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Thread: Harbor Freight Tools; love 'em or hate 'em?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master





    Idaho45guy's Avatar
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    Harbor Freight Tools; love 'em or hate 'em?

    I stopped by the only one in the area to buy one of their Apache gun cases and it is basically a knock-off of a Pelican case. I walked around the entire store and ended up grabbing some metric deep sockets and crude vise grips.

    Not everything was junk, but much was. Was not impressed with the prices. The case I bought was still $64 dollars.

    Great selection of tools, though.

    And I've heard their Badland series of electric winches are pretty good.

    Opinions of Harbor Freight?
    "Luck don't live out here. Wolves don't kill the unlucky deer; they kill the weak ones..." Jeremy Renner in Wind River

  2. #2
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    The prices are not as good as they used to be. I've bought a few tools from them in the past. My experience has been if the tool works when you get it it will probably last a long time. About a third of the tools I've purchased have arrived broken. Replacement parts for the more expensive items seem to be tough to find as well.

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Prices jumped up with the increase in tariffs and excise taxes on Chinese imports. Most everything at Harbor Freight is Chinese manufactured.

    Recently however, they have returned to their discount coupons. I get them emailed and periodically even the 20% off everything (single purchase). Not just specific items. I haven’t been in one in over 6 months.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master GhostHawk's Avatar
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    Mostly love, but if it costs more than 50$ I do my research first.

    I've been extremely happy with all the Bauer 20v cordless tools, and I have a whole stable of them.
    My Lynxx cordless weedeater has been a joy.

    And I have a set of open/box end ratchet wrenches that I truly love.
    I truly believe we need to get back to basics.

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  5. #5
    Boolit Master


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    I have been buying tools from them for about 30 years.
    I started with catalog sales with free shipping in the late 80s, then they opened a store close to me so I would go there.
    A lot of the stuff that you see at Sears, Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes are the same tools with a different name and higher price!
    I have had problems with some of the electrical/ electronics but I have always gotten a refund.
    I have a circular saw that is 15 years old and works well, a 1/4 sheet electric sander, flex shaft grinder, bench grinder and carbide lathe bit grinder too!
    I use these tools for hobby and home repairs not all day every day use.
    Last edited by deltaenterprizes; 06-30-2022 at 07:58 AM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Idaho45guy View Post
    I stopped by the only one in the area to buy one of their Apache gun cases and it is basically a knock-off of a Pelican case. I walked around the entire store and ended up grabbing some metric deep sockets and crude vise grips.

    Not everything was junk, but much was. Was not impressed with the prices. The case I bought was still $64 dollars.

    Great selection of tools, though.

    And I've heard their Badland series of electric winches are pretty good.

    Opinions of Harbor Freight?
    I also had thought of the store as "Crap-heaven" -- BUT, I saw some deep-reach C-Clamps at unbelievable low price -- why not -- and -- they're awesome! PLUS, I picked up one of their flat drill press vices. Cast poorly -- it bound when opened up more than 6 or 7 cms., I -- NO problem -- returned it/replaced. Seeing 4" electric grinder/cut-off tool for $19.99 U S, with a 20% off coupon -- I couldn't say 'no'. I reckoned I'd cut off about two dozen 1/2" bolts which needed trimming on one of my trailers. Not only did it perform flawlessly on this job, I cannot give the total number of times I have -- again flawlessly -- used this tool!
    My one and only (sort of) regret is my wife presented me with their "Club" card as a Christmas gift two years back -- and -- in my case -- it surely was NOT worth it.
    To add one more note, I have several of their Icon branded pliers which work as well as my Klein and Channelocks! Also, needing some 1/4" drive Metric sockets I tried theirs. Answering my query re "quality" the local store manager told me -- GREAT advice -- "we sell low-quality/low price for the, say, one-time tool user who just needs it once to get their job done without a major cash outlay -- AND -- we offer similar tools at quality rivaling, and often surpasses, the highest rated national brands. The choice is yours."
    I bought their Icon set -- no regrets -- and I oft grab for these before my "top-quality" national-branded ones.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master RKJ's Avatar
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    I've got a lot of their tools and like them. Their warranty is good and I've used it a few times with no issues. I've got 2 of their Badlands winches on my ATVs (2500s) and they work like a champ. One is 4 years old and the other is 3 years old both are still going strong. Whenever I need tools I look there and compare and then decide. I've not yet been disappointed.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Wolfdog91's Avatar
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    I love them for the fact
    1. If you give them a email address returning stuff is BEYOND EASY ! Almost no questions asked. Just give them my cell number or pull up my recipet on my email ( if you give them you email which takes like 30sec it automatically sends you a copy of your recipet) and they take back whatever and either give me a refund or a new one heck I have a generator I bought there and got an extra warranty for a extra $20 I think. I just bring it back once a year and get a new one with a new warranty.
    And 2. No one wants to steal harbor freight stuff. Like seriously. I couldn't give a crackhead a harbor freight brand wrench or grinder. Dewalts and all them seem to like to walk off though.
    I'm not joking when I say I could have a snap on wrench and a harbor freight wrench and the anopn will be missing some how in less then a week
    Will say how ever there battery power stuff is ....meh but I hear bigger off brand batteries will solve that.
    A wise man will try to learn as much from a fool as he will from a master, for all have something to teach- Uncle Iroh
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  9. #9
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    I have a lot of their large tools and have been pleased with all of them. I have been using most of them for at least 15 years with no issues. The only tools that have ever been a problem were some of their cheaper power tools.
    NRA Benefactor Member NRA Golden Eagle

  10. #10
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    I tend to use them for that one off-infrequent tools use item. As an example; pole chain saw rarely gets used - bought on a sale 20% off; continues to work when needed. Have used it enough I feel I got my "Monies Worth". If it dies now; not going to be p-ooood. A better quality/name would have cost 3 times as much and still would be used infrequently. Alternative was standing in the bucket of the Tractor front loader, or on a ladder to trim limbs - not my best choices so the less expensive pole chain saw was "good Value".
    Mustang

    "In the beginning... the patriot is a scarce man, and brave and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot." - Mark Twain.

  11. #11
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    First off, has anyone noticed the quality and also the ingenuity of their tools has been on the rise in recent years? Generally I despise most of their offerings and can find USA made NOS or used tools on fleabay for less than new at HF and it's a certainty the old Made In USA tools will outlast the HF tools. I go this route first.

    Machine tools you get what you pays for. Sometimes.. I got a boxed set of end mills brand new, for $20. I used one to machine down the hammer pad on a SBH hammer and it rolled a burr on the TiNi Coated chinese made bit and would not even cut the 400 series stainless of the Ruger hammer. HF sells this same box of end mills for $79.95 I am GLAD I didn't waste the full store price on them!
    Got a .22 .30 .32 .357 .38 .40 .41 .44 .45 .480 or .500 S&W cylinder that needs throats honed? 9mm, 10mm/40S&W, 45 ACP pistol barrel that won't "plunk" your handloads? 480 Ruger or 475 Linebaugh cylinder that needs 6° 30min chamfer reamed? Click here to send me a PM You can also find me on Facebook Click Here.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I will not so much as darken their doors ever again.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master Wag's Avatar
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    Personally, I don't love 'em and I don't hate 'em.

    But I don't give myself reason to hate 'em. I just don't have high expectations for what I'm getting. If I buy something there, It's generally with the intention of using it once or twice because that's all I need it for.

    Absolutely, if I were making my living with my tool set, it wouldn't be tools I bought from HF!

    --Wag--
    "Great genius will always encounter fierce opposition from mediocre minds." --Albert Einstein.

  14. #14
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    I have a Bauer cordless drill from HF and a comparable model by Dewalt. The features of of each are virtually identical. I actually like the Bauer over the Dewalt. Years ago, when I first tried HF, all of their electric tools were total junk. Now they have models that rival the traditional US brands. This may be partly due to the fact that many of the traditional US brands are now built in the same factories as the HF offerings.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master bedbugbilly's Avatar
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    I have gone there for certain things. It's like a lot of things today - you have to be selective as far as the quality goes. I haven't been there for a couple years so can't speak for their prices. I have a couple two piece rolling tool sheets that were a good value for the price - same for some of their tools - maybe some not the best but for occasional use they do the job. A number of years ago I picked up a number of their plastic ammo boxes when they were on sale - excellent for storing bricks of primers, loaded ammo, percussion caps, etc.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    They have done good by me. Basic hand tools and such. I don't make my living with them so I can't say how they might hold up long term but for projects and maintenance on stuff they work fine.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  17. #17
    Boolit Grand Master

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    At work if I had to borrow a tool 3 times I bought one. Between the farm my brother and myself we have some tools that get got passed around as needed. ( tote thread die some bigger pipe wrenches conduit benders, ect ect) For limited occasional use I look and may buy harbor freights brand. I bought one of the bauer oscillating saws when I was building the shop and its a very good tool. The mini lathe not so much, it does the job but is under powered and on the light side even for its size.

    A broken tool is an issue but what irks me even more when a tool breaks is the lost time on the project.

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    As long as the customer supplies the “Quality Control” step of manufacture, Harbor Freight Stuff is plenty good enough for home-shop use. Their little specialty pliers and C-clamps can be selected from the bins with no more effort than making sure the jaws come together straight, and then they go on working fine.

    The $35 bench grinder I bought 20 years ago is still going strong. It doesn’t slow down on a heavy grind like my Black&Decker did. The $250 vertical/horizontal band saw is indispensable. I did have to learn not to crowd the blade, which makes it pop off the wheels, requiring resetting, but I can generally go through a cut without that happening any more. The bigger $400 one (or an American one) might be better in this respect, but for the amount of use I give it, the smaller one is cost-effective, and beats hand hacksawing by a mile.

    I get the little flashlights (in various configurations) and stick or mount them on machinery whenever I need a little more light on something. Battery life isn’t spectacular, but a change to Ultimate Lithium takes care of that. And the on-sale price is right.

    I won’t buy a Chinese vise of any serious size. It seems no matter how hard I pull the lever, the stock is still loose in the jaws. A lot of still-good Wiltons are available at yard sales and swap meets.

    No doubt prices have gone up since I bought this stuff. But unless you are a professional, amortizing the costs for taxes, American tools are mostly too expensive for my home shop, unless I luck out and find them used. The Chinese seem to have picked up the notion that there are a lot of amateurs that need machinery for light or occasional use, and now supply those that used to buy from Atlas or Craftsman. Everybody else seems to think that the customer is out to make money producing “widgets,” and wants their pound of flesh up front.

  19. #19
    Boolit Grand Master
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    I have had decent stuff from them and junk. But more decent than junk.

    Like others have said, it can be a crap shoot. I have a 4 1/2" angle grinder that I got on sale for $10 a few years ago and the thing is awesome. I have used it to modify 30 IBC totes and grind a new notches in the bar on the pallet fork frame for the tractor, etc etc. Their electric impact wrench was $30 and works well for my needs.

    I wish I had not standardized on Dewalt cordless tools and gone with HF. Replacement Dewalt batteries are overpriced.
    Don Verna


  20. #20
    Boolit Master
    Mal Paso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Froogal View Post
    I will not so much as darken their doors ever again.
    I won't go that far but it's been 6 months since I last visited and turned off all their ads. I drove an hour each way to buy a gun cabinet based on inventory. They didn't they have the cabinet, wouldn't sell the floor model and said on line inventory was WORTHLESS. Got a USA made cabinet for not much more on the bay.

    Lots better tools/prices elsewhere
    Mal

    Mal Paso means Bad Pass, just so you know.

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