Harbor Freight Wood Turning Tools Surprise-NOT Pittsburgh or Windsor

Page 1 of 2  
Now, before you scoff, allow me to elaborate. I don't buy HF stuff, and generally consider it one step below worthless. With that said, however, I was pleasantly surprised by this set of tools. This is NOT the Pittsburgh or the Windsor tool sets listed in the HF catalog.
I was in need of a 1/2" round nose scraper, and ran across an 8 piece set of tools at a local Harbor Freight store. I went there purely out of desperation after finding the only other tools available locally were carbon steel / alloy AND vastly overpriced for their quality.
This set does not appear in the HF catalog, and appears to be the same set sold by The Woodworkers Choice as Item 3494. The handles are well contoured, and dyed a dark rosewood color. (Presumably to emulate a Crown or Sorby handle.) They blades are marked HSS and are, of course, made in China. The blades are securely mounted, and there is a tight fitting, thick brass ring around the shank/handle junction. The 8 individual tools are sold in a lined, finger jointed wooden box. The set includes 3 gouges, 1 round scraper, 2 skews, 1 flat parting tool and 1 half-diamond parting tool. The business end of the tools were well shaped and smoothly ground.
I took these things home, expecting the worst, but after using them for a few hours, found that they held their edge well, the handles were comfortable, and they were sufficiently well ground that they required no sharpening before use. Out of the box, I could shave a nice ribbon of green cherry from a mounted blank.
Whether they are truly HSS remains to be seen, but they are considerably higher quality than the Buck Brothers tools I picked up on closeout at the BORG for $10.
I can find no mention of a brand name, or another source for these tools. Only a similarity to the aforementioned TWC tools.
The box is labeled: HSS Chisel Set Wood Turning 8PC High-Grade Quality Professional Quality Lathe Chisels
SKU P35444 Wood Turning Set-HSS 8PC Made in China UPC 7 92363 35444 8
The set sold for $39.95. A winner in my book - and I'm a skeptic!
FWIW,
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I couldn't get any pages of the woodworker's choice to work other than the main page, but the HF chisel set that I've used for about a year and a half sounds nearly identical - the only variation being the variety of chisels, I got one skew and two scrapers. Because the two scrapers were identical, I ground one to a different profile. Overall, I've considered them to be perfectly adequate for my needs. Harbor Freight isn't completely useless, just mostly so.
steve
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Steve Wolfe said:

Mostly... ;-)
Actually, I went back and bought another set so I would have spares and could practice/experiment with regrinding different profiles on something that didn't cost me $95.00. I turned a lidded vessel yesterday, and I am quite pleased with their performance - especially for the price! I can fill in the holes with better/pricier units. My biggest disappointment was the lack of a bowl gouge. I was thinking of altering the 3/8" gouge in the set with a steep side bevel and other mods for this purpose. But from what I now understand, most bowl gouges are apparently made from rod steel and flex more than the hard, brittle HSS used in these gouges. I'm no expert, however...
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Fri, Oct 8, 2004, 10:12pm Greg G. turns politician and says: <snip> I don't buy HF stuff <snip> With that said, however, I was pleasantly surprised by this set of tools. <snip>
You aren't related to Kerry, are you?
Sounds like you DO buy HF stuff.
I got the $10 set of woodturning tools, I guess 6 years or more ago. They're still holding up just. Only 5 in the set I think, natural color handles, but the rest of the description is about the same.
I've got a number of tools from them. Power and non-power. We do have a store reasonably close now, so I get to look whatever over before I buy. It isn't as pretty, or got quite as nice a finish, as a lot of more expensive stuff, but a bunch of their stuff is just as good a quality.
Every time I go in there, it's usually a bit crowded, what with all the contractors and all buying stuff. Including power tools. Those guys use the stuff to make a living. Good enough for them, sure good enough for me.
Happy owner of bench drill press, 37" wood lathe, 4" grinder, all from HF, and all painted bright yellow. And, a user of a HF bench saw, also painted bright yellow - it ain't the greatest, but with a carbide blade it cuts good, and cuts straight - besides it's all I've got room for, and all I could afford at the time, and isn't going to be replaced until it breaks. Nyah. And, many HF hand tools.
JOAT I smile because I know my God loves me. You on the other hand, he doesn't much like.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
They also carry the full sets of Stanley 200 series chisels, no steel cap but should be great for use with a wooden mallet. Price I saw was $16! They are thick blades, so would be good for mortise work after drilling a row.
Thanks for the clearity about Jan, I didn't check the properties of her posts.
Alex
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
J T said:

Actually, that would be GWB - Emperor of delusional Flip-Flops. :-o

Have never bought anything there before now. The only store around here is 30 miles away. Rockler is 12, Highland Hardware is 7, Lowes and Home Despot are 3. Needless to say, I get most stuff from Lowes. At least I did before they dumped all the good stuff. There were many good deals - while they lasted. Of course, I missed most of them. :-(
BOSS Spindle Sander with 6 spindles and drums - $119.00 22-580 2 speed planer - $215 - arghhh... 36-255L Laser CMS - $219 36-312 Industrial CMS - $189 LA200 mini lathe - $169 etc.

Well, they did have a Campbell Hausfeld compressor, a Dewalt CMS, and an Amflo air-tool oiler. There were a couple of 1-2 HP electric motors that looked OK - along with some really bad, sleeve bearing motors made in China. Some of the stuff looked downright dangerous.

It was crowded, but didn't see any contractors. I did see a lot of illegals, however. And a bunch of old farts. (Like me.) All the contractors were at Stone Mountains Power Tools/Kentec.

Yea, your gaggle of pucky ducks made with the neon yellow tools is legendary... ;-)
I was given a used HF "table saw" years ago. I used it twice when the arbor bearing failed at 4000 RPM and sent the blade rattling around inside the case. Had to change pants after that... And the saw went to the green "storage bin" out by the street.
FWIW,
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Theres a Rockler in town? Whats a Rockler? Never mind, I googled them. I was at the Lilburn SMPT/Kentec yesterday. I did not know they were there. I was looking for casters at HF. The Lilburn store reminds me of the old Jimmy Carter store. A store to drool in unlike HF where you have to look hard to find good stuff.
Greg G. wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sat, Oct 9, 2004, 6:22am Greg G. <snip> Yea, your gaggle of pucky ducks made with the neon yellow tools is legendary... ;-) <snip>
Hey, let's not run down a major art form, eh? And the last one wound up buttercup yellow. So there.
JOAT I smile because I know my God loves me. You on the other hand, he doesn't much like.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I am also a HF skeptic and I too bought the same set of turning tools. Being new to turning, and not having much spare cash after buying the lathe, I thought these would be a great cheap starter set to learn how to turn and sharpen without fear of destroying an expensive set. Although I have nothing to compare them to, I really have no complaints about them thus far. They are sized well, comfortable to use and they seem to hold an edge well. On the other hand, whenever I decide to purchase a good set, I have a cheap set to regrind into other profiles. While I was at HF I also grabbed several 50 yd. rolls of 1" emery cloth in assorted grits for I think $3or$4 a roll. This cloth is nice for finish sanding spindles while still in the lathe. -dave
<Greg G.> wrote in message

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Dave jackson said:

My sentiments exactly.
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

When these appeared a few years ago, there was a discussion of them on the woodturning newsgroup. The consensus was that they were well worth the money, but experienced turners would probably want to turn a new set of handles.
I bought a set (on sale, when else) and am ashamed to admit I've never gotten around to trying them. Too much other stuff to have time for woodturning.
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Larry Blanchard said:

As mentioned in the OP, these are not the tools that appear in the HF catalogs. The handles are these are almost identical to the crown handles, albeit not real rosewood. I've seen the Windsor sets previously discussed, and the handles are thick and natural colored. These are profiled completely differently and stained a rosewood color. Perhaps they read the wreck and altered the handle profiles?

I understand completely. I'm getting to spend some time in the shop because SWMBO is off visiting friends and family in CA. Last winter, I didn't get a chance to do ANYTHING in the shop. This year is gonna be different - yea right... ;-)
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You're right. AFAIK, they've never been in the catalog. The original appearance I was talking about was on their web site and the handles were "rosewood" even then.
IIRC, I got them at the local HF store, not the web site. But I'm not sure, it's been several years.
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Larry Blanchard said:

Gee, and I thought I was getting something special... ;-)

I've looked for them anywhere else. I've not found them on the HF web site or in their catalog. Whatever - they do work, and seem a pretty good deal. I can't quite justify $350 for Sorby tools just yet...
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Out of curiosity, I Googled rec.crafts.woodturning and found a mention of the HSS set from Harbor Freight in 1999. So they've been around at least that long.
BTW, they were $39 then. What are they now?
--
Where ARE those Iraqi WMDs?

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Larry Blanchard said:

Same thing - $39.95. No inflation here...
Greg G.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sat, 09 Oct 2004 18:03:43 -0400, Greg G. wrote:

the windsor turning tools come in clear finished handles and dark reddish brown finished handles. mine are the dark ones.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I, as many previous posters, have not been a big HF fan. This is especially true of their heavier machinery. However, I have had a couple of things come up that have swayed me (a little).
1) A couple of years ago I purchased one of their mortisers just because I needed one for a job, and it was on sale at what seemed a rediculous price. I had just returned a Delta drill press kit because it didn't fit my older drill press. The HF machine came with a set of 4 mortise cutters that looked almost identical to the returned Delta cutters, the machine was quiet, had good power, some of the metal seems a bit soft and the hold down mechanism sucked. After getting over the hold down shortcoming I gave it some test runs and lo-and-behold it cut square holes! It fact it does so quite well. I have used the machine on quite a few projects and have more than gotten my $99 worth. I am planning a future project that will improve the hold down capability with home-made hardware but for now we are gettting along fairly well.
2) An acquaintance, laid off from aircraft manufacturing 2-3 years ago, was getting himself into finish carpentry. Short of cash, he purchased a couple of HF's nailers: a finish nailer and a brad nailer. Both were bought at VERY low prices. He told me he always intended to upgrade after he got on his feet and the "cheap" HF nailers wore out. He told me a couple of months ago that he is doing well with his business but those ^&#)@ nailers won't wear out. He also said if they do, he'll probably replace them with the same tools, if available. He also said he is surprised at the number of old-timer's using the same tools. They keep their Delta and PC nailer cases in the back of their trailers for folks to see and beat the HF machines up on the job.
Further proof that brand snobbery is probably a bad thing - You need to research your purchases and touch each tool before you buy.
RonB
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<snip>

If you look closely at many name brand tools, you will find they are just about twins of each other, with a few cosmetic changes. It seems that these days a lot of tools are made to the same design, probably in the same overseas factory. I have a hard time believing that having a specific brand name on a product makes it work any better.
OTOH, there are times when you get what you pay for.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Bob Peterson woke up and had the following to say....:

I am a big fan of their Pitsburg 6,12, and 18" clamps. I proably have 2 dozen in the shop and will buy more once they go on sale.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.