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  1. #21
    Elite Member dfkrug's Avatar
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    Feb 2004
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    4,502
    Location
    NorCal
    Tractor
    05 Kioti CK30HST w/ Prairie Dog backhoe

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    I have the HF 3/4 drive metric socket set, and what a bargain they are
    at $40. This was a departure for me in that I want the very best of
    hand tools. I can find no equivalent of my pre-WW2 Blackhawk 1/2"
    socket set (even Snapon). I have the set my grandfather bought and
    the one my dad bought. They use a roller/pinch system unlike any other
    (no click ratchet). They are not just lifetime....they are multiple lifetime,
    tho the company is out of biz.
    See my TBN projects at:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/resyfcgt/

  2. #22
    Elite Member dfkrug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    4,502
    Location
    NorCal
    Tractor
    05 Kioti CK30HST w/ Prairie Dog backhoe

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    Anybody try the HF top-of-the-line welding helmet? It has a huge view
    area and it seems well-built. Currently on sale in stores for $70, down from
    $100. I want to upgrade from my old Chinese auto-dark helmet. They are
    #94336 or #94337 and they have an eagle or skull on them.

    A few other thoughts...
    I had the 30" sheet metal roller, shear, finger brake, which I thought was
    marginal. Mine was Enco brand, but it is identical to the HF or Grizzly.

    Many have tried the cheapo $50 14" abrasive chop saw and did not like it.
    I have had one for years and it works OK if you use it for tubing and angles.
    No thick steel! Thin metals I don't cut on my bandsaw cuz it is easy to
    break teeth on my bimetal blades.

    I have the 1/2" Earthquake pneumatic impact gun. Good tool.

    220V spot welder. Works OK, but needs longer tongs. Comes with only
    6" throat depth. This was only about $130 as I recall. I have seen the
    identical tool sold by other cos for over $500. HF sometimes sells a 12"
    pair of copper tongs for about $50.

    I have a 55# anvil....dirt cheap at $20. The steel alloy is a bit soft, but
    makes a great weight and fair light duty anvil.

    I have the floor-mount rod bender that comes with a bunch of bending
    dies. Good tool.

    The 12V 2000# winch is mounted on by trailer. It needs a snatch block,
    but I was able to drag a dead Samurai aboard without one. $50.
    See my TBN projects at:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/resyfcgt/

  3. #23
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    41
    Location
    Wisc
    Tractor
    Farmtrac 300DTC

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    I find it refreshing to read this post and not having the usual everything from China is crap commentary. I also like high quality tools when my needs call for that, however there are times when I cannot justify that. I have a hobby farm and there are tools that are used only ocassionaly and I have had good results with the following from Harbor Freight. I purchased a 3/4" drive socket set, a T post puller, 1/2" impact socket set, moving dolly, C-clamps, vise grips, parts bins, pry bars, punch sets, ball pen hammers and they have served my needs well. The high end tools with the shiny finish would be nice to have but there is no way I personnaly could justify the cost.

  4. #24
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    4,218
    Location
    South Central OK
    Tractor
    Kubota Grand L-4610HSTC

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    Quote Originally Posted by dfkrug

    I have the floor-mount rod bender that comes with a bunch of bending
    dies. Good tool.
    I got one of those but the skimpy manual doesn't do it for me. I need to find someone to demo it to me as it is just a dust catcher so far.

    I bought an electric breaker hammer and cut off one of the chisels and welded a metal cup on the end. It makes a fair T-Post driver when powered by a portable generator. It may take a while but it will drive a T-Post when trying to drive it with the FEL fails and manual labor with a HD manual driver is too slow going and too much work.

    Someone commented/asked what pros buy at HF. We don't all need uniformly top of the line tools of all types all the time. I have a Chinese 3/4 inch socket set which I use once in a while and when needed it is just fine. I have the 240 volt spot welder and it works fine. I have a 16 speed drill press that has served me well for going on 15 years. I also have a 25 year old Milwaukee 3/8 reversible variable speed corded drill that outperforms most 1/2 inch in other brands like DeWalt etc. I know the difference. It is a caveat emptor situation. Often the HF tools have a good cost benefit ratio but if your livelihood depends on a tool day in day out the HF tool may not be the wise choice. For someone for whom a tool failure is an inconvenience but not a crisis, HF is often good enough.

    I have a HF electric metal cutting hand held band saw (electric hacksaw) and it works. How does it compare to a Milwaukee? If the Milwaukee is a 10 the HF is a 2-3 if you don't try to work it too hard AND the blades that come with it are useless and need to be replaced.

    The only premature failure I have ever had with HF tools is an abrasive cutoff saw. The trigger switch failed. within a few cuts. I will put a toggle switch on it. IT is my portable toss it in the truck tool. I use a good DeWalt on a roll around stand in the shop.

    For many of us a HF tool with an extended replacement warranty is a good deal. For a pro the time lost returning the unit to get a "free" one would likely make a Milwaukee quality tool a better deal/choice.

    I have one Cenco air nailer (finish nailer) 2 HF nailer- staplers and a HF 23 ga pinner. The Cenco has never failed or jammed. I can take a HF apart, clear the jam, and put it back together pretty quickly BECAUSE I GET TOO MUCH PRACTICE doing it.Yet, they work pretty good and I don't make a living using them. If every once in a while it jams, it is a minor inconvenience for me not a crisis. If I were being paid as a finish carpenter I wouldn't be using HF nailers and pinners.

    If you are willing to wait, nearly everything in HF inventory goes on special at reduced prices. That is how I buy most of my HF stuff, bargain hunting unless I need a tool NOW.

    If there is a tool you need to be top of the line with uncompromising quality super accuracy etc then maybe HF isn't the choice. I didn't buy a HF slide compound miter saw (I got the DeWalt 12 inch) I didn't buy a HF table saw, I laid out over $4000 for a high quality cabinet saw.

    The key to tool happiness is to buy the level of quality that is commensurate with your needs, use, and situation.

    Sometimes HF stuff is not a very good choice at any price. I think arc welders is a candidate for that category. Can you weld with HF gear? Well, yes you can. Are HF welders in the same league with Miller, Hobart, and the one and only Lincoln (the original and first arc welder manufacturer building welders over 100 years.) No way!

    The same HF tool may be a good deal for me and a bad idea for someone else. You pays your money and you takes your chances. What is the down side if a tool fails. For me, if it is just a minor inconvenience and the HF tool will do what I need done good enough when it is working then I will probably be willing to try the HF tool. If the HF tool can't be expected to hold the tolerances I need then HF is a non-starter (as in case of the cabinet saw.)

    Your mileage may vary!

    Pat
    Never wrestle with a pig (however titled) as you just get dirty and the pig has all the fun.

  5. #25
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    775

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    HF's warranties tools like they're made to last. When a tool breaks I take it back for exchange. I usually need the tool, and I don't like the idea of using something and taking it back for money, so I generally don't have a receipt but they always give me a new one without question.

    jmf

  6. #26
    Elite Member dfkrug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    4,502
    Location
    NorCal
    Tractor
    05 Kioti CK30HST w/ Prairie Dog backhoe

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    Quote Originally Posted by patrick_g
    I got one of those but the skimpy manual doesn't do it for me. I need to find someone to demo it to me as it is just a dust catcher so far.
    You got that right, Pat! I played around with it a while until I got it to
    work. I read and re-read the directions.....they are awful. I made a
    bunch of weld-on hold-downs out of 3/8 steel rod...they came out
    great. Next time I use the tool, I will have to figure it out all over again.
    I also had to modify the tool to have an immovable mount. It now goes
    on my FEL forks.

    The directions for the manual tire mounter/dismounter were also horrible.
    Once I figured it out, it has been great. It mounts to my FEL forks, too.
    See my TBN projects at:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/resyfcgt/

  7. #27
    Elite Member dfkrug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Posts
    4,502
    Location
    NorCal
    Tractor
    05 Kioti CK30HST w/ Prairie Dog backhoe

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    Quote Originally Posted by patrick_g
    I bought an electric breaker hammer and cut off one of the chisels and welded a metal cup on the end. It makes a fair T-Post driver when powered by a portable generator. It may take a while but it will drive a T-Post when trying to drive it with the FEL fails and manual labor with a HD manual driver is too slow going and too much work.
    Very resourceful!
    See my TBN projects at:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/resyfcgt/

  8. #28
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    2,942
    Location
    Meridian Idaho
    Tractor
    Kubota B7100D

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    Quote Originally Posted by dfkrug
    You got that right, Pat! I played around with it a while until I got it to
    work. I read and re-read the directions.....they are awful. I made a
    bunch of weld-on hold-downs out of 3/8 steel rod...they came out
    great. Next time I use the tool, I will have to figure it out all over again.
    I also had to modify the tool to have an immovable mount. It now goes
    on my FEL forks.
    hehehe yep, I just went through this to bend some 5/16 rod in to a U shape... standing there with directions trying to figure out what the heck I needed to do to get a 90 degree bend. Worked like a champ though once I set it up.

  9. #29
    Elite Member schmism's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
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    4,922
    Location
    Peoria IL
    Tractor
    New holland TC(33)

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    Quote Originally Posted by charlz
    I only buy stuff that is on sale... 70% off usually seems to be about what their stuff is worth


    Latex and Nitrile gloves
    4 1/2" grinding wheels
    4 1/2" cutoff wheels
    Deep impact sockets
    The heavy grinder stand.. although I had to put a rubber mat under it to keep it in one place.
    Just got the metal saw horses... they seem pretty sturdy and strong
    Little roll around chairs with the tray underneath (square not round ones)... at $9 I could get one for me and my 'helper' great for working on the dirtbikes
    Same for the $2 ear muffs
    The 'blue flame' auto darkening welding helmet is great for $50
    The brass looking spring loaded center punch $2 and it does great on metal and wood
    The compact bender does a pretty good job once you figure out where to make bends
    Welding magnets - dang these things are handy!
    Bigger rectangle magnet with an eyelet for string/rope has come in handy a few times
    The wide crown air stapler
    The brad nailer/narrow crown stapler... needs more like 100psi and misses once in a while but at $20 it is far cheaper than anything at Lowes/Home Depot
    The big Sliver and Deming drill bits.... cheapest way to make big holes in steel (I trashed the step bits after a while) They do tend to grab once in a while though.

    Can you tell I have a store not too far from my work?

    Charles

    what he said ^^ (ive bought 99% of the same stuff) in addtion, the 14" cuttoff saw (on sale $50) has held up.. (light duty work)

    trailer jack
    10" numatic wheels, were $5... same thing at TractorSupply was over 18

    4.5" grinder discs i have noticed a diffrence in. the dewalt ones cut a lot better (but they both last about the same amount of time) but the 1/8" cut off wheels dont last as long as the name brand ones. (if you ratio'd the price diffrence, and applied it to the life span... it would be a positive number... ie if they cost half as much they last more than half as long)
    Steve - TC33D 4x4 FEL, dual rear remotes with toys

  10. #30
    Super Member California's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    5,610
    Location
    Sonoma County
    Tractor
    Yanmar YM240, YM186D, and another YM186D

    Default Re: Harbor Freight Tools that don't suck

    Quote Originally Posted by dfkrug
    Anybody try the HF top-of-the-line welding helmet? It has a huge view area and it seems well-built. Currently on sale in stores for $70, down from $100.... #94336 or #94337 and they have an eagle or skull on them.
    Just got one, haven't tried it. I liked their $49 helmet, but with bifocals it was agony to hold my head just right then have a tiny sliver in focus. Hopefully the big window on this will allow a normal view looking down.

    I haven't seen anyone mention the driving gloves or heavier Roping Gloves. Both are great for pulling on blackberry vines and handling rough lumber. They also improve grip and prevent blisters when shoveling. I like them better than canvas-back gloves.

    The latex gloves are ok for some things but oil and grease destroy them immediately. If that's all you have, put on doubles. The blue gloves are perfect for replacing a grease gun cartridge or cleaning a hydraulic filter.

    $2.99 for the multi-tester (volt meter etc) is the best bargain anywhere. I have them all over the place. And the little $6.99 laser thermometer is a great toy. I aim it up at the a/c vent at home for a remote reading. On the tractor the lower block shows 150 degrees, head 185, water outlet and top radiator tank 190. I expect it would diagnose a plugged radiator core ok.

    I've bought some duds there. One was the flatbar (16" prybar) that bent. Another was $10 "Vivitar Binoculars" that were so bad I laughed. Horrible weird colors and worse optics than a kid's toy opera glasses. Ponder & Best obviously no longer owns that trademark. The clerk just grinned when I took them back. Their brass 'surveyor compass' from a couple of years ago wasn't much better, just a toy replica of a real working tool. And the suction cup lifters for handling glass are marginal. I wouldn't trust them where safety is an issue, but they were better than nothing the one time I needed them.

    The self leveling laser level w/tripod is good enough to run drainage away from the house. So far as I can tell its measurements are repeatable to something like 1/4" in 10 ft, good enough for what I'm using it for. Wait for the sale.

    I built their tiny 40x48 trailer to use as a Jeep trailer for camping; something small enough to unhitch and get out of the way by hand if I've gotten into an impassible spot on the way down to a creek. It worked fine for that. Its too small for any other application.

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