# Junk Tools

### Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes.com:

#### proppastie

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
Wasted a whole day back and forth to Harbor freight. I should have know better. Avoid this air shear or any from Central Pneumatic.

Inline Air Shears I took it apart and it would have worked well if it had 3 planetary gears instead of only one.

I decided to order a different one from Amazon as they will pay return shipping if it is bad. Many of these style tools have several bad reviews along with the good reviews, so your experience may vary. My guess is many of the heads or nibbler parts could be from the same factory. Might want to keep the thread alive for other tools. Maybe tomorrow I will tell you about the junk Central Machine pan brake I just got.

#### FritzW

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
...Might want to keep the thread alive for other tools.
Great idea!

Their 60" 4 drawer workbench is listed under two different SKU's. One is absolute junk, the other ...maybe not as bad. (search this forum for details).

Their tubing roller is pretty good for the price, especially if you add this guy's roller dies.

#### Abraham Leket

##### Well-Known Member
Frizw- let us do some arithmetics: the tool retail price is $27. The retailer operate at 50% markup-that tool cost him$17.
Now- the manufacture sells it to the retailer at 50% markup (at best- its usually 60-70%).
The manufacture total cost of producing it is $11. Now- labor is 30% and material 30%. so..your shears cost of material is around$3.5
Since the shears raw material is purchase ready made from a subcontractor who also operate at 50% -we come out that your shears cost of material is $2.3. Do you realy believe that you can cut steel with$2.3 raw bill material?
Get a German tool- they crushed Poland in 2 weeks you know...

#### FritzW

Log Member
Frizw- let us do some arithmetics: ...so..your shears cost of material is around... Do you realy believe that you can cut steel with $2.3 raw bill material? Get a German tool- they crushed Poland in 2 weeks you know... Abraham, I never said s#!t about shears. I said HF workbenches suck and their tube rollers are okay. ...And that I like proppasti's idea of a thread devoted to reviewing HF tools. P.S. The Nazi's crushed Poland in two weeks because they were unscrupulous Godless bastards, not because they were good tool makers. M #### Manticore ##### Guest German tools tend to be like their cars - grossly overpriced & overrated. Surprisingly, some of the best quality tools used to be those actually manufactured in the United States. #### cvairwerks ##### Well-Known Member I've found over the years that you get the quality that you pay for. There have been occasions that it didn't go that way, but they are few and far between. As an example, I will be replacing my two long air hoses that I bought in 1987. They live outside for most of the year. I paid something like 21$ each for them instead of the cheap HF hoses like a friend bought at the same time. He had replaced those hoses several times within the first six months after buying them. His response was that they were the better deal, as he kept getting free replacements when they failed. He wasn't too happy when I pointed out that his "free" replacements cost him a 5 hour trip and 20 gallons of fuel every time he had to go exchange them.

My feelings....Buy the best quality tools that will perform the job and be ready for the task.

#### Dana

Staff member
Horror Freight has its place. While I go for top quality with most tools, I have some HF stuff too, for infrequently used stuff where a good one would be much more expensive. Got their pneumatic nibbler for one job (metal roof on my house). For under $30 it made it through the roof and a few more years of occasional use, and when it broke they replaced it for free (the nearest HF is an hour away but I'm in the area occasionally anyway). But for the everyday stuff, only the best will do. Dana #### Turd Ferguson ##### Well-Known Member Harbor Freight sells some great tool "projects" -- you simply take what you buy from there and use that as the starting point to build something useable that actually works! #### Pops ##### Well-Known Member Log Member The best buy at HF are the free items each month. They will last about long enough to get another free one next month. They keep me in tape measuring tools. Dan #### proppastie ##### Well-Known Member Log Member Harbor Freight sells some great tool "projects" -- you simply take what you buy from there and use that as the starting point to build something useable that actually works! Now about the pan break, its a Central Machine 48" rated for 22 GA. It was built in 1994 and never been used. The eccentrics that positioned the clamp and the level of the clamp were very poorly designed (bad design). I designed new eccentrics, and added shims to where the clamp pivoted. At$60 bucks it was still perhaps worth it. I kind of admire it as it was ark welded together, so they only had 2 bad mistakes. It is made of 5/8 steel for the clamping area, and should bend thicker material in small pieces. Where it only had 1/8 setback now it has 1/2 set back. Another homebuilder machined the new eccentrics he spent 5 hr. if I had to pay for that it would not have been worth it.

It appears that there was very poor quality control back then, and perhaps even now. However that could change, it used to be that way with Japan after the war. Time will tell. There is no magic about quality control.

I never used a pan break, my job was the theory and the guys in the shop had to make it. I learned the material bridges to the clamp so no matter what the setback is unless you add a larger radius to the clamp you will get a smaller bend radius that what you calculated.

#### TFF

They have their place and have changed the way you have to buy tools. Every time I go to Sears now, what I want is catalog only. Most store visits are not planned. The clunkier the original tool, the better copy you will get. Some of the other stuff is too cheap not to try. At some point everything will be made to those standards anyway; disposable. I will say the tool boxes are not bad; actually better than what Sears is selling now. Electric tools are noisy and some of the wrenches are a joke, but $300 english wheel and meat grinders are hard to beat. #### PTAirco ##### Well-Known Member 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. #### TFF ##### Well-Known Member A problem for one is not always a problem for all. How it broke or did not perform is important. #### ekimneirbo ##### Banned 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. I have a large ($500) drill press that I use all the time. I replaced the on/off switch with a light switch and it works great for me. I have several engine tilters,crane trolleys,a dolly, caster wheels,chains,sockets, and flange pliers that all work great.
The cheapo automatic welding helmet works about as well as my more expensive Lincoln helmet. BUT........I have never bought one of their welders or air compressors and probably never will.

Sears.........Usually you get good quality but they don't have the reputation they used to have. You can get some good buys on wrenches and sockets. I wouldn't ever buy one of their battery powered drills again. They do have decent tool boxes for
a reasonable price, but I got tired of driving over for their weekly sales events only to find they didn't have any of the things supposedly on sale. That said, I have a ton of Craftsman wrenches and sockets and like them. Quarter inch drive ratchets
however are often junk and don't work from the day you buy them.

Mac and Snap on......Way over priced on most everything but they do have some good quality items......they also have stuff like all other suppliers that isn't worth the money. Does anyone believe that their tool boxes are even remotely
worth the megabucks they sell for. Craigs List is full of people trying to unload these overpriced monoliths. Snap On simply rebrands "Century" welders and claims them as their own. Century is a second or third tier product in the welding and
Plasma world. My son was in the Air Guard and had to buy tools for his base. He told me many stories of how they couldn't get the arrogant Snap On dealer to replace broken tools even though they spent over a million dollars on tools.
It got so bad that he looked up the "actual" manufacturers of some of the tools being sold under the Snap On label and could purchase them for about a third of Snap Ons markup.

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............

#### proppastie

##### Well-Known Member
Log Member
Every time I go to Sears now, what I want is catalog only.
I was not able to figure out if you can return all bad catalog tools at the store from Sears. Amazon.com sales (careful here must be Amazon.com not third party) has free return shipping. (I think)

#### TFF

##### Well-Known Member
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.

#### Matt G.

##### Well-Known Member
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.
-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.

#### VAPORTRAIL

##### Well-Known Member
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!

#### Topaz

##### Super Moderator
Staff member
Log Member
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.

#### JamesG

##### Well-Known Member
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.

2