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Kimberly in Salt Lake wrote to us about a problem she’s having with a Chicago Electric miter saw. The head of the bolt that holds the blade on sheared off and Kimberly is looking to get it repaired.

The trouble is, Chicago Electric is one of the lower-end tools in the marketplace. They generally go for cheap and disposable, not serviceable. They don’t seem to have a website and the only brick-and-mortar storefronts I can think of that sell the brand are Harbor Freight and Auto Zone. If the tool doesn’t have any support numbers on it anywhere or you can’t find (or never had) the manual, you might try heading down to one of the stores and checking the labels on the Chicago Electric tools you find there for a service number.

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Chicago Electric makes this inexpensive chainsaw sharpener that sells for $35 at Harbor Freight.  Sure, the quality of tools purchased from Harbor Freight can be suspect, but how can you screw up a chainsaw sharpener?

The 0.5″ to 0.8″ capacity vice on this sharpener adjusts from 0-35° to the right or left.  The 115V, 0.75A ball bearing motor spins the 4-1/4″-diameter by 1/8″-thick grinding wheel at 4,200 RPM.  A safety guard covers most of the wheel, exposing only the section that comes into contact with the chain.  You can either hold the sharpener in a vise or mount it to your bench or garage wall.

The question before us today: Can buying this cheap chainsaw sharpener be a better deal than doing it the old-fashioned way with a guide and a file?  Or does doing it yourself even make sense when you can pay $10 for a professional to do it?  Let us know what you think in comments.

Chainsaw Sharpener [Harbor Freight]
Via Amazon [What’s This?]

 

Welding isn’t the cheapest hobby to pick up and start fooling around with, and some of the high-end gear can cost you more than a shiny new 60” HD TV. But there are ways to get your weld on without crossing into budget-killing territory — the Chicago Electric 90A flux-core welder comes to mind.

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Want a toe-kick saw like the Crain No. 795 featured yesterday, but don’t want to shell out serious dough?  For the hobbyist who may only use it once or twice over the course of a kitchen and/or bath remodel, the Harbor Freight model might work great — especially since (as reader Evan pointed out) it’s marked down to $40 right now.

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post-hfliscrew.jpgApparently everyone wants to get in on the small li-ion cordless screwdriver game.  We ran across this one from Chicago Electric at Harbor Freight today priced at the standard just-below $20 point.

The only thing that appears at all different about this unit is that it appears to have a clutch system — something we haven’t seen on the others.  It’s similar to the Kobalt unit in that it offers no charging stand, instead simply plugging the wall wart directly into the tool.  It does, however, come with two standard and four Phillips head bits as well as a magnetic bit extension.

So far, this market seems divided in two: the “high end” (SmartDriver & iXO) at $40 and the “cheaper” units (Kobalt & Chicago Electric, though we fully expect to run across others as time goes on) at $20.

Whether or not giving up a charger stand and 20-30 bits and accessories (as well as a serious manufacturer’s name and quality) for $20 is a good idea we’ll leave up to you.

Chicago Electric Cordless Screwdriver w/3.6V Li-Ion Battery [Harbor Freight]