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Forum topic by MrRon posted 07-06-2011 07:40 PM 1158 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5141 posts in 3419 days

07-06-2011 07:40 PM

I would like to see tool reviews in all the woodworking magazines that include Harbor Freight tools. I’m tired of reading negative reports of their tools; there are some positive reports too. HF tools are not taken seriously and dismissed as Chinese junk, not worthy of a review. The magazines seem to only review tools that are sponsors of that magazine. In my experience, HF tools are no worse than some of the tools that receive magazine reviews. Not all of us can afford Festool. Many woodworkers start out with HF tools because it fits their budgets. With experience, they soon find out what is good and what is bad and that you don’t have to pay big bucks to have good and servicable tools. I own many high quality tools accumulated over the years. Many I consider priceless because nothing today exists to compare with them. I have machine tools 70+ years old that were made to last for LIFE. This is something that no current company can claim in a disposable society. As long as I take care of those machines and don’t leave them sitting outside in the rain, they will outlast me and even my heirs.

10 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16278 posts in 4394 days

#1 posted 07-06-2011 07:55 PM

I agree that some HF tools, while maybe not at the top of their category, are perfectly acceptable. It would be nice if some of the woodworking magazines included them in reviews so we’d know which were okay and which to avoid.

However, I have to admit I never put too much stock in magazine tool reviews, because I always wonder how likely they are to slam a major advertiser.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3147 days

#2 posted 07-06-2011 08:26 PM

I’ve been a HF customer for a couple of years, and many tools I bought within that time have come and gone. In other words, many of HFs’ tools don’t seem to be long term production runs. They sell about 4 different models of 4” grinders for instance. The one I bought 4 months ago doesn’t seem to be available any more. It’s like they got a deal on a batch of tools and sell those, then have anther batch in a few months.

This is not true for all their tools. They seem to have been selling the 12” x 34” lathe for many years based on comments from other LJs. And it’s a pretty good tool as far as I have heard; or read. I have the 10”x18” lathe. It’s a nice machine, and been on their shelves for years as well.

The point is, how would a magazine know which ones are long term products and which ones are one time batch deals?

View MrRon's profile


5141 posts in 3419 days

#3 posted 07-06-2011 09:10 PM

“The point is, how would a magazine know which ones are long term products and which ones are one time batch deals?” That is very true Mr Crank, but it is also true of Sears Craftsman tools. Their models change every year.

View Bertha's profile


13551 posts in 2869 days

#4 posted 07-06-2011 09:14 PM

I suffer from brand loyalty. I’ve had good experience with JET, for example. I’ll keep buying JET until I have a bad experience, then I’ll try something else out. I generally buy vintage nowadays, so I’m usually getting something better than is offered currently anyway. I buy disposable things and pneumatic tools from Harbor Freight. I also buy an occasional solid state device. It’s just fun going there; I wish I had one.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3147 days

#5 posted 07-06-2011 10:45 PM

MrRon, most companies have model changes. Usually they have improvements (read, production cost reduction) and changes to existing models on a regular basis. What I’m talking about is HF may sell several versions of one tool, like the popular multi-tool, or the 4” right angle grinder, at the same time. Some of those versions are only one shot deals. They put them out there on their flyer and when they sell the whole batch, they are gone.

All their tools are not like this. I got the 10”x18” 5-speed lathe from them and the 16 speed bench-top drill press and they are very nice tools and they have sold these tools for years, as far as I can tell.

I would like to have seen these tools in reviews compared to other tools I was looking at, but I can understand why a magazine might not want to publish a review of a tool from a company with such inconsistent quality.

My drill press looks just like the 12 speed General bench-top that Woodcraft sells. Might have come from the same Chinese plant, I don’t know. I do know it was less than 1/2 the price, and if I bought another one next month, it might be from a different manufacturer.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3350 days

#6 posted 07-06-2011 11:33 PM

Love the idea, but …..

MY experience with HF is that their quality can be REALLY spotty. If you look, with a keen eye, you can often find a good widget, there.

But with their power/air tools … I wouldn’t put ANY stock in a review of HF tools unless they tested ten of the things.

Which … sadly … keeps me from buying LOTS of categories of things AT HF ;-)

That said, I am WELL aware that there are LOTS of happy HF power tool owners, so … I know they can git ‘er done.

Felt like I’d better say that … in part … for dbhost :-)

-- -- Neil

View MrRon's profile


5141 posts in 3419 days

#7 posted 07-07-2011 01:09 AM

Maybe if the reviewers would show some respect for HF as a competent company, HF would improve their lineup. There is some indication lately that they are trying to improve their image. After all, they have been around for a long time and will be around long after the big names have faded into obscurity. Companies like Dollar General have taken a big bite out of the likes of Walmart and Sears. Maybe this is the coming trend.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18990 posts in 2743 days

#8 posted 07-07-2011 01:20 AM

HF tools are made for the hobby woodworker-mechanic-carpenter. I have a bandsaw 20 years or more old from HF. I’ve had to replace a lot of parts, but all-in-all I’m happy with it. Its what you want to pay and what you need to do. If I needed the bandsaw to make a living, I’d choose better.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View MrRon's profile


5141 posts in 3419 days

#9 posted 07-07-2011 01:25 AM

I guess I have to qualify myself as to why I have jumped on the HF bandwagon. I am retired and on a fixed pension. I cannot afford the latest and greatest new tool nor would I want to. I still prefer older well made tools. I am fortunate to have built up my tool collection many years ago when I was still a wage earner. Those days are gone for me and HF is the only thing I can possibly afford. Because of my experience with tools over the years, I’m fortunate to be able to pretty much recognize a decent tool. You could say HF is now my quest. Many of their tools are bad, but even then, things can be done to improve them. I came from a generation where Popular Science, Popular Mechanics and some hobby electronics magazines provided all the information for a DIYer. There wasn’t a lot of “off the shelf” material available and we had to invent and re-invent as we went along. We made our own tools when we couldn’t afford to buy the real thing.

View syenefarmer's profile


508 posts in 3256 days

#10 posted 07-07-2011 01:58 AM

While including HF tools in the tool reviews of certain tools might be nice, I doubt if it would make much difference to me. Generally speaking, I usually only buy a tool from HF if I know that my usage will be less than once a month. That way I know that I’ll get a minimum of a couple of years use out of it while not spending much for the convience of having that tool on hand when I do need it.

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