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Forum topic by Jimbo4 posted 12-30-2011 07:44 PM 1352 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1420 posts in 2187 days

12-30-2011 07:44 PM

Why is it when we ask for advice about any of the HF machinery we happen to have in our possession, or we are have a wish to obtain, we get lots of attentive “motherly” advice on the why fors and how comes at LJ, as opposed to them “other” (WC – watercloset) dudes, who are way down on anything having to with HF, i.e., when the question was put forth to the dudes from WC about a HF DC, I received some “read between lines” negativity, and an insuation that HF was nothing but junk. Well, I do know that HF is not rated as #1, but they are trying, maybe they’re up to a 2- (?). What ever tool I buy, I do extensive research by going to whomevers web site and look at their parts breakdown, i.e., bearings v bushings, etc. After all, how many brand name tools are made in the PRC, using the same factories as the seconds, going down the same assembly line? One gets a grey color, another gets an orange color, another gets a green color. As example – some Record Power lathes use bronze bushings in the head – what ? Same as GM – on the line one gets a Chevy emblem, the other gets a GMC emblem.

Guess what I’m trying to say is: Just because one machine/tool is less expensive than another, does not make it a bad choice. I have a mixture of tools – Craftsman, Nova, Porter Cable, Delta, HF. It’s what I’ve researched – NOT what I’m willing to spend. What somebody says or prints, is their opinion, and does not affect me. Opinions are
like the proverbial __, everybody has one.

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

18 replies so far

View poopiekat's profile


4189 posts in 3158 days

#1 posted 12-30-2011 08:00 PM

The quality of the tools you select ultimately is a reflection of your own self-image. Whatever method you choose to select your tools, be it reviews or word-of-mouth, your workshop is a reflection of Who You Are. That you find Lumberjocks to be more tolerant of HF crap tells a story of its own.

-- 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 DS's profile


2147 posts in 1844 days

#2 posted 12-30-2011 08:06 PM

HF oft times gets a pretty bad rap—and deservedly so. Generally speaking, they are CHEAP tools and nothing more.

THAT said, there is a completely OTHER side of HF that most often gets overlooked.

Last year I decided it was time to invest in a nice jig saw for jobsite use. Another contractor on a job had a nice, name-brand jig saw that he had just purchased and was bragging about all its fancy features. I immediately decided I wanted one, but it was about $130 for it at HD.

Once I began to investigate my purchase, I made an amazing discovery. HF had the EXACT same jig saw made from the exact same molds with the exact same features for about half the money. (Different brand label of course) It was the most expensive one HF had and thier less expensive ones were decidedly inferior to this one. I bought it and, so far, it has performed quite well for me.

A lot of times, we underestimate, or are in denial of, how much of our perceived name brand tools are already made in China and we are still paying brand name prices for them.

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

View hairy's profile


2378 posts in 2956 days

#3 posted 12-30-2011 08:41 PM

I go to hf for Titebond glue and rubber gloves and always look around the store. I am very skeptical of their tools, and have bought several. They do have a few good low cost tools,but only a few. Usually, there is a reason they don’t cost much.

-- stay thirsty my friends...

View Bertha's profile


12989 posts in 2117 days

#4 posted 12-30-2011 08:44 PM

I’ve bought a few of their tools. There in a landfill somewhere now. However, I continue to use and buy their pneumatic tools. I’m also not going to order disposable glue brushes from Japan Woodworker, lol. I think HF has a strong place in the market.

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

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2422 days

#5 posted 12-30-2011 10:04 PM

There are a lot of gems hidden there. I have a few I have bought there. Some were winners, some not so good. Only one that was an outright looser (Their little 8” radial arm saw)

Real winners:

14 in woodworking bandsaw
7×10 metal lathe
Mini Metalworking Mill (SIEG X2)
12×33 Wood lathe with rotating head
Portable bandsaw (metal)
1”x30” belt sander
Junky laminate trimmers. (Come on, $18? You can just about have one dedicated to each bit.)
Some people love the 4×6 horizontal bandsaw.
Hollow chisel Mortising Machine (with the caveat that the hold down needs to be redone)

Does that mean everything they make is great? Of course not. You also don’t need to go out and buy a Lamborghini or a Bentley to run to the store for a gallon of milk. It is called selecting appropriate technology.

Of course there are also many people buy “Big Name” items just for the name. Kind of like people paying big money at the mall for ratty t-shirts and torn jeans because they say “Abercrombe and Fitch” or some such.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Jimbo4's profile


1420 posts in 2187 days

#6 posted 12-31-2011 01:38 AM

Some crap tools I have encountered are Ryobi with bushings instead of bearings, Milwaukee (which is no longer made in the USA) with batteries and switches that continuously fail, Craftsman (of which I do have some older models made by Emerson) of which the new models are made by Ryobi, and on and on and on. As can be seen, my shop is made up of various mfg’s – made in the PRC no doubt – with some exceptions. I’ve seen, just like all the rest of the tool gloats, ultra stupid prices for “major” brands that are made in the PRC, claiming they are the best of the best. When it comes right down to it – they ain’t no better then the cheepies. Sure – numerous HF items are really cheap, i.e., saw blades, sandpaper, drill bits, etc. I’ve put my HF 6×48x9 sander, close qtr drill (my Sioux crapped out), palm sander (Craftsman/Ryobi crapped out) through hell, and as of yet, have not crapped out on me. Sure they’re cheap, but how many times are you going to replace a $300 drill that craps out ?

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

View Jimbo4's profile


1420 posts in 2187 days

#7 posted 12-31-2011 02:12 AM

Oops – ran out of room. I am not a spokes person for HF, nor do I get a commission. Expressionism is who we are and why we have to live with tools that are unsatisfactory, no matter who made them, or where they are from. Like I said, I go to whomevers web site to look at the breakdown of a particular tool, to see what kind of parts that are most likely to evaporate under hard use. I do not buy anything without bearings, no matter who they are, for they are the life blood of the tool. If the cheepie brand, or the major mfg, has what I want on runability, and warranty, that’s who I go with, no matter who it be.

Yeah, yeah – I know – I should have used the “I need more room” button.

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2393 days

#8 posted 12-31-2011 04:25 AM

Don’t be deceived by the different colour schemes, and don’t think for a minute that the USofA is the only market place in which the apparently-same-item is re-badged and sold as the same thing as something else.
Take a DIY chain, who has it’s own brand of powertools, “PowerRanger” for instance. That DIY chain is not going to set up it’s own production line to make 80,000 units of a power planer. They send out a buyer to Makita, or Milwaukee or wherever and get the best price per unit for changing the colour of the clamshell and packaging, and the obliging Japanese/Taiwanese/Chinese manufacturer makes a virtual copy using cheaper parts to fill the quota at a lower price that keeps the unit cost down and satisfies the DIY chain and DIY chain’s customers.
To save a few cent, the DIY brand may have a flex that’s stiff and 2 feet shorter than a major brand, the switch may be off an older model, the cutter knives may be HSS instead of Carbide.
In short, you may think something is identical with a vast difference in price, but in reality, yous gets whats yous pays for.
That is the reality of it.
I have a Wickes (own brand) planer (in black) and a Makita 1902 planer (turquoisie) planer, that all the exterior parts are interchangeable, but the electrics, switch/motor/flex are different.

View Jimbo4's profile


1420 posts in 2187 days

#9 posted 12-31-2011 05:01 AM

This rant can go on forever, with no end in sight. I buy what I buy on what I see, feel, and know what is/is not going to work. If someone disagrees, so what. A lot of major brands end up in the dumper also, and I’ve had my share of them. Like I said, I’m not a total HF fan by my stated diversity of tools in my shop, nor do I get a commission. That’s why I research, not buy on a whim, or what someone else feels should be for them. If I happen to approve, like numerous others in LJ land, in the purchase of a HF product, because it “feels” right and the price agrees with the standards we believe in, so be it.

Hey Mike – where you at ?

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

View RockyTopScott's profile


1184 posts in 2903 days

#10 posted 12-31-2011 05:15 AM

I see no reason why any Jock needs to justify what they buy to anyone.

Now if you ask for comments, be preapred to receive them.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 2422 days

#11 posted 12-31-2011 07:29 AM

Well, the only reason I bother chiming in is that it is pretty sad for the newbies that don’t know where to drop the money for high end stuff and where or how to get by with inexpensive. If you listen to some of the experts (magazines are the worst), you would think that you couldn’t even get started without dropping thousands of dollars for some dream shop. Yes, I would love some gorgeous 36in bandsaw with a monster table. Do I need it? No. I just plug along with my $300 14” saw. I might build one of the wooden ones from I already bought the plans but I don’t want too many projects going at the same time. I wouldn’t mind having several of the beautiful boutique backsaws. Instead, I added some metalworking machines and make do with a frame saw and little $8 zona saws.

The number one reason people doing woodworking professionally go under is blowing thousands of dollars on expensive machinery without the work to bankroll it. Sadly, often bought on credit. The last couple of days, I have been making up the leadscrews for a CNC router I am working on. Finished them up a few minutes ago. Yeah, I could have gone out and bought one. Besides it being fun to design and build, I am going to have less than $400 invested in it.

If you have the discretionary funds to treat yourself to great tools, go for it. They are worth whatever you want to pay. Are they necessary? Not by a long shot.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Jimbo4's profile


1420 posts in 2187 days

#12 posted 12-31-2011 05:51 PM

And, with the excellent words by David, I’m done now.

-- BOVILEXIA: The urge to moo at cows from a moving vehicle.

View TCCcabinetmaker's profile


930 posts in 1779 days

#13 posted 12-31-2011 06:01 PM

Well, for those of you who do not know….
Dewalt is owned and manufactured by… Black and Decker….
That’s right the orange cheesy tools that don’t do what they promise and rarely hold up….

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

View Mike's profile


66 posts in 1806 days

#14 posted 01-01-2012 10:13 PM

Speaking for me, I go to hf for stuff that I’m going to use now and than, I buy the best tools I can afford or are best for what I’m using them for. Regargless of brand, but thats just me

-- But hon I need this tool.......

View William's profile


9906 posts in 2266 days

#15 posted 01-02-2012 04:29 AM

I love Harbour Freight. I only wish we had one closer to where I live. The closest one to me is close to forty miles away. If there was one closer, I’d probably be in there at least weekly. As it is now, I have to stock up on things like sandpaper and such when I’m going to be in that area.
I often hear people preaching about buying the best tools they can afford. While I agree with this to a point, I think it is often missed that some of us cannot afford much. When that is brought up, it is often suggested that we save up until we can afford it. Well, that presents a major problem as well for a family man. In my experience, when I try to savve up for an expensive tool, it never fails that when I am almost there, something happens. A good example was the time I was saving up for a used scroll saw I wanted. I was almost there when my daughter had to have emergency dental surgury. Of course, as much as I love my tools, I love my daughter more, so the money went for her surgury.
Also, there is something to be said for buying cheap tools, especially when it’s a tool that you have no idea how much you’ll be using it. I say, in that circumstance, buy a cheap tool. If you see you’ll be using it a lot, use the cheap tool until it is about to fall apart while you do figure out how to bankroll a better one. Some of us are doing woodwork only because we like it and have to make do with what we can get.
All that being said, I would like to use my scrolling as an example to promote cheap tools. I do mostly scroll type work.
My scrolling started with a Ryobi scroll saw. That thing was the biggest piece of crap ever made. Of course, since I was new to it at the time, I didn’t know that. I used that saw until it was so far gone it couldn’t be repaired. After I bought a different saw, I tried to see if I could rebuild it so my sons could use it. It was so worn out the bearings on the upper and lower arms were elongated. Even the holes in the arms where they go were so worn that new bearings wouldn’t have even helped it.
I’m glad I started with that piece of crap though. It afforded me two main benefits. First of all, after cutting on it for so long, I am confident enough in my scrolling abilities that I know I can cut on anything. If I am at someone else’s shop, you can put a crapper of a saw in front of me and I can still cut detailed designs for you. The next thing is it taught me what I wanted and saved me money on my next saw. I now use a Delta. I’m not talking about an expensive one. Actually, the saw I use now cost me less than a hundred bucks. However, since I knew what I needed in my saw, I was able to buy such a cheap saw and make modifications to it to make it better (for my use) than a saw that runs in the four digit price range.


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