January 28, 2013

Shopping Harbor Freight Tools for Jewelry Tools

Harbor Freight Tools is a great place for a beginning (or even experienced) jewelry maker to stop in once in a while.  I am lucky to have one very close by, but I try not to go there too often.  I tend to over spend whenever I'm there.  They have what I believe are predominantly Chinese made, off-brand tools and hardware - as well as some home goods, gardening supplies and hobby supplies.  It's like the dollar store for men - but obviously most things cost more than one dollar!

Since I went there on Friday and stocked up on some new tools, I figured I would share some of the things I
bought there this time and in the past that I have found useful.  So, here goes:

Hammers:  Most of my hammers are from Harbor Freight.

This week, I purchased an 8 oz. stubby ball pein hammer on sale for $2.99.  So far, I love it.  The rubber handle is comfortable to hold, it is a nice weight and the short grip makes me feel like I have more control when I am forging metals.

I also have the 16 oz. ball pein hammer and use it all the time too - but I think the new one will become my 'go to' hammer now.

There's also a soft faced mallet that I have my eye on - when you don't want hammer marks, I think this would work.  I haven't invested in one yet.  It's only $4.99 though.

Punches/Stamps:  I have several different items that Harbor Freight categorizes as 'Punches'.

Since I have been playing with metal, this week I decided to invest in the 9 piece punch and die set.  I saw a similar one used by Kate Richbourg in one of her online metal work lessons and I liked this one better since it has a clear face.  That way you can see where you are placing the stamp on your metal.  You use it to punch discs out of sheet metal or foil metal.  It was a splurge since it was $28.99, but I had a 20% off coupon.  So far, I like it!

Some things that I previously purchased that show up in the punch category are the 25 piece doming block and punch set.  I'm sure I got this on sale since - since I wouldn't have paid $39.99.  I love it though.  It feels good to pound metal when nothing else is going right.  Pennies are always fun to practice with.

The 28 piece transfer punch set might seem like an odd purchase for a jewelry maker - but I use the assorted size punches as mandrels to make jump rings or for wrapping.  They are graduated size and labeled so I find they come in handy. $9.99

I've only begun playing with stamps recently - but I know they are expensive, especially letters.  HF has some simple sets that can you get started for less than you can pay for two stamps at other places.  I have the 1/8" steel letter/number set.

Misc. Hardware:  These are small items that I love getting at Harbor Freight.

File Sets:  I have two different needle file sets.  I use them all the time.  They are $3.49 for each set of 10 files.

Copper washer assortments from HF are fabulous.  Hammer them, oxidize them and no one knows you bought them in the hardware aisle.  Plus, they come in a nice plastic case that you can use for beads later.

200 Piece Assorted Spring Sets:  This one is a great bargain when you compare it to the similar product sold to beaders. You can use these springs as bead stoppers when you are stringing beads.  The comparable 'beading' product Darice Bead Stopper, 6/Pkg: Metal costs $7.00 for 6.  I got 200 springs of different styles and sizes for $4.00.  I can't use all of them as bead stoppers, but they are at least 50 that are good as bead stoppers. Again - they come in a handy divided plastic container.

OMG - there's still way more!!  I got my rotary tumbler at HF, but they have double barrel tumblers and even vibratory tumblers now.  I know people have complained about HF tumbler's belt breaking too easily, but I've had mine for at least 10 years and mine's never broken.  I've heard you can just use a heavy duty rubber band when it does - so I've never worried about it.

There's also pliers, and nippers - clamps and magnifying lamps, dremel style rotary tools and bits, and storage containers.  Yikes - I thought this would be any easy post to write, but now I'm realizing just how many more cool tools I've purchased there than I thought.  I hope you have a Harbor Freight near you so you can find some of these items - but they are also available on their website.  They have great sales all the time.

15 comments :

  1. I never would have thought about the springs. I only get to the end of town that has this store but it looks like it is time to go again. Thanks for all the info

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I saw those springs being sold as bead stops for so much money, I knew I had to find them inexpensively somewhere. They work fabulous!! One of my favorite HF finds!

      Delete
  2. I love your list! I don't get to do it very often, but when I get to a HF store, I can be in there for hours! =D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! Since I wrote the list, I've already thought of a few things I missed. Like the magnetic strip I attached to my pegboard that I use for my needles that are strung with thread (out of the way - but readily available!), the peg board 'pins' that I use to hang all my goodies, the assorted clamps, the metal rulers that I love... This list just keeps growing. Another post...

      Delete
  3. I bought this great 15"x15" rubber mat that looks like tire treads - works great to muffle the sound of a bench block (as well as most of the tools you mentioned - one of the few places I've found copper washers) LOVE Harbor Freight!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm heading back to Harbor Freight this week. I'll have to add that to my list!

      Delete
  4. Good to hear about the copper washers. I tried Home Depot and Lowe's and neither had them. There's a Harbor Freight less than five miles from me. I'll hvae to check it out. Thanks, Lisa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Harbor Freight carries two different washer assortments but they are ALWAYS out of the stock on the big assortment. I hope yours had them!

      Delete
  5. I've had one of the tumblers for years as well. And I have had a number of the drivebelts break. but they changed the belt design a while back, and now instead of being the round profile belts they used to have, they have these trapezoid-shaped belts now. I do still break belts now and then, but a lot less often than before. I just keep a spare or two on hand, since they sell them at the store. When the belt breaks, it's always right before a class I'm teaching or a show where I'm vending.

    I get pretty extensive use out of my tumbler, since I make chainmaille, and I make my own rings. I tumble the rings after they've been cut, and then I tumble again when the pieces are finished.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to hear that the tumbler really holds up! Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  6. Use the springs to curve hollow tubing! You must match the spring to the tubing signs. Put the tubing inside the spring and then gently bend it with your hands to curve the spring curve the spring. Voila!l lovEly curves and no kinks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow! I would have never thought of that!! I haven't used much hollow tubing, but I'm glad you gave me this idea. I have been thinking about getting some copper tubing, and some enamel materials...

      Delete
  7. Harbor Freight is like a magnet it always sucks me in when I'm in the area.I've bought small torches, vibrating tumbler, pliers, vises and so much more. Now I have my eye on their wood work bench, when its on sale its about $140.00 here.

    I need to rearrange my studio space so I have room for it when its back on sale.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Informative and interesting which we share with you so i think so it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the efforts. I am tiring the same best work from me in the future as well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. One of the Harbor Freight mainstays for my workroom is the small plastic storage boxes that contains 24 small hinged boxes within it. They are about $5 and wonderful. I can mix and match contents as i work on projects. Just take a small box out and slip these smaller boxes filled with beads, jumprings, etc., into a small ziplock bag in your purse with a few pieces of wire or string, a nail clipper and a small pair of pliers and you are good to go. It is so easy to get beads in and out without spilling and they are transparent. I can lift a full box up and inspect all 24 boxes with a glance. Another good item to add to your workroom is the small handled toolcase. They have cushioned handles and lots of pouches lining the inside and outside of the hard frame. I carry these to classes already loaded and ready to work. They are big enough to hold a small anvil and hammers in the bottom along with a few of the clear boxes I mentioned above. Don't forget the deadblow hammers if you do much stamping. If you do wire weaving, the cushioned clamps are a must and the small metal jig is pennies compared to the cost of a wigjig. Their vacuum vise is another item I would not do without. It goes to class or traveling with me, too. If you do a lot of repeatable work, you may want to modify pliers with a file. These inexpensive tools are perfect for this. I have expensive pliers, too, but they can be pampered because I have the less expensive ones for moments of possible abuse.

    ReplyDelete