Workshop Dust Collection 2.0: Modding a Harbor Freight 2 HP Dust Collector

I’m going to warn you, this post sucks!

In 2017 I made my own cyclone dust separator with a Ridgid 16 gallon vac. It worked pretty well, but left me wanting something better. Some of the things I wanted in a new system are:

  • More power
  • Larger container
  • Stationary unit
  • Better filtration

What I needed/wanted was something around two horsepower and the clear winner in that category is the one from Harbor Freight. Nothing else even comes close to their price, especially after using a 20% or 25% coupon. In order to make it work really well it needs a lot of mods though.

I looked at some of the complete solutions available and they cost at least a grand. I spent about $540 and could have saved around $100 by going with a cheaper hose and getting creative with connectors. Here’s what I bought:

Sucked my wallet dry!

This is a common project in the woodworking community, so Google can show you to a lot of variations. This 2010 post on lumberjocks.com is almost exactly what I was going for, including the trash can Thien cyclone separator baffle.

Before I get into it, here is the what the Harbor Freight dust collector looks like when it’s assembled and not modified.

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I took a few photos during my build. First task was some knolling.

I installed the cyclone kit on the trash can cover and made a Thien baffle.

A very ugly cart was made using scrap wood. The only 2x4s I had were extremely twisted.

I wasn’t sure how the stand was going to support the weight of the motor. Does fine though. I can make it lean if I push on it, but it’s not going to fall over. Most of the time it’ll be sitting in a corner also supported by the trash can under it.

These risers combine with a makeshift wedge, propping up the trash can to mate with the motor.

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Here’s the “wedge” platform. I made a design change after the stand had already been built, otherwise it could have been much shorter.

With the trash can and motor jacked up, these layered blocks raise up the bag holder and filter.

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Two coats of black spray paint.

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Turned out great, but it takes up a lot of space!

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How is the performance though? I hooked the hose up to my table saw and it started pulling old sawdust out of the saw body. I could actually see things swirling around in there. Huge improvement!

As usual, this project ended up being more work than I expected. I’m really happy with the end result and how well it works. Another upgrade I could make in the future would be to install a larger Rikon impeller for even more airflow.

I’ll have to create some adapters for tools with dust ports smaller than 4″, though the hose kit did come with some for use with 2.5″ ports. Now that I have a system with enough power I can build something around the miter saw.

DIY Dust Collector Chute for a Craftsman 351.233831 Planer

My Dad got an old Craftsman 351.233831 Planer (manual) from one of his friends for $75 after it stopped working.

When turning it on the motor would hum for a second and then the breaker (or power strip) would trip. He left the machine with me to fix. The motor shaft wouldn’t turn at all so I had to take a bunch of the machine apart (and cut the belt off) to get the motor out. I ended up using a screwdriver and hammer against the fan to free up the motor. It didn’t want to move, but slowly some hardened gunk broke up and the shaft was spinning. Since I had it in pieces I cleaned out the gear box and applied new grease to the gears.

That’s not what the title of this post is about. Since I had the machine I thought it would be nice to build some dust collection for it; these machines create one hell of a mess. Here’s a step by step of the dust collection build.










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Murdered Out!

I think it turned out pretty good and the paint is a nice touch. I might have to paint the one on my Delta dust collector.

After putting the new belt on and testing it out I noticed the feed rollers were in really bad shape so ordered a new set. The machine is an absolute beast, so I mounted it on one of the Harbor Freight stands, made a plywood base for the bottom, and put on some castors.

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I still need to figure out how to replace the feed rollers and will swap out some of the knives that are nicked up. Then it should be running like a brand new planer! It’s cool to see my Dad getting excited about a new hobby; he already has a bunch of pallets collected to tear apart.

Delta TP305 Planer Dust/Chip Collection

Back in early November I found this Delta TP305 planer for $100 on craigslist.

It was obvious the owner took care of his tools, he had just replaced the blades, and also had a set of new blades, so the price was a steal. It didn’t have any type of dust/chip collection though.

delta-planer-dust-chuteWhen Delta produced this planer, the dust collection attachment was an extra accessory. I decided to make my own because I don’t understand this design. Why would you want your hose hanging over the outfeed? Too much risk of the work piece getting jammed on the way out, which is extremely dangerous.

I found a neat idea on YouTube and went with a similar plan. Here is what the outfeed looks like normally.

I first cut some pieces to make the sides and bottom of a box.

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I screwed the right side together. Then I held it up against the planer to get the exact positioning before screwing in the left side. I wanted a snug fit.

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I cut and sanded a hole in the side for some PVC parts.

Grabbed a few scraps that would be used to hold the PVC in place.

Cut a hole in the thin piece, boxed in the male PVC part, and screw it all together.

Then I put a spacer under my in-progress box and adjusted the planer’s height. It was important to use a spacer for these next steps because I don’t want the bottom of the box to have any chance of jamming up the wood coming out of the planer. I gave it about 1/8″ of breathing room.

I cut a piece for the top. Then while putting pressure on the edge that makes contact with the planer dust chute I screwed this piece to the sides. At this point I was able to remove the spacer because the tight fit was able to hold the box in place.

I wanted to prevent the box from sagging or shifting down during use though. So I cut two little pieces.

Screwed them in from the bottom on each side.  Notice how the kind of grab on to some ledges of the planer. This is a simple way to prevent the bottom of the box from going any lower.

I drilled a hole in the top and through the metal chute. Combined with the tight fit and those blocks, now this thing can only shift up and away from the outfeed path.

The final step was to square up the back edges, cut a piece, and screw it in. There are no screws on the bottom of the back face because I used a scrap piece that wasn’t tall enough to have room for screws there. I did use some glue though.

Here you can see the clearance between the box and the outfeed I mentioned earlier.

Due to the materials I skipped using any wood glue except when I put the back face on. I did go back and hot glue all of the joints so it would be sealed for a better vacuum.

This was an easy build. The only modification to the planer was the screw hole and the whole unit can be removed by taking out that screw.

How well does it work though? You be the judge…

Craftsman 113.232240 Jointer Dust/Chip Collection

It took a few weeks after restoring the Craftsman Jointer (model 113.232240) to get going on a dust/chip collection upgrade, but now it’s done. It’s not going to win any beauty awards, but it’s functional and works awesome. Not bad for making it up as I went.

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The previous owner had installed these two side panels and basically let everything fall to the bottom of the stand. Not sure how well it worked, but I knew I could do better.

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I figured I could build some type of chute that would fit up between the motor and the bottom of the machine.

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My first idea was to create some type of cardboard model that I could reference for building a real box. This was a terrible idea trying to work up under the machine and as soon as I took it out, it basically fell apart.

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Then I had an idea to cut up this popcorn tin and build the dust chute out of it.

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I’m still not sure how I managed to keep all my fingers or not even draw a single drop of blood; those edges get extremely jagged and sharp.

In the mean time I made a trip to Home Depot and found some PVC pieces that would work with my dust collection hose.

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The tin pieces worked ok, but I wasn’t confident in the duct tape holding up, especially as a means of keeping it connected to the stand. It was not a wasted effort though because I ended up using the pieces as you’ll see in the video.

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While working on this project, I realized I really enjoyed the engineering process and solving problems when I made a mistake. I didn’t include footage of the mistakes but there were some epic ones. At some point in the build I stopped checking the fit inside the stand, so when I put it in place I shouldn’t have been surprised that some of the lower parts were smacking into the motor. After fixing that problem, the box for the power switch was in the way, which is why I moved it to the other side of the stand. Finally I forgot the motor needed to be raised in order to get the belt back on and there was no room to spare. Luckily this last problem was the easiest to fix because the motor mount could be flipped over, getting me 3-4 inches of clearance. I picked a 6 inch longer belt at AutoZone.

I imagine you could build something similar for most jointers. If you come across this post and it helps you out, let me know.