Harbor Freight Tools' Quality

The answers are yes, no, definitely, and maybe.

It all depends on what you are going to use the tool for. I would not buy any of their welding stuff, but I do buy grinding wheels, gloves, and small items like wire brushes. I bought their bandsaw and like it for what it is, what it cost, and what it does. For tools that one uses rarely or only occasionally, they are a bargain.

Example: I needed a long tape to measure some property. I couldn't find anything over 100' that didn't cost an arm and a leg. I found one that was

165' long, made of some sort of fabric or mesh, and was $10 on sale. I have used it a couple of times, and it's still good.

I have bought their impact wrenches, air chisels, and air grinders, and all are still functioning from occasional use.

If a tool is going to see hard use, I usually buy brand names, but I have bought a tool for a specific job, and figured it into the cost of the job, had it pay for itself, then last long past the job's end.

Definitely stay away from the welders and plasma cutters.



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Any way to tell from a brand name which of the tools in Harbor Freight are quality?

Chicago Electric - obviously crap. Is this a Harbor Freight brand?

What about Central Machinery? There are a lot of these machines in their catalogs, but I know nothing about them.

Harbor Freight also sells the occasional Dewalt, so I know they sell some good stuff.

Which brands are the crappy Harbor Freight brands? I want to make sure I don't mistakenly get them unless my boat is in need of a new anchor.

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their hand tools and air tools worked okay for me, but their electric tools were all unsuitable for regular use.

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got an angle grinder from them that i needed for one purpose. for $20 I expected it to die in 24 hours. still got it a year later and have gone thru quite a few metal cutting wheels.

but i would believe that HF is a tool junk store. since this is a welding group I'd advise you inspect the welds on the products they sell and compare them to yours. if you'd want quality, you ask what the top brand is, then go to the source yourself. never seen a miller/ hobart/lincoln welder there, or SK hand tools.

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Not all Chicago Electric is crap. Its an item by item issue. Some of it is surprisingly good.

HF buys carloads..hell...shiploads of various items from various manufactures, all of whom put the labels of the HF house brands on them. Just as Grizzely, Busy Bee (Canada) and other discount tool places put their own brands on the same tools from the same manufactures.

Some of the items are surprisingly good values. Some are cheap crap. Most however..are of some value. The HF buyers have gotten pretty good at supplying decent or semi-decent tools to put their house brand lables on.

You will have to be both discriminating in what you buy..hands on inspection..and ask questions on Usenet from those who have purchased the items in question.

HF has some suprisingly damned good deals on tools of decent quality.


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Hobart, yes indeed.

However..you will not find SK/Lincoln/SnapOn prices either..

The average homeowner can buy a set of say..1/2" drive sockets from HF that will last him likely the rest of his life in normal use. Not for those that make their living everyday with sockets such as a truck mechanic.

I find HF to be for the most part..a damned good source for lowerer end tools that I dont want to spend mega bucks on, because I dont need them every day, day in day out.

On the other hand..Sears.Craftsman tools aint all that great anymore either for twice the price. And frankly..Ive purchased HF tools that were the same ones I inspected at Sears, with a different badge. Perfect example..0-1" mechanical digital micrometer. HF=$35. Sears= $119. Same box, same manual, same everything..different badging.


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On one end of the tool spectrum, I have Hilti, Milwaukee, Snap-On tools and on the other end, Harbor Freight and Craftsman power tools. For price to performance ratio, HF just can't be beat. Some of the HF tools are good you just have to know which one. You have 30 days to decide if you want to keep it or get your money back plus you could buy an extended warranty. The only electrical item I had return was the plastic welder. I don't use tools like a contractor but I use it much harder than the average homeowner - I rehab houses.

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** Frank **

From what I have seen you get what you pay for there and you can get a good deal on quality and junk. For example last timeI was in one I was lokking at milling tables and they had 2 of comparable size but one cost about four X the other. Guess which was junk.


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Jimmie D

That's what I'm afraid of. There is a Harbor Freight store in town, but they don't have all the sales that show up in the catalog. If I buy something that turns to crap from the store, I can carry it back to them for a refund or exchange. It is a lot more of a hassle if you buy it from their catalog. Maybe the store will give a refund for things purchased in the catalog, or maybe they won't. I've never tried.

So, HF, Grizzely, and Busy Bee are all about the same? I saw a buddy's Grizzely catalog some years ago, but I was under the impression that they had high quality stuff back then. Hmmm... Certainly something to keep in mind!

I've also noticed that the Sears Craftsman line lost its lifetime warranty just a short time after they started selling cheaper tools. It is a shame. It makes me wonder if their Die Hard batteries are going to crap also.

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Check sears website. The Craftsman hand tools are "Guaranteed Forever". Same old lifetime warranty, just not on the cheap stuff...

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Clif Holland

The local Harbor Freight store will honor the catalog ads and if you find something on sale online and print it out, they will honor that price also. If they have the same item on hand.

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I think a website that reviewed in depth Harbor Freight tools would be very popular.

One that would take a tool apart and show the internals...the good, the bad and the ugly.

One that would USE a tool and see if it would hold up to usage.

One that would determine if the metal was correctly hardened

I would visit it regularly...and I think others would too.


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Something precise like a milling machine, machine lathe or a sliding miter saw, you need to be careful with HF as the tolerance tends to be a little sloppy. But something with a chunk of iron, brute force type like a jack hammer, plate vibrator, hydraulic table, hydraulic pipe bender, the large

1/2" angle drill, which I have, are just fine. Just use my HF hydraulic table this afternoon to unload couple of 400 lb. boxes from my truck - what a life saver.
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** Frank **

I simply cannot seperate these "cheap" tools from their sources. If I were to buy a chinese tool...first I would know it was subpar, second, I've a picture in my mind of arming a Chicom soldier with my purchase money.

How far America has sunk !! I realize again....how FAR !

I'm of the view that I'll just wait to have the money to buy a few really good American tools that will last a lifetime of hard use, rather than buy mounds of crapola.

When you buy something....you're VOTING for more than just a product anymore. You're voting for a whole culture, a country... That's just the way it is....

Just look at the MASSES of Chinese goods we've got here now. I marvel at how busy they are...I'll give them that. But doesn't it strike you....they don't care ! They don't understand "quality". One questions whether Americans do anymore....but we used to. I'm just old enough to remember when we did.

When did we fall for the MASS mentality. Being American used to mean owning a few good neccesary things that lasted a lifetime...no crap....no extras....heck to hoard things used to be a sign of the effete.

John Wayne...riding across the American West with everything he owned on his horse...that's the ideal...THAT'S freedom....that's American.

Oh a Chinese tool may have infiltrated my tool box but I say say hell no to non-American goods !!!

Who's with me !!!????

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No one is. I am old enough to have heard this same speech when it was Made in Japan, now, no one will even believe that this was once true. Manufacturing rolls down hill. Cost trumps _everything_ else. Sorry...

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"It looks dangerous. You better go first."

EyeGore in Young Frankenstein

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Politics aside, you are making a fundamental error when you discuss Chinese made items. The Chinese are making items that sell. That is their only objective. When the quality of the goods that they produce is such that sales fall off then they will make a better quality item but right now the cheap and shoddy stuff is selling like hot cakes.

Look at Harbor Freight and the tons of low quality, low price, equipment that they sell, and don't fool yourself, they are selling. If the buying public stopped buying from Harbor Freight due to low quality then I guarantee that the Chinese would immediately increase quality to the point that the volume of sales returned to present levels.

A couple of examples:

A good friend does fiberglass repairs on yachts. A vendor offered him some Chinese made glass cloth. My friend suggested that the vendor send him a miter or two so he could assess the quality. When the sample arrived it was hideous so my fiend sent it back along with a sample of US made cloth. The vendor sent all this back to China whereupon the Chinese factory improved the quality of their glass cloth, or at least the quality of the cloth that they offered to their Thailand customers.

The Chinese make literally thousands of a copy of a Japanese single cylinder diesel engine used for everything from welding machine to water pumps to garden tractors. The Thais even build small trucks that are power them with these engines. They are a bit rough in finish by more importantly the sell for about half the price of a Japanese made engine and they last about as long. So they sell. When the day comes that they don't sell then the Chinese will change the design.

In short, the Chinese are doing just what any business does. Make a product that the market will buy. If the market stops buying you will see an immediate change in the product.

Bruce in Bangkok (brucepaigeatgmaildotcom)

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(the sound of your comments, attitudes, political position, and opinion going over an unoccupied air space of an individual who doesn't give a shit)

We already have a far more dangerous, immediate, and pervasive fungus at our feet with aliens in the United States. And yet there is little concern or outrage.

When 40% of the population of my home country is speaking Chinese, I will be concerned.

Right now, I'm concerned about the cancer that has consumed The United States of America up to its knees. And the likes of Reid, Pelosi, Clinton, et al are unconcerned.

Stock up on ammo, folks. It will soon be the currency of the day.

Have a nice day.


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