

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i have never had their screwdrivers last more than a few months of use...but they will hand you a new one for wear on the tip so it's sort of a moot point.
Agreed but when they began to know me on a first name basis replacing screwdrivers because the tips broke off constantly I had enough. No more replacements no matter if it's free or not.


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I feel like I avoid Harbor Freight like the plague. In all seriousness I have never been to one before. I don't know how good or bad Harbor Freights are. Sure I like saving money but If I need something I generally research my options then make a buying decision. Because I pick quality and notable/better known brands over price, Harbor Freight has not been considered. Could I find good products at Harbor Freight? sure but I do not want to take the chance.

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16 hours ago, paulengr said:

Agreed but when they began to know me on a first name basis replacing screwdrivers because the tips broke off constantly I had enough. No more replacements no matter if it's free or not.


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Exactly. I still have them but they're my loaners.

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  • 1 month later...
I feel like I avoid Harbor Freight like the plague. In all seriousness I have never been to one before. I don't know how good or bad Harbor Freights are. Sure I like saving money but If I need something I generally research my options then make a buying decision. Because I pick quality and notable/better known brands over price, Harbor Freight has not been considered. Could I find good products at Harbor Freight? sure but I do not want to take the chance.
Watch theYoutube video comparing the comfort grip 24 or 25" breaker bars from Snap On, Matco, Mac and HF. All of the others are well North of $100. The HF is well under $20 with the ever present coupon. On an industrial torque tester it worked just as well as the overpriced truck stuff. In some cases you are laying out tons of money for alleged peace of mind. The Pittsburgh Pro impact sockets are functionally as good as any and very inexpensive. If you can't be bothered, that's fine but there are some very good deals if you take the trouble.

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10 hours ago, Mycrossover said:

Watch theYoutube video comparing the comfort grip 24 or 25" breaker bars from Snap On, Matco, Mac and HF. All of the others are well North of $100. The HF is well under $20 with the ever present coupon. On an industrial torque tester it worked just as well as the overpriced truck stuff. In some cases you are laying out tons of money for alleged peace of mind. The Pittsburgh Pro impact sockets are functionally as good as any and very inexpensive. If you can't be bothered, that's fine but there are some very good deals if you take the trouble.

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I absolutely agree with this. As long as you do research, there are some really good buys at HF. Some can be found here:

 

 

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  • 4 months later...

On the power tools:

When I am a hundred miles from the shop and i forgot the 4" grinder, I'll buy one at HFT. It is junk, but $20 is more convenient than running back to town. 

 

It was proposed to me that the tools are assembled so quickly and are so un-refined... that a trick to getting MUCH more life out of the power tools it to run them in.

 

Clamp your cheap powertool into a vice, aim a fan at it for cooling airflow, and just let that tool run without a load for fifteen or twenty minutes. Allow it to cool thoroughly, at least an hour (overnight if possible) and then put it into service.

The above procedure lets the tool break in and seat the brushes.

Try it, you may be surprised...

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  • 1 month later...

Harbor freight is a different kind of animal in the way of tool stores:  their prices are so terribly low ( especially when you use coupon for 20%) that it makes you think that every thing is completely junk the moment that you walk in the door.   But, I have actually gotten some really pretty good tools out of that place on the recommendation of others:  the blue handle screwdrivers with the. Hex nut on top (unbelievable for the price) , red earthquake impact guns with 20% off coupon (really strong, good gun) the pro 1/2 inch impact sockets ( freaking as good as matco for only $20.00 with coupon instead of $300.00 off truck) air conditioning twin gauge set pretty good deal for the money with coupon.  

Don’t get me wrong, I have purchased my fair share of junk from hf ( as we all have).  But the ones that I mentioned above , priceless information garnered from friends and associates:  if you do not already have any of those tools, man, they are worth buying in multiple sets .

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21 hours ago, Jim c. said:

Harbor freight is a different kind of animal in the way of tool stores:  their prices are so terribly low ( especially when you use coupon for 20%) that it makes you think that every thing is completely junk the moment that you walk in the door.   But, I have actually gotten some really pretty good tools out of that place on the recommendation of others:  the blue handle screwdrivers with the. Hex nut on top (unbelievable for the price) , red earthquake impact guns with 20% off coupon (really strong, good gun) the pro 1/2 inch impact sockets ( freaking as good as matco for only $20.00 with coupon instead of $300.00 off truck) air conditioning twin gauge set pretty good deal for the money with coupon.  

Don’t get me wrong, I have purchased my fair share of junk from hf ( as we all have).  But the ones that I mentioned above , priceless information garnered from friends and associates:  if you do not already have any of those tools, man, they are worth buying in multiple sets .

 

This has sort of change recently. HF is trying to put better quality tools out there, like the Bauer and Hercules lines but they're definitely not cheap. You can buy a couple year old Milwaukee or Dewalt for the same cost with a better warranty, no coupons on those HF brands either.

 

The new catalog has a knockoff Jawhorse...it's more expensive than the Jawhorse at HD. buyer beware.

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There is no simple answer. HF uses a lot of methods to keep prices down. They frequently change suppliers for the "same" item. That is why there are often several part numbers listed, with separate reviews. There may be a big difference in quality.In some cases it is not even close. They sell two entirely differen compressors as the 5hp, 60 gal. One is a 2 cyl, 2 stage and one is a 3 cyl single stage, which they have mislabeled for years as a 2 stage. Quality control is non existent. If it is no good they exchange or refund for 90 days. That is cheaper for them than paying for better QC.. Replacement parts are almost non existant. I shop there for certain things but you have to do your homework and be prepared to take it back.They are carrying better stuff but the cost spread is also smaller when you factor in product support. I have the earlier 44" tool cabinet set and an early 1/2" Earthquake impact wrench that have been good for years. Other stuff has been returned for a refund or replacement. Much truck stuff is way overpriced.so it is possible to compete on some things but that doesn't work across the board.

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2 hours ago, Jim c. said:

I would like to try some of the new Bauer stuff.

 

It's not great, I've seen teardowns of that and the Hercules(Hercules is over Bauer). Terrible brushes, fitment ok...but just not something comparable to the big guys...ESPECIALLY if you go open box stuff on Amazon and eBay. You can buy a M12 1st gen fuel bare tool for like $50! I guarantee that M12 will beat both those HF drills.

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It's easy to beat tool truck markups. Can't do it with Matco but for instance Williams is Snap on without the Snap on logo. Proto/Blackhawk and Facom are MAC minus the logo. These are industrial brands typically sold through large industrial distributors and some automotive distributors. I have a 1/2" Blackhawk impact socket set from 30 years ago. They are much thinner and tighter tolerances than the HF set that I have. Back then I lived in the boonies several states away where the local automotive supply was the tool store in town other than K-Mart, no Wal-Mart at that time.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/29/2019 at 7:32 PM, Jim c. said:

I would like to try some of the new Bauer stuff.

I purchased the Bauer 20V Cordless Jet Fan Blower. I have 3 patios, large driveway and oversized 2 car garage. I absolutely love it. The battery has the power to hold up through the job, even on high blower speed. Of course, I had to buy a quick charger and a high capacity battery given it was my first Bauer line purchase. My only concern is that HF/Bauer at some point might abandon the 20v flavors in favor of the 40v... That would tick me off.

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