Review: Harbor Freight Dust Collector

I've recently come to the conclusion that my shop-vac just wasn't doing a good enough job at dust collection. When a Harbor Freight flyer arrived in the mail recently, I noticed that HF was putting their 13 Gallon Industrial Portable Dust Collector[1] on sale for about $90. So I picked up one today to use with my planer, jointer, and anything else I could connect up.
At the store, I looked around for some 4" hose, as the ad and the web page for the DC state "Hose sold separately". I couldn't find any. I asked one sales person and they claimed they didn't sell any hose of that sort. Given the wording about the hose being sold separetly, it implied to me that it was something HF sells, but maybe not all the sells people know about it. So I decided to ask a different sales person--this time I got a better answer. It turns out they don't sell just the hose, but they do sell a Dust Collector Accessory Kit[2] for $43. This kit wasn't out on the floor, so they had to get it from the back. If you should decide to get one of these things, make a note of the model number (93601) and then ask someone to get one of them for you.
The DC kit includes two 10' lengths of 4" hose that seem quite sturdy, along with a collection of wire clamps, blast gates, etc. I was really only interested in the hose and clamps, but figured I'd find a use for the other goodies later on.
When I got the DC and DC Kit home, there wasn't much to put together except the casters on the DC. I was impressed with the size of the motor on it (1HP) and it looked to be a pretty beefy little unit. The DC bag is made out of canvas, but it is very thick and sturdy. One thing I immediately noticed though was the casters. In the ad/web page it describes them as "heavy duty ball bearing casters." Not even close--these are just those plastic sort of things you find on cheap office chairs. No biggy there though, if they break, I'll just replace them with some better casters.
The first thing I decided to try was using the DC with my jointer. I fired up the DC and was pleasently surprised at how much less noise it makes than my shop vac. I then fired up the jointer and ran a board through a couple of times and then shut everything down. Checking the bag of the DC there were indeed some dust in there--so it must be working.
Next I decided to try the DC with my planer. This is where I'd really been wanting better dust collection, because even with my shop vac hooked to the planer, it would still spit chips all over the place. After getting the DC connected, I ran a board through and immediately noticed that the planer was still spitting chips. I decided to check the DC and see if there was something wrong. At the end of the hose, it seemed the suction wasn't very strong. I shut down the DC and then removed the hose on the input side and immediately I noticed what the problem was--it was clogged with chips. On the inside of the DC's input was a plastic mesh/screen that was clogging things up, so I decided to see if I could remove it. The input is held on with four machine screws. After removing those, I was able to easily remove the screen. I put the input connector back on along with the hose and then fired up the planer again. Again, it was spitting chips at me. This time, it turns out the output side of the DC was clogged--again with a screen. The screen on the output was also easily removed.
With both input and output screens removed, I was now getting some decent suction from the DC. This time, when I ran some wood through the planer there were no chips to be seen at all. This little DC really does a good job at getting the dust and chips away from the cutter head on the planer.
So, with the HF DC on sale for about $90 and the added DC Kit it all comes to about $133 (with out tax). Normally the DC goes for about $120. If you've been wanting a small dust collector, this one seems to do a pretty good job.
[1]: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber1810 [2]: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber601
--

If you want to reply via email, change the obvious words to numbers and
remove ".invalid".
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Michael Faurot wrote:

Just a minor note. This thing is more properly called a "chip collector". It doesn't have enough airflow to collect finer dust, and any that it does collect will go right through the bag.
It will likely work just fine to collect planer/jointer chips, but it won't protect your lungs at all. You should still wear a respirator for that.
Chris
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Best of all would be to exhaust it outside! Wilson

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Wilson wrote:

I bought one of these little vacs about a year ago, and that is EXACTLY what I did! That bag that comes with it is for the birds. It DEFINITELY does NOT stop dust. I routed the hoses from the aforementioned hose kit in such a way that the discharge goes directly out my window into my basement window well. I used the 12" table saw hood on the output hose at the window. A piece of cardboard and a couple pieces of duct tape keep it pretty tight. The input and output screens were left in place. I pull off the input hose and clean it out when clogged. I keep a plastic bowl handy for the cleanout. When I use the jointer, the hose clogs quickly. Perhaps I will try removing the screens as mentioned above. Without the screens in place, what do you think about the possibility of damage to the vac from stray nails or large chips?
Best Regards, Sam
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'm not worried about any stray metal like nails getting into the DC as I'm pretty careful about the salvaged wood I mess with. As for larger chips of wood, that did cross my mind. I may wind up putting a chip separator of some type in front of the DC such as these from Grizzly[1][2] or this one from Harbor Freight[3].
[1]: http://www.grizzly.com/products/G3376 [2]: http://www.grizzly.com/products/G6102 [3]: http://www.harborfreight.com/cpi/ctaf/displayitem.taf?Itemnumber86
--

If you want to reply via email, change the obvious words to numbers and
remove ".invalid".
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Snippage

I bought a similar King unit here in Canada a few years ago, although it wasn't close to $90.
I originally bought it for blowing dust from a renovation job outside without the crappy little bag. I was impressed with the blow power of this little unit. But when I put the bag on, the suction dropped to nothing. So I replaced the bag with one of the huge 5 micron bags from Lee Valley strapped to the top of a G Can with a gate. I also neutured my blower (took the stand off) and strapped it to a wooden lid on the top of another G can to act as a chip collector. The performance increase was astounding and I rarely have to empty the dust bucket, just the chip bucket.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 6 Oct 2006 17:03:17 -0500, "Michael Faurot"

If you have room, I'd suggest making a cyclone type chip collector... This is a picture of my monster.. lol
https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis/images/shop-dc.jpg
It will not only collect the chips and larger dust in the can, but my main concern in your case is that if I understand correctly, you've removed the screen that would protect your impeller from a screw or knot that the DC sucked up... After hearing a few things "ping" on the impeller, I made my trash can collector quick! *g*
Mac
https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis https://home.comcast.net/~mac.davis/wood_stuff.htm
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That is a monster. :)

I think that's what I'll ultimately do. I was thinking I'd just get the garbage can cyclone lid from Grizzly[1] and a suitable sized garbage can from the local hardware store. But maybe I'll take another look at fabricating one myself, now that I've seen yours.
Thanks!
[1]: http://www.grizzly.com/products/G3376
--

If you want to reply via email, change the obvious words to numbers and
remove ".invalid".
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I think you need 2 things: A cyclone in front of the dust collector to collect the big stuff. I bought something like the Lee Valley garbage can top cyclone adapter - works beautifully.
The other thing is the Wynn canister filter to replace the bags on th HF machine.
I found it a pain to install the plastic bag in place of the bottom canvas bag, but finally got it in place. With the "cyclone" adapter there is hardly any need to change the bottom plastic bag.
This should take care of almost all collectable dust. You'll still have stuff kicked away from the table saw and so, si I finally dispensed with the paper masks and got a Triton Darth-Vader-type filter. Now my glasses don't fog, and I can breathe!
--
Best regards
Han
email address is invalid
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.