Harbor Freight Good/Junk list

Post things in here about things you've used, and have good, bad or whatever experience with.
In the title, include, The item, and a general rating
For example...
Title: Fiskars Axe. Greatest axe in the universe!
Description: Cost me 40$, and its amazing!...BLAH BLAH BLAH..a replacement right away."
Then people can discuss below...

Harbor Freight Good/Junk list

Postby LithiumFlame » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:10 am

I recently came across HF, or as I like to call it, the poor man's emporium. I visited a store in person once, but make most of my orders from the store online. There is a few "lists of good tools at HF" (see harbor freight jems - http://woodworkerszone.com/wiki/index.php?title=Harbor_Freight_Gems, but I thought we could share our own personal experiences with the gear we tried.

I'll start:


Scale of 1-5: 3.5
Pros: Cheap, cheap, and dare i say, cheap!
Good for most wood duty, average on plastics and metals.

Cons: It bogs down very easily if the feed rate of the drill is is not gentle and well in control when cutting harder/thicker stock.
There is a small amount of slop in the chuck assembly. It mostly effects the smaller sized drill bits. I will eventually tear it down and try to fix this slop.
Noisy! It has a slight 'rattle' to the sound. May need to be greased.

For most light duty use, it works very well. I have stress tested it with 1/2 inch steel stock and a 3/4 inch drill bit and it worked, although it took a couple of minutes to drill through. It is great with wood stock. Plastics tend to melt and seize on the drill bit, but adjusting the speed solves that issue. All in all, A good buy if you want to save some money. If I was to buy a drill press again, I would likely buy something a little more powerful. So far it has served me well.
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Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 8:18 pm

Re: Harbor Freight Good/Junk list

Postby Quasirobo » Tue Jun 07, 2011 3:28 am

Horizontal/Vertical Metal cutting Band saw:


Must say, I've been pretty pleased with it lately, though there was no mistaking it for quality straight out of the box! It was on sale for $229.00 + tax. It's a huge step up from the $119 Skil from Lowe's! Twice the price, but well over twice the performance. That darn thing couldn't cut straight to save it's life, and it's puny on-board breaker popped even cutting thin material slowly.

The problems first:

The milled surfaces of the the horizontal surface and it's clamps were fairly atrocious. After taking the clamping assembly apart, I removed all of the red waxy grease (it has a name...) with some WD-40, then I filed on it with a large bastard mill file until it was right, and put it back together. Took about 45 minutes all told. Now it holds much better.

The add-on table for use with the saw in the vertical position is made of cheap stamped steel. Mine was a bit warped right out of the box. It's angle is not adjustable, and when the rest of the saw is aligned correctly it's a bit out of square with the blade. It's worked well enough for most stuff, though there's a bit too much sanding involved when I need a really good fit. I'm looking into making a new one out of 1/4" aluminum, maybe with an adjustable angle.

One other small problem is that the way the wheels are mounted. It rolls when it shouldn't. Haven't fixed that yet, though I should. It's probably not safe to chase your band saw around the shop while it's running. A little bending of the wheel bracket will probably do the trick, but for now I just use a chock block.

Last thing, it is a bit of a power hog! Can't have much else plugged into my 20 Amp circuit while I'm using it, or I make a lot of trips to the breaker box.

The good stuff:

Three speed settings, I use the middle one for most stuff, but it's great to have the selection for use with different materials.

Easy to adjust. At least, the parts that are adjustable. I changed out the blade cover screw with a thumbscrew, which also helped a bit.

Horizontal cutting is great for the lazy among us, though you gotta make sure you don't kill your blade! There's an adjustable spring that helps with that. Also, I just learned that how you situate the material you're cutting makes a big difference. For example, when cutting angle, clamp it with the corner up.

Apart from the legs, pretty sturdy construction.

And it's cheap! Kind of.

Overall, I gotta say that it's a got potential, just takes a bit of work to dial it in. For less precision stuff, it's probably fine how it is once you clean it up.
Last edited by Quasirobo on Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:40 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Location: Austin, TX!!

Re: Harbor Freight Good/Junk list

Postby stashvault » Tue Jun 07, 2011 7:01 am

Hearing protection (Ear plugs and ear muff/headsets)

I've had very good experiences with cheap hearing protection from Harbor Freight, both ear plugs and ear muff style. I've had a couple instances where we needed to get hearing protection for group of individuals, and we were able to do it for $15-$20. Bag full of earplugs and a few really inexpensive ear muff sets filled our needs.

Pros: Cheap, available in bulk, protects your ears

Cons: The cheap headsets would likely fall apart if you wore them day in and day out, but for occasional use they're good to have around.

Cool idea for a thread. I don't have a lot of tools from Harbor Freight, because I'm always unsure of their quality.
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Joined: Tue May 31, 2011 6:40 am
Location: Boulder, CO

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