The Drop-Dead, Gotta-Have Drill/Driver

i love my drill driver 2

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

Not Just a Drill

driver and drill

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

drill driver clutch

drill driver drill bit


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

drill driver art

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


Sanding has got to be my least favorite part of any project. Manual sanding is a long, excruciating ritual with relatively little payoff. Using sanding blocks isn’t much better. The paper’s a bear to get on and, maybe it’s just me, but it doesn’t want to stay on, either.

hand sanding

Maybe you’re lucky enough to still have your dad’s old vibrating sander. That’s an improvement, sure, but you can still do better. When the dust settles, when it comes to stripping paint from furniture, preparing new molding or cleaning up between finish coats, you won’t get more bang for your buck than with a random-orbit sander. It even smooths and cleans metal and composite materials like solid-surface counter tops. Use a random-orbit on your next project and I’ll bet you a Buffalo nickel you’ll be using it over any other sander from then on.

random product pic

1. Smoothability

A random-orbit sander performs by moving in “random orbits” (ironic, I know) or ellipses,  and also spins in circles. Unlike disk and orbital finishing sanders , the random-orbit leaves behind no swirls or curlicues. It can move across different grain directions without leaving so much as a scratch.

2. Diversability

Another reason why this type of sander makes sense is, it can be used for all types of sanding chores, from the tougher stuff like stripping down paint, to more gentle tasks like smoothing contours.

random pic furniture

3. Maneuverability

Random-orbit sanders generally come in 5″ or 6″ sizes, based on the size of the sanding disk. The 5″ models tend to be more popular with DIYers, though, as they’re capable of being more nimble on the contours. They’re conveniently controlled with the light touch of your palm and with just a little urging, you can let the sander do all the work. Sweet, no?

random product dust bag

4. Suckability

The most desirable models come with a vacuum system. A vacuum sucks away virtually all the dust through holes in the disk pad while you’re sanding–keeping the surface of the sandpaper cool and clog-free– and deposits it into a detachable container. However, even with the vacuum system there’s bound to be a marginal amount of airborne dust, so it’s still advised to wear safety goggles and a respirator mask.

5. Affordability

 Prices for random-orbit sanders can reach upwards of several hundred dollars. The Chicago Electric 2 Amp 5″ model (#69857) featured in this article is rated at 4.5 out of 5 stars and can be had for under $30.

Belt/Disc Sander Tips – The SOP Checklist For All Your Belt/Disc Sanding Projects

belt disk sander 1

Last week I talked about How To Turn Your Garage Into The Ultimate DIY Workshop and as part of the arsenal, I recommended a belt sander. This time, I’m going to add the stationary belt/disc sander, and if you do a lot of projects with wood and metal, you’ll immediately get why. Whether you’re making razor-sharp miters, shaping precise  contours on a model, making knives as a hobby, sharpening lawn mower blades, smoothing down welds or putting a silky smooth finish on a project, a belt/disc sander can be your best friend in the workshop.

This time, though, I’d like to talk about some guidelines

belt disk sander 2

Safety Tips

1. As with most all power tools, always wear safety glasses with side shields or safety goggles while operating the belt/disc sander.

2. Always be on guard when switching on this tool. A sanding disc or belt cuts quickly and aggressively. Failure to anticipate that may result in the loss of skin or digits.

3. Check yourself for loose clothing, jewelry, hair or other things dangling loosely from your person, and secure them  so they are NOT caught in the machine.

4. Sanding on wood or plastic will cause heat buildup due to the friction and may cause the product to burn.

5. A power-driven sander can do some serious damage to the skin. Avoid any contact with the belt and disc when powered up.

6. A filtered face mask is always recommended when working with these sanders.

7. Check the integrity of the sanding belt tracking as well as the integrity of the disc. Any ripped belts or discs should be replaced immediately.

8. Contrary to other the operation of other power tools, do NOT wear gloves while operating the sander, as they can get pulled in by the belt or disc.

9. Let the machine to get to full speed before feeding it material. Also, be aware that it takes time for the disc or belt to stop moving. You just can’t stop it on a dime.

operating belt disk sander

When Operating the Belt/Disc Sander

1. Always approach the belt/disc sander with safety on the brain!

2. Make sure the gap between the sander’s table and the spinning disc or belt is as small as possible.

3. Make sure the distance between your fingers and the spinning disc or belt is no closer than 3”.

4. Absolutely do not sand pieces that are too small to be safely supported.

5. Always hold the piece securely when sanding.

6. Use the backstop, fence, table or other supports as you’re sanding.

7. Always hold the piece on the downward rotation side of the disc when sanding.

8. Avoid putting your hands in awkward positions. A sudden slip could cause a hand to move into the spinning belt or disc.

9. Do not sand with the work piece unsupported. Support the work piece with the backstop or table.

10. Clear scrap pieces and other objects from the table, backstop and belt before turning on the sander.

11. Don’t push hard on the sanding media. Both the belt and disc perform best and safest when they’re allowed to remove material at the rate for which they were designed.

12. Never adjust the belt while the sander is on.

13.Turn the machine off and unplug it before installing or removing belts or discs, or when making adjustments.

14. Never leave the machine when it’s running or before it comes to a complete stop.

15. Shut the sander off, clean it off and clear the work area before leaving. If there are rugrats about, unplug it, too.

Central-Machinery Belt/Disc Sanders

belt disk sander art

Harbor Freight Tools offers an excellent 4″ x 36″ Belt/Disc Sander (#97181) for most (small-to-medium) home projects with a cast aluminum table tilts to 60°.

9 x 6 belt disc sander

Or, if you anticipate larger projects– or want the flexibility for them– we also offer the 9″ x 6″ Combination Belt and Disc Sander #61750 with a 45 ° tilt.

Both of these are great buys as well as great additions to your workshop.


pioneer speakers

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

marantz white

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

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

Tools Needed:

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

Materials Needed:

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


Step #1 – Gut the Sucker!

gutted speaker

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

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

Step #2 – Trace Your Outline

tracing the speaker

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

Step #3 – Time to Cut

cutting speaker

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

Step #4 – Sand and Paint

sand and paint

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

Step #5 – Brackets


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

Step #6 – Hinges

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

Step 7: Light ‘Em Up

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

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

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

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

speaker media cabinet

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

Miter Saw Tips For Beginners

miter saw glam shot

You recently started woodworking and totally love it. Now you’re ready to take your mad DIY skillz to the next level? Well, the miter saw is an awesome tool to have in your workshop arsenal. This is the go-to tool cuts for crown molding, picture frames, door frames, window casings, decks, furniture, flooring  — and that’s just a fraction of what it can do. When asked what their favorite tool in the shop is, a lot of folks say, “My miter saw! I love it!”

miter saw angle

The miter saw is designed to cut different kinds of angles.  If a board is flat on saw’s base, the cut across the wide part is called a miter. Hold the board vertical and set it against the saw’s fence,  you’re cutting a bevel. Most saws cut from 90 to 45-degrees, but some can cut even steeper angles, up to 55 degrees.

miter saw 10 non slide

Before you go to the store, know this: miter saws are NOT created equal. There are three types of miter saws on the market: miter saw, compound miter saw, and sliding compound miter saw. A compound miter can cut a bevel and a miter at the same time. It’s great for cutting things like crown molding. A sliding compound miter cuts multi-angles like a compound miter, but also has a sliding action that lets you cut even wider boards.

miter saw cutting angle

Miter saws also come in two sizes, 10″ and 12″, based on the diameter of the blade. The size you get depends on the work you anticipate doing, but know that the 12″ blade is able to cut thicker and wider than the 10″. For example, a 10″ miter saw will cut a 2×6 at 90 degrees and a 2×4 at 45-degrees, while the 12″ can cut a 2×8 at 90 degrees and a 2×6 at 45 degrees. A laser marker feature is also nice! So, before you lay down your money, think carefully about all the things you might use it for. It also stands to reason that a 12″ sliding compound miter saw will cost more than a 10″ compound.

Miter saws can take your DIY skills to the next level, but it’s important to make sure you follow some basic safety tips before starting your cuts.

miter saw CU laser

Before You Cut! Safety Tips:

  • Before the switch is thrown; safety glasses, ear buds, gloves, dust mask!
  • Remove all distractions (kids, pets).
  • Remove scraps and other foreign objects from the machine before operating; also remove loose chips along the way, after the blade stops.
  • Keep a firm grip on the saw handle and on the work piece; make sure it is firmly up against the table and fence before cutting.
  • Anticipate flying pieces– getting startled with a spinning blade in front of you could be bad.
  • Never work with a dull blade.
  • Don’t operate a saw without a blade guard.
  • Never leave the machine until the blade comes to a full stop.
  • When the board is cut all the way, release the trigger and allow the blade to come to a complete stop, then raise the blade. If the blade is still spinning when you lift, there is more apt to be flying pieces.
  • Never start the saw when the blade is touching the wood; allow it to be at full speed before cutting.
  • Never put your body in the path of the blade (sure, you say “duh” now); never let your arms cross while cutting.
  • If the piece you’re working with is short, use clamps; don’t get your hands too close to the blade, stay at least 6″ away.
  • Make sure your work piece is supported before cutting. More than half the length should be resting on the saw. You need to focus on your cut, not balancing the wood.
  • Go slow when cutting knots; they can break up and shoot pieces.
  • Make sure you’re not cutting through metal (nails and staples).

And if that weren’t enough, here are some more tips in’s Miter Saw Safety Manual.

miter saw handyman

Tips On Operating a Miter Saw

  • When working with small pieces of wood, cut with a chopping motion; when cutting a large piece, slide blade out, cut down and push back in.
  • When marking your board, draw the line all the way across the stock, then drop the blade to the wood to check your alignment. Adjust the piece as needed before cutting.
  • Go slow with bevel cuts, especially if you’re chopping with the blade as opposed to sliding.
  • When first cutting your miter cuts, purposely cut slightly long and just a little at a time so you can readjust as you go. If you try to get right on the line, chances are good you’ll cut short.
  • Always cut the factory end from a board before measuring for your final cut. This ensures better fitting parts.
  • Let the saw do the work; don’t force the blade through the wood.
  • More teeth means better quality cuts: Use a blade with more than 50 teeth for construction cuts, and with more than 90 teeth for fine cuts. For treated lumber, use a lower tooth count, even for fine cuts; the open spaces between the teeth clear the debris and puts less strain on the saw’s motor.
  • If possible, cut one angle end of a part first, then mark the cut on the opposite end after you test fit the first cut.
  • When making repetitive cuts, set up a stop block. For long boards, set the stop up next to the saw. For short cuts,draw a line on the saw. Use masking tape and a pencil to make the line. Then remove the tape when done. This is much more accurate and efficient than individually measuring each part.
  • To speed up the cuts and increase their accuracy, cut a piece of 1/4″ plywood the height of the fence and the length of the saw. Attach it to the fence on both sides of the blade with double-face carpet tape. Then make a cut through the plywood. This will show you exactly where the saw blade will cut. Then move your marked board up to the edge of the cut for a perfect result.

As this is a serious purchase for a serious tool, I encourage you to surf operational videos, blogs and forums to get a well-rounded understanding of miter saws. When you’re ready to pull the trigger and shop for yours, be sure to make your first stop Harbor Freight Tools. They have all types and sizes of saws, safety gear, blades, stands and more!

How To Soundproof Your Garage or Workshop

Insulated Garage Wall

It doesn’t matter if you’re a recreational DIYer or a serious garage guru, you make noise. It can’t be helped, especially with power tools. And if you’ve got close neighbors, you probably always think about that noise when you’re switching on a machine. Soundproofing your garage/workshop is the key to maximizing your freedom.  Imagine being able to cut lumber anytime–late night or early morning– without fear of wrath or reciprocity.

orange block soundproofing

There are, of course, a number of methods to soundproof. For the “whatever” DIY guy, it might be hanging moving blankets on the walls and ceiling. There’s another method called “resilient channel” which is what a lot of the nicer recording studios use, and which is great… if you’re building a nice recording studio. An approach I like a lot more is the “cleat” method, suggested by “Mobile Rik” on With a lot of easy-to-follow steps and lots of pics, Rik shows us how hanging drywall panels on a pair (or more) of wooden “cleats” can contain a great deal of sound. Compared to the “resilient method, the “cleat method is:

  1. Much cheaper
  2. Much sturdier (if you decide you want shelves or other heavy things hanging from those walls)
  3. Is removable for tweaking if necessary
  4. Uses ordinary 2 x 4 lumber and not some fancy-shmantzy materials that need to be special-ordered

insulated garage wall vertical

But, be warned, the “cleat” style is based on different– even contrary– principles to conventional soundproofing methods. But this is the cornerstone of every blue-blooded DIYer: Build A Better Mousetrap! Be sure you read Rik’s “Be Willing To Break The Rules” section to understand the high-fidelity physics behind his approach and why he’s going this route.

Take a look at Mobile Rik’s “How-To” and see if this is something you could do in your garage!

cleat drywall

But first, here’s a quick (short) list of what you’re gonna need:

Tools Needed:

table saw

*If you don’t have a table saw or band saw (although this is as good an excuse as any to get one), you could skip this tool by going to the lumber store and have them rip your boards per your specifications.


Polyurethane Tube Insulation

  • 2-1/2″ Nails
  • Drywall Screws
  • Closed-Cell Foam Tape
  • Polyethylene Pipe Insulation Tube
  • Drywall 1/2″ (you may even consider 5/8″; besides killing even more sound, it’ll add fire protection and be more gouge-proof)
  • Acoustical Caulk

Other Tips To Deaden Sound In The Garage:

rubber washers

  • Buy a pack of rubber washers and apply them to machine cabinet fasteners as long as it’s not a critical connection for precision alignment
  • Retrofit all of your tool stands to include rubber-wheeled casters, and look at using rubber grommets on the plate holes where you bolt them to the stand legs
  • Buy those square rubber vibration isolation blocks and use them to separate the tool from the mobile base or tool cart
  • Spray sound-dampening material on the insides of metal machine cabinets
  • Add sound insulation lining to machine cabinets, router table chambers
  • Use baffle-like sound shields made of sound-absorptive materials near motors and other noise sources without restricting heat dissipation for the motor. 
  • Add additional sound absorbing material (perhaps backed by sound reflecting material) directly behind noisy machines that are against the wall
  • Safety guards around blades and bits do help with both dust collection and noise isolation, so it’s not a bad idea to use them when you can, especially over the table saw blade.  Maybe make your own, and incorporate some sound-deadening strategies in addition to dust collection efficiency strategies.

Remember that a lot of little things will add up to a much quieter shop.  You’ll feel much more free knowing that you won’t get complaints about your late night or early morning dust-making activities. And remember Harbor Freight Tools when you need a quality tool at a very low price!

The Incredible Foldable Shop Crane

Just because you’re working out a small space doesn’t mean you don’t have room for a powerful shop crane. With the 2 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane (Item #: 69514) from Harbor Freight, you can get the lifting power you need when you need it. And when you don’t, it folds down for easy, compact storage. That way, it’s out of the way when not in use. But with all the cool jobs and tasks you can tackle with the crane, it won’t be in storage for long!


The Shop Crane is easily adjustable from 73-5/8” to 89” in height to fit the job at hand while the boom extends from 41” to 61-3/4”. For any project that requires lifting items up to 4,000 lbs, this Foldable Shop Crane is designed for performance and reliability. Plus, it comes with the low, affordable price you’ve come to expect from Harbor Freight Tools.

“I bought this crane for my husband’s garage and he says it works great! Pulled the engine right out of the car…no problem! He’s very happy with it!” – by TJ from Western PA

“Great product !! Excellent value & price , Harbor Freight communication was also the best
Very happy with this 2 ton hoist “Fantastic Quality.” – by Rick from new Jersey

“Used this crane out of the box to unload a BMW engine and transmission out of the back of a pick-up truck and park it in my garage. Assembled in 15 minutes and worked perfectly when used with the HF 2 ton load balancer. This is a must have. This crane lifted a load from 72″ high and put it down safely on the ground – not all cranes can lower that far. This crane is excellent value for money and folds down into a very small footprint.” – by Seawolf from Springfield, MA

With an included ram, chain and hook, the 2 Ton Capacity Foldable Shop Crane contains everything you need to start lifting those heavy parts right away. So if you’re ready to handle bigger projects from the comfort of your own shop or garage, get down to your local Harbor Freight store and pick one up today!

How To Build a Teardrop Trailer

teardrop trailer complete

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

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

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

vw teardrop

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

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

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

teardrop beds

Necessary Tools:

teardrop camping

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

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

How To Make Your Very Own MAN TABLE

man table

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

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

So, here’s what you’re going to need:

Tools and Materials

Power Tools
Angle Grinder with Cutting Discs and Abrasive Discs

angle grinder
Welder (in this case a stick welder)

stick welder
Jig saw

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

power drill


Angle Finder

angle gauge
Marking tools (pen or painters tape)

Center Punch

center punch


Adjustable Wrench

adjustable wrench

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

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

Table Top Frame

table top frame

Tools needed
Angle grinder with both discs
Angle gauge

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

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

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

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



Tools needed
Angle grinder with both discs

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

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

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

Drilling the Bolt Holes

bolt holes

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

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

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

Putting Together the Frame

table frame

Tools needed
Adjustable Wrench

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

Painting the Frame

paint the frame


Tools needed
Black spray paint


Putting On the Top

putting on the top

Tools needed:
Jig saw

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

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

I’m a Man, Yes I Am

final man table

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



Abrasive Blast Cabinet

More often than not, wire brushes or sanding discs just won’t cut it! Blasting is the only way to really get parts clean and prepped for paint and powder, especially when it comes to automotive parts. But blasting can create quite a mess. Save yourself the hassle with the Abrasive Blasting Cabinet (item #: 68893) from Harbor Freight Tools. The blasting cabinet is constructed from sturdy 19-gauge steel to keep dust, debris and blasting medium contained. It also features a fluorescent lighting system, ceramic nozzle, hose and gloves.

Here’s what customers are saying about the blasting cabinet:

I use this product daily. It works VERY WELL… – Scotty B., Jupiter Farms, FL

I have been doing all powdercoating for 2 motorcycle shops and use the heck out of this rig. I have not had a problem with leaks, assembly, gloves etc. This system works comparable to any others that are 4 times the cost. – RS-SS Restorations, Colorado/Arkansas

This is one of the best purchases I have made for my shop. Finding all kinds of uses. – Joel, Wisconsin

Harbor Freight also carries compressors and dust collectors, which can be used with the Abrasive Blast Cabinet. For accessory specifications, please be sure to consult the user manual.

When it comes to parts that need to be stripped down to the base material, give ‘em a blast that will last with the Abrasive Blast Cabinet from Harbor Freight Tools, available at one of 600+ stores nationwide!

Abrasive Blast Cabinet
Item #: 68893