Harbor Freight's a favorite toy store for mechanics, carpenters, electricians, contractors, builders, DIYers, preppers, hobbyists, welding artisans, etc. Really, anyone who needs a tool for something, or just likes putzing around the workbench, will jump at any excuse to visit Harbor Freight. If you are one of the dwindling numbers who don't know about Harbor Freight-- stay away!! Seriously, it's the Hotel California of man stores-- you can check out anytime you like, but...
A lot of time (well, most of the time for some of us...), "need" has very little to do with shopping at HFT. Oh sure, you might go in for a great deal on a miter saw, but you''ll leave with gloves, small flashlights, an electric bug zapper, a pile of tarps, a wrench set, a headlamp, a machete and a winch, as well. It's like the old "Weed n' Feed" your grampa used to like to wander around. The discounts-- not to mention the plethora of odds and ends all over the place-- are just too irresistible. Best take your purchases home and sequestered in the garage when the wife is out doing her hair.
There is an art to shopping at Harbor Freight-- nay, a strategy-- that ensures you get the most satisfaction out of the experience. To illustrate, I've laid it out in four steps:
1. Stay on Top of the Deals:
Knowledge is power, and staying aware of what sales are out there is pure dynamite. There are a number of ways to do this:
- The Website - On any given day, there are a slew of deals being offered on Harbor Freight's Homepage. Also, the Tab Coupons page, the Super Coupons page, the Clearance page, and the Weekly Flyer.
- Sign up for the mail-in flyer. This is oft times better than the online flyer because it's portable and, laying around, it's a reminder to get while the gettin's good.
- Get on the Harbor Freight email list for exclusive Preferred Customer offers-- so quick and easy, you'll swear you're doing something immoral, illegal or fattening.
2. Clip the Coupon!
If you're like me, many's the time you realize you left the coupon on the kitchen counter, right as you pull into the store parking lot. I live 30 miles away from the nearest Harbor Freight, you think I want to do that trip again? I usually curse myself and pay the regular low price instead of the LOW, low price. Just this once, I'm going to recommend to everyone to get in touch with your feminine side and clip the damn thing-- put it in your wallet. That goes double for the 20% coupons, just keep collecting them and toss them when they expire. After all, isn't that the point? A Harbor Freight shopper without a coupon is like going dutch on a date. I mean, seriously?
3. Inside Track Club
Think you know all there is to know about the discounts, deals and sales at Harbor Freight Tools? Think again. For just $29.99 a year, you can be a member of the Inside Track Club. So what, you say? How about exclusive email offers nobody else gets? How about access to the famed Harbor Freight Parking Lot Sales one whole hour before anyone else is allowed on the lot? Or, deep discount mail-in offers your friends and neighbors will never see? Put it this way: You can take the wife out to Applebee's this Friday, or use that money on the best deals Harbor Freight Tools will be offering all year round. Take your time...
4. Read the Reviews
Hopefully I'm preaching to the choir here. The best way to ensure an informed purchase is to read the reviews left by previous buyers. I value them more than the so-called experts who review for a living 'cause it's "power by numbers." If 95 out of 100 people love the product, chances are pretty good I will, too. If that means it's getting a different model than previously intended, so be it. But, that's me.
There's a reason why guys love to shop at Harbor Freight, and if you're getting ready to go for the first time, I envy you the joy and wonderment you'll be experiencing. Follow these four tips and you'll come away happy and fulfilled, and no one will call you a boy anymore.
Well, two out the three of those things, for sure.
So you want to start a garden, eh? You’ve waited years for that moment where you have the space in your yard to do it. Or maybe you’ve just volunteered for a community garden but you haven't a garden tool to your name? Well Harbor Freight Tools is here to help!
Garden tools can be broken down into two basic categories: tools for working the soil / planting and tools for maintaining your plants.
Soil and Planting Tools:
Round-point shovel - this shovel is made for loosening and moving soil and digging planting holes
Manure fork - the name is a bit daunting but historically speaking manure was fertilizer and something was needed to move this around. This tool is also useful for aerating your compost pile
Garden rake - this is great fro breaking up smaller clumps of dirt and working soil amendment / fertilizer into the top of a garden bed
Garden Maintenance Tools:
Bypass pruner - you need at least one good bypass pruner for routine plant maintenance such as deadheading roses, shaping shrubs, or cutting off that annoying branch growing in exactly the wrong spot. It’s nice to have to them in several sizes for larger or smaller jobs, but an 8-inch pruner should suffice most of the time
Snips - these are necessary for reaching into tight spaces to snip off tiny twigs
Loppers - these are used for removing branches
Pruning saws - when branches are too big for loppers you'll need a pruning saw to take them down
Garden sprayer - the best way to disseminate plant food or pest control (organic of chemical)
Gloves - of course! Don't forget these. You'll need to protect your hands from thorns and insects an other things that might be lurking in the soil
As you continue to work on your garden, you'll get a feel for these tools and may find other nifty gadgets that will help you out. But for now you've got a good starter kit to get you going and all at the ridiculously low prices that you can only find at Harbor Freight Tools.
In this country's growing Survivalist Nation there's a tribe known as the “Urbivalists”-- or “urban survivalists”—preppers who live in towns and cities, and have adapted their survivalist skills to more metro environments. One such urbivalist is Dan, a "self-proclaimed tenderfoot and city kid" who runs a survival-themed blog called The Daily Prep. Recently, Dan posted a video of a shopping trip he made to Harbor Freight--
--which included a tour of some of his favorite products. “It’s a man mall!” he proclaimed.
It’s no wonder HFT is popular with those who take survival preparation seriously. A renowned purveyor of hard-to-find and odd hardware-- plus, a huge selection of essential tools and supplies at extremely low prices-- it’s a no-brainer. (Brains? Zombies? Apocalypse? Harbor Freight!)
So, what were some of the products Dan thought fellow preppers should look into? The video does a good job showcasing generators, welders, tarps, car battery jump starters, jerry cans, rope, axes & hatchets, duct tape (“of every kind!”), magnesium fire starters, solar panel kits, knives, slingshots, safes, winches, flashlights and batteries-- and Harbor Freight’s low prices make preparation a lot more doable.
FYI, for those looking to prep their home for the garden variety emergency, HFT also carries towing supplies, trailer hitches, alarms & security products, jack stands, engines, head lamps, cast iron frying pans, face masks, space saver vacuum bags, air compressors… you get the point. Harbor Freight is the “go-to store” for your doomsday prepper needs.
The Daily Prep isn't alone when it comes to survivalist forums swapping favorite HFT products that they keep in their arsenals. Surf the 'net and you'll find tons of great ideas. And while you're at it, why don't you share yours with us?
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:
- tape measure
- angle square
- construction line
- utility knife
- carpenter’s pencil
- painters tape
- stud finder
- staple guns
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.
- socket set
- allen wrenches
- impact driver
- cordless power drill
- multifuntion power tool
- small hacksaw
- needlenose pliers
- sanding block
It’s funny how, as you get older, you start doing all the cool stuff you wanted to do when you were a punk teenager. Back in the 70’s we were all car crazy, and many’s the time I envied the guys in the neighborhood who were out on their front lawns, working on their Dodge Challengers or GTO “Goats”—
—not just because they HAD them (which would have been enough), but because they could actually work on them. Somehow, they managed to have the tools and supplies it took to keep their wheels “cherry.” Nowadays, though, when you hear (and feel) a carb-powered 426 Hemi thundering down the road, it’s a geezer you’re more likely to see behind the wheel than a punk. And chances are that geezer is one of us.
Classic car restoration is more popular than ever, and with the help of online parts stores, chat forums and YouTube videos, guys who thought they’d never get to rebuild their favorite classic rides are now living in their garages (and on their lawns), doing just that.
If you’ve decided to restore a vehicle yourself, I salute you. Not only will you save thousands of dollars, you’ll be embarking on a long, challenging-- even therapeutic-- journey that will reap dividends for years to come. But before we start doing that victory lap to “We Are the Champions,” let me suggest some basic tools you’ll want right out of the gate to make the dream a reality (unless, of course, you like repeatedly going back & forth to the store when you’re in the middle of something):
The Must-Have Tool
The Air Compressor will quickly become your best friend over the course of your restoration. It’s the first thing you’ll need to get for your arsenal. Between the Die Grinder, Paint Sprayer and Impact Wrench, you’re going to get a lot of use out of it and, believe me, you’ll thank yourself every time you’ve got a big chore that you don’t have to do manually. It needs to have a decent enough CFM—at least 5-6 CFM per minute at 90 psi-- so that the long bursts of sanding, buffing or cutting won’t wear too hard on the compressor. You could get the job done with a 29-Gallon Tank Unit, but if you can swing it, go for a 60-Gallon Compressor, with power to spare. By the way, the Die Grinder is great for polishing the inside of the head ports, cleaning up metal and using with a cut-off wheel to repair panels.
A Compression Tester will help diagnose vital motor issues, such as worn piston rings, burnt valves and bad head gaskets. This is a great first tool to use when you get your new project car home. You can even take it with you to test a car before you buy it!
While it’s not vital for the project, you may want to consider picking up a “cherry-picker” Engine Hoist, especially if you’re planning to restore more than one vehicle. A good 2-Ton Shop Crane should be sufficient, and will more than pay for itself in the long run.
Most likely, you should have the cylinders re-bored. A cylinder bore gauge is needed to check for taper, out-of-round and oversize on the cylinders if you are rebuilding the motor yourself. Any critical wear on the cylinder can be reached with this gauge. An Engine Cylinder Hone will de-glaze the cylinder walls and give them a nice, smooth finish.
Next, you’ll want a valve spring compressor to remove the valves for a rebuild. Also a cheap valve lapping tool, with grinding compound, helps reseat the valves.
Piston Ring Pliers will help you remove and replace the rings on the pistons without breaking them. A Piston Ring Compressor is needed for the installation of the pistons. Also, a piston groove cleaner will remove the carbon crud from the piston grooves.
A Dial Indicator is used to measure run-out on things like the flywheel, and endplay on the crankshaft. While there are various types of mounts, including magnetic base and screw mounts, I recommend the clamping mount because it’s faster and easier to work with.
Next, a Stud Puller is a must for removing stripped, rusted and otherwise stubborn head studs, as well as exhaust & intake manifold studs.
Have a complete Tap and Die Set on hand, preferably with both SAE & metric. You’ll find this invaluable for cleaning up old bolts and restoring rusted holes.
A good Digital Micrometer is needed to precisely measure anything.
MIG Welder. You won’t get through a restoration job without it. Why a MIG welder, as opposed to another type? Well, for starters, if you’re new to this kind of project, the MIG is the easiest to learn. Also, they work with the most common types of metals, overhead welding is easier, and the MIG welder works fast.
You’ll also want a Hammer & Dolly Set, otherwise known as a “Body & Fender Set.” These tools go a long way in repairing and straightening steel panels, and all-around custom fab work. This one, made by Pittsburgh, probably has the best price you’re going to find, and one look at the customer reviews should convince you there’s no need to keep looking.
A Step Drill is essential to make quick, clean work out of drilling large diameter holes for auto-body jobs such as installing chrome trim, and for firewall holes.
As you work on your project, you’ll find a Bench Grinder and Drill Press are extremely helpful in the auto restoration process. Plus, a Wire Wheel on the grinder is a must and makes cleaning up parts quick and simple.
Finally, get a Creeper, Paint Stripper, Transmission Jack, Dent Repair Kit, and a Comprehensive Mechanics Tool Kit, and you’ll be equipped to tackle most everything involved in your car restoration, as well as many other future projects. Of course, you’ll inevitably be needing cleaners, sealants, lubricants and the odd part along the way, but consider yourself the proud owner of an equipped auto restoration garage.
Tubing rollers come in many shapes and sizes, so it's vital you choose one that works for the applications you intend to work on the most.
If you're in the market for an economical manual tubing roller, you really should take a look at this Tubing Roller from Pittsburgh tools (SKU: 99736). This model is made for bending mild steel, copper and aluminum tubing alike. You can use it to fabricate an exhaust, roll bars and many other projects.
This Pittsburgh tubing roller is an absolute wonder. It includes 1, 1 1/2 and 2-inch rollers that can bend tubing anywhere from 3/4-inch to 2-inches in diameter. It even supports 3/4-inch, 1 1/4-inch and 2-inch Electrical Metallic Tubing (EMT) conduit sizes. Regardless of your project type, it works incrementally so that you can create bends as precise as necessary.
This tubing roller may be bench mounted as well on this adjustable pedestal stand (sold separately); just make sure your workbench is solid, level and strong enough to support not only the tool itself but your work material and any pressure applied to the tool while performing the bending.
Keep in mind this unit is designed for bending mild steel, copper and aluminum. Never try to bend plastic or PVC pipe with it! Another word of caution: always check your minimum practical bend radius. This depends on the diameter and wall thickness of the tube you are working with. Making bends with too small of a radius will result in tube deformations like flattening, folding or rupturing. As always, practice on a piece of scrap material prior to starting your project.