How To Make a Rustic Party Ice Chest From Wood Pallets

pallet cooler complete

Yup, it’s getting colder and wetter, and DIY warriors are retreating behind closed doors for the winter. The LAST thing you want to do is curl up on the barcalounger and remain in a vegetative state ’til the thaw. How about a fun garage project to keep you engaged, limber and rewarded with a cool, new addition to the yard for when the sun comes back out?

This actually really is a fun project (well… minus the breaking-down-the pallets part, but it’ll keep you warm) and the effort is well worth the pleasure and admiration you’ll get for your labors. So, without further ado… the Vintage Ice Chest!


Because most of the materials will be coming from (hopefully) salvaged pallets, the expense should be minimal. If you don’t already have one, you should pick up a 48-qt. cooler.



  • 5 reclaimed pallets
  • Wood glue
  • 1 box 2″ wood nails
  • 1 box 1½” wood nails
  • 2 large hinges
  • 1 qt. polyurethane, non-glossy

circular saw



  1. Finding pallets
  2. Pallet breakdown – 45 minutes per pallet
  3. Assembly – 4 hours approx.
  4. Use cooler – Every shindig, ’til sunup

Once you’ve dismantled your pallets, sort your wood: the heavy 2×3 supports, the 30” wood slats (will vary). There are an average 6 boards per pallet side. Choose the pieces you want to use for the front. As you see here, ink-stamped pieces were chosen. Using pieces of various shape is best to give it that rustic look.

pallet cooler - openpallet cooler - closed

OK, you’re ready for the fun part, putting it together! This is where I pass you on to, and “miamitreasure,” who shows us how to assemble our classic pallet ice chest cooler. Also, check out these other pallet wood projects on Instructables!


If you’re missing any tools or supplies for this awesome project, don’t forget to swing by Harbor Freight where you’ll find just what you need at low, low prices!

The $55 DIY Fancy, Functional X Desk

x desk diy

Owning a miter saw brings with it a world of opportunities for DIY home repair, home improvement and building projects that can add so much to your home. Take, for example, a treehouse or playhouse for the rugrats, a new deck for the patio or adding crown molding to the house– all for so much less than if you had someone else doing it. As one becomes comfortable with their miter saw, it soon becomes the most used power tool in their arsenal. 

Chicago Electric has an excellent 12″ miter saw (#61969) with a number of useful features: double-bevel so you don’t have to flip your work over and reset cutting angles; sliding compound so you can cut larger pieces; laser guide for more accurate cuts. And this best-selling unit can often be found on sale at Harbor Freight at a much lower price than you’ll find elsewhere.

miter saw 12 blog

Recently, this X Desk project caught my eye. Here’s a great example of a doable miter saw project, even for relative newbies who want to spread their wings, for a very approachable price: $55 in materials. I found it on Ana White’s site, a source for so many inspiring DIY projects. She re-posts a plan shared by Whitney from Shanty2Chic, but I chose to reference Ana’s site for its graphics. I also like how folks who follow her example post their creations on her site with all kinds of variations and added ideas.

What You Need


5 – 2×4 @ 8 feet long
1 – 1×4 @ 8 feet long
2 – 2×12 @ 6 feet long OR 4 – 2×6 @ 6 feet long
2 ½” wood screws for countersinking
2 ½” PH screws


Before You Start

  • Take the time to read through the whole article before you start mobilizing.
  • You want to make sure you’ve got a good working area, including a clean, level surface.
  • When you pick out the wood, make sure all the boards are straight.
  • Always pre-drill your holes before attaching the screws.
  • Use glue with finish nails for a strong, solid hold. Wipe excess glue off the bare wood so you can stain it.
  • ALWAYS exercise workshop safety!

Here’s a diagram of the X Table with the dimensions. If this looks like a project you might be interested in pursuing, take a look at Ana White’s plan. It’s extremely detailed and easy to follow– and the graphics are awesome!

Check out Ana’s site for other projects as well, and make sure to visit Harbor Freight Tools for all your tool needs!

How To Build a Farmhouse Table

farmhouse table sample 3

Last night the wife and I were watching one of those “fixer upper” shows on the”house channel” (which is what I call it anyway). It was one of those typical episodes where a couple finds a house to fix, they run into major unexpected issues, they roll their eyes at each other, and at the end some happy homeowners are clinking glasses of cheap white wine with their new neighbors. Or something like that. Anyway, during the phase where the significant other is filling the house with furniture and charming antique commode-plant holder decor, a couple of the lackeys haul in this beautiful, rustic dining table. “Wow,” I comment. “That’s cool.” “Yeah,” says the Mrs. “That’s a farm table.” To which I give my usual response, “Huh.” It really was a great piece, and I decided I wanted to build one. Which leads me to this article.

farmhouse table complete

Farmhouse tables (or farm tables) are those warm, rustic benches that makes you think of humble families gathered around American dinner tables in the 18th and 19th-centuries. Instead of being built by skilled craftsmen, they were put together with rough, sturdy planks and their solidity was appreciated scads more than their detail or refinery. Today, farmhouse tables can still bring charm to any home, complementing matched or mismatched chairs, and whatever other furniture you’ve collected. Plus, they’ll take a massive beating and still be worthy of heirloom status when it’s time to pass them on. Furniture stores like Restoration Hardware sell farmhouse tables at a premium, even thousands of dollars. Imagine if you could build your own– just as nice and rugged– for under $100.

farmhouse table sample 1

There are a number of sites offering DIY plans for building your own farmhouse table, ranging everywhere from extremely ambitious to pretty succinct. The plan I liked the most, as far as taking it and making it your own, is on Ana White’s site. Not only are her instructions refreshingly legible and professionally illustrated, but she only requires five tools in the arsenal to make it happen (excluding tape measure, marking pencil and safety protection, that is).

farmhouse table sample selection

Another extremely helpful feature, Ana includes a scrapbook of a number of variations others built using her plan. Not only does it reflect how friendly her approach is to personalization, it offers a plethora of ideas to consider when you go for it. As for the tools needed, you probably already have a couple of them.

Tools Needed

1. Drill/Driver

drill driver 3-8 art

Ana originally listed a power drill, but I’d like to take it a step further, considering all the screw driving that needs to be done and recommend this 18-volt 3/8″Cordless Drill/Driver by Drillmaster. With 21 clutch settings, a keyless chuck and a reverse, this workhorse costs less than $25 and will give you more than enough performance for this project.

2. Circular Saw

circular saw

The circular saw Ana used was an 18v 5-1/2″ cordless model with a laser guide. I recommend this Chicago Electric model, SKU #68849. Not only does it have the same size and features as hers, but it’s less than half the price.

3. Brad Nailer

brad nailer

Ideally, you’ll already have an air compressor so all you’d need to pick up is a pneumatic brad nailer. If this is the case, this Central Pneumatic 18-Gauge Brad Air Nailer is a tireless performer that’ll get the job done and be ready for more. And for less than $20, it’ll leave you plenty to keep the cooler stocked.

3a. Hammer w/ Nail Punch

hammer nail punch


If you don’t have an air compressor and don’t want to get one for just this product, a hammer and nail punch can accomplish the same task. It just won’t be as fast and effortless.

4. Random Orbital Sander

random orbital sander

You might say you already have a sander and don’t need another one, but I’m telling you, you’ll want this one. When the dust settles, when it comes to stripping paint from furniture, preparing new molding or cleaning up between finish coats, you won’t get more bang for your buck than with a random-orbit sander.  It doesn’t leave swirls or scratches, you can go in any direction (hence the “random”), it’s a lot easier on the hand… it even smooths and cleans metal and composite materials like solid-surface counter tops. Use a Chicago Electric Random-Orbit Palm Sander (under $30) on this project and I’ll bet you a Buffalo nickel it’ll be your go-to sander from here on in.

5. Square


When building your table, you’ll need to check that the parts you’re assembling are “square.”  You’ll want a measuring square for this. A lot of folks like using a speed square, however for a table this size I recommend a triangular rafter square. Pittsburgh makes a really nice one for under $2.  If you’re a little fuzzy about the whole “squaring” thing, here’s a nifty guide on operating the rafter square. If you’re the type that’s more confident with a tape measure, you can also go the diagonal-route of squaring your table.

The Plan

farmhouse table sample 4

As I mentioned, you can find a clear and basic plan on creating your own farmhouse table on Ana White’s blog site. Whether it be new lumber, reclaimed wood, repurposed bowling lane wood, or what have you, building this signature piece is very doable. And remember to stop by Harbor Freight Tools when you plan to start!

The Drop-Dead, Gotta-Have Drill/Driver

i love my drill driver 2

There’s no way around it. If you’re planning to work on projects– be they builds, repairs or little home jobs like hanging a plant– you’re going to need to drill holes and drive in screws. Actually, a drill/driver should be the very first power tool you buy, ’cause you two will be having plenty of bonding time while hanging wall decor, assembling furniture, putting up curtain rods, building a deck, installing cabinets, etc.– not to mention, drive screws more quickly and powerfully than you could ever hope to by hand.

Not Just a Drill

driver and drill

What’s the difference between a drill and a drill/driver, you might ask? In a nutshell, a driver’s got a clutch that you can adjust for a desired torque. So, when you’re driving in a screw, the tool’s motor disengages when it reaches the set point and prevents the bit from stripping the screw’s head or driving it in too deep. A drill would just spin and spin until you released the trigger. A clutch’s settings can range from 1-to-10 or 1-to-20, with “1” disengaging with the least amount of resistance and the highest number disengaging with the most.

drill driver clutch

drill driver drill bit


For the sake of brevity, I’m only going to talk about cordless drill drivers. If you’re going to be using the drill/driver a lot, you’ll want something that can go anywhere. Beyond the number of settings, features and chuck size, cordless drill/drivers are available in a variety of power options, such as 12-volt or 18-volt, and Ni-Cad or lithium batteries. The 12-volt drill driver is more compact, but the 18-volt has more power and run-time. Lithium-Ion batteries are lighter and smaller, but cost more than Ni-Cads. These trade-offs mostly come down to personal preference and anticipation of what the tool’s going to be used for.

drill driver art

As “best-bang-for-the-buck,” I like the Chicago Electric 18 Volt 1/2″ Cordless Drill/Driver #62427. It’s 18-volt, which is great for all-around duty, it has variable speeds, reverse and it sports 23 clutch settings. To read more about its features and price, click here.


pioneer speakers

Remember when your speakers were the nicest pieces of furniture you owned (even beating out the cable spool coffee table and matching orange crate record holders)? Even now, I”ll go so far as to say they’d still be the most gorgeous pieces in my house if I still had my Marantz quadrophonic ruling the roost.

marantz white

Ah, but the world has moved on to iPod docks and Bose Wave systems, and other soulless devices of aural sterility. Perhaps, though, your Pioneers (or JBLs or Advents) are still in the garage, under boxes of Christmas lights or the old carburetor you swore you were going to rebuild. Maybe the cones are shot, but you just haven’t been able to bring yourself to part with that beloved part of your history. Well, now you don’t have to! Not only can you keep your lattice beauties, but you can emancipate them from storage and return them to their rightful place– the entertainment room!

speaker liquor cabinet completeTurn that deceased speaker into a liquor cabinet… or any kind of cabinet you like, as explained by Hippiesarah on Here we proceed with the idea of keeping the cabinet looking like a real speaker. Of course, you can fashion it however you want.

Tools Needed:

  1. Screwdriver
  2. Wire Cutter
  3. Cordless Drill
  4. Miter or Circular Saw
  5. Staple Gun
  6. Hot Glue Gun

Materials Needed:

  1. Unused speaker(s)
  2. Sandpaper
  3. Wood (for shelves; amount depends on the size of speaker)
  4. Paint
  5. Hinges
  6. Corner Brackets
  7. Light
  8. Pencil
  9. Paint marker
  10. Nitrile Gloves


Step #1 – Gut the Sucker!

gutted speaker

Wear some nitrile gloves– or other type of gloves that keep you dexterous– when you’re doing this. The cabinet’s insulation might be fiberglass, which can irritate the skin.

Remove the speaker cover. Most just pop off with velcro or pop-ins, but be careful not to break the cover frame from too much effort, especially if it’s an older cabinet. There’s also the chance it’s screwed in. Carefully remove the speaker, insulation, wiring and components.

Step #2 – Trace Your Outline

tracing the speaker

Once the speaker is completely gutted, put the cover back on. Then with a pencil,  mark exactly where it lays on the face of the speaker. It’s important you don’t cut the opening bigger than the speaker cover, so as to maintain the illusion that it’s still just a speaker. Remove the speaker cover again and use a paint marker to clearly outline where you want to cut.

Step #3 – Time to Cut

cutting speaker

Cut as straight as possible along your drawn lines. Once you’re finished, measure the width and depth of the speaker cabinet so you can cut your shelves. For this, you could salvage wood from old furniture or resort to buying a piece.

Step #4 – Sand and Paint

sand and paint

Sand where needed and paint the interior and your shelves any color you like. If there is a hole on the back of the cabinet, you could simply staple black fabric over the opening– or you could keep it to string in a light cord if you want to add electric illumination.

Step #5 – Brackets


When the paint has dried, it’s time to add the hardware. At this point, you should have an idea where you want your shelves to go. If you want to make your liquor cabinet like this, give the top shelf a good height to store your shot glasses, then give the next shelf room enough for rocks or highball glasses. Screw the corner brackets on the bottom of your shelves, then to the speaker walls.

Step #6 – Hinges

hingesYou might find that when you start to add the hinges, you run into a small issue. If you want the cabinet to look like an ordinary stereo speaker, then exposed hinges betray you (et tu, hinge-ay?)  In the top photo, see how the hinge lines up perfectly with a small space in the speaker cover? The fix: get a strip of scrap wood and sand it down till it fits tightly into the space. Then hot glue it into the cover and attached hinges as normal. With a quick dash of black paint marker, you can’t even tell anything was done.

Step 7: Light ‘Em Up

For convenience, and to add that touch of class, you may want to have a light in your liquor cabinet. This could be done by simply sticking in an LED click light with adhesive back, bringing electric lights through the cabinet’s back hole and stringing them around top, or getting one of those magnetic drawer lights that come on when you open the door.

Step 8: Bar’s Open!speaker liquor cabinet completeTime to stock your shelves and lie in wait for your first unsuspecting guests!

Or,  let’s say you’ve got towers. Maybe you’d like to try something like this, not quite as clandestine.
tower speaker cabinet

Or, maybe you don’t drink. In that case, perhaps you’d be interested in repurposing your speakers into a media library cabinet:

speaker media cabinet

Whatever your inclination, you can refer to these basic steps and your once-retired stereo speakers can give you hours more of pleasure! And remember, Harbor Freight‘s got the tools that can make it happen! “Sound” advice, no?

How To Build a Teardrop Trailer

teardrop trailer complete

In the March/April 1939 issue of Popular Homecraft an article ran– along with detailed plans– for a new, cool oddity called the “Honeymoon House Trailer.”

It was built in the late 30’s by Louis Rogers of Pasadena, California, a guy who literally saved his dimes for the little traveler so as to take his new bride on their wedding trip. The 8’x4’ floor plan had tongue-and-groove flooring on a pine chassis, a Chevy front axle with 28” wheels and 1926 rear fenders.  The mini trailer slept two and had a raise-up deck lid for a rear kitchenette, complete with ice box and stove. A curtain-enclosure outside the starboard entry served as the “dressing room.” The whole project set him back about $60 ($1,026 today). This may or may not have been the very first teardrop trailer, but it was certainly in the ballpark.

DIYers went crazy. They followed Rogers’ plans and soon added touches of their own. After World War II, subsequent models morphed even more, sporting Jeep wheels and exterior skins made from bomber wings. After the 50’s, though, their popularity waned as big RVs appeared. Then, once again, the teardrops returned with a vengeance. Today you can find a number of websites for plans (some free!), photo galleries, forums and clubs. Teardroppers believe that creating, renovating and modifying unique, personalized models are what give the little campers their timelessness—and the most rewarding way to own a teardrop!

vw teardrop

The coolest part of all this is, you don’t have to be a master builder to make your own drop-dead gorgeous teardrop trailer. If you’ve got just a basic knowledge of woodworking and some tools, you’re already ahead of the game.

First thing, how to go about it? On a recent Google hunt, I found this most EXCELLENT “HOW-TO” tutorial on building a teardrop trailer on with extremely detailed steps, TONS of pics (man, you gotta have pics!) and a comfortable daily planner. Building it on a Haul-Master 1720 lb-Capacity. 4’x8′ Super Duty Trailer

HF super duty trailer…the author created this beautiful camping capsule, complete with aluminum siding, wiring and lights, vent fan, sink-&-stove kitchen area, windows on the sides and front, and a roomy bed with a second kid-sized bunk, all for under two grand!

teardrop beds

Necessary Tools:

teardrop camping

While it’s not exactly a 2-weekend project, the finished product will leave you buzzed with such sublime satisfaction, and give you years of fun and memories that you just can’t buy.

Of course, most of the tools necessary to make this dream a reality can be found at Harbor Freight Tools. Make sure you check the ads for specials and coupons for even greater savings!

How To Make Your Very Own MAN TABLE

man table

So, up ’til now you’ve proven your manhood through food dares, awkward school fights, asking-a-girl-out dares, changing your own oil, jumping in a frigid lake with your bros, peeing in a soda bottle whilst driving through the night, crying at the end of “First Blood”… but lately, you’ve been getting a growing hankering to MAKE something– something COOL. If this is uncharted territory for your ever-emerging MAN within, here’s a DIY project worthy of bragging rights and endless sprees of fist and chest-bumping: The Man Table.

The Man Table, by definition, should be rugged, solid, rough-hewn and indispensably usable. Something that takes a beating and just smiles back at ya. This isn’t a beauty contest, bucko. We’re talking about a baptismal exercise of Man and Tool. I actually stumbled on this “how-to” quite by accident on by a guy named “Pointy” in the Netherlands, and I’ve been thinking about little else for future garage activity. Just be warned, this project is “metric-centric,” so get used to using the other side of your tape measure.

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

Tools and Materials

Power Tools
Angle Grinder with Cutting Discs and Abrasive Discs

angle grinder
Welder (in this case a stick welder)

stick welder
Jig saw

Power drill with 2, 5, 8 and 10mm drill bits (our numbered bits will work!)

power drill


Angle Finder

angle gauge
Marking tools (pen or painters tape)

Center Punch

center punch


Adjustable Wrench

adjustable wrench

– Steel angle 30x30x3mm, total 4,6 meters
Measurements 700mm (2x), 1600mm (2x).
– Steel angle 40x40x4mm, total 4,2 meters
Measurements 700mm (6x)
– Steel plate 15x15x4mm, 6 pieces
– MDF board 160x70cm
– Reclaimed wood for the inlay (Meranti is used here). Bear in mind that the thickness of the MDF + inlay = 27mm MAX when using 3mm steel. Otherwise, the wood will be too high above the tabletop.
– 18xM8 Nuts and bolts
– Box of nails
– Black spray paint

About the Steel…
If you can get the steel angles at a metal shop that will cut them for you (45 degree angles), go for it. Your world will suddenly get so much easier. Use regular steel, not stainless, for two reasons: One, you’re using it inside and it will be painted. Two, stainless is harder to weld (and for paint to stick on it. and regular is cheaper.. so, four reasons).

Table Top Frame

table top frame

Tools needed
Angle grinder with both discs
Angle gauge

First step,  lay out the four pieces of 30×30 into a rectangle. If the steel isn’t cut in angles yet, do that now, using the grinder with the cutting disc. Take your time measuring out the angles, using the angle gauge, always measuring twice before you cut. If you cut them at the wrong angles, you might be forced to to shorten the whole thing to make up for the mistake. You can only fix so much with the welder. After cutting the angles, lay the pieces together. Do they fit? Are there any obvious gaps? If not, then sweet! A trick the tutor used with his stick welder was grind a small angled edge of the materials to be welded. By doing that he created a ‘path’ to drag his welding rod on.

Get out the welder and tack-weld it first. That way you can fix and prevent mistakes before the whole thing is welded solid. As said, this isn’t a beauty contest, so don’t worry about having photogenic welds. The primary goal is only that they’re tough and can take a pounding.

Switch the grinder to the grinding disc now and clean up the welds. Fill in the gaps with the welder and grind it flat again. Don’t sweat any grinding marks you might leave. This is all about badass Man personality, right?

(If, for some reason, you have to clean the stuff up between steps, be sure to mark the corners so you don’t forget what goes where later (see bottom photo above)



Tools needed
Angle grinder with both discs

First you need to cut the corner braces. Stick a piece of painters tape diagonally from corner to corner, making a 45 degree angle.

An unwanted result of welding flat objects is the risk of them curling up when you’re just welding one side. To prevent this, tack the corner braces on and then flip it and weld the other side, too. That way you make sure the brace is flat and flush against the tabletop’s frame. Use the clamps to keep it from curling and keep them clamped until they cool. By tacking and flipping you can work a lot quicker. Just make sure to add the corner braces before welding the legs. Be sure to suspend the legs in mid-air before welding the braces on. This is why you see bolts in the above photo.

After welding the corners, then grind and clean them up.

Drilling the Bolt Holes

bolt holes

Tools needed
Power drill
Steel drill bits for 2,5,8 & 10mm
Center punch

Now to drill the bolt-holes. Three bolts per side are sufficient– and it looks good. The corners should be 15.5 cm. The first bolt goes in dead center in the corner profile and the rest space out + 5CM.

Center punch it first to prevent your drill from slipping. To save time, drill all the holes before moving on to the next bit size up. When you get finish with the 2mm holes, put the tabletop frame upside down and line up the legs flush with the top. Then insert drill bit in each hole and give it a little spin. This way you don’t have to centerpunch the legs and they all fit nicely to their corners. Then do 5mm, repeat, then 8mm, repeat. Finally, span your 10mm bit and give each hole a quick spin. This will remove any burrs left.

Putting Together the Frame

table frame

Tools needed
Adjustable Wrench

This is a pretty straightforward step. Legs + top + bolts: First bolts go in with the table upside down, then flip the frame and do the rest of the bolts. Sit on it to test the weight. As the pride floods you, feel free to let out a Tim Taylor grunt.

Painting the Frame

paint the frame


Tools needed
Black spray paint


Putting On the Top

putting on the top

Tools needed:
Jig saw

Either cut your MDF board to size yourself, or have it done at the local home improvement store. You won’t lose Man Points if you do the latter. There’ll be some small cuts you need to make to accommodate the bolts; just measure how much the bolts protrude, and maybe a 1/2 cm extra, and saw. It doesn’t need to be precise, the wood will be covering it.

Finally, the last step is to drop in your reclaimed wooden top. As I mentioned earlier, this DIY guy used reclaimed Meranti. You may have your own ideas. Just lay it down, mark off any protruding stuff and cut. Then nail it down to the MDF.

I’m a Man, Yes I Am

final man table

Now just let the Man within take over and do what you do with your magnificent creation. Maybe run your hands over the perfectly imperfect surface and watch the end scene of First Blood again.



Hammer Head Coat Rack

As Father’s Day is upon us, we at Harbor Freight thought we’d share this DIY project idea that we stumbled across recently: a relatively low-cost, low-time-consuming enterprise, creating a snazzy coat rack out of hammer heads. It occurred to us that this would make the ideal gift for that someone who likes to spend copious amounts of time in their garage, shop, cabin, studio or ice fishing shanty. While the claw hammer seems to be the predominantly popular hardware, you can use a number of different types of heads and styles. What we’re offering here is a suggested “how-to” “carpenter-style” rack that we liked. If you’re comfortable enough with your tools, by all means, have at any deviation you’d like to take:

hammer head coat rack multi 1


hammer head coat rack 3

Cutting the Wood

  • Cut the red oak rack boards 9 in. wide x 3 ft. long
  • Using your 1/2″ roundover router bit, bevel the edges
  • Measure 3/8″ from the top of the board and draw a straight line across
  • Drill eight 1/8″ holes equal distant from each other across the board and, using the #8 wood screws, assemble the rack
hammer head coat rack cut heads

Sizing Up the Hammer Heads

  • Get a feel for the right height, length and angle you want your claw hammer. Do you want it straight, or at a slight angle? Do you want 2″, 3″ or 4″ of handle? Here’s one at a long, heavy angle:
hammer head coat rack 5

  • Mark and cut one hammer handle.
  • Hold the hammer head  to the board and make sure it’s the angle and height you want. When you know, cut the other four hammer handles exactly the same way.
hammer head coat rack mount heads

Mounting the Hammer Heads

  • Pre-drill holes in the base of the handle stub with a 7/32″ drill bit
  • Pre-drill holes on the board with a 1/4″ bit
  • Mount the hammer heads on the board with the 1/4″ x 1-1/2″ tap con screws
hammer head coat rack mount angles

Mounting the Rafter Squares

  • Mark and drill four 3/16″ holes in each square, two holes on either end
  • Mount the squares to the either end of the board (as shown)

miniwax polycrylic

Protective Finish

  • The Miniwax Water-Based Polycrylic is a good coating because it can go over bare wood as well as water, and oil-based, stains. It dries quickly, doesn’t have an odor and leaves a durable shell against scuffing, etc.
  • If you prefer, you could sand the hammer handles and boards and stain it with a richer color before adding the Miniwax.
hammer head coat rack 4

Happy Father’s Day!

Once the coating is dry, your coat rack is ready to mount– or wrap for Father’s Day! If you want to scan other methods and ideas, we’ve linked each of the above photos to their respective sources. After all, there’s more than one way to skin a hammer. Meanwhile, keep in mind that Harbor Freight Tools has whatever tools you’re missing at low prices, making this project even easier!

Four Power Tools That Bring the Love to DIY

power tool art

Considering man’s entire history on the planet, the technology of tools has certainly exploded in just the last 100 years. This is largely due to the introduction of electricity. Although many a “long-in-the-tooth” garage warrior will tell you there are still plenty of projects around better served by a hand tool, we know there are far more jobs out there where a power tool would send the hand tool packing. Besides, nothing quite makes you feel like a virile master of the universe like a live, heavy-duty power tool in your hand.

While there are many awesome and formidable-looking power tools you could put in your shop, I’m here to tell you about four that you’ll definitely want to get before the others.

Cordless Drill

18V Cordless Drill

18v Cordless Drill

Why You Want To Have It

Before you look at any other power tool, this is the one to get– the must-have for your arsenal. Most of you are probably too young to know what it’s like to hand-bore holes with a manual drill, but let me tell you, it’s nothing to get nostalgic over. Forget the blisters, the muscle fatigue, the sheer boredom– and that’s on the first hole. With a good, ample cordless power drill you’ll be able to take on a multitude of tasks in an afternoon: drill holes into sheet rock, drive screws into a 2×4, “earthquake-proof” furniture, install towel bars, and sawing circular holes in the back of your entertainment center. You get the point: If you don’t have a cordless drill in your possession, you may as well be launched on an ice floe and die.

What to Buy

When choosing a cordless drill, you want one with lots of power, which is measured by the amount of voltage in its battery. An 18v is a good size for home use, and make sure it’s got variable speeds for different jobs, and is reversible. The reversible feature will come in handy if you need to take some screws out when you realize the outhouse door needs to swing out, not in. Most competitors sell 18v models for about $100-$200. You can purchase a sturdy 18v cordless drill at Harbor Freight for $25-$55.

 Reciprocating Saw

reciprocating saw 7-5 blog

7.5 Amp Reciprocating Saw

Why You Want To Have It

From the first time he knocked down his toy blocks with vicious glee, man’s life mission is to destroy stuff. This is why the reciprocating saw is so wonderful. Whether you’re remodeling a kitchen, demolishing a carport, or doing a tricky plumbing or electrical job, few tools offer the sheer destructive force and ruthless precision of a reciprocating saw. The reciprocating saw cuts through metal, wood, drywall, cable, PVC and most other materials like they were room-temperature butter.

What To Buy

Yes, there are cordless reciprocating saws, but I don’t recommend them. Nothing can set your day into a tailspin like running out of battery power in the middle of a good demolition. The corded ones will finish the job, and, depending on what you’re doing, they’ll have plenty of power to do it quickly and efficiently. Whether or not you want to get one with a rotating handle will also depend on what you plan to be doing with it, but in most situations it isn’t necessary. At Harbor Freight, you can get a decent model for $30-$60 dollars (I tend to lean on the credo “you can never have too much power,” but again, it depends on what you’re doing with it). Also make sure you have a good assortment of blades on hand. Happy busting!

 Oscillating Multifunction Tool

oscillating multifunction tool blog

Why You Want To Have It

The oscillating multifunction power tool is the basic weapon of choice for all the small-to-midsize cutting, scraping, sanding and sawing projects on your to-do list. For all the things they do, these babies are easy on the wallet and pack the juice you need to put some real muscle into the tough jobs. The multi-tool easily cuts through cable, air ducts, downspouts, plasterboard and pipes… sands down cement, concrete, stone, plaster, tile adhesive, paint and wood . . . it can even saw through wood up to 2″ thick! It’s definitely a “go-to” tool for remodeling and repair jobs, as well as hobbies, tile, car repairs, even scraping freshly painted windows or old floor coverings. Get one of these in your hands and you’ll wonder how you ever managed this far in life without it.

What To Buy

Here’s another case of cordless vs. corded, and again, I say get the corded. Don’t get me wrong, there are some quality cordless multi-tools out there, too, but I keep thinking of that scenario when the power drains down just when you were making some headway. Still, there will be those rare occasions when you need a corded one, so get both– they’re cheap enough– just make sure you have the corded one first. Also take the time to peruse the myriad of attachments made for this wonder tool. You can walk out of Harbor Freight with an oscillating multifunction tool for $20-$40.

 Circular Saw

circular saw blog
Why You Want To Have It

If you genuinely enjoy the long, steady, back-aching activity of cutting wood with a handsaw, please disregard this section (hey, some people like yodeling). But if your projects often take you to the task of cutting stacks of 2x’s and sheet lumber, then you’d be a fool not to have a circular saw in the garage– and I pity the fool that don’t have this tool. A circular saw can do the job of a handsaw in 1/10th the time, and frees you from the blisters and sore muscles that often accompany the hand tool alternative. Just make sure that when you get one you educate yourself on all its. safety practices. It’s also a whizz at cutting skin and bone.

What To Buy

One last time, get a corded model. There are two basic types of circular saws: the smaller traditional type and the more heavy-duty “worm drive” saws. The worm drive saw cuts through wood like butter, but they’re also heavier and more unwieldy with one hand.If you’re a weekend warrior with garden-variety cutting jobs, the smaller one will be fine. If, however, you’re a professional, the worm drive will more likely be your brand of bourbon. At Harbor Freight, circular saws range from $33-$90.



handy andy tool set

So, up until now you haven’t had much call to for bunch of tools (and you’re sticking to that story). But then things start happening. The bathroom faucet is dripping. The Mrs. decides it’s time to install new light fixtures. It’s the night before a birthday and you need to put a bike together. The cute divorcée next door needs a pair of big, strong hands. It’s time to be self-reliant. With just a handful of tools– and some elemental know-how that you can pick up from your dad or YouTube– believe it or not, you can personally handle most of the basic household projects that speed bump into your personal time. So, as you embark on this new journey of self-reliance, we’re here to share with you you the 12 simple-yet-powerful tools you need to have in your arsenal. No doubt, others will chime in with suggestions of their own because, well, that’s what tool guys do. The great thing about these tools is, they’re all affordable, so you can be all locked and loaded after one quick trip to Harbor freight. Here they are:


claw hammer

Claw Hammer

Claw Hammer

The hammer could be your favorite go-to tool. From driving in nails (or yanking them out), to starting screws and aligning holes, to full-scale demolition detail, the 16-ounce claw hammer packs just the right punch you need for the job. In fact, you’ll probably find yourself pulling it out for projects you don’t even need it for. You know, just in case. Instead of the “old school” wooden handle, we recommend you go with a fiberglass one: they absorb impact a heckuva lot better and they don’t crack or splinter. Also, when you go buy one, try a few different hammers out and feel the heft and balance in your hand. Like a bat or a bowling ball, if it feels good, it makes all the difference. Just watch out for passing patrons when you start swinging it in the store.


pro screwdriver 8 pc set blog

Flathead & Phillips Screwdriver Set

Screwdriver Set

Contrary to popular belief, the slotted flathead screwdriver is not dead, not yet. Therefore, it’s inevitable that you’ll need both flathead and Phillips screwdrivers in your journeys. Start out with a basic set of both. Besides slotted screws, the flathead screwdriver is also excellent for lifting the lids off paint cans, scraping off old paint and epoxy, nudging things and emancipating personal items locked in briefcases with lost keys. The Phillips screwdriver has gained more popularity, though, because it’s designed to give a user more torque than is possible with a flathead screwdriver, so when possible, go with Phillips screws.

stripped screwAlso, the last thing you want to have in the middle of a project, is a screwdriver or a screw that starts stripping before you can loosen or tighten, so make sure the following things are true:

  • Make sure the pilot hole is approximately the same size as the inside diameter of the screw threads.
  • Make sure the screwdriver head fits the screw nicely.
  • Put some weight into it when you’re turning the screw, so that it holds its place and isn’t tempted to slip its grip.
  • Make sure the screwdriver is in line with the screw as you turn. Coming at it from an angle is a sure method of stripping.

This Pittsburgh Pro screwdriver set is an excellent starting point for your tool arsenal. As jobs come your way, you may need to acquire either a larger or smaller one, but these will tackle most household projects.


tape measure blog

Tape Measure

Tape Measure

Whether you’re building a workbench, seeing if a big screen TV will fit on a wall, verifying the diameter of a pipe, or measuring a room, a trusty 25′ retractable tape measure is a must. In fact, since they’re so inexpensive, we’d go as far as to say buy four: one for the toolbox, one for upstairs, one for downstairs, and one for the car. I mean, who likes fetching a tape measure on the other side of the house? It also goes without saying, throw a pencil in the box as well. If you’re grabbing the tape measure, you’ll probably be grabbing one of those, too.


crescent wrench set blog

Adjustable Wrench Set

Adjustable Wrench

Of all the tools in your arsenal, besides your hammer, this baby will probably see the most action. Because one adjustable wrench can handle different sized nuts and bolts, it’s like having 50 wrenches in one. So you could literally be walking around the place, tightening your kid’s trike wheels, the BBQ’s frame, the microwave cart and the Gatling gun tripod without ever going back to the toolbox. When using an adjustable wrench, adjust the jaws to fit precisely over the nut, rocking the wrench slightly as you tighten, to help secure a firm fit. Also, for added strength, make sure the nut is positioned as deep as it will go into the throat of the adjustable wrench. As with the aforementioned screwdriver set, the crescent wrench set shown could take on most of whatever your honey-do list can throw at it. There may an occasion to get a bigger one along the way, but those kind of jobs are rare and far between.


socket set blog

Socket Set

 Socket Set

If you’re dealing with a lot of nut-n-bolt action– usually on an engine or other machinery– then it’s time to put aside the crescent wrench and pull out the “big guns”– the socket set. Socket sets can exponentially speed up a project like an ordinary crescent wrench never could. They’re so convenient and effective, in fact, you’ll actually get giddy over the chance to pull it out. This is because of the ratchet that comes with it, a mechanism that eliminates the need to remove and refit the socket on every stroke. Also, because the tool will turn the bolt when swinging in one direction, but won’t pull it back when returning.  A good basic household socket set with about a dozen or so sockets, a ratchet and an extension will prove almost always sufficient for household jobs, such as driving in lag bolts, tightening bolts or other occasional repairs, builds or tasks. Like all guys, you will love your ratchet, and will probably look for excuses to buy several. Which brings us to the Husband’s Litmus Test: If she says, “But, you already have a ratchet,” then you know, she doesn’t understand you.


vice grips blog

Locking Pliers

Locking Pliers

Locking pliers are designed to provide maximum locking force and come in handy when you need an extra hand to work with. Then, when the job is done, a quick release disengages the tool for the next step. Extremely versatile, you can employ this multitasking tool as pliers, a pipe wrench, an adjustable wrench, wire cutters, a ratchet, or a clamp. The three shown here can take care of most stuff around the house and garage.


needle nose pliers blog

Needle Nose Pliers

Needle Nose Pliers

An valuable tool for electrical work, this little guy can be a lifesaver for projects that require you to cut, bend, re-position, grip or strip wire. They’re also used for crafts, jewelry making, computer repairs, bomb defusing and other functions . Because of their long and skinny shape, they’re particularly useful for getting into tight spots. You can also use them to pinch your bratty nephew.


cordless drill blog

Cordless Drill

Cordless Drill

Power tools are awesome, but most are unnecessary for the garden-variety shtuff around the house. That said, a cordless drill is a must-have component in your toolbox arsenal. It can be used for drilling holes into sheet rock and driving screws into a 2×4. So, if you’re “earthquake-proofing” furniture, installing towel bars or sawing holes in the back of your entertainment center, this is the go-to tool . When choosing a cordless drill, you want one with lots of power, which is measured by the amount of voltage in its battery. An 18v is a good size for home use, and make sure it’s got variable speeds for different jobs, and is reversible. The reversible feature will come in handy if you need to take some screws out when you realize the outhouse door needs to swing out, not in.


toolbox saw blog

Hand Saw

Hand Saw

Now, let’s turn to Old School. A great misconception is the idea that you need an electric saw to make cuts. All you really need is a simple hand saw in your toolkit. You don’t have to run an extension cord, you don’t have to recharge a battery, and you can catch yourself alot faster if the cut’s going awry.The image of a wooden-grip hand saw has long been the iconic symbol of the DIY craftsman. A good general-purpose hand saw is the go-to tool for trimming branches or cutting lumber for a DIY project. It’s also the one tool you want to make sure you’ve got a good pair of work gloves to wear while using.


magnetic torpedo level blog

Magnetic Torpedo level


Whether you’re hanging pictures, putting up a curtain rod,  or affixing shelves to a wall, a straight line is absolutely crucial. You don’t want to put a bunch of nails in the wall, only to step back and see your family portraits are all askew. To get the job done right the first time, you need a level. There are some hoity-toity laser levels out there, but you can’t beat the sweet satisfaction of getting that bubble in the middle. Of course, if you enjoy getting the stinkeye from certain cohabitants,  go ahead and just keep doing it by eye. ‘Cause you’re so good at it. Seriously, get this tool, you’ll be happy you did. On the level.


utility knife blog

Utility Knife

Utility Knife

This tool might not put out the sexy like other tools, but we bet it’ll never gather dust at the bottom of your toolbox. You’ll find the utility knife to be a stupendous sidekick with every project: Stripping wire, cutting rope, rubber hose or plastic strapping, snipping the sealed tips off epoxy tubes, scraping paint… you get the point. When nothing else in the arsenal can help, the utility knife steps up to the plate.


toolbox blog



Well, duh. As time goes on, you’ll probably graduate to a tool cart, then a tool cabinet, and maybe even a wall of tool chests. In the meantime, the humble shlep-around toolbox is the perfect receptacle for carrying your basic tools to any household project. Keep it simple and solid, and it’ll never leave you, even when you need more storage.


No doubt, some of you think we overlooked some items you think are crucial to the ensemble. Duct tape. WD-40. The InSinkErator tool. Everyone’s needs could slightly deviate based on their home situations, but we’re standing by this list. So? Go thou, get thee tools and be useless no more.