Well, first off, if you didn’t know about getting free stuff at Harbor Freight, we’ll cover that briefly. Harbor Freight puts out coupons like the example here (it’s just an example, it can’t actually be used) in all of their one page circulars. We get these in the mail (they arrive at the same time as the other “junk” handouts like grocery store circulars) about twice a month. You can also find them in the trash at your local post office if you can figure out the day they are distributed in your area. They also appear in various magazines every month, like Family Handyman.
Some of the items we have seen that Harbor Freight gives away for free are: tape measures, flashlights, headlamp, multimeters, screwdriver sets, 27 LED hanging light, tarps, power strips, split leather work gloves, magnetic parts trays, poly ropes, electric fly swatters, bar clamps, 3″ air driven cutoff tools, scissors, and probably a couple more we may have never seen. If you catch the circulars often enough, you’ll see them all and if you go to Harbor Freight on a regular basis and use these kind of coupons for free stuff every time, you can suddenly have quite a few of these free items. So why get more than one of any of the free stuff? Well, there are a lot of uses you can put the free stuff to.
1 – We have a pair of HF scissors, a tape measure, a few screwdrivers, and a flashlight in several drawers around the house. This means they are never more than a couple of steps away for an emergency repair or power failure.
2 – Accumulate several pairs of the scissors and donate them to a high school or trade school (they are too sharp and pointy for kids).
3 – Accumulate some of the headlamps (these are LED flashlights that come on a strap that goes on your head so you can use the flashlight hands-free) and hand them out for a fun backyard nighttime scavenger hunt.
4 – Pack a kit with one of each of as many different ones that you have and deliver to the people who just moved in down the block. Tell them the tools are a welcome to the neighborhood gift they can use until they unpack find all their “good” tools. (They also make a great dorm room gift.)
5 – Accumulate several of the electric fly swatters and hand them out at your next cookout. Or at least give them to the kids, it will keep them entertained for a few minutes until the fights break out …
6 – Put kits together containing a flashlight, gloves, a tarp, headlamp, and poly rope and put them in a baggie. Give them to homeless people. (Maybe each baggie could also contain a buck or some change.)
7 – We have been known to disassemble the tape measures and : (a) turn them into a growth trackers (attach to wall to track growth of children or pets), (b) cut off an appropriate length and attach to the front (the part that faces your stomach) of your workbench for fast measurements, (c) cut three pieces – 1 each of 3 feet, 4 feet, and 5 feet, pop rivet the ends together in a triangle for a 90 degree “truing” tool, or (d) stitch them into the top of a homemade coin purse or glasses case to make a snap closed closure.
8 – Assemble several of the items and give them (for no apparent reason) to kids to help them develop motor skills (and of course, build their time machines in the backyard).
9 – Overlap several of the tarps on a slight downhill slant for a killer backyard slip and slide. Kids only – adults are just too brittle!
10 – Accumulate a few multi-meters and build them into a space ship control panel for a kid!
11 – Accumulate several of the poly ropes and build something for your cat. It doesn’t really matter what – a scratching post, a large round ball – cats have high expectations so they’re just going to ignore it anyway – until 2:35 in the morning, when it will magically become the best toy ever.
12 – Accumulate several of the magnetic parts trays, paint various numbers on them, attach them to the ceiling and throw washers in them as a game. This will be great fun until someone gets a washer in the eye. (Hmmmm, use caution on this one – and lightweight washers…)
13 – Heck, get several of the bar clamps and use them for small projects. They are very useful for many things.
14 – We have also disassembled the 27 light hanging light and used the high power magnet from the back. These same lights can be used to light a room quite nicely if the power goes out – it will take a few of them depending on the size of the room.
15 – Any of the flashlights (HF has several versions in their free stuff) will keep a kid busy for hours. The flashlights are all LED based, so the battery power goes a long way.
Those are just a few of the things we came up with – PLEASE leave your suggestions for uses in the comments.