kevin_c

Harbor Freight

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I needed to replace the pulley on my TS, and needed a puller.  So it was the first time I needed, and likely would be a long time before I needed it again, I got a cheep set from HF.  They did the job with no complaints.  I had their clamps long enough to allow me to start buying real clamps.  I still have them, but they are in a corner now.  I buy acid brushes from them as well.  I have heard of buying some of their machines with some luck.  Their dust collector seems to get real good reviews.  I have heard moderately good things about their jointer and band saw.  True, their QC completely sucks.  However, their customer service does make up for it.  Every time I have been in the store, the staff has been completely helpful, know the products they sell, and will exchange products with no questions asked.

 

As others have said, do your homework, and be willing to work with the store staff, it is possible to get a half way decent tool if you are under a tight budget, or just need it for a single use.

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, "the staff has been completely helpful, know the products they sell",

 

 

 

Wow, not at any HF I have walked into. One example,  A few weeks ago I went to HF to get the 2 hp dust collector (it's working great) and parts for it.  Found the DC no problem but couldn't find parts, asked one of the staff "where are the Shop Vac hoses", reply uh what? asked for a Dust Collector Air Flow Control (we call a blast gate) a Dust Collector Reducer, 1st staff got 2nd and 3rd staff said "O that stuff in only on the website"

So I think your lucky with the staff you have at your store.

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I tend to buy in two classes. ONE time use to help with a job and other

.

I just picked up their 3400/4000 w generator. It was returned to the store and was never used. The first buyer returned it as he need more power, it didn't even have a drop of gas in it nor oil filled in the crankcase, brand new open box. I got it for $150 and list is just over $400 with it "on sale" for the$350 ball park. Like many generators in this class, the name plate rating is ..... deceiving at best. The full rated power is divided between two circuits so if you are using 110 v you can only get half of the rating on the box, in this case 13 amps. I was running a portable welder with it and need 20 amps. A quick trip to my favorite surplus and salvage store resulted in a 5KW step down transformer from among other settings 220 to 110. It cost me $200 and half a day to get it but I count the time as entertainment, I LOVE that store! I now have a generator that can supply a full 26 amps of 110v  as I use the 220 outlet into the step down transformer. It runs the welder just fine. The voltage control is good and on my generator load bank, I ran it up to the full 26 amps and the worst the CPS dropped to was 59 when it should be 60. Not too bad for the price I paid. It was much less expensive to go this way than it would have been to get a generator that is rated on a single leg to supply what I need. The build quality seems to be OK but there was one thing wrong out of the box. The fuel gauge. It never moved as I filled the tank. I removed the two screws that held it in place and removed it from the tank. It was installed backwards so that the float was binding on the side of the tank. a quick 180 and reinstall and all is well.

 

I have one of their 14" band saws, a craigs list find at $75 the family was cleaning out dads tools after he died. It seems to run OK.

I also have one of their lathes, a variable speed model. When mounted solidly, it is OK for smaller stuff. The headstock was designed to pivot up to 180 deg for larger work off to the side of the lathe and the clamp mech is weak. I would mod it to be stronger if I need to do more than small bowls and pens. It was a $125 pawn shop pick up.

 

I also have the 2 hp dust collector, metal fan blade unit. It seems to do just fine though I might replace the 5 micron bag with something finer if I can find it.

 

In general, their quality is all over the map. In order of most found first, ....... Some of the stuff is pure junk, some of it will be OK with some work from you and some of it is a hidden gem.

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Man, I just checked the website for the 14" bandsaw, not even listed. I might have to make a trip to town and see if they have them at the store. My dad bought several things from them that are good, but some things are just complete junk, which reminds me of something I saw the other day

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Read the fine print

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Man I love that "add sheet"

That is a great spoof, and like all great comedy, a lot of truth!

Thanks cal, I found this on a regional gun owners forum I'm a member of ... I swear some of the stuff is straight from the add :D

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fool proof iteams like a metal punch, or a package of rulers for the classroom, box of staples and brad nails, hammer ect..... stuff that its just about imposible to build wrong

 

The ruler I got from them was off by over a 1/16 at 2".  It makes a nice straight edge for marking centers for spindle turning.

 

My HF power tools include:

 

  • 10x18 lathe - 4.5/5 - It's just your basic lathe but it runs true & I've had next to no problems with it.  If I had the money I would've definitely gotten something better, but I didn't.  For the price, it rocks.
  • Benchtop drill press - 2/5 - Just because it turns on every time you hit the switch.  That's it's only redeeming quality & it was the first tool I upgraded when I could.
  • Benchtop belt sander - 2.5/5 - Slightly better than the drill press, but not by much.  It's useable but the belt will not stay centered.  After a while I figured out that you can keep it centered by where you put your workpiece.
  • Benchtop band saw - 4/5 - It drifts a little funny & set up is a bear, but the wheels are good, every blade I've put on it tracks great.  I don't have a table saw, so this thing sees a lot of use; I resaw on it constantly.  It won't do veneer, but I've quartered 1.5" stock for pen blanks without a problem.  The blade size is a little odd, so it's not the easiest thing to find blades for, but they're out there.
  • 6" grinder - 4/5 - Bolt it down & dress the wheels, works fine.  Don't bother with the stand they make for it or you'll have to chase it around the room.
  • Caliper set - 3/6 - Just because 3 out of the 6 tools are useable.  The outside/inside calipers & spring divider are worth the price of the set.  The depth gauge's markings are off, but you can still use it on a lathe (take a depth measurement & hold it up to the outside)  The ruler was the one I mentioned in the first sentence of this post.  The regular calipers markings were also off, the jaws do not lock & the two sets of jaws don't even line up.

Anyhow, sorry to revive an older post, but I thought it might be useful for anyone who's looking at any of those items in the future.  HF is just a roll of the dice & I my budget required me to gamble on a few things to at least get the shop outfitted with some basics that could earn a little more money to get some better tools.  So far I've only upgraded the drill press & critical measuring tools. 

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The ruler I got from them was off by over a 1/16 at 2". It makes a nice straight edge for marking centers for spindle turning.

My HF power tools include:

  • 10x18 lathe - 4.5/5 - It's just your basic lathe but it runs true & I've had next to no problems with it. If I had the money I would've definitely gotten something better, but I didn't. For the price, it rocks.
  • Benchtop drill press - 2/5 - Just because it turns on every time you hit the switch. That's it's only redeeming quality & it was the first tool I upgraded when I could.
  • Benchtop belt sander - 2.5/5 - Slightly better than the drill press, but not by much. It's useable but the belt will not stay centered. After a while I figured out that you can keep it centered by where you put your workpiece.
  • Benchtop band saw - 4/5 - It drifts a little funny & set up is a bear, but the wheels are good, every blade I've put on it tracks great. I don't have a table saw, so this thing sees a lot of use; I resaw on it constantly. It won't do veneer, but I've quartered 1.5" stock for pen blanks without a problem. The blade size is a little odd, so it's not the easiest thing to find blades for, but they're out there.
  • 6" grinder - 4/5 - Bolt it down & dress the wheels, works fine. Don't bother with the stand they make for it or you'll have to chase it around the room.
  • Caliper set - 3/6 - Just because 3 out of the 6 tools are useable. The outside/inside calipers & spring divider are worth the price of the set. The depth gauge's markings are off, but you can still use it on a lathe (take a depth measurement & hold it up to the outside) The ruler was the one I mentioned in the first sentence of this post. The regular calipers markings were also off, the jaws do not lock & the two sets of jaws don't even line up.
Anyhow, sorry to revive an older post, but I thought it might be useful for anyone who's looking at any of those items in the future. HF is just a roll of the dice & I my budget required me to gamble on a few things to at least get the shop outfitted with some basics that could earn a little more money to get some better tools. So far I've only upgraded the drill press & critical measuring tools.
Hey, I was just looking at that lathe for turning some pens and maybe small bowls. I've got a coupon, now I just need to talk the wife into the idea.

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I have a nice collection of F-style clamps from HF that work quite well. I purchase lots of disposable items, like glue brushes and such from them. They carry some Nitrile gloves (9 mil, the black ones) that I bought as disposables, but they last forever! I have one of their 'Windsor Design #33' hand planes that works like a dream, but I picked up another recently, and it was total garbage. Assorted mechanic tools, all seem to do well. Battery drill that works better and outlasted the one it repaced for %20 of the cost. Bottom line is that every item is a gamble. You might get the one that works great, it might go to the next guy in line and you get crap. Caveat Emptor, use the coupons, and buy the extra warranty for anything you aren't willing to throw away.

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I ended up getting the HF DC, since this thread was started. So far it has worked well.

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Read a WWJ benchtop bandsaw review where they show the Harbor Freight, Craftsman, and Ryobi are all the same 9" saw with minor differences. The Craftsman came out on top of those three because it has upgraded and balanced wheels but otherwise they performed identically.

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Read a WWJ benchtop bandsaw review where they show the Harbor Freight, Craftsman, and Ryobi are all the same 9" saw with minor differences. The Craftsman came out on top of those three because it has upgraded and balanced wheels but otherwise they performed identically.

 

Good to know.  My HF benchtop bandsaw is tied for 2nd in my small HF budget collection.  The angle on my wood fence looks crazy because of the drift, but it's reliable.  I was pretty surprised that my wheels are perfectly coplaner & almost perfectly balanced.  I never have to adjust the tracking unless I'm swapping blades, which is pretty rare.

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Good to know.  My HF benchtop bandsaw is tied for 2nd in my small HF budget collection.  The angle on my wood fence looks crazy because of the drift, but it's reliable.  I was pretty surprised that my wheels are perfectly coplaner & almost perfectly balanced.  I never have to adjust the tracking unless I'm swapping blades, which is pretty rare.

 

Which HF bandsaw is this?

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The benchtop model.  9" I think.  I wouldn't trust it to do thin veneer, but I resaw down to 1.5" square turning blanks quite a bit & have no problem quartering those into pen blanks.  At the price I wouldn't expect it to work miracles, but for a budget machine, I'm extremely happy with it.  Without measuring, I'd guess my fence is 10 degrees off from square, but like I mentioned completely reliable.  When I do upgrade, it'll be more for capacity & less for quality.  Another thing to note, I did spend quite a bit of time getting it setup.  The tiny blade guides are real touchy & not as easy to access as they are on the larger machines.

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I took a closer look at my fence on that bandsaw yesterday.  It's closer to 4-5 degrees off from square.  I never really cared to measure it before since I just know that it works (& even this time I just eyeballed it off a speed square).  From where I typically stand when starting a cut it just looks more crooked than what it is.

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Bandsaw fences aren't set square to the blade anyway.

 

That really depends who you ask.   Some say there should be no drift at all if it is tuned correctly.

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Bandsaw fences aren't set square to the blade anyway.

Mine is square and with my Resaw King blade there is absolutely no dirt  when resawing. It is not an HF saw.

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Mine is square and with my Resaw King blade there is absolutely no dirt when resawing. It is not an HF saw.

2 questions, what kind of wood are you sawing to get dirt instead of sawdust and isn't dirt wood really hard on your blade :D sorry, I couldn't help myself!

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2 questions, what kind of wood are you sawing to get dirt instead of sawdust and isn't dirt wood really hard on your blade :D sorry, I couldn't help myself!

Than you! Best laugh I've had since my total knee replacement last Tuesday.  I'll fix it.

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Than you! Best laugh I've had since my total knee replacement last Tuesday. I'll fix it.

Total knee replacement? Ouch! I hope your healing well, but don't fix it or my post won't make any sense!!!

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Than you! Best laugh I've had since my total knee replacement last Tuesday.  I'll fix it.

 

Ouch.  Hope it all went well.  I had just the lateral side of my fibula replaced back in February.  As a sign of hope for you, I'm back to pretty much 100% now with pretty much no pain.  The only hard restriction I still have is no basketball.  Too much impact with running and jumping.  That and being careful not to run too.  He'd rather I stick with an elliptical over straight running which isn't a problem for me.

 

Do they have you on a CPM?  If so, I'd recommend living on that thing even though it sucks.  I was supposed to be on it at least 8 hours a day and ended of staying on it unless I had to get up.  Even slept with it going.  Wasn't fun but I believe that along with a constant icing cycle is what helped me recover quickly.  Keeping the swelling down and flexibility was key for me.  

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