There are certain circumstances that I have found HF to be quite
handy. For years I sneered at their quality, the origin of their
tools, and the lack of support for their products. What a difference
a few years make. Now nearly every tool I see anywhere is made in
China, or from sourced parts from there so I am buying Chinese whether
I like it or not.
I thought it would be fun to see what TO buy, and what NOT to buy from
everyone based on personal experience. Not a Googled experience, but
So, here's few from me on the "buy list". Their multitool kicks ass.
I have absolutely used the snot out of mine for about three years now,
and it is still a very stout machine that works as well as it did when
I bought it. I have found the blades to be >nearly< the quality of
the Fein blades, which was a shocker. I have bought them and given
them away as gifts and all the owners have had the same experience as
Their 4 1/2" grinder. This tool was bought as an emergency to replace
a Bosch grind that crapped out on the job. This one can't be killed.
I have had it for about 6-8 years now, and use it to grind metal for
finishing, grind off bolts and screws on burglar bars when painting,
and use the masonry blades on it to cut bricks, pavers, stone, and to
inlet flashings into masonry chimneys. Paid $13 for this tool.
Halogen light bulbs for my stand lights. Everywhere else, these bulbs
are 6 - 10 bucks each. When they have a door buster, I buy them for
99 cents. Last better in the lamps than the more expensive
Foam sanding blocks. These are $6 for ten, not one for $6. They have
worked every bit as well as the 3M offerings for me, and now I only
use them when I need a foam block to conform to an irregular shape. I
used these by the bucket when I was doing a lot of refinishing.
Nitrile gloves. You can get 100 5 mil gloves for what you pay for a
set or two from the paint store. I use 3 mil, 5 mil, and for using
caustic materials (like MEK, etc.) I use their 7 mil. I mix and
spray, take the gloves off and toss them. I may use ten sets of
gloves a day, which means it costs me a little over a buck. Best of
all, the gloves work great for me. And if I tear one from material
handling, I have so many in the box I just get another. It isn't a
tragedy as it is when using the paint store gloves that are sold as
two to three pairs in a $10 pack.
HVLP guns. I only used these to try out new finishes and experiment
with mixes, but after I screwed up my expensive finish gun I was
forced to use my practice guns on the job. What a bone head... if it
was good enough for me to determine my mixes and be satisfied with the
end results, why wouldn't I like it on the job? I have had several of
these guns, and the only thing to consider is the build quality can be
Paint gun stuff. They have great prices on HVLP gun filters, material
filters, inline moisture removal filters and cup liners. Literally,
their prices are about 1/10 of Sherwin Williams. This is a big deal
for me because as is he case with sand paper, these are all
consumables for the guys that do it for a living. Being extremely
affordable means I am in the habit of changing gun filters every job,
changing line filters every job and always having cup liner on hand at
a whopping ten cents a piece.
Woodworking hammers. Good stuff, and while I use my Plumb (made in
China of course), these are great hammers for helpers or for certain
tasks like roofing where you don't want tar and gunk on your wood
Bulk drill bits. NOT the crap in the indexes, not in the special
sets. But once upon a time they had bits from manufacturing that had
been reground. They were all different lengths and sizes and were
sold by the pound. I tried a pound, and while I have little idea or
concern exactly what size they are (for me bits are almost exclusively
for pilot holes or rivets) these bits have out lasted my Blue Mol and
Bosch bits by a pretty long stroke. Sadly, they are in store only and
it is catch as catch can. The bits are something like $5 a pound, and
I look for the bags that have the 1/8" and similar sizes in them. You
get a lot of 1/8" bits in a pound.
So some things NOT to buy there. First, they used to have a line of
air nailers that were perfect back up guns. No longer so. Blew a
seal on my Bostitch brad nailer, and since the seals weren't in stock
I bought their 18 ga. It was OK for base and some other work, but
marked up the wood unless you got it just right. The gun would drive
a 2" brad into white oak with no problems. It crapped out before the
job was finished. Three weeks ago, same scenario with my 16 ga
straight nailer. Piston bumper in the gun broke and it is special
order. Bought the 16 ga at HF on sale for $39, and it wasn't worth 39
cents. It jammed up solid after about 1/2 clip of nails. The guns
are junk and they cost me a lot of down time.
Squeeze clamps. At $2 for a 12" clamp, I couldn't resist. I bought
four. Two work and two don't. They wouldn't clamp a sock on the
clothesline. HF told me they had problems with them and they were
Screwdrivers. Forget it.
Most drill bits. Forget them, too.
Chisels of any type. Cold, or for wood or anything else, a no go.
Hand saws. Nope.
Measuring tapes. No way, they break in minutes.
OK, that's my take on HF after waaay too much coffee and a 3 hour long
session in the waiting room of the doctor's office typing this out
with nothing else to do.