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View Full Version : Bummer...I am finally going to Harbor Freight!



NJ Plowman
03-17-2006, 04:27 PM
Well, due to a lack of snow this year in New Jersey, it looks like I will be taking a trip down to the Harbor freight store at the Jersey Shore tomorrow with my girl and we will be making a day of it.

I am a Sears Craftsman/MAC Tools kind of guy myself, but this was such a bad Winter for me (no snow = no money!) I finally hit rock bottom and need so many little things around the shop that it looks like I am now going to be an HF shopper. I feel so degraded. I will probably pick up one of their auto-darkening welding helmets, a 14" chop saw, two 4 1/2" grinders, a car battery tester, about a dozen air tools, and most likely alot of other little stuff. I just don't have the money to buy all of that in Sears so it looks like HF will have to do.

I feel like I am selling out to the Chinese! I have never felt like a traitor before, but broke is broke and I don't know what else to do. I figure it will be a 90 minute trip each way so me and my girl are going to make a day trip out of it and stop along the Jersey Shore and hit the Boardwalk on the way home. Maybe if I can get her into the mood, we might get a room (they are cheap along the shore at this time of the year) with a hot tub and I might get a little tomorrow night! If I get lucky, next week when I throw out all the junk I am going to buy tomorrow (if it even lasts that long!), I will remember that the trip wasn't a total waste!

What do you guys think? Am I going to waste a ton of money on JUNK? Is any of what I am thinking of buying any good? Any help would be greatly appreciated...

steve45
03-18-2006, 12:47 AM
I used to feel the same way a couple of years ago. Some HF stuff is junk, some is a pretty good bargain.

Keep in mind that if you have a computer, which you apparently do, you've already sold out to the Chinese.

You might read the thread 'HF Tools That Don't Suck'.

TxRedneck
03-18-2006, 01:14 AM
my computer was built here with homemade parts:gunsfirin :gunsfirin :rolleyes:

steve45
03-18-2006, 11:39 AM
my computer was built here with homemade parts:gunsfirin :gunsfirin :rolleyes:

Don't look inside! Even if you have a Dell (my sympathy if you do), that is headquartered in Texas, the motherboard, hard drives, disk drives, cables, power supplies, etc. are all made in China.

fbrown3
03-19-2006, 06:38 AM
Don't get the cheap 4 1/2" grinders they are junk spend a little more and get the better ones. The same goes for the chop saws.

76GMC1500
03-20-2006, 05:29 AM
Don't think you have to buy new tools. I have been Ebaying a lot of my tools. If you search under the lesser known brands you will find some good deals. There are a lot of tools out there that rival even Snap-On for quality. For example, S-K makes an excellent combo wrench. Brown and Sharpe makes measuring tools that I feel are of better quality than Starret but can be had for much less. Smith welding kits are of better quality than Victor, but can be Ebayed for much less. Greenfield makes the best taps and dies and antique kits can be had for cheap. I have personally bought a tap and die set that retails for over $700 in Grainger for $50. It was the same set, but it was about 40 years old. If you need pliers, Snap-On actually buys theirs from Knipex. Buy Knipex instead and you will get the same plier for half the price. You can buy an old timey South Bend lathe that will last you a lifetime for half the price of a new lathe from Harbor Freight. There is a used Milwaukee long trigger 4.5" grinder on ebay right now for $10. The tools are rebuildable even if the one you get is junk.

Don't think you have to buy from the same brand everybody else does and don't think you have to buy new, good tools last a lifetime so a used one is just as good as a new one.

smithboy
03-20-2006, 08:22 AM
Amen, brother GMC!!!
I do the ebay thing also. I go to yard sales for bunches of stuff too. Ive gotten buckets full of old tools for almost nothing sometimes. I bought a set 16 wrenches ranging from 1" to 2"+ for tractor work for $20 (I think they are s-k). Got an 18v dewalt drill set for $5 that just needed new batteries. I have bought entire tool boxes full of craftsman wrenches for $20. They are not all like that, but some are and when they are, it's like Christmas.

76GMC1500
03-20-2006, 02:46 PM
That S-K wrench set probably would have cost over $500 new.

smithboy
03-20-2006, 03:07 PM
all but the smallest one is as long as a baseball bat. For entertainment purposes, I used let my kid carry one to baseball games for his team to warm up with. It was hilarious watching a bunch of kids swinging a huge wrench right before batting. Freaked the opposing pitchers out.

Apparently there are now approved warm up devices, because I was told not to use the wrench anymore. I wish I had gotten video to share.

steve45
03-20-2006, 07:49 PM
I'm going to Harbor Freight tomorrow. YIPPEE!

NJ Plowman
03-21-2006, 03:29 PM
Here in New Jersey they are having a big, semi-annual flea market at Raceway Park Drag Strip in Englishtown in April. You guys are right, last year at the flea market I bought Snap On combination wrenches for $2 each. I must have grabbed 30 of them all the way up to 2". There was an abundance of older but excellent quality tools for cheap. I don't like Ebay too much, to many scams on there for me but the used tool market is often overlooked by alot of us. I did get down to Harbor Freight and managed to spend $300 over the weekend but I am not really happy with the quality of any of the tools I bought. I will end up using them mainly as back-up tools. I might start saving for April at Englishtown and go crazy there, I think used name brand stuff is better than the Harbor Freight junk that I bought. The nearest harbor freight from me is about a 2 hour drive, now I found out that they are supposed to be building one about 15 minutes from me...oh the TEMPTATION to buy junk...

76GMC1500
03-21-2006, 08:26 PM
I just bought a set of Blue-Line combo wrenches on Ebay for $31 + $15 for shipping. I didn't want to add that one into my list of good deals until after I won the auction because I couldn't afford a bidding war. Not many of you have ever heard of Blue-Line and that is why you can get their stuff for cheap. They make an excellent wrench and have a nice fat head on the open end that keeps the jaws from spreading under load.

smithboy
03-21-2006, 11:05 PM
There used to be a guy at collinsville flea market in north alabama that sold broken craftsman wrenches and hand tools of different types (sockets, etc). He always had several folks picking out broken tools and handing over cash...When I was but a wee lad, I used to wonder...why would anybody??? One day, an ephiphany hit me (or, maybe it was just brought on by the smell of bbq flavored pork rinds)...they are guaranteed for LIFE!!! Not to admit to too much here...I will just say, I like good buys on craftsman hand tools.

BTW, I heard sears started grinding up their broken tools, because folks were going into the dumpster behind the stores and retrieving the day's warrantee exchanges and re-exchanging them later on.

NJ Plowman
03-22-2006, 10:27 AM
Smithboy,

That might now backfire on you. I returned a broken Craftsman 3/8 ratchet the other day to my local Sears (Hackensack, NJ) and they gave me a used, piece of junk!

I keep my tools in pristine condition. I have two complete top and bottom boxes filled with Craftsmen tools. I returned a ratchet that had a broken mechanism and figured I would just exchange it for a new one, but to my surprise my Sears now gives you used, but rebuilt ratchets when you bring in a broken one. I had an argument with the tool manager because I handed in a nice, shiny, new looking (but had a broken mechanism) ratchet and they gave me an old, rusted, piece of junk that was rebuilt (or so he says was rebuilt). I threw out better looking tools than what they gave me! I had no choice but to take it, but I am going to call Sears and try and get their return policy in writing to see if the manager was pulling a fast one on me.

Has anyone else had this problem? Does anyone know where I could get the craftsman Hand Tool Exchange policy? Do I have to take rusted pieces of junk back for an exchange?

smithboy
03-22-2006, 10:43 AM
http://www.sears.com/sr/framework/home.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@2001488120.1143038348@@@ @&BV_EngineID=ccffaddhfmemmfhcegecegjdghldghf.0&targetPage=%2fmisc%2fsears%2fcustserv%2fcustserv_w arranty_email.jsp&vertical=SEARS

Here is a link to their warrantee information request page. Good luck...post the results, cause this may affect the way a lot of us look at sears.

Rojodiablo
03-22-2006, 11:51 PM
I'd say PASS on the cheap auto darkening welding helmet. I tried one.... 130A tig, looked like 5 amps. I mean.... hands on fire hot, and no visual. And the adjustment did not work well. The grinders, cutoff wheels, etc. are a good value. And, when you need to get a tool absolutely filthy, a $30 grinder, or cheapo sawzall for the sacrifice is worth it. I do some work in sewage repair.... I throw away lots of tools. I will be damned if I am putting a Snap-on anything into raw sewage. I charge for the tool, and dispose of it with the job. If it takes 10, I charge for the 10. I don't feel bad about dealing with the Chinese....2 reasons. #1. I have a Mexican Ford. Assembled here, improperly I might add, but made in Mexico.#2. Chinese help keep the cat/ dog population down. They don't eat as much dog as the Koreans, but I like to think they will knock off a few strays for Thanksgiving!

NJ Plowman
03-24-2006, 12:33 AM
Now that's funny!:laugh:

76GMC1500
03-24-2006, 05:53 AM
I've been to Korea. They did have dog there, but I didn't think to try it. I was already weirded out enough by their regular food.

smithboy
03-24-2006, 08:34 AM
Hey guys, meat is meat...My dad is a cattleman, but I have had lots of different stuff...and, when it's done right...it's generally good. I have a friend that's a survivalist...he has made a dish out of pretty much everything that walks or crawls on this continent...I just wonder how hungry the first person who tried lobster was...

NJ Plowman
03-24-2006, 10:55 AM
smithboy,

Now thats interesting. How about Escargot? Who would have figured that a bunch of rich folks would be at a 5-Star restaurant eating slimy snails?

wello
05-31-2006, 06:41 AM
I just bought a set of Blue-Line combo wrenches on Ebay for $31 + $15 for shipping. I didn't want to add that one into my list of good deals until after I won the auction because I couldn't afford a bidding war. Not many of you have ever heard of Blue-Line and that is why you can get their stuff for cheap. They make an excellent wrench and have a nice fat head on the open end that keeps the jaws from spreading under load.
isn't blue line snap on's cheaper range opps my wrong I was thinking blue point

I have brought some good cheap tools on ebay as well the only part thats a killer is shipping here to oz I brought a snap on 1/2" drive rattle gun cost 150 worked out 300 cheaper than buying it here in oz and some craftmans tools aswell as there hard to get here

gnm109
05-31-2006, 10:19 AM
Well, due to a lack of snow this year in New Jersey, it looks like I will be taking a trip down to the Harbor freight store at the Jersey Shore tomorrow with my girl and we will be making a day of it.

I am a Sears Craftsman/MAC Tools kind of guy myself, but this was such a bad Winter for me (no snow = no money!) I finally hit rock bottom and need so many little things around the shop that it looks like I am now going to be an HF shopper. I feel so degraded. I will probably pick up one of their auto-darkening welding helmets, a 14" chop saw, two 4 1/2" grinders, a car battery tester, about a dozen air tools, and most likely alot of other little stuff. I just don't have the money to buy all of that in Sears so it looks like HF will have to do.

I feel like I am selling out to the Chinese! I have never felt like a traitor before, but broke is broke and I don't know what else to do. I figure it will be a 90 minute trip each way so me and my girl are going to make a day trip out of it and stop along the Jersey Shore and hit the Boardwalk on the way home. Maybe if I can get her into the mood, we might get a room (they are cheap along the shore at this time of the year) with a hot tub and I might get a little tomorrow night! If I get lucky, next week when I throw out all the junk I am going to buy tomorrow (if it even lasts that long!), I will remember that the trip wasn't a total waste!

What do you guys think? Am I going to waste a ton of money on JUNK? Is any of what I am thinking of buying any good? Any help would be greatly appreciated...

Why go to Harbor Freight for your Chinese items. What's wrong with Wal-Mart, Target and Sears?

Actually, some of the Harbor Freight "Junk" as you call it, is pretty good. I have a Mill Drill that I bought ten years ago that works perfectly for those small jobs to support my motorcycle habit. For my model railroading habit, I got one of their $39.95 table model drill presses to sit on my modeling bench. It works great. Also, their Chinese saw blades seem to work pretty well on my old USA made table saw.

I also have some chipping hammers that I use for stick welding. I can assure you that the slag doesn't know that the hammers were made in the Orient.

Also, if you need a box of roll pins, cotter pins or grease fittings, try getting those at some "American" Store for less than an arm and a leg.

Oh, yeah and it's so easy buying things from the MAC man or the Snap-On guy , isn't it? Ha.

BTW, if you find any US - made tools other than MAC and Snap-on or perhaps some of the Craftsman line, let us know.

:rolleyes:

gnm109
05-31-2006, 10:25 AM
my computer was built here with homemade parts:gunsfirin :gunsfirin :rolleyes:


It's probably got some Asian pieces in it, though, does it not? I haven't seen too many American subassemblies in computers. The one that I'm writing to you on was built from Fry's parts about 5 years ago. All Asian. :)

steve45
05-31-2006, 11:31 PM
BTW, if you find any US - made tools other than MAC and Snap-on or perhaps some of the Craftsman line, let us know.

:rolleyes:

Let's see, how 'bout Proto, Bonney, Lisle, Klein, K-D...

76GMC1500
06-06-2006, 02:29 AM
Ampco is an American tool line. If you think Snap-On is expensive, you should see what an Ampco tool costs. They are expensive for a reason, though.

MicroZone
06-06-2006, 02:41 AM
I think the Chicago Electric stuff from HF is decent. Are their motors or housing made in china ?

wizard
06-06-2006, 10:19 AM
Surprisingly there are a lot of good American made tools still available. It is the result of the importers specfically going for the lowest price point possible, so you get what you pay for.

As to SEARS well they are now owned by KMART and that should scare most reasonable people off right there. Even before that take over thought Sears tools where on a fast down hill slide, I would not get to excited about shopping there anymore for tools. The reality is that if you shop around you can find imported tools that are better than what Sears is offering now.

As to inexpensive tools I still think the best approach is the used market, especially estate sales and auctions. If you are carefull excellent deals are to be had at estate sales. Remember the people running these sales have to get rid of everything in a day or two. Of course the good deals go early but I've picked up stuff at the end of the sales amazingly cheap, in the strangest houses to. One house owned by a widow had little if anything in the way of tools except for one very nice Irwin auger bit. Hit another house once very late in the sale and came up with a huge basket of stuff from the 'shop', for 50 cents I got hardware, a couple of plumb hammer heads rawhide heads and misc. wrenches. Then there are the power tools and stuff if you arrive early.

As to Harbor Frieght well you can call it wasting money if you want, but I do think there are opportunites there for good servicable tools. Atleast locally they carry a wide range of tools including some that are made right here in the USA and beat just about everybodies prices. On top of that they have a wide range of imported tools some better than others. I don't dismiss them completely as a supplier of tools, it is just a matter of being aware of what is junk there and what isn't. Further for some jobs you really don't want to use your good tools anyways.

Personnally I'd not spend money on tools unless I needed them for specfic usages and then buy quality if going new. If you buy on a "as needed basis" then I think you will be much better off.

Dave