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Frequently, I see people posting here on the GTT about Harbor Freight and either their plans to shop there or comments about their visit to the stores. Since virtually all of us on this type of website are interested in mechanical issues and repairs as well as fabrication, I am curious what the different views are about the merchandise sold at Harbor Freight.

While I found many links when I searched before posting this thread about specific Harbor Freight items, like their 3pt hitch 'Quick Hitch", I am curious in what items each of you like or dislike and which things at the store are of interest to you.

I will pick up the "consumable" type things like zip ties, duct tape, electrical tape and the occasional item which I use once in a great while. I have purchased a laser temperature gun for measuring temps easily and a few other items like those, but I also find that some of their items are such that I wouldn't get the use out of them which would satisfy me.

I purchased 4 of their wooden furniture moving dolly's for putting under my 47" two stage snow thrower and they have worked just fine for making that item easier to relocate around my barn. But there are other things which I just don't care for their quality.

Interested in the experiences others have had and your likes and dislikes about Harbor Freight. One thing for certain is they are opening new stores all over very aggressively and don't appear to be slowing down on store expansion.
 

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Between yesterday and today ,that makes my 3 time in Harbor Freight. The other time was 5 yrs ago almost to the day. That time I bought some brad nails for my nailer, so far have had no problem. Like you today I bought the grandsons a universal 7 way screwdriver , a pack of magnet hooks ,a hook to hangup the weedeater. I did purchase a 3 1/4" hand wood planer today plugged it in ran the motor for a few minutes ,seems ok . I did buy the better grade instead of the cheapest model. For the times I will use this it should do OK for my needs.

BIL has bought several items , 14-16" metal cut off saw, a 4 1/2 hand grinder,( both of these are at least 5 yrs old used at least once a week) metal break, engine lift plus several hundred dollars worth . He seems to like what he buys. He is like me if they have two models of the same tool he does buy the higher price tool.
 

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I've bought numerous things through them over the years but I would say that all of it is low-quality. They carry a LOT of stuff so I find that it is easy to shop HF, pick up the cheapo item, use it, see what I like/don't like about it and if I need the item long term, it gives me a good basis for shopping for a better quality long-term piece. But sometimes ya just need a cheapo $3 widget for a one-time use and they are perfect for that.

I've seen a lot of guys comment online that they buy something and then upgrade it themselves. (In particular, their shop presses) I haven't done much of that sort of thing but now that I'm retired and on a more limited budget, I might start!
 

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I shop cautiously at HF knowing that what I am buying is on the bottom of the quality scale.
 

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I shop at HF somewhat for a variety of things. I have their air nail guns, what I used them, they seem fine to me, probably wouldn't want to earn my living with them, as they probably wouldn't take the abuse everyday.

now the one item that I did get burnt on, was the air sand blaster on wheels, it sat in basement for over a yr before we put it together, that @#$%% thing wouldn't take the hair off the butt of nothing. can't take it back, only 30 day return, I think, and of course it is in STORE ONLY RETURN , NO CASH RETURNS, and it cost $159 when I bought it. now look at reviews, before thinking of buying. is that good or-bad.

my oldest son, bought me their 20volt impact gun for ho-ho day. I first told him I wanted a-the m-18 vlt milwallkia , he laughed, so I told him I wanted hf's electric impact wrench, they have them on sale all the time for $39.99, no-what did he get me, but HF'S 20 volt impact, so I have to yet, charge battery and see if it lives up to the 300 ft pds. time will tell, cause I wanted him to take it back and get the electric one, and spend the rest on tools for himself, but he wouldn't do that.
 

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Depends on what it is & how I'm going to use it! I've had a 3/4 socket set of theirs for years, ratchet broke before long as expected the rest has done fine. Set of pipe wrenches, don't use them enough to justify quality ones, these have done the jobs I needed. I do buy things like nitrile gloves, throw-away brushes, plastic tarps, etc., basically throw away stuff.
 

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I got to see my first actual Harbor Freight store 4 years ago when I found there was one in the city where my Rheumatologist is. I was like a kid at the candy store at first!

I don't buy many tools since I have most that I need. But for sundry items like zip ties and lynch pins (assorted box). For seldom used tools I will wait until I go there - like for a set of auto interior panel removal tools - can't beat it and something that I might use 2 or 3 times. I will usually pick up some things now when I am there just to have on hand. I can't attest to their hand tools as I have a full set of Craftsman that I've had for years.

One thing I have noticed lately - I go to Tractor Supply at each grocery run if nothing else to look around. I get to noticing that a lot of their items (power tools etc) look exactly like those at Harbor Freight - at a higher price. And for example I've been looking at small portable air compressors lately. In that category I noticed the one that Sears sells under the Craftsman name is exactly the same as HF's model - for more than twice the price.

I've read many threads on this subject in other forums - which some get pretty heated. Things have changed so much in the last 20 years that I think a lot of other companies are sourcing products the same place HF is these days.

I might buy more there if there was a store accessible for returns if needed.
 

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Depends on what it is & how I'm going to use it! I've had a 3/4 socket set of theirs for years, ratchet broke before long as expected the rest has done fine. Set of pipe wrenches, don't use them enough to justify quality ones, these have done the jobs I needed. I do buy things like nitrile gloves, throw-away brushes, plastic tarps, etc., basically throw away stuff.
I agree. I have a set of deep sockets from them. Now a number of other items along the same line. Broke a socket when I had that stuck bolt in the MMM and replaced it, no questions asked, no receipt nothing. I broke a Husky wratchet too. We will see how well Home Depot does with out a receipt. Have not got there yet. Bought a second hand quick hitch like the one Deere sells. No issue with that either. Have a 2 burner propane heater, works good too. I would not purchase bearings, but their moving dollies work well under the BH, FEL and Tiller. So cheap and if I am not making money with it, I will buy it there.
 

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Like other have said, I buy zip ties, nitrile gloves, tape, tie down straps, clamps from them - all of which works well and is pretty reasonably priced. I do not own any of their power tools, so I can't speak to the quality.

Heck, their free gifts are not too bad either. I have a tape measure in both of my outside buildings, garage, and basement. My wife uses their magnetic dish to store her sewing needles in.

Jeff
 

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Like most have said I watch what I buy from there. I call It disposal able stuff, emery cloth, zip ties, wood furniture dollies to put plows, bucket, snowmobile skis etc on. Get the free tape measures and lights, have them everywhere, in all my tractors, gator and every tool box. Loose or brake them no big deal. Bought a couple of their roller stands for table saw and they work good. My 2 cents:lol:.:kidw_truck_smiley:
 

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Things have changed so much in the last 20 years that I think a lot of other companies are sourcing products the same place HF is these days.
Very true! I was recently in the market for an inexpensive tool chest and was completely underwhelmed by the quality of the Sears Craftsmen units. I purchased two Craftsman tool chests many years ago that were much higher quality. I was surprised to find the HF units appeared to be superior to the Craftsman at similar price points. Sadly, all of this stuff is coming from China nowadays. I ended up buying HF's red rolling tool cart ($168 with coupon) and a small Home Depot Husky tool chest on a Black Friday sale. Of course, these are a far cry from Snap-On, Matco, Cornwell or Kennedy quality, but they were a great value for my simple needs. So far, I'm very pleased with the HF tool cart.

The only other significant item I've purchased from HF is their 5 ton electric log splitter. It was $250 with a coupon and it's the same unit sold under the Boss and other brand names. It's perfect to quickly make a pile of kindling but I certainly wouldn't expect it perform like more expensive units.

Otherwise, I'm not inclined to purchase too much from HF unless it's a disposable item. Then again, there's not too many things I really "need" these days.
 

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Let's see. I bought a blister pack of quik-connect air fittings, looked just like Milton's, except all the female quik-connects leak. Bought a straight line sander that worked about 3 minutes. Bought two rolls of 3" wide sandpaper in two different grits. The grit is gone in about a minute. If you want to sand something, buy 3M or Norton. Bought a 6" random orbital air sander and surprisingly it still works after a couple hours use. The heat shrink tubing assortment packs are a good value. Zip ties I bought 500-600 from Summit Racing several years ago, they goofed up the order and sent me 200-300 more. I've bought a couple rubber mallets, they hold up well. I keep looking at Dead Blow hammers but they have moving parts, the lead shot inside. Bought a HVLP spray gun with a gravity feed and plastic cup, think it was $11-$12. The cup started dissolving in paint thinner! Bought 4 $15 detail paint guns over the years. First one worked great. Second one worked so-so. Third one wouldn't even spray thinner, returned that one and the 4th one works slightly better than #2 but not as well as #1. Bought a 40# pressure blasting pot, sand blaster! The filter/dryer fell apart, and the blasting gun finally wore out but they sell a replacement with spare ceramic nozzles for cheap. I've put over 1000# of aluminum oxide and quartz sand thru it and the tank hasn't blown up on me yet! Great way to prep for paint on certain things. Haven't bought ANY electrical tools, not that brave. Bought several triangle welding magnets and the magnetic material always seems to crack, break, and fall out.

There's a few other things that escape me right now. The more moving parts the more likely it is to fail, but things with NO moving parts can disappoint also.
 

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I buy consumables; zip ties, gloves. Things that shouldn't break; wheel chocks, dead blow hammers, extra long breaker bar.
I once bought one of those clevis grab hooks that go on a tractor's drawbar (I could not find my TSC version) I easily broke it with the 2030 (6415 has not broke the TSC version :good2:). I took it back and they said their warranty only covered hand tools and it was NOT a hand tool :mocking:. I have not seen them in the store last few times I was there. Quit carrying them? :dunno:

I almost bought ratcheting chain binders (not to be confused with Gimbal ratchets), but they looked like the would break easily
 

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I have a 3/4" impact from HF, plus standard and metric 3/4" sockets. Minimal uses, but work good for what I needed. I also have the 1/4" and 1/2" Pittsburgh Torque wrenches. Seem to be OK.

I have been interested in the HF ratchets, but have never bought any. My craftsman ratchets are junk!

If course I buy all the cheap consumables there as well.
 

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I have bought quite a few things from HF.. Just have to watch what you buy.. Buddy of mine has a repair shop and works on just about anything with a motor. He buys lots of things there.. He even uses some of the ratchets from there right along side his high end tools..

They have some cone type step drill bits, them things are the cats meow when drillling plastic or light steel.. He has a set of them and says they last longer than some of the $60+ sets he had in the past..
 

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They have some cone type step drill bits, them things are the cats meow when drillling plastic or light steel.. He has a set of them and says they last longer than some of the $60+ sets he had in the past..
Their 'Uni-bits' are pretty good. I've used and abused a few sets over the years. Hands down, they have out-performed the name brand ones at less than 1/4 of their price. That says a lot about them. Most of the other product line at HF I haven't had the same luck with. But I will continue to buy their 'Uni-bits.' :good2:
 

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I too shop cautiously at HF.

I have a 'jumbo' SAE wrench set. I use them to tighten and sometimes loosen bolts on light poles. I lock two of the wrenches together and lean into them. Other than the cheap chrome flaking off, they work great. But they are not needed for day to day use, thank goodness.

Wrenches and screwdrivers that I use daily I need the good stuff. I have only one go at this life, might as well enjoy the ride.

Besides, my former boss who hired me to take a service truck position, told me to never show up with cheap tools for what we charge an hour.

isaac
 

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I have bought a few bigger things over the years. I have the Motorcycle Lift and 12 ton press.

With the motorcycle lift I wasn't sure how much I would use it to justify a $1000+ unit. I use it enough that I should sell the HF unit and get a bigger one. It works for what I need though. It is really handy as a work surface for things besides the motorcycle stuff.

The press is one of those things I bought years ago to do a ball joint. It worked for that and a few things since then. Though I broke it a couple nights ago. A buddy had a hub that needed to get pressed out and we broke it. Time to rebuild it bigger and stronger.

Other than that mostly consumables like others gloves and such.

Oh I bought a set of welding gloves there. Both were Left Hand Gloves. Grrrr. I should take it back but I don't get over there very often. I mean really, they may be from china but they have left and right hands...
 

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Harbor Freight found a niche and fills it. There's no other store a guy can walk into and find a wide selection of hand, power, metal working, wood working, and shop tools at reasonable prices. Sears used to be the place but they've declined significantly over the years and in my opinion are circling the drain. To be honest, the quality of HF tools has also come way up to the point that for most of us working in our garage on the weekend, they'll be just fine. Their pro line of US General tool boxes are actually very nice.

I sold my Snap On shop box before we moved. I've worked out of a service truck for about a decade now, it sat in my garage and collected dust. If I went into a shop situation and had to have a shop box, I would have a very hard time justifying the cost of another truck brand box now. I've had coworkers with the good US General boxes used in pro shops every day, they seemed to be holding up just fine for a fraction of what the truck brands cost. For 'weekend warriors' and hobbyists, their other tools are similar. It's hard to justify hundreds of dollars for diagnostic tools that you don't rely on every day, but a guy can swing $40-50 for the same thing from HF that works well enough every few months.

You talk to most pro mechanics, you'll find the vast majority of us have some HF stuff in our boxes. It's not at the top of my list and I avoid it when I can, but sometimes you need a wrench that you can bend into a custom shape, or a 3/4" socket set that will get used twice a year. I recommended the HF 3/4" set to my new guys, it would cost them 1/4 of what my SO set cost me (and I bought used) and most of them didn't need to use it very often. Heck, I have a set of their extended roll pin punches in my bag every day. I can't find anyone else that makes a set as long, most are about 3/16" too short for me to drive a pin fully out in a specific application.

I will buck the trend a little, I won't buy consumables there. I found the grinding/ cutting disks would last less than half the time that more expensive ones did, the zip ties broke easily, the electrical tape didn't seal well, etc. I'd rather pay a little more for that stuff because a corroded connection or bad crimp connector can make for a major headache down the road.
 
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