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.

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 Instructables.com 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!


4 in. Professional Paint Brush

Summer is upon us and a great time to tackle those painting jobs we’ve been putting off due to inclement weather, scurvy, my dog ate my painting supplies and whatever other excuses you can come up with. With these 10 tips from The Family Handyman Magazine and ridiculously low-priced painting supplies from Harbor Freight Tools, you’ll be able to paint those interior surfaces quickly and easily while cutting your clean-up time in half—so you’ll have plenty of time leftover to paint the town red…

Tip 1: To avoid lap marks, roll the full height of the wall and keep a wet edge
Featured item:
9″ Paint Roller, item #: 60672, only $1.99

Tip 2: Mix several cans of paint in a large bucket for a consistent color throughout the room
Featured item:
5 Gallon Bucket, White, item #: 47523, only $4.99

Tip 3: Let the paint dry, then cut the tape loose for a perfect edge
Featured items:
2 In x 60 Yds Blue Painter’s Tape, item #: 95512, only $6.49
13 Pc Precision Knife Set, item #: 32099, only $2.99

Tip 4: Paint the trim first, then the ceiling and walls
Featured items:
Paint Trimmer, item #: 97830, only $1.99
24″ multipurpose Trim Guard, item #: 96301, only $3.99
2 In. Sash Brush, item #: 67009, only $1.99

Tip 5: Prime and texture wall patches to avoid a blotchy finish
Featured item:
11 Piece Professional Paint Roller Set, item #: 60684, $8.99

Tip 6: Clean dirty surfaces so the paint can form a strong bond
Featured item:
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths 4 Pk, item #: 69678, only $2.59

Tip 7: Roll paint along the edges for consistent texture
Featured item:
Pack of Six 4″ Mini Paint Roller Covers, item #: 97810, only $4.99

Tip 8: Use cotton drop cloths rather than plastic
Featured items:
9 Ft. x 12 Ft. Canvas Drop Cloth, item #: 69308, only $16.49
Microfiber Cleaning Cloths 12 Pk, item #: 69795, only $6.99

Tip 9: Feather out paint where you can’t keep a wet edge
Featured items:
9 in. Paint Roller Cover with 3/8 in. Nap, item #: 61260, only $1.99

Tip 10: Sand trim between coats for an ultra-smooth finish
Featured item: 3-7/8 in. x 2-3/4 in. x 1 in. 150/250 Grit Aluminum Oxide Sanding Sponges 10 Pk, item #: 46753, only $5.99

For the full selection of Harbor Freight Tools’ painting supplies, visit one of Harbor Freight’s 600+ stores nationwide!



10 in. Sliding Compound Miter Saw

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

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

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

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

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

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

10 In. Sliding Compound Miter Saw
item #: 61971


170 Amp-DC, 240 Volt, MIG Flux Cored Welder

If you’re new to welding and don’t plan on joining the Olympic Golden Gate Bridge Repair Team right away, the 170 Amp-DC, 240 Volt, MIG/Flux Cored Welder (item #: 68885) from Harbor Freight Tools is the ideal welder for you. The hassle-free welder comes set up for flux core arc welding and only requires adding shielding gas with other necessary components for full MIG welding applications. The MIG flux wire welder features constant voltage, thermal overload protection and a welding cable with gun. Note: a 240-volt outlet is required.

There are a myriad of projects you can perform with this welder—and first learning some basic joints will put you well onto your way to venerable welding mastery. Today, we’ll focus on the basic butt joint. Stop snickering. This type of joint is best for joining two flat pieces of metal together to form a larger piece. Simple but effective. Below, we found these two videos that cover how to prepare your work pieces for a butt joint using an angle grinder and how to weld a butt joint using a MIG welder.

Please be sure to exercise all safety precautions and utilize all necessary safety equipment, including a welding helmet, before welding.


How to MIG Weld : How to Prepare a Butt Joint for a MIG Welder

How to MIG Weld : How to MIG Weld a Butt Joint



4 in. Ratcheting Bar Clamp Spreader

The 4 In. Ratcheting Bar Clamp/Spreader is a light duty tool that’s perfect for delicate woodwork or scale modeling. The clamp features a pistol grip for easy one-hand operation and a quick-release button that works with the touch of a finger. The bar clamp easily converts to a spreader by simply removing the fixed jaw and placing it on the opposite end of the bar. Pick up half a dozen or more for your garage or shop—you can never have enough of these clamps… and be careful who you loan them to because you’ll probably never get them back!

These clamps have been upgraded from their predecessors thanks to feedback from customers like you. Here’s what one customer had to say about the 4 In. Ratcheting Bar Clamp/Spreader:

These have been redesigned, nothing like the earlier ones, I believe these can put as much pressure as the old foot-long ones. HFT listened and corrected ALL the previous problems. Try a pair, you will be happily surprised – I was!!! I have been using these for over a year now with NO problems. – Jim, Estacada, OR

Pick up the 4 In. Ratcheting Bar Clamp/Spreader at any one of Harbor Freight’s 550+ stores nationwide or visit harborfreight.com.

4 in. Ratcheting Bar Clamp/Spreader
item #: 68974

5 Tools: Build the Perfect Lemonade Stand With Your Kids

lemonade stand

You’ve heard the old saying, “Build a Better Mousetrap.” You can certainly apply that to a lemonade stand, ’cause as much as your heart goes out to the kids hawking their punch in hundred-degree weather, if they’re standing behind a card table with a flapping poster board taped to the front, you’re probably going to be less apt to pull over and buy a cup. If you want your progeny to get a taste of making something of themselves in the world, at least give them a fighting chance. Here’s a great way to not just show them how to run a business, but how to build a business! Building a lemonade stand is fun way for them to learn some basics about construction. And if you take the time to build a sturdy Lemonade Stand, they could also use it down the road as a puppet theater, a “fishing game” stand at a fundraiser, or even as the “register” at a yard sale.

The 5 Tools

Another great reason to build a lemonade stand is, you probably already have the tools to make it. Here are the five things you’ll need:

lemonade stand 2

Detailed steps on how to build the perfect lemonade stand- including illustrations!- can be found on Instructables.com. It even provides extra steps if you want to convert the stand to a home garden “wishing well!”

Projects such as this are easy and fun for all the family. Even more, they build memories that can last a lifetime. And the tools to make them happen can be found for extremely low prices at Harbor Freight Tools!


DIY Book Jewelry Box

jewelry box book 4

As Mother’s Day is only a week away, if you haven’t thought about what to get Mom, now is probably a good time. As we all know, moms love to get homemade stuff for presents– and if it has some sentimental slant to it, so much the better. Here’s a great idea that takes very little time and money, and one that your mom is sure to love: A Homemade Jewelry Box Made Out of an Old Book!

So, the first thing to do is choose the old book. If you really want to get Mom excited, make it one that has significance for her. For example, if you have a lot of wonderful family memories about Oyster Bay, NY, find an old book on Oyster Bay. Or, if she loved the Anne of Green Gables or a Jane Austen book, go to the used bookstore and find an old print copy of one of those. You could also pick out a book on a particular hobby she likes, or a movie star who she’s always had an iconic appeal for. You get the idea.

Next, get the following supplies:

  • Small hobby knife set
  • Mod Podge
  • Small paint brush
  • Pencil
  • Hot glue gun
  • Decor of your choice – silk flowers, buttons, ribbon. Here are a couple of examples:
    • If the book is Julia Childs’ “The Joy of Cooking,” you could get tiny kitchen utensils.
    • If the book is “Secret Garden,” you could find little little rake, clippers, etc. A Michael’s, or similar craft store, would carry stuff like that.
    • Amazon also has good ideas.

jewelry box book 3

1. Open the book and draw a rectangle on the top page, leaving a 1/2-1″ border all the way around the book.
2. Next, using your sharp hobby knife, cut the rectangle using the lines already drawn. Don’t force it too hard. You will be doing this several times, depending on the thickness of the book. Also, don’t cut down to the very bottom; leave 1/4-1/2″ of pages to serve as a cushioned bottom.
3. It’s OK that the cut pages don’t line up exactly.  A little bit of roughness can really add to the vintage look.
4. Once you’ve cut as deeply as you want to go , leave the book cover up and start Mod Podging every few pages together as well as the outside of the page,s and all inside the new” box.”
5. Then using your Hot Glue Gun, you can decorate the “lid” with little kitchen tools or gardening tools, silk flowers or ribbon, bedazzle, etc.
6. Once the Mod Podge is dry, you might want to go to the thrift store and find a couple of beautiful old jewelry pieces to put in the box for added decoration!

jewelry box book


Harbor Freight Tools carries all sorts of great crafting tools and aids to help make your special products awesome! We also have wood burners, rotary tools, rock tumblers, airbrush kits, chisel sets, hot knives, and more!

You can find this and other fun, creative ideas on the blog, Eat. Sleep Decorate.

The Fantastic Pneumatic Roller Seat

Your garage is where you do some of your best work, so why not be comfortable doing it? With the Pneumatic Roller Seat (Item #: 61160) from Harbor Freight, you can make any job a little easier, no matter what it is.  This cushioned roller seat not only provides added comfort while working, but also maneuverability around your work area on smooth-rolling, non-marring casters. Plus, for added convenience, the seat features an easy-to-reach storage tray for holding small parts and accessories until you need them.


For a combination of functionality and practicality, the Pneumatic Roller Seat can’t be beat. The height is easily adjustable from 15” to 20” for optimal comfort and the seat swivels a full 360° so you’re never in an awkward position. In fact, with this terrific cushioned roller seat, the only awkward position you may find yourself in is when your neighbor asks to borrow it! Luckily, with the low Harbor Freight price, your neighbor can pick one up for himself.

“I use this every day in my shop. Saves a lot of stress and strain on my knees getting up and down.” – by Mick from Memphis, TN

“I use it to work on my motorcycles. The rollers are smooth and the tool tray is a great convenience. The seat is comfortable enough for me, without being obtrusive. Being able to raise and lower the seat is also welcome when working at machines of different heights. Assembly was a snap. Can’t go wrong for the price. I have only it for a week so I can’t comment on its durability.” – by BusaMan from Sacramento, CA

“I love this seat. Assembled in 1 minute tops, and works like a dream. No more dirty pants and upset wife when I come into the house! And the tool tray means I always know where my tools are and can get them with ease. I would recommend also purchasing the magnetic parts tray to go along with the seat, as it is very helpful to have a place for all those little parts too. This is a perfect addition to any garage and I recommend it to everyone. Thank you Harbor Freight for making these so affordable and with quality too. I am not disappointed!” – by JD’s Garage from Charlottesville, PA

Whether you’re a DIY car enthusiast or a professional mechanic, the Pneumatic Roller Seat is a perfect addition to the shop that will make every day in your shop a little easier and a lot more convenient. Of course, you don’t have to work on cars to take advantage of this comfortable roller seat. It’s also great for a seat while building models or simply relaxing after a hard day’s work. Get to your local Harbor Freight store and pick one up today!