Harbor Freight’s Hot for Teacher

revolving tray

In Thailand,  students honor their teachers with extravagant flower arrangements and traditional dance performances.  In South Korea, teachers get carnations from students and former students, alike. In Estonia-, where my dad’s family comes from, the students give their teachers the day off and teach each other (I’m sure, given the chance, American kids would make every day Estonian Teachers Day).

But in the US we have no rituals or ceremonies for National Teacher Appreciation Day, and if you ask me, that stinks. Some of my teachers were my greatest cheerleaders, extended parents and even friends.

So, allow me to make a suggestion. Take a trip to Harbor Freight Tools and pick out something for your kid’s teacher, letting them know how much you AND your kid really appreciate them. If the teacher’s female, the 12″ Revolving Four Tray Bin is the perfect choice. This fun, spinning bin gives plenty of storage without taking up much room, so it’s perfect for a teacher with lots of doodads and limited space! Each tray contains divided storage spaces to hold stuff like scissors, paper clips, erasers, white-out bottles, etc. Or, if she’s into doing crafts or scrapbooking in her spare time, she’ll REALLY love it! The tray stands 18” high and features ball bearing glide and a tough black enamel finish. At just $19.99, you’re not going to find a better gift for the money.

If you want to add a personal touch, try the idea posted by Jennifer Ciriano, where she wrapped magnetic tape around the sides and decorated it with buttons!

Spinner Rack with Flair

Or, check out Natasha Hensel’s creative ideas, shared on her YouTube video:

Of course, that isn’t to say your guy teachers wouldn’t like the revolving bin, too. I mean, truth be told, it was originally made for the workshop, for nuts, bolts, washers, and other little parts and pieces. However, if yo’d rather have an alternative idea for “Mr. Whatshisface,” then you can’t go wrong with the Drillmaster 18V Cordless 3/8″ Drill/Driver and Flashlight Kit– now on sale for $19.99 when you use the coupon on THIS PAGE!

drill flashlight

So, if you want to give a big “THANK YOU” to the teacher, say it with a revolving bin or cordless drill-flashlight combo from Harbor Freight. It’s better than a hug, and your kid won’t get sent home.

Chicago Electric 2.5 hp 10-in. Tile-Brick Saw – Pays For Itself Over and Again!

I can’t believe it’s already March. It was warm and sunny this weekend, and all the garages in the cul-de-sac were open, shop tools howling and humming on new projects as kids took to the street with bikes and razors, and wives clustered in yards, catching up on all those mysterious lady-topics. I love this time of year.

A good friend of mine recently moved into the neighborhood and, for one of his initial projects, he wanted to re-tile his three bathrooms. He also talked about renovating the patio. On my advice, he picked up a Chicago Electric 2.5 HP 10″ Industrial Tile/Brick Saw #69275 at Harbor Freight– with a 20% off coupon, the price dropped to $204. The tool would pay for itself, plus some, after just one job!

Chicago Electric 2.5 HP 10-inch Tile-Brick Saw

While you may be thinking the price is so low, you’ll be happy it lasts long enough to finish the one job, think again– this beast is a keeper! Built in an over-sized steel frame, it comes with a precision linear bar system for smooth operation. The two-position cutting head lets you easily adjust the blade to handle tiles or bricks of various sizes. A built-in 3-gallon-per-minute water pump and a removable, high-impact ABS water tub are also included. Designed with a heavy-duty cast alloy column and cutting head for reduced vibration, this professional grade tile saw cuts tile up to 24”. The head pivots to allow for 22.5 and 45-degree bevel cuts, and the blade is adjustable for standard tiles or bricks up to 3-1/2″ thick.

I came across this video on YouTube this morning, submitted by a customer in 2010 who bought his tile saw back in 2006, and I thought it’d be a good way to show the machine in action. (The guy who shot it uses the handle, “jojuma91″. Out of gratitude, I included a link to his YouTube page)

Strange music compilation aside, this is an excellent illustration of the saw’s consistent, stellar performance.

In the DIY forum GarageJournal.com, the topic of “wet saws” comes up from time to time. Naturally, Harbor Freight is talked about– sometimes not flatteringly, but notice how those comments are from guys who didn’t actually own them. Here are a few I thought were worth mentioning:

“I have no complaints with my HF 10 inch wet saw. I cut all the bricks at crazy odd angles for my wood fired pizza oven and then cut a ton of bricks for my patio. It’s still going strong – and was quite accurate. I then got a new blade and used it to cut my granite counter tops. I bought it on a 20% off coupon when it had already been reduced in price. It looks bad but still runs great. I normally expect HF stuff to last me a single job. The saw has exceeded that expectation.” Chris

This next comment is so full of praise, I think the guy deserves a kickback (but you didn’t hear that from me):

“Another vote here for the Harbor Freight 10″ wet saw. A buddy of mine purchased one in 2003, for $279 I think it was. We have used this saw more than we ever thought we would. He tiled about 1400 square feet of porcelain floor tile with it, and a set of marble steps, lots of diagonal cuts, border, etc. The thought was, “Hey, if it lasts through this job, it will have paid for itself, vs. renting a saw”. Saw worked great.

He then did his whole brick driveway (curved borders) with it. Came through like a champ. I then borrowed it from him, and tiled the entire main “public” area of my house, around 2,000 square feet, in porcelain, with a border stripe, all tile set on the diagonal. It took me about 2 months of evenings and weekends. The saw kept on working like a champ. When I was done with that job, I gave it back to my buddy with $100 and a case of beer.

I just borrowed it from him again last month, to tile the shop bathroom (porcelain, pics at link below). Friggin’ thing is still working great. Keep a good diamond blade in it (as with all wet saws) and it won’t let you down.

My buddy (co-worker) and I were in HF the other day, and noticed that they sell the same saw now, 8 years later, for the same money, and now, it comes with a folding stand, which his did not. We had a good laugh. This saw certainly doesn’t owe us anything, at this point. When it finally dies someday, it will receive an appropriate viking funeral.”  Rob

One more…

“Another vote for the Harbor Freight 10″. I can’t even add up how much tile, brick and concrete it has cut in the last 5 or 6 years since I’ve had it. Just a belt and blade had to be replaced after I made the mistake of loaning it to a friend.”  incubus2432

Central Machinery Mobile Power Tool Table

Also, if you’re looking for mobility with your projects, you might want to consider the Central Machinery Folding Power Tool Stand #40612, also at Harbor Freight.

For more insight into the Chicago Electric 2.5 hp tile-brick saw, check out the customer reviews on our site!

Gnarlatious Tips on Building Your First Bitchin’ Surfboard

Summer’s almost upon us– in about a hundred days– and if you’re like me, you’re probably asking yourself, is this the year I finally realize the dream of building my own surfboard? It may seem like a daunting task, especially for those of us who aren’t exactly Bob Vila, let alone the Big Kahuna. But, with a few swipes of the keyboard, help manifests itself once again:

Not too long ago, Stephen Pirsch, a visionary in board construction, released a book entitled,How to Build Your First Surfboard, an easy-to-follow, detail-rich DIY paper on the subject. Written for first-time builders, this guide was created to lessen problems and save money– especially to prevent the typical board-ruining mistakes.

“This book is for the garage or backyard builder who has few tools and little money.  The following information has been tested, and is the result of  friends building their first surfboard with me.  Also,  thousands of  interesting people have emailed their questions and results.”

Turn to the Equipment chapter, and there you’ll find a list of tools and supplies needed to get the project going. As this tutorial is geared towards the O Mighty Ones of Little Cash, however, Surfer Steve is careful in recommending his tools:

“Hundreds of dollars can be saved by using the following tools compared to industry standard tools. The following has been extensively tested (on 6 boards in 2012) by the author, the expense and labor solely for the benefit of you, the reader (The author already owned the industry standard tools). Be aware these tools are not designed for heavy duty, continuous production use, but will work well for the occasional garage built board.”

Drill Master 5.5 Amp 3-1/4″ Electric Planer (#91062)  (or, similar, for a few dollars more, the Chicago Electric 3-1/4″ Heavy-Duty Electric Planer with Dust Bag – #95838)

 “1. This planer has a 1/16″ maximum cutting depth. The depth can be doubled to 1/8″ by loosening the cutting blades and extending them 1/16″(the tools for this are included). The depth can be tripled to 3/16″ by grinding the front plate (the plate on the bottom which adjusts up and down). Put a 3″ abrasive cutting wheel on your drill, or a 6″ abrasive cutting blade on your sander/polisher (this tool mentioned below) and slowly grind the plate with the wheel almost parrallel to the plate – this will take one to two hours. If you over grind or grind unevenly, it can be filled with 5 minute epoxy. After modification this planer works very similar to the industry standard Hitachi

2. In contrast to surfboard foam planing shown in youtube videos, a planer is designed to be used parallel to the direction of work (not 45 degrees), Holding at 45 degrees reduces the cutting area by 1/2 which doubles your labor, and increases the possibility of an error.”

 

Chicago Electric 7″ Polisher/Sander with Digital RPM Display (#66615)

“1. (Shop for) assorted 6″ hook and loop sanding disks… if you buy from industrial suppliers you will have to buy an absurd amount of each grit.

2. Initially run sander at lowest speed, and practice on a scrap piece of foam that has been laminated and hot coated. Very slowly sand into the cloth and through the cloth, so you can see what to avoid.

NOTE 1: This purchase is worth it for the accessories alone.

NOTE 2: Hook and loop sandpaper is the best type because it is the easiest, and fastest to change and can be re – used. Hook and loop usually costs more initially (although not with this purchase), but costs less in the end, especially in cost of time.”

 

Drill Master 1/4″ Trim Router (#44914)

1. You will need a router bit with 1″ long cutter for Fins Unlimited Boxes – 1″ bits are rare.

2. A 12″x 6″x 3/16″ template can be made out of 3/16″ panel board (get 4’x 4′ piece at Lowe’s. To achieve 5 degree lean on twin or tri fins, an additional 1″x 12″ piece of 3/16″ panel board can be duct taped to the bottom edge of the template. The entire template can be held in place with Gorilla brand duct tape.

NOTE: By the time you adjust the router and bit, and make a template, you could cut out about 5 boxes by hand. After making template (and practicing) it is faster and more precise with a router. The Harbor Freight cutout tool can also be used as a router.”

 

Additional EQUIPMENT LIST:

Respirator with dust and vapor cartridges
Tape measure
Magnetic torpedo level
Drill preferably with two handles, variable speed and, 2000 to 3000 rpm.
Hand saw (wood)
Sharpie fine marker pen
Block plane (smallest)
Pocket Plane
5″ rubber/plastic back-up pad with 1/4″ shank (for sanding disks on drill)
Hacksaw blade (coarse)
Optional 1″ paddle bit to match optional 1″ leash cup

“You might be asking yourself, do I really want to do this? Is saving half the money of a showroom surfboard, buying the tools, pouring sweat, blood and time into this little venture going to be worth it? Surfer Steve has an answer for that:

“Building a board can be very rewarding.  Everyone who follows the directions manages to finish somehow, and almost everyone who makes one will make another.  Much of the work and expense on the first board (such as racks, blocks, and tools) won’t have to be duplicated on following boards.

Kowabunga, baby.

 

Not the Usual Daily Grind

At $21.99, you wouldn’t expect much performance out of an angle grinder. Nowadays, 22 bucks barely covers two people at McDonald’s… but a heavy-duty angle grinder? Next you’re going to say I can make hundreds of thousands of dollars at home in my pajamas, or that there can never be too many PC “inspirational” quotes on Facebook.

But the truth is, the Chicago Electric Heavy-Duty 4-1/2″ Angle Grinder DOES perform– with a vengeance– and can tackle tough metal cutting, shaping and slag removal-jobs with the efficiency of a grinder five times the cost. A valuable tool for the professional metal worker or hobbyist. That’s not just me talking– or the Harbor Freight marketing mucky mucks– that’s coming from the customers who bought it:

” Well worth the money, and a fraction of the cost of something similar from a box store… and CONSIDER getting an extra grinder. It’s a hassle switching back and forth between wheels, and these are cheap enough you can have two on hand with different wheels. (And you’ll *still* come in cheaper than getting one from a box store!)”  goodeknight – Chesapeake, VA

“LET ME TELL YOU…. I have now owed this cheap-O thing for 2 months shy of 5 yrs, and besides fading from leaving out in the sun and some paint splatter, it’s been going strong. Pretty much the same as day one. I still do the same things I did before as when I was using the Makita, however I have added using it for cutting bricks, and sanding custom formed concrete boulders adding sharp angles that I make for water features.”  Scott – Queen Creek, AZ

“This angle grinder is a great deal for the price, it works fine, put some quality grease in it and allow to cool properly, it will serve you well, its already paid for itself many times over.”  buffington – Redondo Beach, CA

“I started a car project that required paint stripping, approximately 3 coats of old paint required removal. I slapped a GatorGrit paint removal wheel on this cheap little grinder, and to my surprise, this thing kicks b***.  I removed all the paint from my car in no time! If you get name brand grinder discs and paint removal wheels, the grinder rarely bogs down… it has handled everything I have thrown at it; tiles, metal, paint removal, blade sharpening, etc… Love it for the price, and will buy another when this one dies. So far it’s still kicking!”  Tony – Undisclosed

Check out the powerful, smooth-running Chicago Electric 4-1/2″ angle grinder for yourself. At just $21.99 (or $17.59 with your Harbor Freight 20% Off Coupon!), it may turn out to be the best deal you ever made on a power tool.

The Legend of the Double Cut Saw… and How to Build a Grill Out of a 55-Gallon Drum

Billy Kulakowski was a mean griller, everybody in the cul-de-sac agreed. Every block party weekend, Billy was given a wide berth as he worked his magic on his meats and wood chips and butt rubs. When he was in the zone, Billy was like a wild-eyed chainsaw juggler jacked up on Pepsi Max. Head down in the smoke and sizzle, flipping tongs, spatulas, sauces, spices… his little water spray bottle keeping the furious flames at bay… no one dared approach him, not even to offer him a cold one. Story’s told, one time somebody did, and there was an incident. Something about a misheard word, a scuffle and– things getting out of hand like they oft times do– an airborne super-duty wiener fork took out a bounce house. Three kids were never found. It took a while (a couple of months, I suspect), but the cul-de-sac moved on, and so did Billy’s grilling.

Yeah, Billy Kulakowski was a mean griller. A man’s man. Word had it, Kenny Rogers was even writing a song about him.

Then one day, a family of five bought the old Johnson split-level– the Kleeburgs from Huntsville, Alabama. When the father, Joe Kleeburg, heard about the block party coming up, he peeled out of his driveway and some time later returned with three 55-gallon drums, some angle iron, mesh metal and a Chicago Electric 5″ Double Cut Saw from Harbor Freight Tools. Ducking into his garage, he wasn’t seen again for the rest of the week.

Nine o’clock the morning of the block party, everybody was setting up their usual station. Billy took his designated double-wide spot; 10 aluminum charcoal starters filled to the brim with cooking coals lined up on the sidewalk in front of him. No sign of the new neighbors. But then at 9:22, the Kleeburgs’ 3-car garage came to life and the doors slowly rose…

Billy didn’t have a chance. And, after considerable effort, Kenny Rogers managed to fit “Joe Kleeburg” into “Billy Kulakowski”… but, that’s another story.

 

The Chicago Electric 5″ Double Cut Saw cuts through plywood, sheet metal, galvanized pipe, flooring, plastic, paneling, Formica, and so much more, without burning, chipping or melting. Its portability makes it great for tight spots and on-the-fly work, and it’ll save you hours from having to cut steel with a grinder. Packing a powerful 7.5 amp motor, this saw cuts forward or backward with the same power and precision– with no kickback! And for just $59.99– even less with your 20% off coupon!– it’ll be a lifesaver around the house and garage over and over, again.

 

Bare Bones Method of Building a Grill Out of a 55-Gallon Drum 

Things You Will Need:

  • 55-Gallon Drum
  • Masking Tape
  • Chicago Electric 5″ Double Cut Saw
  • Angle Iron
  • Chicago Electric 170 Amp MIG/Flux Wire Welder
  • Mesh Metal
  • Metal Rod
  • 1/2″ Steel Box Tube
  • Two Heavy-Duty Hinges
  • Steel reinforcement plates
  • 2×1″ steel ro
  1. Find a 55 gallon drum. Sometimes you can avoid buying a new one by checking out Craigslist or other local classifieds, pet shops or weed n’ feeds. Try to avoid one that housed toxic chemicals, but just to be sure, when you cut off the lid, build a large fire inside of it to thoroughly burn out any lingering harmful substances. Then, once cool,  dump the ashes and give it one last thorough hosing.
  2. Next, you’re going to want to divide the drum into quarters. Use the masking tape along the sides and ends of the barrel, make sure all the quarters are even. Lay the drum on its side and, using the double cut saw, carefully cut one of the quarters about 3 to 3/12″ from the barrel’s edges– this is going to be the lid for the grill.
  3. Build a large fire inside of it to thoroughly burn out any lingering harmful substances. Then, once cool,  dump the ashes and give it one last thorough hosing.
  4. Next, take some angle iron and weld a rectangular shape out of it. Then weld it into place in the middle of the drum. This will provide as a rest for the grill.
  5. Find a good mesh that can be used as the grill surface, preferably a heavier gauge metal, and one where the edges are flattened so there are no sharp points sticking up. This will also make it easier to scrub after grilling. Weld metal rod along all the edges, and add cross bars so the mesh will retain its strength and shape. Cut out a piece 1/8″ smaller than the opening of
  6. Take two lengths of 1/2″ box tube and make relief cuts every two inches so you can bend them to the shape of the barrel. Once you’ve got the shape you desire, weld the cuts smooth. This creates a sturdy cradle on which you’ll be attaching the legs. Then weld the half moon shapes to the barrel.
  7. Attach hinges to the barrel and lid, and reinforce it with steel plates on the inside.
  8. Determine how high you want your grill to be (3-ft. is good) and accordingly cut the 2×1 into legs. Cut relief marks throughout the legs, too, to allow the grill to have a little bit of give. This will make the legs bend outward and, ultimately. give it more stability in the long run. Attach the legs and you have your very own, cheap and efficient 55-gal. drum grill.

Of course, you’ll probably want to add handles, a couple of vents, a hole on the bottom for dripping. If you came this far, though, I trust you can take it from here.

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. The Competition – Part 6

Painting the Car

One of the most time-consuming and important projects you’ll perform in the auto restoration process is to paint the sucker. Painting a classic car is more of an art than a mechanical procedure, and doing a good job means summoning patience and a bit of perfectionism from your normally “that’s good enough”-self. That new, glossy paint job will make the slightest blemish look pronounced and no matter how awesome the ride’s going to look, believe me, you’ll be staring at that blotch like my teenage daughter obsesses over a zit.

First, choosing the paint: Most likely you’ll be compromising between the quality and budget. Most paints nowadays do a pretty good job of protecting the underlying metal, but cheaper paints can be less tolerant to sun, and will fade quickly if the car sits outside for any length of time. Regardless of the type of paint you choose, remember you get what you pay for. More expensive paints will last longer and retain their pigment better than the “bargain” paints.

Just a couple more things to cover before we move on to the equipment: proper preparation. Especially if it’s assembled, the car first needs be taped off, using masking tape and paper. You might be thinking, heck, I’ll just use newspaper. But newspaper is porous and can let paints– especially clear coat– bleed through onto the glass and trim, leaving a time-consuming mess. It costs a little more, but using a less porous paper– making paper better still–will make the job a lot easier. Plastic can be used to bag the engine bay and other areas that won’t be painted, and wheel covers or trash bags can be used to cover the wheels and tires. Once taped, the car is prepared by wiping it down with a cleaner (Naphtha is usually the main ingredient) to eliminate any oils or foreign materials from the surface that could cause fish-eyes or other blemishes. Finally, the car is wiped down with a tack-cloth to remove any dust or debris that could affect the paint job.

If you don’t have a lot of experience painting cars, following the instructions on the MSDS will help you apply a good paint job. If done properly, your paint job should protect your car and look great for many years.

Now on to the equipment. The primer is already on, so our designated restoration artisan turns to the…

Central Pneumatic 2-pc. Professional Automotive HVLP Spray Gun Kit $49.99

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The HVLP spray gun’s material transfer gives you better, more consistent coverage than conventional spray guns, and with minimal messy over-spray. It comes with a 20 oz. gravity feed gun that operates at 30-35 PSI and detail gun that performs 25-30 PSI, and comes with stainless steel needles and tips on both guns. Our technician used this, along with a 33 Oz. Gravity Feed Paint Cup to spray two coats of red paint and three coats of clear. After which, he color-sanded the body with dish soap & water,  1200 Grit Sandpaper, using a 4-7/8″ Soft Rubber Sanding Block to knock off the “orange peel.” How does our spray gun kit compare to the competition’s?

  • Sears – US Freight Neiko Pro 2.0mm HVLP Gravity Speed Spray Gun w/Gauge #9924G – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Wagner Double-Duty HVLP Sprayer #0518050 – $94.99
  • Home Depot – Husky HVLP & Conventional Spray Gun Kit #HDK00600AV – $79.99
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt Large Gravity Feed Spray Gun #SGY-AIR88 – $54.96
  • Grainger – BINKS HVLP Gravity Spray Gun Kit #98-3170 – $204.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

Following the pain job, Jeff buffed, using this polisher/sander and then, with the waxing, delivered the classic car to an incredible mirror gloss finish!

The polisher gives you all the power and control you need for a wide variety of applications. It generates between 1000-3500 RPM for a pretty nice polish. The LCD display shows the speed and the textured grip side handle provides comfortable handling. The polisher comes with foam and polishing bonnets as well as an 80 grip sanding disc. It’s also great for boats, travel trailers, stairs, etc– all at a great price. Now here’s the competition:

  • Sears – Wen Variable Speed 7″ Polisher/Sander #946 – $59.99
  • Northern Tool – Makita 7″ Sander & Polisher 3000 RPM #9227CX3 – $239.99
  • Home Depot – Wen 7″ Pro Sander/Polisher #946 – $59.99
  • Lowes – Porter Cable 4.5 Amp Ros Power Sander/Polisher # 7346SP – $119.00
  • Grainger – Makita 7″ Variable Speed Sander/Polisher #9227CY – $284.75

 

Once again, Harbor Freight Tools proves you get what you pay for– and more! Visit the homepage and Coupons Page, and check out other great deals the store has going.

Hammer Time

I’ll admit, Harbor Freight forced me to adjust my philosophy on buying. For the longest time, I (and I’m sure I’m not alone) hung onto the credo, “You get what you pay for.” That’s why we lay down the heavy dinero for bigger name brand clothes, shoes, watches, mayonnaise, dining experiences, hotel rooms, guns and tools. Heaven forbid you cave to the temptation of saving some bread and end up with a dog of a purchase. More than a root canal, I hate when that happens. But, like I said, Harbor Freight Tools readjusted my mental state. I still look for the better guns and mayonnaise, but now when I look for a tool, I first go to the HFT website, check out my options, prices, ALWAYS the reviews, and more often than not I come away sold on something– and I have yet to be disappointed with this formula.

Which brings me to the Chicago Electric 5.2 Amp 3-In-1 1″ SDS Plus Rotary Hammer. A friend recently bought a house and considered renting a rotary hammer to rip up his concrete patio. The best price he could find locally was $48/day. As luck would have it, he mentioned the plan to me before he took the plunge, and I told him about Harbor Freight’s SDS rotary hammer, priced $99.99 (even less with a coupon!). The beast will pound 2920 blows per minute through concrete, masonry, stone or pretty much any other hard, brittle material. Whether it’s for drilling holes, chiseling or chipping, it won’t let you down. Plus, the stop-hammer feature on this powerful SDS rotary hammer lets you drill precision holes in wood, too. I told him to check reviews on Google and on the HFT website to get an idea of what other owners of the rotary hammer thought. It was an easy sell:

“As a heavy/civil engineering construction inspector, I was on a job 3-4 years ago when the contractor showed up on site with a HF SDS unit (this was on a project with a contract north of $6 million). I made some sort of wise ass comment about the quality of his tools and he said, these things are great and if you drop them, so what? He drilled hundreds of holes 1/4-5/8″ with that thing and it was still going. I went out and bought one as my roto-hammer was an old Milwaukee hex shaft with dull/broken obsolete bits. Damn thing has been great!”  OldWino, GarageJournal.com

“I was apprehensive about buying this tool because of the low, low price compared to similar tools of different name brands prices. I called the rental store and they wanted $50.00 a day for rental, plus buying the bits. I drove to the store and bought this tool including all the bits for just a little more than the rental store was willing to rent for their tool for 1 day. I have used this tool for drilling, tearing out brick columns, taking up ceramic tile, spudding built-up rocks off the roof for flat roof repairs, and it has not let me down yet. I did purchase the 2-year warranty for just in case but have not had to use it yet. This tool has easily paid for itself.”  Valdosta Repair Man, HFT customer review

“My wife and I own an HVAC company . I have had one of these for at least 5 years and use it pretty regularly going through brick to run flue pipes and line sets for HVAC systems… I have a plumber buddy who has had to have his Bosch rebuilt twice in the time I have owned my HF and mine still works like it did the day I got it .” rickairmedic, GarageJournal.com

“This drill does it all. It is more like a home demolition hammer drill. It drills, it hammer/ drills, or it just hammers depending on how you set it up. Other posts talk about it being metric bits. I don’t see the issue. Just like all drills there are thousands of bits. You can buy a any size standard “SDS Plus” (Shank Size) bit at any big box chain home improvement store or industrial supply store. You can by masonry chisels, dirt digging spades, bull nose chisels, along with any size drill bit you can think of. I have used mine around the house for many extreme projects. It has a built in grease cup which must be filled ever so often as part of maintenance. I service mine before ever use and it has not let me down. I also bought the extended warranty but have not used it yet. It could be broken if it was just thrown down, but they all can. I take care of my tools and they take care of me.”  Rider7767, HFT customer review

 “Harbor Freight’s SDS Rotary Hammer – I am handyman/audio video guy. I have used this to bust thru concrete walls to run cable, etc. It comes with bits and a chisel. Has already paid for itself in savings over the Bosch units I would rent. For my occasional use it is great. There is nothing quite like a hammer drill to make short work of drilling thru concrete, if you have ever tried even small holes (like ones for tapcons) with a regular drill, they are a major bear! This tool makes very short work out of it!”  OKnewguy, TractorByte.com

Of course, my buddy bought the Chicago Electric rotary hammer with absolutely no regrets. He made short order of the old patio, and has since moved on to creating his dream backyard… well, his and his wife’s dream backyard…

Woodworkers’ Favorite Harbor Freight Tools

The great thing about the Internet, whatever your passion, you can find a slew of guys and gals who share it. Forums abound for everything from cooking to alien sightings to ham radios to ham. One of the most strongly represented tool niche groups online is the woodworkers group. There are dozens of woodworking forums on the ‘net, where they exchange tips and experiences, and as any craftsmen, they’re passionate about their art, their projects, their conventional wisdom… and their tools. So, given the variety of tools and equipment Harbor Freight has– not to mention the prices– you can imagine how many times the discount tool store becomes topic of conversation.

I took a look at one of the more popular forums, Lumberjocks.com (all woodworking, all the time), and compiled a list of what their members said were among their favorite Harbor Freight acquisitions. See if you agree, or have anything to add:

 

The Momentary Power Foot Switch

“How many times when starting your router or your drill press, or other power tool, did you wish you had one more hand to firmly grab on the piece you were ready to machine? Often we present a piece of wood on the router just at right place to route it, and then we need to let go of it to start the router, and then the piece moves. Or we hardly can hold one large piece. We don’t feel safe and then we need to let go of one hand to start the router or the drill press. With the Momentary Power Foot Switch you can feel a lot safer when you start the router, firmly grabbing on the piece to machine with both hands. It greatly improves the safety and control of the execution.”

b2rtch on Lumberjocks

 

10″, 40 Tooth Carbide Tipped Circular Saw Blade With Titanium Nitride Coating

“I’ve been using this blade for a few months now. It’s lived in my miter saw most of that time and I just tried it out on the table saw for rip cuts. I’ve been very pleased with this blade, overall. The titanium nitride coating does seem to reduce friction and give a somewhat cleaner cut. The blade is nice and sharp out of the box. It cuts more easily and cleanly than the Kobalt blades I had been using in the miter saw. And the rip cuts it did were good, too. The saw didn’t bog down as it had with some other blades. The best part is this thing is less than $15 at Harbor Freight. Even less with a 20% off coupon. At that price you can keep a couple of spares around when you need a fresh blade. Note to SawStop owners: The titanium nitride coating does not interfere with the SawStop safety system’s detection or trip the brake.”

Purrmaster on Lumberjocks

 

300 Lb. Capacity Mobile Base

“I own 4 of these bases. Obviously, I like them and think they are a good product. They are well made and glide easily across the shop floor. Assembly with the first one was a bit confusing, but after that the other 3 were easy. I don’t exceed the 300 lbs. but I think they could support more than that. They are thick, heavy and finished well with decent nuts and bolts. The big knobs turn easily, steadies your machine level and don’t move while in use.”

kdc68 on Lumberjocks

 

Cen-Tech Digital Mini Moisture Meter

“Went into a newly opened Harbor Freight store in Florida, and while cruising around, I came across the Cen-Tech Digital Mini Moisture Meter (item 67143). Wasn’t looking for one but when I saw this– and the price– I figured what the heck…go for it. I’m glad I did because it really works, and now I won’t touch a piece of wood for turning until I check the content first. I was actually quite surprised at how high the moisture was in some of my wood. When I go back next spring, I’ll likely get some for friends….can’t go wrong with that price! BTW, it also does it for C or F, has a ‘Hard Material Mode’ and measure ‘Environmental temperature.’ The readout is clear as well.”

Salmo on Lumberjocks

 

Chicago Electric 4 ” Magnesium Belt Sander

“Now that I’m semi-retired, I have more time to drift through tool stores, home improvement centers, and the like. In HF the other day, I noticed the 97593 Magnesium 4X24 Belt Sander on sale for $69.99, usually $79.99. With my 20% coupon, walked the last one out of the store for a ridiculous $55.00! Now, I know we all like to think somewhere along the line we graduate from ever using belt sanders ever again, but for some reason their use pops up from time to time, and for me, it always seems like I never have a big enough one to do the job.

“The Harbor Freight Chicago Tool 4X24 Magnesium Belt Sander is one of those tools that I think you would use to sand the paint off that old picnic table, or take down 8-10 coats of whatever off any larger piece of wood you need cleaned. This thing is just a flat-out HORSE. Even with the magnesium frame, it still weighs. Mine was the last one my store had, and did not have a manual, (have to download it), but the website says it puts 1640 feet of sandpaper per minute on the wood, pulls 10 amps, and weighs somewhere around 15 lbs. I believe it all, having hogged down a piece of 2 ft. by 5” wide solid piece of oak from rough mill cut to smooth in less than two minutes. Mine tracked perfectly out of the box, and I love the little handle on the side to loosen the belt, rather than have to do the “front roller dance” pushing it back and hoping it catches, change the belt, then hope you can get it to snap back and re-tighten by running the tracking knob back and forth. None of that with this sander. Simply loosen the handle on the side, change the belt, snap the handle back in place, and keep going.

“I really went into HF to look at driveway sensors for my wife, and the lathe tools recently reviewed here. I ended up buying the sensors and this hog, and I’m really glad I did. I don’t use a belt sander much anymore, but when I do, I want a large surface belt, and for $55 compared to a smaller PC for $169, this was a no-brainer.”

Tennessee on Lumberjocks

 

Chicago Electric 10″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw

“This saw has a 15-amp motor that sliced through everything I threw at it with no issues. The action of the slide and is very smooth. Though I used it only for 90 degree cuts, the table movement and compound movement were very smooth and didn’t move at all when set and tightened. First thing I did after setting up the saw was to build some 3’ extension wings on both sides out of 3/4” pine with 1/4 hard board across for my zero clearance backing. I couldn’t be happier. I was able to do the final trim on about 60 shelves and sides (3 cuts per board) in maybe 2 hours. Everything came out great, true and square – no issues.”

SchottFamily on Lumberjocks

 

Drill Master Portable Pocket Hole Jig Kit

“I’ve always called Harbor Freight “God’s gift to men,” and since there’s been a bit of hubbub about this tool paradise on this site recently I thought I’d post some reviews of my favorite HF Gems…

“This one I just bought TODAY and I already can see that it is among the best tools in the store! For one thing, this thing is extremely well made! If you had this jig sitting alongside the Kreig version, I guarantee you’d pick this one up to examine first. Why? Because it really looks great. While the $100 Krieg jig is mostly plastic, this is all aluminum. And I don’t mean that crappy cast aluminum. This is precision machined aluminum.

“The design is also very well executed. The heart of it is the guide holes, of course. There are two sets of two, so you can drill a pair side by side in your piece. One set is at a steep angle for 1/2″-to-1” thick material, the other set of guide holes is at a lower angle for thicker material. You can move the hole guides to adjust how far apart you want them using nicely etched measuring marks so no ruler is needed. Lock them in place with the knob and use the very nice, heavy duty hold down clamp to secure your piece and you’re ready to drill. The bit is included as are a bunch of screws. Another nice feature is that you can remove the hole guide assembly from the stand and clamp it to large parts that the stand won’t accommodate.

“Bottom line is- this jig is WELL worth the price… and may even be better in many ways than the twice as expensive Krieg jig.

“That’s my two cents…”

StumpyNubs on Lumberjocks

 

Central Machinery 2 HP Industrial 5 Micron Dust Collector

Finally… it seems like the single-most talked about Harbor Freight tool– by far– in the woodworking world is the Central Machinery 2 HP Industrial 5 Micron Dust Collector. Mentions about this thing just come up over and over, again.

“A year ago, when I was building my shop, I was shopping around for a dust collector to be the heart of my system. I looked at General, Jet, Grizzly, etc. But then I read several really postive reviews on the HF 2 HP model. I had a coupon for 169.00 for it so I figured, why not? Let me tell you, this thing is at least the equal of all of those others! I actually got a chance to examine a Jet, and a Grizzly….and they are almost identical. My longest run is 45 feet and I’ve had no trouble running one tool there and another 25 feet in the other direction, at the same time. It gets it all. Now I make a lot of dust here in my shop so this has gotten a workout in the last year, and I’m not disappointed. This is one of those rare Harbor Freight gems.”

njcraftsman on Lumberjocks

“There isn’t much this little thingie can’t handle. Cabinet saw, no problem. 12 inch Planer, same same. 6-inch jointer, 6 x 48 flat belt, compound miter saw, nada. Moderate-sized drum sander, no problem-o. Don’t expect this rig to evacuate a 52-inch double wide belt sander though, but for most small shop cabinet men, chair makers and burl workers this will execute without hesitation. I’ve got mine in a room adjacent to my shop running through a bulkhead fitting; all you hear is the quiet screaming of the sawdust as it is slurped off to the Great Beyond. A metal trash can will fit nicely under the bag within the frame, which eases the unloading of poor, dead tree powder and other assorted shop waste. Don’t think you can run a 100-ft hose from your shop to your neighbor’s basement though; any DC system can only handle X amount of hose, especially if it is corrugated or has numerous 180′ turns. All in all, very pleased with this item, it can run with the big dogs all day long (going on 6 years) as long as you keep good duct work and hoses in the equation and mind your housekeeping regarding the top bags cleanliness.”

R. E. Parks on Dakota Heirloom Woodworking

“At the end of the day, is this thing worth it? Heck yeah! I don’t think there’s anything that’s comparable for the price. As I stated, I don’t have a lot of personal experience with dust collectors, but I have no idea what a more expensive single stage dust collector could do that this one can’t. This product comes with a high recommendation from me, and it’s a pretty big improvement over my old shop vac based system.”

haugerm on Woodworking Talk

Drill, Baby, Drill! Yes, Dear.

If you have a honey in your life, chances are you wake up to a “honey-do list” every morning, too. Many’s the Saturday I secretly wish the Mrs. didn’t feel like overhauling the domestic decor or replacing hinges on doors which were perfectly fine standing at slight angles and only needing a teeny lift to open and close. Alas, such is the price of having a honey: you do.

That said, it’s admittedly a much more pleasant experience with power tools– especially cordless power tools. Take Harbor Freight’s best-selling Drill Master 3/8″ Cordless Drill/Driver with Keyless Chuck and 18V NiCd Battery. Just $19.99, it’s the perfect size– has got the perfect amount of power– for taking care of the home. I use this drill for everything, including auger bits, spade bits, heavy drilling and driving tek screws. When I first started using it, I was so impressed I bought a second one just to keep another battery charged. I mean, when you think about it, with some of the big name brands a replacement battery can cost $40 or more. Me, I’ve got two complete drills and chargers, and I’m never out of power.  The chuck is tight (no wobble), love the LED light, torque works well and the spindle is true. The electric brake is way helpful, too.

You’re not going to find a better value for such a quality workhorse.

But here’s a tip: Don’t overcharge the battery. Charge it six hours and take it off the charger. The theory of letting the battery charge all the time so it’s ready to go, is a fallacy and it kills the battery. Six hours, no more.

So here I go, hanging African masks and mounting curtain rod brackets, earthquake-proofing armoires and, yes, replacing hinges… happily, eagerly. After all, she WILL eventually run out of stuff to do. Right?

Reciprocate With Brute Force

You live long enough, you start building a list of stuff you’ve done that you never, ever want to do again. Like eat something on a dare that sounded gag-inducing before you even looked at it… because it also sounded fun. Or go on a blind date with someone you met on the Internet whose profile pictures consisted only of her cat, arched eyebrows and Sweet Polly Purebred from the Underdog cartoons. Or maybe (on a more relateable level) like spending an hour struggling with a hacksaw on pipe.

Well I can’t help you with your bonehead dare acceptances or harikari methods of courtship, but I can  tell you how you can affordably retire that hacksaw. Introducing the Chicago Electric 6 Amp Reciprocating Saw with Rotating Handle. Don’t let the low $29.99 price fool you. This saw has a plethora of power to get the job done! It cuts like butter through tree roots, limbs and stumps, plastic and metal pipes, cast iron, deck planks– nails and all!–and so much more.

A customer in the Southwest recently gave the Chicago Electric reciprocating saw a zumba workout and came away very happy:

“I’ve been using this saw for a few months now. I’ve used it for demo (cutting 2×4’s with nails) and recently put it to the test by using it to cut an entire 30′ tree down with the HF 9″ pruning blades, which worked really well. The quick blade change is very nice and saves time. Overall, really good value in my opinion. Handle rotates completely through 180° with five positive stops at 0, 45° and 90° left, and 45° and 90° right for comfortable and controlled cutting from any angle.”  Gringo – Phoenix, AZ

Another guy who hails from the Beehive State had this to say:

“Used this tool to cut lattice for an inclined ramp at my parents house. It worked better than I could imagine. Made the job go extremely fast. I was worried about how I was going to get the job done quickly and having this tool made all the difference between a day job and a 3-day job. Highly Recommended!!!”  Tim – Utah

And for having such a low price, the heavy-duty reciprocating saw’s got a ton of great features:

  • Powerful 6-amp motor with a variable speed trigger
  • Handle rotates 180° with five positive stops
  • Shoe plate pivots up to 30° for increased stability
  • 1/2″ twist-lock blade chuck for fast, easy blade changes
  • Rubber grip for comfort and durability
  • Variable speed trigger with switch lock-on button

I also definitely recommend you use the savings to stock up on extra special-use blades. Harbor Freight Tools stocks incredibly durable sets that require little investment and big performance:  Warrior 5-Piece 6″ Wood-Cutting Bi-Metal Reciprocating Saw Blades, ideal for cutting nail-embedded wood; Warrior 5-Piece 6″ General Purpose / Demolition Bi-Metal Reciprocating Saw Blades, this blade can be used to cut a wide variety of materials, including wood, metal, plastic, pipe and drywall; Portland Saw 5-Piece 9″ Wood Cutting Bi-Metal Reciprocating Saw Blades, longer blades designed to accommodate a variety of wood-cutting operations; Portland Saw 2-Piece 8″ Diamond Grit Reciprocating Saw Blades, for cutting into the hardest materials, including cast iron, clay pipe, brick and marble. Plus, many more in our stores and on our site.