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When I saw the sale from Harbor Freight, it reminded me of how a number of you wrote in about HF’s new English wheel offering back when we mentioned their planishing hammer.  At $240, it’s one seriously cheap wheel.

HF says it’s got a 27-3/4″ throat capacity, and adjustable anvil yoke, and “all-steel construction” that’ll handle up to 16-gauge steel and copper/aluminum to 14 gauge.

I know, it’s probably a piece of crap, but it might be a fun way to see if you’re really as interested in sheet metal work as you think you are.  And for that matter, if you discovered that you are, I wonder if this stand couldn’t serve to host an upgraded anvil and wheel from another supplier.

One thing’s for sure: shipping ain’t gonna be cheap.  (But if you live nearby…)

English Wheel Kit w/Stand [Harbor Freight]


14 Responses to Cheap-Ass Tools: A $240 English Wheel

  1. Paul says:

    This looks way better to me than the craptacular pneumatic a la slap an air chisel on it planishing hammer you featured a while back to me. As far as shipping goes did HF stop the over $50 and shipping is free deal or something? That is always the deal that I can recall. And yes, it applied to heavy items too. I can remember the CF truck pulling up a few times with big stuff I’d ordered from Harbor Garbage before I stopped getting stuff from them.

    That gives me an idea they should do a Harbor Garbage nightmare stories post on this website. I sure know that I have a few doozies to tell! Or maybe to be more balanced and rounded, possibly a The Good the Bad and the Ugly Harbor Freight stories. Because I have to admit it, it wasn’t *ALL* bad. Sometimes I was pleasantly suprised with the functionality of some of the crap I bought off of them.

  2. nrChris says:

    I second Paul’s comment–lets get a roundup of HF experiences. I am a little weary of them, but the used $11 Drillmaster hammer drill that I got seems to be holding up. And I am certainly excited that a retail HF store is opening up about five minutes from my office. But some of their stuff seems to be an accident waiting to happen. For me, my day to day tools are going to be from manufacturers that I know and trust. But to put a few tapcons into my basement wall once, well the HF hammer drill seems like a good choice. Same thing with a planishing hammer or English wheel–things I won’t need anytime soon but if I needed a one-shot, I would certainly look to the HF offerings.

    Harbor Freight, hot or not?

  3. TimG says:

    I’m kinda tired of the ‘everything is crap from XXX’ comments. General blanket statements are NEVER good.

    As both posters above have said, ‘some’ of the stuff there is good. Just do your research, know your tools (what makes a good tool good), and spend wisely.

    Not everybody has LOTS of cash around to buy the best. I love how Toolmonger has ‘bargain tools’ frequently. That is what this site is all about, getting the most from your money for tools that get the job done with as little frustration as possible.


  4. sizod says:

    The way I see it, if you are a professional metal worker, then a $250 english wheel isn’t going to last you for every day use, but if you are an occasional metal worker, hobbist artist etc, this would be a great option and a great price point to get into some metal working.

  5. john van oeveren says:

    ad another 70.00 for the other six lower anvils
    comes with a 2′ radias anvil the six others
    are3 4 6 8 12 and flat they come with bearings and
    what a deal p.s. I bought one and it seams to work great

  6. Geotek says:

    I picked up one of these today, and so far it looks like a great deal. The construction looks quite good. I did have to modify the lower anvil rest. It uses a cast iron holder with a tube as the vertcal lift. The fit of the tube into the casting was not very tight, so I added some weld metal and turned it down to a press fit in the casting. Now it is quite solid. I would like to make a couple other mods to the jack, to make it smoother. I tested the anvils on my Rockwell hardness tester, both read in the 33 to 35RC range, so that’s good. The anvils come with a fine turned finish, so they should be polished to create a smoother finish. The bearings are all shielded standard ball bearings. They can be replaced with seaded bearing if that’s what you prefer. All in all, it’s a good deal, but like many HF tools, it needs some tweeking to get it right. English Wheels don’t need to be expensive, there’s really not much to them. The key to getting the price down is to build them in volume. Same reason a four function calculator cost $3, not $150 as they used to. I ordered the set of six addional anvils, they should show up some day.

  7. Regis says:

    I picked up one of their English wheel Saturday. It must have been the last one anywhere in San Diego, or even California. While I was in the store picking it up, no less then four other people were looking for one. That was within a randon 10 minute period. I got the last one. It was even on sale. Be sure to do an online discount coupon check before you head up there. You can probbly save at least another 15%

    I agree the lower wheel assembly is a little loose. The jack (all thread shaft) needs work too, as you can see it move when you push metal through the machine. For $325 +- , you can’t go wrong.

    This is a hell of a deal and I’m sure HF will sell every one they can make for some time to come. I am very happy with my machine. It’s been a dream of mine to own an English wheel for years, but the price always has keep it out of reachuntil now. No sure why so many are knocking HF? I’ve purchased tons of tools and never once had one fail.

  8. Jordan AkA polishbeer says:

    I would like to know what the english wheel does that a planishing hammer does not do?

    Please post responses if you know about this stuff.

    I bought the planishing hammer set today and thought that was all I needed to fabricate the curves for motorcycle gas tank, panels and seat parts.

    Jordan AkA polishbeer

  9. Big Jim says:

    I’ve purchased one of the HF wheels……….after listening to all the experts on a certain metal related website that I frequent call it garbage………and lemme tell you except for a few of the tweeks that need to be done to it..I’ve made some really cool parts with it …….Can’t beat the price !

  10. Big Jim says:

    Jordan the english wheel smooths out the bigger lumps from hammering into shape……..the planishing hammer fine tunes your work.Easiest way to say it I guess

  11. Jim says:

    I bought one at the store in Delaware…home of tax free shopping. Most HF stuff needs tweaking. I bought a i hp drill press years ago and had to replace the bearings with Timkins and it has worked gerat for 15 years, I tweaked the wheel from HF too. works great.

  12. Jim says:

    ……But I do hate supporting the Chinese.

  13. Tom Gelin says:

    As always, the tool in the right craftsman’s hand can usually work. I have a rod bender from HF and a small sheet metal brake, both work fine for the price.

  14. Scott says:

    If you have ever used a quality english wheel you would see the difference right away. Yes you can stretch metal with this one, in fact you can stretch metal with a ball peen hammer or a rock. But it will never do really nice work. The annoying thing to me is that with just a bit more effort, they could have made something a lot better for not much more money. But the people making and selling these tools have no idea how to use them, so they don’t know what is important. To a beginner the will seem to be fine, because you have nothing to compare it with. But if you ever try a good one, it will be very obvious.

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