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Harbor Freight

Post in 'The Gear' started by pistonslap, May 12, 2007.

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  1. drizler

    drizler Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Chazy, NY 12921
    Don't buy HF pneumatic tools. They truly SUCK in every respect. You can get the name brands from them fine and dandy but stay away from the Chinese impact wrenches and the like as they just have no power and many I have seen seem to come busted right out of the box. Go with Ingersol Rand and you cant go wrong and you will notice they are heavily discounted too. The Chinese stuff just hasnt got the swat and gobbles air like crazy. That makes the low power issue of your compressor all the more a problem. I have a Coleman 6 HP ( oil type)compressor that I got from HF and its ok. Still not much power when it comes to painting with modern HVLP guns. The regulator parts of the compressor aren't all that well built either. Replaceabe but not grand quality and unable to hold up to very much heat like overdriving the unit. On the other hand the HF grinders for $15 each are nice and hold up as good as my makitas as long as you dont lean on em too hard.

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  2. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northeastern MA (near Lowell)
    Most of my air tools are Northern, but probably the same as the HF units w/ a different label. None have given me a major problem. My air 3/8 ratchet has a few times gotten "stuck" where it didn't want to turn with the air after I'd cranked with it by hand, but if I just work the head back and forth a few times by hand and play with the direction lever it frees itself up.

    I do have an HF pencil style "mini-die grinder" that is essentially a pnuematic Dremel... I find it works pretty good, and I like it because it fits my hand a lot better than a Dremel and isn't as clumsy. I also have an HF palm nailer, which has done well every time I've used it, albeit mostly smaller nails while building hive bodies for my bees, but it does a nice job of sinking the nails w/ less effort than my manual hammer, and offers more flexibility in what you can drive with it than a nail gun. I've also got an HF brad nailer, and a 1/4" crown air stapler. The brad nailer doesn't fire reliably unless I fiddle with the safety alot, but drives fine. The stapler has never given me any trouble at all. I haven't used it a huge amount, but its done OK by me.

    Aside from air consumption issues, I've been happy with my air tools. Like lots of other stuff, I wouldn't want to use the HF tools to earn a living, but would consider them OK for casual use. I agree that I-R tools are better, but even with the heavy discount, they are still two-three (or more) times the cost of the HF version of the same tool - worth it for heavy / pro use, IMHO not for casual applications.

    OTOH I've had a couple of those cheapy angle grinders - the one I got from HF litterally melted the brush holders and died before I wore out the (thin) grinding wheel that it came with... I wasn't leaning on it much either. HF did give me a refund on it. I got another one, from a local surplus store, to use in a cutoff fixture, and the shaft lock broke about the second or third disk I tried to change - again not heavily used. I won't be trying to exchange it, as I've had it for a while (w/o using it) and it wouldn't be worth the gas to take it to the store...

    Gooserider
  3. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Can't believe the amount of post concerning cheap tools.
    Cheap tools do have a place of limited usage.

    Goose you can have my chicago 18 volt versa tool package maybe it will hold a charge long enough to sink a few drywall screws

    you can also have that 4" grinder then one that smoked out in less than 5 hours of usage Replaced witha real tool Makita
    .

    Like you I have bought a few as noted most are for very limited service time and no heavy usage. None are used in day to day work.

    Think of them in terms of bic lighters. Sockets ever stripp them out? Ever bust a knuckle when their cheap ratchets let go because the plastic drive gear strips out?

    Goose you also can have the cracked impact socket set just does not withstand normal usage. The older crastsman sockets and ratchets as still preforming quite well.
    I know they now out sounce to being Chianeese made so I suspect quality is not as good. ,Never bought a tool at Walmart so I can't critique their quality.
  4. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
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    1,830
    Loc:
    Casper Wyoming
    Chicago Electric.... Chicago Electric..... Name sounded so familiar couldn't put my finger on it till yesterday then it hit. Our tile saw is Chicago Electric. I know it's atleast 8 years old and I've pounded that thing. It's a good tool, I can't speak for there others and maybe ours was a lucky shot but it does work well.
  5. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I'm actually a bit surprised that it's gone on as long as it has myself - seems like a lot of interest in the topic.

    I'll take it - it probably will hold a charge longer than the B&D "flashlight" unit that I have, although it gave me good service for a couple of years, when I was rebuilding computers for a living. The little B&D cartridge batteries no longer take a charge...

    However you will note that I've suggested avoiding the Chicago Electric brand tools in my posts.

    I have actually avoided the entire battery tool game for all my tools - I can reach any where on the property with a 12g extension cord, and while it's a pain dragging AC around, I never have to recharge it, it fits all my equipment and it costs a tiny fraction of what a good pro-grade battery tool would cost. - For a pro working on a site with no electric it's different, although back when my uncle was building homes down in Louisiana, he would put up a temporary pole service every house he built, so that was hardly a big issue.

    You got better service out of your HF grinder than I did out of mine :cheese: - I did pick up a used Makita for normal use. I also have a 9" DeWalt that I haven't used all that much, but has been OK so far. OTOH there are tools that I use so seldom that I couldn't ever justify purchasing a pro-grade version... But is it better to go rent a fancy one or by an HF China cheapy version that may not last all that well, but probably costs less per hour of use than the rental rate?

    Agreed. I have a lot of projects I work on, but few are daily tool use jobs. Where they are I try to get higher grade tools if I can afford them. I also keep an eye out for chances to pick up 'bargains' on good quality tools. If / when I can figure out how to swing the money, I will probably go for one of those HD rental chainsaws, as it appears to be the best way to get a high grade saw at a decent price.

    I haven't stripped out an HF socket yet, I have done in some Craftsman. Ditto on the ratchets. However I would agree with your assesment of them as BIC lighter / dispose-a-tools - but often cheap enough that it doesn't hurt that much to dispose of them.

    Given the heavy equipment that you've shown off in some of your photos, I suspect you are probably harder on your sockets and ratchets than I am, but the HF stuff has held up fine on my bikes and the other things I've used it for...

    As to quality, I've never bought a WalMart / Kmart socket set, but I've used them on occasion - You know the times when you are visiting a friend (usually female) and they ask you to help them fix something and brightly tell you "Don't worry, I've got the tools", drag out the K-mart socket set, and wonder why you aren't thrilled... HF wrenches and sockets look good enough that I generally have to pick them up and read the label to tell that they aren't Crapsman or other "higher grade" (but not Snap-On level) tools. Wal-mart grade don't pass that "visual inspection" - the socket walls are thick, the holes are often off center, and don't look cleanly broached, etc. The ratchets don't feel smooth acting, and in general they just look and FEEL shoddy. The HF tools are at least better in the "fit and finish" department.

    Gooserider
  6. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2007
    Messages:
    804
    Loc:
    North Worc. CTY MA
    ***"Word to the Wise"***

    Be leery of foreign "hoses and fittings". Most of this "cheap junk" is just that..."junk". I don't know if something get's lost along the way from the "metric mindset" to SAE "machining and milling". But it leaves something to be desired.

    I was in a local "dollar type trading post" and saw a 50 foot oxy/acetylene hose for $15.00 I made the mistake...bought it and almost pulled my hair out trying to thread the cheap junk hose ends onto my nice torch and regulators...never again!

    I might have saved $30 bucks by not buying a hose from the welding shop....but unfortunately it's not worth the "piece of mind" I lost (don't know if the threads are 'macked out' on the torch and regulator) GRRRR! :)

    ...Still don't know what I was thinking...I'll be sticking with quality from now on though! :)
  7. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

    Joined:
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    Messages:
    804
    Loc:
    North Worc. CTY MA
    Elk...???
    You a big makita fan??? Try the Dewalt stuff.

    Any other Dewalt fans out there? Any factory reps? I got stories they "make commercials out of". lol :)

    Driving drywall screws..."Hell now'...that ain't nothin'.."

    What can Dewalt batteries "drive"...???

    ...Lost the alternator in the truck "on the road" in SE CT one time. "Minimal Tools On board". Shoulda seen the look on the state troopers face after he pulled me over! PRICELESS!

    "...Ahh...What's with the popped open hood and the jumper cables wrapped around the antena running into the window???"

    The trooper looks over at my friend sitting in the passenger seat...Sitting in his lap is a Dewalt 18V cordless battery with two wood-screws jammed into the terminals...connected to the cables.

    ""Lost the Alternator a ways back...battery is dead...Triple A says a 3 hour wait...Said the hell with it...I'll drive to the parts store and fix it! We have already gone seven miles on this set-up! Not only did it start the truck...it's keeping the thing running!"

    After that...I don't screw around...I buy Dewalt!

    How's that for a charge Elk???
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I have a Dwalt cordless drill I like a lot First one died right aWAY SO HOME DEPOT REPLACED IT NO PROBLEM SINCE 14.4 VOLTS
    I use a dewalt version of a sawsall not bad but not as good as Milwalkee I have used the Dewalt compound slide miter saws again decent saws

    I like Porter cable, Bosch, Fien, Milwilkee Naturally Makita I even own some older shill tools that were contractor quality soo good the took part in over 50

    home frasmes still working today
  9. JayY

    JayY New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2006
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Western NY
    I have stayed away from the HF power tools but most of the hand tools have been good to me. I think its a little like gambling so I dont like to get in too deep. Probably the most expensive thing I have from them is the $20 moisture tester that has been discussed here from time to time. I have some precision tools that are OK for my needs like a pittsburgh 1/2" torque wrench and a centech digital micrometer. The torque wrench is consistent and accurate except on the lower end. It is supposed to be accurate down to 15-20lbs but I don't use for anything under 30. Its a 2 ft wrench so this seems logical to me. The Micrometer is always dead on. I also have numerous oddball socket adapters from them, $5 compression tester that works great, punches, etc. No complaints. On the negative side, I did buy an ignition tester for $2 that was DOA.

    The Pittsburgh torque wrench really seems solid. I would like to test out there mechanics tools but the cheap ones I bought from Wal-mart 10 years ago keep on going. I work on old lawn mowers and gravely tractors a lot. I routinely put 3ft pipes on the end of these ratchets to break rusty bolts free and they just keep on going. I'm just lucky I guess. It is a little embarrassing though when my friends come over with all the snap-on and craftsman stuff LOL.
  10. Bob512

    Bob512 New Member

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    When I dumped the few HF tools that I owned in the hopper at work, the guys jumped in after them. They said don't you want them. I said they are junk, you can have them. I'm like uncle rich, you can't beat a good quality hand tool. The stuff strips and breaks and when you add up the cost of going back time and time again to replace the junk which really is cheaper. Quick
  11. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Phoenixville, PA
    Elk - did you know that you can revive Nicad batteries with an electric welder? Might be worth a shot.



    At any rate, I'm a HF junkie :) I've got at least 100 HF tools/items around the house, probably more like 200. I've been happy with 95% of the stuff, I've had to return a few things. For all of my extremely good deals on higher priced items I combined good sale prices with their 20% off any item coupon (they used to give these out even online, every couple of months, now they don't issue them at all. You can occasionally get a 15% off one item coupon from their paper mailer - not nearly like the deals you used to be able to get though - I'm sure this has to do with the massive increase in cost of shipping all their stuff from China, fuel prices are double what they were a couple years ago). Some of the stuff I bought from HF:

    Wratchet straps, bungies, nylon ties, hammers, angle grinder (hasn't melted yet), pry bar, maul (their maul is excellent by the way), twist wedge (also excellent by the way), electric chainsaw sharpener (excellent and only $32, I've sharpened lots of chains even for friends), gas royobi reconditioned line trimmer (excellent and only $40! although the first one did have to be returned due to a fuel container leak which probably could have killed me), an electric power washer (junk, not worth it, total waste of money), an electric hoist, a drill press (works great - was invaluable to me in creating mason bee nests last year, incredible price considering how big and heavy it is, something like $40), 4x8 utility trailer (no complaints after 2 seasons of use, only hauls 1/3 cord of wood though, dirt cheap at $200), truckers chains, tow straps, pipe wrenches, pliar set (its like a 5 pack, these are very heavy duty, great buy, bigger than average pliars I had), socket sets, torx bit set, torque wrench, cast iron dutch oven and pans (will smoke the whole house up during seasoning, but good after that, and dirt cheap), drill pump, castors, wheels, valves, pumps, nuts, peg board hangers, micrometer, compression tester, spark plug tester, air horn (junk, waste of money), gardening stuff, etc.

    I've also heard their compressors should be avoided. I bought a high quality compressor, used but in excellent condition, from eBay that I'm really happy with. Only have a few HF air tools so far (sprayers, sander, drill, tire pump with guage).

    By the way, all the Craftsman stuff is now made in China if you didn't know that already.
  12. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    It might work, but I wouldn't try it without a good blast shield between me and the battery - can you say shrapnel? Also worth noting that the stuff in many batteries is quite toxic...

    I've had several of those items as well - except for some of the electrical stuff (like the angle grinder) most were pretty good. Their bench grinder has been fine for me.

    Gooserider
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