My guide to building a personal makerspace/workshop at home

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Don’t Hate on the Harbor Freight

I still have an electric grinder [$4.99 US] that I bought at Harbor Freight 25 years ago, when they were a paper catalog company. Dropped it in water, still ran, dropped it off a two story roof, still ran, it is indestructible.

For more durability and longevity, I buy Milwaukee [corded and cordless] tools, but if I need a cheapo tool, I go Harbor Freight.


While I own a few harbor freight tools, don’t forget about eBay, Craigslist, thrift and ReStore.

I have a bunch of tubing benders that I got off of eBay that are great.

My first drill press (Buffalo) came off of Craigslist for $60 and it ran great for something 70+ yrs old. I saw a similar Atlas drill press at the ReStore for $100 a few weeks ago.

My band saw was free from Craigslist and runs off of a 3/4 HP motor I got for $20 at the thrift store.

If you’re interested in welding, the two things I wouldn’t skimp on are a good angle grinder and a decent chop saw. You can bootstrap a lot of tools and jigs with an angle grinder, and do some very rough fabrication/machining. In fact get two (cutting and sanding). It’s a bigly versatile tool. In fact the only two tools I need for 90% of welding are a drill press and an angle grinder. The chop saw saves a lot of time.

I say build your own work bench with a door as a surface purchased from the ReStore. Harbor Freight is ok, but a work bench is so easy and a great first project.


i’m a millenial so uh, got any recipes that can make use of a refridgerator full of avocados instead of “projects” to do in my “house”


Harbor Freight? Is that a West Coast thing?

Never heard of it.


I moved from landlocked ohio to an island in the pacific. Ironically I miss my harbor freight. I can’t imagine why people would hate on them. Yes the prices were cheap but a canvas tool bag is a canvas tool bag no matter the price.


Nope, we definitely have them here in Massachusetts.

I’ve had mixed results with their tools. Their rolling carts are great. The best that can be said for their “woodworking” bench is that it is a horizontal surface some distance above the floor.




this is now a battlestation thread.
post em.


Craigslist FTW, most tools are 1/2 price of new or less. Loads of my gear had another life before I owned it. If you must buy new and it isn’t something ‘Horrible’ (Harbor) Freight carries, check out Grizzly tools for wood and metal working gear. Their jointers in particular get high praise from woodworkers I trust. It’s next on my shopping list.

Starting with Chinese or Taiwanese gear like that is a great idea. If you wear it out, THEN it is time to upgrade. When I get into that position, I shop the well-reviewed big brands. I’ve had good luck buying from Acme Tools in Iowa since they don’t have physical stores in my state and don’t collect sales taxes. My SawStop cabinet saw and my Dewalt lunchbox planer came from them.

I’m going to sound like a sponsored post soon (promise I am not affiliated in any way with any of these companies) so only one more recommendation: use dust collection if you are working with sawdust or other volatiles/dusts. I’m thrilled with my cyclonic dust collector from Oneida. I had a huge shop-sized one, but found I didn’t need more than a portable so I sold it and downgraded to their Mini Gorilla and use it for everything. Not cheap, but again, this was a system I initially upgraded when I realized I shouldn’t skimp on personal safety. First step was cheap gear. Second step was Craigslist, where I got a vastly oversized Oneida system for my needs on the cheap, which was great but more than I needed. Sold that at a small loss and bought the right thing for my needs for even less $ later.


Harbor Freight bench, okay at being mostly horizontal. Keeps stuff off the floor.


This is basically my bag.

Professional Tool & Die machinist, and yeah I use Harbor Freight General Pro series rolling tool chests.

The normal tool chests they have are really just one step above junk.

Now, the General Pro series ones are actually really well made. I know several shops that use them as their shop tool boxes for daily use on multiple shifts.

If you have to get a tool chest the best that you can get if you have money in my opinion is Viper. Look them up. Craftsman is junk now. Harbor Freight General Pro tool chests- get one. Maker priced friendly.

Harbor Freight is perfectly fine for stuff with non moving parts most of the time, and their hammer drill isn’t bad I have one. Angle grinder too.

Harbor Freight workbenches are junk. Like TV meal tables are more solid.

Best ultra heavy duty and still cheap (!) workbench? See mine in picture. 120$ of industrial shelving from U-Line baby, any size you want, 1400lb capacity shelves, each. 3/4" oak plywood substituted for mdf shelves, from lowes- maybe 50$ more.

Assemble to any custom height, and you can even fit cheap 2x4s for a benchtop. Modular, any height shelves and top. I cut front posts down and used rear ones at full height for oak plywood backsplash. My top is something special u can’t really buy… called Lignostone. Stuff inside transformer substation coils, phenolic resin impregnated, 2.5" thick. Harder than stone. Please excuse- just recently moved. My tools arent all set up yet, and way more tools all over- but this shows an easy bench to make.


Vernors :smiley:


cool bow, dude!


Aren’t you supposed to be ruining capitalism?


Is this something online or just regional?

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Where do you, uh, work? :rofl:


Think of it like Trader Joe’s for tools, and all the tools come from China.


Absolutely. Buy some nice pieces for the things you use ALL the time. Most stuff doesn’t fit that description. Some tools, I only need them to work once or twice and they will still save me money.

I have a 12 drawer US General rolling tool box that I spent like $140 on. Is it perfect? No. The bottom cabinet door sticks a bit and I wish the drawer slides were a little smoother. But you know what it does best? It’s not 10 different mismatched tool boxes stacked in a corner.

I’ve never regretted a harbour freight purchase. Sometimes they are a learning experience.


It’s like a thrift store run by Habitat for Humanity. Has appliances, furniture, building materials and the like.