20-Piece Poly Bins and Rails

08/21/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Storage/Organization, Material Handling & Safety

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

Small Parts Storage Bins
Item: 20- Piece Poly Bins and Rails
Item number: 41949
Retail price: $12.99
Frequent sale price: $9.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $9.99
Item Link

This 20-piece small parts storage system is another great buy from Harbor Freight. The poly bins withstand routine shop use holding up to heavy bolts or nails. They stack neatly on a bench or can be wall mounted with the included rails. We haven't tried the wall-mounting system (we're content with them sitting on our bench), but other online reviewers attest to their ability to mount solidly on the wall. Once wall mounted, individual bins can be easily removed and reattached as needed.

They go on sale several times a year for our target price and then they're an absolute steal for a great system of organizing small parts and hardware. And of course individual bins can be used to transport your material to the work site, not a bad use in itself.

There are a lot of uses for these storage bins besides racking up your nuts and bolts. We usually have several repair projects in progress about the shop, often delayed by waiting for parts or just trying to figure out how best to complete the repair. These storage bins are great for keeping the nuts and bolts and other small parts of the "project" together while we're working on something else. How many times have you started a project, been interrupted, and then found your parts mysteriously scattered around the shop? Load a couple of these bins with the nuts and other parts you dismantle while working on the project as insurance they'll be together should you get delayed in completing.

You might consider buying a couple of sets of these when they go on sale. You'll probably find they fill up fast with your assortment of nuts, bolts, screws, and nails, and then discover that you have even more uses for them. They even hold water, although we wouldn't recommend them for parts soaking.

Bottom line: A great system for storing nuts and bolts, nails, and other small parts. These sturdy poly bins hold up to routine shop use with no complaints.


8-Piece Right Angle Screwdriver

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

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

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.


5-Pair Black and Yellow Leather Work Gloves

08/19/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Material Handling & Safety

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

Black and Yellow Work Gloves
Item: 5-Pair Black and Yellow Leather Work Gloves
Item number: 66291
Retail price: $9.99
Frequent sale price: $5.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $5.99
Item Link

We love our roping gloves reviewed earlier but for more serious work you need a more serious work glove, and Harbor Freight offers this heavier work glove in a very cheap 5-pack. That's right, this is a FIVE-pack that at our target price puts these gloves at just over a buck a pair. You'll pay that or more for cotton "work" gloves at the big box retailers and probably end up with cut and calloused fingers. But how good are they?

These medium-duty work gloves offer great hand protection for material handling and other manual work that would otherwise leave your hands cut, abraded, or calloused. They are medium-thick leather with a canvas back. This design keeps your hands a bit cooler but most importantly prevents the gloves from being overly stiff. You still get a decent feel for the piece you're handing, unlike full leather work gloves that are stiff and somewhat more tiring even to wear. Interestingly, your hands get rather 'dirty' in these gloves; some combination of the dye and/or dirt filters through the gloves to leave your hands dirty after working in these gloves for a while. Of course you're doing serious work when you don these gloves, so a little dirt is not bad to remind you that you were working hard.;) In contrast, our preference for an all-round work glove (roping gloves, click here to read our review) leaves your hands as clean as they were when inserted into the glove, so they're a much better choice for carrying in your vehicle for loading and for all but the heaviest yard work.

We rate these conservatively as medium-duty work gloves only because once you jump into the world of real work gloves some types get noticeably heavier. They're great hand protection for heavier jobs, but they don't keep your hands clean like our recommendation for light-duty work (click here to read our review of our favorite all-round work gloves).

At around a buck a pair even the frugal Harbor Freight customer can afford to trash a pair up now and then. This makes them great for 'dirty work' that might leave concrete, epoxy, or other building materials on the gloves. They're even inexpensive enough to loan a pair to your helper when handling plywood or other materials. (Don't volunteer what you paid for the gloves and they will be impressed that you thought of them.) And at this price, leaving them accidentally at the job or dropping them down a big hole is no real loss, just as long as you have another pair handy for replacement.

If you're working professionally with these gloves, expect to go through a pair a day. But just as it's nice to start each day in clean, fresh work clothes, at a buck-a-day you get to start with the feel of clean gloves as well. They may last longer even under heavy use, but keep your expectations low commensurate with their price and you won't be disappointed.

Bottom line: A great buy on medium-duty work gloves when purchased at our target price. The canvas back leaves them supple enough for most work, while the leather palm and fingers offer good protection.


Roping Gloves

08/19/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Outdoor Living, Material Handling & Safety

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

Roping Gloves
Item: Roping Gloves
Item number: 35166
Retail price: $7.99
Frequent sale price: $4.99
Target price: $4.99 (drops to $3.99 with 20%-off coupon)
Item Link

I buy several pair of these gloves a year. They're my favorite all-round glove for working in the yard, moving equipment, and other general work around the home and shop. The fit is reasonably good and they generally wear well, although occasionally I get a pair that split at the seams prematurely. The leather is supple enough for a good sense of feel, providing just enough distance from your work piece to keep your hands clean and protected while providing a good sense of feel for what you're handling.

By working glove standards these are soft leather gloves. For anyone who has every owned a pair of Italian leather driving gloves, you know that "soft" is a relative term (there's that Einstein stuff again). But we're working men and women when here at Harbor Freight Reviews, so we'll call them "soft leather gloves" within this context.

Years ago I gave up that rough, working-man look (or more correctly, feel) for the softer, more gentile hands of a 'surgeon.' Nothing wrong with those well-earned calluses, it's just not my style anymore. (If you don't understand the difference, you need to shake hands with more ladies. Trust me, you'll figure it out quickly, especially if you're a big guy whom they expect to have big, rough hands.) Enter soft leather roping (AKA working) gloves: they keep the hands soft and uncallused yet they don't give that clumsy feeling that thicker, less supple leather gloves produce. Of course for real heavy work a heavier pair of gloves is demanded, but I personally seldom do really heavy work. Thus, these are my all-round favorite gloves and we enthusiastically recommend them to everybody. I have different pairs with various degrees of wear-and-tear for different applications -- the old, well-worn pair are delegated to yard work, while the new, clean pairs I keep in my vehicles for unexpected materials handling (e.g. lumber or plywood pick-up).

There are a lot of better quality roping gloves on the market. You'd generally expect to pay $20 to $30 for good-quality roping gloves. If you work as a laborer or other professional who needs this type of glove for continuous use, you may want to invest in a better quality glove. For those of us who only occasionally do manual work or do only light work, these are the gloves to buy saving a lot off the cost of better-quality roping gloves.

If you like splitters from handling plywood and those rough calluses from shoveling and raking, these gloves aren't for you. But once you discover that you don't have to trash-up your hands to do work, you'll not want to go back to roughing it. And then there's the ladies . . .

Bottom line: The best all-round glove for light work around the home or shop. Sold down-right cheap when on sale at Harbor Freight. You can even use a 20%-off coupon almost stealing a pair of these soft leather gloves for just $3.99!


Bench Grinder with Flex Shaft

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

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

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.


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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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