Quality of Harbor Freight and Chicago Electric tools

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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 10:03:38 -0600, John Willis

Actually I did get 2 of them almost free. I bought the first one new, the other two I picked up at an auction for $1 each. (a real auction, not Ebay). For a buck each, I surely wouldn't bitch. Both worked, but both wore out or lost those damn guard return springs. They still work, but are just dangerous with those missing springs. Are you saying to contact Bosch for the springs? Got a phone number?
Thanks
Mark
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On 11/30/2004 12:57 PM US(ET), snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com took fingers to keys, and typed the following:

I recently looked for some parts for an old Model 77, Type 3, Skil worm drive that I inherited. Not the return spring (which still works), but the little handle to swing the blade guard out of the way, and the locking lever handles for the plate angle and depth adjustment. The locking nuts are still there but the quick release levers are gone (they look like flat socket wrenches) . The newer owners manuals are on line in PDF format at http://www.skil.com/Help+With+Tools/Help+With+Tools+Sub+Pages/Instruction+Manuals.htm There was none for the old 77 Type 13. I downloaded the newer HD77 manual (at the bottom of the above site page) and the parts looked somewhat similar but were not attached in the same way. I emailed Skil and got a reply back from Michelle that the parts indeed looked a little different and that I should contact Skil at:
Skil Factory Service Center 121 Corporate Blvd. S. Plainfield, NJ 07080 908/769-8208
I never contacted Skil or bought the parts though, so I can't say if they would fit.
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On Tue, 30 Nov 2004 11:57:13 -0600, snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com scribbled this interesting note:

I simply did a search on their web site and found a service center in Dallas, drove over and picked up the parts.
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 02:36:21 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@consult.pretender (Jeffrey J. Kosowsky) wrote:

Against what? A Chicago Electric tool makes a great disposable tool. IME it doesn't come close to a tool you will want to use for years or even where you want it to perform the same after a year of service.

No, because you used the word 'serious'. If you are serious about your work then start at least at the middle price range. I have some CE tools and every time I use one I wonder, will it work today? Is today the day it craps out? Can I tolerate the play in the movement or that awful grinding sound as it turns?
If you use the tool on rare occasions and you are not concerned about doing quality work (drilling screw holes in framing studs) then go for it. If you want to do fine woodworking and not spend your time working around the deficiencies of your tool but working with your tool. Get a name brand.

Take a look at the latest FWW (no. 174, Winter 2004 Tools & Shops issue). There is a good review article on 14.4 volt cordless drills. They show the inside of two drills and how they are constructed to show why there is a difference in price. Take a look at the difference between the $90 drill and the $170 drill. Now try to imagine what the inside of a $29.99 drill looks like.
TWS
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buying from HF is great for somethings and bad or others, there abr clamps are great, and if you watch for a sale you can get them for as little as $3.99 for the 36" 3.49 for the 32" etc. and there pipe clamps are decent too. There air tools have a decent reputation, I only have a stapler/brad nailer but for $20 on sale can't complain, just wait to get them on sale, there 4 1/2" angle grinders go on sale just about everyother week for $15 and last and seem to hold up really well, and for $15 your 2 or 3 just in case. having said this DON'T buy and persision power tools! they wont be. also you can't beat there prices on all the little things you need, like the blue/green disposable gloves, or there storage bins, etc. but mostly watch for there sales, also if you look on like and they have something on sale there print it off and the store will honor the price
Jeffrey J. Kosowsky wrote:

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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 08:51:44 -0700, Richard Clements
<snip> This IMO says it all.
I've been happy with many of the items I've bought there but the 1/2 inch drill I bought didn't give me an hour of service.
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Jeffrey J. Kosowsky wrote:

<snip>
I have a pair of HF14.4v cordless drills, which together cost less than a new battery for my B&D FireStorm. ;-) They run out of "juice" quicker than my B&D so I use them for drilling instead of screwing. But it's really handy to chuck up three cordless drills, one straight bit to the desired depth, one countersink, and one with a phillips or square drive. It's quicker for me to pick up and set down three separate tools (with no cords to get twisted & tangled <g>) than to use even my DW "Quick Flip" Drill/Driver attachment.
Since the 14.4's are still on sale I may buy a couple more to be sure I have a couple extra backup batteries (& chargers & drills <g>) that are all interchangeable. When B&D "upgraded" my model drill to make the batteries different the replacement battery price doubled.
IMO the HF 14.4's work ok for drilling & countersinking, but B&D / DW / ... / Milwaulkee / ... are needed for putting in screws.
--- Now for some philosophy --- <g>
I was in college 1977-82. I started as a mechanical engineering student but switched to computer science my sophmore year.
(1) Increasing tooling allows greater precision.
One of the classes I had as an ME was "Intro. to Industrial Engineering." I recall little from that class except this illustration from the very early days of the "Industrial Revolution" that went more or less like this:
"I highly recommend Messer. _______ for the position of Chief Engineer of your company. While in our employ Mr. _______ supervised and directed the construction of a large steam engine. He did such a good job that at no point could a worn shilling be inserted between the piston and the cylinder wall."
The instructor then talked about current engine tolerances in small engines such as model airplane engines being measured in thousandths of an inch. "Engineering Excellence" of one era/application is a dismal failure in another era/application.
(2) Tools reduce / negate human variation.
Once upon a time only *men* had the strength to swing the heavy sledge hammers to drive railroad spikes and seat red-hot rivets. However men being what men have always been, spent much of their time drinking and thinking about sex, and the railroad spikes were not always driven in as deep as they should have been and the rivets were not always seated. Structures failed that *should* *not* have failed by the drawing board calculations. Failure analysis found out the problems. Engineers strove to develop ways to take the "human factor" out of these critical construction operations. (This 1910's-1940's information comes to me from my late father-in-law, Dr. R.F. Branch, who ran Army aid stations in the Pacific in WWII and was the physician who tied the dog tag on Earnie Pyle's toe. I really miss him alot. We would BS for hours on end.)
The engineers developed a riveting gun that always completely seated the rivets. In the personnel crunch of WWII it was discovered that "Rosie The Riveter" could hold the tool just as well as any old Joe. ;-) Joe could go get shot at and Rosie could build the equipment just as good a Joe could. The machine took away the variability.
(3) *IF* the HF tools are primarily assembled by machines, they can be as good as *anything* Sir Isaac Newton, Da Vinci, Einsten, DeWalt, ...., could have possibly carved by hand. ;-)
I have my NOMEX undies on. Bring it on! <g>
-- Mark
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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 23:07:23 GMT, "Mark Jerde"

lots of what if's in that sentence!:~) (if, can, could, etc...)
-- John Willis (Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
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I don't think I would buy anything major from them unless you have a local store for returning defectives. Sometimes it is hard to predict in advance if the quality will be adequate. Much of their stuff is good enough for occasional use (most occasional users are more likely to lose tools from theft or drop damage than from wearing them out). The average hobbyist/homeowner will use a piece of equipment a couple hours a year, but using a really nice brand name piece is kind of cool, though, if you can justify the extra 400% cost :>) bill

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90% of them are pure junk not fit for the intended purpose. The other 10% are OK for occassional use.
Forget these HF dregs and buy known quality tools that you can trust and that will help you achieve quality work.
Chicago Electric is a brand name intended to decieve the consumer into thinking these are made in the USA. Chicago Electric along with Pittsburg Forge, and Central Pnuematic are farmed out to the lowest cost/lowest quality manufacturers in China.
Buy quality and you'll only say ouch once. Buy this crap and you'll curse and swear every time you use it and eventually get so frustrated it'll go in the garbage can.
snipped-for-privacy@consult.pretender (Jeffrey J. Kosowsky) wrote in message

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davefr wrote:

It all depends. It depends on what you are going to use it for, your skill level, income, severity of use, etc. Take their cordless drills for example. The 18v. is a very good tool for the occasional hobbist, home use, etc.
You are right, the quality is not there, most of the time. But for those of us who are beginning or occasional hobbists, there is no way we can justify the added expense of "name brand." Speaking of which, A lot of stuff Grizzly sells LOOKS an awful lot like the stuff from HF. Are you suggesting a person buy Grizzly just because of the name? Just kidding!
If price were no issue and my skills warranted it, I would buy top of the line everytime. However, as they say, this is not a perfect world.
Deb
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wrote:

it's NOT? damn! *g*
IMHO, if we could all start this "hobby" with a lot of bucks and a knowledge of tools, HF wouldn't exist..
But for people like me, who had a new marriage/job/family/home to take priority over tool budget, places like HF allow you to get a few basic tools that you'd have to wait years for if you only bought good quality tools..
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wrote:

It sure isn't a perfect world. (If it was I'd have real shop!) However look at it this way: The purpose of tools, especially power tools, is to make your life easier. If the tool makes your life harder on the balance because it's poorly made, you have to get two or three before it runs right, etc., is it really making your life easier.
Less money for less quality only works to a point and my experience with Harbor Freight is that they are perilously close to that point.
--RC
You can tell a really good idea by the enemies it makes
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I have a HF 14" band saw. I use it for one thing: cutting windsor chair seats out of two inch thick pine. It works wonderfully for that. So I would say it depends upon your intended use. You can't resaw with this for instance.
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One more thing, is that when even the good tools are made in China, I shop mostly based upon price. I'm prefectly willing to pay more for something that's not made in a thirld world country, but the manufacturers are not giving me that choice unless I want to go out of my way buy professional grade items that no homeowner would ordinarily use.
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Like I said, it depends on the tool. You're rolling the dice. Several of there tools that are actually acceptable and represent pretty good value.
However most of them are unfit for any reasonable use. If you only get one usable tool for every 4-5 you purchase then you have been penny wise and pound foolish.
I think their upper end air tools are decent. Feedback on their cheapy angle grinders is also pretty good.
However I would never touch any of their tools where precision or cutting is a requirement. An example if their cordless drills. You can actually wobble the chuck laterally!!
I bought one of their 1/2 HP 6" bench grinders. What total garbage. The motor is so gutless it stalls out at the slightest load. I measured the running amperage and it was only 2 amps. (another deceptive HP rating)
On the other hand I bought one of their $2.99 digital multimeters. It's perfectly acceptable for basic use. If I need precision I'll dig out my Fluke, but for simple continuity tests or rough voltage measurements it's OK.
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (davefr) wrote in message

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davefr wrote:

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I have been eyeballing HF power power tools for about a year. I finaly brokdown and told my wife to get me a combo disk/belt sander for Cristmas as an experiment. It was the central machienry brand 4" belt with a 6" disk. On christmas day I assembled it pluged it in and fooled around with it for about 10 minutes. It seemed to be acceptable. I did not expect it to last very long because it was CHEAP. The other day I needed to use it for real the first time. I turned it on Its motor was bound up and it literaly went up in smoke.
I dont use some of my more than others this was one I knew I would not use every weekend but when I had a use for it, it would be very handy to have.
I think this exeriment can be dubed a colosal failure. I tried to return it but could only get store credit which is fine I love HF. But I think I will stick to buying thier disposable hand tools, saw blades ect.
I am an avid woodworker and It is a good rule of thumb you get what you pay for when you buy power tools. HF power tools are great for a one time project after that the tool will probably just colect dust in a garage.
The argument of buying a cheap tool to learn with I find very strange. Why not buy a good tool that is easy to use. I makes learning much easier and fun.
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All this and you "love HF"???
I don't live near any of their stores to actually see the tools first hand, but I've not been tempted to order anything based just on stories like yours.
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I've got a store nearby, but based on what I've seen there I would NEVER buy anything from them online - even clamps.
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I tend to disagree with you about the clamps. I have bought some good and some bad things from HF, but the clamps aluminum bar clamps 24" @ 6.99 and 3/4 pipe clamps @ 3.49 were well worth the price. As for other items, A set of twist drill bits and fostener bits were on the good side as well. Other excellent buys were Tarps, a set of drifts, a dial gauge. Some failures sanding blocks, alum oxide paper (good for rough stuff and some sanding drums), a set of internal /external snap ring pliers, a corner chisel. You must be careful when you order, and return the crap... they will take it back... They even pay shipping. Power tools are another thing. I went to the Allentown PA store once and was surprised at the low quality of some items. One thing I did want that seemed to be of high quality was a Air Hose Reel. They had some very good ones for some reasonable prices.
Lobby Dosser wrote:

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