Router Forums banner
1 - 20 of 46 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey, I see you guys talking about Harbor Freight a lot in different posts I read. I am curious, do you guys really consider HF a place to get things? I always kinda steered away from them, but the prices are definitely more my style.

I mean, would you ever buy router bits, t-shank blades, drill bits...

Guess to make the list shorter, what would you definitely steer clear from at HF?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,380 Posts
Hey, I see you guys talking about Harbor Freight a lot in different posts I read. I am curious, do you guys really consider HF a place to get things? I always kinda steered away from them, but the prices are definitely more my style.

I mean, would you ever buy router bits, t-shank blades, drill bits...

Guess to make the list shorter, what would you definitely steer clear from at HF?
You get what you pay for!!!!

If it involves a motor or accurate measurements or anything that will require more than light pressure -- I won't usually get it from HF.

Now.....saying that I will probably buy a winch from them, and have bought a grinder (weak motor) and a multi-tool, which seems to work ok.
great reviews on their DC. Bits, sanding paper, blades, etc .... definite no unless it's a use once throw it away. Just be a bit picky and match their stuff for what you do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,264 Posts
Hey, I see you guys talking about Harbor Freight a lot in different posts I read. I am curious, do you guys really consider HF a place to get things? I always kinda steered away from them, but the prices are definitely more my style.

I mean, would you ever buy router bits, t-shank blades, drill bits...

Guess to make the list shorter, what would you definitely steer clear from at HF?
no no and no....
stop thinking w/ only your wallet...
 

·
Marine Engineer
Doug
Joined
·
4,960 Posts
I have made many cribbage board holes with HF drill bits. You may only get 60% of them in the pack that are perfect, but it is cost effective and they are always in stock.

I got some step drills from there that I cannot kill, very happy.

Brad nailers and staplers are the best deal in town.

The f style clamps and aluminum bar clamps are pretty good as well.

My daughter has the small VS lathe, perfect for a beginner, I did have to make a couple of adjustments to get rid of some burrs that prevented the tool rest from locking solidly.

There is a ton of crap there, but a few gems. Search you tube for harbor freight, many decent reviews and recommendations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,669 Posts
I have bought a few items that I like, the F clamps and their aluminum shaft clamps. I have two of their dust collectors (which I think are still on sale for about $200) which are important when you get doing more than casual work. I have nitrile gloves for finishing that range from thin to thick, and I buy their surgical style masks for casual cutting protection. I do have and like their multi tool, which works fine, particularly since I don't use it much. But I wouldn't buy anything that requires great accuracy or has a small motor. The standard for flatness is pretty relaxed on their tools, and the finish isn't usually very good on cast iron tables and such. You often have to do a lot of work to get their tools up to spec for woodworking.

They have a fairly light duty work bench for about $130 on sale now that is very usable, and has a decent end vise. I reinforced mine on top and around the edges. But for someone with limited space, I don't think you can beat it. Very similar table at Rockler is more than double that price. However, my first workbench was a folding 30x60 table with a wood top. I still use that table for other purposes, and it folds up and gets out of the way nicely.

Harbor freight is always fun to visit though, It's helpful to look at tools and fiddle wth them to figure out how they work. Stick is right though about not thinking only of price. If you like woodworking enough to continue at it for the long haul, make sure your big tools are high quality.
 

·
Registered
Theo
Joined
·
7,194 Posts
Depends. Have a HF bench drill press I got in 96 or 97. Needed a new switch within a week, trouble free since. Angle grinder about 10 years, still working - unless my son walked off with it. I buy there, but watch what I buy. They do/did have DeWalt factory refurb tools. Heard a contractor one day trying to buy a display model of a tool I don't remember what was. He said he could buy a big name tool, and it would last about four weeks - he also said they were used 7 days a week, and 12 hours a day, steady. A HF tool would last 3 weeks. But he could buy two FH tools for the price of one big name tool, so it was very cost effective for him to buy. Almost forgot, HF hand power planer, hand belt sander, ROS, all years old, all working just fine. They do have an excellent return policy. Yeah, I'd buy there again - when you want a tool you will likely only use once, do you want to buy an expensive one that would hold up to years of use, or a much less expensive that probably would last maybe a dozen uses?
 
  • Like
Reactions: 197761

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
5,816 Posts
Let's see...
F Style clamps - never had a problem with them in 6 & 12 inch. The 24 incher will bend but I still use them to hold parts in place while I attach them.

Alum bar clamps - work OK for me.

Acid brushes - use them a lot to spread glue. Cheep

Nailer and staplers - multi use framing nailer uses three different angle nails. 1/4 inch stapler/18 ga brad nailer - works perfect but leaves a mark when shooting the brad nails.

HVLP spray gun, filters.

Metric wrenches and sockets. Got to have them for whenever.

2hp dust collector.

Casters for carts.

I know there is more, but I am drawing a blank.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,603 Posts
Some items are good and some are junk. Tom and Theo point out some of the items at HF. You have to pick and choose their good items.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
61 Posts
i have been buying stuff from HF for many many years and havent been disappointed yet!
your always going to hear bad stuff about them because they sell a LOT of stuff and of course some items will be defective and people will talk about it.

also they have great warranties on stuff if something did end up defective.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
888 Posts
Their blades and bits are kind of junky. I was using one of their multi tool blades and the welds attaching the cutting portion to the main body broke. It was embedded in the material I was cutting so it didn't go flying. Like some others have said beware of the stuff that goes fast. Also, I bought the HF flooring nailer for $99. It worked fine but per HF they don't sell replacement parts for it e.g. gaskets and seals, which do wear out over time. I did some searching and found out the name brand that HF had knocked off and the parts sizes/specs were the same. At check out I was told there was only a 90 day warranty and my home flooring project was going to take longer so I bought the extended warranty. When I read the owners manual it said that for non-commercial and non-rental use the warranty is 1 year. The warranty wasn't expensive but I was curious so I called HF Customer Service. CS rep said 90 day warranty as posted on Web Site. I said I didn't buy on-line. CS rep gave same 90 day answer. Now I was curious as to when the extended warranty kicked in...90 days after purchase date or 1 year after purchase date. Nobody at HF or the extended warranty company could provide an answer. I wonder how much they make off warranty sales?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
239 Posts
I have purchased so much stuff from HF over the years, it's hard to start the list. My HF philosophy for power tools is buy HF if I only need it for occasional use. Most of their tools will not stand up to daily or heavy use. I have only returned one tool, an angle grinder, and it was noisy and rattled right out of the box. The replacement is still working years later.

I bought the 2.5HP sliding wet/dry tile saw and it works wonderful with a diamond blade I bought on Amazon. I have used the $20 multitool for years. I bought their coil roofing nailer on sale when I did my roof and then sold it for only $20 less than I paid and I could not rent one for that. It worked great.

I love their cobalt 115 piece drill bit set. You will not find a better deal on cobalt bits. I have their biscuit jointer and it works well for me since I don't need a high end one for occasional use. Their small clamps work well. I have never broke any of their wrenches or sockets yet.

I do not buy router bits or saw blades with the exception of their 7" diamond wet blade for the small tile saw. They hold up really well for me.

What else can I say, I'm a fan.

Rich
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
The quality of HF tools is very variable. The tools made in China, which are the cheapest, vary from adequate to junk; the tools made in Taiwan are usually of acceptable quality, so look closely at where the tool was made. I have purchased many router bits from China on E-bay and they have all been of acceptable quality and 1/6 to 1/10 of the price for US made router bits. Recently I purchased several box of 29 drill bits coated with titanium oxide for $10; good quality and very cheap. However, be aware that HF does not stock replacement parts for electric tools so if the tool brakes you must throw it away. However HF tools usually include a extra pair of carbon brushes in the box.

Dennis Waller
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
WOW! Thanks guys! Actually going to take notes and arm myself with all of this information and go back over there to actually browse at all the stuff and figure out my plan. I know I will definitely get some of those clamps.

I'm totally with you Stick. I have often bought quality so I could have it for a long time. I have even debated with people, they would ask, why are you buying that for $X.XX when you can get it over here for $x.xx and I my reply? Cause I will have mine for 10 years and by the time you wore yours out and replaced it a dozen times, mine will have been cheaper!

I have even been known to get any overtime I could, or even 1, 2 or even 3 extra part-time jobs to make up for something that I knew was a good item. But being on disability, alas, those days are gone. For quite a few years now, it's been either get this one, or go without. Some things I definitely go without, but I have to find something that my wallet can feed out. If I only make $850/month to live, I can't go out and buy a $500 portable table saw I have been drooling over or even the $300 portable band saw every easily. Then I have to remember, sure I got the table saw...but there goes my chance for clamps, wood, blades...

Believe me, it sucks having to live like this, but I am really not complaining. It's just I have to use my brain to figure out how I can still reach goals in my situation. I don't want to make furniture out of old milk crates...that was for when I was 18-20 and first out on my own! LOL

For instance, I have a couple of inexpensive but nice looking furniture pieces. Everything was geared to the old flat. Unfortunately, this flat is SO different, the cabinet won't fit in the bathroom, not even room for the toilet space saver!!! And I was given a plastic shelf and the shelves are warped and I hate that ugly generic good for nothing "thing" in there, but it has to do for now. The measurements for the cabinet I want in this bathroom...even cheap MDF or particle board, $269 from Walmart, is the cheapest. I was like WHAT?!?!

I can't even get the items I had in my bedroom to fit in this bedroom-that's another project. But after I get the shelves up on the wall in the bedroom...I will not worry about that room for a little while.

My next project will be for the bathroom. I can get decent plywood, maybe that birch one of you guys was talking to me about, make dado cuts, glue, screws and plugs, maybe some of that stain one of you guys showed me and make a decent cabinet that fits the space, is functional and looks nice and will last for quite a while, for WAY cheaper than the $269 plus tax. AND I can say did it. :)

This is why I also love Amazon and eBay (sometimes). There was a book I really wanted, several years back but it was $35 plus tax at the store. I went online and found that book, plus a 2nd book that came with it, for $25 w/free shipping and no tax!

And there have been times I bought something that was supposed to be nice and when it broke 4 months outside the warranty for the TV, and in warranty for the recliner...I got the bums rush on any service for both items! That really sucked! Even wrote corporate sometimes-that's when you learn who you are really dealing with.

So yeah, unless I win the lottery, I have to think what is the best I can afford for this amount. IF I win the lottery, I will buy some land and have the house/garage plans that have been in my head for YEARS drawn up and built! And I will be keeping my eye on the workers most of the way! I want it done right! LOL :)
 

·
Registered
Theo
Joined
·
7,194 Posts
Fixed income, eh? Yep, that makes a huge difference. Been on fixed income since '95, so know the feeling.

But, there are ways around part of that. Make your own clamps - free plans on-line on how to make cam clamps, once you make one, they are easy. I made a batch of them years ago, all wood, no metal in them. Figure the cost was around $.25 each, and they work great. Mine were from about 6" to 48".

I wanted/sort of needed a saw besides my bench saw. So, stuck an old sabre saw, upside down, in a homemade frame. Works great. Made my own router table, of course. Would have made a belt sander, but already had one. Same with disc sander.

Don't forget craigslist. But it's somewhat like HF, gotta be cautious, and lots of times prices are higher than a new whatever.

Trades. Got a flute off of craigslist, very cheap. Always wanted to learn to play one. Well, couldn't even get a sound out of it, me not the flute. So, advertised it on craiglist and said I wanted a scrollsaw. Already have one in my shop, but wanted on in the spare room of the house. Swapped that el cheapo flute for an older Delta scrollsaw, that is probably worth close to $200 - top of the line.

I've got enough $ to spare I could probably afford to buy some things I could really use, but get along without for now. But why buy, when it's more fun to make it, and cheaper. Right now I've got several projects planned to make rather than buy. Barrel spinner, buy around $100+, make maybe $10 or so probably. Metal nibbler, about $10 if I can't find my carbide burr and have to buy one, rest out of plywood I already have. Small wood lathe (because I sold nice HF wood lathe, because all I liked to do with it was make carving mallets), for a couple of projects - cost, zip. Even if I had a truckload of cash, I'd likely make those things anyway, it's lots more fun.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 197761 and kp91

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,583 Posts
To me, HF products are like cars....one person gets one that is great, another gets one that is junk from the start. I buy a lot of small items from HF and use the coupons for freebies. Went there Wednesday and started picking up small things for Christmas presents- lights, multi-meter, screwdrivers, etc. I had a benchtop bandsaw that vibrated real bad. Finally got rid of it. I have an electric chainsaw that I use in the shop for cutting wood for turning- so far, so good. Belt sander seems OK so far. If HF had poor products across the board, they would have gone out of business a long time ago.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21,669 Posts
I still have income, but am slowing down and know money will be tighter, so I've purchased every tool I think I'd really need now, high quality every one. Now, when I go to my woodworking store, I can't find anything much to spend money on, so I figure I'm tooled up until I check out. But I also have my secret fund, all daily change goes in a jar, and the money from selling my old band saw, and a hundred bucks winnings from the Survivor game pool my step daughter holds every season. By the time I stop working, that fund will buy wood and consumable supplies until I assume room temperature. Planning for the reduced income future which, being 74, may be shorter than I'd like.

Maybe those of us who don't have someone to leave our tools to, should find a way to hand them off to someone on fixed income to use?
 

·
Registered
Theo
Joined
·
7,194 Posts
Planning for the reduced income future which, being 74, may be shorter than I'd like.QUOTE]

You're very fortunate then. I'm 76, and started reduced income in 1995, not my choice. Fortunately my Army retirement, and disability, have kept me afloat. One very fortunate thing, when I was laid off my last job in 1995, I received a nice bit of change from the company (possibly the only one that did, the company was very cheap toward everyone but management - management strangely performed so brilliantly they got regular and hefty raises. The peons on the other hand, seldom got raises, and they either got nothing at all, or raises of $.03 to $.05 per hour). But I digress, that money was enough to have my small shop built, $780, with a window, and buy some tools. If I hadn't bought the shop then, I would likely still not have a shop. At 8X12' it may not be much, but it still gives me a warm fuzzy feeling to look out the window and see it out there.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 197761

·
Registered
Joined
·
233 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah, fixed income here since 1997. I like your creativity Theo and I think I am going to make me some clamps!

I have been checking out Craig's list this year, before I joined the forum but I have been shocked at some of the stuff up for sale-UGH! Really bad quality for still kind of high. And the few I did find that I would consider worthy, are too far away for me. Been without a car about 4 years and another 3 before I can get another one.

You just helped me in getting some Christmas presents John! I am now on their mailing list so I will make sure to take the coupons with me when I get them!

I agree Tom! People who are on fixed income that enjoy this stuff, would LOVE tools and machines gifted to them!

Theo, I would LOVE to have a place where I could have an 8'x12' workshop. I can imagine having that warm fuzzy feeling, just being able to go out there and know it's yours and have some fun while you're at it. Heck, I would LOVE to have my own home and work in the basement, attic, garage or whatever! hahaha
 
1 - 20 of 46 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top