Is there a point to modding a Harbor Freight Dust Collector?

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Forum topic by Jakl posted 03-11-2019 11:53 PM 1508 views 1 time favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 1138 days

03-11-2019 11:53 PM

So after some very rough math, it kinda seems like the difference between buying and modding out a HF DC into a 2 stage cyclone is not much cheaper than getting a comparable Grizzly.

My math:
HF DC – $165
Trash Can (Galvanized) – $25
Super Dust Deputy – $170
Rikon Impeller – $118
Upgraded filter – $200
Misc hardware – $80 (fittings, screws, metal duct tape, etc)

After all is said and done you have a very cheaply made (from the reviews I have read) 115v 1.5 HP (despite 2HP claims, is that possible on 115?) dust collector that needs lots of work. Also, all of this math is based on a wall-hanging setup and comes out to $758. Add additional cost to construct a mobile cart for it.

Meanwhile, Grizzly has their G0703 ready to go for $925, or a 2HP for $50 more. So for $200 that includes a warranty that covers the entire thing and also has a mobile cart, not to mention a true 220v 2hp motor for $50 more, is it really worth it to go for the HF setup?

23 replies so far

View BoilerUp21's profile


138 posts in 1277 days

#1 posted 03-12-2019 12:22 AM

Nope, looking back, I wish i would have saved the time and frustration and just bought the 2HP Grizzly setup.

View Holbs's profile


2243 posts in 2540 days

#2 posted 03-12-2019 02:44 AM

Just have to remember… not everyone has $800 available for dust collection upgrades all at once. Many would have HF DC and a trashcan and DIY Thein Baffle, all for around $200. Then work themselves up from there to 3HP machines.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5974 posts in 2919 days

#3 posted 03-12-2019 04:51 AM

Yes / no. I enjoy making items for the shop as much as any project for the house. Not everyone will have same opinion so in the end do what suits you best. I will say if you build your own system you gain a good understanding of how it works, and what doesn’t.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View therealSteveN's profile


3894 posts in 1084 days

#4 posted 03-12-2019 05:44 AM

Probably what you add is going to be important here. All have passable suction for any tool in the shop. Probably none have enough butt to do an entire shop through conventional duct work.

That Griz 1 1/2 is a Frankenbeast. If you run it 110 they spec it that you need to run a 30 amp line

The 2 is where you would think it should be, but it in only as a 220 variant, same as the Cyclone you are looking at, and neither set up for 110 use. They call for a 20 Amp

The HF is also a switch hitter and runs at 20 Amp for the 110 use Set at 220, I am not sure of Amp pull, probably 6 or so?

I have a HF 2Hp and as much as any are I believe it actually is, sure preforms like it. I also have the Non Cyclone 2HP It runs head and shoulders above the HF model, and has much better filtration.

I think filtration more than power is the $$$$$ difference.

I use both of mine for large tool dust collection, and have them running off short lines to grouped tools, and have no problems using blast gates so the suction is as good as it can be. Biggest dust bomb is a 19/38 Supermax wide drum sander, that is off the HF, and as needed a 14” HF BS, and a Rikon 18” BS to conclude that little group of tools. The TS, Jointer, and planer are off the Griz.

One thing I will say, is the HF unit will get really dirty if you use the bag, and a plastic trash bag. The cloth “filter” will weigh as much as 10x more after just a few days of new, and you won’t get it a lot less heavy after you empty. Putting on a better filter is a must do, if you actually are in it for your lung health. Cyclone schmyclone, if you want that you can make one. I think your comparative pricing look like you want the Griz, just buy it. It sure wouldn’t NEED to come to 750 to make a lot more difference than no DC at all. Which if you are even considering the HF I imagine is what you have protecting you now.

Someone said it before. People start with a HF to have something. Add to it if you like? Or not. If you have the funds for more, now is the time to spend what you can afford, your lungs will thank you.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

5754 posts in 3004 days

#5 posted 03-12-2019 10:39 AM

I’ve often wondered the same thing (whether it was worth it). While I agree with Holbs on the money thing, in some cases guys who don’t fret about spending thousands on another tool still try to do the less expensive option on DC. It’s hard (I think) to spend a lot of money on a tool that doesn’t touch the wood. But that’s their choice, and who am I to question it. I don’t have to agree with the approach.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View EarlS's profile


3096 posts in 2858 days

#6 posted 03-12-2019 10:53 AM

One thing the DIY DC has going for it, besides being able to build it yourself, is the option to split the pieces up to some extent and customize things like the dust bin connection and configuration. I have a Laguna Cflux 1.5 HP that I despise mostly because of the way it is set up. If/when I sell it, I will most likely buy components and build my own.

I could make you a great deal, except shipping would probably be a killer.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


499 posts in 290 days

#7 posted 03-12-2019 10:56 AM

Just keep an eye on craigslist and ebay as well as local auctions.

View HackFabrication's profile


159 posts in 222 days

#8 posted 03-12-2019 10:57 AM

It’s probably a better economic decision to just buy the bigger, more complete DC system from the get go. And ‘normally’ I’m a buy once, cry once sort of guy. But, if you enjoy tinkering, love to work out challenges, and can deal with increased levels of frustration (sourcing fittings that fit) and anxiety (cutting/modifying good parts to make better part): Go the mod route.

I’m in the process of ‘hot rodding’ my HF 2hp DC. Work in progress: I picked it up on Craig’s for $100, and it was virtually new. Previous owner only used it for one job, removing attic insulation. When it’s all done, I’ll probably be close in cost, to the price of a Grizzly G0861 2hp portable (

I don’t have a large shop. I’m working in my basement, so ceiling height is a challenge. As is floor footprint space. Which limits a lot of options. Installing piping and machine drops is going to be a ways down the road. Right now, I’m planning on using it connected to one machine at a time, as most tools are on mobile bases, and pushed out of the way when not in use. Until I get fed up with stepping over flex hose…

For the money, the ‘plug n play’ aspects, and time involved: It’s probably a better option to go with the one stop shopping product, if that’s part of your reasoning.

-- "In the end, it's all Hack..."

View Red5hft's profile


14 posts in 296 days

#9 posted 03-12-2019 11:23 AM

Having bought and built a modified HF system, I can say the Grizzly is a good looking unit with some nice design features. I would say your analysis is pretty accurate. While is was fun and challenging to build my system, it was also frustrating at times. The Grizzly looks like a very worthy competitor with the added benefit of a compact cart design.

Building a HF system over time, and the ability to spread the cost, is a path to consider for those that can’t/don’t want to spend the $ up front.

-- -"Whether you think you can, or you think you can't-you're right." - Henry Ford

View PeteStaehling's profile


98 posts in 1630 days

#10 posted 03-12-2019 11:37 AM

Just me, but…

I’d say that if you plan on doing all those additions and mods either right away or soon then no it isn’t worth it. On the other hand I suspect that many or even most will be happy with some much lower level of modifications ranging from some to none. Some may do all, but over a long haul as they choose to budget the money. For those two groups it may make sense.

I am pretty happy with mine as is. I doubt I will ever add much more that the 30 gallon trash can chip separator that I already have. I probably have $250 (plus ducting and hoses) in the whole deal. I am happy with the system, but if I ever do upgrade it i will most likely replace it rather than hot rod it.

View OSU55's profile


2407 posts in 2500 days

#11 posted 03-12-2019 12:20 PM

Nope, better to get a mfd dc vs throwing that much $ at the HF. I have a little over $400 in my HF with a diy thien and Wynn filter and I wont put any more into it. At the end of the day most dont have the dc setup on the machine itself to collect all the fine stuff and a respirator should be used anyway.

View ibewjon's profile


999 posts in 3303 days

#12 posted 03-12-2019 04:17 PM

I bought my DC in 1990, before filters and cyclones. Over the years, I bought a jet pleated filter when it became available, now I have a dust collector instead of a chip filter that spread more dust into the air. And I bought the jet vortex cone when it came out as a replacement part and added that. The whole setup works great, and that is with no separate cyclone, and the original impeller.

View fivecodys's profile


1488 posts in 2146 days

#13 posted 03-12-2019 10:19 PM

Yes / no. I enjoy making items for the shop as much as any project for the house. Not everyone will have same opinion so in the end do what suits you best. I will say if you build your own system you gain a good understanding of how it works, and what doesn t.

- woodbutcherbynight

I totally agree.
There are way too many scenarios to try to stuff everyone into just one of them.

-- When you leave your shop for the night, make sure you can always count to 10.

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1892 posts in 2005 days

#14 posted 03-12-2019 11:20 PM

+1 makes no sense.
IMHO – doesn’t matter if you discussing HF dust collector, or some other brand; the costs for turning bag based dust collector into filtered cyclone are almost same cost as similar rated cyclone new. This is reason my old Delta 50-850 hasn’t been modified into cyclone.

+1 Only advantage is you can upgrade when money is available.

+1 If you don’t need top of line cyclone in a permanent installation, can spend a lot less on trash can separator and filter, that will do the job most amateurs need for less money.

Bottom line: modding is building only what you need.
If you want full blown cyclone dust collection system, then you are going to spend ~$1000 one way or another.


-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View Rayne's profile


1228 posts in 2050 days

#15 posted 03-13-2019 12:39 AM

I have to disagree to a point. My system is around $500 based on what I’m calculating in my head and it has all the bells and whistle you could want, but I was extremely frugal and hounded CL and eBay with patience to get what I needed. You can see part 2 and part 3 of my journey in my projects. I am extremely happy with my current (and final) setup and I learned a lot in the process. I can do any kind of MOD I want whenever I want without restrictions. It just depends how much funds you have at the moment and what you’re willing to do to get what you want.

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