Harbor Freight 2hp dust collector review and modification questions.

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Forum topic by PJ72 posted 06-16-2013 08:11 AM 15855 views 7 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View PJ72's profile


55 posts in 2344 days

06-16-2013 08:11 AM

Topic tags/keywords: review dust collector modification question hf 2hp dc dust collector

I am a new member and this is my first post, but I have to say thanks to everyone in the Lumber Jocks network. This site has been a great resource for me for some time now and I have appreciated all the good reviews and comments on several topics.

I recently decided it was time to get a dust collection system. I started out with several basic requirements/goals.

1) Keep the shop cleaner while working and reduce clean up time at the end of the day. When I started using my new planer, this became a top priority.
2) Small footprint for small garage shop and must store neatly out of the way to accommodate dual functionality of the space (i.e. garage)
3) Must include a chip separator that is easy to empty
4) Mobility for tool to tool hook up (no permanent ducting would be used)
5) Minimal cost

I settled on the HF 2hp dust collector primarily based on the price point (5). I tend to shy away from HF tools when precision and accuracy are required. While a dust collector is not necessarily in that category, design quality could be a huge factor for longevity and overall performance. Based on the many good reviews here on LJ and the price point with 20% off coupon, I decided to give it a try. If nothing else it would get me in the ball game and allow me to tinker.

As shown in the picture I built my own mobile stand/base (4) and made a few modifications to include the cyclone chip separator (3) in the smallest possible footprint that I could (2). I used the 30 gallon cyclone lid from woodcraft. I also included a 4’ to 28’ expandable hose and the dust right system to facilitate the mobility and need to hook the DC system to each machine on an as needed basis (4).

- Disassembled the housing, removed impeller and drilled new holes to mount the housing 45 degrees relative to the factory position – This helped relieve stress on the provided 5” hose connecting the impeller housing to the collector. Sealed the motor to housing with gasket sealant upon re-assembly.
- Mounted the motor vertically with a ½” rubber/foam mat between the impeller housing and the shelf to mitigate any potential vibration and chatter. I doubt the motor is designed with shaft axial thrust bearings to accommodate being mounted vertically, but there are many posts on LJ with this modification with no issues reported that I could find.
- Sealed the fan housing outlet with provided gasket and gasket sealer.

At this point, my preliminary physical design requirements have been met leaving just the performance requirement (1), which brings me to my review and questions.

Dust Collector Review:
- The unit was well packaged and I felt the Styrofoam adequately protected the product.
- All major components were accounted for and in good shape.
- First item of business, turn on the motor and cycle the switch a few times before total un-packaging.
- The instructions were useless, but I did not really use very much of the provided hardware in my installation, so I really did not need the instructions. In addition, I cannot say if there was any missing hardware or if there were any issues with design tolerances for mating connections to the provided base since I did not use it.
- I checked the motor amperage draw and found a peak start up draw of 20.9 amps and a continuous running draw of 10.2 amps.
- The noise level was surprisingly lower than I expected – I don’t have a sound meter, so I cannot say what the sound level truly is.
- Air flow was checked through practical use: I have 8’ of clear hose attached to the 4’ to 28’ expandable hose attached to my planer. The expandable hose was not fully extended; the effective length of hose was approximately 16’. I planed ¼ inch of material in 1/32 increments from 8 4’ boards. The suction was sufficient to keep all the chips clear – experienced no chip compression on the board surfaces from the planer rollers and there were virtually no chips on the floor around the planer when done. The majority of the dust and chips were in the chip collector with only about 1 cup of finer dust in the dust collector bag. I felt that this was a very good showing of the HF dust collector and it met my performance expectations.

Rockler expandable hose review
- I am very pleased with this purchase right now.
- The hose appears to be quite sturdy, but I did use the less expensive hose to make the 180 degree bend from the top of the chip separator to the floor.
- I really like the way it compresses to the shortest possible length required when suction is applied. This helps maintain a minimum required effective length of hose during operation between the DC and the tool, which will have some efficiency benefit.
- The hose storage was a big concern. The hose will compress when vacuum is applied but the DC does not have enough vacuum to pull the weight of the hose completely up off the floor into the storage rack. Reviews on the Rockler storage rack for the hose were mixed; and the issues tended to be centered on getting the hose in and getting the hose to stay. I figured a canted storage system would mitigate these issues. I only have to give the hose a gently nudge into the rack and the cant angle along with gravity keep it in place.

Overall, for the price, I am very pleased with this purchase. For what it is, it performs very well and meets my initial expectations and requirements.

This brings me to my issues and questions. With a 5 micron filter bag, I would not characterize this as a Dust Collector. I would say this system is more of a Major Mess Mitigator than a Dust Collector. The fine dust that poses the most health risk and is not visible until is settles all over everything is not expected to be contained with this system as is.

1) Is the cost of a cartridge filter justified? Is the performance increase from the larger surface area of the pleated filter significant enough to merit a cartridge filter over a 1-micron bag replacement or is the major benefit the 0.3 micron filter of the cartridge.
2) How much additional benefit would the addition of a Thein baffle in my chip separator really provide and would I expect a significant performance hit from the baffle? I really did not see very much in the collector bag, but I expect this ratio may increase with waste from the table saw instead of the planer.
3) Has anyone demonstrated a good way to upgrade the bag/filter collector with a wok style baffle and has this proven to provide any real benefit?

I hope my review can be of some use to anyone who is thinking about purchasing the Harbor Freight 2hp dust collector.

-- PJ

10 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8343 posts in 3913 days

#1 posted 06-16-2013 11:59 AM

The surface area of a cannister filter has 5 to 6 times the air flow capacity of a standard single bag, plus usually offers finer filtration…recommended if you’ve can swing the cost…IIRC, the Wynn filters run in the $130 range (most others cost more).

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View revwarguy's profile


133 posts in 2438 days

#2 posted 06-16-2013 12:00 PM

1. If you’re not going to get at least a .5 filter, then you need to wear a mask. How much is not wearing a mask and not having everything coated with dust worth to you?

2. I had a lid separator similar to yours and replaced it with a Thein top hat. Lots less in the bag and although I am sure there was some performance penalty, I didn’t notice it during use. With the one you have, make sure you empty it often, as it starts passing the chips through when it gets around half full.

3. I have a canister filter, and the wok lid just helps keep it clean – keeps the dust in the bottom bag. I don’t think it has much of an effect on performance.

If you’ve got room and bucks for a cyclone, I guess that’s a better way.

-- "72.6 per cent of all statistics are made up on the spot." - Steven Wright

View DIYaholic's profile


19877 posts in 3212 days

#3 posted 06-16-2013 12:59 PM

Welcome to LJs.

I highly recommend a Wynn Enviromental canister filter, for both performance and health reasons. knotscott is right [he always is ;^) ], the increased surface area will improve air flow, or replace the lost air flow caused by the seperator & corrigated flex hose. revwarguy is correct, regarding the “fine” dust inhalation, finer filtration should be a major consideration. I went with the Wynn 35A274NANO along with reconfiguring the DC, incorporating a Thein Top Hat and installing 4” metal ducting throughout the shop.

My setup:

Also highly recommended is an ambient air cleaner, to filter those “fines” that the DC doesn’t get!!!

Happy dust making (not dust breathing)!!!

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View PJ72's profile


55 posts in 2344 days

#4 posted 06-16-2013 03:33 PM

Thanks for the comments and welcomes. I admit, when I set out on this project my primary concern was containing the mess. I hate wearing masks, because they fog my glasses; you are right revwarguy, It would be worth a lot.

I have looked at the wynn35A filter and was concerned with the way it hooked to the inside diameter of the DC collector baffle; It appeared to use 3 turn buckle hooks on the ID of the baffle. The baffle is not very sturdy and flexes very easy.

Diyaholic, did you have to re-inforce the HF collector baffle to get a good seal between the filter and the baffle and keep from damaging the baffle? Does the filter itself provide sufficient back support at the ID of the baffle?
Revwarguy, do you have any recommendation on a good way to DIY a wok lid on the inside of the HF collector?

I think I would like to tackle this in stages with these two items being first on my list and then when the budget permits I will look into ambient air filtration.

-- PJ

View DIYaholic's profile


19877 posts in 3212 days

#5 posted 06-16-2013 03:51 PM

I did not re-inforce the baffle in the collection ring, there is only a small amount of distorton. This was recently done & I have not checked the seal between the baffle and filter. Should the seal prove to be inadequate, I feel, an additional foam gasket/weather stripping would solve the problem.

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2425 days

#6 posted 06-16-2013 04:48 PM

Thanks for the review PJ. I bought the same model dust collector a few months ago when I purchased a table saw, and have been debating the best way to upgrade it. After reading the reviews on LJs, I am planning to buy the Wynn 35A filter to improve the filtration quality.

I don’t feel like devoting the time to building a home made baffle to top a chip collector (at least not right now) and the Woodcraft top you have on your trash can looks pretty reasonable at $33. As I just received a planer for fathers day, a chip collector seems to be the next order of business. Thanks again all!

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3768 days

#7 posted 06-16-2013 05:42 PM

@PJ72 – your set up looks a lot like mine. :-)

I have replaced my bag with the Wynn Filters nano verson and really like it. I simply don’t have any problems with dust collection from my planer or jointer. I still have some air leaks to close up from when I built a manifold to the table saw and for a blast gate for the hose to reach the other tools.

Give Wynn a call. They have a newer version that allows for better attachment to your HF DC. I chose to make my own using a couple of four foot bungee cords and a 20# sand bag that sits on top of the filter! :-)

The filter works great.

I also built the Thein separator for use inside the drum. Works great also. Nothing visible carries over into the bag unless I let the drum fill up. :-(

Oh, welcome to the forum.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View Umpire20's profile


20 posts in 3592 days

#8 posted 01-17-2014 10:55 PM

Gentlemen ……. I just purchased the Harbor Freight Dust Collector this past weekend. I also purchased their dust collector accessory kit which consists of several hose clamps, blast gates, and a table saw “shroud”.

I am having trouble with the hoses connecting onto the tools which I want them attached to. Case in point, I have a Dewalt 735X thickness planer. The Harbor Freight hoses will not go over the dust collection output on this planer.

I also have a Ridgid R4512 table saw which has its own 4” (or so it says) dust port on the bottom. The fittings in the Harbor Freight kit seem to be different sizes than the tools I already have.

Can anyone give me some advice or tell me where I can get fittings & hoses that will fit on my tools? I really want to put this dust collector to work, but I’m hesitant to break down the shop vac connections I had until I know I can connect directly to the HF collector.

Thanks in advance for your help.

-- Steve, New Mexico, USA

View keninblaine's profile


130 posts in 2139 days

#9 posted 01-19-2014 10:03 PM

Home Depot sells some hose adapters in their shop vac section. You might want to look there.

-- Ken, Blaine Washington

View PJ72's profile


55 posts in 2344 days

#10 posted 01-21-2014 02:15 AM

I found and to have all the standard size DC hose attachments. I did find universal rubber unions in the plumbing department at the local hardware store to be very useful in some instances. The rubber plumbing unions worked very well for connecting slightly dis-similar sized rigid connections. I used the rockler dust-right system for quick connections to the various tools (my system is not permanently plumbed since my shop is in my dual use garage), and some of these rockler connections also use universal fit rubber unions for attaching to the different tools.

-- PJ

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