Category: Power Tools

Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool

08/29/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Power Tools


Multifunction Power Tool
Item: Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool
Item number: 67256
Retail price: $59.99
Frequent sale price: $39.99 (with coupon)
Best price: $29.99 (special 3-day sale)
Target price: $34.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

This is another review that we're posting too early, before we've had a chance to really evaluate the tool. But because one of our main purposes here at Harbor Freight Reviews is to help our readers save money and to get the maximum bang-for-the-buck possible and because this item is currently available at its rock bottom lowest price, we're posting this "review" primarily as a price advisory. Be aware that Harbor Freight currently has three or more different coupons valid for this item, selling it for at least three difference prices. If you're an experienced Harbor Freight shopper or have read our Notes for the Novice Shopper: Everything has Three Prices commentary you already know that this is standard practice at Harbor Freight. We love'm, but they do make shopping a challenge for us 'maximizers' who strive to get the lowest price ever possible for each item.

Harbor Freight is currently offering this tool during their 3-day tent sale for $29.99; hurry, the sale lasts through 29 August (hence our hasty post). You should be able to combine this 3-day sale price with a 20%-off coupon grabbing this tool for only $23.99. The next best price is $34.99 at their retail outlets with a coupon which has been sent out in a flier and which is also available online here (valid through 16 September). Any of these three prices get you a great deal on this fine tool. They are also selling this tool with a $39.99 coupon to the unwary.

Other online reviews and comments are generally very favorable for this tool. It does perform an amazing array of tasks with the various attachments included or available for purchase from Harbor Freight. We've only used the semicircular cutting attachment so far to cut through thick, hard nylon. We had to make deep cuts recessed into the piece and the tool performed this task well which would have been impossible with most any other tool.

This multifunction tool packs quite a bit of power in a small package, so you should expect some vibration and heating as you power through your project. Take breaks frequently while working, not just for yourself to recover from the vibration and hand fatigue but also for the tool to cool down a bit. Keep your hand away from the air vents in the front of the tool which are necessary to dissipate the heat generated by its motor. And of course keep your fingers and other body parts away from the working end -- it does cut very well.

Oscillating tools such as this multifunction tool oscillate and that produces a lot more vibration that what you get with most hand-held power tools. Be careful to take frequent breaks to avoid stress injuries while working with the tool. And as noted above, the tool likes an occasional break too.

OK, we're just beginning to test out this tool and we even have more to say that time permits now, but the sale is ending soon so we have to post our comments. (The 3-day tent sale ends 29 August, but the coupon is valid through 16 September albeit the tool cost more then.) Harbor Freight allows customers to return items within 30 days of purchase and we should have further tests completed and posted by then. If not, well, you're performing your own tests with this tool and they are usually the most reliable opinion for your purposes.

Bottom line: Get them while their hot (oh, a very bad pun if you've read our review :roll:) at their best ever price. Harbor Freight's oscillating multifunction tool is a must have item for all home workshops.


Bench Grinder with Flex Shaft

08/16/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Power Tools


Miniature Bench Grinder
Item: Bench Grinder with Flex Shaft
Item number: 43533
Retail price: $39.99
Frequent sale price: $24.99
Target price: $20 or less
Item Link

We like the item but we don't like the price -- not even on sale. Use a 20%-off coupon to bring the price down to $19.99 and we'll rate it a great buy putting it our Hot Buys list. Pay the higher frequent sale price of $24.99 if you must (i.e., you have an immediate need for the item and can't find a coupon), but expect $20's worth of service. (Actually, you'll get more value than this, but keep your expectations low, please.) And don't even think about paying the full retail price of $39.99 or you might be very disappointed and complaining about the quality of Harbor Freight tools.

Hint: Part of the trick with Harbor Freight tools is buying them at the right price. Then you shouldn't expect as much out of them as you would if you paid the full retail price which is often inflated. Their tools are overall good-value-for-the-money, but you have to buy them 'right' using our target prices as a guide. Then you'll find that you usually get much more than your money's worth.

This is actually quite a nice, small, bench grinder (borderline miniature, but then there's that "theory of relativity" again). It has a 3" grinding stone and a 3" fiber wheel with variable speeds up to 10,000 rpm. It also has a 31" flex-shaft attachment which accepts Dremel-style accessories. (Both of our evaluation models were missing their flex shafts. Therefore, we were unable to test this component, but we did note that many display and return units were lacking this attachment.) It's absolutely great for working on small parts and has a correspondingly small footprint on your workbench. The variable speed control is an especially nice feature, allowing speed adjustment appropriate to the work. The flex shaft can be very handy, although it's likely to be prone to failure and won't last nearly as long as the grinder itself. In short, we love this little grinder and use it frequently for our electronic and other prototyping.

Even at the frequent sale price of $24.99, it's a good value. Our expectations for Harbor Freight are somewhat higher. We think the normal retail price should be around $24.99 (maybe $29.99) and the sale price should be $19.99 (i.e, our target price). We come to expect good-quality tools at ridiculously low prices from Harbor Freight, and they just need to nudge this one down a notch or two more to make us happy shoppers. Keep those 20%-off coupons coming and you (Harbor Freight) make the grade on this one too.

"Give them an inch and they'll want a mile." Harbor Freight management is probably thinking their prices are already very low and we at Harbor Freight Reviews want an even better deal. Well, they're right. Harbor Freight tools are generally good-value-for-the-money, but we've come to expect "good-quality tools at ridiculously low prices" (seems we've read something like that in their mission statement). Keep the prices low and we'll keep buying -- and so the wheels of capitalism spin. Play hardball if you must with your Chinese suppliers, Harbor Freight; there's plenty of profit in the deal for everyone and the consumer can still win big time too!

Bottom line: A good buy at our target price which is 20% lower than Harbor Freight's usual sale price; lucky you have a 20%-off coupon to apply to this item when on-sale. Don't have a 20%-off coupon? You should click here to read Notes for the Novice Shopper.


4-Piece Nesting Toolbox Set

08/06/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Power Tools


4-Piece Nesting Toolbox Set
Item: 4-Piece Nesting Toolbox Set
Item number: 03721 (3721-HHH)
Regular retail price: $29.99
Frequent sale price: $24.99
Target price: $19.99 (with 20%-off coupon)
Item Link (not available for online purchase; check your local retail outlet)

This is one of the few items that we're reviewing that is not available from Harbor Freight™ online. Check with your Harbor Freight outlet to see if it's available locally. Our store has been carrying this item on a regular basis, and it's frequently on-sale for our target price. Don't fret if you can't find it, it's not one of the best buys at Harbor Freight but it does serve a purpose.

Our usual vision of a toolbox by its very nature is a heavy-duty item. It totes around lots of heavy tools (e.g., all of those socket sets and wrenches weight a ton), is subjected to abuse (e.g., dropping, piling on of other toolboxes), and can create quite a mess if it fails (e.g., flops open from a broken latch). In our everyday routine there would seem to be little use for a light-duty set of toolboxes, but alas, there is indeed a niche to be filled by this 4-piece set from Harbor Freight.

We use the smaller toolboxes in this set to carry tools for specialized work such as home electrical maintenance, soldering, and automotive electrical repairs. The larger two toolboxes work well to carry power tools such as electric drills and power sanders. We have one used for a corded electric drill complete with accessories and another used for an electric sander complete with sandpaper. We don't really care that this set nests one inside the other. After all, we use toolboxes for storing things not as things to be stored. (I suppose it does make it easy to carry the set home.)

Our moderate-priced Craftsman™ variable speed power drill from the 1970s (corded, of course) is still running strong and was purchased in the days when only the more expensive tools came with an injection molded case. The larger toolbox in this set works well to carry our corded drill along with its accessories such as a full set of drill bits, nut drivers, and even a sanding disc and wire wheel set. All of this fits neatly in the larger box with room leftover for an extension cord and flashlight.

How well do we like this set? Well, we've purchased two different sets on two different occasions. Even after the latch on the smaller box broke after light use we still considered this set worthy of buying a second set. We only buy when the set is on-sale for $24.99 and on our second purchase combined that sale with a 20%-off coupon landing our toolbox set for only $19.99 which is where we consider this a real deal.

Be well advised that this is a light-duty set of toolboxes. Yes, some might consider this a medium-duty set, but let's not digress again on a discussion of light-duty versus medium-duty and the theory of relativity. Just consider it a light-duty set and you won't be disappointed. In any case, don't overload or otherwise abuse this set or it will seek its revenge upon you by falling apart (e.g., broken latch) at the least opportune moment (e.g., carrying your tools over rough terrain on a dark night). But then again, if you're light enough you might get by with using the larger box as a stool once-in-awhile (not recommended) but don't even think about using it to gain that extra couple of inches necessary to reach a high spot where you're drilling unless you're trying to break a leg. (Hum, do you now understand why we usually consider toolboxes to be acceptable only in their heavy-duty form? ;))

Bottom line: A good buy for the right guy. If you can use several light-duty tool boxes, this set from Harbor Freight is a great value.


Aluminum Rafter Angle Square

07/31/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Power Tools, Novel Uses, Measurement


Aluminum Square
Item: Aluminum Rafter Angle Square
Item number:7718
Retail price: $3.99
Frequent sale price: $1.99
Target price: $1.99
Item Link

What can we say about a 7 1/4" aluminum square? Well, that it's great for 'squaring up' your miter saw, bench-top sander, drill press, woodworking band-saw, and other power tools that have tables and miter gauges. And if you find other uses for it, well, you've more than gotten your money's worth for this thick (as in won't bend easily) aluminum square at Harbor Freight's frequent sale price of $1.99. What you won't do is draw straight lines: the gradations are etched into the aluminum edge of the rule in a manner that creates dips along the edge, thus preventing drawing smooth straight lines. Too bad, otherwise this small square is perfect. But at $1.99 it's a great buy just for checking the alignment of the tables on your bench power tools (You do that, don't you?), and if you actually use it for making rafters, so much the better.

Bottom line: If you own bench-top power tools, you need this handy little item to check their alignment.


12-Volt Electric Winch

07/28/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Outdoor Living, Power Tools, MoHo/RV, Novel Uses


12-Volt Electric Portable Winch
Item: 12-Volt Electric Winch
Item number: 39997
Retail price: $59.99
Frequent sale price: $49.99
Target price: $39.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

Rarely do we post an item which hasn't been thoroughly reviewed by us, but this winch is referenced in our commentary on The Poor Man's Toad and therefore we're relaying our initial impressions. We'll revise this "review" after we've fully evaluated the product.

This little gem mounts on your hitch ball and then winches up to 6000 lbs. from up to 30 feet away. There's probably a lot of uses for this type of portable winch (the only product on the market that we're aware of filling this niche), but one of the uses that really excites us is for lining up your toad to your motor home before hitting the road (see our description in The Poor Man's Toad). The winch should be capable of pulling most medium-sized vehicles and it's certainly adequate for our favorite toad, the Jeep Wrangler. It will also pull a maximum of 2,000 lbs. of dead weight, but in any case it's a slow go with a pulling speed of less than 2 ft. per minute.

Bottom line: Probably a great buy for a portable 12-volt electric winch, but we haven't yet completed our evaluation. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we don't get burned posting positive comments about this item before we've fully evaluated it.


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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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