Quality of Harbor Freight and Chicago Electric tools

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snipped-for-privacy@UNLISTED.com wrote:

I bought a sliding Miter Saw from them to replace the one I had stolen off the back of my truck. It's a knock off of the Makita but not built as well, but it only cost $99.00. I only use it off the back of my truck. Matter of fact it's chained to the back of my truck now. If it's stolen its not a big deal. The one I had stolen was a Dewalt. I replace it with another higher end Dewalt but it stays in the shop. The saw so far has worked ok but a little gutless. I spent 1/2 as much for a blade ( 50.00 Frued) for the saw which helps. I too bought their cheap tile saw and it's worked pretty good. I didnt expect to use it for long since I dont do tile everyday.
The tools I use everyday are: Porter Cable 14.4 cordless drill and their combo brad and finish nailer with compressor, a Milwaukee sawzall and corded 1/2 drill, Mikata grinder, and a old Craftsman circular saw. I would never even think about replacing these with a HF for the obvious reasons. I USE THEM EVERYDAY!!! I'm really impressed with the grinder, it only cost $60.00 and it's really powerful and the Sawzall for $125.00 on sale.
Rich
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"You can lead them to LINUX
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Tools are freedom. Good ones open up possibilities and can last a lifetime.
$29.95 is better spent on a good steak, cooked to your preference, with a tall glass of ale.
Dave

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I like the steak idea. This is great advice. !!
I think we can all agree that tools are dangerous. Lower grade tools make the jobs we do even more dangerous. For example, I would never consider a lower grade saw. If you think about it as simply a safety issue, I think the extra money is worth it to keep us out of the emergency room.
If you really need to a decent tool, and don't want to pay the money for it, then rent a high-quality tool to do the job.

lifetime.
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I have a dangerous circular saw. It's a Skil. The damn spring vanished that pulls the blade guard down. I have set that saw down several times and the blade hit the floor, and it cut the cord once. This is the 3rd Skil saw that developed this problem. I finally just made a little "stool" out of 4x4's and plywood. I just set the saw over the groove where the blade sets in.
Yeah, I know, I should replace the spring (if I could find one).
Mark

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After the second, you could be su re my third would not be a Skil. Unless you are getting them free.
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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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I tend to shy away from the Chicago Electric brand. I bought a drop light and it fried the first time I plugged it in. Took it back. Second one fried. Bought a heat gun. Fried the first time I plugged it in. Took it back. Second one fried as well. That said, I have their 4" grinder and it seems to do the odd job that I demand of it ok. I tend to think the Central Machinery brand is better (have their floor standing drill press and it works great) and I've been pretty happy with the Central Pneumatic stuff. YMMV of course. Cheers, cc

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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 02:36:21 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@consult.pretender (Jeffrey J. Kosowsky) wrote:

I can give you my input on a few of their tools...
I bought their "recip" saw on sale for $19.99 and it's a great deal at that price... but it is a piece of crap..lol I've agonized over buying a Sawzall for years.. or to be exact, once every 2 or 3 years, when I get in a spot where on is the tool to use or the only one that will reach.. for me, $20 is a great investment for this purpose, but if I was using it a lot, I'd go name brand..
I bought their $60 biscuit jointer on sale for $40, knowing that it was going to be a piece of crap compared to the dewalt or craftsman, but it was something to learn on without worrying about ruining it, and a way to get into biscuits NOW instead of 6 months later when my wife got the good one for me.. After using the HF one, I REALLY appreciate the craftsman and especially the fence..
I bought their 2hp 8 gallon compressor about 4 years ago for $100... It's great for the money, but I keep hoping it dies so I can get something QUIETR...
OTOH, I bought their 6x48" belt sander with 9" disk on sale for about $140 (with stand) about 3 years ago and hope it never dies.. great tool..
oh.. I've tried 2 or 3 or their combination squares and both of the 6" ones slide around no matter how much you torque the nut.. Even a cheap Stanley is a much better deal there..
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I've bought a few items from HF, mostly the smaller stuff, pneumatic drills and shears which I haven't really put to use yet. Their Central Machinery horizontal bandsaw that often goes for about $150 or 160 on sale is very popular with the homebuilt airplane crowd. Just get a quality bimetal blade for it, and it works great. There also Yahoo groups for that saw.
I've been meaning to go out and buy that 18g brad nailer (pneumatic) which I think is (or was...I can wait) 12.99 on sale. Anyone have experience with that?
John
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Yeah, get it. Local store (Portland, OR) is having a day after Thanksgiving sale (I'd guess they all are ...). I think that's one of the 'door buster' sale items. Might be limited to AM only, or PM only -- I've got the flyer at home, don't recall off hand.
Regards, JT
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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 11:25:46 -0600, John T

I just got one a monday..lol
I bought the slightly bigger one last month for $20 and liked it, so when I was at the store picking up a bunch of "raincheck" clamps, I saw the 13 price and grabbed one..
Never having used a "good" brad nailer, I can't compare it, but I used it last night to put some drawer bottoms on and it worked great!
I know they aren't quality, but my work isn't yet, either... and for now, I have 2 brad drivers for less that $40.... and that means a lot less loading and unloading brads because the wrong size is in the gun..
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I have this one. It's great.
John T wrote:

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Yea, got one a few months back. Works good. No problems so far.
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I used mine (2) again today, one to assemble drawers with longer brads, the other to attach hardboard, with short brads.. I did have one problem today.. I didn't realize that I was out of brads and put 5 or 6 really nice counter sink holes in the stock before letting it go and having it come apart on the bench..lol (sure glad that I had spread kraft paper on the bench, cleaning up that titebond III is a bitch)
They both seem to work very well, (the $19,95 one that the $12.99 one) but I have no experience with other brad drivers to compare them to..
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Mac,
How stiff is the disk on that puppy? I looked at the one at our local store a few weeks back; the floor model was broken (literally, the disk was busted). It looked like pretty thin Aluminum, so I passed on it then. (Still thinking though ...)
Regards, JT
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On Tue, 23 Nov 2004 19:07:35 +0000 (UTC), John Thomas

Well, it's nowhere near the quality of the 12" disk on my shopsmith, but it's as good as a few aftermarket ones I've bought other places..
I've used it quite a bit on several projects and never had a problem or noticed it flex, even with my "less than patient" neighbor using it to round corners on hardwood.. lol
The belt sander is very nice, but like most of them, could use a better fence and a jig that I saw somewhere to use for keeping work square on the belt for edge sanding..
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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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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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