Their First Tool Set: A Rite of Passage

tool box 21-inch

Last month, a friend of mine in Utah decided to buy his two teenage sons each their first tool kits for Christmas. Armed with a Harbor Freight 25% Off Friends & Family coupon, he went up and down the aisles, thinking about the chores his boys might come across, at least in their early lives, and he tossed the respective tools in the basket. Needless to say, the kids were excited when they opened their presents. They weren’t expecting anything remotely like it and, let’s face it, getting a first tool set is a profound rite of passage– for a boy or a girl.

girl with drill

Kids may appear to be smaller than they actually are…

It made me think about my own daughter, Miss D, who turns 20 this spring. For the first time in her life, she’s living away from home and starting to make her own way. Having a tool kit in the apartment surely would have its uses. So, what are the essentials for a basic first tool set for her? Here’s what I came up with, and what I plan to put together for her:

Cordless Drill

cordless drill 3-8 with flashlight

This may or may not fit in the tool box of choice, but it’s essential for the home, what with all the holes and screws in their future. Cordless, of course, so she can take it anywhere without having to drag an extension cord along. I chose this 3/8″ 18-Volt Cordless Drill/Driver and Flashlight Kit for a number of reasons. 1) She won’t be needing a 1/2″ for the tasks she’ll be doing; 2) It’s got plenty of power; 3) it’s rated at “4 Stars”; 5) It’s under $30 for the set. It’s a lightweight, powerful drill with plenty of torque for around-the-house jobs.

Socket Set

socket set 21 pc 3-8 sae and metric

 

Probably just as much as the drill, I can see Miss D running into tasks that require wrenching. A 3/8″ SAE & Metric High Visibility Socket Set makes good sense because of the ease it’ll give her to tighten and loosen nuts n’ bolts. Coupled with a closed-end wrench to hold the other side, fasteners are no chore at all. This particular set is rated at “5 STARS”, has high-visibility markings so she can locate needed sockets fast, and also costs under $30. Like all Harbor Freight hand tools, this socket set has a lifetime warranty and will probably be in her tool box for the rest of her life.

Wrench Set

wrench set SAE 9 pc

I normally like using a ratchet, but when you run into a situation where it doesn’t fit, you need wrenches as a backup. Also, as I mentioned, I think closed-end wrench sets make great companions to socket sets when tightening or loosening bolts. So I’m tossing a 9-Pc SAE Wrench Set and a 9-Pc. Metric Wrench Set— together under $20– into her tool set.

Adjustable Wrench

adjustable wrench set

There are those who argue that if you have these, you don’t need the other wrenches. I don’t belong to that camp. You miss out on the advantageous grip of the closed end and I just like the grip of a stationary wrench more. On the other hand, if none of your sized wrenches fit, these make for mighty fine pinch hitters. I’m giving Miss D this Pittsburgh Adjustable Wrench Set of 4— it’s like having 50 wrenches in one. And I’ll tell her how, when you’re using an adjustable wrench, the movable jaw is located on the side towards which the rotation is being performed. This reduces the chance of backlash. At under $15, this does the trick.

Screwdrivers

screwdriver set 8 pc

 

Although Phillips screws have pretty much replaced slotted screws in the fastener world, 20-somethings planning on dwelling in apartments will inevitably come across older domains with slots, so it’s no biggie to get a 8-Pc. Combo Screwdriver Set, especially with comfortably soft handles and magnetized tips at under $10! The flatheads can also be improvised for other uses like light prying, scraping and nudging.

Claw Hammer

claw hammer blog

Back in the day, the Old Man used to hammer pretty much everything, not just nails. A good, solid 16-oz. Hammer with Fiberglass Handle is all she’ll need to hang her picture frames, Jamaican masks and balcony lights. And at under $5, it’s a no-brainer to throw this in the kit.

Tape Measure

tape measure 25 ft

Whether she’s spacing pictures on a wall, measuring space for a futon or cutting fabric to cover it, a dependable 25′ Retractable Steel Measuring Tape is a must. Carpenter’s marks every 16″ will also help her locate studs and the thumb lock holds measurements in place when she needs it. At under $5, it’ll pay for itself over and over again.

Locking Pliers

locking pliers set of 3

Thinking about how Miss D will often be alone at home while working on projects, I thought she could probably use some locking pliers. They come in handy when you need an extra hand, but only have your own two paws to work with. Extremely versatile, they can be used as pliers, a pipe wrench, an adjustable wrench, wire cutters, a ratchet or a clamp. I chose this set of 3 Curved Jaw Locking Pliers  ’cause they pretty much cover any size job she’ll be facing, and they come with soft rubberized handles which will make it easier to wrench loose the more stubborn nuts n’ bolts. Under $10.00 and also covered with Harbor Freight’s lifetime warranty.

Needle Nose Pliers

needle nose pliers

My daughter likes to work on crafty projects from time to time, which sometimes entails tiny manipulating tasks. Also, there’ll be the occasional task where she has to work in smaller cavities. That said, I thought it would be a good idea to throw these 5-3/4″ Needle Nose Pliers in the tool box for good measure. They’ll also be good for whenever she needs to strip and cut wire (in my day it would have been stereo speaker wire), etc. At only $2, I couldn’t even get a Quarter Pounder for that.

I’m sure I’ll be adding other things as I think of them down the road. Depending on your kids’ interests, talents, vocations or lifestyle, you’ll probably want to deviate from this list a bit. Where you want to follow my lead is to head on over to your local Harbor Freight Tools to gather your tool set. The quality and prices are great, and you can’t beat the warranty on the hand tools! Make sure you visit HarborFreight.com first to grab your coupons.

Most Wanted Gifts Under $10

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Whether you’re looking for a few extra stocking stuffers or you’re just on a tight budget this holiday season, Harbor Freight Tools has you covered.  You might be surprised at what you can find for under $10 with options ranging from specialty tools to entire kits! Here’s a list of the top ten most wanted items under ten bucks that are the perfect balance of practical and affordable.

  1. Multi-Use Transfer Pump (Item #: 61364) – $6.99

Transfer Pump

Need a gift for your favorite mechanic? You can’t go wrong with this handy item. The Multi-Use Transfer Pump is a versatile tool that is primarily used to fill and empty engines, change oil, and siphon gas. With the included inflation needle, the Pump can also be used to inflate tires or sports equipment like basketballs and footballs. The pump comes with a 51” long hose and all necessary attachments. Pick up this fluid maintenance tool for just $6.99.

  1. Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, 12 Pack (Item #: 69795) – $6.99

cloths

Listen, anyone who works in a shop or garage can never have too many Cleaning Cloths. You just can’t. They’re like clothes hangers. You always need more. These microfiber cloths are made of a dust-trapping material that makes cleaning easy. And, best of all, they also provide a clear, scratch-free shine on your vehicle as well. Stock up on this pack of 12 for just $6.99.

  1. Multi-Tool Blade Set, 3 Pc. (Item #: 61827) – $9.99

blades

Maybe you already picked up a Multi-Tool or perhaps the person you’re buying for already has one. Whatever the case may be, this terrific 3-piece blade set is a great additional gift for under ten bucks. The set comes with three blades, one for cutting and two for scraping, that make quick work of a variety of tasks. At only $9.99, this is an affordable blade set that will greatly enhance the versatility of your multifunction power tool.

  1. 12V 250 PSI Compact Air Compressor (Item #: 4077) – $9.99

AC

More of a portable inflator than an air compressor, this compact unit tackles a variety of jobs from airing up tires quickly to inflating sports equipment in a flash. With the included cigarette lighter plug, you can power the compressor directly from your vehicle, making it a must-have for certain roadside emergencies. For only $9.99, this portable and compact Air Compressor is a great gift for any mechanic, gearhead, or grease monkey.

  1. 6” General Purpose Bi-Metal Reciprocating Saw Blade Assortment, 12 Pc. (Item #: 68045) – $9.99

62370_zzz_alt2_500

Just like with the multi-tool blades, you can’t go wrong with some replacement Reciprocating Saw Blades. This general purpose assortment comes with 12 saw blades for just $9.99, which means the recipient of these fine blades will be able to handle aggressive cutting jobs on a range of materials! With these quality blades, you’re really giving a gift that they’ll be able to use all year long.

  1. Solid Rubber Wheel Chock (Item #: 96479) – $7.99

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Here’s an important safety item that often gets overlooked. The Solid Rubber Wheel Chock is ideal for keeping vehicles in place during repair or maintenance and every automotive enthusiast should have several on hand. No matter how many someone has, they can always use more so don’t be afraid to pick one up for just $7.99!

  1. 100 Pc. Security Bit Set with Case (Item #: 68457) – $9.99

Bits

Looking for something a little more substantial? Then how about a complete set of security bits? This 100 piece set comes packed with bits for hex, hollow hex, Pozi, Torx, hollow-tip Torx, square and spline fasteners. And the whole thing comes conveniently organized in its own carrying case for easy transportation and storage. Slide this set under someone’s tree for just $9.99!

  1. 12 Pc. Assorted Length Elastic Stretch Cords (Item #: 60534) – $6.99

image_21160

Whether it’s securing tarps and covers or bundling PVC pipe or other items, these elastic tie-downs are just what you need for the task at hand. This pack contains 12 cords at assorted lengths for a variety of jobs and each include protective tips that won’t scratch surfaces. Pick up a bag of these for $6.99 and give someone the gift of security.

  1. 17 Pc. Air Tool Accessory Kit (Item #: 68236) – $8.99

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No matter if you’re buying for an experienced contractor or a novice to the DIY game, this fantastic accessory kit is both useful and durable. From connecting air tools to cleaning and dusting with compressed air, the set contains everything you need to get the most out of your air compressor. For a paltry $8.99, this terrific set will make a great gift on any budget.

  1. Automatic Battery Float Charger (Item #: 42292) – $8.99

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Here’s an item that will make a great addition to any shop or garage. The Automatic Battery Float Charger allows you to maintain the charge in a battery even while it’s in storage. This way, when you’re ready to use it again, the battery will already be charged and ready to go! Retailing for just $8.99, this is a great item for seasonal vehicles like RVs or ATVs. Keep in mind, the charger won’t charge batteries, but ensures that they maintain their current charge while not in use.

See the other Most Wanted Gift Guides:
Most Wanted Gifts Under $25
Most Wanted Gifts Under $50
Most Wanted Gifts Under $100

Most Wanted Gifts Under $50

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Ready to step up your gift-buying game to the $50 range? At most tool stores, $50 won’t get you much but at Harbor Freight Tools, you’ll be amazed at the outstanding deals available on tools, accessories and other items for a price that won’t leave you out in the cold. Take a look at this list of the Top 10 Most Wanted Items for Under $50 for a few suggestions on what’s popular this year.

  1. 7-1/4” 10 Amp Heavy Duty Circular Saw with Laser Guide System (Item #: 69078) – $29.99

circular-saw-blog

Let’s cut right to the chase. You need a cool gift for the tool-lover in your life that won’t set you back a lot of money. This Heavy Duty Circular Saw does just that and at only $29.99, it’s a price any gift budget can afford. Complete with a laser guide system for added accuracy, you can’t go wrong with this trusty cutting tool.

  1. Triple Ball Trailer Hitch (Item #: 61913) – $31.99

image_24770

This Triple Ball Trailer Hitch allows any 2” receiver to hook up to three different coupler sizes. For only $31.99, this hitch will accommodate 1-7/8”, 2”, and 2-15/16” couplers, making it the equivalent of three gifts in one! Chrome-plated and featuring a rugged welded steel shank, the Triple Ball Trailer Hitch is durable and versatile. A great gift for any mechanic, auto enthusiast or farmer.

  1. 2 Ton Compact Trolley Jack (Item #: 68783) – $24.99

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Speaking of mechanics and auto enthusiasts, this tough little jack is ideal for any shop or garage. With a 4,000 lb. lifting capacity, the jack lifts vehicles up to 13” for easy repair, maintenance, or tire removal. With smooth-rolling casters and an easy-carry handle, this portable trolley jack retails for just $24.99.

  1. Variable Speed Oscillating Multi-Tool (Items #: 67537) – $37.99

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You’ll be forgiven for assuming this is a typo but the Variable Speed Oscillating Multi-Tool really is under $50! In fact, for just $37.99, you can pick up a gift that is sure to be the most versatile tool in anyone’s garage, shop or home. The multi-tool lets you cut, sand, saw, scrape, and trim at up to 20,000 oscillations per minute and power through a wide variety of projects. If you really want to impress someone with a useful tool for a gift, pick up one of these.

  1. Pneumatic Roller Seat (Item #: 46319) – $ 27.99

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Not everything on this list is a tool. With the Pneumatic Roller Seat, you can give the gift of comfort for just $27.99. The roller seat features a cushioned seat that makes it easy to work for hours as well as a convenient, easy-to-reach storage tray. This is the ideal seat for the shop and is sure to light up the face of any do-it-yourselfer or weekend warrior.

  1. 6 Amp Heavy Duty Variable Speed Rotating Handle Reciprocating Saw (Item #: 62370) – $19.99

4115

Would you believe you can pick up such a powerful tool for only $19.99? Forget $50, this tough Reciprocating Saw is under $20! And it makes an excellent gift. With this saw, you can add precision and accuracy to any cut and the rotating handle makes it easy to get to the spot you need. With an included rubber grip for comfort, the Reciprocating Saw is a terrific addition to anyone’s toolbox.

  1. Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer with Laser Targeting (Item #: 69465) – $19.99

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This professional-quality thermometer is a safe, accurate way to measure the temperature of nearly anything. Even getting the temp in hazardous areas such as engines or other machinery is easy with this handy item. The thermometer may be high end but the price isn’t. Pick this thermometer up for just $19.99.

  1. 7” 10 Amp Variable Speed Polisher (Item #: 60626) – $39.99

paint-4

This amazing Polisher tool will clean up your vehicle’s finish or other large work surfaces without cleaning out your wallet. Retailing for just $39.99, the sander/polisher is built tough and easy to use. Six speed, easy pad changes, and an all-bearing construction for smooth operation make this a must-have for any tool hound.

  1. 40” 300 lb. Capacity Low-Profile Creeper (Item #: 2745) – $19.43

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Low-profile for getting under vehicles easily, this 300 lb. capacity creeper features a padded headrest for optimum comfort while working. It’s resistant to oil and solvents which means the creeper is easy to clean while staying durable. With built-in tool storage smooth-rolling casters for easy maneuvering around the shop, this high quality creeper is available for just $19.43.

  1. 10/2/50 Amp 12V Manual Charger with Engine Start (Item #: 60581) – $34.99

60581_zzz_alt2_500

Here’s the ultimate in Battery Chargers. This charger not only charges or maintains the charge in your vehicle’s battery, it also works as a jump-starter if you find yourself in need of some assistance. This is an excellent gift for anyone from professional mechanics to car owners in general. And for only $34.99, you’ll still have plenty left over for a few stocking stuffers as well.

 

See the other Most Wanted Gift Guides:

Most Wanted Gifts Under $10
Most Wanted Gifts Under $25
Most Wanted Gifts Under $100

Most Wanted Gifts Under $100

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Shopping at Harbor Freight Tools for gifts has become a time-honored holiday tradition, especially when you have tool lovers on your list. But just because those special people have been extra good this year, it doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to reward them. Here are ten gift ideas for under $100 from Harbor Freight.

10.

3 ton Low Profile Steel Heavy Duty Floor Jack with Rapid Pump®

3 ton Low Profile Steel Heavy Duty Floor Jack with Rapid Pump®

With a lift range from 2-7/8″ to 19-3/4″ and load capacity up to 6000 lbs., this jack is sure to lift the spirits (and vehicle) of the recipient. The 3 ton Low Profile Steel Heavy Duty Floor Jack with Rapid Pump® also features a dual parallel pump system that lifts higher with less pumps compared to other brands and universal joint release that provides precise load control in any handle position.

 

9.

3 gal. 1/3 HP 100 PSI Oilless Pancake Air Compressor

3 gal. One Third HP 100 PSI Oilless Pancake Air Compressor

This compressor has a compact design yet delivers the power you need for inflation, nailing, stapling and more! With its built-in accessory storage, easy-to-read gauges and convenient carry handle, the 3 gal. 1/3 HP 100 PSI Oilless Pancake Air Compressor proves that big things come in small packages.

 

8.

2500 lb. ATV/Utility Electric Winch with Wireless Remote Control

2500 lb. ATV Utility Electric Winch with Wireless Remote Control

When a sleigh or ATV gets caught in a snowbank, this gift will be a real lifesaver! The 2500 lb. ATV/Utility Electric Winch with Wireless Remote Control features a single-stage planetary gear system for fast line speed, aircraft grade wire rope and a permanent magnet motor that draws less current making it perfect for ATV use.

 

7.

3/8 in. x 50 ft. Retractable Hose Reel

Three Eighths in. x 50 ft. Retractable Hose Reel

Hose for the holidays! The 3/8 in. x 50 ft. Retractable Hose Reel is ideal for the DIYers or contractors on your gift list who like to keep the garage or shop in ship-shape. The mountable hose reel features a ratchet system to set the perfect hose length while four direction non-snag rollers reduce hose wear. Plus, the spring-loaded release makes rolling up the hose a breeze. A 50 ft, 3/8 in. diameter hose is included.

 

6.

3-in-1 Portable Power Pack with Jump Starter

3-in-1 Portable Power Pack with Jump Starter

Anyone on the receiving end of this gift is guaranteed to get a charge out of it! The high-output, sealed battery can easily jump-start any weak or dead 12 volt car battery. No more waiting on the side of a cold, dark road for help to come. The 3-in-1 Portable Power Pack with Jump Starter also features a built-in 3 LED work light and two 12VDC outlets to power other devices.

 

5.

1/2 in. Professional Air Impact Wrench

Half In. Professional Air Impact Wrench

The 1/2 In. Professional Air Impact Wrench delivers more power with better weight distribution, lighter materials and a more compact housing compared to competitive brands. Additionally, premium grade components with close tolerances prolong the tool’s lifespan. It’s simply the most powerful wrench in its class but available at a price that will make you merry.

 

4.

4 in. x 36 in. Belt/6 in. Disc Sander

4 in. x 36 in. Belt 6 in. Disc Sander

The 4 In. x 36 In. Belt/6 In. Disc Sander is really two gifts in one! The adjustable belt sands inside and outside curves while the 6-inch disc removes stock fast. This combo sander also features a miter gauge for sanding workpieces at angles and a cast aluminum table that tilts up to 60 degrees for use with the belt or disc.

 

3.

1500 lb. Capacity Vehicle Dollies 2 Pc

1500 lb. Capacity Vehicle Dollies 2 Pc

Deck the shop with vehicle dollies, fa la la la la… you get the point. Each dolly can hold up to 1500 lbs. and features four swivel casters to allow easy movement of the project. The rust-resistant 1500 lb. Capacity Vehicle Dollies 2 Pc is the perfect gift for the automotive enthusiast and professional auto worker alike.

 

2.

3 gal. 1/3 HP 100 PSI Oilless Hotdog Air Compressor

3 gal. One third HP 100 PSI Oilless Hotdog Air Compressor

This maintenance-free compressor will make the holidays even happier for the lucky gift recipient. Features include an oilless pump, easy-to-read gauges and thermal overload protection. The 3 gal. 1/3 HP 100 PSI Oilless Hotdog Air Compressor stores easily in the trunk of any vehicle and provides a convenient compressed air supply for brad nailing, stapling, air brushing and other related jobs.

 

1.

Multipurpose Workbench with Light

Multipurpose Workbench with Light

Rumor has it this item is a favorite for the big man at the North Pole who has several of these workbenches in his workshop. But any tool lover or craftsman on your gift list will absolutely love the Multipurpose Workbench with Light from Harbor Freight. The sturdy workbench has a built-in cabinet light to illuminate projects and a 120V outlet for tools. The workbench also features a full-width peg board and two sliding drawers plus upper and lower shelves that provide ample storage for materials, tools and accessories.

 

For more great gift ideas in all price ranges, be sure to check out Harbor Freight’s website or with over 600 locations, visit a Harbor Freight Tools store near you.

Happy holidays to you and your family from Harbor Freight!

 

See the other Most Wanted Gift Guides:

Most Wanted Gifts Under $10
Most Wanted Gifts Under $25
Most Wanted Gifts Under $50

Most Wanted Gifts Under $25

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You don’t have to spend a fortune for the tool lovers on your holiday gift list this year. There are a ton of great items available at Harbor Freight. Here are ten gift ideas for items under $25 dollars from America’s favorite tool store!

 

10.

400 lb. Capacity 1 in. x 15 ft. Ratcheting Tie Downs 4 Pc

400 lb. Capacity 1 in. x 15 ft. Ratcheting Tie Downs 4 Pc

These ratcheting tie downs are easily adjustable to secure loads to truck beds, roof racks and trailers. Vinyl covered S-hooks prevent marring while ratcheting handles make it easy to adjust the length on the web straps. For the gift recipient who’s always on the move with loads in tow, you can’t go wrong with the 400 lb. Capacity 1 in. x 15 ft. Ratcheting Tie Downs 4 Pc.

 

9.

3 Ton Steel Jack Stands

3 Ton Steel Jack Stands

Any gift recipient who likes to work on or store his or her sleigh will love the 3 Ton Steel Jack Stands. Though the combined weight of this pair of stands is only 13.2 lbs., they can support most cars and trucks safely off the ground. Other features included welded steel bases for strength and self-locking ratchet handles.

 

8.

3/8 in. Variable Speed Reversible Drill

Three Eighths In. Variable Speed Reversible Drill

Good cheer will find its way to the gift recipient of this versatile power tool. The 3/8 in. Variable Speed Reversible Drill offers variable speeds up to 3000 RPM, making it ideal for woodworking, metalworking and home repair. It features a durable and smooth running ball-bearing motor designed for heavy use, keyless chuck and a built-in level.

 

7.

Mechanic’s Shop Towels 50 Pk

Mechanic's Shop Towels 50 Pk

Cut directly from Santa’s long-johns… well, maybe not, but these shop towels are so absorbent and durable, the gift recipient will swear they’re magic! Made of 100% cotton weave and machine washable, they’re perfect for picking up dirt, grease and liquids.

 

6.

Oscillating Multi-Tool

Oscillating Multi-Tool

Giving the Oscillating Multi-Tool is like giving dozens of gifts in one! This powerful tool can be used to cut through cable, air ducts, downspouts, plasterboard, pipes and wood up to 2” thick… sand down cement, concrete, stone, plaster, tile adhesive, paint… Optional attachments are easy to switch out. For remodeling, automotive repairs, hobbies and more, this one tool does the job delivering up to 21,000 OPM. Yet, its low vibration design means less fatigue during tough jobs.

 

5.

3300 lb. Capacity 2 in. x 27 ft. Heavy Duty Ratcheting Tie Down 1 Pc

3300 lb. Capacity 2 in. x 27 ft. Heavy Duty Ratcheting Tie Down 1 Pc

For the gift recipient who hauls serious loads, look no further than the weather-resistant 3300 lb. Capacity 2 in. x 27 ft. Heavy Duty Ratcheting Tie Down 1 Pc. With this nifty tool, one can quickly and easily cinch up cargo and keep it locked down tight with the ratchet tie-down system. Additional features included durable J-style hooks and a rubberized handle and release.

 

4.

16 ft. 6 Gauge Heavy Duty Booster Cables

16 ft. 6 Gauge Heavy Duty Booster Cables

Walkin’ in a winter wonderland is one thing but driving through a winter wonderland is an entirely different matter and one that can easily lead to a dead battery. Here’s a great gift that keeps on giving, the 16 ft. 6 Gauge Heavy Duty Booster Cables. The cables features heavy duty vinyl coated steel clamps and copper coated jaws. Used once and the gift recipient will thank you forever.

 

3.

4-1/2 in. 4.3 Amp Angle Grinder

4 and One Half Inch 4.3 Amp Angle Grinder

Popular among professional contractors, do-it-yourselfers and Santa’s elves, the 4-1/2 in. 4.3 Amp Angle Grinder makes a great gift! The grinder has a durable 4.3 amp motor that delivers up to 10,000 RPM for fast stock removal. It also features a rugged cast aluminum gear case, wheel guard and two position auxiliary handle.

 

2.

Wireless Security Alert System

Wireless Security Alert System

Security makes a great gift! With the Wireless Security Alert System, an alert chimes when a person or vehicle comes within a 400 ft. range. The system is easy to install with included mounting hardware and features a powerful weather-proof infrared sensor. The entire system is powered with just one 9v and three C batteries (sold separately).

 

1.

1000 lb. Capacity 1-1/2 in. x 10 ft. Ratcheting Tie Down Set of 4

1000 lb. Capacity 1 and one-half  in. x 10 ft. Ratcheting Tie Down Set of 4

For mid-sized loads, the 1000 lb. Capacity 1-1/2 in. x 10 ft. Ratcheting Tie Down Set of 4 is ideal. Ratchet handles make strap adjustment a cinch (pun intended) and hand levers make it easy to ho ho hold down the load tight.

 

For more great gift ideas, be sure to check out harborfreight.com or visit a Harbor Freight store near you!

Happy holidays to you and your family from all of us at Harbor Freight Tools!

 

See the other Most Wanted Gift Guides:

Most Wanted Gifts Under $10
Most Wanted Gifts Under $50
Most Wanted Gifts Under $100

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

Materials:

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!

5-Drawer Tool Cart Review

As a Harbor Freight blogger, one of the more entertaining things I get to do is look at customer reviews. For one, they can be very colorful. And let’s be honest: most of the time, someone thinking about getting a tool is gonna be a lot more interested in what another customer has to say than me.

5 drawer tool cart

Among the more popular products that get reviewed is the U.S. General 30″ 5-Drawer Glossy Red Tool Cart. One reason is simply because it’s a darn good tool box at a great, low price. Another (and this is just me philosophizing here) is ’cause it just integrates so well to whatever your special interest is, be it automotive, woodworking, electronics, garden-variety DIY, what have you. It follows you around the garage or shop easily, and you can personalize it in a way you just can’t other garage fixtures, such as with stickers, additions and accessories like bottle openers.

5 drawer tool cart - bottle opener

Yep, there’s a lot of great tool cart eye candy out there to give you ideas. Just go to Google Images, type “harbor freight 5-drawer tool cart” and let ‘er fly.

5 drawer tool cart - wrench mods

For the benefit of shoppers like, you though, the best reviews are the ones that answer all the pertinent questions. In regards to this tool cart, I wanted to share this customer YouTube video review, provided by ChuckE2009. In his 10-minute presentation, Chuck unboxes, assembles, tests, stocks and wheels around his 5-drawer tool cart, all the while offering commentary on the box’s quality, features and capabilities. In the world of customer reviews, I give this one an “A+.”

Check out the U.S. General 5-Drawer Tool Cart for yourself. Make sure you skim the customer reviews on the product page and, if convenient, go to your local Harbor Freight Tools and investigate it yourself. I think you’re going to find it’s a pretty cool box and a great deal.

How To Create An Organized Stackable Parts Storage Cabinet

If you’re like me, you’ve got a kind of “Winchester House-like” system for keeping all of your screws, bolts, nuts, washers, hooks, nails, brads, tacks and parts in a place where you can get at them… usually thrown all harum-scarum in the smaller upper workbench drawers and coffee cans. I’d hate to actually audit the time I’ve spent looking for everything whilst in the middle of projects.

stackable organizer complete 2

So, what would you think of having your hardware– every single cotter pin, rivet, fuse, lock nut– sequestered in its own bin, in labeled cases stacked 12-high in a portable cart? Well, that’s exactly what Dave Wirth did with his huge inventory of parts and fasteners, employing the Storehouse 20-Bin Portable Parts Storage Case from Harbor Freight.

20 bin storage case

Made of rugged ABS plastic, each case houses 20 removable bins and has a clear lid so you can see what you got inside without opening it up. It also comes with a handle for easy toting.

sorting the bins

Dave actually got a kick out of going through his stuff, dumping everything out, sorting them into their own trays, and then deciding which trays should be grouped together in the same case.  In the process, he found things he never knew he had.  Also, it was a treat knowing he’d never have to spend all that excess time looking for just the right sized bolt.

building the cart

So, how did Dave Wirth tackle this extremely cool modern marvel? Check out his detailed “how-to” video here:

And while you’re at it, visit his Blog for a quick pictorial of how it’s done. It really is a neat project and a work of art.

As for the table saw, miter saw, wood glue, clamps, nail gun, compressor, belt sander and casters— whatever you don’t already have in your arsenal– you can find at Harbor Freight at great prices.

HOW TO PREVENT OVER-TIGHTENING AND STRIPPING WITH A TORQUE WRENCH

torch wrench header pic

Some folks might look at this and say, “I’ve already got a socket wrench” or “I’ve got plenty of ratchets (and I don’t need one that big).” But what makes the torque wrench stand out– and why you absolutely need to have one in your arsenal– is that it measures the precise amount of pressure you use to tighten down a nut or bolt. Why is that important? Because in certain situations (as with lug nuts and oil drain plugs) it’s important that the tightness is definite.

torque wrench engine 2

Many sub-assemblies of the car, such as the engine and transmission as well as the vehicle itself, are built to exact tolerances, and it’s up to the torque wrench to deliver that specific tolerance. It’s even more crucial with newer vehicles thanks to the advent of a lot of aluminum, soft metal and plastic parts on cars. The last thing you need is to strip or over-tighten. In fact, both under-torquing and over-torquing can have unfavorable consequences. For instance. under-torquing a wheel lug could result in the nut loosening and eventually falling off. Over-torquing a lug can actually weaken the wheel stud and cause it to crack and break which can lead to the same results. So, it’s obvious why every DIY mechanic should own a torque wrench.

torque wrench dial

Take the example of oil drain plugs and wheel lug nuts. Check the manual for the recommended torque. Set the torque setting on your wrench by twisting the handle to the desired settings. Listen for the click, which indicates you’ve reached your set torque, then stop.

Something else you should be aware of with your torque wrench. Never drop it or use it as a hammer. That’s a sure way to seriously mess up its calibration, which could seriously mess up whatever it is you’re torquing.  When you are done using your torque wrench, back the torque all the way down before you store it away. That will help maintain the settings a lot longer.

To see the calibration and use of a torque wrench in action, check out the video below. 

Harbor Freight carries a number of high quality torque wrenches at great, low prices. The Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ Drive-Click Type Torque Wrench is a bestseller and one that Car Craft magazine endorsed as having “impressive accuracy” and “amazing value.” Check out these and other heavy-duty hand tools, all with a lifetime warranty.

How To Choose a Circular Saw

circular saw intro pic

The circular saw is the loyal mutt of power tools. It’s the go-to for everything, from houses, decks, garden sheds and tree houses, to smaller things like furniture and shelves. You’re also more likely to spot a circular saw at a construction site than other power tools. From cutting 2×4’s to ripping sheets of plywood, a good circular saw will tackle all types of jobs and wood.

Corded vs. Cordless

cordless circular saw

Like most of the other power tools, circular saws come in both corded and cordless models. It was just a few years ago when you couldn’t find a cordless circular saw that could keep up with a corded model on a job. That said, technology has surged forward and now the choice isn’t so cut-and-dry. Cordless (above), of course, gives you a greater freedom of movement without being dependent on a plug, while the corded ones never run out of juice.

corded circular saw

What it boils down to is, it depends on how you use the tool and what projects you’re more likely to be working on. Knowing the benefits and drawbacks of each, though, is great for anyone shopping for one. My two cents, if you can get both, even better!

sidewinder circular sar

Circular saws are divided into two primary categories: Sidewinders (shown above) and worm-drive units (below). On a sidewinder, the “spur-gear” motor sits directly next to the saw blade which makes them small, lightweight, and great for jobs around the house. It’s especially good for jobs overhead. Worm-drive saws generate more torque because of a beefy spiral gear that dispatches power to the blade more efficiently, and it is notably heavier. Also on the worm-drive, the motor sits behind the blade. Advantages of a worm-drive saw include its line-of-sight visibility and its power.

worm-drive circular saw

So, which one to get? The truth is that one saw isn’t better than the other, it just depends on what kind of work you’re doing. For example, if you’re working on the rafters or stairs, the worm-drive would probably suit you better, while on the other hand you’d reach for the sidewinder for the opposing bevels. If you do a variety of light and more involved DIY projects, you’re eventually going to own both. Of course, the worm-drive will be more expensive, but the added torque and heft will carry you through the toughest jobs.

There is one other alternative for small jobs, too. Compact saws like the Chicago Electric Double Cut Saw (as seen below) provides ample cutting power for minor jobs around the house. They’re lighter and easier to maneuver in limited spaces.

double cut saw

Before buying a circular saw, make sure you actually pick each up and heft it. Take note of the weight, balance, grip and motionability. Do this with different models and you’ll get an idea of which is the most comfortable for you. In the case of the cordless models,  do this exercise with a battery attached, as that changes the weight and balance significantly.

As with any power tool, safety comes first. Always wear proper eye protection and read through the safety manual that comes with your saw. And in your journey, be sure to visit your local Harbor Freight Tools where you’ll find great deals on circular saws, blades, gloves and more!