7 Tips for Buying Harbor Freight Woodworking Tools

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This is 7 Tips for Buying Harbor Freight Woodworking Tools. In this post, but I’ll tell you everything you need to know about buying tools from Harbor Freight so that way you don’t have to learn the hard way. Enjoy.

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Harbor Freight Woodworking Tools

7-Tips-for-Buying-Harbor-Freight-Woodworking-ToolsFor new woodworkers, Harbor Freight woodworking tools are a very attractive proposition, for a lot of different reasons. In the beginning, you need to buy so many tools that any time something looks like a deal, it’s hard to pass up.

While there are a lot of opinions on Harbor Freight, and some of them are very extreme, the truth actually lies somewhere in the middle. That’s what I’m going to show you all about in the rest of this post.

There are some really good things about Harbor Freight, and there are also some things that you have to pay a little bit of extra attention to. Just like buying from anywhere else, it pays to pay attention. I’ll show you everything you need to know.

See Also: How to Carefully Buy Harbor Freight Clamps

Don’t Let Price Fool You

First and foremost, don’t let the price fool you. It makes absolutely no difference the price of something if it doesn’t do what you need to do. Even if it were free and it doesn’t do what you needed to do, it’s still useless.

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This is where a lot of people run into mistakes when they buy from discount to retailers like Harbor Freight. Just because something has a super low price doesn’t mean that it’s good. It also doesn’t mean that it’s as good as whatever percentage it’s priced below retail.

Basically if you find an item that should be $50 and it’s only $25, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s at least half as good. So, when you are evaluating woodworking tools, don’t let the price push you one way or another.

See Also: 10 Reliable Tips for Buying a Cheap Bandsaw

You Nearly Always Get What You Pay For

This is true in life, and true in any woodworking store that you walk into. You are going to get exactly what you pay for. It may not come in the same form that you had imagined, but there is no free lunch in this world.

It’s important to remember that things are priced a certain way for a reason. The company that sells them needs to make money too, so even if the price looks like the product can’t even be manufactured for such a low cost, it’s actually being made for probably half that amount.

There is plenty of margin in discount stores, because most of their product come from overseas, so there’s a very low overhead. Just remember, if somethings should be three times the price, there may be a good reason, and you always get what you pay for.

See Also: How to Price Handmade Items

Some Notable Good Items

There are some items in Harbor Freight that you really just can’t mess up, and they are nearly always a good deal. These are simple things in general, but it definitely beats paying full retail for them by buying them elsewhere.

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There are far too many to list in a single blog post, however if you look for simply made items that don’t have a lot of moving parts and that are fairly straightforward, it’s pretty hard to mess things up even when they are manufactured cheaply.

On the other hand, things that are very complex or elaborate, or that require a precision measuring system are much harder to produce at a low cost. This is where you run into problems, and start to notice quality issues.

See Also: 50 Awesome Reasons to be a Woodworker

Reading Reviews for Guidance

Something that you can do that’s really helpful especially if you’re considering buying a power tool or something of that nature, is it take a look at the reviews. Customers are honest, and they will tell you the good the bad and the ugly about anything they buy.

It’s no exception that customers at a discount tool store will also take to the Internet to tell the world about their purchase, for good or for bad. This is super helpful for you, because it can help you vet your purchase before you buy.

Take a look at the reviews that are actually on the harbor freight website, and then do a Google search for reviews of the specific item you’re looking for. This time, look for stuff that’s not on their main website and see what people are saying.

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If you find objective opinions that are saying the piece is good, then it’s likely you’ll have a similar experience. However, if people are saying that it’s garbage, don’t let the price for you into giving it a try. It’s probably garbage.

See Also: 11 Great Ways to Find Woodworking Inspiration

The Smell Test

Another thing you can do is just use your gut, or your nose. If something just doesn’t seem right, it’s probably not. So many times we fail to trust our intuition, and then a few days or a few weeks later we claim that we knew all along something was off.

When you just have a feeling that things are not right, it’s good to listen to that feeling until you get enough information to push yourself one way or the other. Sometimes information will make that feeling go away. Other times, it will amplify the feeling.

Trust your gut, and if something smells fishy, it’s probably a good time to wait. This doesn’t mean you can never buy the item, it just means that now is not the right time. It’s not a no forever, it’s just a no for right now.

See Also: 13 Woodworking Ideas to Help Any Beginner

Trying New Tools Inexpensively

Something that harbor freight does really well though is they allow you to try out a new tool inexpensively to see if you like it. Woodworking tools are not inexpensive, especially when you buy one from the major brands.

Picking up the inexpensive version at Harbor freight gives you the opportunity to test drive a tool without having to spend top dollar. This is excellent, because if you find out that you really don’t like it, you didn’t waste a whole ton of money.

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This also works out for tools that you may not know you have a specific need for. For example, a thickness planer is one of those tools that you may not realize you need until you get one in the shop. However, if you start finding uses for one, it’s super nice to have.

This is one of those opportunities where you can bring home a tool that’s normally several times the price and see if you end up using it as much as you think you might. If you don’t, it’s OK, because this tool will still be good for light use for the few occasions you actually need it.

See Also: 15 Important Reasons to Make Your Own Tools

Disposables and Supplies

One of my favorite things to get from Harbor freight is nitrile gloves. These are the blue gloves they don’t have any latex. Many different places sell them, but harbor freight has some of the best prices, and the gloves are durable.

You can get a box of them that are your size, and they can last you through many different finishing projects. Just like gloves, when you look at other disposable items, it’s also hard to mess things up, so discount tool store can be a good place to buy.

One of the areas that you want to be careful though is with the sandpaper. Depending on the stock, sometimes the grit comes off a little too fast. This takes away from the deal when you have to use twice as much sandpaper to get the same job done.

If you are going to pick up some sandpaper, I recommend grabbing one or two packs of different styles that way you can see how durable they are before you commit to buying more. It’s basically trying before you buy big.

See Also: The Ultimate Guide to Sandpaper Grits

Your Action Assignment

Now that you know a little bit more information about Harbor freight woodworking tools, it’s time to get out into the shop and take action. Rather, it’s time to take a drive over to Harbor freight and start looking around.

Pay attention to the things that I’ve already mentioned in this post, and look for the diamonds in the rough that are good examples of woodworking tools that also don’t cost nearly as much as buying them from one of the major retailers.

Buy small in the beginning, and test things in your shop before you commit to buying any large quantities. This will help you evaluate the product first, and you will be stuck with a huge pile of useless items if they’re not very good.

If you have any questions about how to get woodworking tools from Harbor freight, please post a question and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.

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  • More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
  • 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
  • Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
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