Hot Rodding a Harbor Freight DC #1: If you build it, dust will come.

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Blog entry by newTim posted 03-15-2011 08:18 AM 8442 reads 4 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Hot Rodding a Harbor Freight DC series Part 2: Verticality Controversy Rages On »

Here’s my big idea for converting a HF to a 2-stage DC. I sold my Jet and bought the HF for $139. I got the vortex (?) lid from Woodcraft and am using a regular plastic trash can. I didn’t take the time, yet, to draw in the intake/outtake hoses, and I don’t know how to draw the plastic bag, but you can get an idea of the concept. I must confess, however, I already built one of these, but it turned out to be too small. It was too short, too narrow, and not deep enough, other than that it was pretty good. I will add pictures in the next entries.

-- tim hill

9 comments so far

View nobuckle's profile


1120 posts in 2757 days

#1 posted 03-15-2011 02:38 PM

Tim, that looks really good. If you are wanting to draw a clear plastic bag in SU these steps may help:

1. Use the circle tool to create a circle to your desired diameter.
2. Use the Push/Pull tool to create a cylinder to your desired height.
3. Use the Select tool to select the created cylinder.
4. Right click one time and turn the cylinder into a group or component.
5. Use the Bucket tool and choose the Translucent option from the list of choices.
6. Choose the TranslucentGlassTinted and apply this to your cylinder.
7. Select the Edit tab of the Materials options. Here you should see a color wheel that has a little box in it. Use your mouse to drag that box into an area of the color wheel that is more white in color. You should see the imediate effect in your model.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions. I’ll help as much as I can.

-- Doug - Make an effort to live by the slogan "We try harder"

View StumpyNubs's profile


7590 posts in 2797 days

#2 posted 03-15-2011 02:53 PM

Did you already build it? If not you should really consider making your own Thien Cyclone top for the barrell instead of the woodcraft lid. While the lid does well, it really lets a lot of dust through, It is a poor design. the intake and outlet openings are too close to each other.

Another thing to consider is a better filter for the collector. The one on it is not big enough and it restricts aurflow, therefore decreasing suction in the system. You could either buy a canister filter, or for a cheaper option you could order a second HF filter bag and use it in place of the plastic bag, especially if your cyclone is catching almost all the dust.

Plus, don’t forget to use as little flex hose as possible in the system! Run PVC dusct throughout the shop to each machine with blast gates, and then just a foot or two of hose to make the connections! All that hose in your photo is KILLING your airflow!

Just a couple of modifications to your design that would REALLY make it more efficient…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View newTim's profile


607 posts in 3603 days

#3 posted 03-15-2011 07:53 PM

Two great responses. Thanks.

Nobuckle… I had forgotten to use the translucent material in Sketchup. I’m also going to try to extrude the cylindar so it has a wedge-shaped bottom. We’ll see.

Stumpt… re the canister… the good folks at Wynn Environmental won’t be too happy to hear that their filter is undersized. (Picture Below) Re the flex hose. You are correct and your comments are appreciated. The second picture doesn’t show the half of it. I have a long run of flex hose running up the wall and across the ceiling and back down to a central stack. This was intended to test the run. And with all that length of flex hose and all the hoses connected to the trashcan, the system worked great. Imagine what it will do when I use short lengths of hose and long lengths of 5” duct. Re the Wood craft lid and the Thein… you are correct. The Woodcraft lid is cheap, but it is also quick. The Thein looks interesting and I plan to add one down the road. Re whether I already built it? Yes I did. However, like many things I do, I don’t really understand all the issues until I try out a physical model. My process was bass-akwards in that I designed the concept on paper and tried to think of all the things it needed. I then proceeded to build a cabinet that was too small in every dimension. I then took a lot of notes and measurements and such and sat down with Sketchup. I will build the new one this weekend.

Not an ideal process, then again, I’m not always good with process.

-- tim hill

View DIYaholic's profile


19620 posts in 2671 days

#4 posted 03-16-2011 06:50 AM

I just got the 2HP HF DC, and plan to do a similar modification. Posts and pictures of your progress (and finished product) would be greatly appreciated. I’m trying to fiqure out the quickest, easiest (and did I say cheapest) way to accomplish the “upgrade”. I’ll be watching this thread intently!!!

Thanks for taking the time and effort to post this.

-- 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 newTim's profile


607 posts in 3603 days

#5 posted 03-16-2011 07:51 AM

DIYaholic… I’ll be adding more chapters shortly. Nobuckle… here’s a shot at adding the clear bag.

-- tim hill

View IrreverentJack's profile


727 posts in 2839 days

#6 posted 03-16-2011 03:24 PM

Great post Tim, thanks. I really appreciate all the SketchUp effort. Any reason the the blower/impeller couldn’t be mounted vertically/plumb so the 90 at the inlet can be eliminated? -Jack

View newTim's profile


607 posts in 3603 days

#7 posted 03-16-2011 07:53 PM

Jack… there are a number of posts in the Review section on the HF DC. I don’t have the link to insert here, but I’m sure you can find them. In any event, in a couple of them people have mounted the motor horizontally and this spurred some comment on vertical v. horizontal motors. One poster said he knew of many people who are using the motor horizontally and have had no problem. Others, some identifying themselves as experts, note that vertical motors should not be run horizontally. Many people asked how they can tell if a motor can be run in either position. The experts seem to say to check the motor. Really? To which the responders ask how can they check the motor. The experts seem to be stumped. Nor do they offer any information about the consequences, like is it a fire or shock hazard, or if they just seize up or quit running, or if it significantly shortens uselife life, etc.

Bottom line is I’m still trying to research the issue. Placing the motor horizontally is the way to go because you can get a direct line from the trash can to the fan housing. And if you build your own Thein you can center a 5” duct in the top of the trashcan, therefore also centering the motor. At this point I’m leaning toward that opotion. Since I already built a cabinet (I had planned to build another) I’m thinking about trying it in the horizontal position. I’m going to start by flipping the motor component in my Skethup model. One small problem is the lid I’m using doesn’t have a middle hole so the duct from the motor/fan to the trashcan lid will have to be slightly askew. At least if and until I build a Thein.

Please let me know if you run across any information on this.

-- tim hill

View JamesVavra's profile


304 posts in 3312 days

#8 posted 03-17-2011 10:29 PM

Regarding vertical vs. horizontal motors: They all show which orientation they are meant to be run. It’s coded with a letter after the rated voltage. All of mine are vertical motors as indicated by the plates that show 110V or 220V.

Trust me, I’m an expert!


View Sarit's profile


549 posts in 3136 days

#9 posted 05-05-2011 09:32 AM

In regards to horizontal vs vertical, I believe its not the motor but how the impeller is connected to the shaft. If the impeller arbor is designed as a compression fitting rather than using the pressure of the set screw to dig into the shaft, then it can be mounted vertically. This type of fitting is called a tapered bushing. You can find more info about it here.
Have people run non-compression arbored impellers their entire lives vertically w/o incident? Certainly. Should you? I guess it depends on how well the impeller housing can withstand and contain an impeller strike and whether the impeller will self destruct into shrapnel or just get dented/banged up.

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