Folding Locking-Back Utility Knife

08/11/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys


Folding Locking-Back Utility Knife
Item: Folding Locking-Back Utility Knife
Item number: 90802
Retail price: $7.99
Frequent sale price: $6.49
Target price: $4.99 (with coupon)
Item Link

This pocket-size, folding utility knife with locking blade is a great convenience around the home or shop. Its small size and pocket clip make it easy to always carry for those unexpected box openings, twine cutting, and other tasks requiring a razor sharp knife. The knife performs well and holds up to abuse even capable of tackling many heavier jobs. At our target price it costs about half as much as the same knife sold under different brand names by other big box retailers.

When opened, the knife has a solid feel with no hint that the blade will retract unexpectedly like many cheap retractable-blade box cutters whose blades tend to retract under pressure. The disposable razor blades are easy to quickly replace. Our only complaint with our test knife is that we have had trouble keeping the retaining latch properly closed; even though it hasn't released the blade while in use thus far, it's still somewhat annoying to have to keep flipping it down into position. (With only a single sample of this knife, it's unclear whether this is a common problem.) Perhaps we'll return this knife and see how readily our local Harbor Freight outlet honors their lifetime warranty.

Bottom line: A good-quality pocket utility knife for a great price. Easy to carry when folded and rock-solid and razor-sharp when opened.


Headlamp with Swivel Lens

08/11/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys, Outdoor Living, Lighting, MoHo/RV


Headlamp with Swivel lens
Item: Headlamp with Swivel Lens
Item number: 45807
Retail price: $5.99
Frequent sale price: $2.49 (with coupon)
Target price: $2.49
Item Link

We like our LED headlamps we buy on eBay from Chinese suppliers much better -- they're brighter and consume far less battery power -- but this headlamp is available at your local Harbor Freight outlet and when purchased at our target price it's a lot cheaper than LED headlamps. So it makes our Hot Buys list as a backup for your LED headlamp or as a alternative if you don't have one. We've used it on several occasions, most notably when we have had major power outages and needed some direct light for work that otherwise would have been in the shadows of our emergency lighting system. They're light weight and do put out a fair amount of light; in fact, the light level is more than adequate for most work until you discover the brightness of a good-quality LED headlamp and then you might find these incandescent lights a bit short on illumination.

Hint: Buy it and try it if you don't already own a headlamp. You'll be surprised at how many uses you can find for this handy little device. One of our neighbors uses a headlamp for his nighttime poop-and-scope and finds it much more convenient that holding a flashlight, dog lead, and plastic bag simultaneously. (FYI: Nighttime poop-and-scope is a bit tricky and you don't want to get it wrong for obvious reasons.)

We keep one near our main electrical circuit box for emergency work during a power blackout. We have a brighter LED model that we keep with our MoHo for more challenging roadside repairs. At our target price this light pays-for-itself the first time you don't have to balance a conventional flashlight on your shoulder or under your arm (in your teeth?) during a repair at night. It takes a little getting use to having the light move with your head, but with a little experience it's nice having the light shine where you look.

Bottom line: Buy one if you don't already own a headlamp, but if you use a headlamp frequently you'll probably want a better quality LED model purchased elsewhere for your work. These incandescent lights from Harbor Freight are still a good, inexpensive backup light or as your primary headlamp if used infrequently.


Mover's Dolly

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


Mover's Dolly
Item: Mover's Dolly
Item number: 93888
Retail price: $14.99
Frequent sale price: $7.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $7.99
Item Link

How complex can a mover's dolly be? All it takes is a solid wood frame nailed over four ball-bearing casters and you're off and running. Add a little carpet to the top to protect your furniture and you have your basic mover's dolly. Harbor Freight's basic dolly is rated to 1,000 lbs so you can haul even the largest furniture with ease.

Warning: This dolly has hard-rubber wheels which are NOT suitable for hardwood floors and other soft surfaces that can be marred by transporting heavy objects. You should use a more expensive dolly with soft-rubber wheels for those situations or you may regret the damage left behind by using the wrong 'tool.'

This mover's dolly can find a lot of other applications in the shop as well. For example, we have our Onan genset semi-permanently sitting on one and saved a hundred dollars or so on what the actual wheel-kit for the generator would have cost. We have other heavy equipment sitting on these dollies from time-to-time when we expect to slide them around the shop frequently. Buy a couple and you'll be surprised at the applications you find for them.

Warning: If you use or store this mover's dolly near moisture such as that found on a typical concrete garage floor, expect the casters to corrode after a couple of years. They're easily restored to working condition, but you might consider adding some light oil to protect their galvanized finish.

With two warnings in one review it might seem like this is not a good buy, but it is when purchased at our target price. This inexpensive dolly can find a lot of uses around the home and shop. We use to even keep one in our van for those unexpected heavy loads. It was supplanted by our foldable aluminum platform truck which serves as a mover's dolly as well as a platform truck. The latter collapses for easy storage, is as small as the mover's dolly, and is light weight. Of course it also costs nearly 4-times as much even at our target price, and the simple mover's dolly does transport nearly 3-times the weight as the foldable aluminum platform truck.

Bottom line: This mover's dolly works well to roll heavy objects such as furniture and even shop equipment. Buy at least a pair when Harbor Freight puts them on sale at our target price.


4 Ft. x 12 Ft. Canvas Dropcloth

08/10/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hot Buys


Canvas Dropcloth
Item: 4 Ft. x 12 Ft. Canvas Dropcloth
Item number: 38108
Retail price: $9.99
Frequent sale price: $5.99 (with coupon)
Best price: $4.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $5.99
Item Link

After years of tramping on newspapers, plastic, and miscellaneous other materials that I've used for spatter control, I finally broke down and bought a real painter's dropcloth. Wow, what a difference. The canvas lays nicely on the floor and provides a much more solid, dependable layer of protection between you (the potential disaster) and your finished floor (the potential problem spot; pun intended :))). Its heavy canvas is tear resistant, most everything proof, and adds a touch of class to your project. The current sale price is a dollar less than our target price. It's such a good deal that it makes one temped to bring the spouse along to Harbor Freight so that they can go in and redeem their own coupon with you ending up with two (There's a limit of one per coupon at this low price.). Fortunately, I bought my first one a couple of years ago so I can add a second one myself now without bothering the spouse.

Harbor Freight sells this in two sizes: 4' x 12' and 9' x 12'. My personal preference is for the smaller size. It's easier to manage, both folding it up when done and also laying it out on the floor. If I were working in a large, open area such as painting a ceiling, I would give some serious thought to also purchasing the large size. But for me, smaller is better. Many of my projects involve spreading it out on a small space where the larger canvas would be messy.

Hint: We leave our dropcloth down for awhile after we've finished the project. Paint, plaster, mortar, and other spills are better controlled after they've been allowed to dry.

There are a lot of other potential uses for this heavy canvas dropcloth. People apparently use them as runners and for floor protection in other places where heavy traffic could inflict some serious wear. I suppose some use them to protect equipment and even outside. Remember that these are interior "dropcloths," so no complaints please if they start to deteriorate after a year or two of outside use.

Bottom line: Everybody needs one, they're a great time saver and much easier to work on than newspaper and plastic. Buy it right at our target price or lower and it's as cheap as some disposable plastic dropcloths.


4-Piece Chisel Set

08/09/10 | by theprofessor [mail] | Categories: Hand Tools, Hot Buys, Woodworking


Chisel Set
Item: 4-Piece Chisel Set
Item number: 42429
Retail price: $8.99
Frequent sale price: $5.99 (with coupon)
Best price: $4.99 (with coupon)
Target price: $5.99
Item Link

An inexpensive set of chisels that work well for mortising and other light to medium woodworking jobs. Expect them to chip if you high a nail or two while chiseling, but this is a great set to chip (if you must) -- inexpensive and easy to resharpen (You do sharpen your chisels from time-to-time, don't you?).

Bottom line: Not for the serious woodworker but good enough for the rest of us to meet most simple woodworking demands. Priced right at Harbor Freight when bought at our target price.


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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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