Quality of Harbor Freight and Chicago Electric tools

Page 3 of 4  
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
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
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

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

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

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

I've got a store nearby, but based on what I've seen there I would NEVER buy anything from them online - even clamps.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
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:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Wed, 19 Jan 2005 22:18:38 -0500, tiredofspam <nospam.nospam.com> wrote:

I followed (price) this hose reel for sometimes, last year I paid something like $19, it look and feel exactly like one selling for more than $40 plus elsewhere.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
tiredofspam <nospam.nospam.com> wrote:

I wasn't clear. I buy the clamps off the shelf in the store. Just won't order anything from them online. ALL my pipe clamps are HF - bought the 3/4" for $2.49 ea.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
In my experience, the drill bits were pure crap. The normal bits (like brad point, but without the brad points), broke with alarming frequency. The Forstner bits dulled very quickly.
Compared to a name brand, there's no comparison in quality on the drill bits.
Also had bad luck with their jigsaw blades.. pure crap.
I'm now of the mindset of the other poster.. you lose so much money off the crap that you buy there, that it's not worth the occasional good value.
The only item I was ever truly happy with was their heavy duty grinder stand. Their pliers/wrenches have poor tolerances.. it's just piss poor. I feel stupid for wasting about $200 there over the years. for basically a grinder stand and about 1/2 the pipe clamps held up ok (the other half stick or otherwise perform substandardly to the Ponys).
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

like any vendor, there are the good ones and the bad.
Porter Cable routers are among the best made. PC's detail sander seems in the running on the most useless tool thread.
Harbor Freight's 2 HP dust collector gets good reviews. their bench grinders, OTOH....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@all.costs wrote: ...

I think that particular rap is on the detail sander as a tool itself, not PC...
And, as noted, my wife uses one a fair amount and is quite pleased to have it..."different strokes..."
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The two exceptions to this are the 4" angle grinder which can sometimes be found for as low as $12, and the 7x10" machinist's lathe which has sold for as little as $250 in the past and gets very good reviews from folks who seem to know what they are talking about. My angle grinder takes a licking and keeps on ticking. If it ever stops, it goes in the trash with few regrets.
LD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ah the old argument, cheap v expensive tools. I'm in UK so no HF here but we have our equivalents and I assume that the same Chinese tool factory supplies our retailers. I have a number of cheap 4 1/2" angle grinders. They're great tools. Not as powerful as the top line stuff so I take a little longer on a job. That's not a problem for a hobbyist. I take the view that even top grade tools fail eventually. If you have spent all of your $ on one of those, then you are stuck. I have a few cheap grinders so when one fails I always have a replacement. I can also have them set up with different wheels for the same job. e.g. one for cutting, one for grinding. The other side of the argument is whether the tool will actually do the job. This is when cheap = nasty. When you need accuracy or you are relying on one tool, pay for quality. I carry good quality tools in my car so that I don't have to carry more than one of each. In the workshop, space is not so much of a premium so I may risk cheaper tools. It is not always the case that cheap = poor quality. Many Chinese tools are now very good indeed. When I was maintenance engineer in a sawmill, a local supplier sold spanner sets (6 - 19mm) for 2.99. That's 1/4" - 3/4" for about $3. In 5 years we never had a spanner fail and, believe me, they were used hard every day. We lost a few but who cares at that price. The difficulty is spotting quality in a tool. If anyone can tell me how to do that without reference to the brand name, please do so.
John
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 16 Jan 2005 09:52:16 -0000, the inscrutable "John Manders"

Gunner over on rec.metalheads coined a name for those companies: Red Dragon Noodle and Machine Tool Factory.

Toss the socket in the vise (2nd aisle over at HF.) If you can crush it, it's not very well made. Be sure to leave it on top of the stack of those sockets so everyone can clearly see the quality. For ratchets, chuck the square drive in the vise (which is usually bolted down) and give it an enormous yank. If it breaks, sending you into the stacks of rubber gloves, you know it is of poor quality, too.
-- Life's a Frisbee: When you die, your soul goes up on the roof. ---- http://diversify.com Comprehensive Website Development
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
HF is pretty much a hit or miss outfit. On the one hand, I bought a $30 (on sale for $10) dado blade that I'm very happy with. I've been using it (hobby use levels) for over a year and it still cuts clean.
On the other, I bought a set of $4 allen wrenches that stripped off in the first bolt I tried them in and I spend more time fixing the 7x10 lathe than working with it.
One set of 3/4" pipe clamps has been great, but the other set I bought (since the first set was good) was the pits. The $30 (on sale for $15) digital caliper has also been a good buy.
Save your money and take your chances I guess.
On Sun, 16 Jan 2005 07:33:33 GMT, Lobby Dosser

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

I don't know what the phrase for 'quality control' is in Chiawanese, but I don't think the word exists in Harbor Freight's vocabulary in any language.
--RC
"Sometimes history doesn't repeat itself. It just yells 'can't you remember anything I've told you?' and lets fly with a club. -- John W. Cambell Jr.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@TAKEOUTmindspring.com wrote:

'Good enough to sell.'
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Sun, 16 Jan 2005 07:33:33 GMT, Lobby Dosser

I bought their $20 recip saw for a specific weekend chore... and use the hell out of it now...
My neighbors drop off all their "turnable" wood and some of the stuff is 6 or 8" in diameter... too big for "loppers" or what ever you call those long handles sniper thingies, but not enough cuts to be worth digging out the chain saw..
I use the HF recip with an 8" Milwaukee blade to cut the stuff up and halve the bigger stuff... figuring that when it dies, it's already paid for itself... damn thing just keeps on cutting... not smooth or powerful, but it gets the job done..
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I use a recip saw (cheap Skil) for the same thing. The 'pruning' blades seem to do just fine for 'logging' and a whole lot less hassle and potential hazard than the chain saw.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 17 Jan 2005 18:45:06 GMT, Lobby Dosser

yep.. besides the safety thing, I have using even the electric chain saw in the garage.. umm I mean shop... Also, for the stuff that I'm cutting to turning blanks, a chain saw has way too wide a kerf... I wouldn't have any blank after the cut..
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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.