Harbor Freight Dust Collector Mod

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Project by Cory posted 03-17-2010 03:33 PM 161919 views 316 times favorited 60 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After buying the Harbor Freight 2hp dust collector right after Christmas, I knew I was going to be making some changes to it. First, I dumped the upper bag and added a Wynn 35a filter. Second, I really wanted to put a pre-separator on the unit to keep from having to change the lower bags as often. But, I didn’t really have a lot of room in my shop/garage for the can. The Delta 50-760 seemed like a good set up with the can/separator underneath the blower, so I set out to imitate that set up. That led me to build a frame to mount the HFDC motor/blower and raise it up so I can get a can under it. I used 2x material and plywood with a healthy dose of glue and screws for the frame. After some trial and error, I got the unit mounted directly in line with the donut ring. The flex hose is a piece that was cut off of the original 5” hose that came with the unit. The two sides are actually touching, it’s just there to ensure a good seal.

Next came the Thien lid on a 30 gallon galvanized trash can. I used the lid that came with the can and just cut holes in it with my dremel. I did add some weather stripping around the edge to get a good seal. The piece in the middle is a Delta 5” to 4” reducer that leads from the 5” outlet on the blower to the can. Again, the flex hose is a piece I cut off from the original that came with the unit. I need to get some hose clamps to fit that connection. Right now I’m using zip ties and it’s not air tight. The inlet port is a simple 90 degree black plastic piece. Everything is held in place with hot glue/caulk.

I did a couple of tests on the unit to see how much was staying in the can and it’s working quite well. I did see a reduction in air flow with the addition of the pre-separator, but that’s to be expected. At least now I’ll preserve my filter and won’t have to hassle with the lower bag for a while.

BTW: I added weather stripping on the area where the lower bag connects to the donut ring. It made an airtight seal and I don’t get ANY leakage now.

I hope this helps you guys. Any questions please feel free to ask. Thanks for looking.


-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

60 comments so far

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4446 days

#1 posted 03-17-2010 03:50 PM

Isn’t that a Thien baffle you have installed there? (Sorry, gotta give Phil proper credit for his design…)

What size weather stripping did you use?

I have had mixed luck with mine and can’t quite remember the size I used that worked well (but the adhesive didn’t last…)

That is a VERY tempting idea. I like the ability to keep it mobile that you kept with your design. I think I am going to start playing with some ideas to hook my 55 gallon separator / HF DC up like that… Putting the motor in that orientation certainly gets rid of a lot of resistance to airflow…

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View Cory's profile


760 posts in 4633 days

#2 posted 03-17-2010 04:11 PM

dbhost: Yes, it’s a Thien baffle/lid. Sorry for the confusion. I give credit to Phil for his design (second paragraph), but I should have been more clear. He’s a genius, btw. The weather stripping was 3/4” wide, 5/16” thick. I made sure to clean the inside of the lid with alcohol then let it dry really well. It’s stuck so far, but we’ll see how it holds up. Moving the motor up (without the pre-separator) made a HUGE difference in air flow. The separator probably killed most, if not all, of those gains, though. I have the expandable hose from Rockler, so the unit pretty much stays put, but i do roll it around occasionally. It’s been working well so far.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 4388 days

#3 posted 03-17-2010 04:41 PM

That’s a great idea, and very well executed.

I really should…..

Nicely done!

-- -- Neil

View jm82435's profile


1286 posts in 4956 days

#4 posted 03-17-2010 05:16 PM

I have been thinking of doing this for a while also. I just hate to hear chunks hit the impeller in my little Jet (3/4 hp). Last night I rigged up a similar configuration just to see how well it would work. (no baffle & I just duct taped the lid on – the connections I had caulked the night before.) It lost a lot of suction. It would barely pick up sawdust. So I was really disappointed. I am assuming it is just too small to handle it.

-- A thing of beauty is a joy forever...

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 4518 days

#5 posted 03-17-2010 05:23 PM

That looks good.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

26653 posts in 4319 days

#6 posted 03-17-2010 06:12 PM

That col. How does that compare to one of those tapered vortex collectors? I have been looking for a design for mine and I ,too ,want to use the Harbor Freight collector pump.

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Rick Boyett's profile

Rick Boyett

167 posts in 4426 days

#7 posted 03-17-2010 06:28 PM

I’ve been debating the possibility of doing the exact same thing with my Jet DC-1100C. As you can see, it is the same basic design as the one from HF. Now that I’ve seen it actually done, I think I’ll move forward with it..

BTW, anyone want some flex tubing? As you can see, I’ve got A LOT.

my dust collector

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 4633 days

#8 posted 03-17-2010 07:29 PM

Jim: I assume you mean a cyclone? The Thien lid functions much the same way, but a true cyclone is a different animal all together. In my limited testing of this set up, I would say the Thien lid removes 85-95% of what’s coming in. Only the finest of particles seem to make it to the bag. I put this whole set up together for about $250. That’s $150 for the DC and $100 for the can, hose, lid materials, etc. That’s a whole lot cheaper than a cyclone!

Rick: Let me know if you need any other pictures or help when setting up yours.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View Chase's profile


448 posts in 4240 days

#9 posted 03-17-2010 08:18 PM

That is fantastic, I just got this unit from HF this past weekend. Just out of curiosity, why didn’t you use the base that comes with it normally? More work to fit wood to metal than to just make a new one out of wood?

-- Every neighborhood has an eccentric neighbor. I wondered for years "who was ours?" Then I realized it was me.

View Cory's profile


760 posts in 4633 days

#10 posted 03-17-2010 09:50 PM

Chase: I didn’t use the metal base because it isn’t long enough for the support frame for the motor. Also, it’s an easier connection from the 2x material to the old solid core door than to metal. I had the old door laying around the shop so I just used it. If I was doing it from scratch I’d probably use 3/4” ply and add a rib or two underneath for rigidity.

-- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.

View Gerry's profile


264 posts in 4455 days

#11 posted 03-17-2010 10:34 PM

Nice Job. You’ve given me the incentive to do something similar. This setup is the way to minimize the DC footprint and maximize dust collection!

-- -Gerry, Hereford, AZ ” A really good woodworker knows how the hide his / her mistakes.”

View Dusty56's profile


11863 posts in 4902 days

#12 posted 03-17-2010 11:35 PM

Nice job , Cory : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View bigike's profile


4057 posts in 4502 days

#13 posted 03-18-2010 12:10 AM

very good job

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop, http://[email protected]

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5313 days

#14 posted 03-18-2010 02:18 AM

Hey Cory, that is what I was thinking of doing with my dust collector. I would think that using a smooth pipe for the inlet on the trash can might gain some airflow.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View JoelB's profile


18 posts in 4587 days

#15 posted 03-18-2010 02:44 AM

Another nod for the Thien baffle. I did a similar setup but ran the exhaust outside of my shop using a 7” dryer vent and a 5-6 inch reducer along with a 6-7 inch reducer. Works great and is really pretty quiet!

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