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Thread: Junk Tools

  1. #16
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    Re: Junk Tools

    I think that is where we have gone wrong. Accepting return-ability instead of good tools that will break in time. We want to hedge our bets; that was never an option before in the history of the world. I dont Amazon, I dont Ebay, I dont Walmart. I'm stuck with China. If I just bought something, I will return it, but I will round can it and head off to find what works before worrying about junk; like above spend effort that is really eating up your life chasing it.

  2. #17
    Registered User Matt G.'s Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Harbor Freight has a lot of stuff that is a good value if you aren't using it every day, and some things that are even if you are. Their big red tool chests are their best-kept secret; seems like about 80% of the quality of a Snap-On box at 20% of the price. I have one that I keep many of my tools in and I love it. I was pretty impressed with the build quality. Another side note on those- about 6 months ago my employer replaced several hundred 40+ year old Kennedy, Snap-On, and various other tattered, worn-out "name brand" boxes with new Harbor Freight ones. I'll be curious to see how they hold up under daily abuse in an aircraft factory.

    Other HF stuff I've tried (with varying levels of success):

    -Electric metal shears. So far so good. I've used them for a couple of projects and they have worked good.
    -6" air sander. Spend many hours sanding off paint with one of these during the restoration of my glider. It has been through several other projects and is still going. Worth every penny. There is a similar one, different SKU, with worse ratings. Make sure you get this one.
    -Right angle die grinder. Also spent many hours very carefully grinding away old filler on my glider when I restored it. Works good if you keep it oiled. I used one of these to regulate speed and it worked ok.
    -4 1/2" angle grinder. I bought one of these a few months ago and have been happy thus far. Very loud, but most of these are. The wheel that comes with it complete and utter crap. Go to a different store and get a decent flap wheel.
    -Various mechanic's gloves. They seem to last about as long as name brand ones (i.e. Mechanix) at half the price.
    -1/2" click-type torque wrench. Ok for my cars, but not sure I'd want to use it on an airplane. It feels cheap and the adjustment is very gritty. I bought quality torque wrenches for airplane stuff.
    -6" digital calipers. A decent value; they feel a bit gritty, but no worse than a Blue Point (Snap-On's "cheap" brand) that cost 3x as much. Mine have lasted a couple of years so far.
    -Auto-darkening welding helmet. It works. My only complaint so far is that I can't really get the friction adjustment on the helmet to work right, so it won't stay flipped up.
    -Step drills. I'm not using them every day, but they have gotten the job done when I have needed a hole in sheetmetal, although they don't seem to cut very cleanly. This may be a feed/speed issue with my drill press, or it may have been because the steel sheet I was drilling was pretty soft.
    -Digital Scale. I've had this for a few years and it has worked when I need to weigh small items a couple times a year.
    -6-piece screwdriver set. Got it free with a coupon. Glad I didn't pay money for them. The handles are small and uncomfortable and they feel cheap. I use (abuse) them for things that would damage my normal, higher-quality screwdrivers.
    -27 LED flashlight. Very bright, but magnet on back is just barely strong enough to stick it to anything but a very smooth surface.

    Things to avoid:
    -This oil/water separator. Didn't work that great, and split in half at a lower pressure than what it was rated for (!)
    -Any and all sandpaper products. They are cheap but don't last and clog easily. Expensive name brand sandpaper is really the only kind I've had any luck with, and is a better value in the long run.
    -Any and all adhesive tape.
    -This heat gun. Was dead on arrival and seemed REALLY cheaply made. It ended up donating its power cord to my hot wire cutter.

    I've probably forgotten a bunch of stuff. If anybody is curious I can add more brief reviews as I think of things.

  3. #18
    Registered User VAPORTRAIL's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Around 2007 had a huge amount of small steel trimming to do. The Central Pneumatic 3" cut off wheels were in a sale bin for about 7.00 so I bought 5 of them hoping they would just last the project.

    2015 now have gone through HUNDREDS of cut off wheels with this "Cheap" thing and it will not die! Still have 4 unopened units on the shelf. I do oil my air tools regularly, but what a surprise!

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    Moderator Topaz's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Quote Originally Posted by PTAirco View Post
    Yes, they sell crap. They also sell stuff that works, at great prices. My HF pneumatic shears have lasted me years and work just fine. We all would like top quality tools, but I would rather buy a tool to get the job done and get my airplane in the air than play with my fancy tool collection. And brand names are no guarantee anymore; I had DeWalt, Ryobi and others break down on me too. Had two cordless HF drills I used almost every day for 8 years. They still work except I can't get replacement batteries anymore. HF heat guns? A life of a few hours. I still find HF has been a huge help to me and my projects.
    This has been my experience as well. Hit and miss. I have the same 4.5" angle grinder Matt G. talks about above and, yes, excepting the wheel that came with it, the thing has been stalwart far beyond the $14 on-sale price. I expected it to die by now, but it just keeps on going. I got a nice set of dial calipers that have served me very well for several years. Couple of step drills are both great. Aside from the stupid-cheapo case they came in, one "regular" drill set I got on sale has been wonderful. Safety gloves and my welding helmet? Great stuff. Same goes for the furniture dolly and four-wheel platform dolly. Use 'em all the time, and they're built like tanks.

    On the flip side, the tube notcher I bought from them required some pretty major re-work right from the get-go and still needs some more to be fully-functional with my drill press at a greater range of tube sizes. Should've just spent the money on a better one. Same goes for the spring centerpunch that jammed solid within about a weed.

    It's just hit-or-miss at HF. You just have to go in with reasonable expectations.
    "If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." - Henry David Thoreau

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    Re: Junk Tools

    Quote Originally Posted by VAPORTRAIL View Post
    Around 2007 had a huge amount of small steel trimming to do. The Central Pneumatic 3" cut off wheels were in a sale bin for about 7.00 so I bought 5 of them hoping they would just last the project.

    2015 now have gone through HUNDREDS of cut off wheels with this "Cheap" thing and it will not die! Still have 4 unopened units on the shelf. I do oil my air tools regularly, but what a surprise!
    Betcha' the bearings and seals were made in Japan or Korea.

  6. #21
    Registered User akwrencher's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Just my experience, but I won't buy the cheep HF or Northern power tools any more. Or any other store brand for that matter. In the last 15 years I have replaced a random orbital sander with a Bosch (cheep one lasted about an hour I think. The Bosch is still going strong), a chicago electric with a real milwaukee sawzall (the cheepo was so bad it wouldn't hold on to a blade hardly...), cheep angle grinder with dewalt, jig saw with makita, chop saw with dewalt, cordless milwaukee's, and probably a few more I can't think of at the moment. I regretted every wasted dollar spent on the cheep crap and now I only buy name brand on power tools. Cheep air tools tend to be better than the cheep electric ones. I never buy cheep screw drivers. I don't even bother with craftsman on those. Rather get used mac or snap on ones. Pullers and such that are subject to high stress generally are worth spending extra on. I can't count the number of cheep tools I have destroyed on the first use or two and had to replace with better quality ones. Drill bits for steel are worth a little extra.....yeah. I'm pretty picky on the cheep tools I get these days.....
    I'm right 97% of the time, who cares about the other 4%......

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    Re: Junk Tools

    I buy a ton of stuff at Harbor Freight but it's for hobbies. I don't have to make a daily living with them so they work fine.

    It's great for cheap tools you only need to use once or twice. If you buy them for daily use and are disappointed, then you are just stupid.

    The other day I heard someone in there returning a hacksaw complaining about cheap Chinese junk and I thought "No kidding, What did you think you were buying?"

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    Re: Junk Tools

    Problem is that the same forces (cost) that make HF and other low price sellers popular is creeping into even supposed "quality" brands. Every year tools and products get more lightly built of lower quality materials in the endless drive to keep squeezing profits out of the same product.

  9. #24
    Registered User akwrencher's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesG View Post
    Problem is that the same forces (cost) that make HF and other low price sellers popular is creeping into even supposed "quality" brands. Every year tools and products get more lightly built of lower quality materials in the endless drive to keep squeezing profits out of the same product.

    Exactly. Craftsman sockets and such are a prime example. They are still decent, but It's sad when your old rusty ones seem like better tools than the new shiny ones.....(no, not emotionally attached to sockets. I mean the fit and finish....)
    I'm right 97% of the time, who cares about the other 4%......

  10. #25
    Registered User ekimneirbo's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Here are some examples of tools which make Harbor Freight look more worthwhile. These are adds from the local Craigs List.

    Snap on tools great price

    $30 each.......really? Or a 24" breaker bar thats used...$100 Doesn't do anything better than my Craftsman or HF bar with a pipe on one end.

    Snap on tools for sale

    A $50 dead blow/ball pein hammer or an 8MM wrench for $20

    And the last example ............ Guess how much this toolbox and set of tools is priced at..............no peeking till you guess

    Snap-on Camaro Tool Box with Tools

  11. #26
    Registered User Jay Kempf's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Yikes!

    My tools set is a mix like most people's. I have a mix of Craftsman, some name brand stuff and I have a bunch of really cheap stuff I get at coupon or clearance prices. The real worth of the cheap stuff is that you have no qualms cutting them up and welding them to something else to make a special tool. Because you end up making a lot of tools if you keep wrenching on engines and any other systems. Recently the computer diagnosis stuff has been heading towards cheap interfaces (wireless) with free apps for smart phones which is fun. There are even oscilloscope apps now and little interfaces to get the data through a USB or Bluetooth connection.

    I also buy cheap bench top tools to modify into other DIY stuff. For instance I bought a couple HF 1" x 30" belt sanders (knife sharpeners), took them out of the box and cut them up to make edge grinding power tools for sharpening skis. I have a LOT of skis and they need to be sharp all the time to survive Vermont conditions.

    Always buying stuff and bastardizing it for purposes not intended by the manufacturer. So to me the source of the tool is less important than the task and what you are willing to spend to accomplish it. The stuff you rely on every day has to be quality stuff if your ability to charge money for the task is dependent on it. Beyond that everything is a cost benefit equation. Even my CNC is made of stuff not intended for the purpose.
    Jay K.

    VT USA

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    Registered User Himat's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    There is no Harbour Freight in Norway, but I guess the tools from the same Chinese factories turn up here under other house "brand" names. With equal quality. Still there is similar shop chains here, aiming at different price and quality levels.

    Quote Originally Posted by ekimneirbo. View Post
    Actually, the old "you get what you pay for" rule just isn't really true. What I have found is that just about every manufacturer has either some
    items that don't live up to the reputation or price being charged, and many of the harbor freight cheapies often perform quite well.......but some don't. I keep going back for more, but I'm more selective.
    ...
    So, to me the honest answer is that you can get junk from any of the tool suppliers, but at least Harbor Freight charges you a reasonable price for it............
    Mostly I find that the quality correspond to what you pay, with the exemption that really expensive brands are not that much better than the mid level. The difficulty is often to find the excellent quality among the mainstream priced stuff. And this does exist, often when "house brands" have been manufactured by one of the known "brand" names.

    Typical last years model Bosh, Hitachi... power tool in a different color, less some fancy bits rebranded some shop "house" brand. Not the cheapest possible tools, but usually good buys. I have seen the same with wrenches and sockets, for some years it was possible to get Kamasa tools labeled as shops "house" brand here.

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    Registered User Jay Kempf's Avatar
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    Re: Junk Tools

    Anybody that thinks that their American or European brands are made in the USA or Europe is just deluding themselves. I know for a fact that every single US major tool brand manufactures in China. I have first hand accounts of the vast majority of the brands moving parts manufacture off shore. Some of them are coming back slowly due not to pride or ethics but due to the fluctuations of world currencies and labor costs. Stanley, Craftsman, Dewalt, Porter Cable, yadda... It ain't about where it was made. It is about who was watching and controlling how it was made and with what. There is plenty of VERY efficient and high tech manufacturing going on in China under good management. It is not the majority but it is there.

    I have a much more broad view of it than brand snobs. Brand snobs break tools too. But the brands have so much margin they can be absolutely obscene about replacements. Buy a cheap tool and break it and don't expect much. Buy an expensive one and you "expect" the manufacturer to replace it without receipts and without questions. They can afford it because they made it in China to their design and sell it to you at top dollar. Nothing magic about manufacturing tools for the most part. Forging, casting, broaching, machining, same as it has been for a century or more.
    Jay K.

    VT USA

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    Re: Junk Tools

    Now here's a funny story which I can neither confirm or deny: My father-in-law spent many years in post-war Japan and he said you could buy astonishingly high quality items there, even back then, and that they exported junk.

    He wasn't one to make stuff up, so I've often wondered if the same is true in China.

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    Re: Junk Tools

    Where we taught the post-war Japaneses about high rate and high quality control production, and they killed us with it. We taught the Chinese "just-good-enough" low cost production, and we are killing ourselves with it. Very different eras and economic situations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Kempf View Post
    Anybody that thinks that their American or European brands are made in the USA or Europe is just deluding themselves. I know for a fact that every single US major tool brand manufactures in China. I have first hand accounts of the vast majority of the brands moving parts manufacture off shore. Some of them are coming back slowly due not to pride or ethics but due to the fluctuations of world currencies and labor costs. Stanley, Craftsman, Dewalt, Porter Cable, yadda... It ain't about where it was made. It is about who was watching and controlling how it was made and with what. There is plenty of VERY efficient and high tech manufacturing going on in China under good management. It is not the majority but it is there.
    Sure, but quality adds costs. But not nearly what raw-to-finished costs in the US/West. There really is no comparison. Apple Inc. has very good quality control from its PRC and Korean suppliers, but it still only pays 20-30% of what it would pay to build iThings in America. But that doesn't stop it from charging "American Made" prices... Gotta love a good racket when you get one.

    Production really isn't coming back. Some "final assembly" is coming back to the US, but only for items that have regional specialization and where shipping is cheaper in pieces or as "knock down kits". But that doesn't stop corporations and the media from spinning it like they are "Bringing jobs home! Hajelluahuuuu!!" It isn't happening.

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