Tool Review: Harbor Freight “80 Piece Rotary Tool Kit”

July 1, 2010 at 5:13 pm (Tool Reviews)

I had originally planned to start posting these reviews mainly due to Harbor Freight’s web site not having the ability to take customer reviews, combined with the fact that the quality of many of their power tools, to say the least, varies.

They’ve since updated their web site so that customer reviews can be shown now, however as I mentioned in a previous posting, I’ve discovered that they are rather, well, selective about which reviews get posted on the web site and which ones don’t. That being, if it’s a bad review, they generally won’t post it – as a result there are many tools on the site that are rated 3/5 or 4/5 that should really be maybe a 1.

Take this little gem, for example:

That’s their “80 piece rotary tool kit,” (Item #97626) which I think has a “regular” sticker price of about $20, but is in their advertising coupons all the time for $7.99.
(Important side note: If you’re buying something at Harbor Freight, and you’re not using some sort of coupon or getting it on sale, you’re getting screwed).
Now, thing is, I’m sure they sell tons of these based on that price point, based on the primary selling point of many of their power tools, which usually seems to be along the lines of “It’s cheap enough that I won’t feel that bad if it’s a piece of junk.”

Well, please, let me save you the eight bucks.
I mentioned in an earlier posting that I consider this the second worst tool I’ve ever purchased, and there’s good reason for that. (The #1 spot is taken by a rechargeable screwdriver that was also purchased at HF, and will be written about at a later time).\

The main problem with it is that the motor has no power or torque to it whatsoever. I’ve tried using it on reasonably soft materials like pine and soft plastics, and putting any pressure on it (to the point where it would, you know, actually do something) causes it to completely seize up.

So after several attempts, I pretty much gave up on the thing all together. But then I had the thought, that maybe if I could at least use the attachments in my electric drill, it might not be a total waste of money, so I gave it a shot.

The kit is described as “80 pieces,” which sounds awesome, until you realize it’s actually more like 5 pieces that are repeated 20 times each in slight variations or duplicates.
One of the parts I tried to use the most is the cutting discs. There’s a reason they give you 25 of them – they are so fragile that I’ve actually broken a few just mounting them on the spindle. When I did actually get one loaded up without having it break on me, I tried it out, only to find out that these “cutting discs” aren’t able to do a whole lot in the way of cutting. In fact I think I could have gotten similar results using a nail file.
The “diamond burr” bits look like something that should work good for something like carving into that pine I mentioned, but even when mounted in the drill, they did very little as far as biting into and removing the material.

In a nutshell, if you found this using a search engine you’re probably tempted to buy this thing because it sounds like a good deal. It’s not – even if it’s only $8, that’s $8 you’ll be flushing down the toilet.


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