12" Combination Square Set

08/01/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Measurement

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

12-inch Combination Square
Item: 12" Combination Square Set
Item number: 92471
Retail price: $7.99
Frequent sale price: $5.99
Target price: $4.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

This review is more of a price advisory than a real evaluation of the product. An unadvised shopper should easily walk into the store and pay full price for this item if they weren't aware that it can often be purchased for half of the normal retail price. If you think you might use it, buy it while it's on sale for half the normal retail price.

We normally remove two of the slides and keep only the 90-degree arm on this tool. We use it to draw simple, perpendicular lines on wood and other material. We've reattached the protractor a few times and used it to draw angled lines. It too seems to work very well, securely locking the desired settings. Unlike the aluminum angle rafter square which has gradations etched into the drawing surface, this combination square makes perfectly smooth lines. We still like the rafter square for 'squaring up' our machinery, but this is the tool for measuring and drawing small lines. For drawing perpendicular lines on larger pieces, we use Harbor Freight's 16 x 24" steel square which can be found on-sale for as little as $4.99.

Hint: We use this combination square far less since we've purchased a 12" sliding compound miter saw (click here for the review). The miter saw cuts perfectly perpendicular cuts without having to draw out the cut-line first on the work piece. This is much quicker and more accurate than when we use to draw a perpendicular line on a board and then cut it with a handsaw or with a hand-held power saw. Of course there are materials not suitable for cutting with our miter saw and we still use this combination square on occasion.

Bottom line: A good, inexpensive combination square which locks firmly and has clear, smooth gradations for marking work pieces. Buy it on-sale for half its normal retail price.


Clear-Lens Halogen Lights

08/01/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Lighting, MoHo/RV, Novel Uses

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Halogen Automobile Lights
Item: Clear-Lens Halogen Lights (pair with 15A fuse & switch)
Item number: 37249
Retail price: $19.99
Frequent sale price: $12.99
Target price: $9.99 (with coupon)
Best price: $7.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

These may make good driving lights (we don't know; we haven't tested them for that function), but they make really terrific backup lights. In fact, it only takes one to light up the night much better than the 15-irLED infrared camera on our MoHo. They work so well that I'm considering installing the other one as a backup or auxiliary light on our van. In fact, they're so bright that we may add a DC-dimmer if we use the spare as an extra exterior light for the van's wheelchair-lift entryway.

The lights come as a set with a pair of halogen lights, 15A fuse, switch, and wiring. For our purpose we only need the single light so everything else goes into our parts bin waiting for the next project. Their all plastic construction make them somewhat impact resistant, and thus far they have withstood five Buffalo winters without any sign of deterioration.

Hint: If you use these lights as backup lights or for other auxiliary lighting in town, be considerate of others when setting the vertical beam angle. We adjust ours so that they only project about 50 feet behind our vehicle; that produces a controllable beam with a nice, concentrated light within the area where we need it most. They are really bright and could easily light up the block which our neighbors wouldn't appreciate much when we return home late some night and back our MoHo into our driveway.

Bottom line: These halogen driving lights are a good deal at the target price of $9.99 and a give away if you can find them at their best price of $7.99. Use the pair to light the front or a single for a super-bright back-up light.


Aluminum Rafter Angle Square

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

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

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.


Circuit Breaker Detective

07/31/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: The Junk, Electrical

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

Circuit Breaker Detective
Item: Circuit Breaker Detective
Item number: 96934
Retail price:$29.99
Regular sale price: $19.99
Best price: $17.99 (with coupon)
Target price: junk-is-junk (but try it if you like, it may work for you)
Item Link

We wouldn't be presenting fair and honest reviews if we didn't also publish our evaluations of some of the turkeys that can be found at Harbor Freight™. Although the list is relatively short, there are a number of items that we consider bad buys. This shouldn't be surprising considering the large inventory of products Harbor Freight™ carries. Collectively, we refer to this list of bad buys as "The Junk" -- items that in our opinion are better left in the store; items that you might pass on so that you have even more money to spend on the good stuff (including our "Hot Buys") found at Harbor Freight™.

We tried this device on three different electrical circuits on three different occasions separated by several months. Each time it had several false positives and never found the correct circuit. In other words, it buzzed on several incorrect circuits and failed to locate the correct one. We consider this test a dismal failure and was very disappointed by this product. Indeed, we had looked forward to finally being able to locate electric circuits quickly and easily without resorting to the old-fashioned flip the circuit breaker and test the lights trick. But atlas, it simply didn't work.

Perhaps we're evaluating this product too hastily. It may work well on most everyone's electrical system except ours. After all, we've only tested it several different times on one home and the wiring in that home was probably updated last in the 1970s. I'm not sure exactly how this should adversely affect the operation of this device, but that qualifier for our review seems appropriate.

To conduct a thorough scientific review, which our review does not purport to be (rather our review is our "opinion" of this product), one would have to purchase several of these units at different Harbor Freight™ outlets over the course of several months. Then test each unit on half-a-dozen or so different homes, each time trying to trace 3 or 4 separate circuits. We didn't do this!

Some products are easy to evaluate as junk -- you can pretty much look at the item's quality and test it a few times for its function. This electronic device is different and therefore we write our review somewhat with trepidation. Nonetheless, we feel obliged to warn our readers of the potential problem with this device.

Perhaps the best advice is for YOU to try it in YOUR home and see if it works for you. Remember, Harbor Freight™ has a 30-day satisfaction guarantee whereby they'll allow you to return any item. Our mistake (which is too common for us and for many others) is that we didn't try it until we needed it several months after purchase. And then it failed miserably! This would have been the first item we've ever returned to Harbor Freight™ for a refund.

We would really like to hear from others who have tried this product. Perhaps it just doesn't work on the single home-wiring that we've tried it on. Perhaps it really is junk.

Bottom line: Try it if you like, but be ready to take it back for a refund within 30-days of purchase. We are so disappointed with our initial tests of this product that it makes our list of "The Junk" not worth taking home at any price.


6-Piece Pliers set

07/31/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, MoHo/RV

Link: http://HarborFreightReviews.com

6-Piece Pliers Set
Item: 6-Piece Pliers Set
Item number: 38082/46005
Retail price: $14.99
Regular sale price: $7.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $7.99
Item Link

This 6-piece pliers set is a remarkable value, even for Harbor Freight. This is a full-sized, heavy-duty pliers set that can hold up to whatever task you throw at it. The jaws match and lock firmly, the grips are a non-slip bright orange to help you locate your pliers amongst your array of tools spread out for your project. All of this is backed by Harbor Freight's lifetime warranty. Buy them for home, buy them for the shop, at the target price of $7.99 (with coupon) you'll probably want a couple of sets. (Remember to compare not just the apparent quality but also the warranty of similarly priced sets at the big-box stores!)

FYI: Although Harbor Freight has been advertising a "lifetime warranty" on all of their hand tools, we have to ask ourselves, "really?" How many times do you expect them to replace some of the tools boasting this warranty? Well, with this item you shouldn't have to make many trips (if any) back to the Harbor to keep them in good working condition over years of service.

Bottom line: One of the best values for the money you'll find anywhere, this 6-piece pliers set is able to handle whatever sized job you throw at it. Buy-it-right at our target price of $7.99 and walk off with a great deal.


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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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