Harbor Freight Grinder Rescue
About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to… About Phil B »
This is a Harbor Freight angle head grinder. It is not their least expensive, nor their most expensive grinder, but a mid-range choice that sells for around 35 US. It works well, but has a weakness. See the second photo. Note the red arrow. It indicates the location of a break in the plastic linkage from the electrical switch to the yellow switch button visible in the first photo. Once the plastic linkage breaks, the grinder is useless. In the second photo you can also see the steel linkage I made to replace the plastic linkage and restore function to my grinder. This Instructable will describe how I made and fitted the steel linkage. It will also provide an option for those who do not have access to a welder.
Step 1: Open the Grinder
Remove the single screw near where the power cord enters the case and slide the half of the case on the power cord end away from the motor. See the second photo. Remove the wheel guard. Then remove the four screws holding the metal head on the grinder. Two are encircled in red. Two are not visible, but their approximate location is indicated by the red arrows.
Step 2: The Switch
Note the text box in the photo. If you do not have access to a welder so you can make a steel linkage to replace the plastic linkage, you can mount a replacement toggle or twist switch on the bottom half of the case where you can find space. Connect to the two wires shown in the photo.
Step 3: Steel Linkage
I tried to replicate the broken plastic linkage as closely as possible with my replacement steel linkage, but there were limitations. The yellow switch button requires a square hole for a fitting. I drilled two holes and used a small file to make it rectangular. See the text boxes. Some improvising was needed. I also left an open door for myself so I could make small adjustment to the length of the linkage. After making and installing the steel linkage, I used some grinding to smooth the linkage so it releases as it should. Still, that is better after some usage. Lubrication with some paraffin rubbed on the steel helps, too.
See the second photo. A plastic linkage does not conduct electricity, so there is no danger it will short leads and terminals. But, a steel linkage is a different situation. I thinned the width of the steel linkage so it would not wear on the insulation for the wires and create an electrical short.
Step 4: Reassembly
When I made and installed my steel linkage, I had to remove the motor’s armature. That meant the commutator had to come out of the brush assembly. Getting the commutator back between the two brushes is very difficult. I could hold one brush back out of the way, but finally removed the brush holder screws on the second brush and put the brush holder back in place afterward. See the second photo and the text box.
This angle head grinder need not be considered a cheap throw away item. I use it quite a lot. That would not be possible if I had not replaced the weak plastic linkage with a sturdy steel linkage. I use this grinder with a cut off wheel most of the time. I do not use it continuously for long periods. So, mine has plenty of time to cool. It will continue to serve me well for a long time.
Step 5: After the Yellow Button
After a few years of use, the yellow switch button fell away from the grinder and would not stay in place. I decided to replace the switch button with a lever I squeeze while holding the grinder. It is a big improvement. I never use the screw-in side handle. I broke it apart and saved the bolt inside. I cut the bolt to length and use it to hold my switch lever. The switch lever has a pin about which it can swivel when the lever is depressed. A rectangular tooth extends down into the grinder to catch the hole where the yellow button had been. I have thought about adding a spring-loaded flip lever that copies commercial switches like this to keep the grinder from coming “on” when not intended. I can unplug it when not in use until I make a successful flip safety lever.
This worked very well for quite a while. Then I got an electrical shock from the steel switch handle. The part of the handle that reaches inside the grinder scraped the field windings of the motor. See the bare copper spot in the second photo. I tried grinding the part of the handle that protrudes into the motor case, but could not get a consistent solution to the problem. See the next step.
Step 6: A New Linkage
I made a switch lever that anchors solidly to one of the threaded holes in the gearhead. Normally that hole would be for a screw-in handle, but I do not use one. I drilled a hole from the back of the case toward the pushbutton on the switch inside. It needs an extra “L” connector with hinged joints to work smoothly. I added a rod guard to keep the switch handle from opening far enough to let the pushrod become misaligned. A little oil on the hinge joints helps make the action smooth. It is a bit more complicated than I like, but works well. See also text boxes.
Harbor Freight Hercules Goes Brushless with New 20V Angle Grinder
Harbor Freight has come out with their first Hercules cordless angle grinder, and this is also their first brushless cordless power tool in the Hercules lineup.
The new Harbor Freight brushless angle grinder works with 4-1/2″ or 5″ wheels and is said to deliver 45% longer runtime and 20% more power, compared to “specifications of standard product.”
That last part is confusing, as Harbor Freight doesn’t have any other cordless angle grinder in the Hercules lineup. Perhaps the comparison is to their Bauer Hypermax angle grinder.
Harbor Freight has previously offered an Earthquake XT brushless angle grinder, which is now marked as being on clearance. The two tools have some similarities with respect to motor specs, but the Hercules grinder looks to have been completely redesigned.
That is, this isn’t Harbor Freight’s product team switching colors and brand labels, the new Hercules brushless angle grinder looks to be its own design.
The new Harbor Freight Hercules brushless angle grinder features an 8500 RPM motor, quick-adjust guard, electronic soft-start, cleanable air vents, and spindle lock.
The angle grinder ships with a 5″ Type-27 blade guard and sample grinding disc.
Price: 120 for the bare tool
Thank you to Chris for the news tip!
I think this is an interesting place to start, but makes sense given Harbor Freight’s strong customer base with interests in automotive maintenance and fabrication tools.
Personally, I prefer paddle switch angle grinders, but I also don’t use such tools for very long sessions. A lot of heavier users prefer angle grinders with lock-on power switches, as they can be much less fatiguing.
It’s curious that this ships with a Type 27 5″ disc/blade guard. Will other accessories be available, such as Type 1 guards for better protection when using cut-off wheels?
The product specs mention a 3-position side handle, but I only see 2-positions. Harbor Freight’s Earthquake brushless angle grinder had a 3-position handle (both sides and on the top). This could possibly just be a web team error.
Harbor Freight is only selling the Hercules 20V angle grinder as a bare tool, which means you’ll need a separate battery and charger. For new users, a Hercules 5.0Ah battery is priced at 70, and the charger is priced at 40. If you buy all three at the same time, there’s an in-store-only 25 discount. Meaning, if you wanted a one-battery kit, and you buy in-store and without any other promos, you’ll need to spend 205 (120 tool, 70 battery, 40 charger, 25 discount).
There’s also a 2.5Ah battery, priced at 40, but higher capacity batteries are generally recommended for cordless angle grinders.
This is an expansion of Harbor Freight’s Hercules 20V cordless power tool line, and although it’s their second brushless angle grinder, it’s just the start of their Hercules brushless tool selection. are surely on the way.
What do you think about Harbor Freight’s first foray with Hercules brushless cordless power tools?
15 Комментарии и мнения владельцев
Let’s be quite frank here, paying name brand (Milwaukee, Makita, DeWALT, etc) for a Harbor Freight brand is beyond idiotic. 90 day f@%king warranty, absolutely retarded. Is Harbor Freight genius or are people just stupid? Paddle switches are much safer than lock-on switches.
I agree. I saw the price and I just about vomited. I suppose unless for whatever reason you already had other Hercules tools, I don’t know why you’d buy into it with this.
Most people don’t research themselves. They’re in harbor freight grabbing their crappy hand tools at bargain bin (while simultaneously complaining about China) and assume that a cordless angle grinder must be a good deal because it’s at harbor freight. They assume they’re getting a steal. In reality, for the same price they could get a excellent tool with an excellent warranty. Plus, the Milwaukee/Makita/DeWALT isn’t going to be replaced within a couple of months by some random new brand HF decides to launch. That’s why there’s a 90 day warranty, you see, because they’ll be a new model within that time. lol.
Most weld shops iv worked in will not allow grinders with a lock on switch its a big safety issue. Also the price on this thing is insane buy one of the big three when they are on sale.
Yeah I think HF is genius in their shoppers surveys. They know that people roll in there just to buy what they think are cheap but good enough stuff. 5 minutes of google with your smartphone standing in the store should tell you – gee don’t buy this rot go to _ and buy _ anything else for similar dollars. I too don’t understand marketing the herc crap with a 90 day warranty but placing it against DeWALT stuff with a 3 year warranty. (depending on the item)
Today, HF has raised on just about everything. You can verify it yourself, just look up your favorite whatever item(s). Some people are reporting on the Reddit HF subforum that a 2018 lawsuit is forcing them to present higher so that the sale are then legit under this legal requirement. Stuart, my suggestion is investigate the price spikes. Get to the bottom of what is going on. For historical pricing, all you have to do is lookup any item at the coupon site hfqpdb.com, below the coupon shown will be a list and dates of past normal for that specific item. It will shock you. For example, the Hercules miter saw went from a range of 299-369 (just a week ago mind you) to 569 today. HF has always based its business on shenanigans and this one may just top them all.
My only thought is many people that never read tool and craft blogs simply stop in HF to buy a tarp or clamps or a jack or whatever and expect a low price. Period. Though I’ve purchased dollies, cheap-ish tarps and the odd A clamp as gifts to people who don’t have any need or offer any respect for better spec’d products. But roller chests or power tools? Never!
HARBOR FREIGHT SHADY THINGS!! #harborfreight #milwaukee #lame
“HF has always based its business on shenanigans….” Geez folks, it’s just business. HF’s goal is emptying their customers’ wallets. While everyone on ToolGuyd is brilliant, the typical consumer isn’t as bright as they think they are. We’re…oops….they are manipulated by advertising, product placement, misleading comparisons, colors, branding and all the other techniques used for the promotion of products. Even the brilliant readers of ToolGuyd probably have fallen for some of the techniques. Be glad you have choice and stop whining.
How dare you interrupt this rant-fest of crusty old guys with your common sense and down-to-earth insight? You may well be exiled from our virtual donut shop where all we do is order black coffee and sit for hours making occasional salacious Комментарии и мнения владельцев to the over-the-hill waitress. Watch yourself, mister.
The current price for the new Hercules Angle Grinder tool only is only 99.99 USD almost 44% cheaper than the Milwaukee. The performance that I tried is even better（more cuts for the rebars with one 5Ah pack）and seems more powerful. Have to say, the higher for those big names like Bosch, DeWALT, Milwaukee, Makita are just partially for their “names”. Cost effective shall be the priority for DIY and half-pro users like us.
If you want a steal, get the Bauer Angle grinder, 40, plus 30 for the ACTUAL fast charger and 60 for the 5AH battery. Minus 20 and you have 110 for a cordless grinder kit. I’ve got 3 of them so far lol. If you don’t need quick battery charges, it’s 100 per. I don’t recommend them for prolonged us, but for a mobile / cordless setup it’s amazing. I do small mig welding and it’s been a godsend. This next part will depend on your disposition, but essentially the “serial number” is more of a sub model number. Warranty ONE of them… ♂️
Is Harbor Freight A Good Place To Buy Tools?
Harbor Freight is a discount tool retailer, selling everything from power tools to hand tools to zip ties. Everything you might need for your next construction or home renovation project, you’ll likely be able to find at Harbor Freight.
But are their tools any good?
Many shoppers might raise an eyebrow at the low at Harbor Freight, wondering how exactly this tool supplier can get away with charging so much less than their competitors.
But the answer is really quite simple. Harbor Freight buys their tools directly from manufacturers rather than buying from distributors. By cutting out the middleman, they’re able to save on costs, passing those savings onto the consumer.
Generally speaking, Harbor Freight is known for having a range of quality tools, from the best avoided to the totally reliable.
While not all Harbor Freight tools are top of the line, there is definitely a good selection of high quality tools at this discount tool supplier.
Keep reading to find out all about the quality of the tools sold at Harbor Freight!
What Brands Does Harbor Freight Sell?
The first thing you might notice when you start shopping at Harbor Freight is that you won’t see any of the familiar tool brands. Companies like Bosch, Milwaukee, Black Decker, and DeWALT unfortunately can’t be found at Harbor Freight.
But Harbor Freight still carries a wide variety of tool brands, including their own store brand, Bauer.
Harbor Freight carries the following tool brands, among others:
Top 4 Most Popular Harbor Freight Tools
To find out exactly what customers are loving at Harbor Freight, we analyzed the top four most popular products based on number of sales and quality of reviews.
Without further ado, here are the top four most popular products at Harbor Freight!
With close to 2500 reviews and a solid rating just shy of 5 stars, this impact wrench kit is by far one of the most popular power tools available at Harbor Freight. 98% of the people who reviewed this product online gave it either a 4- or 5-star review and said they would recommend it to other shoppers. Impact wrenches are most commonly used for loosening stubborn lug nuts on cars and trucks, but they can be used in any situation where tugging on a hand-powered wrench just isn’t cutting it.
This simple palm sander may not seem like much, but it’s gotten over 318 5-star reviews at Harbor Freight, and 98% of reviewers said they would recommend it to another shopper. Palm sanders can be used for a wide variety of wood and metalworking projects. They’re perfect for any situation where you need to smooth the surface of something.
With well over 2000 reviews (and 99% of those being either 4 or 5 stars), this miter saw is by far one of the most popular tools available at Harbor Freight. Though similar to a chop saw or swing saw, miter saws are specially designed to make precision, angled cuts in wood.
The most popular angle grinder at Harbor Freight is less than 40! 98% percent of reviewers gave this grinder a 4- or 5-star review, and 99% of customers said they would recommend it to other shoppers. Can’t beat that! Angle grinders are super versatile tools and can be used for a wide variety of projects, including grinding down rusted bolts, demoing, or cutting tile. You can also use angle grinders to sand, polish, and sharpen.
Are Harbor Freight Tools Safe?
Depending on who you ask, the reputation of Harbor Freight tools is anywhere from solid to sketchy.
According to a few different sources, including drivingline.com and ManMadeDIY, there are some tools from Harbor Freight that are safer and more reliable to use than others.
While generally speaking Harbor Freight tools shouldn’t be considered any less safe than tools made by other manufacturers, customers with woodworking and construction expertise have some words to contribute to the conversation.
According to ManMadeDIY, many of Harbor Freight’s power tools vibrate in ways that prevent precision and increase the risk of clumsy handling and, therefore, potential injury. If you want to take their advice, then you might want to avoid buying major handheld power tools and benchtop power tools from this discount retailer. To read the full list of MMDIY’s Harbor Freight dos and don’ts, click here.
Driving Line has hopped on the same boat of advising customers to stay away from things like mechanic’s tool sets, saw blades, winches, and impact drivers at Harbor Freight.
Family Handyman takes on a much more positive perspective when it comes to Harbor Freight tools, recommending their popular Hercules Compound Miter Saw (featured on our list of top-rated products above) and Warrior 12V Cordless Drill.
Harbor Freight Tools Reviews
One of the best ways to find out whether a product is really worth buying is to look at what other customers have to say.
So, here, we’ll dive into the mystery of Harbor Freight tools by looking into the experiences shoppers have had.
One former Harbor Freight employee still has great things to say about his Harbor Freight tools:
Here’s some good advice from another Quora user who makes the point that Harbor Freight tools are best suited for DIYers who only need to use their tools occasionally. as opposed to contractors or pros who rely on their tools on a daily basis:
Finally, here’s some valuable advice from a Reddit user who has a realistic take on Harbor Freight tools:
Overall, it seems pretty clear that Harbor Freight has a wide variety of tools that range in quality from just okay to great.
If you’re a DIYer that only tackles a couple of major projects a year, then shopping at Harbor Freight can be a great way to save money on expensive power tools.
Where does Harbor Freight get its tools?
Harbor Freight buys tools directly from manufacturers. which is why they are able to charge such low prices.
Does Harbor Freight own Snap-on Tools?
No. Harbor Freight has been known to compare its own tools to Snap-on, but the two companies are not financially linked in any way.
Are all Harbor Freight tools made in China?
No. While many tools sold at Harbor Freight are made in China, they also carry some USA-made tools. Most major tool suppliers in the US sell both Chinese-made and American-made tools.
Does Harbor Freight make their own tools?
No. Harbor Freight buys tools directly from the same manufacturers that make tools for other major tool brands.
Do Harbor Freight tools have a lifetime warranty?
Harbor Freight hand tools come with a lifetime workmanship and materials warranty. However, anything else sold at Harbor Freight comes with a limited 90-day warranty.
If you’re a contractor building up your professional toolkit, then you’re probably going to want to shop somewhere other than Harbor Freight. While it’s certainly possible to find quality tools from this discount tool seller, it can be a gamble, and the selection of high quality tools just isn’t going to be as good as it is elsewhere. That said, if you’re an at-home handyperson looking to get some DIY projects done this summer, shopping at Harbor Freight can be a great way to save money when you don’t need your tools to withstand daily use. Buying hand tools from Harbor Freight can be an especially reliable way to go, as the company offers a lifetime warranty.