I am new to the notion of Harbor Freight. One opened near me recently. I needed a rubber mallet for some furniture repair and refinishing and they had one for $2 and seems to work fine.
They seemed to have a lot of stuff in there including power tools, but I had never heard of the store brand they were carrying. Most people on these forums have much more experience with power tools and woodworking than myself, so I wanted to ask you all what you thought of Harbor Freight quality for power tools or any other products.
My only exposure to power tools were with brands like DeWalt, Ryobi, Milwaukee, Craftsman, and Porter Cable....I seem to trust these brands because most reputable stores sell them. I probably would pay more and stick with a trusted brand, but wanna know what you guys think.
I have bought from HF and still do, some good choices and some bad. Overall quality is somewhere between a box of chocolate covered cherries and Office of the President so be careful. Last purchase was the 3.5 cubic foot cement mixer (only used for small concrete pads for generators or outside condensing a/c units). Well 3 pads later the Chinese motor fried, flames and all. Local HF store refused to replace motor w/o the receipt, of course it was burned with the cardboard box that it came in. So I am still looking for a replacement (American made). Just my 2 Yuans worth.
Obtaining tools, is dependent on your intended use.
Some things to consider:
*intermittent or continuous-duty use
*short-term or long term use
*DIY simple tasks or construction-duty
*How much can you afford ?
A beginner, novice or occasional user could get by with a less costly tool.
A mechanic/tradesman would buy the best he/she could afford.
HF power tools are not of a high quality design/construction.
They have their own brand name, (labeled Chicago Electric Tools).
They may perform satisfactorily for limited and intermittent use.
Some say their tools are crap, while others say they get by with a HF tool.
HF tools are not precision tools.
An angle grinder, sander or a basic drill, are simple power tools.
Some would buy a cheap throw-away tool vs buy a higher dollar tools.
A table-saw, router, or the like, would dictate a higher quality tool.
I've used HF power tools---the angle grinders and drills overheated.
They're not suitable for continuous-duty use.
(I don't believe they're adequately electrically insulated).
Perhaps a used functional name-brand tool would be better than a cheap tool.
NOTE: power tools required FREE-AIR-FLOW to keep the components cool.
The air vents need to be FREE of obstruction---DON'T cover the air vents during operation.
They need to be kept clean---free of dust/dirt. Dust/dirt is drawn into the tool thru the vents, while in operation.
Dust that is drawn into the tool needs to be removed/cleaned-out.
A compressor can be used to blow-out the dust from the inside of the unit.
Perform this task after ease use and before storage, even if after short term or intermittent use.
Dirt left to accumulate inside the tool will be cause for over-heating.
(I've serviced many power tools that failed due to dirt/dust inside a unit. Internal components overheated and resulted in the unit shorting out).
When purchasing a power tool, KEEP your receipt.
(Make a photo copy of the receipt, as the original receipt may deteriorate with time. File the receipt with the manual).
It may be advisable to get an applicable "extended service/replacement policy", for potential repairs/replacement.