You can turn a single stage harbor freight dust collector into a 2 stage dust collector. Watch the video below to see how it is done, or read below for a text version of the video. I also discussed this collector in a podcast episode (Raised Beds and Dust Collectors).
The harbor freight brand of tools is central machinery, normally you see a green dust collector. However, it seems that harbor freight has change the color to gray. This is the same as the green one it is just gray.
The dust collector has 3 main components:
- Motor and Blower – This actually pushes the air into the chamber where the filter is.
- Wynn Environmental Air Filter – There is a filter canister that is filtering your very small particles that are going into the system. Any dust particles that do not get caught in the filter drops into the blue bucket.
- Chip Container – The blower above blows air into the filter. It just so happens that the only place the air can come from is through a tube. This provides the “suction”. With this system it creates a cyclone inside the brown canister, and drops all of the “big” things into the canister for easier clean out.
Attach Main Motor/Blower and filtration holder
The modification all takes place in the foot print of the cart that comes with the collector itself. This allows us to keep a smaller foot print, and there is less stuff to buy.
The first thing we did was create an “L” shaped bracket we made out of angle iron. The purpose of it is to mount the motor onto the bracket high enough to connect the blower to the canister.
At the bottom part of the “L” bracket we put holes into the bracket, and the cart, to run bolts through to secure it. We did not run the bracket all the way to the end of the cart because it would interfere with the caster wheels. You can see the location by the bolts in the picture above.
Based on measurements of the height of the funnel that holds the canister, and the bucket. We determined the best height for the bracket to be 48 inches.
After test fitting the “L” bracket we cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood to fit at the top of the “L” bracket. The size almost doesn’t matter as long as there is enough space for you to connect the motor and blower to it.
We simply just connect the plywood with some lag bolts to the “L” brackets. if you aren’t careful you can over tighten these. Ask me how I know, 😂.
After the plywood is drilled and attached we set the bracket on the cart. We secure them in the front with the two bolts. We also have some side bolts to hold the bracket down as well.
Next thing we need to do is line up the blower and motor to the part that has our filter, and overflow bucket. The best way to do this is to clamp the stand to the base of the cart. From here we just line both things up.
Next we measured between the container, and the blower and figured out we needed about 3″ for the coupler. Measure on yours to make sure what you need.
Next we secured the coupler in place so that we can move onto the next step to make sure everything lines up correctly.
You don’t strictly need to check for square on the motor because you will probably use some slightly flexible hose to get to the canister below the blower. However, we wanted to make it as nice as possible so we squared it up.
Then with the motor on the board we marked each spot a bolt would go through with a paint marker. We then proceeded to drill through so we could actually mount the motor.
Simply mount the motor, and tighten it down. Be careful that you don’t let it shift too much one direction to make it difficult to attach the funnel part with the coupler.
Finally, attach the funnel and filter holder to the cart and secure it in place. However, you do this is up to you. We had it clamped in place. Drilled holes, and attached it with bolts.
Secure Filtration System
On the bottom of this funnel thing goes a gasket. You will need to put it on and cut it down to size as it comes a bit too big. From there we put silicon in the gasket and attached it to keep it secured.
This is a metal plate that we made with a jig saw. We cut it roughly the size of the funnel thing, and just a tad bit bigger so we can add some brackets to it to hold it securely. We then took the brackets, and pop riveted them on.
I think the pop rivets have been a great tool for this project to keep things secure, and looking professional.
The size of the hole in the steel is the size of the hole in this double lid for a 5 gallon bucket. We then did more silicon to attach the lid to the metal, and get a good seal on it.
After the silicon we flip it over and used more, smaller, bolts to secure the lid to the plate. We just drilled a hole through the lid, and plate. Dropped the bolt through with a washer, and a nut on the other side.
How many you do around the lid is up to you for what you think gets it secure and air tight. We ended up going with 5 bolts.
Putting on the bottom plate is a bit of a tight fit, but we persevered. We are ready at this point to add the brackets to the main part.
Here we drilled a hole through, and added the side wall brackets with more pop rivets.
In this case instead of using a pop rivet we were able to just enlarge the hole a little bit, and run it through the handle. Worked out great, almost like it was designed for it.
Next we just screwed on the 5 gallon bucket, and probably the most nerve wracking part of this whole build is done. The rest was just easy stuff.
Finally, we added the same brackets for the straps to the rim of the funnel. This is so we can secure the filter, and get a tight seal on it as well.
Cyclone Canister Setup
For the cyclone we used the Peachtree 4 inch Dust Separator Cyclone Dust Collector Kit. It seems to have worked out really well, and provides a lot of air movement.
There are only a couple of steps to install this cyclone kit, and really the hardest part is finding the canister you want to use and fits in the size. The one we used was really too tall, and narrow.
My dad did end up getting a short squat 30 gallon metal drum.
Simply drill 2 4″ holes into the lid, and the best way to do that is with a hole saw. It simply takes a couple of minutes, and you are done. It is best to do the holes on the direct opposite side of the lid.
For the coupler that the hoses attach to you have two parts. The top straight part hoses will connect to, and the 90 degree part that it goes underneath. Make sure to point them in a clockwise direction.
Finally connect the intake port of the blower to your canister. However, you do that is up to you. We got the wrong adapter that day so we just used duct tape to test out the dust collector. Seemed to work fine.
I ended up doing a few different tests with saw dust, and it seemed to work just fine. It picked everything up I threw at it, and could probably have done even more.
The entire system was also fairly quite as well, which was a surprise as I am used to really loud shopvacs. Eventually I personally plan to get a dust collector, and after the experience with this one I want one sooner.
The build went fairly smooth, the only real issues came in sourcing everything and getting ideas of how to do this 2 stage modification. Once we had plan together it came together fairly well, and quickly.
Over all the harbor freight dust collector will be a great addition to my dads shop for his jointer planer combo. Eventually he will expand it to work on his other tools as well, but the planer throws so many chips his shop cleanliness gets agitated.