Popular Hot Rodding Review: ‘Cool’ Harbor Freight Tools

In the upcoming January, 2014 issue of Popular Hot Rodding magazine, several Harbor Freight products are featured among 23 Cool Tools: Home Garage Helpers You Gotta Have That Won’t Break the Bank. Says PHR columnist Rob Kinnan:

“You know Harbor Freight as the place to get dirt-cheap tools, from tiny stuff to the bigger power tools, presses, and such, but your author has put a ton of use in their tools for decades and can attest that the “cheap tools” thing is mostly a myth. And they have everything, including a lot of things that the other tool companies don’t offer. Check ‘em out.”

step drill bit set 3-pc

First on their list is the Warrior 3 Piece Titanium Nitride-Coated High Speed Steel Step Drills. Rob said:

“We call this dynamite little tool an “unbit”, and if you don’t have one in your toolbox then, sorry, you’re an idiot.”

This 3-piece set of titanium nitride-coated, high-speed steel bits replaces 28 individual drill bits! Which means you don’t have to constantly change bits when drilling the range of holes necessary on a countertop, for instance, so you can speed-up the process. Also automatically deburrs holes as you drill. #60379 $12.99

 

heat gun

Next on their list is the Drill Master 1500 Watt Dual Temperature Heat Gun. Here Rob poses the question:

“Why would you need an industrial-strength hair drier? Because a true heat gun is much more than that and is a handy thing to have in the garage.”

Harbor Freight’s Drill-Master heat gun is the ideal tool for stripping paint and varnish, removing decals, shrinking wire wraps, loosening fittings, thawing pipes and more! The heat gun features two heat settings (572° F and 1112° F) to accommodate a wide variety of jobs and a superior coil design that heats materials more quickly than other heat guns on the market. Great for both the do-it-yourselfer and professional contractor. #96289 $14.99

 

7 inch sander polisher

 

Another great deal covered in Popular Hot Rodding is the Drill Master 7″ Variable Speed Polisher/Sander:

“While it’s true that a paint job is only as good as the prep work, it’s equally true that it’s only as good as the cut and polish after the paint and clearcoat has dried, and Harbor Freight has just the inexpensive tool to do it.”

This versatile polisher-sander from Harbor Freight is powered 600-3500 RPM, so you can easily polish your vehicle’s finish or sand all types of larger work surfaces. The all ball-bearing construction also helps the polisher/sander operate smoothly. Features a six-speed thumb control and spindle lock for easy pad changes. #69474 $39.99

 

1-ton shop crane

 

As a final addition for the budget garage, Rob recommends the Pittsburgh Automotive 1-Ton and 2 Ton Foldable Shop Cranes:

“Also known as a cherry picker, a shop crane is mandatory to remove or install an engine in a car, but they take up a boatload of room when not being used. Harbor Freight solves that with a foldable crane in either 1-ton or 2-ton capacities.”

The Pittsburgh Automotive foldable shop cranes deliver the lifting ability you need with the combined advantage of compact storage! Double bearing swivel casters provide smooth and easy maneuvering around your work space. The 1-ton boom extends from 34 in. to 45 in. and its crane height adjusts from 85 in. to 94 in. The 2-ton’s boom extends from 41″ to 61-3/4″ and the crane height adjusts from 73-5/8″ to 89″. They include ram, chain and hook. #69512 $146.00, #69514 $219.99

For this and more awesome articles on hot-rodding and rod-wrenching, check out the January issue of Popular Hot Rodding magazine!

Harbor Freight Celebrates International Girls Day

Recently, Teddy Robertson posted on her blog:

“Surprisingly, the Flint store is very female.   Of course, you see a lot of women in Home Depot and Lowes.  They are selecting paint colors or lighting, or bathroom fixtures.  At Harbor Freight women roam the drill bit aisles.  And what’s more, women—middle-aged women—are on the floor helping them with real tools.  Maybe years back they would have worked in the shop.  Today they work at Harbor Freight.”

Today, November 14, is International Girls Day, and it’s fitting that Harbor Freight Tools takes notice. The girls have been coming to HFT in growing numbers, sharing the checkout lines with the boys, carrying miter saws and cordless drills; on the Web, you now stumble across Girl Power blogs like Pink Toes & Power Tools and Ana White, sounding the alarm that women are taking over the home DIY projects.

That being said, I’d like to submit…
10 Tools Every DIY Girl Should Own
tape measure 30 ft
  1. Pittsburgh 30 Ft. X 1″ QuikFind Tape Measure #69081 – You can never have too many tape measures around the house, and you’ll like this guy because it displays the fractions. Not to say you’re working with a dumbed-down tool, something akin to a Jitterbug cell phone, but rather something that helps determine measurements faster and more efficiently. The tape extends a long way before it falls, and you’ll appreciate the rubber-wrapped case (not that you ever drop your tape measure, right?). Heavy-duty and helpful! $4.99plier set 7 piece
  2. Pittsburgh 7-Pc. Pliers Set #69355 – Pulling, pinching, stripping, bending. You can face all manner of tasks in the home, and these babies can be invaluable. And the quality-to-price ratio is NICE! 8.9932 pc screwdriver set
  3. 32-pc. Screwdriver Set #90764 – You’ll probably put the most mileage on this set around the house as it accommodates most all domestic jobs, including a bendable snake unit that’s awesome in hard-to-get-to areas! $7.99claw hammer
  4. Pittsburgh 16 Oz. Claw Hammer With Fiberglass Handle #47872 - I’m sure you have a hammer somewhere in the house. Hammers are like tape measures; it’s good to have a few around. Whatever you do, though, invest in a nice claw hammer. It’ll do a good job driving in nails, but it’;; also help you remove the bent ones if you make a mistake… which I’m sure never happens. Hammers are the great go-to’s for hanging pictures, putting together modular furniture or small woodworking projects. This fiberglass one provides a comfortable grip and less shock than the wooden ones.  $3.99 socket set 64 pc
  5. Pittsburgh 64 Piece 1/4″, 3/8″ And 1/2″ Socket Set #67995 – For nuts and bolts, and screwing in lag bolts in your beams for heavy wall-hangings and earthquake straps, putting together the tyke’s bike, or working on the car. You might think this set’s a bit overkill, but you never know when you’re going to need the odd-sized piece– and socket sets provide torque strength a mere wrench can’t come close to. $31.99torpedo level
  6. Pittsburgh 9″ Magnetic Torpedo Level #96676 - Take away the guesswork and eyeball calisthenics when trying to hang pictures or put up shelving. You’ll learn fast what a godsend this simple tool really is.  $7.99 staple gun
  7. Fasten Pro Three-Way Tacker Staple Gun Kit #96755 – For everything from craft projects to reupholstering chairs, making wood box valances, putting up plastic sheeting, running cords along the wall, window screening, and other DIY projects. Another tool you’ll love love love!  $6.99 5-drawer tool cart
  8. U.S. General Tool Cart, Five Drawer, 700 Lb. Capacity #69397 - You’ll need a place to store all of these handy tools and, take my word, you’ll outgrow a toolbox almost immediately. A larger one on rollers– like this 5-drawer favorite– is great to move around your home, craft room, studio or garage. It gives you plenty of room to organize and quickly access the tool you need when you need it!  $199.99 3-8 cordless drill 68239 19.99
  9. Drill Master 3/8″ Cordless Drill/Driver With Keyless Chuck, 18 Volt #68239 - A rechargeable drill is essential to have around for your light-to-medium DIY projects around the house. They’re light to carry and great for making holes, or using as a power screwdriver to speed up the fastening process. Got a remodeling project in your future? Get it!  $19.99 orbital palm sander 5-in
  10. Chicago Electric 5″ Random Orbital Palm Sander #69857 – If you’re restoring furniture, an old boat or other object of love, invest in an orbital sander. Great for getting a smooth finish on large surfaces, and the palm sander version gives you great control. $24.99
There are other great, handy tools for your collection that you’ll eventually want: stud finder, brad nailer, jigsaw, compound miter saw, circular saw… and Harbor Freight Tools has them all at tremendously low prices! It’s a great way to get your projects off the ground without smashing too many piggy banks.
Of course, there’s more to life than always working. As Teddy Robertson closed in her post:

“Last year toward the end of summer Dennis came home with battery powered fly swatter he’d gotten on sale for $3.99 (reg. $7.99).  We sat on the porch in a warm twilight sipping margaritas and swinging at mosquitoes.  Can’t beat Harbor Freight.”

You go, girl.

Harbor Freight Tips for Your Halloween Fright Fest!

Looking for just the right spine-chilling touch to enhance your Halloween paranormal activities? Well turn off the iTombs and listen up. Harbor Freight Tools has a few suggestions:

Drill Master 80-piece Rotary Tool Kit

In the spirit of thinking outside the coffin…er…box… consider the Drill Master 80 Piece Rotary Tool Kit to carve yourself an epic jack-o-lantern! Imagine the works of art you could make out of squash-genus vegetables. Not just for pumpkins, though, this awesome tool is great for cutting, grinding, polishing, sharpening, engraving and drilling for all kinds of Halloween crafts and hobbies. Works on metal, wood, rock, plastic, wax… and your dog’s toenails– seriously!

pumpkin

Masterpiece, compliments of the Drill Master Rotary Tool Kit!

 

4 pc wood chisel set

On the other hand, if you’re more Old Skull… um… School… this 4-piece wood chisel set is an eeeeex-cellent alternative! If you love cutting into a fresh pumpkin, inhaling the rich tangy smell, and getting your hands sticky gooey whilst scooping out the guts, this would be your poison. The wood carving set cuts into the pumpkin like butter and you are able was able to control the cutting easily. This heat-treated, high carbon steel set has straight bevels and PVC handles for a comfortable grip, and come in 1″, 3/4″, 1/2″ and 1/4″ sizes.

pumpkin carving

 

hot knife

Plunge, slice and dismember foam and more, to make kooky spooky props with this crafter’s favorite–the hot knife! Harbor Freight’s 130 watt hot knife will make quick business out of cleanly cutting foam and plastic materials. It’s got a depth-adjusting sled for more control and a safety auto-off feature. Perfect for creating graveyards and carving faux pumpkins!

tombstone

Click Here for a DIY Tombstone Project!

pumpkin king

Carve the Pumpkin King with the Harbor Freight Hot Knife!

 

While this would have been an excellent tool for burning witches back in the day, we’ve got a whole different (and perhaps a slightly more PC) idea for Halloween: “aging” wood props. If you’re planning on having a casket or two lying around the yard, an rotting cemetery fence or some other “old” wood display, this propane torch is great for getting the right look. Here’s a customer video on how it works:

mini led light cropped

Since you’ll be at Harbor Freight already, you can’t leave without grabbing a handful of the popular mini LED lights. These incredible values are perfect for the little monsters to carry while trick-or-treating, and for using to showcase tombstones, limbs, nooses and ghosties back at the castle! The mini light features a knurled barrel for quality grip and an easy push-button on/off switch to illuminate the dark passages. A convenient tool for any tomb or keep one in the hearse’s glove box.

Make Harbor Freight one of your favorite haunts this Halloween! If you don’t carve your pumpkin with a low-priced Harbor Freight tool, you’re out of your gourd!

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.

Harbor Freight 2 HP Dust Collector: The Woodworker’s Favorite Tool

Opinions are like hand tools– everybody’s got them (opinions are like other things, too, but I can’t think of what they are right now).

And, like opinions, while it might vary as to which of Harbor Freight’s quality, low-priced tools customers take a shining to, the Woodworking Guys seem to share a consensus of their favorites. Like the Chicago Electric 10″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw, with its consistently smooth, precise cuts; the industrial-quality Central Machinery 10″ 13-amp Industrial Bench Table Saw, so easy to use, accurate, and works like a heavyweight champ; the uncompromising Central Machinery 2.5 HP 12″ Planer and the powerful & compact Drill Master Trim Router.

And while I could name a dozen more off the top of my head (momentary power foot switch… ), there’s no denying that– by far– the most popular Harbor Freight product for woodworkers is the Central Machinery 2 HP Industrial 5 Micron Dust Collector. This dust collector vanquishes the finest sawdust, dirt and debris like a wormhole that suddenly appears and sucks galaxies. It comes  complete with a clear bottom bag so you see what’s been collected, and four locking swivel casters making it easy to move to wherever its needed. It has a 4″ diam. intake and 4″ diam. exhaust, and comes with two collecting bags and hex wrenches. You can pick one of these babies up at your local Harbor Freight, or order them online, priced at $199.99– or with the 20% Off Coupon, make it $160!

Just to get a taste of what the woodworkers ARE saying, though, here are a few comments submitted by experienced, hardcore fans:

“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

Whether your passion is wood, metal, welding, engines, the yard– or a little of everything– you can count on Harbor Freight Tools to deliver quality, low-priced products that’ll get the job done and leave you some cash left over. Check out the deals today and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

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.

 

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?

Harbor Freight for Halloween!

In the “Thinking Outside of the Box” category, Jennifer B. of Wilmington, NC wins for ingenuity and getting into the Halloween spirit. Recently, she purchased a Drill Master 80 Piece Rotary Tool Kit to carve her jack-o-lantern, and while this picture only shows a “pumpkin in progress”, it’s so amazing right now, we can tell it’s going to be epic when it’s done (beware pumpkin-kicking punks, Jen)!

 

It’s not too late to follow Jennifer’s example– run down to your local Harbor Freight and pick up your rotary tool kit today! Imagine the works of art you could make out of squash-genus vegetables. Not just for pumpkins, though, this awesome tool is great for cutting, grinding, polishing, sharpening, engraving and drilling for all kinds of crafts and hobbies. Works on metal, wood, rock, plastic… and your dog’s toenails. Seriously!

And at such a low price, it’s just downright SCARY to pass such a deal up!

Tools for a Good Marriage

Ah, young love. My 21-year-old nephew just got married last weekend to his girlfriend of 3 years. It was a nice affair: the cake was delicious, the decor tasteful, the gift tables stacked high with juicers, crock pots, cookware, towels, bedding, crepe makers, dishes, salad tongs, fondue pots– the usual. My opinion, the kids are never going to use a lot of that stuff. It’s a pity, they don’t know what they really need. And let’s face it, the bride put the registry together. No offense, she’s not the one who’ll be going to the hardware store a dozen time later on to get tools for putting the home together.

May I make a suggestion? The next wedding you attend for a young couple (or even a not-so-young couple), go rogue on the registry and give them a tool kit. For less than $100 with a coupon, you can put together a complete set that they’ll use  all the time, maybe even for the rest of their lives. At least longer than the kettle corn maker they got.

Here are some basic tools to throw in the kit. It’ll make their lives a whole lot easier:

 

 

  1. Hammer – Nothing fancy, just a simple, sturdy claw hammer. This one from Pittsburgh has a shock-absorbent fiberglass handle that won’t splinter or split.
  2. Screwdriver Set – As you know, if you don’t have the correct-sized screwdriver, it can be a bad experience. It keeps slipping out of the slot, stripping the slot, etc. That’s why getting a set of comprehensive slot and Phillips screwdrivers is the way to go– and this 32-piece screwdriver set is perfect for whatever household job comes up.
  3. Wrench Set – Just as a screwdriver, you need just the right fitting wrench. That means you’ll want both SAE and metric on hand. This low-price 22-piece combination wrench set accommodates the most widely-used sizes and comes with a handy rack for quick access.
  4. Tape Measure – When putting up pictures and wall decor, measuring for furniture space or executing most any home improvement, you’ve got to have a tape measure on hand. Like this 30-ft. one from Harbor Freight, they’re cheap but they’re invaluable!
  5. Level - Got to make sure the family portraits are up for when the relatives come over– but you can’t do it right without a level. At $6.00, the 9″ Magnetic Torpedo Level will save you a lot of headache for vertical, horizontal and 45-degree leveling.
  6. Socket Set – A wrench set is great to have, but for some jobs a socket set is so much sweeter. Pittsburgh makes a good, long-lasting 64-piece set at a low price, which includes both SAE and metric, with 1/4″, 3/8″ and 1/2″ drive. It comes with a rugged custom carrying case for storage and transport.
  7. Screws, Nuts & Bolts - Hey, it’s at least one less trip to the store, right? Probably a number of trips– a 1,001-piece set with wood screws, sheet metal screws, nuts, bolts, washers, lock washers and cotter pins. Definitely worth the 12 bucks.
  8. Tool Box -You’ve got to get one– the ready-made gift box that keeps on giving. The 20″ Stainless Steel Toolbox from Storehouse is a Harbor Freight best buy, with a dent-proof, high-impact base, heavy-duty tray and strong rubber-grip handle. With a full-length piano hinge, two sturdy latches and a brushed steel finish, this toolbox is built to last.
  9. Cordless Drill - OK, so this isn’t going into the toolbox, but it certainly completes the set. If there’s any power tool the new couple’s going to need, it’s a cordless drill, and the low-cost Drill Master 18 Volt Cordless 3/8″ Drill With Keyless Chuck is a rugged, reliable addition to the arsenal.

So, when the top tier of the cake disappears in the freezer under some ground chuck, all the returns and re-gifting’s been done and those crazy kids go one with their lives, they’ll remember you every time there’s an outlet plate to replace or a bicycle to build, an armoire to secure to a wall or a tiki mask to hang in the bathroom… the wedding guest who had the good sense to ignore their registry.