The great thing about the Internet, whatever your passion, you can find a slew of guys and gals who share it. Forums abound for everything from cooking to alien sightings to ham radios to ham. One of the most strongly represented tool niche groups online is the woodworkers group. There are dozens of woodworking forums on the ‘net, where they exchange tips and experiences, and as any craftsmen, they’re passionate about their art, their projects, their conventional wisdom… and their tools. So, given the variety of tools and equipment Harbor Freight has– not to mention the prices– you can imagine how many times the discount tool store becomes topic of conversation.
I took a look at one of the more popular forums, Lumberjocks.com (all woodworking, all the time), and compiled a list of what their members said were among their favorite Harbor Freight acquisitions. See if you agree, or have anything to add:
“How many times when starting your router or your drill press, or other power tool, did you wish you had one more hand to firmly grab on the piece you were ready to machine? Often we present a piece of wood on the router just at right place to route it, and then we need to let go of it to start the router, and then the piece moves. Or we hardly can hold one large piece. We don’t feel safe and then we need to let go of one hand to start the router or the drill press. With the Momentary Power Foot Switch you can feel a lot safer when you start the router, firmly grabbing on the piece to machine with both hands. It greatly improves the safety and control of the execution.”
b2rtch on Lumberjocks
“I’ve been using this blade for a few months now. It’s lived in my miter saw most of that time and I just tried it out on the table saw for rip cuts. I’ve been very pleased with this blade, overall. The titanium nitride coating does seem to reduce friction and give a somewhat cleaner cut. The blade is nice and sharp out of the box. It cuts more easily and cleanly than the Kobalt blades I had been using in the miter saw. And the rip cuts it did were good, too. The saw didn’t bog down as it had with some other blades. The best part is this thing is less than $15 at Harbor Freight. Even less with a 20% off coupon. At that price you can keep a couple of spares around when you need a fresh blade. Note to SawStop owners: The titanium nitride coating does not interfere with the SawStop safety system’s detection or trip the brake.”
Purrmaster on Lumberjocks
“I own 4 of these bases. Obviously, I like them and think they are a good product. They are well made and glide easily across the shop floor. Assembly with the first one was a bit confusing, but after that the other 3 were easy. I don’t exceed the 300 lbs. but I think they could support more than that. They are thick, heavy and finished well with decent nuts and bolts. The big knobs turn easily, steadies your machine level and don’t move while in use.”
kdc68 on Lumberjocks
“Went into a newly opened Harbor Freight store in Florida, and while cruising around, I came across the Cen-Tech Digital Mini Moisture Meter (item 67143). Wasn’t looking for one but when I saw this– and the price– I figured what the heck…go for it. I’m glad I did because it really works, and now I won’t touch a piece of wood for turning until I check the content first. I was actually quite surprised at how high the moisture was in some of my wood. When I go back next spring, I’ll likely get some for friends….can’t go wrong with that price! BTW, it also does it for C or F, has a ‘Hard Material Mode’ and measure ‘Environmental temperature.’ The readout is clear as well.”
Salmo on Lumberjocks
Chicago Electric 4 ” Magnesium Belt Sander (Replaced with the 10 Amp 4 in. x 24 in. Variable Speed Professional Belt Sander, item #: 69820)
“Now that I’m semi-retired, I have more time to drift through tool stores, home improvement centers, and the like. In HF the other day, I noticed the 97593 Magnesium 4X24 Belt Sander on sale for $69.99, usually $79.99. With my 20% coupon, walked the last one out of the store for a ridiculous $55.00! Now, I know we all like to think somewhere along the line we graduate from ever using belt sanders ever again, but for some reason their use pops up from time to time, and for me, it always seems like I never have a big enough one to do the job.
“The Harbor Freight Chicago Tool 4X24 Magnesium Belt Sander is one of those tools that I think you would use to sand the paint off that old picnic table, or take down 8-10 coats of whatever off any larger piece of wood you need cleaned. This thing is just a flat-out HORSE. Even with the magnesium frame, it still weighs. Mine was the last one my store had, and did not have a manual, (have to download it), but the website says it puts 1640 feet of sandpaper per minute on the wood, pulls 10 amps, and weighs somewhere around 15 lbs. I believe it all, having hogged down a piece of 2 ft. by 5” wide solid piece of oak from rough mill cut to smooth in less than two minutes. Mine tracked perfectly out of the box, and I love the little handle on the side to loosen the belt, rather than have to do the “front roller dance” pushing it back and hoping it catches, change the belt, then hope you can get it to snap back and re-tighten by running the tracking knob back and forth. None of that with this sander. Simply loosen the handle on the side, change the belt, snap the handle back in place, and keep going.
“I really went into HF to look at driveway sensors for my wife, and the lathe tools recently reviewed here. I ended up buying the sensors and this hog, and I’m really glad I did. I don’t use a belt sander much anymore, but when I do, I want a large surface belt, and for $55 compared to a smaller PC for $169, this was a no-brainer.”
Tennessee on Lumberjocks
“This saw has a 15-amp motor that sliced through everything I threw at it with no issues. The action of the slide and is very smooth. Though I used it only for 90 degree cuts, the table movement and compound movement were very smooth and didn’t move at all when set and tightened. First thing I did after setting up the saw was to build some 3’ extension wings on both sides out of 3/4” pine with 1/4 hard board across for my zero clearance backing. I couldn’t be happier. I was able to do the final trim on about 60 shelves and sides (3 cuts per board) in maybe 2 hours. Everything came out great, true and square – no issues.”
SchottFamily on Lumberjocks
“I’ve always called Harbor Freight “God’s gift to men,” and since there’s been a bit of hubbub about this tool paradise on this site recently I thought I’d post some reviews of my favorite HF Gems…
“This one I just bought TODAY and I already can see that it is among the best tools in the store! For one thing, this thing is extremely well made! If you had this jig sitting alongside the Kreig version, I guarantee you’d pick this one up to examine first. Why? Because it really looks great. While the $100 Krieg jig is mostly plastic, this is all aluminum. And I don’t mean that crappy cast aluminum. This is precision machined aluminum.
“The design is also very well executed. The heart of it is the guide holes, of course. There are two sets of two, so you can drill a pair side by side in your piece. One set is at a steep angle for 1/2″-to-1” thick material, the other set of guide holes is at a lower angle for thicker material. You can move the hole guides to adjust how far apart you want them using nicely etched measuring marks so no ruler is needed. Lock them in place with the knob and use the very nice, heavy duty hold down clamp to secure your piece and you’re ready to drill. The bit is included as are a bunch of screws. Another nice feature is that you can remove the hole guide assembly from the stand and clamp it to large parts that the stand won’t accommodate.
“Bottom line is- this jig is WELL worth the price… and may even be better in many ways than the twice as expensive Krieg jig.
“That’s my two cents…”
StumpyNubs on Lumberjocks
Finally… it seems like the single-most talked about Harbor Freight tool– by far– in the woodworking world is the Central Machinery 2 HP Industrial 5 Micron Dust Collector. Mentions about this thing just come up over and over, again.
“A year ago, when I was building my shop, I was shopping around for a dust collector to be the heart of my system. I looked at General, Jet, Grizzly, etc. But then I read several really postive reviews on the HF 2 HP model. I had a coupon for 169.00 for it so I figured, why not? Let me tell you, this thing is at least the equal of all of those others! I actually got a chance to examine a Jet, and a Grizzly….and they are almost identical. My longest run is 45 feet and I’ve had no trouble running one tool there and another 25 feet in the other direction, at the same time. It gets it all. Now I make a lot of dust here in my shop so this has gotten a workout in the last year, and I’m not disappointed. This is one of those rare Harbor Freight gems.”
njcraftsman on Lumberjocks
“There isn’t much this little thingie can’t handle. Cabinet saw, no problem. 12 inch Planer, same same. 6-inch jointer, 6 x 48 flat belt, compound miter saw, nada. Moderate-sized drum sander, no problem-o. Don’t expect this rig to evacuate a 52-inch double wide belt sander though, but for most small shop cabinet men, chair makers and burl workers this will execute without hesitation. I’ve got mine in a room adjacent to my shop running through a bulkhead fitting; all you hear is the quiet screaming of the sawdust as it is slurped off to the Great Beyond. A metal trash can will fit nicely under the bag within the frame, which eases the unloading of poor, dead tree powder and other assorted shop waste. Don’t think you can run a 100-ft hose from your shop to your neighbor’s basement though; any DC system can only handle X amount of hose, especially if it is corrugated or has numerous 180′ turns. All in all, very pleased with this item, it can run with the big dogs all day long (going on 6 years) as long as you keep good duct work and hoses in the equation and mind your housekeeping regarding the top bags cleanliness.”
R. E. Parks on Dakota Heirloom Woodworking
“At the end of the day, is this thing worth it? Heck yeah! I don’t think there’s anything that’s comparable for the price. As I stated, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with dust collectors, but I have no idea what a more expensive single stage dust collector could do that this one can’t. This product comes with a high recommendation from me, and it’s a pretty big improvement over my old shop vac based system.”
haugerm on Woodworking Talk