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What Harbor Freight tools would you buy?

by tefinn
posted 01-12-2012 08:55 AM

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58 replies

58 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3104 days

#1 posted 01-12-2012 09:22 AM

Lathes – generally favorable reviews for their reverse head cast iron model. Don’t pick up any of the models that are steel tube. They are too light and the vibration makes them a poor choice for a lathe. For an inexpensive though generally favorable set of turning tools, check with penn state industries “Benjamin’s Best” line.

Router bits – I would stay away from all HF router bits. The carbide coating is light and they have a tendency to burn after short use. Their trim router, though, gets pretty good reviews. When you buy router bits, avoid large sets (150 bits for $200.00!) sales. Roundover, cove, rabbet, straight, and trim and/or pattern bits will be your main stay. I generally would buy a set of whatever one I needed to make sure I had all sizes. Large router bit collections tend to leave you with many bits you may never use or would use only once in a very blue moon. If you are looking for good quality bits at a reasonable price, check out They have good prices and free shipping regardless of the size of order. I prefer 1/2 inch shank bits because they are more stable.

If you ever get into using an air compressor. Their pin nailers are considered a gem of a deal.

Clamps – You can’t go wrong with Pittsburgh brand clamps. Steer clear of Central Forge.

I would avoid their sandpaper, as the backing is very poor and the paper becomes useless in a very short time. If you want to stretch your sandpaper dollars, buy a good brand and pick up an abrasive cleaning stick. That five dollar investment will extend the life of your sandpaper double, if not triple the length of time without it. It elminates clogging that shortens the life of the paper.

I believe there is a review or two in regards to their paint guns. Go to the reviews section of the site and look up spray guns.

Hopefully this will help get you started.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2966 days

#2 posted 01-12-2012 09:50 AM

I have several HF tools that I am completely satisfied with. Best sale price shown.

#38142 Bench Top Drill Press, 16 speed, the 40” tall one. ~$200

#97869 Dust Collector, 5 micron, 2 hp. ~$150

#65345 Mini Lathe, 5 speed, 10” x 18”. ~$160

#47066 HSS Lathe tools, 8 pc set. ~$50

#43468 Disk Sander, 12”, benchtop ~$100

I don’t have, but have studied and read good reviews on:

#34706 Floor Model Lathe, 12” x 33-3/8”, 3/4 hp ~$200

#67595 Band Saw, 4 speed, 14” wheels. ~$350

I also have some air nailers that work very good, but they are constantly changing suppliers. Not sure if they still sell the ones I have.

They also have an oscillating spindle sander I would love to have. With a coupon from Wood Magazine this is $90. The same machine is sold under other brand names for twice as much.

View Kelby's profile


134 posts in 2406 days

#3 posted 01-12-2012 10:01 AM

I have owned many of their tools, and most were trash. But I was very pleased with their benchtop drill press and their 6”x48” stationary belt sander (the one that has the disk on the side). The 14” bandsaw is OK for a little bandsaw if you don’t need to get super high quality bandsaw cuts. I also have one of their 12” disc benchtop disc sanders, which is pretty good.

-- Kelby

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3046 days

#4 posted 01-12-2012 11:12 AM

The 14” bandsaw is a spectacular buy. I can do anything as easily and precisely as any other brand, The 6” jointer (being discontinued ) is a real jem. Had these for years, no problem. The 10” csms is dirt cheap and accurate. Pleanty of power. Needs to be set up, but all tools do. The 2 hp dc is a wonderful buy but get the Wynn environmental cannister filter. The drill presses are good, the above-mentioned wood lathe is excellent, the oscillating spindle sander is a baqrgain and a super addition. Trim routers are a bargain, work well, and are cheap enough to dedicate a task to one and leave it. I have 3 and want 3 more. The Pittsburg bar clamps (F-style) are as good as anything 4 times as expensive, Drill bits, etc. are all good for the money. Theeir oscillating multi tool is fabulous and is $20. They even have a new planer that looks good.

Most of the stuff to swtay from is really cheap and obvious. Most if not all the power tools represent exceptional buys. All the things I mentioned, I have and use regularly. I like almost everything they have and thqat’s because I have gotten more than my money’s worth many times over. Interestingly enough, I haven’t had a single tool failure or dissatisfaction from Harbor Freight.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View Mickey Cassiba's profile

Mickey Cassiba

312 posts in 3026 days

#5 posted 01-12-2012 01:25 PM

I bought a set of their carbon steel turning tools when I started turning. Mostly to see if I could turn, but also to refine my sharpening skills, as I didn’t want to mess up any good tools in the learning process.Three years later, I still have and use them. At around 18 dollars, I consider them one of my best turning investments. They are used almost daily, and though a little shorter they are still some of my most used tools. I generally stay away from any of their electric tools, I’ve been bitten a few times, but the reciprocating saw has been another surprise. 5 y. o. it not only still runs, but has more miles on it than a lot of my more expensive tools.

-- One of these hammers oughta fix that...

View knotscott's profile


8008 posts in 3371 days

#6 posted 01-12-2012 02:20 PM

There’s little that I’d buy from HF if prices weren’t low, but at the right price:

Might buy:
- 38142 13” bench DP (very happy with this one)
- 2hp DC (don’t own it but would consider it at the right price if starting out)
- mortiser (works fine)
- Pittsburg metal F-style bar clamps (not the quick grip plastic ones)
- digital calipers
- step drill bits
- jointer (this is also one that I don’t own but would consider if starting out)
- compressor

Would not buy:
- router bits
- saw blades
- hair clippers
- quick grip style clamps (black and orange ones)
- orange router

It’s worth noting that HF tools have a fair amount of variability….I suspect that it’s higher than most, but I don’t have data. Tools that work well for others, might not work well for you.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Stillhave10fingers's profile


6 posts in 2457 days

#7 posted 01-12-2012 02:48 PM

I have 3 things I bought from HF that I have been very pleased. The first was the 12 inch sliding compound miter saw. I put a Freud blade in it and took the time to make sure it was setup properly. Cuts like a champ. Remodeling my house with it. The others are an air framing nail gun and an air roofing nail gun. I purchased HF nails for these because I don’t know if other brands will fit properly. But both guns work flawlessly. Also, got all three of these when HF was having a sale so the price was nowhere close to what big box stores charge. 1 item I found to be no good (at least mine wasn’t) was the Magnetic base for dial indicators. The screw adjustments are flimsy and stripped out long before it would support the weight of the indicator. Took it back. Also, if you are thinking about getting one of their 6 inch vernier calipers, be sure to check inside the box to make sure you are getting the one you think you are. I just remembered…I also have a HF plunge router. This, too, has been working very well. HF does have many items that, in spite of being not major brands, are fine tools that are well worth the money. Just be selective.

Have fun tool shopping!

View Maveric777's profile


2693 posts in 3072 days

#8 posted 01-12-2012 03:04 PM

The one thing I have in my shop that really stands out as a “Good Deal” from HF is their osculating spindle sander. I flat out love this gem and tickled about the price…. I have absolute no gripe at all about it (has saved me countless hours).

I do own a few clamps from them as well…. Kind of finicky at times, but when your on a budget they will definitely get the job done….

-- Dan ~ Texarkana, Tx.

View DIYaholic's profile


19620 posts in 2670 days

#9 posted 01-12-2012 03:14 PM

To: tefinn & All budget concious folks like me,

I too am leary of purchasing from HF due to the quality or lack there of. I only purchase those items recommended by others with actual experience with the item in question. dbhost made an excellent posting, regarding Harbor Freight Gems. It is on BT3Central Forums. Check it out!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2501 days

#10 posted 01-12-2012 03:50 PM

Lots of great advice already given. I had their bench top drill press when I was starting out and it was fine. I’ve read that their 15 inch DP is also good.

I’d get the 14 bandsaw if I needed one. After tuning up my Ridgid, I’m confident I could tune up the HF and get it running fine.

THeir air compressors look to be a nice bargain, and I have their Pittsburg clamos and they are fine as well.

I’d also NEVER buy a router bit from them. Just for me, too much risk of a broken bit that scares me.

View brtech's profile


1029 posts in 2918 days

#11 posted 01-12-2012 04:27 PM

The biggest gem is the 2 HP DC. There is a coupon for it in this month’s Popular Woodworking edition.
The F clamps are great, and I also like the aluminum bar clamps. The pipe clamps are pretty good. I actually use the cheapie plastic quick grips, but they are not as much of a bargain as they seem.
The pin nailer is fine. The brad nailer is a good tool, but the hammer is bigger than other brands.
The hex key sets are great
I have the drill press table which I like a lot
Can’t go wrong with their acid brushes and chip brushes
The roller stands are not as good quality as others, but much more bang for the buck. I use them a lot.
I have an old 14.4V drill that keeps on working. I don’t use it much any more, but it still works just fine.
My HF Dial Indicator and mag base works great. I use it all the time for machine setup
I have their plastic router plate. It’s as good as any other of the same material.
The tap and die set is okay.
Their heat gun/paint stripper is a fine tool

I did pick up a framing square that wasn’t square. Not on my HF all time hits list.

View ShaneA's profile


6928 posts in 2593 days

#12 posted 01-12-2012 05:15 PM

I have been pleased w/the Pittsburgh clamps as well. Good luck.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3169 days

#13 posted 01-12-2012 05:17 PM

Looky here

-- -- Neil

View poopiekat's profile


4354 posts in 3729 days

#14 posted 01-12-2012 05:22 PM

The only HF item I’ve ever bought from them was an awesome Milwaukee 2-speed+variable speed Sawzall, thru the “Insider’s Club” (do they still have that?) Had to be 22 years ago, still runs like a champ and it was like $78 then when sug. list was $135. I avoid their house brand merchandise.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View StumpyNubs's profile


7590 posts in 2796 days

#15 posted 01-12-2012 05:38 PM

The first thing you should buy is the dust collector. It’s the best deal in the store.

I love their reversible head lathe.

All of their drill presses are a great value.

The mortiser is great for light duty work. But if you do a lot of hardwood mortising, pass on it.

The palm router is great, and I’ve heard good things about their heavier duty router, the heavy duty electric hand plane, and the cheap sanders can’t be too bad for the price.

The steel bar clamps are great.

I have a small wire welder that I use for some things and think well worth the price.

Vices and grinders are a good value.

I’ve heard good things about the Jointer.

The band saw is a great deal, maybe one of the best in there.

The steel cutting, horizontal band saw is very good.

The dovetail jig is nice.

The oscillating spindle sander is something I plan on buying.

They have at least one decent hand plane “(":

Some people like their sliding compound miter saw.

The chisels work nice for beating on, but get a better set for fine work.

The machinist dial gauge and stand are a great deal for tuning up your table saw, etc.

The buffing compounds are a great deal for honing planes and chisels (demonstrated in this video)

And always remember: NEVER PAY FULL PRICE! Almost everything goes on sale eventually, often for a LOT off. And always bring a coupon, you can find 20%-40% off coupons in woodworking magazines at the book store, and those discounts can even be used on top of the sale prices!

(The best woodworking show ever made in the history of mankind is now online!)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#16 posted 01-12-2012 05:38 PM

There are many items I would not buy from HF ,but I have had good luck with the following items from HF
2 hp DC
3/4 pipe clamps
f style clamps
side grinders
spray guns
multi tools
concrete siding cutter
acid brushes
set of precision squares
digital calipers

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View DocSavage45's profile


8549 posts in 2838 days

#17 posted 01-12-2012 05:40 PM

Good Forum, I asked and got some great feedback re: my floor model lathe. I was somewhat impressed with the fit and finish for the price and my intented use. I won’t be turning on a regular basis.

In the past HF had more tools and variety. The elrectric motor on my compound miter saw,model now DC’d, is whiney and inadequate. New ones have diferent/better engineering.

I think it depends on what you plan to do with your tools? Constant heavy use? Grizzly has a great service team.

In the old days HF would also send a part if broken in shipping?

I bave a wood vise from HF , cheap, and it is!

bought their 2.5 hp plunge router, have not used it yet but an equivilent is 3 times the cost? Motor seemed to run better that the old compound miter saw. Also have the floor model sander, w/out intense use seems ok. The magnesium hand held belt sander worked pretty well when I bought it to sand the floor of my indoor porch. seems well made but compared to the big boys, it is under powered but like the plunge router 1/3rd the cost of the big boys.

Again it depends on usage? If you live near an HF store you can see the product? The web site is improved, has some deals.

The clamps are painted metal. Have a few cause they were cheaper to buy, but paint is not as good as metal plating, and some are rusting!

From what I have read so far the motors although chinese are improved.

If you are not in a hurry buy more expensive, well critiqued tools. My 24 volt bosch hand held drill also DC’d was my best investment. Lots of torque for driving screws but $$$$$ Beat the Dewalt every time.

Good hunting!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View syenefarmer's profile


488 posts in 3076 days

#18 posted 01-12-2012 05:48 PM

Here are a few of the Harbor Freight items I own that I would rate as not junk;

#94138 9 volt metal detector wand #93897 retractable 50’ hose reel
All sizes of C-clamps #41796 1lb neon dead blow hammer #37861 sae t-handle hex key set #37861 metric t-handle hex key set #46319 pnuematic adjustable rolling seat #94635 anti-fatigue foam mats

View dbhost's profile


5708 posts in 3227 days

#19 posted 01-12-2012 05:52 PM

Look at my workshop page, you’ll see that I am set up with a lot of stuff from HF, it’s how I can afford to do this…

I have a LOT of Harbor Freight tools, and overall my experience has been overwhelmingly positive, however I have learned through experience to avoid bits and blades at Harbor Freight, and a good many of their hand held power tools are sub par at best, but the big stuff I have gotten from them has been spot on. And the pnuematic stuff has been a great value. So far I have from them…

#1. 14” 4 speed wood cutting band saw. An excellent basic saw, missing some nice refinements, but well worth the money, and fewer quality complaints from owners compared to say the Ridgid 14” saw. There is a newer model that addresses one of the major shortcomings of my model, which was the overly short tension knob.

#2. 2 HP dust collector. Put a good filter on it and use it to death… Best bang for the buck dust collectors wise…

#3. 12×36 cast iron swivel head lathe. The #34706. There are several HF lathe models, this one is widely considered a gem. Stay away from the stamped steel model.

#4. 12” Sliding Compound Miter saw. Not perfect, but after spending a little bit of time and scrap wood tuning it up, it is dead accurate, and holds its settings through tons of abuse. I had to replace the OEM blade with an 80T Diablo from Home Depot, but I expect to replace blades in ANY new saw shy of Festool… Do NOT expect the laser to be all that useful, it gets coated in sawdust with every single cut. I don’t even try to use mine anymore. Never did like them though…

#5. Bench Top mortiser. The hold down / fence design is a little flaky, when mortising in narrow material you need to use a spacer between the fence and work piece or you will end up with the chisel hitting the hold down. From what I read, the HF mortiser isn’t the only one set up like this. I have been pleased with mine, but must admit, I don’t do a lot of M&T yet…

#6. Universal Mobile Tool Bases. Funny stock dimensions (1.25” square instead of 1.5”) but nothing too hard to overcome, good price, and nice bases. Have one under my band saw, and another under my drill press, they work great!

#7. Moisture meter. Does the same thing the expensive ones do for a LOT less money.

#8. Stud Sensor / Metal Detector. Helps me find nails, screws in reclaimed stock. Been 100% useful.

#9. Pittsburgh F style bar clamps. Steer clear of the quick clamp clones. Those are known to be breakage prone.

#10. Central Forge 9” Quick Release woodworking vise. Discontinued item. A pity, this was a good one…

#11. Dial Indicator works exactly as it should.

#12. 2 HP 8 Gallon Air Compressor. Been chugging right along for me. I have the old single front leg version, if I had to get a new one, I would spring the few extra $$ and get the 10 gallon model. Extra CFM you know!

#13. air tool couplers and nipples. I put these as #13 because they haven’t all been good luck. They tend to leak. But then again, so do the Campbell Hausfields I got at Home Depot. I do have some that I don’t recall the name brand on, that I got off the Snap On truck when I worked as a mechanic a LOT of years ago that are just right, but then again, awfully spendy… Trying out the versions from Husky now…

#14. Framing nailer. I don’t recall specifics, I think I have the 34 deg model. Just a big, nail shooting beast. Made framing up my fence, and a friends barn super easy…

#15. 23 ga pin nailer. Puts pins where you want them. No problems.

#16. Combination stapler and finish nailer. I only use it for staples.

#17. 16 ga finish nailer. Had a bad one, got it swapped out for a good one, been beating the tar out of it for a couple of years now…

#18. Air filter / water separator for the compressed air system.

#19. air pressure regulator.

#20. Goodyear air hoses.

#21. Hardwood Hand Screws.

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View DS's profile


2917 posts in 2415 days

#20 posted 01-12-2012 05:56 PM

If you are patient, all the major tools will go on sale at some time of the year. I kept my eye out for things on my wish list that I checked out and bided my time.

I bought thier small tile saw when it went on sale, put it in the attic and now, two years later, I’m finally getting to that project I bought it for. I saved about $40 from buying it on sale and the thing just goes and goes.

The Dust collector is good. (I spent more for the fittings and hoses to plumb it out.)
I also have the jointer, which I took time to set up nice—I have no complaints there.

I probably have four of the nailers. It’s hard to go wrong at under $20 (on sale)—even if I have to replace it every year, (which I don’t), I am ahead of the curve. I’ve only had one fail in the last five years and it came with rebuild parts, so it is still going. (Shattered the pin)

Eventually I will afford better tools and replace these. In the mean time, they get me to the successful end of the projects just fine.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2656 posts in 2917 days

#21 posted 01-12-2012 07:43 PM

From my personal experience, I would avoid their sand paper and scroll saw and would buy their 6”x48” stationary belt sander.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2432 days

#22 posted 01-12-2012 09:04 PM

Wow! Thanks for the responses everyone!

I think the lathe and DC are at the top of my list with the OSS or the 4×36 next.
I think I might try out the paint sprayers and pin nailer also.

Good to know to stay away from the router bits, I’ll continue buying one quality bit as I need it.

Stumpy – I have the No.33 plane you mentioned. I bought that as my first hand plane just so I could learn how to sharpen it. At only $10 if I screwed it up I wouldn’t lose a fortune! It really does a nice job.

It seems alot of their stuff can be good if you spend the time to setup or refine it.
I had to do this with their 16pc titanium forstner set. Until I sharpened them they wouln’t even cut through soft pine.

Randy and Neil – Those links really helped alot, very informative.

dbhost – Your list that Randy linked to was great! Thanks for the added details in your post, they were a great help!

Thanks again to everyone! This is a great group!

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View UncleJoe's profile


7 posts in 2326 days

#23 posted 01-13-2012 05:01 AM

I own some HF things and they have worked well for me most were already mentioned. I will give this advice/warning. If you read a great review of a HF tool make sure it is recent. They change suppliers often and the tool that was reviewed a year ago may have been great then but the current version may have inferior components, finish and quality control because a different factory overseas is now making the tool using the same plans but who know what quality control.

I picked up their Palm router two years ago and really liked it. I was making a lot of shop cabinets and jigs so I put round over bit in it and dedicated it to just that use. Last year they were on sale for around $17 or so and I picked one up to use as a dedicated flush trim tool. The manufacturer had changed. I took it out of the box in the store and examined it and I was satisfied that it was worth the $17 I was paying. It is really nice to have several of these with bits already set up and ready to go. Just grab the one you need and go, no setup required. Very handy.

I purchased sandpaper there once, NEVER again.

View MrRon's profile


4764 posts in 3239 days

#24 posted 01-13-2012 08:24 PM

I too have many of the mentioned HF tools and am satisfied with them. With all the U.S. tool companies getting their tools made in China, HF tools are starting to compete favorably with them. One tool not mentioned that I am happy with is the 12V Li-ion drill, on sale for 39.95. It is light weight, perfect for the type of work I do. Sometimes my Dewalt 18V is overkill for some jobs.
Sears never made any tools. Pretty soon, all American tool companies will join Sears in that claim. It’s funny; in the past, most people swore at HF tools. It appears that HF is now gaining in customer satisfaction. Their tool return policy seems to be as good or better than other companies.
Oh BTW, one other thing I have from HF that is good is the model 2792, 1500# ATV lift. I fitted it with a platform to serve as an adjustable height table for assembling projects. It allows me to work at any level without hurting my back.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

5854 posts in 3189 days

#25 posted 01-13-2012 08:51 PM

I do not live close to, or have ever been to a Harbor Freight store….they are all too far away from me, since I live in the sticks, and the same with Craigslist, too. The closest city is about 3-4 hours away, so I probably miss a lot of things for sale….From what I’ve seen in ads, etc., I probably wouldn’t buy anything from HF, except maybe the dust collector, as there have been good reviews on LJs about it….but….mine’s still perking along nicely, but if it ever croaks, I’d consider the HF d.c. very strongly…...

-- " At my age, happy hour is a crap and a nap".....

View JohnnyM's profile


39 posts in 2328 days

#26 posted 01-13-2012 09:12 PM

This has all probably been mentioned above but I wanted to give my $.02…

I have a HF 14” band saw for about 8 months. Picked it up used from someone who never really used it. I looked for the riser block kit for it and HF said it was discontinued. I took a chance and ordered the kit for the current 14” and it fit like a glove. I am very pleased with the BS.

I have the HR turbine HVLP sprayer for about a year. It looks to be the same one that Rockler offers. I am very pleased with it’s performance as well.

If you haven’t yet, sign up for their email specials. You’ll get some good coupons that also helps.

Finally, don’t overlook craigslist. I’ve picked up more than one great deal on a name brand tool I’ve been looking for.

-- ~~ John . . . . . . . . . Against the Grain Woodworking & Design, LLC

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3737 days

#27 posted 01-13-2012 09:36 PM

Drill press table – is solid – you cannot make one with the t-track for the price
the 12 inch sander is awesome – (the 10 inch version has a flimsy table)
the HVLP conversion gun with regulator on the gun for 30 bucks works teriffic.

I have avoided the clamps, and true power tools that rely on repeatability like Jointers and saws and such.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Paden501's profile


35 posts in 2346 days

#28 posted 01-13-2012 09:59 PM

Like many have posted above, I too have a lot of HF tools and have been generally impressed with them.

My top choices are:
HVLP spray gun —> way less expensive than other options out there and works great. I spray water based poly with these and it works out very nicely

8” dado stack: I generally stay away from HF blades, but I took a chance on this dado stack and so far it’s worked quite well.

F-Style clamps: I won’t rave about these as much as some others. I think they flex a little more than the light duty clamps from other manufacturers, but at the price they can’t be beat.

Aluminum bar clamps: I own 4 of the biggest ones they offer, and I will probably have 4 more eventually. These work great.

No 33 Hand Plane: This is a nice low-dollar plane, and has an interesting adjuster that you’ll either love or hate.

6” Jointer: Mine is quite old (got it second hand) but it’s still in working condition after all these years. No complaints.

Engine hoist: A real steal if you do any mechanical/engine work. Hundreds less than the competition.

4’x8’ foldable light duty trailer: This one really depends on your State’s laws. In PA it’s hard to get a title for a trailer, and these do not come with a title so that process was a bummer. But this is a convenient light duty trailer for someone who doesn’t have the land available to park a ‘real’ trailer somewhere. It’s rated for almost 2000lbs GVW and it folds up to about the size of a folded ping-pong table.

Sharpening Hones: Very nice

Acid Brushes, foam brushes – a lot cheaper than elsewhere. at $2 for a pack of 100 or whatever they are, I prettymuch use them once and throw away.

About the only thing that I haven’t been impressed with is I bought a Chicago tools hammer drill that was a real POS. It didn’t even have the drilling power that my 18v craftsman cordless drill driver has….. and that’s not a high standard!

hope this helps.

View foneman's profile


112 posts in 4090 days

#29 posted 01-13-2012 10:25 PM

1000 lb scissor lift- works great for moving my 500 lb Jet lathe and loading and unloading heavy items from my truck.

Palm router with a dedicated roundover bit for rounding edges.

Benchtop radial drill press (not even sure if they sell this anymore)

6 in 1 framing nailer (beats the heck out of swinging a hammer all day)

All sizes of F clamps (check them before you leave the store to make sure the stationary jaw face is perpendicular to the post) (you will know what I mean if you ever have one or see one that is “crooked”.

Throw away latex gloves (not sure they are latex, but have 100 in box for approx 5.99 on sale)

Cheap chisels sharpened make great beaters with nothing to lose and they sharpen up quick for the next beating.

Automatic center punch Item #621

Paint brushes although some have gotten cheaper

18 ga and 16 ga finish nailer

hot dog air compressor

etc. etc. etc.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7755 posts in 2909 days

#30 posted 01-13-2012 10:29 PM

I have very few HF tools, just the following:

1. 2hp Dust Collector (2yr now)—Nothing better than this for the price +10

2. The 23gage Pin Nailer (30days)—Got w/20% coupon for $19.99 Works great so far. +10

3. Ratchet-Style Clamps (2yr now)—OK, but one out of the dozen or so that I have “slips”. Weak, but work. +1

4. 1-Ton Chain Hoist (2yr)—~$50. Ordered online and came BUSTED up from UPS. Picked one up at the HF store and it works fine. Used this to unload my TS from my truck.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Richard's profile


1916 posts in 2685 days

#31 posted 01-13-2012 10:39 PM

I have the 12” sliding compound miter saw, 12 speed benchtop drill press, 6 gal pancake style 1 1/2 hp air compressor , 23 gauge Pin Nailer and 18 gauge brad nailer. so far all of them are working fine but I don’t get as much chance to use them as I would like to.

View Tomj's profile


204 posts in 2377 days

#32 posted 01-13-2012 11:39 PM

I myself just had a HF open 15 minutes from me 6 months ago and just a week ago had one open 5 minutes from me(I live on Long Island, New York). I bought their corded 3/8 drill about a year ago and it has worked fine ever since ($14.00) at the the time, I also have the heat gun, mini moisture meter, chisels, dial indicator, digital calipers and drill press table which I mounted on slightly different than what the manual says so I could use the clamps it comes with to clamp it to your drill press as clamps in the t-track using a toilet flange bolt in the T-track. I have had my eye on the woodworking 10” bench vise and the drum sander kit but I’m curious now that a number of you said the sandpaper is not worth it if that is the same sandpaper that comes with the the drum sander kit. I have to say I am happy with everything I have bought from them so far for the price.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2966 days

#33 posted 01-14-2012 02:56 AM

If the 10” woodworking vise you speak of is the quick release one; they discontinued it. The other one that they have now is not much vise. . . . at all.

View Egor's profile


135 posts in 3945 days

#34 posted 01-14-2012 03:46 AM

I have a bench top drill press and have neem very happy with it.

I have an HVLP Spray Gun #47016 and have been very pleased with it. I use it to spay a 2 part catalyst finish and it works as good as my buddies $80+ gun. I actually a 2nd one to use for water based finishes.

I have been eyeing the 2HP Dust Collector, only thing I would do if I bough one was change the bag out to a 30 micron bag.

-- Brock, Illinois

View bandit571's profile


19968 posts in 2678 days

#35 posted 01-14-2012 03:53 AM

I also have a benchtop Drill press. $70 out the door, five speeds.. I needed to buy a set screw to hold the pulley in place, the one that the quill is attached to. Kind of a small table, but it sits beside my old three-wheeler bandsaw. Both tables can be used to support work done on either machine.

Allen wrench sets: good to decent.

“Cresent” style adjustable wrenches: decent IF you get the Pittsburgh brand.

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View RetiredCoastie's profile


999 posts in 3178 days

#36 posted 01-14-2012 04:16 AM

I refuse to buy anything any longer from HF. I have bought a couple of clamps and a cart for my smoker rig. The clamps are junk and the cart is functional but the biggest reason is I refuse to buy anymore of the chinese junk when I have a choice. Hardware at Lowes & Home Depot I believe comes from china. If I have a choice I will either buy U.S. or Canadian made tools.

-- Proud Supporter of Homes For Our Troops

View BentheViking's profile


1782 posts in 2559 days

#37 posted 01-14-2012 04:44 AM

Cant wait to test out the 2HP DC and the 5 Speed Drill Press since I have heard great things.

I second the pin nailer.

Also a few things that havent been mentioned much:

Oscillating Multi Tool: The old one came with like 5 different attachments. Now supposedly the tool is better, but only has one cutter blade. Never pay more than $19.99 on it though since its always going on sale

Angle Grinder: I know not a lot of us typically have use for one of these, but lets be honest we all love tools and who why wouldn’t you want something so badass for less than $10.

8 in 1 screwdriver: I like a lot of their handtools since there isn’t much that can get go wrong with them. the magnetic extension wand on this makes it very great.

And while its not a tool I like these gloves for when I’m working. Driving on a fork lift outside all day gets cold

And I always try to save purchases until I have a few of the coupons for a free 25’ tape measure because who couldn’t need an extra tape.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View Tomj's profile


204 posts in 2377 days

#38 posted 01-14-2012 07:29 AM

Crank49 thanks for the heads up. The HF I started going to that opened up 6 months ago had two blue vices set up in there store a 6” and a 10”. Are those the ones you are talking about? That is if the vice you are talking about was blue and you can tell from that, I’m not sure if it was a quick release or not. Guess I’m out of luck with that one (I knew I should’ve bought it sooner, it was only $40 and at first glance seemed like an okay vice for the money. I almost bought some orange and black quick release clamps I believe a while back from them during a sale (dollar days) HF was having and the clamps were only$2 but after messing with them a little bit I came to the conclusion they weren’t worth the frustration. HF has gems you just have to do your research (well, maybe not gems) but enough to get the job done.

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2966 days

#39 posted 01-14-2012 11:34 PM

Tomj, I don’t recall the color. They change suppliers (and colors) all the time anyway. But the reasonably good wood working vise they had was about $40, on sale for $34 I think.

The one they have now is $40 (10”) but is not quick release and has no dog on top. I don’t have one but the guide rods look much smaller than I feel would work.

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 3551 days

#40 posted 01-14-2012 11:40 PM

I have a great corded power drill from HF, it was so cheap that I just leave my pockt hole drill bit in it. I also got a multitool there but am not too impressed with it. I think HF is pretty good for air tools, too.

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View Ripthorn's profile


1458 posts in 2980 days

#41 posted 01-15-2012 12:05 AM

I’ve got several things from there. I would not get any hand tool that has a cutting edge, as they are ground very coarsely. I would also stay away from the quick clamps. Air tools are typically pretty good. My general rule is that if it has a cutting edge or is a handheld power too, I stay away. The exceptions I have found here are the 29 pc. drill bit set and the oscillating multi tool. I was just there this weekend and got $40 worth of stuff for $10 due to the sale and coupons. I got a $30 HVLP conversion spray gun for $8.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View Tomj's profile


204 posts in 2377 days

#42 posted 01-15-2012 12:09 AM

I’ll have to check it in store and see what they have, I’ll most likely spring for a better vise but first my money is being spent on a dust collection system. Thanks for the tip though Crank49, I do appreciate it and Tefinn some things I wouldn’t buy would be any of their blastgates or dust collection flex pipe. Good luck.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7590 posts in 2796 days

#43 posted 01-15-2012 12:40 AM

I just did a review at of the Harbor Freight diamond needle file set. It’s great for woodworking, and only 7 bucks!

-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
(The best woodworking show since wood was invented is now online!)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3241 days

#44 posted 01-15-2012 06:45 AM

Dead blow hammers!
Air tools are good enough for pro mechanics. (I know many that use them.)

That’s about the limit of my HF experience. But I’ve got a list of things to check out now thanks LJs.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2432 days

#45 posted 01-15-2012 08:51 AM

My list keeps growing. To bad my wallet keeps shrinking.

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 2432 days

#46 posted 01-15-2012 09:02 AM

Stumpy – When I worked in a tool & die shop I had to have my own tools. I bought the 12pc needle file set for $2 on sale and they were just as good as some of the expensive (30-50 bucks) sets the tool makers used

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

View HorizontalMike's profile


7755 posts in 2909 days

#47 posted 01-15-2012 04:22 PM

After posting earlier, decided to head in town and you guessed it… stopped off at HF! Here are a couple more bargains.

++ 500lb Vertical Toggle Clamps $5.99—may be one of the best bargains at HF! Elsewhere they cost $12—-$18 each. After comparing them to my other clamps at home, they are almost identical except the reach is maybe an inch or so shorter and the red rubber on the handle has a different shape. A perfect replacement part!

++ 12 Piece Precision Needle File Set $4.99—My first set I used so much over the years that I could NOT pass up another little gem of a bargain. These come in handy when that hole you just drilled is off by 1/32in and you need to oval it out and such.

I also looked at their 20in drill presses and then compared online at home. Rikon and Jet (maybe others as well) appear to have the same castings with minor changes in crank handles and quill. Workmanship on the HF 20in that was on the floor did look minimal and one of the drill crank handles had stripped out. All images online show that newer plastic molded handle so I do NOT know if that is now the standard. Reading the reviews, is looks to be “tweakable” and improved for home use. PLUS that 20% OFF coupon would bring that $600 price down to $480, and that is half price of these other clone machines. I’ll have to think about this one some more. Hmm…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View DocSavage45's profile


8549 posts in 2838 days

#48 posted 01-15-2012 06:04 PM

As I posted before I live in a remote area, Have to travel 40 miles to a mid sized town and two hours to get to a city. My purchases from Harbor Frieght are all on line.

HF sells a serpentine belt that many recomend for belt driven craftsman table saws, At the recomendation of several LJ’s I purchased the more expensive :) turning tools and the mesh face mask for saftey when using my HF Lathe, i did buy the toggle clamps but in the future will not buy The bar clamps as I said are painted and some are rusting vs the platted bar clamps from a box store in Mankato MN.

RE: saw blades. They sell a thin kerf carbide blade which compares well in cutting and sharpness in the amount of time I used a dewalt blade or the hf blade in my power miter doing construction. ( not as precise as cabinet building) The thin kerf agressive cutting blades are something I continue to use.

Forgot…although used only for one job I bought the pnueumatic metal cutting tools to do my own furnace installation. For that one job and my future use which is limited? the price and reviews sold me. Bought a framing hammer from HF and balance is terrible. The dead blow seems ok. Oh yeah my bench brush is excellent and I’m going to buy another, if they still sell them LOL.

I would not buy metal snipes that are not professional as the one that I did buy? total garbage. Will only buy the best Wiess and on sale.

I did post earlier about the woodvise. I have done some online research and it is best to spend the money here.

It’s been great to see other woodworkers who have tight bugets like me.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View eagleknight's profile


20 posts in 2318 days

#49 posted 01-16-2012 05:31 AM

Hi, my first post… been lurking for a long time. I bought the dust collector and built a Thien separator. It has been going strong for 6 months. I have a couple drills that I knew were going to get abused during a job and they are still working. Also I have quite a few impact sockets and torx sockets. I recently purchased some of the F claps, but those have not arrived yet. I

-- Matthew Sherman -

View AmandasHusband's profile


58 posts in 2688 days

#50 posted 01-16-2012 06:47 AM

I didn’t realize how much stuff I’ve bought from HF until I read through all the replies. But a lot or most of it isn’t woodworking related. But most everything I’ve bought had good reviews.

Foam brushes, acid brushes, disposable nitrite gloves, zip ties, round magnetic tray, drill socket extentions, socket organizer rails, mini cutter snips, and rare earth magnets are all cheap things I took a flyer on, was like $3 or less, and worth every penny.

Some stuff that cost a little more that I’d consider good buys:
6” & 12” F style clamps (although I paid $3 each for the 20 I have)
$10 angle grinder
Drill press table
3 tray metal service cart
Movers dolly (2 of these)
Bigfoot panel wagon
T-handle ratcheting screwdriver

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

I would list some don’t buys, but I honestly don’t have any.

I bought some toggle clamps I haven’t used yet. And the spindle sander is my next buy.

-- In this world there's two kinds of people my friend. Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

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