Taming the Tool Cart

I was puttering around the house last Saturday, when I heard my wife in the other room suddenly burst out, “That’s CUTE!” I assumed she found another pair of shoes or a purse on sale, or maybe one of those Cape Cod beach houses only a Kennedy could afford. But then she hurried in, gripping an old magazine (she keeps them for years– last week I found a Look magazine with Mamie Eisenhower on the cover).

“Isn’t that CUTE??!” she asked (rhetorically, I hoped), holding the mag open in my face. And there it was…

Tool Cart for the Home

In their June 2012 issue, Better Homes & Gardens featured the U.S. General 350 lb. Locking Drawer Tool Cart #90248 as an addition for a home organization project:

“A tool cart is a good home for bulky items, plus you can use it as a service station or bar.”

Not to mention that it’s a good-looking and affordable alternative to organizers at those shi-shi “home” stores. Here’s another great example where someone used it as a bar cart:

Tool Cart Bar Cart

 

It’d probably make a dandy arts n’ crafts cart, too. I also noticed the tool cart’s on sale this month for just $74.99. A pretty good deal.

Huh… using a Harbor Freight tool cart for kitchen design, or a design idea for any room in the house. I get it.

And the wife got it.

Hot Bike Review: The US General 5-Drawer Tool Cart

If there was a category for “Single-Most-Loved Product” at Harbor Freight Tools, the US General tool cabinets and carts would probably be in a tight group, a length ahead of all the others. Be it the insanely popular 44″ 13-Drawer Tool Cabinet, the mammoth 56″ 11-Drawer Industrial Rolling Cabinet or the economical, yet rugged, 4-Drawer Tool Cart, the US General tool chests have amassed a ton of rave reviews– both for the quality and the value.

Which is why it’s no surprise to see the way-thumbs-up review of the 700-lb. Capacity 5-Drawer Tool Cart in the May 2013 issue of Hot Bike (this issue can be found in magazine stands but is not, as of this writing, online). Same beautiful fire-engine red as the other models, the rugged all-steel, 5-drawer tool cart is the ideal choice for the wrencher with just enough– but not too many– tools. As pointed out by Hot Bike writer, Jeff G. Holt, in the Used and Abused column:

“This all-steel 120-pound tool cart is a great place to store a myriad of tools for not a lot of money. This bright-red powder-coated rollaway is constructed (of) 14-gauge steel and can hold up to 700 pounds worth of stuff.”

 Jeff wasn’t a pushover for just any pretty face, though. He put the baby to work immediately.

“Sure, that is all well and good, but for a cabinet such as this, with a rather low price tag, I was worried about things like the drawers opening smoothly and other quality-related issues. Once I freed it from its shipping box, I assembled it (it took less than a half hour) and loaded it full of my wayward tools and was able to put it to the test. The ball-bearing rails on each of the drawers worked smoothly and they even had a locking lever per drawer like only the carts costing three times the price usually possess. The key-controlled locking mechanism on the top of the cart also worked flawlessly, which is truly a feat for something of this price. When fully loaded, this cart rolled around freely due to the two fixed and two swiveling locking casters. It even did so on chunky asphalt.”

Sounds like a winner. But, how about down the road? Did the tool cart stand the test of time?

“After throwing tools in and out of the cart for almost a year now, I have been pretty impressed with the quality construction and ease of use. The only problem I am currently having with it is that I am running out of room and I’ll need to switch to a larger storage system. If you are looking for a rolling workstation such as this, don’t let the low price keep you away, buy this and save a couple hundred dollars over the competition.”

A larger storage system? Harbor Freight can do that. Or, how about just getting a second tried-and-true 5-drawer tool cart? You can find the 700-lb.Capacity 5-Drawer Tool Cart at your local Harbor Freight, or online, for a low $199.99– or $169.99 with coupon! Girls on Hot Bike magazine cover not included.

Harbor Freight Tool Cabinet Coupons –

Click Here for Coupons

WHAT??!

Harbor Freight NEVER has coupons for their tool carts or tool cabinets! And yet, here they are— coupons for the US General 5-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, the 4-Drawer Rolling Tool Cart, the 11-Drawer Rolling Tool Cabinet and the small  Locking Drawer Tool Cart. These deals are good ’til March 17, so take advantage of them NOW— along with tons of other deals!

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!

For The Guy Who Has Everything: A Place to Put It!

You may know someone who has every tool known to man (including some old, scary things you can’t identify). Venturing into their garage is like stumbling into a flea market– their workbench, walls and drawers all cluttered with hardware– and they spend about as much time looking for tools as they do using them. OK, I wasn’t going to say it, but… yeah, I’m talking about you. It’s time to end the madness!

When toofun (forum handle) decided he had outgrown his old tool cabinet, he shared his journey for a trade-up with fellow Pro-Touring.com members:

“So I have outgrown my start-up Craftsman 26-inch double-tiered toolbox and need to get something else for my HOME GARAGE– Snap On, Husky, Matco, Cornwell, etc… all HUGE money. And then I came across the 44-inch wide multi-drawered U.S. General tool box from Harbor Freight. I know it is not professional garage mechanic quality like Snap On, but COME ON. When I saw this in person, I was very impressed with it. For the two top and bottom “middle parts” pictured below, 21 drawers and it runs $689– that’s less than HALF all the big name brands charge for a similar set-up. Anyone have one they care to comment on? They also sell the add-ons and I am considering buying the side drawer add-on for another $200 so in total I would have 28 drawers all for $889??? Am I missing something here?”

No, toofun, you’re not missing a thing. In fact, you could get the entire ensemble pictured above, out-the-door (tax included), for under $1,200! I challenge any competitor to offer as much– with the same high quality– at such a low price.

Here’s a breakdown of the individual pieces:

It wasn’t hard for toofun to make his decision:

“Yeah, on my way to buy one for sure today! Can’t beat the price and Harbor Freight is killer in the deals department. I also like the fact that they have just about everything put together and set up for customers to touch and feel. The drawers really do slide in and out with ease. I have a Craftsman box right now and I would say they slide in and out better than those do. I also saw a video on YouTube of a guy STANDING on the top drawer of the lower cabinet with the drawer full of tools! Not crazy enough to do that but I though it made a good point, even though I probably would have chosen a different way to show it!”

In the end, toofun did go for all the three pieces he had been considering: the 44″ 13-drawer tool cabinet, the top chest and the 7-drawer end cabinet.  To say he was happy with the shopping experience would be an extreme understatement:

“Well, picked up the top, bottom and side pieces today. Worked out a deal with the store and got an even better deal– PLUS, they signed me up for the Customer Rewards, or-something-like-that (Inside Track, heh-heh…) program. Basically you get coupons every week that are discounted even lower than the regular coupons they send out to the regular mailings. The discounts are on average about 10%-15% lower than what they offer the general public, so it really adds up if you buy a lot of tools. Also, I was worried about the (upcoming) sale and they said that within 45 days if I see a better price than what I got it for, to bring in my slip and they would give me the difference back! MAN, I LOVE HARBOR FREIGHT. Always liked their online store, but now that there is a physical location 2 miles from my house, it’s like going into a strip joint to see what’s new! LOL! “

I couldn’t have said it better. When it comes to tool storage and organization, there isn’t a better deal out there than the heavy-duty, industrial-quality US General series, exclusively at Harbor Freight! Come into the store like toofun did, and try the cabinets out yourself– and don’t forget the countless other deals throughout the store. You’ll love the place, too!

Chevy High Performance: 13-Drawer Tool Cabinet

Opinions are like hand tools: everybody’s got them.  But while they vary when it comes to which Harbor Freight tools customers have on their wish lists, one item seems to make ALL the lists– the wildly popular US General Pro 44″ 13-Drawer Roller Cabinet.

How many times did you have a ‘honey-do’ fix, or faced a weekend auto project, and didn’t know exactly where your needed tools were? They used to be in that drawer… or was it in that one spot on the workbench? I think it’s safe to say, I’m not the only one who goes through that hellacious routine from time to time.

In the December 2012 issue of Chevy High Performance, Henry De Los Santos shared that, since his team finally graduated to a “real toolbox” (the 13-drawer cabinet), they now enjoy being able to find any particular tool right away when they need it. And since this tool cabinet is modular, he gushed, it can expand even more, with the industrial-strength US General Pro Top Chest

 

…and the super-tough 7-Drawer End Cabinet.

 Whatever your work or hobby, the US General tool cabinets and carts are the best values you’re going to find. A lot of folks try saying that about their cabinets, but they don’t quite live up to the combination of solid construction and low prices you’ll find at Harbor Freight. Of course, you don’t have to take my word for it, or even the testimony of a magazine. Just go on the site and read the dozens of reviews given by the customers who use them every day. They pretty much all say the same thing as this owner of the 13-drawer cabinet:

“I have shopped around for a new tool cabinet for quite some time, and this is by far (very far, actually) the best value I have found. The reviews confirmed what I had already seen in the stores, so buying this beauty was a no-brainer.

The cabinet is very well built, and the sheet metal is a much heavier gauge than the competition. The large top drawer and the two deep bottom drawers have a double guide set-up to carry some extra weight, which is a very nice touch when you have to store heavy tools. They’ll load it for you at the store, but you better ask a friend to come over and help you unload this sucker or you might get hurt! When I unloaded mine, I had to remove all the drawers to even be able to slide it to the tailgate.

I bought it to put my mini-mill on, and I was a bit worried about how the 44″ span above the top drawer would do with a 150 lbs mill on it. I cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood as a bench top, put the mill on it, and the cabinet didn’t budge one bit. I had planned to bolt the cabinet to the wall to make the setup more rigid, but I didn’t have to, it was solid as a rock after locking the casters. However, it does have threaded holes (for the handle) on both sides, so it would be very easy to add wall brackets if I ever decide to do so.

The handles have paper labels with plastic covers, a nice feature for us who want to keep things organized.

I’m pretty picky with everything I buy for my shop, and usually try to stick with the “pro brand” stuff. However, this cabinet blows the competition plumb out of the water. A similar unit from the big brands would run at least three times more, and would still not be the same quality. Granted, I haven’t compared with the top-of-the-line professional brands, but it sure beats everything I have found in the department stores and home improvement stores.”  TN Gunsmith

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!

Mega Cool Tool Cabinet Project

When I was a kid, around the holidays, I always got excited for the Sears “Wish List” catalog. When it finally came, I would carry it off into my room and go over each page carefully, like a monk poring over the scriptures, carefully marking each treasure I really, really wanted (the BB gun and mini bike got circled every year… finally got the BB gun). That magic feeling’s faded over the years, and now that I’m an adult, I tend to harbor a more pragmatic view of what I can and can’t have. The tummy just doesn’t twitter anymore… until I saw a post last week in The Garage Journal:

A forum member with the moniker “blasto9000″ submitted pictures of a project he recently completed, bolting three US General 44″ 13-Drawer Roller Cabinets together– essentially building a 39-drawer supermax workbench!

I Want!

Since the uneven floor in his garage was an unsuitable spot for the rolling cabinets, he first removed the casters, cut various-lengthed legs and capped them with leveling feet to match the floor’s contour. To bring the tool cabinets together, he left the side handles off and bolted the cabinets together with cut lengths of T-slot.

The original idea was to build the rack out of hot-roll steel, but as 80/20 is around the same price, and a lot easier to work with (plus, if you make a mistake, you can just unbolt it and re-do), he chose that instead.All the cuts were done with a cutoff saw, much like the Chicago Electric 3-1/2 HP 14″ Cut-Off Saw.

Here’s a list of the materials used:

1010 extrusion, 96″, 8 pcs.
1030 extrusion, 36″, 1 pc.
6-hole joining plate p/n 4166, 6 pcs.
End fastener p/n 3681, 12 pcs.
Leveling foot p/n 2192, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 x 0.5″ BHSCP, (a lot)
Economy tee nuts (a lot)
M6x1.0 cap screw, 12 pcs.
M6 nuts and washers, 12 pcs.
1/4-20 plug tap (2 flute), 1 ea.

It’s impressive how this guy kept the parts at a minimum– clean and efficient!

The construction is basically three 42×18″ rectangular hoops that the tool cabs sit on, held together using end fasteners. The hoops sit on the legs, which are 1030 extrusion (1×3″ cross section), and then the hoops have screws going through them radially, and attach to axially drilled/tapped holes in the legs. The hoops are 1″ extrusion– two of them each– sitting on 3″ extrusion, which leaves 1″ in the middle. This is where the vertical members are joined and covered by the 6-hole joining plate.

Here is the suggested order of assembly:

Build 42×18″ hoops, cut legs, drill/tap legs, and assemble into the base frame.
Install rear (wall facing) uprights with M6 studs protruding.
Level rack to the floor.
Take a leak, so you don’t piss your pants during the next maneuver.
Empty tool cab and lay on the frame using armstrong method.
Slide tool cab onto the M6 studs.
Install front vertical member.
Rinse, repeat.

“The HF tool cabs are very well-made and easily the best value in tool storage,” he said. “When I built the 80/20 framing I cut all members to precise length.  I was afraid there would be some variance in the size of the tool cabs, but they are all EXACTLY the same size, and the hole locations (for the handles) are in the exact same place. That made the job go a lot easier.”

The remarkably talented Blasto9000 came up with the original design while sitting in his car, stuck in Los Angeles traffic.

 

The Domesticated Tool Cart

I was puttering around the house last Saturday, when I heard my wife in the other room suddenly burst out, “That’s CUTE!” I assumed she found another pair of shoes or a purse on sale, or maybe one of those Cape Cod beach houses only a Kennedy could afford. But then she hurried in, gripping a magazine. “Isn’t that CUTE??!” she asked (rhetorically, I hoped), holding the mag open in my face. And there it was…

In their June 2012 issue, Better Homes & Gardens featured the U.S. General 350 lb. Locking Drawer Tool Cart as an addition for a home organization project:

“A tool cart is a good home for bulky items, plus you can use it as a service station or bar.”

Not to mention that it’s a good-looking and affordable alternative to organizers at those shi shi “home” stores. Huh… using a Harbor Freight tool cabinet for kitchen design, or a design idea for any room in the house. I get it.

And the wife got it.

People Love Our Tool Carts!

Johnny Hunkins, editor of Popular Hot Rodding magazine, posted a great article on his blog about Harbor Freight’s tool carts. He recently visited our QA facility in Calabasas, CA and was impressed with the thoroughness of our tool testing. He says, “it dawned on me that Harbor Freight Tools were not only ‘adequate’, but even preferable.” Thanks, Johnny!

portable tool cart

This sturdy and super strong tool cart can hold up to 700 lbs!

He pointed out the US General 5-drawer portable tool cart (SKU #95272).  The US General tool cart was actually one of dozens of products he got to sample side-by-side with products that are generally much more expensive. This sturdy and super strong tool cart can hold up to 700 lbs. of tools, yet you can easily roll it to your work area so you’ll have everything you need within reach. It has steel construction and a powder-coated enamel finish that resists rust. All its drawers have ball-bearing rails for smooth opening.

Harbor Freight is in fact rolling out or revamping hundreds of their tools with the highest level of quality in mind for the most affordable price. It’s nice to see people take note of our quality tools and to hear from some of our fans.