How To Get Perfect Cuts From Your Circular Saw

 It sure would be nice to have a table saw setup in the garage. It would also be sweet to have a hot tub home theater in there, but life is full of disappointments.

hot tub home theater

Fortunately, you don’t need a table saw to get perfectly straight cuts out of sheet materials. All you need is a Circular Saw and a Guide Track, and you can get all the perfectly straight cuts you need.

And while we’re on the subject of “glass-is-half-full” rationalism, you’re going to find that using the circular saw and guide track over the table saw will be easier because you’ll be moving a bantamweight circular saw over plywood rather than a heavy sheet of plywood over the table saw.

There were a few slightly variant techniques to execute the perfectly straight cut– with various tools– but we were most impressed with Jay Bates’ method on Instructables.com, and we used that as our road map.

So, without further ado, the perfect cut:

Tools and Equipment Needed

7 1-4 10 amp circular saw

12-in quick release bar clamp

two sawhorses

safety goggles

Materials Needed

5-8-in brad nails

wood glue

  • One sheet of 1/2″ plywood. You don’t need the whole sheet, but you do need the full 8′ length.

SAFETY TIP: Your circular saw is one of the most dangerous power tools in your arsenal. When accidents happen, they usually happen fast and without warning– and more often than not, the damage is bad. The most frequent and dangerous blunder is binding the blade in a cut. This can happen when the saw blade is set too deep and more of the blade is exposed while cutting. The saw blade jumps up and kick back at you. It also happens when you’re cutting a long board or large sheet of plywood in half without the proper support. To prevent this, make sure the cut-off piece is free to drop or move away from the blade. This will eradicate any chance of binding and make your cuts safer.

The Project

1. Cutting the Fence Board

circular saw track (7).jpg

First, make sure the plywood you’ve got has at least one perfectly straight factory edge. You can tell by looking down the full 8-foot length of the board. If it looks straight, it should be straight enough to use. Mark the straight factory edge to keep track of it throughout the project. Nothing can drive you as crazy as forgetting which one it is. Lay the plywood down on the sawhorses to work. Cut a small piece off of the long direction, about a 3”-wide piece. Cut it as straight as you can, but it doesn’t have to be exact.

The main thing to keep track of here is the plywood’s factory edge. It’s the right edge in the above photo.

2. Cutting the Base

Picture of Cut The Base
circular saw track (9).jpg
circular saw track (10).jpg

Because the factory edge has been verified as straight, it’s the most important part of the track build– but it’s only half of the saw’s guide. We still need a base for it to ride on. So, use the factory edge as a guide and clamp it on both sides to the rest of the plywood to saw off another strip. This time, it should be around 9” wide.

With the first strip clamped down and ready to be used as a reference fence for the circular saw, you might notice there’s some flex in the middle of the panel. To prevent this, clamp a piece of scrap wood in the center of the plywood on the opposite side of the first strip. This should prevent the first strip from flexing.

Then, with the saw tracking against the factory edge of the first strip, cut the 9” wide base strip (photo immediately above).

 3. Putting It Together

 Picture of Assembly
circular saw track (12).jpg
circular saw track (13).jpg

Here’s where measurements might differ a little from saw to saw. You may have to adjust your dimensions as needed. With the circular saw blade resting against an edge of the plywood, measure the distance from the furthest edge of the circular saw base plate to the blade. Here it’s 3-3/4″, but, as mentioned, your measurement may be different (top photo above)

The first strip with the factory edge will be glued and nailed to the wider base strip, but the factory edge needs to be just a little further from one edge of the base strip than the distance from the blade of the circular saw to the furthest edge of the saw base plate. So, here it was set at close to 4” on both sides, and the base strip was marked (middle photo above).

After adding glue to the smaller strip, nail it to the base strip, ensuring it is on the reference lines from the previous step.

4.  The Zero Clearance Line

Picture of Make It Zero Clearance

The precision of the jig comes from this important step. Once the smaller strip is secure and the glue dried, make a cut referencing against the factory edge of the smaller strip. This establishes a “zero clearance line” for where the circular saw will cut every time you use the track.

 5. Perfect, Straight Cuts

Step 5: Enjoy Perfectly Straight Cuts

Picture of Enjoy Perfectly Straight Cuts
So, now we can see that the outside edge of the base strip is exactly where the circular saw will cut when it slides across this track. Simply line up the edge of the track with reference marks on your material, clamp it down, and cut a perfect line every time. Remember, the saw blade will remove a little bit of material as well, so best practice is to place the track on top of the material you are cutting to length and not the off-cut of your material.

Having this 8′ track is incredibly handy for cutting sheet material, but it can be unwieldly when you need to make smaller precision cuts. For this reason, you may want to make another 8′ track and cut it into 5′ and 3′ sections.

Even the best carpenter can’t do good work with a dull blade. And besides making lousy cuts, a dull blade is dangerous. Dull blades can heat up and warp or bind, and they tend to climb out of the cut. But how do you know if your blade is too dull? The best indicator is how the blade cuts. If you have to muscle your way through the cut, your blade is dull. A sharp blade will glide through even the toughest wood. Burn marks and rough cuts are other signs of a dull blade. When it’s time to get your replacement, we recommend a plywood blade with at least 140 teeth like this:

circulaw saw blade

You can find these and other quality woodworking tools at Harbor Freight Tools, at great, low prices!

 

RUNNING COMPRESSOR AIR LINES IN YOUR GARAGE

air line installment

Wouldn’t it be great to have access to compressed air throughout the garage or shop without having to haul and set up your compressor everywhere you need it? Well, it doesn’t take as much as you think to make it happen. Here is a simple, rudimentary way of setting up the workshop to do just that.

What Kind of Pipe?

If you’re considering PVC pipe, don’t. If the PVC broke under pressure, the plastic would burst and send a salvo of splintery shrapnel all over the place. For a home shop, we recommend copper– 1) you won’t run into the same problem; 2) it won’t corrode; and 3) it’s readily available at the local home improvements stores. For the fittings, you’re going to want to find a refrigeration solder designed for 200+psi working pressure, such as Stay-Brite #8, which installs easily with a standard Butane or Propane Torch, as well as the Stay-Clean flux to spread it out (don’t cross fluxes).

(If you don’t want to solder, use black steel pipe. Measure the pipe runs and buy exact lengths– the home improvement stores will cut and thread them for you. The nice thing about air compression lines is, unlike water or gas lines, they don’t need perfect joints, so it’s OK if they leak a little. For the purpose of this article, we’re going with the first choice– copper)

Tools Needed

Here are the necessary tools you’ll need to do this project:

Adjustable Wrench

adjustable wrench

 

Air Compressor

21 gal vertical air compressor

 

Air Hose

air hose

Tube Cutter

tube cutter half-inch

Butane Torch

butane torch You will also need a wire brush handy for cleaning the copper joints.

Materials

  • 1/2-inch copper pipe and fittings
  • Solder
  • Flux

We recommend you run your main line high, but exposed, up near the ceiling, with a drop anywhere you think you’ll want an air hose. At the bottom of the drop, install a TA ball valve at the top and bottom of the T, and a quick coupler on the 90 (facing, of course, away from the wall).

There are plenty of sites that go in greater detail regarding connections and PSI, etc. We would advise you to look for the most authoritative direction (if you find multiple sources that concur, even better!). The subject is diverse and there are lots of possibilities for configuration. Good luck with your installation!

HOW TO MAKE A HAMMER HEAD COAT RACK

Hammer Head Coat Rack

Instructables.com

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

LumberJocks.com

Materials:

hammer head coat rack 3

thechroniclesofhome.com

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

Instructables.com

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

LumberJocks.com

  • 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

Instructables.com

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

Instructables.com

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

thechroniclesofhome.com

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!

2015 Father’s Day Gift Guide

fathers day 2015

When you think of the best parts of your childhood, Dad is indelibly among them. The smell of his after shave and brush of his stubble. The excitement of his coming home and throwing you in the air. The weird songs he chose to sing along to when driving or working in the garage (“Love is a burning thing…“). Yup, Dad is a large part of our favorite memories, so of course we somehow want to convey that to him come Father’s Day. And since he still likes to tinker in his garage, work on his car and stay busy, here are ten excellent suggestions from Harbor Freight Tools on what to get him.

 

3 ton steel jack low profile

This best-selling 3-ton low-profile steel jack can fit in small spaces and lift big things– and it makes the job easier, ’cause it gets the vehicle up, fast and high. Embodied with strength and durability, the heavy-duty jack rolls and maneuvers easily on concrete with its wide steel wheels, and is long enough to get way under the vehicle. A winner for anyone looking for a “heavy” jack!

 

13 drawer tool cabinet

For the man who has everything… something to put it in! Finally, Dad can consolidate his multiple toolboxes into this one durable, spacious cabinet. Made of heavy-duty industrial-strength steel, this baby can hold over 2,500 lbs. of tools and roll around the garage to assist him with whatever job he’s got cooking. You’d spend hundreds more elsewhere to get the same lifelong service this favorite tool cabinet will provide.

 

12000 winch FB

If Dad’s the kind of guy who boldly goes where no man (in their right mind) has gone before, then our Badlands 12K electric winch is the ticket. Built to be tortured and come back for more, this winch will emancipate stuck vehicles, haul downed trees and load boats. Rain? Snow? Mud? Please. Throw in the Wireless Winch Remote #61474 and Dad can Snapchat his adventures while the winch does all the work!

 

90 amp flux wire welder 61849

If you’ve noticed that, from time to time, Dad’s been in need of a welder– or if he’s expressed interest to get into welding– here is the perfect unit to get him equipped, With our best-selling 90 amp flux core welder, you get the functionality of a MIG welder without the hassle of gas. Set-up and operation are way easy, and the performance is awesome! Dad will find out soon enough how invaluable this welder is, for small repairs and in the garage. Pick up one of our Auto-Darkening Helmets #61611 while you’re at it.

3 gallon pancake compressor 61615

While the old man’s still got plenty of hot air to spare, why not make life easier for him by having one of these handy, reliable units in the garage? This 3-gallon oilless air compressor is a mighty mite for inflation, stapling, nailing, sanding, buffing, spray painting and all kinds of small pneumatic projects around the house. It takes very little space and tucks out of the way until it’s needed again. A nice addition in any home, shop or garage.

 

ladder 67646

With the ability to set up in 23 different configurations, our multi-task ladder will perform for Dad like a boss, whatever his chore. Made of super-strong aircraft-grade aluminum,  this unit can transform into 4 kinds of step ladders, 6 kinds of stair ladders, 7 types of extension ladders, 2 kinds of scaffold trestles and 4 sizes of storage ladder. We wouldn’t be surprised if it’ll make him a sandwich, but don’t quote us. As the title suggests, our multi-task ladder stretches out to 17 ft. and can easily sustain 300 lbs. And, it sells for much less than the leading competitors! (*in stores only)

 

10-inch miter saw 61971

This 10″ sliding compound miter saw will easily make a home in your Dad’s shop. For it’s size and price, he will be pleasantly surprised at how big a cut it makes. Great for plywood, baseboards, trim, molding, flooring– and with the switch of a blade, can also cut masonry and metal. With its robust 15 amp motor this power saw delivers precision cross, bevel and miter cuts. A great deal and a handy addition for Dad.

 

reciprocating saw 62370

Here’s the tool Dad will grab whenever he announces, “Stand back, Junior, and prepare to be dazzled!” Our 6″ reciprocating saw is a top-rated workhorse that cuts through heavy lumber, nails, siding, branches and roots, exhaust pipe, etc., like butter. This is the go-to tool for remodeling kitchens, tearing down porches and removing a door or window. One of the features he’ll really like is how he can control direction, making it easy to get around tricky areas. The reciprocating saw could easily become his favorite tool in the garage.

 

motorcycle lift 1000 lb cropped

If Dad’s a “Wild Hog,” here’s the item on the type of every rider’s wish list. With our motorcycle lift, he can wrench and clean his bike with ease, saving his back and knees,  and making it a lot less effort to get up for another tool. With just a pump of the foot, he can lift his bike to a comfortable level, safe and secure on the stand. This motorcycle life is strong, rugged and could easily be employed for commercial use. Throw in a couple of our Magnetic Bowls, and the old man will be in hog heaven!

 

image_21577

Speaking of wrenching, may we suggest Harbor Freight’s most complete, end-all mechanic’s tool kit. At a fraction of the cost competitors’ similar sets, this professional mechanic’s tool set contains a comprehensive collection of the most-used automotive and mechanic’s tools in both SAE and metric sizes.  It’s got everything organized and clearly labeled so he won’t waste time zeroing in on the right tool or right size. Dad will not only be excited about the performance of these tools, he’ll be happy to see how many different kinds are all together in one box. As one customer put it, “Hands down, the best tool set for the money!”

Whatever you think your dad might like, chances are good you’ll find it at Harbor Freight Tools— and because of the low prices there, you’ll be able to get something really nice and look like a champ (not that you’ll ever be the champ Dad is).

 

 

 

 

How To Prep, Run & Maintain Your Portable Generator

generator with wheel kit - brand new

You just bought– or are about to buy– your first generator. That’s great, it’ll be a valuable asset to you and your family, especially in times of emergency. But even though it’s got a gas engine and a pull cord, a generator isn’t the same thing as a lawn mower or weed whacker. There are a number of steps in the process of prepping, running and maintaining your gas generator that you should be aware of before you do anything with it. Here are a few tips to make sure you get smooth, safe operation, and the power that you need:

generator outdoors

  • CRUCIAL– If you take anything away from this article, it’s NEVER run your generator in a garage (even an open garage) and NEVER run it in the house. Keep it outside, at least 15 feet from the house, and way away from all windows. As valuable as your generator is to keeping things going, it’s also a carbon monoxide machine.

generator manual

  • Before you do anything, read the generator’s manual, from cover to cover. The more you know about your portable gas generator, the more apt you are not to do anything wrong, and it will provide many years of low-maintenance emergency power.

grounding rod

  • Prior to setup, you need to ground the generator. This is done by connecting a #6 AWG grounding wire from the Grounding Terminal to a grounding rod which is at least 24 inches in the earth. The grounding rod must be an earth-driven copper or brass rod that can adequately ground the generator. The grounding wire and rod may not be included with the generator, so make sure you get those as well when you make your purchase.
  • A premium feature that some gas generators have is an electric start, which makes for fast, effortless starts. If yours has an electric start, now’s the time to make sure the 12v battery is installed and connected.

generator oil fill

  • Now it’s time to add the fluids. A key to long engine life is oil. Also, without oil the generator won’t start. Check the manual and make sure you’re using the right type and changing it according to manufacturer’s specifications. SAE10W30 is often recommended for general-purpose, all-temperature use.

generator gas fill

  • Add fuel to within 1″ of the rim of the tank. Be careful never to overfill. Unless otherwise instructed, use regular Unleaded 87 Octane gasoline.

generator startup

  • Now you’re ready to start the generator. Note the slight difference in the above chart between the Manual Start and the Electric Start.
  • Let your generator run briefly before you plug anything in it, and make sure when you do plug, that the appliance is off. Plug in appliances one at a time, and power each one up before you plug in the next one. You want to make sure you’ve got the power to spare. Pay attention to the watts of each unit before you plug it in after the other; you want to always stay under the generator’s max. If the generator overloads, it could damage the appliances.
  • Now you’re ready to rock n’ roll!

Other tips to keep in mind…

  • Never connect your generator with a power cord into an electrical outlet in the house. This power will “back feed” into the utility lines running to your house, and in the event of a blackout, this could kill a utility crew called in to restore power to your neighborhood.
  • Only use  the proper power cord. The power supplied by your portable gas generator is measured in watts. A power cord is measured in amps. If, for whatever reason, you need a replacement power cord, choose one that matches the most powerful outlet on your generator. The power cord would need to be heavy-duty, at least 12 gauge, and less than 100 feet.
  • Never refuel a running generator, or even one with a still-hot engine. The heat could ignite the gasoline. Shut it off and let it cool for at least 10 minutes. And only refuel in a well-ventilated area.
  • Change the oil during lengthy outages. Check your manual for the proper intervals. If your generator doesn’t have an hour meter (telling you how long it’s been running), keep a log so you don’t lose track.
  • Conserve your gas! If your neighborhood’s power went out, chances are the local gas stations are also in the dark. Only use whatever appliances you need to and, if possible, turn it off overnight. A refrigerator can handle no power for 3-4 hours, and your neighbors will love the break, too.

When you’re done

  • When the power comes back, drain the gas from the generator. If you leave the gas in, it can ruin the carburetor.
  • Change the oil one last time.
  • Every month, feed the generator a 1/2 gallon of gas and run it for at least a 1/2 hour. This will prevent blockage in the carburetor.

Your portable gas generator will be ready for the next emergency, and will last for years!

When you’re ready to purchase your generator, but need help determining what size to get, here’s a GENERATOR BUYING GUIDE to help you out. And don’t make any decisions until you’ve had the chance to look at the award-winning Predator Generators at Harbor Freight Tools! Read the reviews and research the YouTube videos, and you’ll learn for yourself what a great value they really are.

Hyperbole aside, in the event of an emergency, having a portable gas generator can mean the difference between life and death for you and/or a member of your family.

Drill, Cut and Demolish with the Heavy Duty Rotary Hammer

If you need to bust through tough concrete, there’s only one way to get the job done right. The 1-1/8” 10 Amp Heavy Duty SDS Variable Speed Rotary Hammer (Item #: 69274) from Chicago Electric provides all the power you need for drilling, cutting and breaking through a variety of materials including concrete, masonry and wood. Stronger and more shock-absorbent than a hammer drill, the rotary hammer allows you to work longer with less fatigue. Plus, there’s even a stop-hammer feature that lets you use the tool as a drill giving you additional versatility!

image_21842

This rotary hammer really does the job of three tools, giving you a wide range of applications to take advantage of. Whether you want to drill precision holes, tackle some heavy duty drilling or just blast through material like a demolition hammer, you can do it all with this one item, available at Harbor Freight. If you need a little extra convincing, here are a couple customer reviews that have drilled down to just what it is they love about their rotary hammer.

“After asking all my neighbors if they had a hammer drill I could borrow to drill 3 holes in the 65-year old concrete steps, I broke down and got this drill at Harbor Freight. It’s a man’s tool; no girly drill, this! It drilled the holes for the TapCon concrete screws to adhere a staircase post to the concrete step and went through like a hot knife through warm butter. I am very happy with its performance even if I’ve only used it once, so far. But, I can see a lot more uses for this big, heavy-duty drill that has made this job much easier. I actually tried to drill with my half-inch cordless yellow drill but didn’t even get a 16th of an inch in 2 minutes. I drilled all 3 with my new drill in less time! Proud to add this to my arsenal of big-boy stuff and will look for new projects to use it again.” – by Chas from Torrence, CA

“I use this hammer drill for work. I bought it almost two years ago and it has not failed me. I use it mainly for anchors in concrete (Quick Bolts) and I have drilled several hundred holes in concrete slabs with it without fail. I will put this side by side with a comparable BOSCH. Keep the lube compartment filled with grease. I do that before using every time.” – by Pat from Hagerstown, MD

“Drilled 1-1/8″ hole through a concrete wall, starting with a smaller bit size and working up. HF did not sell a 1-1/8″ bit, so I had to get one from a different source, but the HF bits through 1″ worked great. Very satisfied, especially for the price (1/3 of what comparable “name brands” would have cost).” – by Texas Dom from Grand Prairie, TX

For a variety of jobs, the 1-1/8” 10 Amp Heavy Duty SDS Variable Speed Rotary Hammer is the way to go. An adjustable 360° side handle makes it easy to use, the quick change SDS bit system keeps bits securely in place, and the low Harbor Freight costs keeps your tool budget in check. Get down to your local Harbor Freight store and grab yourself one today!

HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN 55-GAL. BARREL BBQ*

steak

There’s nothing better than the high octane performance of a flaming charcoal barbecue– and there’s nothing cooler than manning your own 55-gallon barrel grill, made with your own hands. Here’s a cool tutorial we found on the Super Chevy website. Hey, summer’s coming, dude. Let’s talk about how you can make this a reality.

Things You Will Need:

barrel - found

  • Find a 55 gallon drum. Sometimes you can avoid buying a new one by checking out Craigslist or other local classifieds, pet shops or weed n’ feeds. The best kind of 55-gallon drum barrel to get is food related. Try to avoid one that housed toxic chemicals, but if you’re not sure what it contained, you’re going to want to burn it clean when you cut it open. 

barrel - taped

  • Rather than cutting the barrel in half, we’re going to show a clam shell it with a quarter cut. With the masking tape and a level, set all your lines ready to cut.

barrel - cut

  • The next step is to use the trusty cut-off tool and cut down the side of the barrel along the blue tape. The cut off quarter is going to be the BBQ grill’s lid. When you’ve cut out the quarter section, build a large fire inside of the barrel to thoroughly burn out any lingering harmful substances. Then, once cool,  dump the ashes and give it one last thorough hosing.
  • Next, take some angle iron and weld a rectangular shape out of it. Then weld it into place in the middle of the drum. This will provide as a rest for the grill.

barrel - mesh

  • Find a good mesh that can be used as the grill surface, preferably a heavier gauge metal, and one where the edges are flattened so there are no sharp points sticking up. If you need to flatten the sharp edges yourself, that’s what the grinder is for. Here they welded 1/8″ metal rod all along the edges and eventually added some cross bars as well. Besides not getting gouged every time you BBQ, it also makes it easier to scrub after grilling. 

barrel - stands - relief cuts

  • Take two lengths of 1/2″ box tube and make relief cuts every two inches so you can bend them to the shape of the barrel. Then bend it around the barrel.

barrel - stand - relief welded

  • Once you’ve got the shape you desire, weld the cuts smooth with your 70 amp stick welder. This creates a sturdy cradle on which you’ll be attaching the legs.

barrel - stands welded on

  • Then weld the half moon shapes to the ends of the barrel. They should make a nice snug fit.

barrel - hinges

  • Attach hinges to the barrel and lid, and reinforce it with steel plates on the inside to ensure a long-lasting, sturdy hinge.

barrel - on legs

  • Determine how high you want your grill to be (3-ft. is good) and accordingly cut the 2×1 square tubing into legs. Cut relief marks about 6″ down the legs so you can bend them outward for greater stability. Now weld on the legs, and you have your very own, cheap and efficient 55-gal. drum grill!

barrel - complete

Of course, you’ll probably want to add handles, a couple of vents, a hole on the bottom for dripping. If you came this far, though, I trust you can take it from here.

How To Wax Your Car the Right Way

Get in the habit of polishing your car routinely and you’ll have a sweet looking ride for years.

firebird - polishing

It’s no great secret that waxing and polishing your vehicle will prolong the life and beauty of its appearance. But, knowing how to wax and buff your car properly can save you a chunk o’ change over time.

The Tools

First, you’ll need a competent electric polisher. These can range from $40 into the hundreds and, as I’m sure we’ve all experienced, the highest price doesn’t necessarily mean the best. We like the Chicago Electric 7″ 5.7 Amp HD Dual Action Variable Speed Polisher #66615. It’s a real workhorse and its variable speed and oscillating head eliminate swirl marks like magic.

You’ll also need buffing pads, buffing compound and a car kit, which usually includes car polish, car wax, and microfiber cloths in kit form.

Before you do anything, wash the car first. You want your vehicle to be clean and dry before you start.

Buffing

Apply a liberal amount of buffing compound to the car surface, particularly to the rough, scratched and weathered areas. The whole point of buffing is to make a rough surface a smooth one. It works by stripping away a fine layer of tired paint and exposing the fresh paint underneath; in essence, the compound serves as a paint stripper. When you wax your car immediately after buffing, the wax will restore the protective armor of its original clear coat.

Spread the compound evenly across the area with the buffing pad, while the buffer is OFF, so that it doesn’t splatter onto surrounding surfaces. For example, keep the compound off the chrome, glass or rubber.

Turn the buffer on and work the area in circular motions, holding the pad completely flat at all times. Turning the buffer at an angle or applying too much pressure can burn the paint surface and cause swirling. Work one quarter of a panel at a time until you get a bright gloss. The surface should feel smooth and look new.

firebird - polishing 2

If the paint’s in decent condition and only needed some TLC, follow the same steps as above, but this time use car polish instead of buffing compound. You won’t need as much polish as compound because polish can cover a greater area and strips away less paint. Follow the process across the vehicle’s entire surface until the paint is restored.

Buffing should be done about once a year, and if you keep the car in the garage and the paint still looks decent, just use the polish instead of the compound. If, on the other hand, you live on the coast (or you’re in an area where salt is used to melt ice) and the car’s kept outside, you may want to buff more than once a year. Or, if you keep it parked under a tree where sap and bird poop reside, you should make it a habit to buff the car 2-3 times a year.

Waxing

Wax in conditions between 55° and 85° F, preferably on the cooler side. In hot weather, the wax dries as soon as you apply it to the surface, making buffing difficult. It can also make the wax hard to remove once applied. In colder weather, the wax is hard to move around and apply as well. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to wax your car in the garage or under cover, away from the sun’s rays. Sunlight can heat the car up and leave a waxy residue which can be a bear to remove.

The wax you choose is important, too. The best wax for your car contains carnauba; we like Meguiar’s.

Replace the buffer pad with a new, clean one. Spread car wax evenly over the car’s surface, gently pulsing the polisher’s trigger (as opposed to keeping it running continuously) running the pad over the surface in circular motions with about 3-5 lbs. of pressure. By doing this, you make sure the car wax doesn’t clump or cake on the surface. Only cover a quarter of the panel at a time before removing the wax. Don’t let the wax sit too long on your car. This will cause it to dry to your car and leave obvious marks. Some waxes will require a set time before removal, so refer to the directions on the bottle. Use a soft microfiber cloth to remove the wax, using circular motions to get that spiffy high gloss.

Repeat the process across the entire surface of the paint.

firebird - polished 3

Because the rule of thumb is to wax your car every three months (but don’t buff every time you wax), you should become a master at it in no time. Your car will look great, your cul-de-sac’s property value will go up and you’ll finally be able to punch that bully on the beach (“Thanks, Harbor Freight!”)

A REAL WORKHORSE—THE 10 IN. SLIDING COMPOUND MITER SAW

10 in. Sliding Compound Miter Saw

Whether you’re a DIYer or professional contractor, a sliding compound miter saw is a must-have for making cross, bevel and miter cuts. Take the 10 In. Sliding Compound Miter Saw from Harbor Freight—it features a powerful 15 amp motor, easy access brushes and dual linear slide rails which provide stability for making smooth, precise cuts. Plus, the saw makes miter cuts up to 12 inches wide and has a 45 degree tilting blade. Thanks to Harbor Freight’s Quality Assurance Team and feedback from customers like you, Harbor Freight has made this workhorse even better. Here’s what actual users are saying about it:

[Harbor Freight] has apparently been listening.  Fence and arm were perfectly aligned. Laser was easily adjusted and aligned to the blade. Laser now has a separate on/off switch. Came with a lumber hold down clamp, batteries for the laser and a hex wrench for the blade. Cuts great.  — Smoke, NC

Well worth the money. Comes with replacement brushes. Cool! — David, Sacramento, CA

I used this saw for a home improvement project and it worked so well. The measurements were right on and I love the laser light. Helped make the job more professional. — randyc, Charles Town, WV

I bought this saw because I was not able to cut anything over 6 inches with my other miter saw. After using this saw, I don’t even use the other miter saw anymore. — elvoiles, KY

For the garage, shop or worksite, the 10 In. Sliding Compound Miter Saw will be your go-to time and time again! And with Harbor Freight’s ridiculously low prices and 600+ stores nationwide, it’s time get one!

10 In. Sliding Compound Miter Saw
item #: 61971

How To Use a Magnesium Fire Starter To Make a Campfire

campfire

Here’s some good info everyone should have at their disposal, whether it be for camping or emergency situations. In fact, it’s so stinking easy, you’ll wonder why you never picked it up before.  That strange, cheap little hunk of magnesium and flint steel will save your bacon and pay for itself several times over in just one dire situation.

What’s magnesium, anyway? Magnesium is the seventh most common element in the earth’s crust. During WWII it was used to make fire bombs employed in European missions. It was also a main ingredient for flash powder in early photography. Today, magnesium is still used in fireworks and pyrotechnics. And, of course, fire starters.

magnesium firestarter

Here’s how to use your magnesium fire starter to make a fire:

  • Find an area where you can have a fire, hopefully a spot protected from any present elements like high wind and rain. Clear the area of dry grass, twigs, etc.
  • Gather up the tinder. If you’re a “Be Prepared” type of person, the best tinder would be a ziplock full of petroleum jelly-saturated cotton balls. But, if you just happend to have left those at home, dry moss, pine cones, dry pine needles, tiny twigs, dry grass and thin shreds of wood all make great tinder. Leaves can work too if they’re really dry. Even newspaper, or a paper napkin. Make sure the fuel is as dry and dead as possible.  If the leaf litter is wet from rain or dew, carefully lift the top layers to see if the lower layers are still dry — or check under thick foliage, which may have protected tinder from rain. You may also be able to find dry moss, pine needles or tiny twigs in these protected areas. Hollow logs are good, too. Or, if you’re not having much luck doing that, put the least damp tinder in your pocket for a while and let the heat dry it out. If you see any larger sticks or wood that looks useable, grab that aw well so it’ll be ready when needed.

tinder

  • Build your structure. The three go-to designs for a campfire are Teepee, Log Cabin and Lean-to (or variations of any of the three). For the sake this tutorial, we’ll be using the teepee build. Construct a teepee of twigs and small branches (like the picture below on the left), evenly distributing so it can bear additional wood after the fire takes.

campfire builds

  • Prepare the tinder. Once your structure is built, make a bundle out of your tinder that will catch the sparks from the fire starter. Place it as close to the structure as possible without going all the way in– in the “doorway” is best. On top of the tinder bundle, place a dry leaf or an old receipt to contain the magnesium shavings. In the best of worlds, you’d have some duct tape handy to keep the shavings from blowing away, but the structure and “container” (leaf or receipt) should do the trick.
  • Keep a bucket or other container of water nearby in case, for any reason, you need to put the fire out.

campfire magnesium shavings

  • Hold the magnesium block down, pointed at the tinder bundle. Then with the other hand, hold the serrated metal blade that came with your HF Magnesium Fire Starter at a slight (45º) angle against the block and shave tiny flakes downward onto the bundle. If the fire starter you have didn’t come with a blade, use the backside of a knife. Smaller shavings and pieces work best. Keep going at it until you have a pile of magnesium shavings on your tinder bundle about the size of a quarter.

campfire ignite magnesium

  • Using your serrated blade or backside of a knife, strike a spark to ignite the magnesium on the tinder bundle. But instead of sliding the blade down the flint toward the tinder, hold the blade stationary, down with the tinder bundle, and slide the flint up toward you. This keeps the spark close to the tinder. Keep scraping until a spark lands on the magnesium shaving and ignites it.
  • When a spark catches the magnesium, the shavings will burn bright, hot and fast. The generated heat will then spread to the tinder, catching it on fire as well. This is a crucial moment. You may have to urge the young flame on by very gently blowing on it and giving it additional oxygen. You may also need to adjust it a little here and there it to allow the young fire to spread.

campfire tinder goes in

  • As the tinder fire grows, you’ll need to carefully slide it– in tact–  into the campfire structure. You might want to use a couple of sticks to push the bundle under if it’s too hot to handle. Then, as you prepare for the next phase, maybe feed it some more leaves and grass to keep it stoked.
  • Another crucial moment. Fire needs a proper blend of oxygen, fuel and heat. As your structure starts catching on fire, blow on it and feed it by gradually adding slightly larger and larger twigs and sticks. Don’t get carried away, give it time. If you drop a log on it too soon, you’ll be back to square one, rummaging for dead grass. Don’t be that guy.

campfire successful

  • And while you want to be patient, you also want to keep feeding. Find larger sticks and logs to keep the fire growing and happy for the endurance you need to stay warm, dry and protected.

Practice Using The Magnesium Fire Starter

I’ve already said it before, but I’ll say it again: be prepared. It’s not enough to have your magnesium fire starter, you should be ready in an instant to know how to use it. Whether you’re stranded in the cold and wt woods or the arid, desert wilderness, knowing how to make a fire in a SHTF situation will give you life, comfort and security. So practice at home– when the need isn’t there– until you’ve got it down cold (or hot).

And, one last thing. You might want to rethink taking that baggie of petroleum jelly cotton balls.