Harbor Freight's Dirty Little Secret – How Their Tools are so Cheap and Which Ones You Should Avoid

Harbor Freight's Dirty Little Secret – How Their Tools are so Cheap and Which Ones You Should Avoid

Harbor Freight has a secret. This secret is the key to how they are able to make and sell their tools so cheap. When you understand how it all works, you will know what tools you should buy from Harbor Freight and which Harbor Freight tools you should avoid.

#tools #harborfreight #harborfreighttools

Leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts.

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Contact: dave@diywithdave.com

Here is a list of some of the tools that I use in my DIY projects:
Kreg Pocket Hole Jig – https://amzn.to/3p7TcRG
Kreg Clamp – https://amzn.to/3pa12ug
Kreg Concealed Hinge Jig – https://amzn.to/3G7Dtdh
Kreg Shelf Pin Jig – https://amzn.to/3p4AKtZ Dewalt Cordless Drill/Driver – https://amzn.to/3eE1qvX
Dewalt Compound Miter Saw – https://amzn.to/2I8M1s1
Sears Craftsman Jointer – http://vintagemachinery.org/photoindex/detail.aspx?id=2441
Craftsman Jointer Replacement Blades – https://amzn.to/38mAj7w
Titebond III Wood Glue – https://amzn.to/3k93eyo
Dewalt 735 Thickness Planer – https://amzn.to/2IfKujC
Wen Track Saw – https://amzn.to/3lbSJNY and Track – https://amzn.to/314617W
Bosch Jig Saw – https://amzn.to/3rbG3dV
Japanese Pull Saw – https://amzn.to/3CZfMSh
Irwin Clamps – https://amzn.to/3CVdBiI
Shaker Rail and Stile Router Bits – https://amzn.to/3DWGuMM
Bosch Benchtop Router Table RA1181 – https://amzn.to/314kHnw
Bosch Mini Router – https://amzn.to/3HVdibb
Porter Cable Router – https://www.lowes.com/pd/PORTER-CABLE-1-75-HP-Fixed-Corded-Router/999972940
Plunge Router Base – https://amzn.to/3nTK2tx
Rockler Dovetail Jig – https://amzn.to/3nY7mqa
Porter Cable Brad Nailer – https://amzn.to/3lcwmrO

Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links and at no additional cost to you I may earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products and tools that Iโ€™ve personally used and/or believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the modest commission I may receive should you decide to purchase one of them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you canโ€™t afford or do not need.

50 Comments

  1. Rickugg on February 1, 2023 at 4:25 am

    Hello:::: A $10.00 Side grinder, I got more than I paid for. I had it 10 years. If I had a Business Garage I still buy H F $10.00 side grinder. I can get 9 of them for price of ONE DeWalt. If I get 9 years out of 9 H F Side Grinders and 4.5 years out of ONE DeWalt I WIN. I bought 3 set vice grip. I had my Kubota bucket and chain around largest Grip. I bent top jaw 3/4 inch side ways. Manager got new pack gave me the large Grip and said if you bend that one tomorrow bring it back, I’ll give you a new one !!! I guess I have spent $1500.00 since they open about a year ago. I also got the one year $29.00 Discount package. I took that when I got the 220 Mig Welder. The Chinese tool are better than they were 40 years ago. Well some of them.



  2. Uncle Fester on February 1, 2023 at 4:27 am

    I have a chicago electric 10" miter saw that is still going strong. I got it on a $74 coupon years ago. I did alot of work on it to square it up initially and its been a surprise. I personally think alot of people abuse their tools or use them beyond their design and thats why they fail. I am allways mindfull that its a cheap saw and treat it carefully and its payed off. I will gladly buy from them!



  3. Rodney Schurtz on February 1, 2023 at 4:27 am

    Just don’t waste your money on a generator. Garbage.



  4. Joe Mamaluc on February 1, 2023 at 4:27 am

    I have A Daytona and a low profile jack which work great. As far as most of there other items many are OK, but there not meant for daily use. Stuff like sandpapers, cutting wheels, grinding wheels are garbage. Sockets are knuckle busters. There good in a pinch, and for tools you are only using occasionally.



  5. HighlandsPiper88 on February 1, 2023 at 4:28 am

    Bought a earthquake Xt electric impact ratchet several years ago. It works fine and has held up well, but even though it says it has up to 60lbs of torque, the "up to" is the operative phrase..if you expect it to produce about 30lbs of torque and hand turn it to break bolts and ensure they are tight it works fine-just know its limitations and that you aren’t getting 60lbs of torque out of that ratchet-ever. It is good for light work makes turning bolts/nuts in tight places when working on vehicles easier. Ill second what most others have said here I have some HF electric tool s that have out last many of my name brands like the angle grinder and reciprocating saw. Other items have been junk that busted on first use. Generally though the wrenches and sockets have been fine with the exception of the ratchets. Its a great place to go get the tools needed for a one time project that Im confident I wont need again-and just be pleasantly surprised if I get several uses out of it. I shop HF and have had some good finds there, like others have said, as long as you know what your buying and why its a good resource when you need something.



  6. Rusty Icepick on February 1, 2023 at 4:28 am

    You make a compelling argument Dave and I wouldn’t argue against you. How did you acquire this knowledge? Are you an industry analyst?



  7. Gilbert Torres on February 1, 2023 at 4:29 am

    Got a welder for Christmas about 7 years ago…thing still lays beads till this day!!!! ๐Ÿ˜‚



  8. Robert Powser on February 1, 2023 at 4:29 am

    They will give you a warranty but also charge ridiculously high restocking fee! Bought a generator that was Advertized to be super quite and it sounded like a freight train! Took it back and they wanted 80 bucks to restock!



  9. Nicolas Allen on February 1, 2023 at 4:30 am

    Got tone if crap from HF. Buy smart, most power tools will only last one job. But all in all, love HF



  10. Nathan Fields on February 1, 2023 at 4:30 am

    This guys video promoting Harbor "FRIGHT" tools, and yes I spelled it correctly. A fright to use. The tools are hit and miss. Mostly miss and are just expensive one grade above "toys". Correct again, toys. The toys from HF are mostly one time use, and if you get that much out of them.
    As an 30 year engineer, mechanic the only time I would think of HF is desperate need. In other words. I’ll never miss Harbor Fright tools.



  11. Mark Willhite on February 1, 2023 at 4:31 am

    I have always looked at an extended warranty as a companies lack of confidence in their product.



  12. Derek H on February 1, 2023 at 4:33 am

    I bought a demolition/rotary hammer drill from Harbor Freight 10 years ago and have never had a problem with it. And I have drilled a lot of holes in concrete. From 1/2" to 1 1/2". Which is why I bought a drill press from them and it too works great.



  13. Levi DeWalt on February 1, 2023 at 4:33 am

    I buy sledgehammers from harbor freight.



  14. Scott Scott on February 1, 2023 at 4:34 am

    Even serious mechanics go to these stores to pick up small items. The other items are basically for first timers doing something around the house. I bought a generator from harbor freight I got it home and it would not start. I was told to drain the gas and I did I took it back and they would not return it because inside the gas tank was moist. I had to take it to another harbor freight and all he did was look at it in the box and gave me my money back.



  15. Steven Hamlin on February 1, 2023 at 4:36 am

    bought tools for 20 years they all still work. They are not always cheap price wise! I don’t buy any warranty and don’t like up front money for club crap.



  16. Jordan Cambridge on February 1, 2023 at 4:40 am

    If you want crap that will break and is actually more expensive than real hardware stores then go to harbor freight but if you are not a complete moron shop elsewhere. Seriously the bullshit lie that harbor freight is cheaper yea just shut the fuck up with that lie. Go to Ace Hardware or Lowes or Home Depot and get yourself a set of wrenches for $10 while that same package of wrenches at Harbor Freight is $25. Harbor Freight lies about being cheaper. Harbor Freight sells a tape measure for $15 when everyone else sells that exact tape measure for $8. If you want to spend double to 2.5 times the amount you will spend at a real hardware store then go to harbor freight. I bought a box of hose clamps from harbor freight and every single one of them snapped instantly. I was trying to attach baskets to the basket rack of my bike and that should not have allowed them to snap. Harbor Freight has a strict no returns not even with warranty because the warranty is a well a haha we tricked you into thinking a warranty actually works. Yea they are fucking assholes. That box cost me $15 fucking dollars. I will never go back to the shithole known as Harbor Freight. I should have gone to Ace Hardware. So Ace cost me $4 for a box of 30 instead of box of 6 hose clamps. Ace has far superior quality and its less expensive than the dumpster fire known as Harbor Crap.



  17. CH!CARCAS TERCERO on February 1, 2023 at 4:40 am

    All tools in US are made in China ,Korea,Vietnam,Thailand. If you want a good quality tools you must travel to Germany , Japan , Italy or Mexico .



  18. ollie bear on February 1, 2023 at 4:42 am

    *Professional Mechanic daily use// Lasted 8 years or more: Daytona and Pittsburgh Jacks, Daytona Jack stands, MM Impact sockets, Box Wrenches, Steel Carts, US General Tool carts, nitrile gloves, 4 lb hammer, 4 lb dead blow hammer, Pittsburgh pry bars all sizes, CE car polisher, punch and chisel set, 4wheel dollies with handles, Ball Joint Puller set, 1/2 extendable 72 tooth ratchet. 3/8 72 tooth extendable ratchet, 1/2 inch breaker bar.

    *(Items that didn’t last more than a one time use or one year): 1/4 72 tooth ratchet, 1/4 extensions, low end cordless drills, braun lights, plastic air blower gun, Pittsburgh Serpentine Belt wrench set, fiber glass sledge hammer, pick set.



  19. Larry Sweet on February 1, 2023 at 4:43 am

    harbor freight is my go to store for anything without a cord.



  20. brucebuck1955 on February 1, 2023 at 4:45 am

    I bought a hardwood floor nailer at Harbor Freight years ago…. I did 3/4 inch hardwood in every room in my 2600 sf house…. and every room in my sisters 2200 sf house … it worked great without any problems….it more then paid for itself….. I also bought sockets and drill bits that failed with little use…. so it all depends… just like he said…. I still love Harbor Freight for some items….



  21. Patrick on February 1, 2023 at 4:45 am

    I purchased an 18 inch Poulan chain saw that only started once



  22. Johnny Bravo on February 1, 2023 at 4:47 am

    Dude! you have no clue ๐Ÿ˜ข



  23. Anthony Talley on February 1, 2023 at 4:47 am

    Eco battery & inverter



  24. David Thiessen on February 1, 2023 at 4:47 am

    no I already knew. I have written on harbor freight tools and the store before



  25. TK Skagen on February 1, 2023 at 4:48 am

    Back in my days, buying tools for myself started in 1994 at SEARS, because "CRAFTSMAN" is what a Man bought back then.
    I have experienced a 40%/60% split on the tools/hardware offered at HFT. About 40% is great, "BUT" the remaining 60% of what the store is selling is PURE CRAP…



  26. Stewart Wilson on February 1, 2023 at 4:50 am

    I love buying De walt tools , they may be expensive but boy do you get longevity and service from them.



  27. DD826 on February 1, 2023 at 4:50 am

    I agree, every tool I have bought there has been a joke and Home Depot isn’t any better on anything then maybe margin food.



  28. Jordan Cambridge on February 1, 2023 at 4:51 am

    In order to get the free item you have to pay them $9 a fucking week to be put upon the special list. You could do the $7 a month but then you can only use 2 coupons a month but the $9 a week will allow you to use all coupons. They removed the ability to access coupons in the mail. You can not and for the last 4 years get coupons via email and email requires you to sign up for a special plan. The plan costs a lot of money. Harbor Freight also makes a lot of money buy charging slightly less for an item that you can get a far better quality for almost nothing more at other hardware stores. Harbor Freight will sell you a saw for $1000 but you can a far more powerful, far better, far superior, with far better cutting ability, and made from far better materials to make it last for $1099 from other hardware stores. Yes its cheaper but fuck cheaper when its shit quality and even with the warranty that may cost you $300 you will still end up having to replace it in 2 months and oh yea the warranty does not do shit. Yea read the warranties and laugh your ass off at how the warranty does not cover anything and is basically a bunch of garbage words that mean literally nothing and does not allow you to replace the item. Yea so the item you buy cant be replaced nor repaired and you then are out $1300 in only a couple of months. Hell their safes yea um quality is to put it bluntly to break into those safes is really fucking easy. All you need is a sing nail and a hammer to knock the hinge bolts out. Yea your suppose to put the hinges on the inside not outside. With the gaps on the sides of the doors you can stick the larges of crow bars into it. The lock itself can either be smashed into the safe or ripped out and sense their is a gaping hole on the other size of the key pack in reality just take the key pack of and you can pull basket balls threw. Basically it has so many security failures to call it a safe is a fucking insult to safes. Also they have 0 requirements to work for them including the fact they hire meth addicts and the craziest of bastards or also child molesters. The place has no quality control not even for its staff members. Hell they will even hire under age minors. They also do not train their staff and that saves the company large amounts of money. They also under pay their employees.



  29. Finley Pruitt on February 1, 2023 at 4:53 am

    When I took woodshop in high-school, everything the school had was Central Machinery (Harbor Freight Brand). Then after graduation, I wanted a woodshop of my own, so I started buying equipment. My first piece, I still have, it’s a Delta Bandsaw. Since it was fairly expensive, that meant my woodshop wouldn’t happen overnight. Then I discovered Harbor Freight when I lived in Arizona, and every third week, it seemed you could get any type of saw for $20.00. This was back in Y2K area. The Central Machinery tables saw did last for 15 years without issues, then 5 years before I gave up and got a Craftsman table saw to replace it. Also all the other Harbor Freight equipment got replaced with Ryobi, Delta, Rigid, or Craftsman. As you said, ‘Alot of tools are made by the same company, ‘ because all 4 of those are owned by Black and Decker. My Ryobi miter saw has an accurate cut, and my Chicago Electric one from Harbor Freight doesn’t. However, the Chicago Electric one does have more torque. Then I will agree that Harbor Freight is good for first timers, but would suggest the pawn shop as well. I’ve found alot of stuff at pawn shops that were good deals. Like a Sears Roebuck router for $20.00. I too love to browse Harbor Freight, but for quality, I may put Hypertough ahead of them.



  30. gary kay on February 1, 2023 at 4:54 am

    bought a cheap headlamp there and the area that held the batteries was too small to accept batteries. took the item back and was told that they messed up on that item. but they still kept selling them.



  31. Eric Haberli on February 1, 2023 at 4:54 am

    Definitely buy the upgrade especially the welders. Now that Iโ€™m retired HF is my choice.



  32. Dennis Kubicka on February 1, 2023 at 4:55 am

    Yeah poor quality that way Sears stopped selling Craftsman and now you can buy Craftsman tools at all Lowe’s home improvement stores



  33. NaviBean on February 1, 2023 at 4:56 am

    Dave – Thank you: This video is priceless!
    After buying a variety of stuff – and talking to several other customers – I came to exactly the same conclusion as you:
    (1) No moving parts: Don’t buy any product at this store that has moving parts. The parts will stop moving. I have seen too many people returning items that they said "broke the first time they used them."
    (2) Nothing safety related: If you’re buying a car jack, or jack stand, or a car ramp, invest in a quality product from a quality store. ( = Go elsewhere.) The ass you save may be your own.
    (3) Reviews: Their reviews are total BSh_nonsense. Scroll thru a few reviews and you will see that Harbor Freight writes (or bribes) their own reviews. You don’t even need to look at the reviews’ content: Every single product has thousands upon thousands of 5-star reviews. That is statistically impossible.
    I paid for an annual membership for me & my kids: We will never get our money’s worth out of it.
    Thanks again for this awesome video.



  34. Patrick on February 1, 2023 at 5:00 am

    Hi my Centech brand auto starter charger was my worst experience



  35. redbaron094 on February 1, 2023 at 5:05 am

    I have had failures, but considering The number of HF tools I have purchased that failure rate has been surprisingly low. I know you are busy, but I would appreciate any information you could provide or opinion concerning their automotive electronics tools, this is a hobby of mine since I was an engineering major.



  36. Meneses guitars inc on February 1, 2023 at 5:06 am

    The power tools always break,,the motors are really bad



  37. Hard candy 711 on February 1, 2023 at 5:08 am

    yOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING AT HARBOFREIGHTTOOLS FOR THAT CHEAP PRICE SO DON’T WHIN WHEN IT GO OUT.



  38. glancekevanglance on February 1, 2023 at 5:10 am

    I set myself back due to self caused circumstance and lost all of my tools id accumulated and Harbour freights kept my vehicle running, house in shape and welds welded after getting straightened out lmao. Anyway its a great way to get what you need until you can go from good to better to best and then you can graduate to whatever name brand your pockets want haha. Fr tho with the Pittsburg lifetime and the low cost of especially the lowest end corded tools which are alot more stout than i ever predicted its a no brainer. Even without warranty its worth it if you know youve got a good one soon enough. If i use a jigsaw for a hundred projects and it dies it’ll have paid for itself 30 fold by that time. The jigsaw blades and cutting wheels and flap disks are of unrecognized quality as well and dirty cheap against the competitors. I love you hobo fright



  39. Darius D on February 1, 2023 at 5:12 am

    well yeah, same deal with Walmart or Amazon, a lot of things at both of those places are bad enough but good enough to pass QC



  40. Garrett Beck on February 1, 2023 at 5:15 am

    I know you said no to their jacks but in my experience harbor freights hydraulic tools and jack stands are excellent. I have a jack from them that ive used professionally for 8 years and its going strong. I keep it greased and fluid up though



  41. Clare Stucki on February 1, 2023 at 5:15 am

    The only HF item I ever had that was definitely inferior was a backpack weed sprayer. It pretty much disintegrated after its first summer.



  42. Redfour5 on February 1, 2023 at 5:15 am

    Not nearly as cheap (money wise) now days as even just a few years ago…



  43. Bill Scott on February 1, 2023 at 5:16 am

    Nice job on the video! And based upon the number of comments, it looks like the content inspired a flurry of feedback. You drew us in with the American Rejects song title, then captivated us with your enthusiastic presentation. It reminded me of Mike Meyers’ online CompTIA computer classes. And I agree with your assessment of the Harbor Freight approach; they keep to their core mission of selling "cheap" tools. Talking with experienced contractors, they will take pride in their arsenal of high-end, name brand tools of the trade, but admit to picking up a Chicago Tools angle grinder for the dirty work and write it off as disposable. Personally, I stick to the consumables like sandpaper, tape, tool bags, or zip ties and avoid the power tools. And I’ve purchased several Haul Master pieces over the years which have served me well. The staff is always helpful, directing me to the proper isle or offering up coupons when I don’t have them. But with most of their products scoring high marks in the reviews, I question that process.



  44. Franz Volpi on February 1, 2023 at 5:16 am

    For power tools, I typically buy Dewalt at HD.
    But, there are many things I get at Harbor Freight. I disagree that their floor jacks are dangerous or untrustworthy. Nobody with half a brain crawls under a car with just a floor jack holding it up. I jack it up, but quality jack stands under, and then lower the vehicle on the stands. THEN I can crawl underneath to do what I have to do.



  45. Johnny Najera on February 1, 2023 at 5:17 am

    As target is to walmart
    Harbors fright is to "?"

    Possibly Home Depot, some would say lowes. I’ll go to both. Don’t have the card just need tools



  46. Danny Nye on February 1, 2023 at 5:17 am

    I buy old tools cheaper. EBay and the local flea market



  47. Joe Lucido on February 1, 2023 at 5:20 am

    Dave, you are an awesome spokesperson impressive. You do not look like quite like a Brian Williams, just sort of make a watcher relax- you are one of us, and clear great word delivery…You have a future!!!



  48. Marc Collins on February 1, 2023 at 5:20 am

    I’ve had no big problems with any tools I’ve bought from them. I’ve had a few fall apart after I totally exceeded thier expectations. I have a Chicago brand 6- 12 volt battery charger for over 20 years from them, use it all the time , still works great. Sometimes it’s a ‘Hit or Miss’ gamble. I’m a backyard mechanic, so their tools are fine by me. I will admit I have craftsman sockets and tools that I got in the ’70’s, quality is a smart choice when thinking long term. I bought a couple if cheap 10" wheels and put ’em in a gokart, they folded like paper plates !๐Ÿคฃ
    What do you want for $7.99……๐Ÿ˜ƒ



  49. Clarence Cheney on February 1, 2023 at 5:20 am

    They are crap



  50. Ob Fuscated on February 1, 2023 at 5:22 am

    Their 3/8" drive angle head impact (really more a powered ratchet) is so handy for salvage yard drivetrain pulls my bro leaves his Milwaukee at home and I also bought one (we hunt LS engines for resale). They stay sold out. (I had to get mine via Ebay.)

    It’s easy to find out what works and what’s trash but HF in 2023 is far different than ten years ago. Sears should have done what HF did instead of burning down the company to sell off the land.