Harbor Freight Lathes Any Good? - Page 2 - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #21 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 01:15 AM
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Okibugg, talk about someone with their drawers in a wad, yes, I think maybe you do.
Don't know what anyone has got against HF but they need to get over it.
I buy USA tools when I can, even if they cost more within reason. There's over $600 worth of Jorgensen clamps in my shop precisely because they were made in the USA.
There's also some good old American made hand tools in there and even my Skil saw is a 1977 model that was made in the USA, and I'm proud of it.
Bottom line is, like it or not, just about all power tools today are made in Asia. All "American" companies like Stanley, Dewalt, Millwaukee, Porter Cable, Ridgid, Black & Decker, and Skil have all sold out the American worker by moving their production to other countries then selling the import crap at a price as if it was still made here. I personally think they should be required to change the brand name if it's not made here.
I just feel if I have no choice but to buy an import tool, I might as well pay an import price for it. A lot of the stuff at HF is exactly the same stuff being sold by "American" brand name companies at 3 or 4 times the price. Not clone tools, not look alike tools, but the exact same tools made in the same communist factory with a different label stuck on it. Having said that, HF also sells a fair amount of pure junk as well. The trick is to have enough sense to tell the difference.
I just bought a lathe for $160. That same lathe is sold by an American company for $360. I have a two year full replacement, no questions asked warranty. I hate it, but there were no choices available that were made in the USA. Well, none except for older machines. But buying a used older machine is not providing anyone a job today so what's the point? Now that $160 lathe might not last forever, but it will last just as long as the identical machine that sells for $360 with a different color paint job. And when it does die I will have saved $200 that I can apply toward another machine.
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post #22 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 07:53 AM
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okiebugg, you are absolutely correct. It is my opinion. My ex-wife used to make the same complaint- that I talk about my opinions too much- as if I could relay someone else's opinion properly or something. (Like I said, she's my ex... ) I relayed my story because I have been on this board and others like it for long enough to see that there are a lot of people like me that simply get drowned out by the "rule" of people who buy more expensive equipment and always recommend that to newbies.

People used to do master work with just hand tools. Bigger, stronger, "better", really isn't "better" in all cases, it's just bigger and stronger and more expensive. There are still people who only use hand tools and many places, including here on woodworkingtalk, there is a forum for those folks. Some places have a "DIY" type section but it's hard to have DIY when it's all about making stuff, right? You'll notice trends in certain forums though, about building lathes, for example, or more often building lathe tools. I represent those folks, the ones who believe they can do anything and don't need to spend $100 on a $15 tool that they don't use all the time.

I will recommend people buy as big and quality a tablesaw as they can afford, but that's about the only tool you'll ever hear (or read) me say that about. It's the one tool where I wish I had broken my own rule of buying "low end". One of these days I'll upgrade to the $300-$500 tablesaw but for now my $120 one does the job well. The only real reason I want to upgrade is I don't like the throat plate or the miter guide slots.

Your opinion is important, and being part of the majority, it makes sense to offer it. I just wanted to offer a dissenting opinion so the newbies out there get both sides and don't rush out to bankrupt themselves on a new hobby when it isn't really necessary. Plenty of us do just fine and have very little complaints about the quality of those "low quality" tools that the majority will tell you are going to break or need upgrading immediately. Quality doesn't come from a price tag, it comes from workmanship. As others have mentioned, many of the "off brand" machines are identical to the "big name" machines in every way, including the factory they are built in, they just don't carry the name that brings an extra price premium.

Last edited by frankp; 12-09-2010 at 07:59 AM.
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post #23 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 10:22 AM
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Thanks, Frank, for that input. I would add that the longer tools, 20" in overall length, not only have hardwood handles, but more importantly the cutting end of the tool is twice the thickness of the shorter handled versions. This results in cleaner cutting with significantly less tool vibration during cutting. If you haven't tried a 20" rough gouger, treat yourself to one. Of course, you might never want to use the shorter versions again. It's like driving a Mercedes instead of a Chevy.
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post #24 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 11:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Engineer View Post
Okibugg, talk about someone with their drawers in a wad, yes, I think maybe you do.
Don't know what anyone has got against HF but they need to get over it.
I buy USA tools when I can, even if they cost more within reason. There's over $600 worth of Jorgensen clamps in my shop precisely because they were made in the USA.
There's also some good old American made hand tools in there and even my Skil saw is a 1977 model that was made in the USA, and I'm proud of it.
Bottom line is, like it or not, just about all power tools today are made in Asia. All "American" companies like Stanley, Dewalt, Milwaukee, Porter Cable, Rigid, Black & Decker, and Skil have all sold out the American worker by moving their production to other countries then selling the import crap at a price as if it was still made here. I personally think they should be required to change the brand name if it's not made here.
I just feel if I have no choice but to buy an import tool, I might as well pay an import price for it. A lot of the stuff at HF is exactly the same stuff being sold by "American" brand name companies at 3 or 4 times the price. Not clone tools, not look alike tools, but the exact same tools made in the same communist factory with a different label stuck on it. Having said that, HF also sells a fair amount of pure junk as well. The trick is to have enough sense to tell the difference.
I just bought a lathe for $160. That same lathe is sold by an American company for $360. I have a two year full replacement, no questions asked warranty. I hate it, but there were no choices available that were made in the USA. Well, none except for older machines. But buying a used older machine is not providing anyone a job today so what's the point? Now that $160 lathe might not last forever, but it will last just as long as the identical machine that sells for $360 with a different color paint job. And when it does die I will have saved $200 that I can apply toward another machine.
First, My pants are not in a wad. I was merely expressing my opinion about purchasing quality vs utilitarian equipment. Again, it is my opinion. Opinions are like noses....everybody has one, including you and I.

Second, I never mentioned Harbor Freight in any of my opinions, and wont.

The tools I have purchased in my lifetime started out with the least expensive tools that would do the job I was asking. As I got older and had a little experience, I learned that all tools were not what they seemed. I started buying better quality, and staying away from Chinese/Asian manufactured power tools. Someone said that A lathe is a lathe as long as the spindles line up-true to a degree. What happens when you are turning a small project requiring precision? If the spindles line up and you have a severe degree of run-out, your project will not be to a high degree of accuracy. When you have to replace the head bearing within a few weeks, and cannot cross check the bearing in the head to replace it, you are up the poop creek. What if you purchase a new lathe, get it home, unpack it, and the tool rest won't stay locked?

These are mentioned because I have seen stuff happen

"Engineer", I'm not disagreeing with your opinions, just offering another way to look at it, which on a public forum is allowed.

I do appreciate you in that this difference can be debated on the internet without starting a war
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post #25 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 11:13 AM
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?????????????

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankp View Post
okiebugg, you are absolutely correct. It is my opinion. My ex-wife used to make the same complaint- that I talk about my opinions too much- as if I could relay someone else's opinion properly or something. (Like I said, she's my ex... ) I relayed my story because I have been on this board and others like it for long enough to see that there are a lot of people like me that simply get drowned out by the "rule" of people who buy more expensive equipment and always recommend that to newbies.

People used to do master work with just hand tools. Bigger, stronger, "better", really isn't "better" in all cases, it's just bigger and stronger and more expensive. There are still people who only use hand tools and many places, including here on woodworkingtalk, there is a forum for those folks. Some places have a "DIY" type section but it's hard to have DIY when it's all about making stuff, right? You'll notice trends in certain forums though, about building lathes, for example, or more often building lathe tools. I represent those folks, the ones who believe they can do anything and don't need to spend $100 on a $15 tool that they don't use all the time.

I will recommend people buy as big and quality a tablesaw as they can afford, but that's about the only tool you'll ever hear (or read) me say that about. It's the one tool where I wish I had broken my own rule of buying "low end". One of these days I'll upgrade to the $300-$500 tablesaw but for now my $120 one does the job well. The only real reason I want to upgrade is I don't like the throat plate or the miter guide slots.

Your opinion is important, and being part of the majority, it makes sense to offer it. I just wanted to offer a dissenting opinion so the newbies out there get both sides and don't rush out to bankrupt themselves on a new hobby when it isn't really necessary. Plenty of us do just fine and have very little complaints about the quality of those "low quality" tools that the majority will tell you are going to break or need upgrading immediately. Quality doesn't come from a price tag, it comes from workmanship. As others have mentioned, many of the "off brand" machines are identical to the "big name" machines in every way, including the factory they are built in, they just don't carry the name that brings an extra price premium.
Frank, I really appreciate people like you. Being able to read a retort on the internet and not taking it personally is refreshing. I salute you!
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post #26 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 11:44 AM
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Harbor freight lathes any good

I believe the origonal question was are HF lathes any good.I tried one before I got my Nova 1624.They replaced the lathe 4 times and sent me a new motor once,in a 6 mo period,before I gave up and took it back,so I guess you know my opinion,although I know a lot of turners that have been using them for yrs and turn out some beautifull work.Engineer could you tell us what lathe you got for 160.00 that is being sold by an american co for over 300.00?Heck there all sold by american company's,just thier made somewhere else.I mean is it sold under another name or what.NOW as for quality,if your going to do this for a living,then you want to get the best you can afford.My Nova is a great lathe,but I don't try to compair it to a Robust or One Way,because it won't do what they will do.My 1st lathe was a ricon (still have it) great little lathe,but it won't do what the Nova will do.If you are just gonna turn for a hobby or maybe just part time,then a lot of the cheaper lathes my serve you well.Hope I don't upset anyone here,but thats just my opinion.

God Bless all
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post #27 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 04:32 PM
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All,
I'm not wanting to ruffle any feathers here, just state my opinion and views. The OP was asking about the HF lathes and since I just bought one and been researching them for a few months I thought I might be able to provide another perspective.

I bought my bed extension from Penn state. The castings are a perfect match, in every way except paint color, to the HF mini. Upon looking at the pictures of the two machines, HF 10 x 18 and the PSI 10 x 18 it seems pretty obvious they came off the same assembly line. Maybe the HF is a re-branded older model from the PSI line, I don't know that, but I have been a foundry engineer for 40 years and I do know castings.

I am in this mostly as a hobby, if I depended on woodwork for a living, I might have a totally different view of machine value.
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post #28 of 58 Old 12-09-2010, 06:21 PM
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Quote:
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All,
... I just bought one ...
The HF website has 2 small lathes listed, I think they are both 10" x 8": item #65345 is a 5-speed, item #95607 is variable speed.

Which one do you have, and did you evaluate both before choosing to go with the one that you bought?

Thanks!

edit ... ooops, I see the 5-speed is 18 x 10 and the variable is 8 x 12 ... never mind ...

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Last edited by duncsuss; 12-09-2010 at 06:34 PM.
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post #29 of 58 Old 12-14-2010, 05:36 PM
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Delta Midi Lathe LA-200 for $100

today i found this delta midi (http://www.ksl.com/?nid=218&ad=13658...d=&search=&s=1) listed for $100. i called within 1/2 hour of listing and it was taken. "too many lathes. less than 3 hours use." fairly common in our consumer rich u.s.a.. and the best reason NOT to buy h.f. crap. sure it takes some time. but i think its worth it.
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post #30 of 58 Old 12-14-2010, 10:40 PM
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Me thinks me underoo's are in a wad,not over anything but it just happens!I did check on a lot of lathe when I bought mine.I checked a lot of reviews also.My HF scroll saw and ocillating sander and drill press work fine for what I need them for. I look for durability in the more important tools like tablesaws,lathes jointers and planers.On the HF lathe I looked at the bed didnt look real heavy and the crank on the tailstock seemed a little weak.When I checked out the Jet 12x20 It just seemed better made.If I was a little tighter on the $ I probably would have went with the HF but I stretched a little and got the jet.Im sure great work can be done on both.Itchy

***For the record*** Ive made hundreds of guitar bodies,never put one together and cant play a note.
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post #31 of 58 Old 12-15-2010, 04:58 PM
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i hope i have not offended. i just believe the quality craftsmanship i'm sure we all strive for in our own work should also be found in the tools we purchase and use.
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post #32 of 58 Old 12-15-2010, 05:38 PM
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If everybody had the same opinion and agreed on everything there would be no purpose in having a forum.
This is a place where we can express our opinion, and offer advice based on our own experience and judgement.

The folks asking the questions can judge who is offering good advice, or not. I usually decide how much weight I give a set of responses based on how many agree; majority rules. . . unless they all disagree with me. :^)
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post #33 of 58 Old 12-15-2010, 07:41 PM
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majority rules. . . unless they all disagree with me. :^)
Ah yes ... when I told my parents my choice of career, their response was: "That figures -- you can always tell an engineer, but you can't tell them much."

(Electrical, btw )

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post #34 of 58 Old 12-16-2010, 01:27 AM
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Quote:
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If everybody had the same opinion and agreed on everything there would be no purpose in having a forum.
This is a place where we can express our opinion, and offer advice based on our own experience and judgement.

The folks asking the questions can judge who is offering good advice, or not. I usually decide how much weight I give a set of responses based on how many agree; majority rules. . . unless they all disagree with me. :^)
It's kinda like a jury. You look at the evidence (experience), go into a room, express your opinion, vote on a verdict. In this case, we are looking at what has made us the people we are in woodturning terms. The USMC (35 years) made me how I am today (apology). I think that if you or I know what we are talking about, we should express our opinion, and let the others decide.
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post #35 of 58 Old 12-16-2010, 07:17 AM
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No dog in this fight but will respond anyway............

Theres a few subjects that just sort of stir up the pot so to speak.It seems,anything with HF in the dialog is one of those subjects.Western,and more specific-ly US,culture is steeped in Ford vs Chevy arguments.Which isn't a bad thing,well unless you let it become a negative.

It shouldn't be a pass or fail question(do HF's suck),its usefullness has to be measured against something.Because,compared to another Pac Rim tool it may very well excell.....or compared to some heavy ind. US iron,it might not qualify for a paper weight.
So,you probably need to add a "compared to what" in these types of discussions.

Just some observations....back to regular programming.BW
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post #36 of 58 Old 12-16-2010, 09:15 AM
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Quote:
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i hope i have not offended. i just believe the quality craftsmanship i'm sure we all strive for in our own work should also be found in the tools we purchase and use.
As I said, quality comes from the craftsman, not from the tool. I've seen some amazing things come from a guy with nothing but a dremel. Similarly, I've seen total crap come out of a $50,000 shop.

That said, I'd jump on that delta you linked if it were near me, rather than buying the HF options.

Last edited by frankp; 12-16-2010 at 09:18 AM.
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post #37 of 58 Old 12-22-2010, 08:08 PM
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I wouldn't be qualified to discuss the HF lathes, but I bought one last weekend and can compare it to my Shopsmith MarkV.

I purchased the 10" x 18" Central Machinery mini lathe for turning pens and other small projects. It is item # 65345. I bought it based on customer reviews compared to customer reviews of other brands. This is easy to do on Amazon.com and Harborfreight.com.

Before powering up I checked all the nuts, bolts, belts and alignment of tail stock to headstock. Nothing was loose, belts were tensioned in accordance with the enclosed instruction manual, and tail to headstock alignment was right on the money.

Tool rest moved smoothly entire length of ways after removing the preservative and coating with paste wax. Adjusting the belt is a bit clunky but effecgtive.

Turned half a dozen blanks just to play with it and learn its idiosncracies. The only problem I noticed was the motor and headstock over heating, a real good indication the belt is too tight. Slacked the tension just a bit and turned down some more blanks. No more over heating noticed.

It is quiet compared to the Shopsmith. It has enough power and torque for my purposes. It takes "big boy" attachements; the head stock is a 1" x 8tpi screw as well as a #2M taper. Tail stock is a #2M taper. At about 50 pounds it has enough mass to eliminate vibration.

I've bought enough high priced tools to have learned that going that way is not always cost effective. Now I buy based on experience, reviews, reputation AND price. I try to find the happy medium. If I use it a lot and it continues to function, I've made a good choice. If I use it a lot and it breaks, then I'll move "up" to a "better quality" (higher priced) tool.

I did look at the full size lathes, but they appeared way to light weight to do anything serious beyond a good Latin beat.

Just my two cents. Add $3.98 to it and you might get a cup of coffee at Star Bucks.

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post #38 of 58 Old 12-22-2010, 08:29 PM
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Theres a couple on C/L in Sacramento , Ca. One like new for $60.

***For the record*** Ive made hundreds of guitar bodies,never put one together and cant play a note.
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post #39 of 58 Old 12-22-2010, 08:45 PM
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I really like the way you think. I run a sawmill and I use the central companys 2 ton engine lift with HF hydraulic lift attached as the ram jack. I use it to lift my logs up similar to a crane but on a much smaller level haha. Used it over 100 times! Still works awesome! Just needs new wheels
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post #40 of 58 Old 03-02-2011, 06:18 PM
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At the risk of reviving a thread that many might have hoped was dead (that's an unintended rhyme )...

I ordered a Grizzly mini lathe G9247 because I used to have one and really liked it. Unfortunately it's on back order for a month and I'm not good at exercising patience, so I've been poking around today and I discovered that the next step up for small Grizzly lathes is the H8259 10"x18", which sells for $215 plus $44 freight ($259 total).

Because there's an Harbor Freight store about 30 minutes from me, I decided to see what they had. I've never made a "big" purchase from HF because of their reputation. But I figured it doesn't hurt to look.

Their 10"x18" Central Machinery 65345 is currently on sale for $195 (reg. $220). And since I'd be bringing it home in my car, I would also save the $44 freight charge, and I'd have the thing the same day I paid for it. So I'm saving $64 (the price of a small pen turning starter set).

I get to comparing the 2 lathes and the specs are close to identical. Plus, if you compare the photos they look like the same tool with different stickers on them. I mean with the specs and photos so close, I'm really curious what could make the Grizzly worth an extra $64?



GRIZZLY H8259:

CENTRAL MACHINERY 65345:



I haven't decided to buy the HF lathe yet. but if I do, I'll give it a quick review here.

Gakkuri
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