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  #16 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 09:59 AM
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There use to be a HF down the street from my old house. I bought several items from HF as well. It might just be me, but I feel tools are important. I found myself buying HF and then having to spend more money replacing the ones that were worthless or didn't work well. I've been buying Craftsman and Husky because of the guarantee, if it breaks they replace it. I'd buy Proto or Mac but they are expensive. I buy tools once, and hopefully pass them on to my kids. I still remember my dad would never spend a dime on China tools, and always bought top quality tools. I'm still using those tools today. (thanks Dad)
As for welders, I probably wouldn't go with HF and go with a well known brand. Even if your welding once in a while or decide you never need to weld again. A major brand like Lincoln, Hobart and the rest will hold their resale value, where the others, you may as well throw them away. Like someone stated before, "you get what you pay for" at least when it comes to tools.

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  #17 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 10:18 AM
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Cheap tooling is never GOOD......
except for the person selling it...
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  #18 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 11:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaSouthWon
It's kind of funny how the opinions vary as too the quality of the HF tools. I have bought a fair amount of items from HF and find that every single thing they sell is hit or miss. I've bought 2 of the exact same tools, used them exactly the same and one lasts 2 months and the other lasted 2 years. Buying tools from a communist government subsidized industry is a gamble. Whats really a challenge is trying to return a defective product, they look at you with the "you were the dummy that bought a $300 dollar tool at HF" in their eyes as they tell you sorry and point you to the area to BUY a new one. I usually just stick to buying expendables there now such as sand paper, and abrasive blast media. Just my $.02


HF has a 90 day warranty and they are well known for being easy to get replacements from so your return problem must be a local thing. After saying that though there's really not much to say about them other than a few things work pretty good and others are worse than junk. Their hand tools like sockets, ratchets, wrenches, screwdrivers, etc are a joke at best and are better left in the store but a few items are real bargains FOR HOBBY TYPE WORK!! The 4 1/2" grinder is a good example of a tool that is worth more than the small price, usually about $19 but sometimes on sale, and for small shop use these things will last a long time. I bought one about 4 years ago and I have worn out a bunch of discs with the thing but it is still hanging in there and there are several people here that also have had good luck with them, they are so cheap you can buy two or three and set them up with different wheels. There is one particular model of auto-dark welding helmet that works really well and it too has developed quite a following, don't want to forget the horizontal metal cutting bandsaw that is about $179 but on sale often for $159. I have one that is six years old and I have run the dickens out of that thing and it has not given one minutes worth of trouble the whole time I have used it, it's as accurate as any I have used. The bottom line is there are a few good buys at HF and a lot of junk, NEVER buy any tool where quality is important and NEVER buy any thing for professional work from them. The only things I will buy are things like that saw and grinder that have developed a good reputation and gadgets that are handy but will see only occasional use, an example would be a power steering pulley remover that cost 6 bucks and has been used about three times in the 2 or 3 years I have had it. That puller was $39.95 at the auto parts and the $6 outfit worked just as well and is still like new, same with my AC gauges and leak detector they work just fine for the occasional use they will see.
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  #19 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 12:04 PM
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Sometimes you luck out

You got lucky with the grinder,I was using one and it suddenly made a nasty racket and caught on fire (warranty was up) the $29 brake bleeder that works off air is fantastic!I had a power washer hose rupture and smack me in the leg,OUCH!! went back for a replacement and they had a warranty rerturn in the back so they gave me that on the house,I was able to buy a full warranty on the year old unit for $9.95 so came out OK.
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Old 12-29-2008, 02:06 PM
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Name brand MIG welders are so cheap, doesn't make sense to go HF. I did buy their plasma cutter because name brand ones are $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ - had a choice of no plasma cutter or an HF plasma cutter. Easy choice! The contact switch (brain of the thing) failed the first time I struck an arc (Westinghouse!!!) but they sent me a new one immediately on my word. Has worked fine for the past 4 or 5 years. No one is saying the tools are top-of-the-line quality. However for a weekend-warrior, they are the only way my type can afford them.

I must have an exceptional store 'cause they replace everything no questions asked. I bought two reciprisaws and both sheared the bull gear within a couple hours sawing ABS pipe. They took both back, no questions, and gave me full credit on a Dewalt. I bought a $100 Maikita "professional quality' die grinder from another store and it burned up in about half an hour grinding holes in sheet metal with a 1/2" carbide burr. Tried to take it back and they said I obviously abused it so they wouldn't replace it. I was desperate so bought another and it also fried almost immediately. I got a cheapie HF one and have been abusing it for years with no problems.

Another time I bought their cheapest 1/4" ratchet 'cause I rarely use it. The snap ring popped out of the head and it fell apart. I went back to the store and the store manager said, "You don't want to get another one of these, take this one", and handed me their best ratchet for the same price! It is polished chrome and I can't tell the difference between it and the Craftsman one I have, except for the name on the handle. Feels and works like a quality item.

I strongly disagree about the HF screwdrivers. I buy their 'top of the line' drivers (still dirt cheap) and they are every bit as good as my Craftsman ones.

No way do I recommend the stuff for pros (although there are select tools that perform just as well as the $$$ stuff) but for the hobbyist, can't be beat. I don't like supporting the Commies either but the way I look at it, I am giving them a few cents and adding American creative value which is worth gobs more than the little they are getting from me. No nasty responses from folks from other countries please.
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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffB
You got lucky with the grinder,I was using one and it suddenly made a nasty racket and caught on fire (warranty was up) the $29 brake bleeder that works off air is fantastic!I had a power washer hose rupture and smack me in the leg,OUCH!! went back for a replacement and they had a warranty rerturn in the back so they gave me that on the house,I was able to buy a full warranty on the year old unit for $9.95 so came out OK.


They have two very different grinders and the Chicago Electric is the one I was talking about, the Drill Master models are total crap that would be lucky to last through one grinding disc! There are several others here that have had the same kind of service from those Chicago Electric grinders that I have had from mine.



Willys, I have to admit that I have never tried a HF screwdriver and I was talking about hand tools in general, of course I have not tried the wrenches, sockets and ratchets either so maybe I should not have commented on any of them. Actually I was basing my opinion on the appearance of them, the ridiculously low price, the fact they are from China (India in some cases) and the common knowledge about the quality of cheap tools in general. Still I have not tried any of them so I suppose I should not have said anything bad about them but I still can't see me buying or recommending HF hand tools even to the hobbyist. I have a bunch of gadgets from HF and some that I have mentioned have been worth far more than they cost and overall I have had really good luck with the things I have bought from there but then I am real picky about what I buy.
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 06:29 PM
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As with any off-brand equipment, you need to be careful. It really is a crap shoot going for El Cheap-o welders. I have one of the first Miller Cricket welders ever made (literally, one right out of R&D) from the late '80's and it still works. I have used that thing countless times, rebuilt it almost as much as I have used it and it is still going. I have since replaced it with a Lincoln SP-125 and it is a fantastic piece of machinery. On the other hand, the fella up the street from me has a HF welder that I have helped him with and I can't say too much bad about it. For what he spent on it, it has paid for itself tenfold. Sure, its not as well made or nice as my stuff but he bought it to weld up a kindorf and sheet metal utility trailer for his farm and to build tree stands with his kids during the summer months. Both of those jobs the machine performed flawlessly on. He has used the daylights out of that thing since and I have never heard him complain about it once. On one occasion he borrowed mine to finish a project because it was a Sunday evening and he cooked his last contact tip. I guess that happens no matter what pedigree your equipment has.
Some people have a real hang-up with non-name brand stuff. To a degree, I do too. But if you realize the limitations of a tool or piece of equipment and work within its limitations you will be fine. I just have a hard time telling a guy on a short wallet to go buy a $900 piece of equipment when a $400 piece will put a floor pan in just as well.
You really need to identify the job at hand, know the limits of your equipment and weigh out your options.
Was that non committal enough of an answer?
Obviously, if you have disposable income, go Lincoln or Miller. They are great machines with fantastic warranty and easy to find service centers and it will more than likely last you a life time. If this is a one-shot deal and you may use it again in five years to patch a mower deck or tack weld your wifes bird feeder, get a Harbor Freight.
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 06:56 PM
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If you can not afford to buy good tooling, rent it.... that is what rental companies are set up to do...
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 07:32 PM
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The bad thing about buying cheap tools,Is in the long run you will end up buying the good one's.Then you payed twice as much as you would have at the beginning. That's the story of my life... Now I only buy the good one's..
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 08:20 PM
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i was wondering what you guys think about this welder?
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100596739

thats around a price range i can afford currently.
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 08:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stangman196700
i was wondering what you guys think about this welder?
http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100596739

thats around a price range i can afford currently.

You want something that is more settable..Heat and wire speed.

This is what I have,This is a great machine.I use mine everyday.And if it broke,I would buy another one just like it...

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...ctId=100395926
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 09:18 PM
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I have to jump in here. If you need tips, a new liner, rollers, a triger, or new whip, for a cheap import welder good luck. Second a leaky gas valve will cost you 25+ the first time you forget to turn it off and the bottle goes flat. The wire feed control would drive me nuts if it was as touchy as you said the HF welder was.

All of my welders (2 TIGS a syncro 180 and an Ideal arc 300/300 and 2 MIGs Miller 251 and 135) are Miller or Lincoln and have only had a problem with the Syncro 180 when it was new enough to be in warrenty.

All of my electric grinders (4) and drills (3) are Milwalkee and 2 of them were my dads they have to be 25+ years old and the two I am speeking of have worn out a cord, triger and a set of brushes. You can pick one up and don't have to worry if it is going to work or overheat. Try that with a 20.00 grinder.

I have a 51 year old PEXTO stomp shear I was using this evening that works like new.

What do all of these tools have in common besides being dependable and easy to use?

They are all made in the USA with American pride, buy them when you can or your children will only be able to get them used.

OH back to the question no I would NEVER buy a chaep welder you can't get parts and if you are welding something together you need something that you don't have to fight with to get a good weld. Buy a good used Miller I bet you would spend about the same money and have a good machine you can give your kids.
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 12-29-2008, 11:12 PM
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Mike makes a great point. Scour swap sheets and news papers for used machines. I see them going on the cheap all the time around here.
As far as the home depot Lincoln. Not a bad machine for knock around use. You still get the warranty and it will do anything Joe Hobby needs to do. Tap switches are not as nice as potentiometers or infinite controls found on more expensive machines, but they will do what they are meant to do.
Parts and service are a big thing with MIG machines. Look at things like contactors. You want copper, not aluminum. Thats the part that makes the wire "hot" when you squeeze the trigger. Spot/stitch welding burns those out faster.
Drive motors and tension adjustments. A good deal of those are plastic and prone to fast wear.
I also agree with mike on the "Buy American" when ever possible. I understand that in this day and age, some times the $$ rules our choices more than our desires do. As far as I go, I will always go for something made here in the good ol' U S of A, but on the same token, I won't fault a man for making a decision based on the limits of his wallet if thats all thats standing in the way of his dreams or keeping him from using his creativity.
Buy the best you can afford. Learn to use it to the best of your ability.
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 12-30-2008, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldred
For a budget welder the Clarke seems to be gaining a pretty good reputation and it only costs a few dollars more the HF machines. One of the members here was quite impressed with his Clarke and after trying one I can see why, darn good machine for the money.
hey oldred, i'm that member... . i've used lincolns and millers. the clarke is just as good but cheaper. it is made in italy. i can't tell any difference in the brands. the clarke is like the energizier bunny (it justs keeps going on and on). that welder will weld 1/4 inch steel (thanks for the preheat steel tip oldred !!! ). to update you, the clarke is still going strong. it has the crap used out of it. it is a quality welder. i can buy tips from any welder supplier, heck, even home depot sells them. the clarke mig welder gets gets a 5 star rating from me.

oldred knows his welding, arc, oxy/acet. mig/tig, but i say buy a CLARKE...
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Old 12-30-2008, 07:47 AM
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welder

I bought a HF $98 mig 3 years ago right after my shop burned down just so I would have one.Used it at that time for everything.Since than have bought a Airco 220 TIG/MIG foot pedal for big stuff.Still use the HF for everything little,body repair,any lite steel welding.Ran it off the generator back in the woods to repair the log skidder,running it till it shut off and needed to cool down and welded some more.Probably put 40 spools of wire thur it with no breakdowns.More than happy with it.Used their grinders but have found out that you do need to get the orange ones,the blue ones aren't worth buying.Our local HF never had a problem returning anything,just take it in and get a new one.We don't use their hand tools only out in the field where you don't care if they get lost or not.
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