Rockler and Harbor Freight - Selling the same product, just rebadged?

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Forum topic by paxorion posted 02-22-2014 02:30 PM 4882 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1107 posts in 2074 days

02-22-2014 02:30 PM

Topic tags/keywords: resource

I’ve been debating the need for a dowel jig for a step stool I will be making soon. I don’t expect to be doing lots of doweling for joinery so I hopped on to the Rockler and HF website to see what their offering was. As I looking around, I noticed that the Rockler doweling jig ( looks strikingly similar to the HF doweling jig ( Does anyone know if they are the same?

This also got me thinking. I know that the two stores do rebadge and sell identical products, and I was wondering if anyone might be able to add to this list. For example, these are the items that I know of are:
  1. HVLP System: Rockler ( vs. HF (
  2. Lathe 5-Speed Mini: Rockler ( vs. HF (

-- paxorion

13 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


5140 posts in 1749 days

#1 posted 02-22-2014 02:32 PM

Looks the same, much like Baleigh looks like Grizzly for most of their wood working machines.

View CharlesA's profile


3330 posts in 1826 days

#2 posted 02-22-2014 02:40 PM

As someone noted in another thread, the fact that items look alike or are even made in the same factory does not mean that they are manufactured within the same tolerances. So, one could imagine that these jigs come off the same line, but the ones within a tighter tolerance go to Rockler, those within a lower tolerance go to HF, or something like that. Some scenario like that makes some sense bc every thread about HF notes that many items can be good, but you always need to look through the stock to check for defects. IMHO, you can probably find a HF jig as good as the Rockler, but not necessarily.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View HarveyDunn's profile


328 posts in 1759 days

#3 posted 02-22-2014 02:48 PM

Somewhat OT, but the JessEm 8350 doweling jig has gotten very positive reviews on this site. But it does cost 2X what the Rockler jig does.

View Quanter50's profile


278 posts in 2325 days

#4 posted 02-22-2014 03:33 PM

For $12 (using a %20 off coupon) I would by the Harbor Freight one. Read the reviews on the HF site.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7604 posts in 2829 days

#5 posted 02-22-2014 03:41 PM

I haven’t bought that jig, but occasionally you do find a product at Harbor Freight that appears to be just about the same as in other stores. Their lathe and Dust Collector is very much the same as Grizzly and Jet. Their spindle sander is just like the one at Woodcraft. And this dowel jig looks to be the same as the Rockler one. Now, Harbor Freight often gets theirs from the factory BEFORE they go through quality control, buffing and polishing, etc. Which is why you can by two of the same item there and one is great and the other is crap. It’s not a matter of Rockler and Woodcraft buying Harbor Freight products and “rebranding them”, it’s a matter of the same factory selling to multiple companies.

I say buy the Harbor Freight version. I love Rockler tools, and I have always found them to be top quality, But if it’s the same thing at Harbor Freight, for a lot less, it’s a no brainer.

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

View Underdog's profile


1116 posts in 2064 days

#6 posted 02-22-2014 03:45 PM

While they are similar, they aren’t the same. The number of holes is quite different. The Rockler jig has 7, and the HF has only 5.

And for some reason your link to the HF one doesn’t work for me:

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2999 days

#7 posted 02-22-2014 05:12 PM

I just got the General Tools jig at Home Depot which was about the same as the HF one but for $19.95.
But then I didn’t have to drive 100 miles round trip to go to the HF store either,
And if I didn’t like it I could take it back without driving another 100 miles.
I won’t link to the Home Depot website because it could take hours to find anything I’m looking for on their crappy site.

View CharlesA's profile


3330 posts in 1826 days

#8 posted 02-22-2014 05:15 PM

I actually use the HD site a fair amount when I’m looking to see if they carry something. And if they have what I want, I buy it online for in-store pickup so I can just walk in, go to cust-service desk, pay and leave. Although, it is easier, sometimes, just to walk the aisles to find something.

-- "Man is the only animal which devours his own, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor." ~Thomas Jefferson

View lepelerin's profile


495 posts in 2353 days

#9 posted 02-22-2014 06:29 PM

If you are not doing a lot od doweling you could very easily build your own jig for a few dollars by using these bushing and inserts,180,42311

That’s what I do. If money is not an issue then go get one :)

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3614 days

#10 posted 02-22-2014 06:42 PM

They had for reasons I can’t quite understand a very large reduction by one company here on that jig when they sold it off for even less than half the normal price. I think they were just getting rid of them as they were slow sellers. I bought one and I like it a lot .Now after I bought it they were much more expensive to buy once again .I am just sorry I didn’t buy two at the time as they make great stops on a mitre saw or radial arm fence.A tip once portrayed by Norm Abram on a show of his one time. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View paxorion's profile


1107 posts in 2074 days

#11 posted 02-23-2014 03:02 AM

First (and completely off topic) I gotta say, woah…Stumpy took notice of a forum topic I started? Was it because I put Rockler and HF in a single sentence?

And regarding the point of refinement or QA being the differentiator, I for one have not bought a HF item without picking through the entire stash, or making multiple (impulse) trips until I found an acceptable one. Most of my purchases have been handtools, with the exception of less than a handful of pneumatic/power tools that have fewer requirements for accuracy/tolerance. It is a bit harder with the jig since it would be packaged and requires a harder test to assess tolerance than just playing with the item in the store, or with the spray gun and lathe I listed.

In the end, it sounds like a good way of looking at it, is willingness to take a risk and/or how much time are you willing to put into looking for a good one or to mod it to be workable.

-- paxorion

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3676 days

#12 posted 02-23-2014 03:58 AM

That self-centering jig used to be made in the USA. I have
one. It’s probably been out of patent for a long time. The
one I have is pretty well made and has hardened bushings
instead of a drilled bushing block. It would not surprise me
at all if HF cheeps it on the bushing block.

For some work it’s a useful dowel jig but the Jessem/Dowelmax
style jigs just smoke it in terms of versatility.

This is the co. that made mine:

View CrazeeTxn's profile


151 posts in 1979 days

#13 posted 02-23-2014 03:00 PM

Not sure what your budget is, but there are some to be had on Amazon for around $50. I bought one years ago and don’t remember paying that much (but I could have). Got mine from Lowes or somewhere like that. Does what I need it to when I need it to.

As for HF and Rockler being the same…I bought the sprayer from Rockler vs. HF based on reviews and the fact that while they looked the same, I know HF’s rep for most of their items and chose not to make that purchase from them.

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