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Seth Clayton

First visit to harbor freight

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3 hours ago, bradpotts said:

I forgot that I did use their hvlp for a long time before I got a Fuji

I have their cheap hvlp too, works good for WB finishes, no complaints.  I have also used their cheap chisels, work pretty good for a couple bucks, gotta sharpen them though, obviously, or they are just paper weights. 

I have many of their cheap f-clamps Richard and Brad and others mentioned...I agree, the 6" ones are good for the price, I have a few 36" ones that I have used here and there but they bend right away and you can't rely on them to keep your work square....but I've used them a bunch when in a pinch.

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+1 for the reciprocating saw, also the corded multi tool has worked well for me.

nitrile gloves, foam brushes, and like others have said, disposables.

Stay away from the squeeze clamps and most of the power tools. I bought a 7 1/4" circular saw that I used once and threw in the recycling bin. 

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They sell some gems and some junk.  Things that I have used from them that worked out OK:

  1. The 12" disc sander is a nice tool and a good value.
  2. The 4" belt, 6" disc sander is nothing special, but I have found it useful and it is holding up okay
  3. The 5" ROS works about as well as my dewalt ones.
  4. The 1" x 30" belt sander is handy and super inexpensive.
  5. I have found their bench top drill press to be okay for the price
  6. Their dust control units are okay
  7. Their little 7x10 metal cutting lathe has been handy and is holding up well
  8. Their clamps are nice and a good value.  The 6" and 12" clamps are a great value.  The 18" are okay if you don't need much pressure.  Skip the longer ones altogether though.  The longer aluminum bar clamps are nice after modifying them (google the Paul Sellers video on this).
  9. Their nitrile gloves are a good value.
  10. Their digital caliper is okay
  11. Their CA glue is okay
  12. Some of their plier type tools and wrenches are okay
  13. Their pipe clamps are okay
  14. Some of their abrasives are okay and some are junk
  15. Some of the drill bits are okay and some total crap

The 3-1/2 gallon air compressor was on sale for VERY cheap, but was a fail for me.  It took forever to get up to pressure and I was never able to get rid of all the leaks.  If used heavily at all it would overheat and need to rest before resetting.  It died completely when it was a year or two old, but with only maybe 6 months of actual use. 

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My daily use chisels are HF, I have about a dozen boxes of their nitrile gloves laying around

"2hp" dust collector, 12" planer has been a rock star for me

Moving blankets and furniture dollies have saved my back and household goods many times over

I use the red $30 hand truck at least once a week, including when I brought in my 440 lb 8" jointer

over 100sq ft of their anti fatigue flooring, the small laminate router, trailer lights, chip brushes, 48" bar clamps, landscape fabric around my slabs while they air dry, about a half dozen of their safety glasses for light duty work like grinder, drill press or bandsaw

and probably a whole host of other ones. I have a decent stable of "quality" tools (like my dewalt hammer drill ;)) that I use HF to supplement my shop that allows me to do what I want now

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The only 'gem' not mentioned yet that I've enjoyed is their dial fractional caliper.  I never use my digital one anymore, I'd rather know something is a tick past 1/8 than that it is .187765. 

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Go to their website and look at customer reviews.  I have purchased a few things from them and, for the most part, quality is good.  If you get their catalogue or sale fliers, you get discount coupons and freebies.  I got two free screwdriver sets and they are good.  Gave one set to the maintenance crew at our church.  For some reason, tools sprout legs and walk off. :o

Their products are like cars, one person has great luck with a brand and others wouldn't have one in the driveway.

Oh yes, before you buy power tools or equipment, check on the warranty!  most are only 90 days but you can get an extended warranty for a few bucks.  Good that it is close- my HF store is about 35 miles away.

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I have an HF less than a mile from me.

As been stated many times  - F clamps. I buy two 6" or 12" every time I go in.  Use them all the time. 

Absolutely AVOID the black and orange clamps, if they even sell them any more. 

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I like those holddowns.....

I also have their 10" sliding bevel miter saw, without the laser and it umm, cuts but I need to really take an afternoon and get it tuned and straightened out.

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The place always smelled of carcinogens to me. My advice would be to limit your exposure to the air.

 

I have furniture blankets and some small furniture dollies from HF. That is the extent of what i would buy from them. Print off a 20% coupon before you go; I think you can get them online from their site.  

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21 minutes ago, Pwk5017 said:

The place always smelled of carcinogens to me. My advice would be to limit your exposure to the air.

YES! It's the off gassing from the cheap chinese plastics

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12 hours ago, Brendon_t said:

Possibly your expectations. 99.9% of the merchandise in that building is absolutely crap..

^ Now that's funny. I have the dust collector. It does a pretty good job.

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28 minutes ago, Tom Cancelleri said:

YES! It's the off gassing from the cheap chinese plastics

Maybe, but mostly it is the oil that they put on their pot metal to make you think it is cast iron that they are protecting from rusting from sea spray :lol:

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I'll jump on the bandwagon here. I own the following:

  • 2HP DC: Great entry-level model, with lots of upgrade paths. I added a cyclone, and I've got a Wynn environmental filter scheduled for the next paycheck.
  • Shop mats: I've bought a few packs, they are stupid cheap, and they work. moderately thin, but they do the job and I notice less fatigue when standing on them.
  • Twin-screw clamps: These I was surprised at, but they work really well. The wooden jaws are flat and square, the screws tighten without fuss, and they can really put on the pressure.

 

I've heard good things about these:

  • 12" disc sander - Even HF hasn't fucked up a spinning plate.
  • Oxy-Acetylene welders - Check some welding forums, they get good reviews. Word has it they come out of a factory Harris uses. It's all Victor-style compatibility. I'd definitely add some blowback arrestors though, never trust a torch without them.
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4 hours ago, CandorLush said:

Moving blankets and furniture dollies have saved my back and household goods many times over

I use the red $30 hand truck at least once a week, including when I brought in my 440 lb 8" jointer

Yeah, I forgot the hand truck and dollies.  I have used them a lot and find them very satisfactory and a good value.

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On 1/11/2017 at 9:36 PM, Seth Clayton said:

 

I've got a few of these $9 LED lights with magnetic bases.  One is on my band saw and it works great.  

Some other 'gems' I've dragged into my shop from HR include their 2hp dust collector, HVLP gravity sprayer, and a 72" box frame level ($20!).

None of their clamps have worked for me ("quick release bar clamp" and "ratcheting clamp").

Their cheap power tools have been useful for processing reclaimed lumber.  For instance I needed a powerful belt sander to get the grit off barn wood floor joists but didn't want to pony up the cash for the 4" Porter Cable considering this tool wasn't going to be used often.  Same for their floor standing drill press.  I needed to hog out 3" holes in some beams for wine bottles.  I've found some other uses for the drill press since then but it's power over precision tooling.   

LED light.jpg

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Well I walked around the store for about 30 minutes, and left with a pair of ratcheting tie down straps to anchor our dryer to the top of the washer in our RV.  I also ordered some 12V LED bulbs to go in a fixture in the RV, and the contacts were shorter than those on the stock incandescent bulbs.  So I grabbed a $3 soldering iron and some solder to add a little more material to the contacts.  The soldering iron worked just fine!  Haven't tried the straps yet, but I'm sure they'll be fine for all I need them for.  

I did see the Dust Collector.  I'll probably pick one of those up when I get back to Indy at the end of the winter.  And I was tempted to get a few clamps, but they were pretty well picked through.  Guess they'll have to wait till the end of winter.

The tool boxes looked just fine.  I think they'd work well to hold the tools you don't use very often, and thus wouldn't need to open and close the drawers too frequently.  

I like those magnetic LED lights!  I didn't see them in the store, but I'll be sure to find them when I get the DC.  I bet they'd come in pretty handy!

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10 minutes ago, Woodenskye said:

The ratchet straps work well.  I ratcheted 2 complete dining room sets on a trailer and had no issues transporting from CT to NJ.

I'm happy with it so far.  Strapped em together and the dryer doesn't creep around when the washer goes to the spin cycle.

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I think of Harbor Freight as a permenant garage sale.  There might be a gem.  Emphasis on might. 

I wasn't too thrilled with the longer F style clamps I bought.  

I do like their blue "latex" gloves.  They come in more sizes and fit my hands well.

I have also bought foam floor mats which they have cheap.  But even here I discovered the HF difference.  4 packs of the puzzle square type.  Squares within a pack fit together, but different packs can be slightly different sized and don't fit well accross packs.

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10 minutes ago, Mark J said:

I have also bought foam floor mats which they have cheap.  But even here I discovered the HF difference.  4 packs of the puzzle square type.  Squares within a pack fit together, but different packs can be slightly different sized and don't fit well accross packs.

O man that is infuriating just thinking of it :) 

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They're foam, so if you squeeze 'em and stretch 'em. You can force the fit.  You shouldn't have to, but that's what ten bucks buys.

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45 minutes ago, Mark J said:

They're foam, so if you squeeze 'em and stretch 'em. You can force the fit.  You shouldn't have to, but that's what ten bucks buys.

Wouldn't pay $10, I usually see them around $7-8$. Better than nothing, but not much more expensive than nothing either.

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On 1/12/2017 at 7:52 AM, Gilgaron said:

The only 'gem' not mentioned yet that I've enjoyed is their dial fractional caliper.  I never use my digital one anymore, I'd rather know something is a tick past 1/8 than that it is .187765. 

I bought a cheap igaging digital caliper... I have to remove the battery every time I use it, or it's dead within the week. :-(

I have a old school steel one which is ok down to about 1/32nd inch which I mostly use.

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