Getting overrun with Harbor Freight stores


Recommended Posts

When we go to "town", our two closest choices are one 20 miles East, and another 30 miles West.  I have to go 20 miles to a Lowes, and 30 miles to a Home Depot.   I just noticed a couple of days ago that both towns have a Harbor Freight.   I've never been in one.   Pretty soon, I'm going to need to mix some Lime Plaster, and need a clean mixer.   I'd rather not use my mortar, or cement mixers because they will most likely leave some particles of gray stuff in whatever I mix in them.   Harbor Freight looks like the best choice for a cheap mixer.  I don't want to put a lot of money in a good mixer for no more than I will need it.   I need to leave it running for about 20 minutes to thoroughly mix the dry ingredients before adding water.   I'm wondering if the Harbor Freight cement mixers will run that long.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tom, my experience with HF gear has varied, and that's part of the problem. They have some pretty good stuff, at pretty good prices, but its like Russian Roulette as to whether you'll need to take advantage of the return policy.

Since you are expecting a 'disposable' tool anyway, I'd suggest that you just consider the value of time lost returning the first one if it fails.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

That's what I kind of figured.   I do have a 1/2 hp Baldor motor, in a fan in the barn, that I can use once the Chinese one craps out.   I don't need to mix a whole lot, so don't want to put $2500 in another good mixer.  If it runs for half an hour, it'll get the job done.

There is not a set ratio for mixing the lime, and sand, so I need to keep testing the dry mix by hand, until I get it like I want it.  Then the horse hair is added, and finally water.  Once it's mixed with water, it will have to stand until the next day, at the earliest, before it can be applied.

Lime plaster, like is found in all houses with plaster walls built before the very early 20th Century, is far superior to Gypsum plaster, since it's even waterproof, gets stronger over centuries, and can move a tiny bit without cracking.  Gypsum dissolves with water contact, and cracks with the least bit of stress.   This was another thing that gave up quality for fast, and cheap though.   There's nothing fast about lime plaster.   With Gypsum plaster, it's a race to get it on before it sets up.   Faster is cheaper though.

Most people have forgotten how to do lime plaster, but fortunately, someone wrote it down in the early 20th Century, even complete with pictures.

Link to post
Share on other sites

HF reviews are pretty accurate.  IMHO, HF products are like anything....one person might get one that lasts for years.  Another person gets the same thing and it quits working the first time it is used.  I'm anticipating getting the dust collector, as soon as I scrape up $150 and the 25% coupon.  I get a lot of freebies there- screwdriver sets (gave a couple to the maintenance crew at church), tarps, flashlights (may have to glue the button in place sometime), headlamps, etc.  We fudge a bit- wife goes through one line and I go through another to take advantage of the freebies.  Noticed other people doing it, too.  One thing, check the warranties on their products.  You might want to spend a couple of bucks and get an extended warranty on big ticket items like a planer, lathe, etc.

EXample- I got their cordless screwdriver several months ago.  The forward switch went out.  I took it apart and the switch couldn't be replaced or fixed.  It was $9.99 but I'm going to get another with the 20% coupon.  It was identical to one at Lowe's for $29.99 plus it was pink!  The HF one had lots of torque!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Where can one find these 20% off coupons?

This is the one I'm thinking of getting, so it's not like it's such a price that I would expect it to work of very long.   It just amazes me that, out here in the country, I can go a half hour in either of two different directions, and get one.  It does come with a "powerful belt driven 1/4hp motor", so I guess I should be impressed.

https://www.harborfreight.com/1-14-Cubic-Ft-Cement-Mixer-61931.html

Link to post
Share on other sites

Will let you know.  I don't have a better option around here.  It requires too much mixing for us to do it by hand, but I guess that makes me lazy because it was done by hand for a few thousand years.

For mixing that small amount of concrete, I'd rather use a wheelbarrow, and hoe than have that thing sitting around.  Mixing concrete is a lot easier than mixing plaster.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tom sent me a 20% coupon, and I found them online that end today.   I'm betting there will be more that end tomorrow, but then it will be another today.

I need to wait another month or two anyway.  It takes a couple or three weeks for lime plaster to cure to the point that freezing won't hurt it.  It also can't be too hot, or it will dry too fast.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Around here, the coupons are everywhere. Woodworking and AARP mags and Sunday newspaper. Surprised they’re not on the toilet paper wrappers. Get on their mailing list as almost everything goes on sale at least twice a week. The sale price plus the coupon and they almost owe you money. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

They have a 25% off coupon, if you join their mailing list.  The 20% coupon did not require to join.  Since this is, hopefully, my only HF purchase, I don't think it would be worth the 5% difference to be on their mailing list.   I have gone to some lengths to not be on any emailing lists.  I still get more emails to delete than I want to bother with.  I guess it's a good thing I'm not a politician, or I'd catch a lot of grief for deleting emails.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the kind of tool that HF is really good for, IMO. Something that doesn't require any sort of precision, and that you won't need to use more than a few times. There are some good exceptions to this- their dust collector is great. But, for some tool like this that's outside of your normal work- HF is perfect. There's no reason to spend double or triple the money on the equivalent DeWalt/Makita/Bosch/whatever version. There are occasional quality problems. Chances are, if it's trash, you'll notice that it's trash right away and just exchange it well within the original return period.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 3/7/2018 at 6:26 AM, Bankstick said:

Had to add this- I buy the fine grit sanding sponges.  They are handy for starting to sand pen blanks and other wood items.  They are a dozen to a pack so the next time I'm at HF, I'm going to buy two packs.

+1 on that.  abrasives that you don't care much about, Gojo, brass brushes...  I happen to find their F clamps useful.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to need to get this little mixer pretty soon, but as of yet, I've not set foot in a HF store.   A dear friend of mine passed away some years ago, and left me all his tools.  He had probably one of everything made by Starret, but also loved Harbor Freight tools.   I don't think I have a single Central Machinery (think that's the name) tool from him that still works.   

The pipe threading tool lasted almost through putting gas piping in one house.  The water wheel grinder in this picture is one of them.  It would get hot if used for a few minutes, and the plastic gear slipped on the shaft.

I'm not real anxious to step into a HF store.

novdec2012_012.JPG

Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that some HF things are junk so you need to do your homework as far as what you expect. The item more than likely will not be built as well as the name brand things.  If I could afford to get the best of everything Id have it. Take the hitch I'm getting.  I don't expect the install to go without  me doing some extra work on it to make it right but I have more time than money so its all good. I think HF is geared for people that cant afford or need to have the best of everything. They must be doing something right because new stores are opening up all over Maine also.. No offence meant to Tom and others opinions. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.