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  1. #1
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    How crappy and disposable are Chicago Electric tools?

    While looking into saw blade sharpening options, including DIY, I became infatuated with a Sealy SMS2003 from the UK for $180.



    I hate disposable tools, design idea theft and Chinese knockoffs to the core, but for a third the price (equal to the latest saw blade sharpening bill), and in the US, Harbor Freight has a CE knock off.



    What's the life expectancy and general quality of Chicago Electric tools? Up until now, I never considered owning anything by CE.
    Best regards, Terry
    (Direct Contact is best vs PMs)

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  2. #2
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    Depends on the tool. We've got a harbor freight miter saw that is adequate and durable. But the harbor freight dremel tool knock-off is so underpowered that it was useless new out of the box.

    In general, your best bet is to buy a quality tool used. CL and estate auctions have been good for me.

  3. #3
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    How crappy and disposable are Chicago Electric tools?

    Iíve had a CE 4Ē grinder for donkeys years that has been totally usable (my outlier). A jigsaw I bought sucked balls the moment I opened the box.

    But, yeah, only buy stuff at Harbor Freight that you consider disposable

    Iíd also say maybe donít buy things there that are supposed to be ďaccurateĒ

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by skimaxpower View Post
    In general, your best bet is to buy a quality tool used. CL and estate auctions have been good for me.
    I hear ya. Reliable accuracy is desired, too. I had started looking for used.

    I might as well have a run at a couple DIY tile, table and/or compound miter saw jig ideas in the mean time.
    Best regards, Terry
    (Direct Contact is best vs PMs)

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  5. #5
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    No bad. for cheap one time use tools, I find there prices excellent. I especially use them for paintbrushes and drill bits. Good luck with pneumatic tools, too.

  6. #6
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    Seems to be pretty hit or miss...
    I have an angle grinder I've used and abused for the past 3 years. I cut a whole patio's worth of quartzite and sandstone in the rain and other than the switch getting a bit sticky it's still going strong. Best $15 bucks I ever spent. Same goes for the corded rotary hammer they make, I think I paid $60 for it (on sale) and I certainly don't regret it. It wobbles and vibrates a lot but drills sandstone up to 1" in diameter like it's butter. I've used the hammer-only function for chipping the base of a concrete wall, it was slow going but it did the job. Even the Chinese bits perform well... I don't feel bad beating the shit out of of the whole setup instead of the Bosch which only comes out for climbing.
    On the other hand I just obliterated an electric chainsaw my wife got from there, turns out the drivetrain consists of a metal cog and a large plastic wheel. The saw starting spitting plastic shavings after a couple of hours. Back to the Husqvarna for that...

  7. #7
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    Hit and miss, IME.

    Hits:
    - electric chainsaw-on-a-pole. Don't need it often, but it makes tree pruning once a year a lot easier than by hand.
    - heat gun. On my second one. First one died after a decade. At $8 apiece or whatever, seems worthwhile.
    - assortment of cheap air tools in a giant case. Still working after about 12 years. Not the most powerful tools, but not bad.

    Miss:
    - electric sawzall. Weak motor. Luckily it was only like $15, but still, kinda worthless.


    I like HF for crude non-motorized stuff: jack stands, pry bars, sledge and dead blow hammers, tow hitch attachments. And for rarely-used weird sizes of hand tools.

    I don't think I'd buy any cordless power tools there. I have (admittedly unfounded) suspicions about their batteries.
    Quote Originally Posted by powder11 View Post
    if you have to resort to taking advice from the nitwits on this forum, then you're doomed.

  8. #8
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    Quality pays for itself it time.
    Do not count the days

    Make the days count.

  9. #9
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    Others pretty much nailed it. The crude stuff like jacks, etc HF is great. Power tools are hit or miss, but usually a good buy for cheaper tools that you won't use frequently. For instance I'm a big fan of their 4" angle grinders, they'll burn out under heavy use but at $10-15 a pop, you can burn through a bunch of them before reaching the cost of a good one. I also have a tile saw that works well enough for a small remodel project, but I wouldn't buy anything that requires a lot of precision (like a miter saw) or that you'll use a lot. For those, buy quality tools.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottyb View Post
    Quality pays for itself it time.
    I don't really find that to be the case save in special circumstances. You also "lose" money buying higher quality tools than you need (esp. if they end up just sitting around). I've gone to buying pretty cheap the first time I need something, then if I wear it out/start to be really bugged by its limitations, I get a "lifetime" version as I've proved to myself that I'll really use it. I have a lot of "cheap" tools though that just keep working though.

    That being said, I love Harbor Freight for a lot of things, but don't really trust their power tools. Thankfully, the reviews do a decent job of sorting out the dreck.

  11. #11
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    Their 4" angle grinders do not hold up to heavy use for long. I run a grinder at least 4 hours a day. Makitas make it over a year with a brush replacement. The CE I tried didn't even go a month.

    Also worked a job one time building feed managers for beef cattle. The Chicago Electric chop saw that they provided me only lasted 2 days.

    You get what you pay for

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by NW_SKIER View Post
    Their 4" angle grinders do not hold up to heavy use for long. I run a grinder at least 4 hours a day. Makitas make it over a year with a brush replacement. The CE I tried didn't even go a month.
    Yeah... 4hr/day is the sort of thing that I'd call "using it a lot" and wouldn't buy a $10 grinder for.

  13. #13
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    I agree with nice, quality tools are the preference and tend to retain value (as long as you maintain them). They can get real spendy if they just sit around not being useful but look nice. Every once in a while you can score an el cheapo tool that keeps doing the job needed for low cost and well beyond expectations. That seems more and more rare, however.
    Best regards, Terry
    (Direct Contact is best vs PMs)

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  14. #14
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    Aug 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpinord View Post
    What's the life expectancy and general quality of Chicago Electric tools? Up until now, I never considered owning anything by CE.
    total crapshoot for any of the power tools harbor freight sells. some of them appear to be an exact clone of things sold by other manufacturers and ime, work just as well as the other made in china ones (but not as well as the old domestic design that was copied). some of the HF jobs are cheap enough they work ok - I have a CE trim router which is perfect for dedicating to a single task w/a jig @ $20 and has lasted years of infrequent use, but it in general sucks compared to a Bosch. some of them are utter crap - I went through several of the sanders. the designs change regularly, the specs do, whatever necessary to eek out a profit for the factory in China.

    FYI - the local newspaper has a 20% off coupon in it most Sundays, there's usually a 25% off coupon for special holidays. They can have great advertised specials.

  15. #15
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    Funny i dealt with this today. Iíve had a grinder that Iíve used for 10+years, regularly, the thing is great. I have a framing gun that I hate. It works, but wonít shoot the last three nails on the strip, every single time.

    You get what you pay for.

  16. #16
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    Same here. Mixed results with their stuff. Mostly disappointed with their power tools except the small Li-ion driver. Their digital calipers burn through batteries soon after insertion.

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