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Forum topic by pariswoodworking posted 1079 days ago 2501 views 0 times favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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pariswoodworking

379 posts in 1087 days


1079 days ago

I was looking online at some of harbor freights tools and was wondering. Are they good quality tools or cheap worthless trash? I am mostly interested in their clamps and general hand tools. I saw that they also have some planes. Are they any good? What should I avoid buying from them if anything?

Thanks

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein


34 replies so far

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 2526 days


#1 posted 1079 days ago

A lot of my clamps are from HF and most are just fine and much more affordable than some name brands. I do not like the pipe clamps I got from them however. I do shy away on something where I want precision and I think theirs does not bear the quality. I’ve gotten a couple of compressors and accessories which I think are a good value.

View KayBee's profile (online now)

KayBee

999 posts in 1849 days


#2 posted 1079 days ago

Somewhere here on LJs is a thread about harbor freight gems. Things like the dust collector.

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

View WilsonCreations's profile

WilsonCreations

105 posts in 1133 days


#3 posted 1079 days ago

The stuff from HF seems better than it used to be, though I still hear it’s hit or miss. Luckily the seem willing to exchange just about anything. There are several threads on them, one has a link to there test site and they do seem to be turning things towards the better.

-- Wilson

View patcollins's profile

patcollins

964 posts in 1467 days


#4 posted 1079 days ago

It all depends, they got some pretty decent stuff and they got some real crap too.

I like the Pittsburgh bar clamps click here for a review I did on them.

Some of their hand tools are alright too, I got a set of wrenches to keep in my truck and they are actually pretty good wrenches

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

2163 posts in 2149 days


#5 posted 1079 days ago

Coming from a person who is anti harbor frieght.

Regarding the clamps, HD sells a set of quick grip irwin clamps that price out comparable to the equivelants sold at harbor and the irwins are higher in quality therby making them more economical over long term. And buying a few pipe clamps every now and then builds up a decent inventory of 3/4”pipe clamos and those will last your life time. Try using the square tube clamp from harbor and you get less pressure and they will not last a lifetime.

You get what you pay for in life.

-- Jerry Nettrour, San Antonio, www.topqualitycabinets.net

View David Grimes's profile

David Grimes

2072 posts in 1242 days


#6 posted 1079 days ago

Just search harbor freight on Lumberjocks and read the reviews. There are quite a few recommended gems. I believe the dust collector is a favorite. The large lathe seems to have a following.

Here’s a list : http://woodworkerszone.com/wiki/index.php?title=Harbor_Freight_Gems

-- If you're going to stir the pot, think BIG spoon or SMALL boat paddle. David Grimes, Georgia

View Brett's profile

Brett

620 posts in 1285 days


#7 posted 1079 days ago

I bought the little No. 33 plane for $10. It’s not bad, but the throat is enormous and tearout can be a problem.

-- More tools, fewer machines.

View Ray Friddle's profile

Ray Friddle

63 posts in 1632 days


#8 posted 1079 days ago

I found the lifetime and quality of most of their tools is pretty low. I bought a tree trimmer and it fell apart on the first cut. I bought a measuring tape and the belt clip popped off immediately. But shovels and bars that I plan to smash into the roots and rocks of our backyard, that’s HF material!

-- Ray

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1746 posts in 1166 days


#9 posted 1079 days ago

There stuff can be so hit or miss. I recently bought a 4 1/2” grinder and a oscillating multi-tool and the 23 ga pin nailer. All great products. Most of the basic hand tools are ok (my thought is the less moving parts the better), but I agree with Bill in that its not great for precision stuff. I have had some chisels which are ok, but not amazing. A hand plane which was terrible (I think the same No. 33), but that may have been partially operator error. Also a combo square set which was ok other than the fact that the ruler would not stay rust free.

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

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knotscott

5369 posts in 1978 days


#10 posted 1079 days ago

HF is hit and miss IME. I’ve got some tools from them that have been pretty darn good, but their quality control is spotty so one might work well, the next might not. Really happy with my HF DP, and am fairly happy with my HF mortiser and HF compressor. I’d be more leary of more expensive critical tools like my TS. I like their Pittsburg bar clamps quite a bit for the value. Not a fan of their blades and cutters…too much downside risk considering the cost difference….just not worth it IMO. They have a good return policy, so if there’s a store near you, some things are worth a try.

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

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

1651 posts in 1096 days


#11 posted 1079 days ago

As a rule, I try to avoid anything that has an electrical wire from them ( the DC is a noted exception), The other stuff, as mentioned is hit and miss. Farmers around me carry some tools on their equipment for adjustment in the field. HF stuff is perfect since those tools can be easily lost. I’ve had good luck with their pipe clamps, others haven’t. Like someone said, they have a fairly easy return policy so you have some assurance your money isn’t completely wasted.

-- I long for the days when Coke was a cola, and a joint was a bad place to be (Merle Haggard)

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

1641 posts in 1524 days


#12 posted 1079 days ago

I have some of their quick clamps and the best thing about them is the price. I got 12” long quick clamps for $2 each. Only thing is, they do not last nearly as long as the irwin quick clamps do. I avoid their sandpaper but I like the 6”x48” stationary belt sander. This is my most used tool and I bought this heavy duty tool over a year ago for $169. Works very well. Had to assemble some of it but that is no problem. If you know what to look for there you can get some good deals. Oh Yes, I never buy vise grips unless it says “vise Grip” on the tool. This goes anywhere not just harbor freight. We used a lot of vice grip tools in construction Sheetmetal work.

-- In God We Trust

View pariswoodworking's profile

pariswoodworking

379 posts in 1087 days


#13 posted 1079 days ago

Thanks for the advice everybody. I’ll be sure to avoid most of their power tools and anything that needs precision but I may try a few things like their belt sander if I ever need a new one. The thing I was most interested in was their bar and c clamps so I’m glad to hear that they are decent quality.

Thanks again.

-- Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former. -- Albert Einstein

View crank49's profile

crank49

3338 posts in 1573 days


#14 posted 1079 days ago

Every power tool I have gotten from HF has been a gem, but I go to the store and pick em up and check em out real close. There’s plenty of junk to be had in those aisles.

Their 4” x 24” magnesium belt sander is just as nice as any I have seen by Porter Cable, Dewalt, Craftsman or anybody else and at 1/4 the price..

Their biscuit jointer is a plastic attachment they stuck on a angle grinder and pasted a label on it that says it’s a biscuit jointer. I think it was a waste of a fair quality angle grinder, and packaging.

I like their little 10” x 18” 5 speed lathe just fine. But they have a couple of lathe models with very poor reviews and a couple that folks seem to like. When you go look at them in person you can see why.

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

View Sarit's profile

Sarit

466 posts in 1742 days


#15 posted 1079 days ago

Their version of the Irwin Quick Clamp I think has more clamping pressure, but it doesn’t last as long. I actually reach for them more so than the Irwin’s. The internals on one of mine broke, but I was able to fashion a wooden shim to make it work again. Its possible the Irwin’s are just as bad internally, and I simply haven’t used them as much.

I also have the aluminum bar clamps, which won’t let you really crank them, but I’ve found that I don’t need that much pressure anyhow. The big advantage is that they are so light and easy to handle and so cheap that you can buy enough to glue up all your panels at once.

I only buy non-precision stuff from them, like the reciprocating saw. It’s not as nice as a sawzall, but it gets the job done. I have their “foldable” trailer, and its not so foldable since it takes 2 people and 10 minutes of ratcheting to fold/unfold the darn thing.

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