10 Legendary Favorites from Harbor Freight Tools!

Everyone’s got their favorite tool or accessory that they got from Harbor Freight Tools. Even if nothing else in the store tickles their fancy, there’s that one thing they either love to own, or dream of getting someday.  Actually, it’s more like 20 or 30 things, but for the sake of this post, here are 10 of the Customers’ Favorite Tools from Harbor Freight:

 1. 3-Ton Low Profile Steel Heavy-Duty Floor Jack #61282

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You won’t find another deal like this classic workhorse– for the price, this baby can’t be beat! Tired of paying someone else to do your tires, brakes and rotors? The Pittsburgh 3-ton Low Profile Steel Floor Jack almost immediately pays for itself. It rolls smoothly on the garage floor, fits under the low, low show cars, lifts to almost two feet and lowers with ease. Plus, the floor jack’s dual-piston Rapid Pump technology lifts most work loads in just 3-1/2 pumps. Sells for $92.99, but you can usually find a coupon or sale on the 3-ton steel jack for even less. Read the customer reviews and you’ll be a believer, too!

2. 13-Drawer 44″ Roller Cabinet #68784

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Ask anyone and they’ll tell you, this is a real nice box. For all the sizes and types of tool chests Harbor Freight has, the U.S. General 44″ Industrial Roller Cabinet is the darling of the bunch. Sizable and sturdy enough to handle a slew of tools, yet easy to roll around the shop floor– not to mention smoothly opens and closes the drawers on ball bearing sliders– the 13-drawer tool cabinet hits the sweet spot like no other. Priced at a doable $389.99 (and that’s when it’s NOT on sale!), it’s built with the same industrial quality as other brands that go for 4-5 times as much. Comes in a glossy powder-coated red finish, guaranteed to snazz up the garage and turn the neighbors green.

3. 12-inch Double-Bevel Miter Saw with Laser #69684

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“Pleasantly surprised,” “Nice handling,” and “Holy crap, that’s sweet!” come to mind when operating the Chicago Electric 12″ Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser Guide. At $199.99, it handily surpasses all expectations with its smooth, clean cuts and precision accuracy– at a fraction of the cost you’d pay elsewhere. It cuts through lumber like butter, and will even go through old oak without chipping. And powered with an ample 15 amp motor, the 12″ miter saw will tackle any house job you’ve got to throw at it.

4. 90-Amp Flux Welder #61849

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Welding continues to be a growing hobby in this country, and the “5-star”-rated Chicago Electric 90 Amp Flux Wire Welder has been a wildly popular choice for beginners to get their feet wet. Extremely easy to start and practice with, the 90 amp welder doesn’t require gas to operate and needs only 120 volts. Great for 18 ga.- 5/16″ steel and stainless steel, it’s a great go-to tool for vehicle repairs, creating shelving brackets, making a welding cart and other structural components, trailer hitches, small welding repairs and cleaning jobs… If you’re a newbie, or just looking to do small jobs around the property, or if you’ve ever considered trying your hand at welding, this wire-feed welder is the ticket! Goes for $111.99, but like the other Harbor Freight favorites, a coupon or sale is always around to seal the deal.

5. 8750/7000W 13 HP Generator #68530

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Predator generators have built a rock-solid reputation for quality, price and staying-power, and the EPA-certified Predator 8750 Peak/7000 Running Watt, 13 HP (420cc) Generator has literally been a light in the storm for so many power-deprived families and preppers. This generator, hands-down, is the best buy for your buck. While the rest of the neighborhood struggles in darkness, this bad boy will keep the lights on, as well as the fridge, central air, big screen TV, electric water heater, etc. When you consider the motel and fast food costs you’ll be saving– or the comfort of sleeping in your own bed, cooking your own food and getting the hot showers you so love, without a hitch… the $599.99 investment is a sweet price point. But don’t believe me. Check out the reviews by the actual owners!

6. 4-pc. Ratcheting Tie Down Set #61524

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Whether you’re moving furniture, securing a kayak to your trailer, strapping gear on the roof rails, hauling timber, holding a garden tractor or ATV on the truck bed, or keeping your tool box from rattling around the back of your Jeep, these Haul-Master Ratcheting Tie-Downs are the greatest invention since sliced rope. Easily adjustable to secure loads to truck beds, roof racks and trailers, their ratchet handles make it a snap to adjust strap length and pull tight. The tie downs’ vinyl-coated S-hooks also prevent scratching on painted surfaces. At $13.99, these weather-resistant straps are an extremely popular “no-brainer add-on” for customers who come to Harbor Freight with other purchases in mind.

7. Mini Moving Dolly #61899

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Move 1,000 pounds for $11.99? That’s what we’re sayin’… cheaper than buying your buddies pizza and beer to help you move the stuff. Is it any wonder why the Haul-Master Mini Mover’s Dolly is on Harbor Freight’s Top 10 Favorite list? Save your back as you move stacks of loaded boxes, heavy machinery, engine blocks and transmissions, or furniture when the wife’s got a hankering to redecorate. The carpeted surfaces protect furniture finishes and the hard-rubber swivel casters won’t mar your floors. Did I already mention, they’re $11.99?

8. 8-Channel Surveillance DVR with 4 Cameras #61229

8-channel DVR with Cameras

A great addition for home protection, the Bunker Hill Security 8-channel DVR with 4 Cameras and Motion Detection installs easily and can be set up to monitor on your computer or smartphone, so you can keep an eye on things while you’re away! Each camera offers a wide view span with a high resolution, so you can spread them over the areas you want observed and glimpse the four shots simultaneously. It even comes with night vision to keep you apprised of any nefarious nocturnal characters that venture onto your property (imagine your neighbors’ surprise when they see their kid up to no good on Facebook). The 8-Channel Surveillance DVR set sells for $299.99, and you can often find it on sale or a coupon. You can also use the Harbor Freight 20% Off coupon. Hey, where else can you get a room with a view at such a low price?

9. 3-Gallon 100 PSI Oilless Air Compressor #61615

3 gallon 100 psi oilless air compressor

If you’re looking for a small air compressor to keep in the garage for filling tires and balls, or maybe using with a blow gun, airbrush, brad nailer or other small jobs, the Central Pneumatic 3-Gallon PSI Pancake Air Compressor is just the ticket. For an airy $59.99, this little gem is there to save your family bike trip, keep the bounce in your game and help put up the trim and Christmas lights. The fact that it’s “oilless” means less maintenance for you, and the “pancake” low-profile shape means you’ll save garage space and easy portability to wherever the air compressor is needed. How’s that for a breath of fresh air?

10. 12,000 lb. Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch #61256

12000 lb off road winch

Finally, the top ten list rounds out with the uber-popular Badland 12K Off-Road Vehicle Electric Winch with Automatic Load-Holding Brake. Smell the mud, don’t get stuck in it! This off-road winch is a veritable lifesaver in the swamp, snow, ice and that black, slimy, stinky stuff that they don’t have a name for. Awesome for trucks, ATVs, Jeeps and other 4-wheelers… even great for uprooting trees. It also comes with an incredibly handy remote for easy operation. Don’t be the bud who needs his bacon saved– save your buds’ bacon with the Badland 12K winch!

So, there you have it– the legendary favorites of the Harbor Freight Tools catalog. Chances are you already have one of them. Chances are even better that you’ve got a mind to go buy one (or four) real soon!

Forge Ahead with a Solid Cast Iron Anvil

For anyone handling metalwork or forging, an anvil is a necessary item. One of the oldest tools in existence, the anvil has had ample time for improvements and tweaks to the design. But at a certain point, you just can’t mess with perfection! And the 55 Lb. Rugged Cast Iron Anvil (Item #: 69161) from Harbor Freight Tools is a top notch forging tool for the rock bottom price of just $59.99.

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Whether it’s taking on a heavy duty job or withstanding continuous use over a long period of time, this top grade anvil holds up to the stress. Featuring a wide 8-3/4” x 4-1/8” work surface, this is the ideal anvil for creating custom work with professional-looking results.   Solid and durable, this versatile anvil is ready to take just about anything.

“I have used the anvil in leather work and I have also used it in bending and forging. You can cold-form soft metals and iron too. If you need to hammer on a cable clamp, it’s easy to do. It is portable since it is 55 pounds and it is wide enough for knifemakers and small forgings.” – by Dave from Kentucky

Need to see it in action? YouTube user Shadow Forge demonstrates how he uses the Harbor Freight Tools anvil to make railroad spikes.

And for smaller jobs, be sure to check out the 15 Lb. Rugged Cast Iron Anvil (Item #: 3999) which retails for only $19.99. This is a great anvil for hobbyists and jewelry-makers that don’t need a heavier anvil for their projects.

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“A great anvil if you are making jewelry, riveting chainmail, or working with metals of 18 gauge or lighter.” – by Nebraskan Saxon from Omaha, NE

“I love Blacksmithing and this is the best anvil I have ever worked with. The torch will not cut it and it does not wear. I rated it do-it-yourselfer but it is really professional quality.” – by “Torch” the blacksmith from Riverton, UT

Keep Hands and Tools Clean with a Handy Paper Towel Holder

Sometimes we’re in such a hurry to get to work on a project that cleanliness can take a backseat. And aside from that, it’s often just not very convenient! Well the days of spraying down your garage with a water hose or running inside for some paper towels to clean your hands are over thanks to the Magnetic Paper Towel Holder (SKU #: 69321) from Harbor Freight Tools. It might seem like a simple addition but this handy magnetic holder can save you lots of time and frustration.

 

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All you need to mount the Magnetic Paper Towel Holder is a metal surface to stick it on. The magnets secure firmly to toolboxes, cabinets and even refrigerators for easy accessibility, and the red color matches perfectly with our glossy red U.S. General Tool Storage Units. Designed as two pieces, the holder easily accommodates any size of paper towel roll. Plus, at just $8.99, this useful tool accessory is easy to fit into any tool budget as well.

“Works perfect for a paper towel holder and with the two piece setup I can see many other uses thanks to the strong magnets. The color matches my U.S. General pro tool cart too, very nice.” – by Dan from North Yarmouth, ME

“I originally bought a set for hanging paper towels on my tool cabinet. Worked great. Then I needed a magnetic hook to hang an extension cord on. After looking everywhere with no luck, it dawned on me that I could use the paper towel holder as a hook! Perfect solution. I hung 4 of them on the side of my cabinet to hold my extension cords neatly out of the way.” – by Neat freak from San Diego, CA

That’s right. Shockingly, the Magnetic Paper Towel Holder is versatile enough to holds things other than paper towels! The only limit is your imagination! Okay, and its 2 lb. weight capacity, but the point is that this tool accessory is able to help out the busy handyman in more ways than one. Head over to your local Harbor Freight store to pick one up today and make your shop or garage both cleaner and safer.

Adjustable Shade Welding Helmets to Fit Any Job

Aside from a top-notch welder, the most important welding accessory you can have is a great, reliable welding helmet. At Harbor Freight Tools, we don’t just have the best in welding protection, but also a couple of stylish designs to choose from that will help you stick out from the pack!

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For the Do-It-Yourselfer just looking for a basic helmet without any fancy artwork, the Adjustable Shade Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet (SKU #: 46092) is all you need. At just $49.99, it’s the most affordable of the welder’s helmets available and features adjustable sizing for a comfortable fit. While it’s not recommended for TIG welding, this basic welding helmet is a perfect fit for the novice welder as well as the professional for handling a variety of welding tasks.

“Works just as good, if not better, than hoods costing 3x as much. It’s great for MIG and SMAW welding. Quick changeover filter makes this a pleasure to use. I have no problem with purchasing another if this one should ever fail.” – by Phil from Louisville, KY

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If you’re the type that likes a little extra flair on their equipment, maybe step up to the Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Blue Flame Design (SKU #: 91214) for only $54.99. This welder’s helmet is suitable for TIG welding as well as MIG/flux, plasma arc welding and cutting, air carbon cutting, and stick welding. And all with the cool blue flames emblazoned on your helmet, you’ll look just as hot as the metal you’re welding!

“I asked my wife to get this for me for Christmas last year. I just got a chance to use it. It works perfectly! The adjustments to speed and sensitivity are perfect. As a former professional welder I was amazed that something so low cost could work so good. The suspension is a bit less than desired, but for the money? This is a GREAT DEAL. So, 5 stars is valid. Thanks Harbor Freight for another great deal on a tool.” – by gliverson from Boise, ID

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Need a little more flash on your gear? Then check out the Auto Darkening Welding Helmet with Racing Stripe Design (SKU #: 67854). This handsomely designed welder’s helmet is available for $59.99 and comes with a grind mode feature as well. With this mode engaged, the helmet becomes a grind shield with no shade flickering. And along with battery assistance, the helmet includes a solar powered component for added efficiency.

“Bought this at the same time when I bought the 90 amp HF flux core welder. It worked just fine and has good features. I’m glad I bought it and I’m sure I will get plenty of use out of it AND the welder. Thanks HF once again for making tools affordable for the do-it-yourselfer!!” – by Dewart Lake Tackle Company from Syracuse, IN

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For the top-of-the-line in welding helmets, you’ll want the Variable Auto-Darkening Welding Helmet with Metal Head Design (SKU #: 68782). This versatile welder’s helmet features variable sensitivity as well as adjustable delay time that can be fine-tuned for each individual project. And even this advanced helmet with its cool metallic look is only $69.99.

“A little more money but I think it’s worth it because it’s more comfortable. It looks like a more expensive helmet. The sensitivity is higher too. Had the basic helmet (the black one) 49 years . Worked great, then the batteries died but I got my money’s worth out of it. Hope this one lasts that long!” – by Dom the excavator from Pensacola, FL

Lucky for Dom, these durable helmets are made to last. So head over to your local Harbor Freight Tools store today and pick up the welder’s helmet that best suits your needs and experience! Each one of them comes with tons of features and a ridiculously low price that you’ll find only at Harbor Freight.

A Versatile Multi-Task Ladder That’s a Step Above the Rest

While it’s nice to be prepared to handle a variety of tasks, it’s not always easy. Every garage and shop should have a stepladder but not every workspace has room for a scaffold, extendable ladder and workbench as well. Besides, paying for all those items individually would add up quick! Well, that’s why Harbor Freight Tools has created the 17 ft. Type 1A Multi-Task Ladder (SKU#: 67646). And this handy shop accessory is so easy to use, you could have it changed to a different position in the time it would take you to say its name. image_8094 The 17 ft. Ladder can be put into 23 different configurations, allowing you to handle just about any job that could come up. And not only does it reconfigure to become a step ladder, extension ladder, and stairway ladder, but also a scaffold or workbench! Plus, when you’re done with the ladder for the day, it folds flat for easy storage. Just think how much room 23 separate items would take up! And at just $137.99, it won’t take up much room in your wallet either. Here are comments from a few actual customers who have gotten a leg up on their project with this multi-task ladder:

“Very easy to use, especially with the ability to extend the sides separately when used as a step ladder. This is a very sturdy ladder, one of the sturdiest aluminum ladders I have ever used. It is also very easy to adjust height and configuration. I keep one at my log cabin in the woods and one at home. I’ve had mine about 4 months with no problems at all. Are there more expensive ladders? Yes. Are there better ladders? Not that I’ve found, especially for the price.” – by Jerry from Evansville, IN

“This is a great ladder in terms of quality and price. Its solid and just as good as the other higher priced brands. You cant get this at a better price and with a discount coupon its 20% off. You can’t beat that for good quality. So if you need a multitask ladder this one is highly recommended.” – by DC from Miami

“After looking at other ladders of the same type, I had thought the prices were just too high for me to purchase until I saw this ladder in the HF sale paper. I had used all tricks in the book to work on my 10 ft high ceilings, Putting myself at great risk as I’m 71 yrs old but not anymore with this great ladder from HF!!!” – by GJ from Ringgold, GA

Sturdy, reliable, and convenient, this multi-task ladder supports up to 300 lbs. in any position so you can work efficiently and quickly from job to job. Plus, since it’s made out of super strong aircraft grade aluminum, it’s lightweight as well as durable! But this is an in-story only item so get to your local Harbor Freight location today and pick one up!

Get Additional Storage Space with the V-Shaped Hang-All

Need some extra storage space in your shop or garage but don’t know where to put it?  Set yourself up with a V-Shape Hang-All (SKU#: 68995) and you’ll free up your storage capacity without having to purchase another big tool chest!  This all-steel storage hanger from Harbor Freight Tools mounts easily to your wall with pre-drilled mounting holes and provides the perfect place to hang your hoses, rope, ladders, even bikes and much more!

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With this handy hang-all, you won’t have to find more space on the floor of your shop to store extra equipment.  You’ll still have all the room you had before but with convenient hanging space on your wall for loose ends, extra tools, or just accessories you need out of the way.  And on top of that, the items you place on the hang-all will be even more accessible than they would be if stored in a drawer or cabinet. Best of all though, this excellent storage tool comes in at just $1.99! That’s a price that can hang tough with any of the competing brands.

Of course, there are a few Harbor Freight customers who have found even more uses for the V-Shape Hang-All other than hanging tools from.  Here’s one YouTube user (Burn Barrel Media) who figured out how to use the hanger to stabilize his video camera:

Thanks for the kind words, Burn Barrel!  But when you order with Harbor Freight, shipping is a flat $6.99 except for overweight items.  And this item certainly isn’t overweight since it’s being used to help hold Burn Barrel Media’s video camera.  But he’s not the only one satisfied with his purchase:

“I have hung about 12 of these out in my little work shop and have about 10 in reserve. I couldn’t ask for an easier to install hanger that afford a lot of space. I usually pick them up during a sidewalk sale or promotional ad and buy them on the cheap. Have a very nice finish with protector boots on the ends. Can mount with 2 or 4 screws depending on the weight factor. Very nice and another HFT winner!” – by Old Devil Dog from Longview, WA

“I’ve used these as guitar and bass stands, either mounted on a wall or mounted on a home-made rack for multiple guitars and basses. This beats paying ten times as much for a real guitar stand at musical instrument stores. Best to wait for these to go on sale and stock up if you have several guitars and basses in your jam space, garage, studio, or store.” – by Magengar from Rensselaer, NY

“Used this for hanging air hose but it is strong enough to hang 50+ pounds of weight. I have seen similar hangers at other stores that are made of flimsy, thin metal and they are useless. These are strong and well made.” – by mechanicDave from Kentucky

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As you can see, this awesome hang-all really does hang just about anything!  From tools and hoses to instruments and more, this steel hanger is just as versatile as its name implies.  Wherever you need extra space, the V-Shape Hang-All is ready to be mounted and to hold up to 44 lbs. of your stuff. Easy to use and inexpensive, the Hang-All is the ideal way to store a multitude of items!

 

A Light for Under the Cabinet… and Just About Anywhere Else

Sometimes you need extra light in spaces that aren’t really set up for it. Maybe… under the cabinet, for example? That’s why Harbor Freight Tools carries the Four Head, 12 LED Under-Cabinet Light (SKU# 96794)! But don’t let that fool you. This convenient, easy-to-install light set-up is more versatile than its name implies. It works just as well inside the closet, over the bed, above a shelf, or many other places where you could use some additional visibility. And at just $10.29 each, the only thing you won’t be seeing is red.

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Each of the four adjustable heads includes three white LEDs that last up to 100,000 hours each. So if you’re worried about having to replace them often, you can rest assured that these lamps are made to last. All you need is six AAA batteries (sold separately) and a spot to brighten up! Whether it’s the closet, the work space, the kitchen, the bookshelf, or, yes even the cabinet, the Four Head, 12 LED Under-Cabinet Light is the easy, affordable way to illuminate dark corners and dim areas. But, if you’re still in the dark about this item, check out a few glowing reviews from actual customers:

“I bought it to see if it would work in a trailer project I plan to start soon. I ended up mounting it up above my tool box as it sits in a darker corner of my garage. It works perfect. The adjustable light angles make covering a larger area easy. I plan on buying many more for my trailer project.” – by Trout Slayer from New Mexico

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“I bought one of these to use under my hutch to illuminate my home office desk. This thing is great. I can aim each individual lamp where I want light and it gives off a cool glow. It really sets a great mood in my office. The only thing I would add is the ability to use an A/C adapter but I suppose I could splice one in myself. The battery life seems great so far too.” – by Tim the Runner from Cross Lanes, WV

“I use these lights running off a 12v system using Harbor Freight’s “Universal USB 12 Volt Adapter” as a 12v to 5v converter. I have 2 of these and have been running them for over a year. Cheaper LEDs have burnt out but these have had no problems even though they are still pretty inexpensive. The adjustable heads are nice and they look more professional than the DIY projects I’ve tried. Light color is cool/blueish, but that’s to be expected from a LED light.” – by Rick’s Fork from Fort Collins, CO

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No longer will you have to strain your eyes as you hunt around blindly for dropped items or the right tool. And it’s also great for saving a couple bucks on your electricity bill by having a light for a small space so you won’t have to turn on the big light every time. What could be better than an item that helps you see and saves you money??

Keep Fenders Clean and Scratch-Free While You Work!

Whether you’re a professional mechanic or an at-home auto enthusiast, you know how important it is to keep things clean and organized. At least as much as possible anyway. And when you’re working under the hood, things can get messy. That’s why Harbor Freight Tools has you (and your fender) covered with the heavy duty Fender Cover Work Mat. With this handy accessory draped over your fender and work area, you’ll not only keep grease and oil off your vehicle but scratches too. And at just $9.99 each, you won’t be spending a lot of scratch to get it!

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This tough, durable mat fits right over your fender and stays put for as long as you need it to with four covered magnets.  And the vinyl surface is simple to clean and wipe so there’s no lingering mess.  The underside is made of nylon to improve longevity and makes this excellent fender cover mat a must-have accessory for any auto worker! Just see what one satisfied customer has to say:

“If you do any under hood work on cars or trucks this is a lifesaver. Stop from accidental scratches or spilling chemicals (like brake fluid or coolant) on the finish of your car or truck while working on them to save money. Plus, with this cover you won’t scratch the car with your belt buckle or tools that drop. Work better with more confidence w/o worrying about the finish of the car.” – by Big Bad Dad from Bellingham, WA

Obviously Big Bad Dad loves his cars. And for anyone else who loves cars, you want to keep them damage free and clean, even while you’re repairing them. So don’t leave the smoothness of your car’s finish up to chance! Pick up a Fender Cover Work Mat from Harbor Freight and keep your work area clean!

Dig This Towable Ride-On Trencher

Digging a trench is heavy duty work!  Which is why you need a heavy duty tool to get the job done right.  Enter the Towable Ride-On Trencher from Harbor Freight Tools.  This machine lets you dig trenches up to 8 feet deep with ease and quickness. And with the attached padded seat, you’ll do it in comfort too.  Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a veteran do-it-yourselfer, this trencher is a workhorse that will save you time, money and hassle by providing reliable results and pinpoint accuracy. image_18941 The sheer number of tasks that this machine can accomplish will surprise you too.  Sure, it’s made to dig trenches but the machine does more than just that.  Replace drain field lines, dig up bothersome tree stumps, or just dig a hole for a septic line.  It’s all possible with the Towable Ride-On Trencher.  And even if that 3 Tooth Trencher Bucket wears out after putting in its time, a replacement trencher bucket is available through Harbor Freight for just $250. image_13124

“This little devil can grip and rip! I purchased it in 2008 and thought I’d kill it off by now. It has a well-balanced design that allowed me to walk it out in soft tidal muck and back out again. Engine always starts easy. An incredible bargain. I’m sorely tempted to buy another one since they are on sale.” – by Greg from Florida “I am so glad I talked myself into purchasing this trencher. I have gotten so much use out of it in just the 2 weeks I have had it. I’ve dug a couple holes in hard ground for the trees my wife bought and I have used it to clear out a bunch of brush.” – by Skoalmt from Eureka, Ca “We have had this trencher for over 7 years and keep finding new uses every day. We have used it for everything from stump removal to digging out footers. Friends and family always want to borrow it and we have no problem letting them since we know it will get the job done. I wish that we had an hour meter on it to prove the amount of use we have gotten:  500 + hours.” – by Brian from Allentown, Pa

This incredible trenching machine gives you the power you need to handle big digging jobs quickly and easily.  A 9 horsepower industrial engine powers the hydraulic pump so you know you’re getting all the leverage you need as you dig up to 7 feet deep.  Plus, with the included hitch coupler, you can easily hook the trencher up to your pickup truck for added portability.  Now you can work without breaking your back OR the bank!  Pick up this behemoth machine for just $2,499.99 and find out for yourself why everyone is raving about the Towable Ride-On Trencher.

Low Cost Auto Restoration Tools

dazed chevelle Remember back, driving your parents’ station wagon or sensible Buick, dreaming of the cool wheels beyond your reach? Cherry Bomb and header and 4-barrel carb were part of our vernacular, just not part of our lives. It’s funny how, now as we get older, we can do all the cool stuff we wanted to do when we were punk teenagers. We were car crazy, man, 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 WORKED on them. They probably borrowed their dads’ tools, saved up working shit jobs to get parts and supplies, and spent Satyurdays doing whatever 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 the dream– 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 rewards for years to come. But before we start doing that victory lap, to “Eye of the Tiger,” 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 doing 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 for your arsenal. Between the Die GrinderPaint Sprayer and Impact Wrench, you’ll get a lot of use out of it and, believe me, you’ll thank yourself every time you facea 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. Air power, man… it’s a bacon-saver.

Engine Work 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 necessary for removing stripped, rusted and otherwise stubborn head studs, as well as exhaust & intake manifold studs. Another tool you cannot live without is the Torque Wrench—two, actually. Get both a 1/2″ drive and 3/8″ drive for your tool cabinet. These are essential to torque all your bolts to factory specs. 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.

Body Work 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. A Spot Weld Cutter works great in restoration projects and does just what its name implies. Also, a Plumber’s Torch is great for softening and shaping metal. 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.

Additional Work Make sure you include various Brake Tools, a Tubing Bender and brake flare tool. Finally, get a CreeperPaint StripperTransmission JackDent 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.

gremlin Now, get out there and make that Gremlin Funny Car a reality!