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Forum topic by MrRon posted 11-29-2019 08:53 PM 2035 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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MrRon

5854 posts in 3919 days


11-29-2019 08:53 PM

I just opened their latest flier and now they are selling tool cabinets for $5000 and 14 piece wrench sets for $100, all under the name “Icon”. At those prices, they have to be good. They are comparing them to Snap-on that cost more than double. Is this a trend towards high quality HF tools? If I were buying a tool cabinet, I would definitely check out HF. They list their cabinets as “assembled in the USA”. Where the parts are made, who knows. Next time I visit a HF store, I will certainly check them out.

They appear to be promoting 3 lines of tools; cheap, intermediate and quality high end. Their quality seems to have been going up while the name brands have been sliding downwards. The time may have arrived when consumers no longer laugh at HF.


23 replies so far

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Bill White

5261 posts in 4636 days


#1 posted 11-29-2019 10:46 PM

Glad to see the quality move at HF. Good on them.

-- [email protected]

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corelz125

1100 posts in 1652 days


#2 posted 11-30-2019 12:13 AM

I guess the part “assembled in the USA” is when you bring it home and put it together.

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Gentile

358 posts in 2494 days


#3 posted 11-30-2019 11:03 PM

A buddy of mine bought a tool box from them. I thought it would be junk until I saw it. It ain’t too bad

-- "I cut it twice and it's still too short"

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therealSteveN

5158 posts in 1250 days


#4 posted 12-01-2019 07:46 AM

Eric Smidt has sold all the really cheeeep stuff America can hold. He knows he needs to up the quality, to keep in the game. Lately they have been adding quite a few lines of merchandise that will go up against some of the bigger, better names.

I dropped by a shop I know the owner of, they do really nice cabinet work. Sitting there were 2 of the new Blue miter saws they are selling. My Friend said they are kicking butt, he said much better than the Milwaukee’s he used to have.

-- Think safe, be safe

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fuigb

576 posts in 3633 days


#5 posted 12-01-2019 02:11 PM

HF is predicated upon selling cheaply made pirated copies of orhers’ intellectual property. Not having to fund RnD means that they’ll reap the benefits of others’ work without having to pay the cost to get there themselves.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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theart

162 posts in 1230 days


#6 posted 12-01-2019 04:14 PM


HF is predicated upon selling cheaply made pirated copies of orhers intellectual property. Not having to fund RnD means that they ll reap the benefits of others work without having to pay the cost to get there themselves.

- fuigb

There’s almost zero intellectual property involved in manufacturing most tools. Which is why I can walk into the local bigbox and see a yellow circular saw sitting next to a blue one and a red one, and they all function exactly the same way. Is the yellow one a pirated copy of the blue one, or is it the other way around? Switches, motors, bearings, screws, batteries, etc. are all outsourced from third parties who do the real R&D. The “manufacturer” makes a few castings and a box. Quality control and brand loyalty are the only differentiators.

Harbor Freight started out by doing the same assembly job as everyone else but buying lower grade components from the subcontractors and pretty much skipping any quality control. But I think they’ve reached the number of physical stores where it’s starting to get easy for customers to return stuff that was broken out of the box. So they’re spending the few extra bucks to buy the good internals, and because they own the whole supply chain are still coming in under the bigbox price tag.

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bigJohninvegas

741 posts in 2137 days


#7 posted 12-01-2019 07:40 PM

I think they are trying to up there game in Quality, and I too have seen the price tags on the new boxes. But I have not seen one in a store yet.
I did buy the two biggest US General boxes they sell this year. The black one back in February, and the Green one just about a month ago. Very well made. I did shop and compare the US General boxes with Kobalt, and Husky brands at the big box stores. and I feel that US general is a better quality box.
Both the HF boxes replaced smaller stainless steel (Costco, Sams Club) versions that I had out grown.

-- John

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CyberDyneSystems

304 posts in 2864 days


#8 posted 12-02-2019 04:48 AM

Based on this thread, I looked at the ICON line which was news to me. they do look a lot like the “US General” which they’ve sold for years,. I have a number of US General boxes and love them all. Heavier duty than my old Craftsman to be sure.
Two years ago they launched “Series II” US General that look pretty much exactly the same, but have better drawer extensions among other hard to see improvements.

I wouldn’t put much stock in the comparison with SnapOn,. at least not just because ICON is new. They’ve been making such comparisons for as long as I have been getting the catalog with everything from tool boxes , impact drivers, jacks, welders you name it.

Also, yes, HF has been doing this “upgrading” for some time. They keep outdoing themselves in some categories. It used to be the electric tools, all crap, were “Chicago Electric” or “Drill Master” etc..
Then they came out with the “Bauer line”, at higher prices and seemingly better build quality, then it was “Hercules” even more pricey,.

Same thing with Welders, used to be just the Bargain name “Chicago Electric” they still have those but now they have 3 different lines of welders, it’s getting really hard to compare between the lines. and they keep making newer more expensive ones. Last year (2018) “Vulcan” was the best, highest cost and arguably highest quality. 2019 they added “Titanium” .. and so it goes. So Icon is just another one of these upgrades.

Based on the prices of the ICON line, and the value of the US General, personally I will stick with US General. I’m not a pro mechanic though, but those US General boxes have repeatedly been named best value in tool boxes. They are very good.

-- Without the wood, it's just working

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MrRon

5854 posts in 3919 days


#9 posted 12-02-2019 05:13 PM

With the bad press HF has gotten in the past, it’s hard to justify spending $5000 on any HF product. It may take a while before HF can be regarded as “quality”.

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edapp

340 posts in 2105 days


#10 posted 12-02-2019 08:44 PM

Like bigjohninvegas, I built a miter station on top of one of the 72” “US General” boxes. I have loved the box and have no issues with it. for ~700 bucks it was a great addition to my shop and I store all of my hand tools, measuring and marking tools, drill/driver bits, sandpaper and misc blades bits and accessories in it. Keeps my shop clean!

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CMO

2 posts in 1074 days


#11 posted 12-02-2019 10:48 PM

HF has definitely improved the quality of SOME of their products; while others has lagged behind or even backslid further into trashdom. I purchased a Hercules 12” sliding compound miter saw about a year ago there was very little adjusting to do out of the box, and it has stayed fairly true since. I tune it everytime I change the blade out and it never takes much to dial it in. Their drill press on the other hand is pure junk just sayin. I think the only way I will be able to make this a usable tool in my shop will be to replace the motor. It is so underpowered on startup I have to manually turn the chuck to start it turning. Most likely a capacitor issue but very aggravating to say the least.

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nkawtg

295 posts in 1927 days


#12 posted 12-02-2019 10:53 PM

They might be assembled in the USA but they’re made of Chinesium.

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alittleoff

548 posts in 1952 days


#13 posted 12-03-2019 04:19 AM

I don’t know where the tool boxes are made but to me and J.M.O. There one of the best boxes out there, and the no.1 box in their price range.
Gerald.

View edapp's profile

edapp

340 posts in 2105 days


#14 posted 12-03-2019 01:48 PM



HF has definitely improved the quality of SOME of their products; while others has lagged behind or even backslid further into trashdom. I purchased a Hercules 12” sliding compound miter saw about a year ago there was very little adjusting to do out of the box, and it has stayed fairly true since. I tune it everytime I change the blade out and it never takes much to dial it in. Their drill press on the other hand is pure junk just sayin. I think the only way I will be able to make this a usable tool in my shop will be to replace the motor. It is so underpowered on startup I have to manually turn the chuck to start it turning. Most likely a capacitor issue but very aggravating to say the least.

- CMO

I had one of their benchtop drill presses for a year or so. Seemed like a solid unit especially for $40. But the depth stop collar was plastic (I think the only piece of plastic on the dang thing) and broke quickly. Without that it was of little use to me.
The tool box however feels much heavier and better built than what you will find in the blue or orange stores.

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Eric

179 posts in 913 days


#15 posted 12-03-2019 05:52 PM

In the old days I went to sears and bought Craftsman. In the 70s much of it was made in Japan. Where should I buy Chinese presses, stands, wrenches, ratchets etc these days? Lowes, HD? I go to HF. I still won’t buy high end power tools from HF. OTOH I bought Craftsman through the 2000s and theres no spare parts for any of it now. The HF tool chests are impossible to beat, I bought 3 of them (with coupons or on sale!).

-- Eric

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