Is Harbor Freight A Good Place To Buy Tools?

10 mins read

Harbor Freight is a discount tool retailer, selling everything from power tools to hand tools to zip ties. Everything you might need for your next construction or home renovation project, you’ll likely be able to find at Harbor Freight.

But are their tools any good?

Harbor Freight store front

Many shoppers might raise an eyebrow at the low prices at Harbor Freight, wondering how exactly this tool supplier can get away with charging so much less than their competitors.

But the answer is really quite simple. Harbor Freight buys their tools directly from manufacturers rather than buying from distributors. By cutting out the middleman, they’re able to save on costs, passing those savings onto the consumer.

Generally speaking, Harbor Freight is known for having a range of quality tools, from the best avoided to the totally reliable.

While not all Harbor Freight tools are top of the line, there is definitely a good selection of high quality tools at this discount tool supplier.

Keep reading to find out all about the quality of the tools sold at Harbor Freight!

What Brands Does Harbor Freight Sell?

The first thing you might notice when you start shopping at Harbor Freight is that you won’t see any of the familiar tool brands. Companies like Bosch, Milwaukee, Black & Decker, and Dewalt unfortunately can’t be found at Harbor Freight.

But Harbor Freight still carries a wide variety of tool brands, including their own store brand, Bauer.

Harbor Freight carries the following tool brands, among others:

  • Hercules
  • Bauer
  • Drill Master
  • Earthquake XT
  • Diamondback
  • Admiral
  • Warrior
  • Chicago Electric
  • Quinn
  • Icon
  • Doyle
  • Bremen
  • Pittsburgh

Top 4 Most Popular Harbor Freight Tools

To find out exactly what customers are loving at Harbor Freight, we analyzed the top four most popular products based on number of sales and quality of reviews.

Without further ado, here are the top four most popular products at Harbor Freight!

Earthquake XT 20V Cordless ½ in. Extreme Torque Impact Wrench Kit ($267.67)

With close to 2500 reviews and a solid rating just shy of 5 stars, this impact wrench kit is by far one of the most popular power tools available at Harbor Freight. 98% of the people who reviewed this product online gave it either a 4- or 5-star review and said they would recommend it to other shoppers. Impact wrenches are most commonly used for loosening stubborn lug nuts on cars and trucks, but they can be used in any situation where tugging on a hand-powered wrench just isn’t cutting it.

Hercules 3 amp. 5 in. Random Orbital Palm Sander ($54.99)

This simple palm sander may not seem like much, but it’s gotten over 318 5-star reviews at Harbor Freight, and 98% of reviewers said they would recommend it to another shopper. Palm sanders can be used for a wide variety of wood and metalworking projects. They’re perfect for any situation where you need to smooth the surface of something.

Hercules 12 in. Dual Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw ($389.99)

With well over 2000 reviews (and 99% of those being either 4 or 5 stars), this miter saw is by far one of the most popular tools available at Harbor Freight. Though similar to a chop saw or swing saw, miter saws are specially designed to make precision, angled cuts in wood.

Bauer 8 amp. 4 ½ in. Trigger Grip Angle Grinder ($39.99)

The most popular angle grinder at Harbor Freight is less than $40! 98% percent of reviewers gave this grinder a 4- or 5-star review, and 99% of customers said they would recommend it to other shoppers. Can’t beat that! Angle grinders are super versatile tools and can be used for a wide variety of projects, including grinding down rusted bolts, demoing, or cutting tile. You can also use angle grinders to sand, polish, and sharpen.

Are Harbor Freight Tools Safe?

Depending on who you ask, the reputation of Harbor Freight tools is anywhere from solid to sketchy.

According to a few different sources, including drivingline.com and ManMadeDIY, there are some tools from Harbor Freight that are safer and more reliable to use than others.

While generally speaking Harbor Freight tools shouldn’t be considered any less safe than tools made by other manufacturers, customers with woodworking and construction expertise have some words to contribute to the conversation.

According to ManMadeDIY, many of Harbor Freight’s power tools vibrate in ways that prevent precision and increase the risk of clumsy handling and, therefore, potential injury. If you want to take their advice, then you might want to avoid buying major handheld power tools and benchtop power tools from this discount retailer. To read the full list of MMDIY’s Harbor Freight dos and don’ts, click here.

Driving Line has hopped on the same boat of advising customers to stay away from things like mechanic’s tool sets, saw blades, winches, and impact drivers at Harbor Freight.

Family Handyman takes on a much more positive perspective when it comes to Harbor Freight tools, recommending their popular Hercules Compound Miter Saw (featured on our list of top-rated products above) and Warrior 12V Cordless Drill.

Harbor Freight Tools Reviews

One of the best ways to find out whether a product is really worth buying is to look at what other customers have to say.

So, here, we’ll dive into the mystery of Harbor Freight tools by looking into the experiences shoppers have had.

One former Harbor Freight employee still has great things to say about his Harbor Freight tools:

Here’s some good advice from another Quora user who makes the point that Harbor Freight tools are best suited for DIYers who only need to use their tools occasionally, as opposed to contractors or pros who rely on their tools on a daily basis:

Finally, here’s some valuable advice from a Reddit user who has a realistic take on Harbor Freight tools:

Overall, it seems pretty clear that Harbor Freight has a wide variety of tools that range in quality from just okay to great.

If you’re a DIYer that only tackles a couple of major projects a year, then shopping at Harbor Freight can be a great way to save money on expensive power tools.

FAQs

Where does Harbor Freight get its tools?

Harbor Freight buys tools directly from manufacturers, which is why they are able to charge such low prices.

Does Harbor Freight own Snap-on Tools?

No. Harbor Freight has been known to compare its own tools to Snap-on, but the two companies are not financially linked in any way.

Are all Harbor Freight tools made in China?

No. While many tools sold at Harbor Freight are made in China, they also carry some USA-made tools. Most major tool suppliers in the US sell both Chinese-made and American-made tools.

Does Harbor Freight make their own tools?

No. Harbor Freight buys tools directly from the same manufacturers that make tools for other major tool brands.

Do Harbor Freight tools have a lifetime warranty?

Harbor Freight hand tools come with a lifetime workmanship and materials warranty. However, anything else sold at Harbor Freight comes with a limited 90-day warranty.

Conclusion

If you’re a contractor building up your professional toolkit, then you’re probably going to want to shop somewhere other than Harbor Freight. While it’s certainly possible to find quality tools from this discount tool seller, it can be a gamble, and the selection of high quality tools just isn’t going to be as good as it is elsewhere. That said, if you’re an at-home handyperson looking to get some DIY projects done this summer, shopping at Harbor Freight can be a great way to save money when you don’t need your tools to withstand daily use. Buying hand tools from Harbor Freight can be an especially reliable way to go, as the company offers a lifetime warranty.

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