Harbor Freight

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Harbor Freight

Postby Leo » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:03 pm

What kind of experience have you had with items purchased from Harbor Freight? The prices in their catalog look great, but how is the quality? My middle-class upbringing tells me that "Cheap things are seldom good and good things are seldom cheap." I figure that the playa is a good "torture test" for tools, shelter, etc. I would rather pay a little more to buy something once and have it last, rather than purchase a bargain that doesn't perform.
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Postby TomServo » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:08 pm

I bought a Hi Lift jack from HF, and it works great. I wouldn't trust the electric tools though. Trailers have had good reviews.
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Postby mdmf007 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:15 pm

HF specializes in mid to the lower end of tools IMO. I wont buy from their catalog anymore but will from their retail stores - nothing like holding something in your hand.
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Postby Bob » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:32 pm

Almost everything else these days is only a step or two above Harbor Freight quality. Get used to it.
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Postby BBadger » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:35 pm

My friend put it best: "I buy from Harbor Freight when I need a tool to only use once and won't care if it breaks during that job."

Depending on what it is, that may fit the description of a playa purchase.
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Postby Packoderm » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:39 pm

I bought an electronic scale at HF that kicks all over anything else I've seen. I've had my floor jack from HF for so many years that I forgot when I bought it. It still works great. Their little canvas tote bags are the very best. I don't buy wrenches or anything like that there.
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Postby Tiahaar » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:48 pm

I've kept my HF chopsaw and $99migwelder going through 4-5 big playa projects now, but not without replacing switches, fixing bad brush contacts and such. I don't mind thrashing them. The monster size sockets/wrenches I have just-in-case but cannot afford to get quality pro stuff for once a year use, come from HF.
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Postby Trishntek » Sun Feb 27, 2011 8:59 pm

I bought plier sets, wrenches, hammers etc. to use solely on the playa. They rust and do not work as well, but do a sufficient job without being concerned about losing or damaging them.

I have a unique tool box for my violet wand kit, solid oak with drawers and locks which is perfect for the purpose. I could not find anything like it anywhere else for twice the price. I also have aluminum cases from there for other "toys" and equipment that work as they should.

Rope is a good buy there as are those interlocking square floor pads, which are used to floor our dungeon. Good insulation from the ground while "playing" with electricity. Drill bits, electric connectors, hose clamps, work gloves, head lamps, spring clamps have all been cheap but adequate.

The cart for my solar array was purchased there and seems sufficiently robust for holding a battery bank and supporting the panels to make it completely mobile while protecting the electronics in the drawer. Their selection of carts, cases, handtrucks and dollies seems par with anyplace. My genset is from there which has performed well so far.

I'm kinda spoiled by being 20 minutes from their headquarters. But having said all that, hand tools are minimal quality,,,, so if you are seeking a primary set of tools go name brand somewhere else. They have a good selection of tarps and shade material, but I've seen better prices for better quality online. Bottom line,,,, a good place for consumables,,,, bad place for dependable handtools. YMMV
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Postby Packoderm » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:15 pm

Trishntek wrote:I bought plier sets, wrenches, hammers etc. to use solely on the playa. They rust and do not work as well, but do a sufficient job without being concerned about losing or damaging them.

I have a unique tool box for my violet wand kit, solid oak with drawers and locks which is perfect for the purpose. I could not find anything like it anywhere else for twice the price. I also have aluminum cases from there for other "toys" and equipment that work as they should.

Rope is a good buy there as are those interlocking square floor pads, which are used to floor our dungeon. Good insulation from the ground while "playing" with electricity. Drill bits, electric connectors, hose clamps, work gloves, head lamps, spring clamps have all been cheap but adequate.

The cart for my solar array was purchased there and seems sufficiently robust for holding a battery bank and supporting the panels to make it completely mobile while protecting the electronics in the drawer. Their selection of carts, cases, handtrucks and dollies seems par with anyplace. My genset is from there which has performed well so far.

I'm kinda spoiled by being 20 minutes from their headquarters. But having said all that, hand tools are minimal quality,,,, so if you are seeking a primary set of tools go name brand somewhere else. They have a good selection of tarps and shade material, but I've seen better prices for better quality online. Bottom line,,,, a good place for consumables,,,, bad place for dependable handtools. YMMV


Could you please post a picture of your solar cart?
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Postby Trishntek » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:47 pm

Image The panels not only shield the cart from direct sunlight, but they also have kept the unit dry during rainstorms.
Image Note the welding clamp which attaches a grounding cable to the plumbing on the house or a stake on the playa.
Image These lower brackets slide and clamp to vary panel angle according to time of year.
Image The 30A charge controller automatically protects the batteries from over charging and discharging less than 21V. It also prevents current from the batteries going retrograde into the panels.
Image The 1kW pure sine inverter will run even the most sensitive electronics.
Image The cart is covered with a small BBQ cover through which I made grommeted holes for the bracket attachments.
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Re: Harbor Freight

Postby gyre » Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:53 pm

Leo wrote:What kind of experience have you had with items purchased from Harbor Freight? The prices in their catalog look great, but how is the quality? My middle-class upbringing tells me that "Cheap things are seldom good and good things are seldom cheap." I figure that the playa is a good "torture test" for tools, shelter, etc. I would rather pay a little more to buy something once and have it last, rather than purchase a bargain that doesn't perform.

What kind of tools?
Their quality varies from item to item.
I've bought a full set of wrenches from them, esp the specialty types.

Northern tools are much higher quality, esp for larger tools and sockets.
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Postby oneeyeddick » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:22 pm

Pipe wrenches, vises, regular wrenches, adjustable wrenches in a 4 pack, nicer socket strips than I can find anywhere else(even if they are plastic), grinders, air tool attachments by the bulk, cheap blades for my skilsaw and sawzalls..and most importantly, YELLOW teflon tape for less than 1/4 the price of anywhere else!

I loves me some Harbor Freight!
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Postby ¡Niers! » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:30 pm

Here's my professional experience on their air tools. I say don't buy the air tools. They suck! If you use air tools alot, they will wear out and seize up in about 3 months. If you don't use them alot, they will seize up still.
If you want a good air tool....my advice is to buy Ingersol-Rand. Otherwise you'll be making alot of trips to HF. I've got all I-R air tools and have had them for years with no problems.....at all.

Basically, if I use it to make money.....I don't get it at HF. Hobbies, and BM projects, sure....I'll go there. But since I've got good tools already, I have no need.

Now, solar panels and other stuff I'd rather not spend alot on....I'm there.
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Postby Trishntek » Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:51 pm

Just to be sure there is no confusion here, the only part of the solar array demonstrated above that was purchased at Harbor Freight is the steel cart. The panels, batteries, charge controller and inverter were purchased individually elsewhere.
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Postby busgypsy » Mon Feb 28, 2011 12:02 am

If it has moving parts it probably won't last for long, but they do have some pretty cool stuff. Like the aluminum can crusher and the french fry cutter
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Postby CapSmashy » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:09 am

I've got one of their 4" angle grinders that I have abused heavily for several years.

Pretty much all of their hand tools have a lifetime warranty on them. That's only convenient if you happen to live near one of their retail stores.
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Postby graidawg » Mon Feb 28, 2011 6:00 am

Trishntek wrote:I bought plier sets, wrenches, hammers etc. to use solely on the playa. They rust and do not work as well, but do a sufficient job without being concerned about losing or damaging them.

I have a unique tool box for my violet wand kit, solid oak with drawers and locks which is perfect for the purpose. I could not find anything like it anywhere else for twice the price. I also have aluminum cases from there for other "toys" and equipment that don't work as they should.

Rope is a good buy there as are those which are used to our dungeon. Good insulation from the ground while "playing" with electricity. Drill bits, electric connectors, hose clamps, work gloves, head lamps, spring clamps have all been cheap but adequate.

The cart for my solar array was purchased there and seems sufficiently robust for holding a battery bank and supporting the panels to make it completely immobile while protecting the electronics in the drawer. Their selection of carts, cases, handtrucks and dollies seems par with anyplace. My genset is from there which has performed well so far.

I'm kinda spoiled by being 20 minutes from their headquarters. But having said all that, hand tools are minimal quality,,,, so if you are seeking a primary set of tools go name brand somewhere else. They have a good selection of tarps and shade material, but I've seen better prices for better quality online. Bottom line,,,, a good place for consumables,,,, bad place for dependable handtools. YMMV



is it just me thats scared of trishntek? see the code hidden in the messages and they want SQUASHED FLIES


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Postby spectabillis » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:21 am

imhe - harbor freight is still mostly supplied by chinese mfg's if you look at the "made in..." labels. that gave them a bad rep for some time, but the quality of things like power tools are about even with most brand names now.

prices usually cant be beat, especially if you grab one of their 20% coupons which are just about everywhere. if you feel really adventuresome, their inventory liquidators (including returns and damaged packaging items) are independents on ebay for about half of shelf-cost.
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Postby spectabillis » Mon Feb 28, 2011 8:45 am

Tiahaar wrote:.. replacing switches, fixing bad brush contacts and such.


older appliances and power tools are like that too. as a kid i picked up a repair book and only remembered the toc for the three most common repairs which were said to be the majority of the problems... turned out to be pretty spot on.

first - where the power cord goes into the unit, it gets frayed or the wires break inside the sheath with repeated use. fix: cut a few inches off and re-screw it to the contacts.

second - physical switches and dials that get worn out from repeated use. fix: not so easy because you cant find the right replacement parts.

third - electric motor brush and carbon/spring contacts worn from repeated use. fix: a little bit easier than user controls because they can be salvaged or bought, those are a bit more standardized.

i used to dumpster dive broken things out of the trash at places like salvation army and goodwill, what i fixed would sell at people's garage sales and split the profit with them. was decent money for a poor kid who wasnt old enough get a job yet.
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Postby AntiM » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:05 am

We get small items there to stock our gifting project at our regional: hammers, hand tools, rope, earplugs, dust masks, the free flashlights. I got solar house number panels there, and made personalized license plates for our bikes. We're looking at the small plastic portable greenhouses for organizing our camp kitchen.
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Postby spectabillis » Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:15 am

you pay for gifting those to your regionals yourself?


if so, you never cease to amaze me antiM, this place would be so screwed without you.
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Postby ibdave » Mon Feb 28, 2011 10:45 am

spectabillis wrote:you pay for gifting those to your regionals yourself?


if so, you never cease to amaze me antiM, this place would be so screwed without you.


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Postby AntiM » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:22 am

spectabillis wrote:you pay for gifting those to your regionals yourself?


if so, you never cease to amaze me antiM, this place would be so screwed without you.


Actually, I got a small grant, but yeah, I pay for over half the stock of gifts. Technically, MyLarry does, he's the breadwinner of this household.

We also got good donations, last year was the first year. Picked up mostly art and costumes, a tent (!), and some toiletries. I shop the dollar store, and Hot Topic uber-clearance sales. LOL, we even stocked a dollar store pregnancy kit as a joke. I already have been given a box of costumes.
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Postby Martiansky » Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:26 am

AntiM wrote:We get small items there to stock our gifting project at our regional: hammers, hand tools, rope, earplugs, dust masks, the free flashlights. I got solar house number panels there, and made personalized license plates for our bikes. We're looking at the small plastic portable greenhouses for organizing our camp kitchen.


AntiM have you noticed they have changed the coupons for the flashlights? You now have to have a $19.99 purchase to get one!

Doesn't that just frost your......??!!!!
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Postby Trishntek » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:23 pm

he lure of fear is overwhelming at time

I'm actually a frumpy ol' lady,,,, mild-mannered,,, and knit booties for orphans,,
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Postby graidawg » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:57 pm

Trishntek wrote:
he lure of fear is overwhelming at time

I'm actually a frumpy ol' lady,,,, mild-mannered,,, and knit booties for orphans,,


and where do these orphans come from???????
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Postby graidawg » Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:59 pm

Trishntek wrote:
The lure of fear is overwhelming at time

I'm actually a frumpy ol' lady,,,, mild-mannered,,, and knit booties from orphans,,


see? is right to be scared IM AN ORPHAN!
FREE THE SHERPAS
Burners with torches is right and natural and just.-fishy.
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Postby Major Krash » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:44 pm

...I buy lot's of tools there (at least, the type I only plan on using a few times)

but I open EVERYTHING in-store before I leave that comes in a cardboard box (not paperboard and plastic, but the old fashion corrugated paper) since the Chinese export corrugated is crap, and does virtually nothing to protect the contents against international shipment. I once had to send back to defective products before I was willing to leave the store...
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Postby Trishntek » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:59 pm

graidawg wrote:
Trishntek wrote:
The lure of fear is overwhelming at time

I'm actually a frumpy ol' lady,,,, mild-mannered,,, and knit booties from orphans,,


see? is right to be scared IM AN ORPHAN!


ok,,,, okayyyyy! I knit them ON orphans,,,,, sheeeesh!
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Postby Teo del Fuego » Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:15 pm

I bought a folding utility trailer from Harbor Freight and took it to BM twice, fully loaded to the top of its 5 foot high fencing. It performed perfectly well each time. That's approximately 4,800 miles.
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