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Thread: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

  1. #1
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    Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    For the first time that I've noticed, this HF forum has little to no posts. This seems to reflect an improvement in HF quality.

    I first found this forum when I bought a $72 HF-90 110V AC 'EasyMig' to - I thought - broaden my capability beyond what I could do with my old 240V stick welder. This forum was full of posts: "How do I make this HF-90 do what I bought it for?" It turned out HF had sold a batch with unusable flux core wire and there were dozens of these welders on Ebay that were clearly customer returns or frustrated new users. 'As new including original box ...' I bought better wire and put mine to use, but found that with two-position claimed 80 and 90 amp output choices only, its capability was limited to a very narrow range. This wasn't really an improvement over my stick welder. I later bought a better 110v welder (Century) and got rid of the HF. The Century did perform as I had hoped the HF could do.

    The rest of the posts in here were hobbyists who were experimenting with modifying various HF welders of the blue era to improve them.

    Starting with the black models about 5 years ago, the number of dis-satisfied owners declined to very few. Now with the new Vulcan series, the posts when there are any, explain what the new welders will do instead of describing complaints. This is a day/night difference from the old days.

    I think HF is on the way to replacing Craftsman in the less expensive end of the market for reasonable quality tools.
    HF MIG-180 with all the mods.
    Grizzly H8153 Stick/Tig Pulse 130/160.
    Wards PowrKraft AC-230. Stick & carbon arc.

  2. #2
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I doubt that HF's quality has improved. It's most likely that intelligent people have simply stopped buying there. Which reminds me that I still need to take back the last POS that I bought there.

  3. #3
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    Bah. Sorry about the typo in the thread title.

    Did you read what I wrote, or just the title? It looks to me that HF has set out to take over the Craftsman segment of the market with their new brands.
    HF MIG-180 with all the mods.
    Grizzly H8153 Stick/Tig Pulse 130/160.
    Wards PowrKraft AC-230. Stick & carbon arc.

  4. #4
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    In my opinion, the welders have gotten better.

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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    i don't know HF but from what i've seen around it seams like they have brought out better welders.
    not sure if thats due to manufactures price coming down, or the influence of social media. its easy for people to check out comments before buying. so there is simply less brain dead idiots to sell useless crap to.

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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I too noticed the posts dropped. I don't shop there much myself anymore, if at all. I'd almost say I avoid the place now. If the price is close to what it is somewhere else, I just buy it somewhere else is what I should say.

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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    Quote Originally Posted by California View Post
    Bah. Sorry about the typo in the thread title.

    Did you read what I wrote, or just the title? It looks to me that HF has set out to take over the Craftsman segment of the market with their new brands.
    I have to say that the HF hand tools actually are pretty good. Probably just as good as the old Craftsman tools. But I doubt that HF is going to be able to take over the Craftsman segment of the market because today they have competition from HD, Lowes, Amazon, Discount Auto Parts and GOD knows how many other cheap but reasonably decent, tool retailers. In it's day, Craftsman was only competing against the insanely expensive tools from Blue Point, New Britain, Snap On and a few others and the trash tools from Globe Master, JM Fields and the like.

  9. #8
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I only shop there in emergencies, and at that point I need what I need even if it isn’t great quality.
    I have a deep metric impact socket set I bought there years ago and haven’t broken any yet!
    2 Hobart MIG welders, 1 on the gas 1 flux core
    HTP Invertig 221 DV
    Eastwood TIG200
    HTP MIG 2400

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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I actually agree with the OP. HF HAS take the spot from Craftsman. They have decent hand tools for a reasonable price , no hassle return of broken tools, stores are getting to be everywhere. Whats not to like other than they are foreign made. I have several of their hand tools and I really can not complain about them. I have a lot of old craftsman stuff too and the HF stuff is on par with it and better than a lot of the newer Craftsman tools I have purchased. I have 3 HF extended handle 1/2" ratchets and have yet to break one. In the past I have broken extended handle ratchets from Proto,Craftsman, Allen and Stanly. On top of that all these brands have stop producing extended handle 1/2" ratchets. I wonder why? Not!

  11. #10
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    Here is an example of their drill bits.


    notice rounded point...might be okay for aluminum screw, but not okay for steel

    Name:  P1020432.JPG
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    Charl

  12. #11
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    Yeah, some of their stuff there is still junk, but some of it is useful.

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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I think it’s become more of a mixed bag, there are still, as evidence shows - cheap disposable, use a few times- tools.

    If you look into some of their “separated” brands however you can find some good stuff. Brand names excluded from their 20/25% off coupons stand a better chance of being of higher quality.

    There are some items there that are undoubtedly the same thing, from the same factory that everyone else is selling. Sometimes they don’t even re-name or relabel it, because they are so generic and ubiquitous. Might as well get those items at the cheapest price.

    Cordless power tools- I have nothing to say about. Supposedly their quality is getting better at HF. I’m just not a fan of cordless power tools in general, and haven’t bought one in several years.. inevitably most are underpowered, batteries take a long time to charge, they discharge quickly, and then the batteries die after so many cycles.. necessitating an expensive replacement.

    I bought a paddle-switched corded grinder from them a few weeks ago as a spare however, the thing is pretty darn nice. Draws 11A, plenty of torque, and operates smoothly. Eats metal just fine.

    I own two of the Vulcan welding machines, and per dollar I think they’re among the best deals out there. Longevity is yet to be determined, but they function wonderfully. I’ve got a 200A AC/DC Tig machine, and a 215A MIG/Flux Core machine both ready to rock out of the box, just add gas bottles- Both cost less than just 1 machine from the big three by the time you got it rigged and ready to weld.

    The air die grinder, and needle scaler I’ve got, I can’t find anything wrong with. Spent under $30 for the both of them.

    Drilled quite a few holes with their Titanium nitrided bits, haven’t had the need to sharpen one just yet.

    Their clamps work fine for light/medium duty, and are inexpensive.

    There’s lots of examples of good usable stuff, at good prices, and there’s lots of crap too. One need only look at the threads “HF tools that suck” and “HF tools that DONT suck” to see that.
    -Mark Smith

    Miller Bobcat 250
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  14. #13
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    Their cordless tools - at least the previous lines - are the one thing I have avoided. There must have been five different battery series, nothing interchangeable, all seemed cheap. I think most were NiCad (obsolete spec) until recently.

    So I've settled on Ryobi for one battery system across a wide variety of inexpensive tools that are fine for my use, which is mostly maintaining and repairing farm stuff.

    Based on others' comments, HF's new higher power battery tool series might be worth someone looking into - just not me, I have too much Ryobi stuff to switch now.
    HF MIG-180 with all the mods.
    Grizzly H8153 Stick/Tig Pulse 130/160.
    Wards PowrKraft AC-230. Stick & carbon arc.

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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I really don't shop there as the nearest store is about 40 miles distant. However my son purchased for me a couple of items for the past two father's days form there that are not too awful bad. The first thing was their 20" drill press. This thing is NOT a Walker-Turner, Rockwell or anything really that would pass for industrial. It weighs about 1/3 what a quality 20 drill press should weigh but it will bore a hole in steel. Cant's argue that. Would I purchase it given the service I've received from it? Probably not as it's difficult to change spindle speeds and has a very cheap chuck. It does have a #2MT spindle and came with the #2MT to JT3 spindle adapter.

    The second tool is a "Hercules" cordless impact. Now this is every bit as powerful as the DeWalt it replaced. The 18V NiCd battery packs were shot in the DeWalt so was needing replaced. My son purchased this last year and it works quite well. The tool itself with a 2.0Ah battery was $99.00 and he purchased an additional 5.0Ah battery for $29.99. I've driven hundreds of screws of all lengths and sizes including #9 construction screws framing walls by the dozens and the batteries last a good long time and do charge quickly. It is not a brushless tool and it does spark in the back so really wouldn't want to use it in a combustible vapors area. Overall I do like it. I purchased from Menard's a 3/8" socket set to use with this and it does very well there too.

    Only other things I've really purchased from there was about a hundred Vice-Grip pliers copies to use for clamping auto body panels for welding. Great in the application citing it really didn't matter if they go destroyed by welding. I found the steel in these to be just a bit tougher than lead sheet. Get a good grip on a frozen nut and the teeth readily mashed flat. Get a good pull going the the body folded after twisting. Not a good quality tool at all I'm afraid. Also purchased a roll of "Wisdom" branded sandpaper roll in 180 grit to polish a shaft one time. This stuff was absolute garbage and when it touched steel the abrasive seemed to fall off the paper backing readily. Another not so good product. Think I purchased so air fittings there too but cannot remember for sure.
    Slob

    Purveyor of intimate unparalleled knowledge of nothing about everything.

    Oh yeah, also an unabashed internet "Troll" too.....

  16. #15
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    Bought a few things at HF, and these are my "every time I go" purchase. Can never have enough, and they work perfectly fine. I do, however, remove the threaded bolt, and lube it up.

    https://www.harborfreight.com/11-inc...ers-39535.html

    Step bits work relatively well, for a while, while 1/4" metal burrs don't work at all, unless you're using them on cheese or soap or something that doesn't break the burrs off.

    Their sockets and ratchets aren't bad either.

    I bought a drill press at lowes, full standing unit. It works, but the accuracy, or should I say the preciseness of the chuck staying straight while drilling is awful. The lateral play of the unit is terrible, but again, for regular boring a hole in something, I guess it suffices.
    T man.


    15 + years working for myself, and by golly, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

  17. #16
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    It's not that their quality has improved much.... more so that the discerning consumer doesn't give a rodents backside if it breaks the first time it gets used... with that said... like T-man I do buy certain things there... chip brushes, bench brushes, some of their cheap clamps to weld into special clamps, a few other things which I can't remember right now...

    @T-man, yeah I have a import drill press like that, was using it for a quick couple holes on an 80percent lower so I didn't have to un-jig my mill and when I got done I found out I just wasted a lower

  18. #17
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    takes average person less than 1 second to realize if
    .
    1) item is normally $100. and being sold for $10. obviously quality is not great anymore than a $5 Rolex watch is as good as a $10,000. Rolex watch
    .
    2) if item is $50. that you stand a better chance it will be good enough compared to a $100. item
    .
    3) Vulcan welding machine are much more expensive. HF only giving you the option to buy a more expensive better version
    .
    Sears used to call it Silver, Gold and Platinum versions of their lawn mowers. i tried silver one and it lasted 1 year so then i bought a gold lawn mower and its lasted easily over 5 years now. so it pays to not buy the cheapest one.

  19. #18
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    And finally, this HF forum is nearly silent. It looks like HF is finally selling welders that work as expected so nobody is asking for advice.

    Continuing an observation from a couple of years ago at the top of this thread:
    When I first started reading in this forum I was one of many asking "How do I make this welder do what I bought it for?"

    The rest of the posts in here were hobbyists who were experimenting with modifying various HF welders of the old blue era to improve them up to usable performance.

    Now with the new Vulcan and Titanium series, most of the posts explain what the welder will do instead of describing complaints.
    Looks like one thing hasn't changed. They save money by leaving it to the customer to discover DOA's instead of factory QC final inspection.
    Last edited by California; 09-23-2020 at 11:46 AM.
    HF MIG-180 with all the mods.
    Grizzly H8153 Stick/Tig Pulse 130/160.
    Wards PowrKraft AC-230. Stick & carbon arc.

  20. #19
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I had a DOA Pro-TIG 205(see other Pro TiG thread). Got it online and not at the store. Took it back to the local HF. The Mgr there begged me to take another one. Nope, got my money back. Onto HTP invertig 221
    Last edited by TJS; 09-23-2020 at 12:14 PM.
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I posted this before but couldn't find it:
    HF air saw (junk) didn't hold up very well inside the wood stove last winter:
    Name:  IMG_0058.jpg
Views: 156
Size:  129.8 KB
    Hot enough to melt Chinese aluminum, (have to remember that).

    HF: Some things not too bad for the money and some things not worth it for any price.
    I bought a few things there mostly to get one odd job done with no expectation of any long term use.
    Some of their tool boxes look pretty good especially their new higher end line.
    I set up a Vulcan 165TIG for a friend, tried it and it actually worked well for what it is. For how long? Who knows.
    Hey! this thread is 2 years old!
    Ernie F.

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  23. #21
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    That is sad but true.
    I think the first was in HF was about 2007.
    I purchased a 4x6 bandsaw still running.

    Dave

    Quote Originally Posted by California View Post
    For the first time that I've noticed, this HF forum has little to no posts. This seems to reflect an improvement in HF quality.

    I first found this forum when I bought a $72 HF-90 110V AC 'EasyMig' to - I thought - broaden my capability beyond what I could do with my old 240V stick welder. This forum was full of posts: "How do I make this HF-90 do what I bought it for?" It turned out HF had sold a batch with unusable flux core wire and there were dozens of these welders on Ebay that were clearly customer returns or frustrated new users. 'As new including original box ...' I bought better wire and put mine to use, but found that with two-position claimed 80 and 90 amp output choices only, its capability was limited to a very narrow range. This wasn't really an improvement over my stick welder. I later bought a better 110v welder (Century) and got rid of the HF. The Century did perform as I had hoped the HF could do.

    The rest of the posts in here were hobbyists who were experimenting with modifying various HF welders of the blue era to improve them.

    Starting with the black models about 5 years ago, the number of dis-satisfied owners declined to very few. Now with the new Vulcan series, the posts when there are any, explain what the new welders will do instead of describing complaints. This is a day/night difference from the old days.

    I think HF is on the way to replacing Craftsman in the less expensive end of the market for reasonable quality tools.

  24. #22
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    Quote Originally Posted by metalman21 View Post
    I posted this before but couldn't find it:
    HF air saw (junk) didn't hold up very well inside the wood stove last winter:
    Name:  IMG_0058.jpg
Views: 156
Size:  129.8 KB
    Hot enough to melt Chinese aluminum, (have to remember that).

    HF: Some things not too bad for the money and some things not worth it for any price.
    I bought a few things there mostly to get one odd job done with no expectation of any long term use.
    Some of their tool boxes look pretty good especially their new higher end line.
    I set up a Vulcan 165TIG for a friend, tried it and it actually worked well for what it is. For how long? Who knows.
    Hey! this thread is 2 years old!
    I would try to return the air saw.... a lot of guys say that they will give you another one if it overheats

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  26. #23
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    Re: Harbor Freight qualitry must be improving

    I only purchased one welder from HF in 2017 works great with a few upgrades.

    Dave


    Quote Originally Posted by TJS View Post
    I had a DOA Pro-TIG 205(see other Pro TiG thread). Got it online and not at the store. Took it back to the local HF. The Mgr there begged me to take another one. Nope, got my money back. Onto HTP invertig 221

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