I waited a long time (read years) to get a dust collector. I was hoping the cyclones would fall dramatically in price. But then never did. At Christmas, I finally bit the bullet and got this 2HP single stage unit from Harbor Freight, knowing full well that I would “fix it up”. I picked it because it is cheap (list price is $249, but you can find $100 off coupons in any woodworking magazine), it also looks identical to the Rixon model sold by Woodcraft for $399.
The first thing I did was turn it into a two stage dust collector by connecting a trash can separator to it. I already had the Woodcraft trash can separator lid which I had used with my 13 inch planer. Planers produce a tremendous amount of chips, and the trash can is an efficient way to capture them. As I mentioned in my dust collection post, the trash can separator not only provides an easier way to deal with sawdust, but it is also provides a measure of safety by not allowing big chunks of wood or metal pieces from floor sweepings from impacting the dust collector impeller and causing damage or sparks which would be catastrophic with fine dust.
Finewoodworking published an article entitled “Soup Up Your Dust Collector” in issue #232. Seems I wasn’t the only one with the idea of improving on a cheap model. Thankfully, their article saved me a lot of legwork. The first thing I did was to order a Wynn C-1425 0.5 micron canister filter to replace the 5 micron felt bag that came with the Harbor Freight model I had. Notice the 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch rubberized seal on the bottom of the canister in the picture.
The first order of business was to come up with a way to mount the canister in place of the felt bag. I went about this differently than in the Finewoodworking article. I made a plywood ring that fit snugly inside the body of the dust collector body. Three partial rings attached to the underside of the top ring sat down on the dust collection sheet metal cone and space the assembly flush with the top of the dust collection housing. I ran three screws in through the sides to hold it in place, then used siliconized caulk to seal around the top edge. After letting it cure overnight, I turned it upside down and poured bondo along the inside perimeter to give me a permanent seal.
Next I added a Thein baffle (see jpthein.com or the Finewoodworking article) below the underside of the cone in the dust collection housing. The Thein baffle isolates the sawdust in the bag below from the filter above to keep the filter pleats from plugging with fine sawdust.
You can see the Thein baffle mounted below the cone in this picture. You can also see the latches I have mounted to the side of the housing. These engage the steel lip on the bottom of the canister filter and hold it securely. I obtained them from J.W.Winco Inc (www.jwwinco.com): part number 50ENEK.
After perusing J.P.Thein’s website, I decided to replace my Woodcraft trash separator lid with one of his design for two reasons: 1) I didn’t feel I was getting a good seal, and 2) I know from experience that as the trash can continued to fill up, more sawdust would start spewing out the outlet port.
To make mine I followed his basic instructions, but made the top circle bigger too allow an outside lip to be added, so that the lip of the trash can was captured between an inside and outside ring. I put 3/8 inch adhesive foam insulation in this grove to make a tighter seal.
You may wonder why I needed two Thein baffles, one in the trash can and the other in the dust collector. The reason is that my dust collector has two 4 inch ports. I dedicate one to my SawStop (thus the baffle in the dust collector), and the other to my other stationary tools via the trash can separator.
Here you can see the canister mounted on the Dust collector, and new Thein baffle lid on the trash can separator.