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Forum topic by StumpyNubs posted 1291 days ago 4899 views 1 time favorited 85 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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StumpyNubs

6163 posts in 1426 days


1291 days ago

I was in Harbor Freight the other day and right before I blacked out from the fumes of all that orange plastic in the power tool department I wondered, what was the best “cheap tool” buy I ever found.

I realize that cheap tools usually mean bad tools. But occasionally you find a real diamond in the rough. So I thought I might ask my fellow LJ’s… what’s the best “cheap” tool you ever bought. What tool were you most pleasantly surprised with?

I dunno… it seems like an interesting thing to talk about…

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com


85 replies so far

View Crushgroovin's profile

Crushgroovin

234 posts in 1550 days


#1 posted 1291 days ago

For retail new purchases I really like the Random Orbital Sander I got from HF for $14.95. It has held up through hundreds of hours of sanding and doesn’t do to bad keeping the dust in. Of course I used the old 20% off coupon and caught it on sale.

The worst I have is the blue version of the drill you show above. I have had to return 12 of them! But hey I like HF cause they stand behind their crap. I mean every time I return something they act genuinely surprised that it broke!

For CL finds I have too many to count!

-- I wouldn't be so arrogant if you weren't such a moron!

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

6917 posts in 1929 days


#2 posted 1291 days ago

Well jim i cant add much to this one as ive never bought a cheap tool yet…...in fact ive only been in harbor freight one time so far, i think there are probably some good finds as far as cheap tools go…but ive mostly found you get what you pay for….but im sure the day will come when i might need a tool and not have the most money in the world to get what i really want…and i will have to do the cheap…....i will watch this thread and see what it comes up with…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View ChrisCarr's profile

ChrisCarr

196 posts in 1524 days


#3 posted 1291 days ago

I bought a HF bench top drill press, it worked great and I eventually took it apart and converted it into a floor standing model. The only problem I had with it is it’s quill or possible chuck has wobble in it, but I don’t dowel-join wood with it so my holes don’t always need to be perfect. Everything else there is crap, I bought a miter saw there and i cracked a casting somehow on it (it was most likely fractured out the box months earlier.) and when I got a friend to try to oxy-acetylene weld it wouldn’t bond…The metal was some composite! Even using the same composite as a filler no luck. Pure crap.

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StumpyNubs

6163 posts in 1426 days


#4 posted 1291 days ago

Grizz- Those are words to live by: “You get what you pay for”. But it sure is exciting in the rare instance that you actually get a lot more than you pay for. It’s kind of like a gamble. You bet fifteen bucks or so on a cheap tool and often you lose. But sometimes you win and you have something to brag about!

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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StumpyNubs

6163 posts in 1426 days


#5 posted 1291 days ago

Chris- I wouldn’t say “everything” there is crap. Some things are amazing deals (dust collector, lathe, etc) But it’s no Woodcraft, I’ll admit…

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

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StumpyNubs

6163 posts in 1426 days


#6 posted 1291 days ago

Crush- interesting… I have worn out some moderately price RAS sanders and was a firm believer that you never buy a cheap one of these tools. Perhaps I’ll try out that ugly orange HF version. After all, at fifteen bucks I won’t be risking much…

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

14721 posts in 2302 days


#7 posted 1291 days ago

I just get tarps there. I can’t tell the difference between HF tarps and the other stores chinese traps, so why pay the big bucks for the same thing?

I don’t buy junk tools, so want to talk about Milwaukee Hole Hawgs? :-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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StumpyNubs

6163 posts in 1426 days


#8 posted 1291 days ago

I know, as a “rule” we don’t buy cheap tools. But come on… EVERYBODY has fallen for a good price once or twice! Don’t act like you’ve NEVER bought a “cheap” tool!

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

View Crushgroovin's profile

Crushgroovin

234 posts in 1550 days


#9 posted 1291 days ago

Just to clarify the Lathes are crap! At least the Wood full size ones I have fully researched the 34706, 45276, 38515, & 95607. They all suffer from major issues in the the drive and tool rests. They will cut it when it comes to spindle work but will in no way whatsoever hack it turning bowls or platters. Believe me I really really tried to make the 34706 work, I really really wanted it to. I had a gift card to cover the price and knowledge that it would cost almost $2k to get the lathe I wanted. I did everything to try and make it work.

I spent $50 upgrading some parts that were junk, the clamp handles, belt and even used locktite on the screws. The tool rest issue is unique to the HF models. The drive issues are an issue with all of the Lathes that use a “Reeves drive” to control the speed. So I won’t hold that against HF, but the tool rest issue sucks and is potentially a safety issue as it can move at any time and cause bad bad things to happen. I had it move and catch the tool with catastrophic results which left my HSS Skew Chisel bent almost in half. Luckily I was following proper safety protecols and wasn’t injured.

There are other tools there that are good though. The scroll saw is every bit as good as the Delta it looks like. The electric circular saw is great once you put a carbide blade in it. The pneumatic stuff is pretty good I have several drills, grinders and brad nailers that are more than adequate. Their blue series of bar clamps work great for the price. The air compressors are loud but do the job for 1/4 of the price.

I would have to say that one does not always “get what you pay for” especially when you buy at Woodcraft. I will never ever pay retail price or take the recommendation of one of their employees again. I have been burned the last 3 times I have. They over charge at the store level then act like buying it for less elsewhere is moronic. But hey I like the guys that go out and pay top dollar for their stuff. Without them I couldn’t make a living buying and selling their stuff on Craigslist! Everything but Powermatic loses half it’s retail value as soon as it leaves the store.

-- I wouldn't be so arrogant if you weren't such a moron!

View StumpyNubs's profile

StumpyNubs

6163 posts in 1426 days


#10 posted 1291 days ago

Crush- I like my HF lathe, but since i’ve used it little, I can’t argue with you on it. As for Woodcraft, I agree that they’re overpriced on a lot of stuff. But I never spend over $50 on a tool without shopping around.

But let’s not get sidetracked- this isn’t about Harbor Freight or any other store. It’s about what “cheap” tool you’ve been happy with from anywhere.

-- It's the best woodworking show since the invention of wood... New episodes at: http://www.stumpynubs.com

View lilredweldingrod's profile

lilredweldingrod

2495 posts in 1732 days


#11 posted 1291 days ago

I bought a set of Chinese 3/4” drive chrome sockets from Cal-Aero Supply in Paramount, Ca in 1982. I was on a job at Burbank Airport repairing a refueler. When I found loose frame bolts, I went for my impact sockets to tighten about 60 5/8-11 grade 8 bolts. My15/16” impact socket was no where to be found. I used the non impact socket. My impact is a IR 1200 foot pound tool. That socket made it to the third from last bolt before it exploded. Now I don’t care who you are, that is impressive for a cheap socket. The whole set only cost $40.

View Dave's profile

Dave

11149 posts in 1466 days


#12 posted 1291 days ago

I guess the best CHEEP tool was my first 4 piece harbor freight chisel set 42429. A whole six bucks. I went to bass pro and bought a Arkansas sharpening kit. You know one of those three way deals. coarse, medium and fine, and with a strop they worked great.They will hold an edge. And when I am scared of damaging a good chisel I will grab one of them.

-- Superdav "No matter where you go - there you are." http://chiselandforge.com

View John 's profile

John

208 posts in 2027 days


#13 posted 1291 days ago

I bought a 3/8 Air Drill about 20 years ago for 9.00 and only oiled it the day I bought it. I still use it to this day. I only use if for countersinking and pilot.

-- John

View crank49's profile

crank49

3370 posts in 1597 days


#14 posted 1290 days ago

I’d have to say my best find in a cheap tool purchase depends on the criteria.

My best find was a brand new Rikon 6” jointer for $150. Stumbled across it on Woodcrafter’s web site; listed as a closeout special. I bought it and am still dumbfounded why I fell into that deal. I had just been in the store and was considering paying $350 for the exact same jointer just the day before.

My favorite handtool purchase is the little Marples pull saw. It’s just $11 at HD and it works better than any of those $30 to $80 Japanese pull saws at the woodworking specialities shops. It’s super sharp, cuts straight with almost no effort, and if it ever gets dull you just push a buttom on the handle and the blade pops out and you can replace it. I use it all the time.

My best value for a major tool that is not a closeout deal has to be the 2hp HF dust collector. Any body can get this machine for $139. Just get a Wood magazine and look for the HF ad in the back of every issue.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View BigTiny's profile

BigTiny

1664 posts in 1514 days


#15 posted 1290 days ago

Mine is two deals, one new and one used.
The used ine was a four foot bed 12 in throw wood lathe in like new shape, complete with motor and a set of 8 chisels for $60.
The new one was an introductory special from Lee Valley on their 60 LED crank type work light for $9.95. No need for batteries, a few cranks and I have a half hour of either 30 or 60 LEDs focused intensely on whatever I want to see better. My only complaint is that I didn’t get another one for the car and maybe a third for the motorcycle before the sale was over.
I’ve found LV’s intro sales to be pretty good deals.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

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