Many have asked the questions: Are Harbor Freight tools any good? What are the Best Harbor Freight Tools?
The answer is not so simple… Some of Harbor Freight’s tools are not even worth the dirt-cheap price they’re sold for. Other Harbor Freight tools are really decent tools that are worth buying.
Stick around, and I’ll show you the best Harbor Freight tools for your money.
UPDATE 5/23/2020: I previously listed Harbor Freights’ Jack stands as one of their best tools for your money. However, some item numbers were recalled on May 20, 2020 for the risk of the stand dropping suddenly while under load with a shift in weight. The recall refers to item numbers: 5637, 61196, and 61197. If you own these jack stands, you can return them to a Harbor Freight store for a gift card equal to the retail price of the jack stands you originally purchased.
Due to this recall, I had to remove the jack stands from the list. This is unfortunate because I have used my pair for years without any problems, and they were a good buy. I replaced the jack stands in the list at the end of the article with extension cords. Harbor Freight has a good selection of good quality extension cords for very reasonable prices.
Harbor Freight has a reputation for selling cheap, foreign made tools that won’t last long-term. I run into 2 types of people – those that completely dismiss all Harbor Freight tools as crap, and don’t want to hear otherwise; and those that LOVE Harbor Freight tools for their value and coupon discounts!
I used to live less than 5 minutes from a Harbor Freight store. It was one of my favorite stores to peruse on a random Saturday morning.
While I can agree that some of their tools are just as cheaply made as they are easy on the wallet. Harbor Freight actually has a decent amount of tools that are worth the money. As an added bonus, you can apply the famous 20% off coupon to many of the tools on this list to knock down the price even more!
The tools I’m about to list have either been highly rated by the community, or I have real-world experience using them myself in my shop or at work. I welcome any feedback you have on tools I didn’t add to the list, or tools you think don’t belong.
Let’s get this straight before I get to the list. None of the tools on this list are perfect. They are good tools for the money that you could buy and be happy (in most cases) if you were on a budget. Most of us don’t have unlimited money to spend on tools, so Harbor Freight is a great resource.
These are the Best Harbor Freight Tools for Your Money!
Hercules Professional 12 in. Dual-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw
This is the newest addition to my list. I was mainly impressed by the number of overwhelmingly positive reviews this saw has. It’s hard to find a product that doesn’t have at least one bad review from an unhappy consumer.
At the time of writing (April 28, 2019), the Hercules Professional 12 in. Dual-Bevel Sliding Compound Miter Saw has 4.9 out of 5.0 stars. All buyers were happy with the saw’s power, easy setup, accuracy, and smooth cutting.
In fact, many buyers have snubbed their old Dewalt Miter Saws for the Hercules!
The Hercules 12 in. Compound Miter Saw sports some impressive specs like a 15 amp, 4100 RPM motor, 60° right and 50° left miter angles, and 49° bevel angles. Throw in the 1-year Money Back guarantee, and you have yourself a real winner!
Central Machinery 8 in. 5 Speed Bench Drill Press
Every workshop should be equipped with a drill press. They are essential for drilling straight holes or tapping a work piece. If you don’t own a milling machine, a drill press will allow you to at least cut straight and clean holes.
This bench-top drill press from Harbor Freight will set you back about $70. It’s made for bolting onto a workbench or other waist-height work station. I made a modular drill press stand for mine with a couple of built-in shelves.
The Central Machinery 5-Speed Bench drill press is belt driven and has 5 available speeds – 760, 1150, 1630, 2180 and 3070 RPM. You change the spindle speed by locating the v-belt on the different size pulleys of the motor and spindle.
The table measures a mere 6-1/4 in. x 6-1/8 in, which limits the size the piece you can drill into. That’s no big deal though, because this drill press isn’t intended for large parts anyway!
The quill (the part that makes the spindle and drill bit move up and down) movement is smooth, but the quill lock and depth gauge is kind of cheap and flimsy. I wouldn’t expect anyone to make precise depth cuts with this drill press anyway, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.
I do find the spindle to have a lot of vibration. This is not a huge deal for drilling into wood, but it would definitely cause problems in hard metal. That brings me to my next point…
The Harbor Freight 8 in. 5 Speed Bench Drill Press is a really decent tool for woodworking (which is what it’s categorized under on their website). I don’t recommend it for metal, because it lacks the table for proper clamping of a work piece and the spindle vibrates too much.
- 5 Speeds
- Small and easy to fit around the shop.
- Built in light with flexible arm.
- Removable on/off switch.
- Includes depth stop.
- Vibration during use (including at the spindle).
- Only suitable for drilling wood.
- Small table with no T-Slots.
- Depth stop is flimsy and not super rigid.
If you’re looking for a bench top drill press and you aren’t made of money, the Harbor Freight 8 in. 5 Speed Bench Drill Press is a good choice.
Want to see it in action? Watch my video review I made a while back.
Central Machinery 1/3 HP 9 in. Benchtop Band Saw
A band saw will allow you to cut complex arcs and sweeping shapes into a work piece. I remember when I made a band saw box for my wife after her father passed away. It came out pretty darn good. I gave it to my wife as a gift with a nice note inside. (Tip: Women love sentimental stuff like that!) All of the cuts on this box were made with my Harbor Freight Band Saw.
I had a small workshop at the time in my old basement, so I needed a band saw that wouldn’t take up as much space as a normal shop size band saw would. After searching online for different bench top band saws, I settled on the 1/3 HP 9 in. Benchtop model from Harbor Freight.
Most users are satisfied with their purchase according to the reviews on Harbor Freight’s website. Plus, the price can’t be beat at around $140!
This band saw uses a 62 inch long blade, and accepts widths 1/8 inch to 1/2 inch wide. It has a 9 inch throat, and accepts 3-5/8 inch thick wood work piece.
- My band saw operates smoothly with little vibration. However, I’ve read other reviews from users that had opposite experiences.
- The table pivots up-to 45 degrees.
- Includes a, 1-1/4 inch dust port in the rear.
- 1/3 horsepower, 2.5 amp motor operating at 2460 RPM (plenty of power for cutting soft and hardwood with a proper blade and feed rate)
- Low price.
- Throat plate insert is flimsy, lightweight plastic that can pop out unexpectedly.
- Sawdust builds up on wheel rubber easily if the inside isn’t kept clean. This can cause the blade to slip or run out. Just be sure to connect a vacuum to the vacuum port or keep the inside clean.
- The Harbor Freight Blades work okay, but you’re better off buying a higher quality blade like this 62 inch Olsen Saw Blade (http://amzn.to/2FMuOBl).
Overall, the Central Machinery 1/3 HP 9 in. Benchtop Band Saw is a great buy for the woodworking shop without a huge budget.
Want to see it in action? Check out my video review of the Central Machinery 1/3 HP 9 in. Benchtop Band Saw:
Earthquake XT 20V Max Lithium 1/2 in. Cordless Impact Wrench
The Earthquake XT 20V Lithium 1/2 in. Cordless Impact Wrench is a relative newcomer to Harbor Freight, but it’s already summed up lots of positive reviews.
If you’re reading this post, you’re probably a tool guy (or gal) and have struggled with your fair share of frozen rusty bolts. I’ve started more “quick” suspension jobs that turned into multi-hour nightmares than I care to admit! An impact wrench will save your ass from those nightmares by breaking those seemingly impenetrable bonds with torques of 1200 ft. lbs.
What makes the Earthquake XT (with a 1/2 inch drive) a good buy? It packs a powerful 1200 ft. lbs. of torque in a relatively light (7.1 lbs) and CORDLESS package. The huge benefit is the Earthquake XT is cordless. It can be taken almost anywhere without the need for an air compressor, like an air impact wrench requires.
At the time of writing, the 1/2 in. Earthquake XT has zero 1-star or 2-star reviews on Harbor Freight’s website. That’s rare for any product!
At a price of around $260, it’s almost 1/3 the price of the competing Snap-On cordless impact wrench with Lithium battery.
Aluminum and Steel Floor Jacks
Harbor Freight offers several styles of Rapid Pump®, low-profile floor jacks. You can buy one made from Aluminum or Steel. Aluminum gives you a lighter and more portable jack, but costs more money than the heavier steel jack.
Ether way, both varieties have been highly rated by Harbor Freight shoppers.
I own a 1.5 Ton Aluminum Racing Floor Jack with Rapid Pump®. It served me well for working on our cars. Now that I own an SUV, the max lift height of 14-1/4 inches is not enough to raise my vehicle high enough.
Will I be buying another floor jack from Harbor Freight? Heck yes! Their floor jacks offer great quality for the price.
My next jack will likely be the 3 ton Low Profile Steel Heavy Duty Floor Jack with Rapid Pump®. It’s under $100 and has a maximum lift height of 19-3/4 inches. Since, I now keep my floor jack inside my garage, I don’t need the light weight aluminum jack I was carrying up my basement stairs anymore!
Overall, the Aluminum and Steel Floor Jacks sold by Harbor Freight are an excellent buy.
Any woodworker knows that you can never own enough bar clamps. There’s nothing worse than delaying a project because you only own enough clamps for half of your glue ups!
Bar clamps can be expensive! A sizable collection of bar clamps can easily be worth upwards of $1000. I don’t know about you, but I can think of a lot more things I’d rather invest that money on!
Harbor Freight sells some really decent bar clamps. In fact, their F-Style Aluminum Bar Clamps with padded jaws are pretty darn good!
I also own several sets of their Quick Release Bar Clamps. They’re sturdy, straight, and work like they’re supposed to. The pads sometimes slip off unintentionally, but I can live with that considering these bar clamps are a third of the price compared to Irwin or Bessey.
Wrenches, Ratchets, and Sockets
Why spend well over 2X the cost (it goes higher for some brands) on wrenches, ratchets, and sockets when Harbor Freight sells quality tools under the Pittsburgh brand?
Worried about being stuck with a broken wrench or socket? Fear not, because these tools have a lifetime warranty that has you covered. If it breaks while you’re using it, just bring it back to the store and they’ll let you grab a new one off the shelf.
This low risk arrangement makes the Pittsburgh tools a safe buy and worth having in your toolbox.
Tool Chests and Roller Cabinets
Almost all the tool chests and roller cabinets at Harbor Freight are well liked by their owners. The Glossy Red US General industrial grade roller cabinets have an average rating of greater-than or equal-to 4.6 out of 5 stars.
The biggest complaint on these cabinets seem are the castors. While the cabinets and drawers are well made, owners wish the castors were better quality. The good news is that the castors can be replaced, or you can opt to not roll the cabinet around too much!
The US General tool chests and roller cabinets make it on this list due to their outstanding quality for the price.
So there you have it. Harbor Freight tools that are worth the money. There are actually a bit more, but if I commented on all of them, this article would be 20,000 words. Instead I’ll list more top Harbor Freight tools that are worthy of your hard-earned dollars.
More Top Harbor Freight Tools:
- 20V Lithium Cordless 1/2 in. Compact Drill/Driver Kit
- Predator Inverter Generators
- floor jacks
- Corded Reciprocating Saw
- Hardwood Dolly
- Badland Winch
- 60 in. 4 Drawer Hardwood Workbench
- 12 in. Tool Bag
- 5 mil Nitrile Powder-Free Gloves
- Variable Speed Oscillating Multi-Tool
- 1500 lb. Capacity ATV/Motorcycle Lift
- 30 ft. x 1 in. QuikFind Tape Measure
- Most of their levels
- Pry Bars
- Bolt Cutters
- Extension Cords
- 4-In-1 Screwdriver