Dirt Biker’s Review: The 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner

Recently, a forum member on the Honda dirt bike site XR650RForum.com, calling himself Master_E, shared with his buddies his experience with the Chicago Electric 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner.

“So I bought this thing because I took my carb to a buddies house the first time I was taking it apart and we used his. My carb had gunk all over and was generally dirty from being used. This ultrasonic gizzmo cleaned my carb to the point where it looked fresh out of a hot tank, inside and out. I was very impressed.”

When he took it home, he tried different cleaners with it. One different work. Another was so sotrong, it would tarnish. Finally, he found the perfect “solution”:

“I went back to Harbor Freight and bought a gallon of this business they use in their regular parts washers for only $9.99. I run a 50/50 mix with water and it cleans fantastically. Straight out of the jug is pretty concentrated stuff. I really recommend diluting it some.”

And once he figured out the formula, he threw everything he could find into the cleaner.

“Since, I’ve used it on all kinds of things. Most useful to me has been on fasteners but greasy nuts, bolts, washers, brackets, spacers, sprockets, clutch and brake perches, cleaning up my tools, my carburetor components, suspension components and even a whole chain. Yes, the whole chain.”

Besides motorcycle and automotive parts, the 2.5 Ultrasonic Cleaner is great for cleaning gun parts and brass, jewelry, coins, brasswind parts, pinball machine parts, e-cigarette tanks, medals, eyeglasses, tattoo tubes, grips and tips, bionic parts, coffee ground cups, and so much more! It works with our without heat, and is programmed for five cleaning cycles. At only $74.99, it’s a great machine at a great price.

Now, back to Master_E:

“So I thought I’d share a couple before and afters. I actually struggled to find things that needed cleaning, but I did find a couple things. These parts were never prep’d or polished after coming out of the cleaner. They went straight in, ran a cycle then brought out and dried off. Thats it. No scrubbing, no brushing, no scraping, no wiping down with a rag at all.”

(Click on the pics to enlarge)

Wheel Spacers: Before…

…and After!

 

 

Upper Triple Bearing: Before…

… and After…

… and More After!

 

 

Upper Triple Clamp: Before…

… in the Cleaner (didn’t quite fit)…

… and After…

… and After!

You can’t argue with the evidence. The Chicago Electric 2.5 Liter Ultrasonic Cleaner is a perfect addition to any workshop or home where parts  and pieces get dirty. Go get yours now– and don’t forget to take a 20% Off coupon!

To quote Master_E’s parting remark:

“Cheers! Now go clean some stuff!”

4 Tips On How to Shop at Harbor Freight

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.

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…

Grand Opening in San Rafael, CA!

 

January 15, 2012– Harbor Freight Tools has been opening new stores across the country with unprecedented frequency– especially in these tough economic times– and there’s no slowing down in sight!  This Wednesday, January 16, at 8:00 a.m., the doors will swing wide at the newest Harbor Freight Tools location– this time in San Rafael, CA!

“We’re thrilled to be opening the 54th Harbor Freight Tools store in California and honored by the warm welcome that has been extended to us in San Rafael.” said Eric Smidt, President of Harbor Freight Tools. “At Harbor Freight, both business and do-it-yourself customers always find quality tools at ridiculously low prices. In difficult economic times, they’re more cost-conscious than ever and we’re here to help. Our tools are made in the same factories as many of the high-priced famous brands, but we cut out the middleman and sell them at a fraction of the price.”

The San Rafael store, located at 863 East Francisco Boulevard, will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11:00 am, hosted by the San Rafael Chamber of Commerce.

“We are excited to be joined by a retailer with a proven record of community involvement contributing to our economy and our community vitality.” stated Rick Wells, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce President and CEO.

Harbor Freight Tools is a traditional favorite of contractors, government agencies, schools, fundraisers, and industrial and auto shops, as well as tool enthusiasts and DIYers looking for deals on a good selection of tools.

The exciting San Rafael store grand opening celebration will feature huge discounts at up to 80% off. Come browse the enormous selection of quality tools and hardware, take advantage of the incredible specials, or just come by and say “hello!”

Store hours are MON-SAT 8:00AM-9:00PM and SUN 9:00AM-6:00PM.

See you there!

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

Harbor Freight Tools Gives $1.4 Million Donation to Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

At 10:00 AM yesterday morning, in downtown Los Angeles, Harbor Freight Tools contributed $1.4 million in tools and equipment to Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Division of Adult and Career Education to go towards the city’s trade students. This gesture amounted to 55,000 items– 15 forty-foot truckloads– now available to thousands of students training for new careers. Here’s LAUSD’s press release of the event:

PRESS RELEASE:

January 9, 2013 – During these hard economic times when resources are scarce, School Board President Mónica García welcomes Harbor Freight Tools as an enthusiastic partner ready to support Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Adult Education. Thanks to the $1.4 million gift  of tools and equipment from Harbor Freight Tools and its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Smidt, many students in the District’s Division of Adult and Career Education will benefit from high-quality industrial education programs. The donation, in addition to promoting creativity and innovation, will encourage students to turn their passion into a paychecks.

“Our schools and communities are stronger when we have partners that help us get the job done,” said Board President Mónica García. “Thank you Harbor Freight and Eric Smidt for giving us the tools and resources to continue workforce training. Together we can help restore opportunities that are in much demand in our community.”

Harbor Freight invited LAUSD’s industrial career education instructors to visit the company’s Pasadena store to compile “wish” lists. And the shopping lists were long– they asked for and will receive a massive amount of tools and equipment– more than 55,000 items capable of filling 15 forty-foot truck loads. All will be put to good use in industrial education programs for careers in air conditioning repair, electronics, plumbing, construction work and many other fields.

“For far too long, vocational education has not been given the attention and funding it deserves,” said Eric Smidt, CEO of Harbor Freight Tools. “At a time when a well-trained workforce is essential to compete in the global economy, the United States too often falls short. Harbor Freight Tools wants to help turn the tide, and we’re starting at LAUSD where the budget for their Career Technical Education programs is just one quarter of what it was just two years ago. With our tools in Los Angeles classrooms, we can help thousands of students work their way toward meaningful, higher-paying careers.”

“We are grateful for Board President García’s strong and continuous support as evidenced by her outreach and initial contact with Harbor Freight in facilitating this generous donation,” said Michael Romero, Executive Director of the LAUSD Division of Adult & Career Education, Options Programs and Beyond the Bell. “Our current and future technical education students are the winners in this industry partnership.”

ABOUT:

The mission of California’s Career Technical Education (CTE) system is to provide industry-linked programs and services that enable all individuals to reach their career goals in order to achieve a high-quality lifestyle, to be competitive in the global marketplace, and to sustain California’s economic dominance. The LAUSD Career Technical Education training programs focus on short-term, high-quality course sequences that prepare students to earn industry-recognized certification and obtain viable employment. Students receive hands-on training through project-based experiences that meet the requirements and standards of the job market. Career Technical Education will engage every student in high-quality educational programs, developed in partnership with business and industry.

Founded in North Hollywood, CA in 1977 and now based in Calabasas, Harbor Freight Tools is the leading discount tool retailer in the U.S., selling high-quality tools at “ridiculously low prices” in over 400 stores nationwide and on its website, http://harborfreight.com. Harbor Freight Tools stocks over 7,000 items in categories including automotive, air and power tools, shop equipment and hand tools. With a commitment to quality and a lifetime guarantee on all hand tools, Harbor Freight Tools is a favorite of automotive and truck repair shops, government agencies, schools, manufacturers, contractors and tool enthusiasts who want top-quality and great selection, and value. The results speak for themselves – with over twenty million customers nationwide and thousands of people switching to Harbor Freight Tools every day. Additional information about Harbor Freight Tools and online sales at http://harborfreight.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/harbor.f.tools and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/harborfreight.

Contact: Alan Mutchnik – hft4schools@harborfreight.com

Firebird Restoration Tools: Harbor Freight vs. the Competition – Engine Rebuild

Believe it or not, for the meatiest phase of the Firebird restoration project– the engine rebuild– the star of the show was the Pittsburgh Professional 1/2″ Drive Click Stop Torque Wrench, a multipurpose tool utilized throughout the video (check out the great details and tips employed in this installment). A heavy-duty cam and pawl mechanism, this reversible 1/2″ drive click type torque wrench is THE go-to tool when precise torque is needed. The click-type wrench design provides a torque range from 20 to 150 ft. lbs and is accurate to within +/- 4% ! Harbor Freight price: $19.99.

Judging by the reviews, we already know it’s an awesome automotive hand tool. But how does it measure up cost-wise to the competition? Let’s check it out:

  • Sears – Performance Mechanics 1/2″ Drive Click Torque Wrench #M200DB – $47.02
  • Northern Tool – Northern Industrial 1/2″ Torque Wrench #558266 – $29.99
  • Home Depot – Husky 1/2″ Drive Torque Wrench #39104T – $79.97
  • Lowe’s – Kobalt 1/2″ Drive Click Torque Wrench #85601 – $94.97
  • Grainger – Proto 1/2″ Torque Wrench #J6016CX – $281.50

Next time we’ll look at the tools used for painting the car and, as always, compare them to the competition’s stuff. By now the pattern should be clear: Harbor Freight Tools offers, without a doubt, the best value on quality auto restoration tools. Don’t forget to check out their weekly flyer and keep checking HarborFreight.com for sales, coupons and the best deals around!

See you next time!

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?