Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. the Competition – Pt. 1

While I’ve been posting the progress of the ’67 Firebird’s restoration these past weeks, it occurred to me some of you might be thinking, “Well, so what? That’s what tools are for.” This is true. But the proposition that Harbor Freight’s  tools are rugged, reliable and capable is beside the point. The purpose of this exercise (besides showing you a sexy car) is to demonstrate how someone can execute something as meaningful and professional as restore a classic car while spending a lot less money– or getting a lot more value for the money– for the tools to do it. That’s a pretty big deal.

So to better illustrate the point, I’ll compare the prices of the tools used on the project with similar (if not exact) products the competitors advertise. The competitors I chose were Craftsman, Northern Tool, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Grainger. It should be noted that exact matches weren’t always found, so I substituted the closest comparison available. I don’t think this compromises the test, however, because we’re only talking about differences in size and shape, not function.

In the first segment, we’ll be looking at the Harbor Freight tools used in the vehicle’s disassembly video:

 

This solidly-built, steel tool cart is the perfect rolling workstation for wrenchers, able to hold 700 lbs of tools and easily roll around the garage.  Standing at over 41″ high and 37″ wide, there’s tons of space, and with 5 drawers, a bottom shelf, a covered tray on top, side slots and more, it will keep you fully armed at your spot without having to go “fetch” a tool.

  • Craftsman – 3-Drawer GRIPLATCH Utility Cart – $349.99
  • Northern Tool Excel – 5-Drawer Rolling Metal Tool Cart  – $399.99
  • Home Depot – Excel 600 lb. 4-Drawer Steel Tool Cart – $369.99
  • Lowe’s – Task Force 400 lb. 6-Drawer Steel Tool Chest – $189.00
  • Grainger – Westward 250 lb. 4-Drawer Utility Cart – $572.50

The huge, industrial-quality tool set contains a comprehensive collection of the most used automotive and mechanic’s tools, including adjustable wrenches, ratchets, breaker bars, pliers, sockets in SAE and metric, extensions and universal joint adapters. This treasure trove of tools is built to last!

  • Craftsman – 309-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $249.99
  • Northern Tool – 305-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $299.99
  • Home Depot – Husky 264-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $198.00
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 227-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $199.98
  • Grainger – Craftsman Industrial 273-pc. Mechanics Tool Set – $985.00

 

This little 2-1/2 lb. air ratchet delivers up to 50 lbs. of torque! The slim design allows mechanics get to fasteners in cramped and hard-to-reach spots that standard impact wrenches can’t hope to go! Features easy reversible action.
  • Craftsman – 3/8″ Ratchet Wrench – $34.99
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $29.99
  • Home Depot – Campbell Hausfeld 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $32.68
  • Lowe’s – Campbell Hausfeld 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $48.38
  • Grainger – Westward 3/8″ Air Ratchet Wrench – $79.00

 

Central Pneumatic 1/4" Mini Air Ratchet
This thing fits everywhere! Only 5″ long, the compact 1/4″‘ air ratchet wrench is ideal for tight work spaces like under dashboards or in engine bays. Designed to work with all 1/4” drive sockets, this rugged air tool has a die-cast aluminum body and a black oxide-coated head that resists corrosion. It’s got just the right amount of torque for tightening small bolts.
  • Craftsman – 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet – $49.99
  • Northern Tool – AirCat Mini 1/4″ Air Ratchet – $99.99
  • Home Depot – Black Bull 1/4″ Air Ratchet – $21.97
  • Lowe’s – N/A
  • Grainger – Westward 1/4″ Air Ratchet – $69.75

So as you can see, when you buy at Harbor Freight Tools, you really are getting the best of both worlds– great tools at ridiculously low prices!

Join us next week when we’ll review the tools employed to remove the engine!

The One Thing

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
(holds up one finger)  This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean (squat).
City Slickers, 1991

As you may or may not be aware, we’ve been following the restoration of a ’67 Firebird where only Harbor Freight Tools are being employed, and are documenting it in a video series. While I’ve been editing footage for the blog, I couldn’t help but notice that the Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench was used throughout the project. In fact, in the sixth installment, where the engine gets rebuilt, this tool was the star of the show– doing about 80% of the work!

Don’t let the price fool you. The reversible 1/2″ torque wrench is up to the task, whether you’re a weekend warrior or professional practitioner, in the home or under the hood. And as a friend pointed out to me, it’s the primo tool to keep in the car as a lug wrench. Accurate to within plus-or-minus 4%, the Pittsburgh torque wrench features a click-stop design with a range of 20-150 ft. lbs. It also comes with a heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism that delivers the necessary precision required for jobs that require specificity. It’s the go-to tool for engines, suspension and a long list of projects.

So, when you’re looking to start or fortify your auto and/or shop tool arsenal. just remember One Thing:

The Pittsburgh Pro 1/2″ drive click-stop torque wrench.

 

Carrying

Last Fathers Day,  I bought myself an old ’72 GMC long bed pickup. A friend of mine who runs an auto parts store told me one of his regular customers– the original owner– had to sell it because he couldn’t drive anymore. The truck was in great shape; perfect body, clean interior, bulletproof 402 cu. in. V8 with a Turbo 400 transmission. It’s my “man cave on wheels.” I put in a new stereo, gutted a dead CB radio that came with it and now hide a small .38 in it when driving cross-country. I also added a cooler with a cup holder lid as kind of a “center console.” However, the vehiclewas still missing the one thing every pre-computer-age car has got to have– a tool kit. Nothing super fancy, just something reliable and sturdy enough to deal with the off-chance mechanical mishap. So, the next time Harbor Freight had a coupon sale, I picked one up:

The Pittsburgh 105 Piece Tool Kit With 4-Drawer Chest goes above-and-beyond any other basic tool kit, for the home, auto and for the price. A dramatically thorough collection of sockets, bits, wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, hex keys, utility knife and more, the only things I had to add to complete the package were duct tape, galvanized wire and fuses. It also comes with a sturdy 4-drawer case, which is extremely convenient… for anyone else. I threw all my tools in a canvas bag which I tucked under the bench seat.

A lesser-known bonus: Harbor Freight Tools guarantees their hand tools for life! So if you’re the kinda guy that needs reassurance, there ya go.

 

Truckin’ Magazine: The Ultimate Work Truck– with Harbor Freight Tools

The Ultimate Work Truck Stocks Up on Harbor Freight Tools

If you thought “ultimate work truck,” how do you envision it might be outfitted? The staff at Truckin’ magazine recently took up that challenge, and in their October and November 2012 issues ran a 2-part series on creating the “Ultimate Ford F-150 Work Truck”– with a little help from Harbor Freight Tools!

Taking a 2012 F-150 SuperCab in Part 1, they installed a cool bed slide, a monster ladder rack (capable of holding 1,000 lbs) and a sweet commercial-grade diamond-plate toolbox.

In Part 2, they went on a shopping spree at Harbor Freight Tools and picked up a Predator 4000 Watt Portable Generator– to which they installed a shock/motion-activated alarm in the back of the truck, lest any covetous individuals think bad thoughts– a 17 Ft. Type 1A Multi-Task Ladder as well as a full stock of tools for the toolbox:

Then to fortify their heavily-equipped new rig, they installed a ladder lock, and secured the toolbox and everything else with a myriad of cables and locks, including the hitch. The end result: a “certifiable worksite on wheels.”

Take a peek at Truckin’ magazine’s drool-inducing articles– with lots of pics– and while you’re at it, check out the low prices and great reviews of the aforementioned tools on Harbor Freight’s website!

The HFT ’67 Firebird Restoration Project: Part 2 – Disassembly!

Welcome to the second installment of the Harbor Freight Tools 1967 Firebird Restoration Project. As previously noted, HFT invited Jeff Tann– car enthusiast and former Rod & Custom editor–to fully restore the legendary muscle car using only low-priced tools sold at Harbor Freight. The car is all original, with a 400/325-hp V8 engine, so he’s basically tackling the project “from scratch.”

In Part 1, we were introduced to the vehicle, inside and out, and presented Jeff’s challenge. In this segment we watch the dismantling process. As Dr. Albert Hirsch had to break down David Webb before he could build Jason Bourne, so Jeff has to take apart the old, battle-weary Firebird before he can build… a classic, hotter Firebird!

To get the ball rolling, his garage was equipped with a U.S. General 700 lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, which was stocked with a Pittsburgh Professional 301-Piece Mechanic’s Tool Kit. Also used in this segment, the Central Pneumatic 3/8″ Professional Air Ratchet and 1/4″ Mini Air Ratchet Wrench.

During the display, it was suggested that you should keep the bolts, nuts, washers, etc., for each portion together in ziplock bags– and who doesn’t have a horror story that supports that?

Stay tuned… the best stuff’s still ahead!

Tools for a Good Marriage

Ah, young love. My 21-year-old nephew just got married last weekend to his girlfriend of 3 years. It was a nice affair: the cake was delicious, the decor tasteful, the gift tables stacked high with juicers, crock pots, cookware, towels, bedding, crepe makers, dishes, salad tongs, fondue pots– the usual. My opinion, the kids are never going to use a lot of that stuff. It’s a pity, they don’t know what they really need. And let’s face it, the bride put the registry together. No offense, she’s not the one who’ll be going to the hardware store a dozen time later on to get tools for putting the home together.

May I make a suggestion? The next wedding you attend for a young couple (or even a not-so-young couple), go rogue on the registry and give them a tool kit. For less than $100 with a coupon, you can put together a complete set that they’ll use  all the time, maybe even for the rest of their lives. At least longer than the kettle corn maker they got.

Here are some basic tools to throw in the kit. It’ll make their lives a whole lot easier:

 

 

  1. Hammer – Nothing fancy, just a simple, sturdy claw hammer. This one from Pittsburgh has a shock-absorbent fiberglass handle that won’t splinter or split.
  2. Screwdriver Set – As you know, if you don’t have the correct-sized screwdriver, it can be a bad experience. It keeps slipping out of the slot, stripping the slot, etc. That’s why getting a set of comprehensive slot and Phillips screwdrivers is the way to go– and this 32-piece screwdriver set is perfect for whatever household job comes up.
  3. Wrench Set – Just as a screwdriver, you need just the right fitting wrench. That means you’ll want both SAE and metric on hand. This low-price 22-piece combination wrench set accommodates the most widely-used sizes and comes with a handy rack for quick access.
  4. Tape Measure – When putting up pictures and wall decor, measuring for furniture space or executing most any home improvement, you’ve got to have a tape measure on hand. Like this 30-ft. one from Harbor Freight, they’re cheap but they’re invaluable!
  5. Level – Got to make sure the family portraits are up for when the relatives come over– but you can’t do it right without a level. At $6.00, the 9″ Magnetic Torpedo Level will save you a lot of headache for vertical, horizontal and 45-degree leveling.
  6. Socket Set – A wrench set is great to have, but for some jobs a socket set is so much sweeter. Pittsburgh makes a good, long-lasting 64-piece set at a low price, which includes both SAE and metric, with 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive. It comes with a rugged custom carrying case for storage and transport.
  7. Screws, Nuts & Bolts – Hey, it’s at least one less trip to the store, right? Probably a number of trips– a 1,001-piece set with wood screws, sheet metal screws, nuts, bolts, washers, lock washers and cotter pins. Definitely worth the 12 bucks.
  8. Tool Box -You’ve got to get one– the ready-made gift box that keeps on giving. The 20″ Stainless Steel Toolbox from Storehouse is a Harbor Freight best buy, with a dent-proof, high-impact base, heavy-duty tray and strong rubber-grip handle. With a full-length piano hinge, two sturdy latches and a brushed steel finish, this toolbox is built to last.
  9. Cordless Drill – OK, so this isn’t going into the toolbox, but it certainly completes the set. If there’s any power tool the new couple’s going to need, it’s a cordless drill, and the low-cost Drill Master 18 Volt Cordless 3/8″ Drill With Keyless Chuck is a rugged, reliable addition to the arsenal.

So, when the top tier of the cake disappears in the freezer under some ground chuck, all the returns and re-gifting’s been done and those crazy kids go one with their lives, they’ll remember you every time there’s an outlet plate to replace or a bicycle to build, an armoire to secure to a wall or a tiki mask to hang in the bathroom… the wedding guest who had the good sense to ignore their registry.

New Combination Wrench Set @ Harbor Freight Tools!

7 Piece Metric Universal Combination Wrench Set

This Universal Combination wrench set handles both metric and SAE fasteners

New at Harbor Freight Tools is our Pittsburgh 7 Piece Metric Universal Combination Wrench Set. This sturdy and practical set makes life easier by giving you more options while making your toolbox lighter.  It also handles odd sizes and round fasteners.The set includes:

  • Splined box end handles 6-point,12-point, square, E-Torx® and rounded fasteners
  • Speedy open end for fast ratchet-like action
  • Raised panel
  • Offset angle: 15°
  • Chrome vanadium steel
  • Black phosphate finish

Now on SALE for $14.99, this set is priced way below the competition and features a lifetime guarantee. This introductory sale price may not last long so get it while it lasts!

That’s the Gift That Keeps on Giving the Whole Year, Clark

Once again, we see how Harbor Freight is a favorite toy store for tool heads.

Recently on The Garage Journal forum, a member wrote how his boss gave him a $200 Harbor Freight gift card for his birthday, and asked what he should get with it. The replies, of course, were all over the place: 44” rolling cabinet, swivel-head ratchet, composite ratchet, and other Pittsburgh PRO ratchets, 1” belt & 5″ disc combination sander, 2-ton engine hoist, 20-ton shop press, 4”x6” horizontal/vertical metal-cutting band saw, blast cabinet3/8″ Central Pneumatic Earthquake air ratchet, cutoff discs, grinding wheels, welding gloves, dead blow hammers, cable ties, sandpaper, rip and claw hammers, magnetic LED palm-sized light, shrink tubing

It reminded me of when my Aunt Anita sent me $5 and the guys were all telling me how to blow it (“Hot Wheels!” “GI Joe!” “Silly Putty!”).

The lucky birthday boy ended up getting the US General 700 Lbs. Capacity Five Drawer Tool Cart–which has a 4.5-star rating with 112 reviews and, by the way, costs exactly $199.99! Then he created a dead-serious custom welder cart with it (and did a damn fine job)!

How would you spend YOUR $200 Harbor Freight gift card?

 

Essential Tools for Your First Apartment

 

It’s June– and as with every June, a new herd of college grads is cut loose into the world. This means new apartments, new (or new old) furniture, new roomies, and a whole slew of new domestic responsibilities. Something every grad should consider getting is a decent tool set. Yes, you’ll probably have a landlord that takes care of that kind of stuff. But landlords are not your parents and they sure won’t always be around when you need them. Sometimes you’ll have to take care of things yourself –and wouldn’t it be great if you could? That’s where Harbor Freight Tools comes in.

Here’s a list of just the most essential tools you’ll be wanting:

Design – Decorating is the most likely thing you’ll be doing on your own. Here are some tools that’ll help with that:

Plumbing – this should really be left to the professionals, but sometimes things happen and help is nowhere to be found. When you have nowhere to turn these items can help prevent a disaster.

All Around Necessities – some tools are just plain useful to have around. You never know when you may need to screw a doorknob back on or put together a new piece of furniture.

Lastly, you’ll need a nice toolbox or tool bag to store the stuff in so you can find them when you need them!