Tags: power tools

Oscillating Multifunction Power Tool

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

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com/HFRreviews.html

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.

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Novel Uses

08/02/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Announcements, Novel Uses

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Not being a carpenter, machinist, tradesman, or formally trained in the use of any of these items sometimes has its advantages. When browsing through Harbor Freight™ I often survey the shelves thinking, "I wonder what that's good for?”This sometimes leaves me thinking so far outside the box that I didn't even know that it normally comes in a box. And this can lead to discovering novel uses of an item, usually not very earthshaking but occasionally rather interesting.

To celebrate “thinking outside the box” a new category is added that explores novel uses for some Harbor Freight™ products. This category is provided to make it easier for those who like to browse these reviews. Don’t expect much and you won’t be disappointed, but occasionally you might just find an interesting idea, perhaps something even useful. Just click on “Novel Uses” found under Categories on the right-hand column and skim through the possible uses of various items that were not their original intended purpose. Be sure to click on “All” under Categories and “reset filters” to insure that your subsequent viewing will include all of the reviews and not just those from the “Novel Uses” category.

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4 x 36" Belt/6" Disc Bench Top Sander

07/23/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Power Tools, Woodworking

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Bench Top Sander
Item: 4 x 36"/6" Disc Sander
Item number: 93981
Retail price: $99.99
Regular sale price: $79.99
Target price: $59.99 (with coupon)
Best price: $49.99 (with coupon)

A stationary (AKA bench top) sander is a great addition to anyone's shop who does any amount of carpentry or woodworking. At the target price, it's very affordable for even occasional use. This sander uses 4 x 36" belts and optional 6" discs. The latter even includes a miter gauge for angled shaping and sanding.

If you're not familiar with bench top sanders, be a bit careful with this one. With a 1/2-hp motor it will reduce your pieces of wood down to the WRONG shape faster than you can say "oops" (see insert below). And of course, like all power tools, keep your hands, hair (for those with long hair), shirt sleeves, etc. well away from the moving surfaces especially any exposed pulleys or gear shafts.

When using the disc to even out (i.e., "square") long pieces of wood, be careful to take the wood stock down slowly. Otherwise, you will find that each 6" sanded section is smaller than the section that you were trying to match. I find it best to GENTLY slide the long stock back-and-forth across the sanding disc, constantly checking the working portion against the reference section on the piece. More than once I've been impatient trying to even out an irregular shape and over 'cut' the stock off the higher end of the piece.

We waited quite awhile for this item to hit our target price (observed on-sale once earlier), but when it did we were quite happy with this addition to our home shop. It greatly simplifies sanding and shaping pieces for a lot of our projects. Be sure to take the time to set this sander up properly as you assemble it. Adjust the belt tension as necessary to insure it runs straight, and square up the adjustable table and miter gauge with a steel or aluminum square. Otherwise, you could find yourself hastily sanding a piece before it's really ready to use (You'll be surprised how soon you can find use for this tool.).

Bottom line: A great buy at the target price for anyone doing woodwork.

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12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser Guide (#96698/98194)

07/19/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Power Tools, Woodworking

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Electric Miter Saw
Item: 12" Sliding Compound Miter Saw with Laser Guide
Item number: 96698/98194
Retail price: $199.99
Target price: $129.99
Best price: $109.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

I was probably "the last kid on the block" to learn this, but the real reason many homeowners would find this type of saw valuable is for making simple right-angle cuts that are straight and true. Forget the complex, reverse-angle miter cuts, simply cutting a 2 x 4" or better yet a 4 x 4" quickly and cleanly makes this saw a great investment. And if you actually learn to miter, well, that's cool enough to impress even the spouse with your Harbor Freight purchase. In fact, s/he may have you adding crown molding throughout your home if you're able to master this skill.

The saw has plenty of power with a 15-amp motor that rips through stock up to 4" x 12-3/16" at 90° and 8-1/4" x 2-1/8" at 45°. The unit is light enough to move easily which means it really needs to be attached to a table through its four mounting holes to make it stable. We've only completed preliminary tests with this saw, but thus far it feels a bit more 'stiff' than expected and therefore requires some deliberate thought before cutting. Perhaps this is good considering that you're operating a 4,300 rpm 12" blade almost in your lap. (Hum, what would Dr. Freud have to say about this?) The dust bag is basically worthless, so keep the shop vac nearby.

Hint: Don't expect this miter saw to cut straight and true right out of the box. You have to carefully square it as described in the instructions--then, let'er rip.

The saw is noisy and several online reviewers have complained or expressed concerns about its durability. Others, however, report no problems after a couple of years' use. Our initial assessment is that it should suffice for home or limited small-shop use and therefore is a great investment (when bought at the target price or lower) if only for making simple cuts quickly and squarely. The one-year warranty should be more than sufficient to weed out any lemons that might be unloaded at the dock, and any professional carpenter that keeps a $109.99 (current best price with coupon) miter saw running for a year has gotten a very good deal.

FYI for the novice user: don't be intimidated by the "sliding compound" description. "Sliding" simply means that the saw blade is on a pair of rails that permits it to slide across the table easily cutting boards slightly over 12" wide (and 4" thick with a 12" blade), while the compound descriptor simply means that it can cut at multiple angles concurrently (i.e, angled and beveled at the same time). You probably won't use this last feature until you need complex miter cuts (never?), but the additional width gained by the "sliding" feature can be a lifesaver (e.g., can quickly and squarely cut a 4 x 12" board).

Bottom line: A good, acceptable-quality saw for most work around the home or small shop. Perhaps not really in the same league as the expensive big name miter saws, but then the price isn't either. A great (almost must-have) investment for the DIY homeowner.

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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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