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My tools include Snap-On, Mac, Sunnen, Matco, Craftsman, Proto, Stanley, Hitachi, Walker, OTC, Miller, Lisle, K-D, Hobart, HTP America and other brands, dating over a half-century back to the present.  Today, my tool choices also include Harbor Freight.

I stumbled onto a real bargain in a Harbor Freight Plasma Cutter years ago.  When opened up, the internals were Panasonic!  Paid around $400 and got a $1200 equivalent machine.  (This model was "passing through", and it no longer appears in the catalog.)  More than happy with it, and the consumables are common replacement pieces.  The current Chicago Electric Inverter 240V unit looks good, though I haven't seen its internals: http://www.harborfreight.com/welding/plasma-cutters/240-volt-inverter-plasma-cutter-with-digital-display-62204.html.  Price is around $650.

I buy Harbor Freight products on a select basis.  They have "lines" that also indicate quality.  Pittsburgh Pro is reliable quality, I beat the living daylights out of the impact sockets and save hundreds over Snap-On or even NAPA.  Chicago Electric is my limited use bench sander and line choice for electrical stuff.  I own HF jack stands (go overkill, for a 4-ton stand capacity, I get a 6-ton rated), floor jacks (for 2-ton capacity, I get a 4-ton rated) and the hydraulic motorcycle lift ($299 when on sale, this is the best buy on the planet, it's rated much higher than my dual-sport converted Honda XR650R, which weighs only 320 pounds wet, so I'm well covered here).  

I do best with Harbor Freight's steel products like the lifts, stands, jacks and presses.  Must say the lathes are often attractive though my biggest concern would be replacement parts for a given lathe or machining tool that is "passing through" or sourced from a variety of job shops at China (no two alike syndrome).  Brakes and hydraulic items are often high grade.

Others may have different experiences.  I'd like your feedback.  What is your experience with Harbor Freight Tools?  

Moses

Edited by Moses Ludel

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I've never had any trouble with HF mechanical products;their air tools are a little iffy (my 3/8 inch butterfly impact leaks horribly at the flex junction for the air chuck,so did the one I took back to get this one.) Unless you don't mind re-wiring new stuff,avoid the magnetic tow lights (their magnets are weak,but if you have a couple of old stereo speakers you can fix that.) and the electric winches with wireless remotes-of 6 smaller winches I've had,not ONE wireless remote worked,even with new batteries.(These were from before Badlands-haven't seen any problems with THEM except the struts that hold the end plates together are too close to the cable drum,so if the cable doesn't wrap perfectly it stacks and bunches up against 'em. I built a set of spacers for my neighbor's 12K model to give it about an inch more space-problem solved.) BTW-their cable is about a 5 of 10,strong enough,but cheap-it'll rats nest very easily. It's worth going to a wire &cable wholesaler and getting GOOD cable,like the professional towing outfits use,and it's really not that expensive. They'll even put the ends of your choice on the cable,so it's an exact replacement. I used a 4" grinder from HF for about 3 years before it started quitting for no reason. I replaced the fancy rocker switch with a basic toggle switch and it worked great for about a year,then started screwing up again so I got a Milwaukee on sale out at Home Depot. I have a 10 ton floor jack I've abused terribly over the years,and it's still working great-its weak spot is that it'll lose the e-clips on the ends of the pins the linkage all pivots on.I had some kinda wide spiral locks that fit well and it hasn't lost any of those yet.

   Speed

   PS-Hi Moses!

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Hi, Speed...Thanks for jumping into this subject with your personal insights and experiences!  

I discovered that the HF plasma cutter had Panasonic guts because a failed rocker switch required replacement.  HF offered the replacement rocker switch at that time...Epidemic switch troubles at HF or just our experience?

Moses

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