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.