Fan Friday Review – 64 Piece Socket Set

Welcome to the inaugural Fan Friday entry!  Each week we’ll feature some of the hard work our customers and biggest fans have done with and about their Harbor Freight tools.  To kick things off, here’s a look at the 64 Piece Socket Set by Frank Oedeloam.  This great kit is already available for just $29.99 but as Frank mentions, don’t forget to pick up a 20% off coupon to save even more!

Building the Ultimate Greenhouse

Congratulations on purchasing your new One Stop Gardens 10’ x 12’ Greenhouse!  Growing vegetables, cultivating flowers or starting your botany experiment is now close at hand but did you know that you can get even more out of your greenhouse with some extra time, materials and patience?  I recently came across a great article that highlights a few ways to expand your greenhouse in ways that you might not otherwise think of at http://hfgh10x12.blogspot.com/2007/08/this-is-greenhouse-we-bought-link-it.html.  Let’s take a look at how you can take your greenhouse to the next level with just a few adjustments.

The greenhouse kit comes with a steel base that you would generally just place on the ground.  The author of this article explains how to add some extra stability to your greenhouse in order to resist any weather conditions you may encounter like strong winds and heavy rain.  “The popular solution is to build a wooden foundation, anchor it into the ground somehow, and mount the steel base on top,” she says.  “Everyone finds their own way to do this, but most use at least 4 x 4 sized timbers for the base.”

 

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You’ll also want to add a couple of diagonal beams at each corner before mounting the greenhouse base itself.  With your greenhouse secured to a foundation, you can keep the base square and tight for years to come.  And once you’ve got the steel base mounted to the wooden foundation, just apply some clear silicone caulk between the wood and the base to keep rain water from seeping in.  In order to maintain the integrity of you greenhouse, you’ll need to plan for all types of unforeseen weather and environmental conditions.  You can choose from a few different caulks on Harbor Freight’s website too, from Painter’s Acrylic Latex Caulk to Acrylic Latex Caulk plus Silicone.

Now you’re ready to start putting up the walls of your greenhouse.  The article has a little tip to keep your frame and posts straight during construction as well.  “As you put the corner posts up, temporarily attach the [included] diagonal braces for stability.”  You’ll have to remove them before moving on to the next step but this way you can work with a bit more peace of mind and keep the aluminum frame straight and accurate until you add the vertical wall studs.  It’s a good idea to check that the base is still square before moving on and make any necessary adjustments.  It’s much easier to make minor adjustments as you go rather than a big one later.

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Once you’ve got the greenhouse frame constructed, there are a few things you can do to upgrade it for stability in windier areas.  The article advises to add horizontal braces at the tops of the walls to prevent the side walls from pulling away from each other.  You can do the same for the front and back walls.  Just attach a solid piece of material all the way across each wall to reinforce the structure and keep the elements from potentially warping the frame.  The author explains how you can also keep the steel base from flexing:  “This can be done by bolting small plates of some type to the top and bottom lip of the base at regular intervals, or by covering the inside of the base entirely with wood that’s also attached to the top and bottom lip of the base.”

 

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It’s also easy at this point to add insulation to your frame, she continues.  “We used ¾” thick expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) insulation, cut into strips about 4 ¼” wide. We also stuffed some foam sill insulation in there first to remove as many air pockets as possible.”  You can protect that insulation and further reinforce the base by attaching boards with screws to the top and bottom lips of the base.  As the author says, “Now the base is insulated and stiffened by the attached board…and it looks a little dressier, too.”

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Well, at this point, you’ve got yourself an extra strong frame of a greenhouse and you’re ready to move on to inserting the panels.  The author of the article sealed the ends of each panel with aluminum tape to help keep dirt, condensation and bugs out.  “I bought one roll of 1 ½” wide aluminum tape (not duct tape) and cut it into thirds, so I only have a small taped rim visible on the panels.  On the bottom edge, it’s apparently good to have small holes in the tape to allow moisture to escape. You can buy special breathable tape from greenhouse supply websites for this purpose, but others have mentioned using a large pin to poke holes in the tape in each chamber on the bottom edge of each panel.”

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How about weather stripping?  Well, the author has a suggestion for that as well.  “Instead of caulk, I used 3/16” thick closed cell foam weather stripping in each panel opening. Closed cell foam is waterproof so rain can’t soak in.”  The larger gaps on the tops and bottoms of each panel are also mentioned.  “I found some packages of ¾” wide weather stripping.  I used that, cutting each strip in half with scissors, so it was 3/8” wide. It worked fine and turned out to be a soft gray color that was hardly visible under the panels after installation.”

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Okay!  So now that you’ve gotten your greenhouse constructed and ready to withstand those heavy winds, you’re ready to add even more awesomeness!  That’s right, there’s still more you can do to enhance the greenhouse to make it more attractive and convenient.  The author added long benches to each side of her greenhouse along with several peninsula-style benches.  “Each long side bench is supported by two pressure-treated 4x4s, buried 24″ deep and set in concrete.  [Then] two horizontal Douglas Fir 4×4′s were clamped to either side of the two pressure treated posts. The horizontal 4×4’s were attached by using a 12″ long 3/8″ drill bit to drill a hole through all three 4×4′s. A length of 3/8″ all-threads rod was inserted in the hole and capped on each end with a washer and nut.”  This addition will provide plenty of shelving space plus ample free space underneath for tools, equipment and supplies.

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If you want to get really fancy, the author even added a sink to her greenhouse and explains how it can be used for added benefit.  “The sink drain isn’t connected to our house plumbing. It drains into a gravel pit we dug in the floor, and the soil beneath the gravel is the coarse sand of our yard. Another option for the future would be to route the drain water through the wall of the greenhouse and outdoors to water a planting bed.”

Still want more enhancements to your bodacious greenhouse?  The author of this article really decked hers out to include some pretty cool additions to improve functionality.  She added electrical outlets with plastic covers to keep out moisture, Aluminet shade cloth screen panels to keep temperatures down and even an exhaust fan as a way to let air out.  These are obviously more advanced enhancements but the possibilities are there for those willing to put in some extra work.  And for those hoping to use their greenhouse continuously, they can be a real help, as the author states, “Without this fan I wouldn’t be able to keep plants in the greenhouse year round…our summers would be far too hot. With this fan in place, as well as some additional small fans for HAF (Horizontal Air Flow) and generous amounts of shade cloth, I’ll have a fighting chance.”

As you can see, getting your Harbor Freight greenhouse built is only the beginning of your journey and you’re limited only by your imagination!  I don’t know about you but I would love to have benches, a sink, air conditioning and weather stripping in my little home garden.  For anyone who wants to get serious about their plants and flowers without spending serious money, this is the way to do it.

My Super Sweet 16 DIY Solar Panel Kit Videos

Thunderbolt Magnum 45-Watt Solar Panel Kit

If you’ve been batting around the idea of picking up a Thunderbolt Magnum45-Watt Solar Panel Kit #68751, now’s the time to strike, my friend. This Friday-Sunday, March 8-10, the legendary Harbor Freight Tools Sidewalk Sale is running, with the solar panel kit going for a cool $139.99! And if you miss the sale, no worries– between now and Monday, March 18, the kit remains on sale for just $149.99. Talk about Daylight Savings Time (that’s OK, you’ll get it later…)!

Perhaps you’ve thought that the idea of setting up a solar system would be cool, but also a little intimidating. What’s in the kit? How do you put it together? What else do you need? How much do you need to know? The truth is, you don’t have to be a whiz kid to put something functional and efficient together for your home, garage, barn, shed, RV, camp or bug-out shelter.

First, what’s included in the kit, and what can it do? Not long ago, Dan Rojas, owner of Green Power Science put out a series of YouTube videos, explaining it pretty well.

In his first video, he goes over what the kit includes and also points out that you’ll also need at least one 12-volt battery (2 or more would be better– he recommends deep cycle) and a power inverter to make the system fully useful. For his demonstration he uses the Cen-Tech 750 Watt Power Inverter, but in the spirit of “More Is Better”– that is, if you intend to use the solar system for larger machinery or appliances– I suggest getting the Chicago Electric 1500/3000 Power Inverter. Of course, it depends on what you need the solar energy for. If you’re in a cabin and intend to occasionally vacuum or use a microwave, the 750 watt inverter won’t cut it.

Chicago Electric 1500/3000 Watt Power Inverter

 

Here’s a general guide of determining how big of an inverter you might need:

 

Appliance   Est. Watts   Appliance   Est. Watts
Cell phone 24 CD player 400
iPod 120 Toaster 1200
TV 25″ 175 Jig saw 350
Laptop computer 65-90 Circular saw 1250
Computer & monitor 400 1/2″ drill 700
Printer 75 Refrigerator 500
VCR 50 Vacuum 750
CPAP 200 Sub pump 1000
Blender 400 40″ fan 1100
Space heater 1000 Iron 1000
Coffee maker 800 Satellite dish 75
Microwave 1250 PS2, Xbox 125

Dan posted other informative videos, including 3-Solar Panel DIY Wiring and Solar Panel Wiring Configurations. You can catch his whole YouTube series here.

If you are really considering putting together a solar kit, one of best DIY solar websites to get acquainted with is the Do It Yourself Solar Energy Forum. This terrific site is a wealth of information with tips,  tutorials, videos and plain old general knowledge. Chances are good if you have a question, it’s been asked and answered on this forum. There’s a lot of coverage on the Harbor Freight 45-watt solar panel kit, too. Videos include everything from assembly, set-up, add-ons and plenty of personal mods from folks looking to build the better mousetrap. There are even videos on solar panel kit performance during rain and snow. My favorite video on this site was made by Larry “The Solar Toolman” Taylor:

I don’t think there’s a more practical and informative DIY video on home solar power set-ups out there. Larry followed this first how-to video with a Workshop #2 and a three-part Workshop #3. If you want to get some insight of just what you can do with your newly-harnessed solar power, definitely check these out.

Preppers represent a good number of the solar kit shoppers, which only makes sense. Nobody anticipates contingencies like a prepper. Only two weeks ago I wrote about Chappy from NewSurvivalSkills.com and how he employed a Harbor Freight solar panel briefcase to get power in the wild.

Another prepper clip I came across was from a guy with the moniker, ncprepper1. He uses three solar panel kits to run a 36″ TV (even in the event of a zombie apocalypse, you gotta have your TV), laptop, lights, a camera system, and more. To make room for even more solar kits, he shows how to build a wooden rack that can add three, making a total of 18 solar panels . Not to be outdone, LDSPrepper installed 4 solar panel kits (180 watts) on the side of his house with a 1500 watt power inverter,  and poses a convincing argument for why he decided to go with Harbor Freight solar panels.

Incidentally, LDSPrepper– who actually has a whole series of solar panel videos worth plowing through– repeatedly credits another YouTuber, econewpower, for helping him get started. This guy supplies his own treasure trove of solar panel kit how-to videos: I recommend starting with his How To Install Harbor Freight Solar Panels Part 1 . I think there are five parts in this series, plus he has other DIY solar videos on hand.

With the advent of spring fast approaching, it’s a great time to get started on your solar system project. Whether it be for emergencies, saving electricity costs or going green, solar is a solid alternative energy that, in extreme cases, could potentially save you and your family from losing creature comforts, food supplies or even lives.

Check out these and other videos on DIY solar panel kits and projects online!

What About Harbor Freight? An Introduction

I had no idea what kind of following Harbor Freight Tools had when I joined the company. Now whenever I mention where I work, though, I hear, “I LOVE Harbor Freight!” Always with a big grin, as if they’re happily admitting a guilty pleasure– like watching the Ice Road Truckers marathon, or when the family goes on a trip and leaves them behind. It didn’t take long surfing the Internet to see just how widespread the love really is– way beyond the weekend tinkerers or ‘burb Dads with their “honey-do-ready” toolboxes. I quickly found a slew of niche websites whose members rely on HFT’s low priced, hard-to-find and odd hardware– not to mention the huge selection of essential tools and supplies. Numbered among these groups are survivalists and emergency preppers, solar energy enthusiasts, BBQ trailer builders, teardrop trailer builders, Pinterest crafters, RC model builders, paranormal investigators, AR builders… as well as your garden variety woodworkers, welders, car restorers, four-wheelers, motorcycle wrenchers, compulsive DIYers and all manner of tool-wielding madmen building better mousetraps.

In all of these blogs and forums the question inevitably always comes up: “I need to get a _____________.What about Harbor Freight?” Someone informs their group about a proud purchase they made of a tool cabinet, a winch or an abrasive blaster. Another member posts a photo of their latest DIY project (like the one above). A full-blown discussion ensues, more photos and links are posted, and ultimately others get inspired to “go and do likewise.” These sites also serve as war drums for whatever Harbor Freight Tools sale or coupon comes out and, truth be told, they spread the store’s advertising as much as the store itself.

It struck me that Harbor Freight Tools’ fan base, all spread out across the Internet, is like a big, open secret– each niche group sequestered from the others, each possessing information the others could use. Wouldn’t it be great if they could all come together to one forum, to exchange questions, views, projects, etc.? Dare to dream.

In the meantime, we’ll be looking at these niche groups and websites. What is it they get at Harbor Freight? What do they do with the products? What, if any, innovations have sprung from their purchases? The first group we’ll start with– the Survivalists– will be explored next week.

Stay tuned!

For The Guy Who Has Everything: A Place to Put It!

You may know someone who has every tool known to man (including some old, scary things you can’t identify). Venturing into their garage is like stumbling into a flea market– their workbench, walls and drawers all cluttered with hardware– and they spend about as much time looking for tools as they do using them. OK, I wasn’t going to say it, but… yeah, I’m talking about you. It’s time to end the madness!

When toofun (forum handle) decided he had outgrown his old tool cabinet, he shared his journey for a trade-up with fellow Pro-Touring.com members:

“So I have outgrown my start-up Craftsman 26-inch double-tiered toolbox and need to get something else for my HOME GARAGE– Snap On, Husky, Matco, Cornwell, etc… all HUGE money. And then I came across the 44-inch wide multi-drawered U.S. General tool box from Harbor Freight. I know it is not professional garage mechanic quality like Snap On, but COME ON. When I saw this in person, I was very impressed with it. For the two top and bottom “middle parts” pictured below, 21 drawers and it runs $689– that’s less than HALF all the big name brands charge for a similar set-up. Anyone have one they care to comment on? They also sell the add-ons and I am considering buying the side drawer add-on for another $200 so in total I would have 28 drawers all for $889??? Am I missing something here?”

No, toofun, you’re not missing a thing. In fact, you could get the entire ensemble pictured above, out-the-door (tax included), for under $1,200! I challenge any competitor to offer as much– with the same high quality– at such a low price.

Here’s a breakdown of the individual pieces:

It wasn’t hard for toofun to make his decision:

“Yeah, on my way to buy one for sure today! Can’t beat the price and Harbor Freight is killer in the deals department. I also like the fact that they have just about everything put together and set up for customers to touch and feel. The drawers really do slide in and out with ease. I have a Craftsman box right now and I would say they slide in and out better than those do. I also saw a video on YouTube of a guy STANDING on the top drawer of the lower cabinet with the drawer full of tools! Not crazy enough to do that but I though it made a good point, even though I probably would have chosen a different way to show it!”

In the end, toofun did go for all the three pieces he had been considering: the 44″ 13-drawer tool cabinet, the top chest and the 7-drawer end cabinet.  To say he was happy with the shopping experience would be an extreme understatement:

“Well, picked up the top, bottom and side pieces today. Worked out a deal with the store and got an even better deal– PLUS, they signed me up for the Customer Rewards, or-something-like-that (Inside Track, heh-heh…) program. Basically you get coupons every week that are discounted even lower than the regular coupons they send out to the regular mailings. The discounts are on average about 10%-15% lower than what they offer the general public, so it really adds up if you buy a lot of tools. Also, I was worried about the (upcoming) sale and they said that within 45 days if I see a better price than what I got it for, to bring in my slip and they would give me the difference back! MAN, I LOVE HARBOR FREIGHT. Always liked their online store, but now that there is a physical location 2 miles from my house, it’s like going into a strip joint to see what’s new! LOL! “

I couldn’t have said it better. When it comes to tool storage and organization, there isn’t a better deal out there than the heavy-duty, industrial-quality US General series, exclusively at Harbor Freight! Come into the store like toofun did, and try the cabinets out yourself– and don’t forget the countless other deals throughout the store. You’ll love the place, too!

OC Weekly: Best Hardware Store 2012 – Harbor Freight Tools!

OC Weekly, a news publication with a readership of around a quarter-million in Orange County and Long Beach, California, just released their annual Best of 2012 issue, covering the best and brightest of local restaurants, galleries, local bands and more. This year, under of the category of Best Hardware Store, Harbor Freight Tools was the recognized favorite:

“Whenever a business advertises its opening year, it’s usually a good sign. Harbor Freight Tools has been selling to your granddaddy since 1977. The company began as a mail-order catalog and has since grown into a significant hardware retailer, with stores all over the U.S. Yet it’s not this charming attainment of the good ol’ American dream that makes Harbor Freight the best—it’s that it feels like a neighborhood store right off Main Street. It’s small enough to be manageable, but established enough to carry almost everything you need at ridiculously low prices. Need welding tools, miniature drill bits, bandsaws, jigsaws, lawn gnomes or something you never thought you needed with the American flag on it? Harbor Freight stocks it all.”

Thanks to OC Weekly and all the good people of Orange County and Long Beach who have done business with Harbor Freight!

Harbor Freight Gets Prepper Props

In this country’s growing Survivalist Nation there’s a tribe known as the “Urbivalists”– or “urban survivalists”—preppers who live in towns and cities, and have adapted their survivalist skills to more metro environments. One such urbivalist is Dan, a “self-proclaimed tenderfoot and city kid” who runs a survival-themed blog called The Daily Prep. Recently, Dan posted a video of a shopping trip he made to Harbor Freight–

–which included a tour of some of his favorite products.  “It’s a man mall!” he proclaimed.

It’s no wonder HFT is popular with those who take survival preparation seriously. A renowned purveyor of hard-to-find and odd hardware– plus, a huge selection of essential tools and supplies at extremely low prices– it’s a no-brainer. (Brains? Zombies? Apocalypse? Harbor Freight!)

So, what were some of the products Dan thought fellow preppers should look into? The video does a good job showcasing generators, welders, tarps, car battery jump starters, jerry cans, rope, axes & hatchets, duct tape (“of every kind!”), magnesium fire starters, solar panel kits, knives, slingshots, safes, winches, flashlights and batteries– and Harbor Freight’s low prices make preparation a lot more doable.

FYI, for those looking to prep their home for the garden variety emergency, HFT also carries towing supplies, trailer hitches, alarms & security products, jack stands, engines, head lamps, cast iron frying pans, face masks, space saver vacuum bags, air compressors… you get the point. Harbor Freight is the “go-to store” for your doomsday prepper needs.

The Daily Prep isn’t alone when it comes to survivalist forums swapping favorite HFT products that they keep in their arsenals. Surf the ‘net and you’ll find tons of great ideas. And while you’re at it, why don’t you share yours with us?

 

4 Great Ideas for Crafters

It’s great to see Harbor Freight products being used in creative ways. People seem to associate Harbor Freight Tools with middle-aged men in garage shops and man caves where they spend hours toiling over their latest auto restoration project or some other manly agenda. But this is far from the truth, and here are some inspirationally crafty ideas to prove it:

  1. Revolving 4 Tray BinFirst, we have the 12-inch revolving four-tray bin, also known as a spinning rack. Being partial to the mid-20th century industrial style, I think it looks cool on its own, but these ladies wanted something more custom and did some amazing work with washi tape, spray paint and contact paper.
  2. wood grain spinning tool project

    Kinsey Wilson covered her spinner rack with wood grain contact paper

    washi tape spinner rack project

    Shanna Noel spray painted her spinner rack and trimmed it with washi tape

  3. dual cup suction lifterThe dual cup suction lifter is billed on our site as “strong enough to pull out dents in auto body panels or move plate glass.” The blogger over at Sew Many Ways, however, saw a much simpler use for it – a handle for a large quilt ruler.

    quilt ruler handle

    Crafty and practical - Sew Many Ways took our dual suction lifter and used it to make quilting easier

  4. letter / number stamping setOur 36-piece 1/8” steel letter/number stamping set is one of our most versatile products when it comes to crafting. I mean, it really only does one thing, but there are infinite ways you can utilize that one thing – most notably turning old spoons into garden markers and making jewelry.
    vintage spoon garden markers

    As seen on Organize and Decorate Everything you can use them to stamp into vintage spoons that can then be used as markers for your herb garden.

    clay word pendant

    Saved by Love Creations used their metal stamp to update a pendant

    washer necklace

    Over at Not So Idle Hands, these nifty stampers were used to make washer necklaces

  5. diamond braid ropeLast but not least, our super-strong diamond braid rope was turned into homemade jump ropes by the Salty Pineapple.

    homemade jump rope

    The Salty Pineapple made these adorable jump ropes out of diamond braid rope

Take a look at these great ideas and let us know what you’ve been doing with Harbor Freight Tools!

Harbor Freight Tools: Aluminum Hard Case Goes Photo

Aluminum Case Goes Photo

A great find for photography enthusiasts! Harbor Freight aluminium cases.

File this under more Harbor Freight Tool surprises – M2 Photography recently found that our 18″ x 12-3/4″ x 6″ Aluminum Case works perfectly to protect and store their valuable camera gear. Anyone whose ever dabbled in pro-style photography knows how expensive camera gear and camera storage gear is, so finding a suitable option for only $24.99 is an amazing thing. Check out their blog post to see how they customized these cases for use.