I was lucky enough to get the popular Harbor Freight 2 HP dust collector for Christmas. People have modified that thing in every way imaginable, so I found plenty of inspiration out there when planning what to do with mine. I decided to keep it fairly simple: a Thien baffle inside the dust collector’s separator ring, to hopefully keep the dust in the bag and not in the filter. A lot of people have done this mod, but most of them don’t post pictures because it is so simple. So I figured a quick pictorial of how I made mine might help someone in the future.
I used 1/4” MDF for the baffle. Many people use hardboard, but I have a really hard time finding stuff that is smooth on both sides. First I laid out the dimensions: 19” outer diameter with a 1.25” wide annular segment removed for 120 degrees of the circle.
I used my jigsaw to rough cut it out, making sure to cut outside the line.
Next I rigged up a simple circle-cutting jig for my router table. I put my shop-vac hose close by to catch some of the MDF dust, but it still made a nasty mess.
After cutting the drop slot with the jigsaw and router table (same way as before) and drilling 3 mounting holes, the baffle was complete.
To mount the baffle, I used 1” dowels and put hanger bolts in both ends. This way I could secure it with nuts and the baffle would be removable. The dowels need an angle on one end to mate with the dust collector ring, so I predrilled for the hanger bolt before cutting the angle.
This allowed me to use the offcuts as angled washers.
Finally, I filled the center pivot hole in the baffle with epoxy and gave it a few coats of polyurethane. I did this so that hopefully the dust will stick to it a little less.
In all, this baffle probably cost me about $15 for materials. In use, it definitely looks to be doing its job. Anyone who has this dust collector knows that the dust likes to swirl like a tornado in the bottom bag when it is turned on. This baffle has just about eliminated that swirling, so it should be keeping the filter bag cleaner. After using it for a few weeks, I noticed a few small leaks at the seam in the blower housing, so I sealed those with some caulk.
I also put some weather stripping around the bottom of the collector ring where the lower bag seats. Those efforts seem to have sealed things up nicely.
Right now I just use this dust collector for my tablesaw, and it works very well. It definitely cuts down on the mess I make quite a bit. Eventually I will have a jointer and planer as well, and will hook it up to those. I’m sure it isn’t the best dust collector out there by a long shot, but fits my needs nicely and cost about $170 including the baffle. When I get the money I do plan to add a Wynn cartridge filter, but for now I’m pleased with what I have. Thanks for reading!