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Let’s Discuss Harbor Freight

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I must admit I’m a sucker for the HF coupons and free stuff (about five now of the red voltage meters).  I also carry some little used HF items in the truck for occasional use i.e. grinder and variable speed polisher. Just don’t see a need for high $$ items for those things.  I need to put a 20 volt (or 24) cordless drill/driver on the truck, again for occasional use only.  What about the Bauer brand or another inexpensive brand not HF?  And are you a HF junky like me?  I know GeorgiaHybrid won’t have anything that doesn’t say SnapOn in his truck so won’t believe anything he says, lol.

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Before getting out of the trade, worked on semi tractors professionally, I had purchased SnapOn which I still own, Now that I do not work on trucks other than mine, if I need a tool that'll not get used extensively I will get from HF, I actually have had pretty good luck with their tools, a friend of mine told me they actually have a life time  guarantee on their sockets. 

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Now, now, I do have some Mac and Matco on there as well. 😊Electrical meters are a mix but my go to is a Fluke

If you look real close, you can see the 2 HF air/hydraulic jack's that are also on board. I also use Metabo and Dewalt grinders and Makita and Porter Cable polishers.

No one company can make the best of everything but I will admit to not liking HF electrical tools. Air tools and hydraulics seem to be OK from them though. My engine lift is also a HF but I don't work under it.

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I have been buying tools from HF since when they started.  I buy their hand tools, wrenches, sockets, etc.  I NEVER buy their electric tools.  I am a contractor and find they dont last in professional service.  That being said I also NEVER buy electric tools from Home Depot & Lowes.  Many companies make some models for them specifically and they are lower quality although still say the name brand, esp DeWalt.  I have found they dont hold up either.  Grinders I use Metabo, recip saws- PC or Milwaukee.  Cordless has always been Makita and it has served me well for over 30 years- I still have my first 9V set.  Cant seem to part with it, even though I dont use it.

I have done some testing with impact sockets, HF compared to the name brands and HF has outlasted them all.  I used to install pallet racking and running electric impact guns for days, many guys at a time, and HF held up the best.  I wore out some Matco sockets, took them back and showed the dealer how it compared to a HF put into service the same day.  He was surprised, so was I esp when I remembered what I paid for each.

Havent tested HF gensets or welders yet, but am curious about their new BRAND.

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Carl, i am a tool junkie and also thrifty. I prefer Snap On over Harbor Freight but I think Harbor Freight wins in the  economical, non professional use arena. Randy A has a HF battery powered drill that he got in Florida. A seemingly knowledgable HF employee recommended the Hercules brand over the Bauer. I like Home Depot's Rigid brand which has a lifetime free repair /battery warranty if you register your tools. If HD has a sale on Rigid, it's not much more than Hercules. I also have a high torque Milwaukee M-18 impact wrench that is really handy on big truck stuff. So many tools and so little time.......        Charlie

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For truck use, I would either by the Milwaukee or Dewalt brands for a drill/impact.  Not quite the price of the Snap-on, but quality.  I use a corded Dewalt 1/2 impact.  It's unwieldy and big, but it gets the job done for me.

 

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Like everything else in life , Harbor Freight has it place . Yup , I have a bunch of their free stuff : flash lights and multi meters . 

I bought a set of deep well sockets from them way way back and they do take a beating . Still use them . 

I bought one of their cheap angle grinders . I can't abuse it enough and the dang thing just keeps ripping along . 

I use cutting and grinder discs from them . Also sanding belts . And , I use their cheap one time use latex type gloves . Saves a lot of hand washing . LOL

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My view is that when I'm working out in the field, and need to repair a machine NOW, before that storm gets here, a life time warranty is worthless.  I want a tool that won't fail, thus no warranty goes into play.  There's nothing worse than to have a poorly fitting socket round of a nut, or crack, out in the middle of nowhere.  That said, there are many options between Snap-On and HF, some of them very good.

While many impact sockets are robust, they're also thick, not allowing them into tight places.  Or, they have a large lip before the "flats" start, so they don't fully engage the fastener, rounding off heads.

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3 minutes ago, rickeieio said:

My view is that when I'm working out in the field, and need to repair a machine NOW, before that storm gets here, a life time warranty is worthless.  I want a tool that won't fail, thus no warranty goes into play.  There's nothing worse than to have a poorly fitting socket round of a nut, or crack, out in the middle of nowhere.  That said, there are many options between Snap-On and HF, some of them very good.

While many impact sockets are robust, they're also thick, not allowing them into tight places.  Or, they have a large lip before the "flats" start, so they don't fully engage the fastener, rounding off heads.

That's what's nice about the HF sockets , you can 'shape' them and not feel bad about it . Happen to need new ones , they're cheap enough . 

I have some that have absolutely no 'lip' anymore and some that have rather thin sidewalls . ;) 

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I like Georgia am a tool snob, that said I too have some HF unmentionables.     Actually I have a LOT of HF stuff in review.    The cheap small angle grinders are disposable I have gone thru many, hammer drills for concrete anchors OK for 1/2 and under, sawsall takes a lickin and keeps on tickin, 10.00 battery drill great value.    I use a 1/2 ton 120 volt winch on a small overhead crane, I have a 50 ton hyd press that is well made, the larger horizontal bandsaw, it is not in the class of my DoAll's but is portable and works OK.     I have 3/4 and 1 inch earthquake air impacts, they are well made, not sure of durability in hard daily use, for my needs they are great.     In addition I have some impact sockets, adapters and, big 18-24" crescent wrenches.    These have all been pretty good tools. I still prefer Snap-on for wrenches, chrome sockets, hand tools in general.   

Harbor Freight had a store in Reseda, Ca long ago that was their first? retail store.     I used to buy Peterson Vise grips there, cheapest place in the day.     The hand tools they sole were as bad a could be, as someone on another forum says "tool resembling objects"    they have come a long way.     The reality is, Snap-on, Proto, etc are still made to high standards.    The cheap tools have become far closer to high quality tools because of manufacturing improvements.      So even cheap tools today are far better than they were 10 years ago, and light years better than the crooked wrenches of 30 years ago.

 

Steve

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I have a set of open end wrenches from Lowes they a kolbot brand and I have abused them, with a large 🔨, and there was no damage. I usaly buy Husky tools at Home Depot as they are cheaper as individuals. I like good tools but if they are going in the farm equipment toolbox then I get ones that don't brake the bank as they get lost more often than broken.

No HF store whithin 200 miles od me so my father picks up stuff going back and forth from Texas. Most of it works well some not so much.

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Since we're so far off topic anyways....this IS a HDT forum......  I once (late '70s) had the chance to buy a large lot of Stanley tools from a feed store who decided to discontinue them.  Half a pick-up load, including the display racks.  I loaded all my tractor tool boxes, kept back breaker bars, extensions, and such, and still had enough to get all my money back from a neighbor for the remaining items.  To this day, I have yet to damage one of those cheap wrenches.

Problem is, now most of my machinery is metric.

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Charlie,

I’ve also had good luck with Rigid. I have some Milwaukee stuff at home but unless I find a good deal, can’t justify it for occasional use in the truck. Maybe just wait till GeorgiaHybrid turns his back and end up with a SnapOn.  And, yes, before anyone says it, I know you get what you pay for. 

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Back in the boat building days, I had to do several underwater jobs that required a fair amount of torque.... 2-300ft lbs.  With no sea bottom to stand on and brace from, I went and bought 2 of the cheapest 1/2" Harbor freight air impacts, knowing the salt water was going to kill them.  Well, 1 impact gun did the job without dying.  After I was done, I ran a can of WD-40 and CRC thru it.  Fill up the air inlet with CRC, plug in the air and let it blow thru.  Sprayed and wiped down the outside and trigger area, and kept on using it for years.  I took the 2nd one back for a refund.

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HF generators recently were discussed in a thread on another site ,it got top marks . Consumer reports found the same ,half the price of the honda it was copied from and same performance .

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I've pretty much given up on Harbor Freight. Several years ago, all of the 18V Dewalt NiCad batteries I had were going to need replacing (which would be vey expensive). I sold off all the Dewalt and "graduated" to Milwaukee LiIon tools. Expensive initial buy in but, NO buyers remorse. 

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I have extensive experience withe harbor freight tools. Been using them for over 10 years. I will not buy any thing with moving parts. Stay away from anything that runs on electricity or air. I  did buy a 20 ton hydraulic jack there. So far its still doing what its suppose to.

We have our farm service truck stocked with harbor freight tools. Wrenches, impact sockets, regular sockets, screw drivers, adjustable wrenches, pliers, hammers, the list goes on. There are some craftsman mixed in there.

We are not the most gentile on our tools. If we are broke down in the field and I need a cheater pipe on a 20 mm wrench I get that baby out. I have to yet break a socket or bend a wrench. 

I am not a fan of the breaker bar. It flexes too much. I don't like the ratchets either but I have a few. Still never broke one. Yet. Oh, and the drill bits suck.

I bought a couple carlyle brand ratchets from Napa. I'm done with them. They only lasted a couple weeks.

 

Edited by jenandjon

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My few HF air tools are dependable enough for part time work. I find HF SAE wrenches and sockets just a bit off from true size. I bought Ridgid Miter saw for the warranty.  Ridgid gave me a run around, even with Home Depot paper work. For just that reason I will not buy Ridgid again. 

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I’m not a pro mechanic/technician/trades person. I will buy cheaper tools including HF for occasional use or a specific job.  I can get by. I have accumulated some pro grade tools over the years and they are always nice to use. 

Edited by noteven
Wandering off topic

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Carl, I have both the red and blue HF 20-Volt drills.  The red Bauer gets hot in a hurry when put under a heavy load.  I would not trust it for drilling a lot of holes or continually using it for bits over 3/8".  It does make a nice power screwdriver.  The blue Hercules is the better drill though more expensive.  It has as much power as my DeWalt but is much lighter and faster.  It has become my favorite go-to cordless drill.  I have both the small OEM battery and the larger optional battery.  I have also purchased the Hercules 4-1/2 corded grinder and like it better than the DeWalt it replaced.  It is tough and has seen a lot of use lately.  

The cheap black HF 18-volt Ni-Cad drill is junk.

Their new 4 amp Fully Automatic Microprocessor Controlled Battery Charger/Maintainer (#63350) is a bargain even at its retail price of $31.95.  They have been on sale for $24.99.  I now have five of them and possibly more to add (one for each boat battery, one for tractor and one for the stored sports car.)  It is a very nice piece of equipment.  They have some decent air tools as well - like the Earthquake impact wrenches. 

 

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