Category: Hand Tools

12-Inch Tool Bag

08/24/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Storage/Organization


Canvas-Style Tool Bag
Item: 12" Tool Bag
Item number: 38168
Retail price: $9.99
Frequent sale price: $6.99
Target price: $3.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

This canvas-style tool bag is a steal at our target price of $3.99. It's great for transporting tools to the job, stowing tools and other accessories in your vehicle, or organizing small power tools such as drills, grinders, and multifunction tools. Don't expect any real padding or other protection for its contents, but you are rewarded for your purchase with 8 outer pockets and 15 inner pockets for organizing your stuff. The solid bottom helps it keep its shape when partially full, and the durable 600-Denier nylon material guarantees years of service from this sturdy bag. We carry one in our van to stow our triple ball trailer hitch, ratchet tie-downs, lashing straps, and other accessories we sometimes use for towing plus a few small tools. Sorry, but our mover's blankets don't fit along with the other stuff.

Bottom line: This Harbor Freight Denier nylon tool bag is a steal at our target price. Its soft-sided construction doesn't provide any real protection for your contents, but it does have a fine assortment of small pockets inside and out.


Three-Way Tacker Staple Gun Kit

08/22/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys


Heavy-Duty Stapler
Item: Three-Way Tacker Staple Gun Kit
Item number: 96755
Retail price: $9.99
Frequent sale price: $6.99
Best price: $5.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $6.99
Item Link

A good price for a decent quality tool. The stapler is pretty much the same as other heavy-duty industrial-type staplers with a spring-loaded slide strip magazine. It shoots standard and U-shaped staples and 3/8" brads. The depth is adjustable by a knob located on the top of the stapler. The spring action is very stiff when set to the maximum depth, but then the staples are driven very hard into the material. In fact, it can drive the staples into the material considerably harder than most similarly appearing and comparably priced staplers. Pressing the handle sets a strong internal spring which releases when the handle has reached the end of its cycle -- boom, the staple has landed.

If you are doing a lot of stapling, you may want to invest in an electric or air stapler because this manual stapler can fatigue your hand pretty quickly on a large project that requires maximum stapling pressure. For the young, macho type or for the slow, methodical type, this stapler may get you through the day. But for us older folks tackling a big project, the pressure required to operate this stapler becomes very tiring after awhile.

Hint: If you are doing a lot of light stapling, it would save considerable hand fatigue if you adjust the depth setting appropriately. More stapling pressure equals more depth but produces more hand fatigue. Those of us who like to always run every tool at its maximum are well advised to remember this hint. Even staplers costing two to three-times this much do not usually have a pressure adjustment, and thus many of us are likely to ignore this important feature.

The kit includes 1000 standard and round staples and 500 brads. The information available online at indicates that this tool is covered by their lifetime warranty; there is no warranty information in the product manual. However, watch for a warranty sheet inserted into the box and be advised that the printed warranty on some similar tools has been limited to 90 days, conflicting with Harbor Freight's online information for the same product.

Bottom line: A good price on a heavy-duty stapler which is flexible enough to shoot two types of staples and even brads. Watch for it to go on sale at our target price.


33-Piece Security Bit Set

08/21/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys


Security Bit Set
Item: 33-Piece Security Bit Set
Item number: 93388
Retail price: $7.99
Frequent sale price: $4.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $4.99
Item Link

Whether you do home repairs on electronic devices and appliances or you simply scrap defective items out for interesting parts, you've probably encountered odd-type screw heads that impede your progress in even opening the case. These unusual screw-head styles are collectively termed "security" screws and they're used to prevent consumers from tampering with a company's product, thus preventing what are usually vein attempts to repair or modify the device yourself. By the time I'm tearing apart a case I'm no longer a consumer; I'm a pirate plundering the item for any useful parts, and there are always useful parts. (Click here to read our commentary on recycling used equipment and salvaging parts.)

Some manufactures seem intent on keeping customers from opening their products. The use of those annoying so-called "security" screws is easily defeated with this inexpensive set from Harbor Freight. Buy one just for the satisfaction of knowing they can't keep you out of the product YOU bought and paid for!

The set includes spanner, torque, star, tri-wing, and hex bits of various sizes including metric. All of the bits are neatly organized in a form-fitted case for easy transport and quick identification. Most of these you'll probably never use, but the set is well worth the price just for the one odd bit that you need for your project. At our low target price, this is another buy-before-you-need-it item to keep on hand for that screw or bolt that would otherwise impede your repair or salvage project.

Bottom line: This security bit set is a great buy for the next time you encounter one of those odd-looking screws while trying to dissemble an electronic device or home appliance. The 33 pieces pretty much have you covered with the most commonly used styles.


8-Piece Right Angle Screwdriver

08/19/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys


Right-Angle Screwdriver Set
Item: 8-Piece Right-Angle Screwdriver
Item number: 92630
Retail price: $4.99
Frequent sale price: $3.99
Target price: $3.99
Item Link

This is another infrequently used item but a real lifesaver when you need it (assuming you have it!). Harbor Freight's regular retail price is low enough to make this a great buy even when not on sale. On sale for our target price it's even better, and if you must, you could reduce it another 20% to $3.19 but then you would be almost stealing it (That's too cheap and we don't want these guys to go out of business.). Buy one; tuck it away in your toolbox (along with your other 'weird' tools) for the day that you need it. At our low target price you'll be glad you bought it ahead and don't have to make the trip to the store (presuming you have a local Harbor Freight outlet) just to remove a couple of screws.

Everyone who does home repairs or shop work should have one of these right-angle screwdriver sets. You probably won't use it often, but the day you do it's worth a lot more than the few dollars you've invested. And if you have it around, you may even find other times that it's an easier approach to removing a screw or two.

This tool is very simply designed and well made. It merits at least a medium-duty rating by anybody's standards and we would probably go the whole 9 yards rating it as heavy duty. The reason we do this is because it IS very well made and also because this tool is likely to be capable of withstanding all of the pressure you can apply at a 90-degree angle (otherwise, why are you using it?). The set has 7 different bits including Phillips, slotted, and hex heads and requires only 1" of clearance. The ratcheting mechanism is quite strong and you're not going to bend this handle without using a torque bar and that's cheating.

This is the kind of deal that makes Harbor Freight invaluable (that's one of those contrary sounding words that actually means uniquely valuable, peerless, etc.). The Craftsman right-angle driver retails for $9.99 and only has 4 bits; undoubtedly it's a quality item. The Lisle right-angle screwdriver set sold by Sears sells for even more at $16.99. At the Craftsman or Lisle prices, many of us wouldn't buy this as a "might use" or "use once" tool. Enter Harbor Freight -- the Harbor Freight right-angle driver cost less than half the price of the Craftsman and does the job just as well. At this price, many of us will buy one (on sale) and throw it in our toolboxes for the day we might need it, and then be very thankful we did.

Before I purchased this right-angle screwdriver set I had wrestled with a blind screw or two using a flex-shaft screwdriver. Wow, what a difference. When I finally used the right-angle screwdriver for the first time I was amazed at how much easier it was and frustrated with myself that I hadn't discovered this handy little (and inexpensive) tool earlier. Buy one; you'll like it.

Bottom line: A great buy on a specialized tool that's good to have on hand for occasional use. Catch it on sale at our target price and it's a steal.


24" Aluminum Bar Clamp

08/16/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Woodworking


Aluminum Bar Clamp
Item: 24" Aluminum Bar Clamp
Item number: 38183
Retail price: $9.99
Frequent sale price: $5.99
Target price: $4.99 (use a 20%-off coupon)
Item Link

This bar clamp is sturdy enough to put some serious pressure on your work, yet reaches 24" and has a quick release. Bought at our target price, this item is only a little more than the plastic ratchet-style clamps that many people are abusing by trying to over tighten. This metal clamp is what's needed for gluing furniture and other projects that require stronger pressure than what the plastic clamps were designed for providing. Use the right tool for the project and "no worries."

We love our 12" ratchet-style clamps and use them for a lot of work around the home and shop. They're suitable for light gluing or for holding aligned boards together while drilling. They've very lightweight and quickly tighten and loosen. For the heavier work, we use a heavier tool -- this aluminum bar clamp is for projects that require more pressure (e.g., most furniture repairs). It weights a bit more and is noticeably slower tightening (uses a screw mechanism instead of a ratchet), but that's the cost of a more heavy-duty tool needed for a 'larger' project.

The aluminum clamp is lightweight and easy to use. For larger projects, it comes in 36-, 48-, and 56-inch sizes. We don't do a lot of woodworking or furniture repair, so it sees little use in our shop. But when it's needed, it's needed. At the low target price it's inexpensive enough to keep on hand even for occasional use.

Bottom line: A good-quality aluminum bar clamp, priced right when on sale at Harbor Freight. Also available in sizes up to 54" for those larger projects.


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This review and discussion forum was created for those of us who love Harbor Freight(tm). It's well known to those who frequent the store that the prices are always cycling up and down, and most of us usually accept it as a personal challenge to get the lowest price possible. It's also well appreciated that some products at Harbor Freight are good, even very good, but that many others are also substandard, yes, even junk. This review and discussion forum is dedicated to the savvy Harbor Freight shopper and is intended to provide some guidance to the best and the worse buys. Similar products from other retailers will also be reviewed from time-to-time. Please be advised that everyone's experience is unique, and what works well (or doesn't work at all) for the reviewers here may or may not suit your personal needs. With this caveat and with notification that Harbor Freight Reviews assumes no liability for the accuracy of information provided here for educational purposes, enjoy the forum and good 'sa(i)ling' at Harbor Freight!


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