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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11-18-2006, 04:26 PM
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HF tools, good or bad

I have always been a big advocate of buying good name brand tools and I still would NEVER recommend the cheapies for some one using them to make a living, however, do we really need Snap-on for the home garage? Since I sold out and retired in January and let a lot of my tools go with the shop I have bought a LOT of HF stuff, some really good, some not so good and some just plain junk. I thought it might be interesting to hear about other's experiences with these tools, such things as tool life, performance for the tool type as opposed to name brands, possible safety hazards due to poor quality and of course warranty. I have made my living with Snap-on, S&K and several others and I would not have then, nor would I now, attempt to use the cheap import tools to make a living. I realize that for some people the price of the HF stuff compared to "good" tools can make the difference between owning a tool or doing without and for that reason these things may be a real bargain if we can sort out the good from the bad. How about it what do you guys think, can these things be a bargain or are they a waste of money and should they always be avoided?

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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 11-18-2006, 05:28 PM
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i think there hand tools are junk, with that said, i don't know why i keep buying them,i guess i think i am getting a bargain
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Old 11-18-2006, 05:58 PM
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every tool I have bought is a HF brand ( except a 5 peice set of craftsmen professional line wrenches ), why because there cheap and I can use them and afford to buy them and still afford the parts for my cars, so I can actully use them, rather than have bragging rights because, I have ( fill in the blank with any " expensive tool comapny " ). right now being a high school student, I'v got a car to work on, a job that does not require your own tools ( work at ski resort in rentals dept ) and having " good " tools makes no logical sense to me, other than I would have bragging rights, but I would have very limated $$ for my cars, so I would have nice tools, with no use for them. I will get Snap on tools here shortly, thru my auto class I can get 50% off snap on industrial tools, I'd be stupid not to collect what I can aford to at that price. as for quality, I havn't had a tool fail yet, have a few of there sockets and, there ok- marginal fit at best. the die grinder I have works great, the cut off tool works good ( tho my compressor does not keep up ), my MIG 100 flux wire welder works good, tho my brother who loves to use it, does not like to clean the tip and it seems to catch very easy if the tip is dirty, the 14" chop saw I paid $49 for works flawlessly. We do have 1 problem with somthing bought from HF tho, my mom and I bought 1 of the tent type garages ( we have 1 from a good company, and have had it for 1 season ) and put it all up, the tubes were held togther by tension, so my mom put in #8 self tapping screws to hold it togther, put the tarp on and everything seemed ok, we even put the special no pull out anchors ( HF anchors were 2' tent stakes basicly ) , until the first wind when it flexed appart and the rod that goes across the front, a 2 peice rod that my mom never screwed togther ( goes on after the tarp is on ) flexed apart and dropped, this created a void and put a lot of preassure on the zipper in the center, when I found it, it was blown up like a baloon from the air preassure, when me and my mom went out to fix it, the zipper broke and we had to take the front and back wall off of the tent, so it wouldn't destroy itself.
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Old 11-18-2006, 06:29 PM
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I think you just have to use your head when buying these tools. You can buy a cheap welding cart and be very satisfied with it. But you can buy a crow bar that shatters the first time you use it. This site is very useful because you can ask people what tools are good from HF and what tools to stay away from. That is better than trial and error. I think they are wonderful if you know what to stay away from. I bought a sand blaster that works great but needed work right off the bat. like better hose clamps and a better dead man valve. This was still a dirt cheap tool that is just as good as any other besides the stated. I love HF. It makes me happy! I have bought many tools that I will just use occasionally and love them. I would not buy say a HF socket set.
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Old 11-18-2006, 07:16 PM
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Some of thier stuff is OK for occassional use and some is OK for any use Like bar clamps , stuff like that...and a lot is just junk. The purple spray gun is a real good gun for a cheap one, the cut off saw is good. The air file is OK. I do not like thier hand tools...sockets, wrenches ,etc......When it comes to sockets sets and wrenches...a cheap tool is a expensive tool because you will have skint hands, busted knuckles, rounded corners on nuts and bolts. You will be in the middle of a job break a wrench....have to drive to town to get one to finish the job etc. Yep cheap tools can be expensive. If your going to be using your tools a lot and want them to last forever.....you get what you pay for....buy good ones. That is my humble opinion and I made my living with them for 39 years.
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Old 11-18-2006, 07:43 PM
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Well here's my $.02

Air Die Grinder - OK had to play with it a little, but it works good and gets used a lot

Air Ratchet - Good but used a lot and loosing tourqe now, may need a cleaning.

4 piece cresent wrench set - pretty good so far

$99 Flux Core welder - junk the wire actually came though the hose first time I put it together. took it back

Hammer and dolly set - looks good and has a good selection. Just got it so I've only use it a little.

2" Abrasive disks for die grinder - not so good. Chews though them pretty quick

4-1/2" cut off wheels and griding wheels - go pretty quick but at $5.00 a pack, I think I'm still getting a bargin

4-1/2" grinder - go through one a year basically but it's get a lot of use / abuse

drill bit sets - not impressed the ones in this last set are snapping in half.

60 gallon 3.5 hp air compressor - bought remanufacturered for $339 plus I paid $50 for the extended warrenty so I get two year replacement.

autodarkening helment - very pleased

jigsaw - absolute junk

I tend to get a lot of consumables there too like welding wire, sandpaper, tape, paint brushes (box of 12 for 3 bucks on sale) and most of the time it's ok
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 11-19-2006, 02:56 AM
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I feel better I'm not the only one going there often. lol Hard enough wanting to spend more on quality parts going more into the cars. I hear some pros mention even some of there pricey name brand air tools die before some of there lower costing ones do. And usually keep them around too. Not saying always go cheap though. I'd like to upgrade eventually.

So far been happy with & still working:.

60 gallon 3.5 hp $329 refurbished and shipped to the house,
0118 $20 HF blue air filter reg 40 micron, had to fix a leak on one
40131 $20 50ft capacity with 30ft 3/8 hose reel, leaks a little bit
25 ft retractable 3/8 red hose $29 no leaks at all
6" DA sander $20
46507 7" Polisher/Buffer $25 surprised its still working good
Reverse flow die grinder $15
Mini die grinder $10
Straight line sander $29 works great
Air duster $3
Amflo hi flo fittings $1 each

Stuff I used that doesn't last that long but does the job:

$10 rotary tool,
$10 4 1/2 grinder

Unsatisfied about that doesn't do well:

Chicago 90amp 110v arc welder
Generic sand paper
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 11-19-2006, 04:58 AM
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I become amused when I go by a HARBOR FREIGHT. With all the bargain prices one can get on the internet now concerning quality tools, I can see no reason to buy the stuff.

Some of that stuff will get you hurt.
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Old 11-19-2006, 07:18 AM
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Auto-darkening welding helmet, Love It

8” Bench Top Drill Press, Very Satisfied

Low Buck sockets and wrenches for my “Junk Yard” tool bag, they do the job

4” Bench Vise, Love It

Air Fittings etc, No Problems at all

Non HVLP mini detail spray gun, Very Satisfied
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 11-19-2006, 07:31 AM
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Several months back I bought a few Harbor Freight tools from my nephew. He had bought them new then lost his job and needed cash for rent. A air saw, grinder, and parts washer all are cheep, crappy, and Chinese made.
Support U.S. workers when you can.
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  #11 (permalink)  
Old 11-19-2006, 07:46 AM
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I got a ball joint installer, made in China, just about did the job.
I was expecting a sturdy C clamp type of press but got a puzzle made in metal.
Their internal spring compressor, also made in china, the theads wore out after several uses, lethal piece.
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  #12 (permalink)  
Old 11-19-2006, 09:23 AM
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Over the years I bought a benchtop mill, and a drill press, a little baby lathe, and some spray guns and a pressure pot, and a bunch of cheap air tools. I bought a set of big drill bits and a dial indicator and a bunch of end mills and lathe bits as well as a tiny benchtop bead blast cabinet. Some C clamp and bar clamps too.

I made a bunch of little parts with that benchtop mill, which couldn't hold any kind of tolerance or make a decent surface finish when machining aluminum, much less steel. Just too much slop in the screws and ways , and not enough rigidity in the castings. I sold it for 1/2 what I paid for it when I got my big mill.

same with the lathe.

Dial indicator has withstood much abuse, I still use it, but it is not to be confused with swiss, or american or one particular japanese brand, quality precision measuring tools. I have some cheapo calipers that I'm sure come from the same factory in china, I'll use them around the shop. They are cheap enough to keep a few laying around the shop for quick measures of non critical stuff. I won't make anything that requires any close tolerance with them though. (= or - .001 is what I would call close)

I still have the drill press and after 17 years it will still drill a hole, even though the spindle is bent some. I got my moneys worth out of it for sure. It is definatly not a rockwell.

The spray guns were all ok, but I wouldn't know the difference.
I made an air conditioner flusher out of the pressure pot when I found a better one at a swap meet.

The cheap air tools I use, even though they vibrate like hell and have no power and they break carbide burrs because the spindles and collets are all out of round so you beat your work to death, but when they crap out you toss em without batting an eye.
I had a couple of impact wrenches that were ok for small fasteners and but not much else. I would try them on suspension work and wind up using my breaker bar.

The bar clamps are OK, but DO NOT trust anything of value to them. The C-Clamps look like the threads are cut with hatchets by 8 year old slave labor.

The beadblast cabinet was a joke. It blew beads in my face and all over the shop. I still have it too. Anyone who wants it can come by and pick it up.
The drills are still in my drill drawer, next to the VA and C-L drills that replaced them. I use them when I drill through dirt and road mung, so I don't mess up my better stuff.

The experience I have with HF is most always the same. Aside from a few things that I have had good luck with, HF stuff is for getting you in the door with tools, making you want something better, when you find out just what a real tool feels like. The good thing is they are cheap and no great loss when they crap out or are replaced with the real stuff.. Hopefully you are standing back when they fail.

You couldn't pay me to put one of their wrenches or sockets on a fastener. I put a brand new 15/16 wrench on a nut one time AND IT SNAPPED! That's all it took for me.

They will return stuff without any problem, they have good deals on some name brand stuff like vise grip and s-k and if you go to a store you will find some nice surprises.

If you want value, go to a swapmeet or garage sale and recycle. I have many tools that are snap on, matco, proto, SK and others that I got for cheap. I'll have them forever.

Later, mikey
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:13 AM
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On the other hand, I need jack stands and am VERY reluctant to buy the cheap ones. What bothers me is how do I know that the high priced name brand ones are any better? Where can I get good ones I can trust with my life?
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Old 11-19-2006, 11:27 AM
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That kind of thing I´d go to a store where I could see/touch the article
before buying.
I´d like to see the thickness of metal and welding first.
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Old 11-19-2006, 12:31 PM
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I have an air angle die grinder that I have had for years works great. So I bought a cutoff wheel tool (with the metal shield) and use it to death. Got the straight die grinder. Works fine. Of course, I am doing body work, not porting heads. Bought a 4", 4-1/2", and a 9" electric grinder (make sure it says ball and needle bearings - I bought one of the sleeve bearing ones and it didn't last). Got the air shear - OK. Air saw leaves a little to be desired. Air ratchet so far has lasted longer than my Snap On unit did. Sandblaster is great. Bead roller required some mods, but works great once modified. Heat gun is great.
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