View Full Version : harbor freight power tools

02-05-2002, 07:32 AM
I am looking at a 1/2 hp mill drill from Harbor Freight. I would be really interested in anyone who has experience with HF tools. thanks

02-05-2002, 07:59 PM
I'd look at Jet first, myself.

02-05-2002, 08:52 PM
For what its worth, having gone to our local HF once or twice, I am NOT impressed.

I think they are a third-world type supplier, with little knowlege of what they sell in machinery. It has been described as a "me-too" machinery place, and I guess I would agree. They have wrenches and other such, and "oh yeah, we have lathes and mills too, over there".

If you get a good one it probably ins't their fault!

My .02 from looking at their operation and machines in stock.

02-08-2002, 09:54 AM
Mostly flea market quality tools..........

02-08-2002, 11:37 AM
I went to harbor freight only once, and I bought a Chicago Pneumatic die grinder..Good tool...but CP is a good name brand..That is the only experience i have had...


Dave the Nave
02-08-2002, 05:07 PM
I don't think I would go as far as buying batteries from Harbor Fright.

02-08-2002, 08:11 PM
I have a HF here local. What I've found is the more moving parts the more likely you are to have trouble. My big 5 ft pry bar is great, 10" linemans pliers very good, 18 volt drill not so good. I'd keep looking for a mill.

02-12-2002, 10:07 AM
I just got a metal cutting bandsaw that was on sale for $139. I'm very impressed at what you get for $139. Only time will tell. I have had lots of trouble with customer service and delivery times in the past. Generally speaking, I would stay away from their power tools. I sometimes buy cheap hand tools from them (the kind of thing you only use once a year or so). Good luck

Dave the Nave
02-12-2002, 01:01 PM
I think the best thing I can remember buying at Harbor Fright was sand, for sand blasting.What could possibly go wrong with sand?

paul j smeltzer
02-13-2002, 12:44 AM
about 2 1/2 years ago i built a 10' steel table, had the top blanchart ground, then mounted 4 harbor freight mill drill machines to the top,(like a gang drill press set up) after removing the xy tables. they have been used 5 days a week since in production on investment cast stainless steel with very few rejects. Now the disclamer the operations are drill, bore, and ream the parts are held in fixtures, using bushings for drilling and reaming all with flood coolant.

02-14-2002, 12:40 PM
I have helped two persons buy mills and lathes from HF. I have helped more decide not to buy. Look especially at the calibrated dials, most are marked in inches and MM. I took a 2" dial indicator and moved the tools. In most cases the buyer wanted easy to set up dials, and reasonably accurate. The Practical guys (the ones who purchased) decided they would buy dial indicators for all movements.

We took a magnet and hunted for plastic or pot metal parts that loked like iron. Found a few. Found them on acme screws moving slides and tables. We also looked a bearings
so far as i know, ball bearing, roller bearings are standard the world over. the quality may vary but the sizes are standard.

Bushing bearing are fairly easy to make if a new one is needed. But some HF items use no bearings- just moving part on its holder. when it wears out you will/may have big problems. i advise looking at Tiawan electic motors as items to be replaced. Take nothing except motors made to standard frame sizes. Check to see that relays are replaceable, and switches are standard types.

Dove tails are another weak place- i prefer a dove tail wide nuff to lift straight up and off when the gigs are removed. this means the gib stock is THICK. and be sure there are plenty of adjustment screws under the gibs. I helped tighten specs on one by drilling and tapping a bunch of new allen head (socket head) 1/4 screws to support the carriage along its travel.

In summary, approach all tools, especially imports, with the idea that you will modify the tool as needed, that parts will not be availalbe when the parts wear out. Be sure you can adjust the machine (centers etc) as wear occurs. Basicaly, buy no import from a catalog- eye ball it, measure it. And remember, the same part numbers do not mean the parts are the same. Look for handles that unscrew when you turn the wheels. We hav a local HF here and they have been good about returns. just keep the paper work AND the boxes in good shape. I, in all honesty, believe there are some good bargins in the imports, but if you have to ask if imports are a safe buy then you dont really know enough to buy an import for long term use. Its like gambling- if you can afford to lose dont try it.

George Hodge
02-17-2002, 09:53 PM
Just bought our daughter a 14" HF bandsaw,at a yard sale,for $40.00. Reason it was cheap,the assembler didn't know what he was doing.Base was 180deg.backwards,switch was on the back side.Blade bearings were never adjusted. I disasembled it and rebuilt it.Works great now.It's a poor copy of my Delta! I think it still had the original blade.

02-26-2002, 12:29 AM
I have several drills and saws. They work great!

03-03-2002, 10:29 PM
There is a HF store in town where I can go look at the stuff. I decided to try Grizzly for the mill drill. Playing with the one at the HF store and then mine at home, I decided right. Fit and finish is better with Grizzly.

Of course it doesnt matter much as I took it apart and I am remachining it to use a cnc kit....Will let you know how it works out.

I did use it some prior to disassembly. It cuts steel "ok" and alum fine. Get a good vice, you will also have a machine the nuts to fit from a 1/2" clamp kit. The t slots are small.

Think of it as a preassmbled kit to build a mill.

R S Nelson
03-04-2002, 01:31 PM
I have purchased a number of tools from MF, ranging from a 14" wood band-saw, a 7" jointer, through a 4 1/2" hand grinder, to a variety of hand tools. Quality has varied quite a bit, but everything to date has been usable.

However, when I visited the Grizzly showroom I realized that their jointer was the same price and of much better finish. Their 14" band saw only had one speed, while mine has four - - but the quality was better. Overall, I'd recommend a firm that is willing to guarantee quality.

Yet, my new surface grinder was $869, and the magnetic vise $100; while the Grizzly tool was nearly $1,600. That's quite a difference, and the HF grinder looks very good. (Too soon to tell.) I had the $1,000 and that made my decision for me. Hope I was right.

03-04-2002, 11:02 PM
You should have bought the Taft-Pierce High Precision Toolroom grinder that was on eBay (may still be). Built like a brick outhouse - severe overkill, repeatability from heaven - or, in short - a STEAL.

R S Nelson
04-02-2002, 01:09 PM
I recently bought a surface grinder from Harbor Freight, after agonizing about whether to get this machine or the one advertised by Grizzly. It came a short while ago, and looks fine.
I called Grizzly to order their copy of a manual, since the one with the HF machine was so lousy. For $5 I bought the Grizzly manual and found it was the IDENTICAL manual, other than the cover. I mean printed letterpress from the same, horrible hand set formes of miss-aligned type. Since the photos are the same, I have concluded that both machines came from the same source.
Grizzly machine $1,400
Harbour Freight $ 899

Magnetic vise
Grizzly $200
Harbour Freight 100

Total: Grizzly $1,600
HF 999
Difference = $601 for same
machine (as far as I can tell)

I bought the manual for the EMCO, Compac 8 as I was curious about the lathe. Compared it to my manual for the ENCO 9"x20" Taiwanese late ($1,200 in 1991) and found the photos and the text were identical. Now I know where the design for my lathe came from. Is it as good as the EMCO? Probably not, but the EMCO cost $3,000 (if I remember correctly) and the Jet 9x20 lathe was around $2,000 back then. It was very similar.