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Making an Internal Thien Baffle for a HF Dust Collector

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Blog entry by Rex B posted 02-24-2013 09:23 PM 8262 reads 15 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

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!

-- Rex



15 comments so far

View Roger's profile

Roger

15305 posts in 1552 days


#1 posted 02-24-2013 09:35 PM

Looks like it will work like a charm. Nice job, and nice “how-to” as well.

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Kentuk55@bellsouth.net

View NormG's profile

NormG

4510 posts in 1751 days


#2 posted 02-24-2013 11:54 PM

Thanks for the pics

-- Norman

View Darren's profile

Darren

10 posts in 1074 days


#3 posted 04-16-2013 03:45 PM

I was wondering if this could be done, didn’t want to mess with extra can and hoses for the Thien baffle. So how is it working out? Have you noticed a difference?

-- Darren, KCMO, http://www.darrensshop.com

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

314 posts in 998 days


#4 posted 04-17-2013 12:34 PM

It does what it’s supposed to. When I first bought this dust collector, the dust would swirl in the bottom bag like a tornado. The Thien baffle has stopped that swirling, and therefore the upper bag should be staying much cleaner. I’m definitely glad I did this. I’m not the first to put my Thien baffle in that location.

The advantages of an internal Thien baffle are:
  • Simple construction
  • Space and material savings
  • No pressure drop
The advantages of an external Thien separator are:
  • Keeps filter even cleaner if working correctly
  • Separates large chips and debris before they hit the impeller
  • Easier to empty when full

-- Rex

View JoeinGa's profile

JoeinGa

3673 posts in 755 days


#5 posted 04-17-2013 12:55 PM

Nice. Thanks for the pictoral

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View Darren's profile

Darren

10 posts in 1074 days


#6 posted 04-17-2013 03:26 PM

Cool. Thanks Rex! I ordered the Wynn filter yesterday. So will get both installed this next week. Another member over on Family Woodworking had used a wok pan mounted in his upside down, which does about the same, but I’ve got the MDF and dowels for doing the Thien method.

-- Darren, KCMO, http://www.darrensshop.com

View DW833's profile

DW833

69 posts in 630 days


#7 posted 10-06-2013 12:34 AM

Can the internal baffle be used with an canister filter, like a Wynn 35Axxx?

View DIYaholic's profile (online now)

DIYaholic

14584 posts in 1423 days


#8 posted 10-06-2013 03:31 AM

DW833,
YES!

-- 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 Rex B's profile

Rex B

314 posts in 998 days


#9 posted 10-07-2013 01:06 PM

DW833 – as DIYaholic said, YES! The main purpose of the baffle is to keep the filter clean, which is mostly a concern when using a canister filter. I just haven’t upgraded my filter yet, but I will as my budget allows.

-- Rex

View dorald's profile

dorald

16 posts in 540 days


#10 posted 03-31-2014 06:37 PM

Dear Rex B
I just finished talking with Dick Wynn, and he said your method is definitely the right way to go. It wasn’t an endorsement just that it was definitely the correct way to go.

I made the mistake of letting my Wynn air filter get too congested. It took a long time to clean it out. Dick mentioned that never let the debris bag get more than a quarter full although with the installation of this baffle you can get it let it get fuller, maybe half.

Dick also mentioned never wash the filter. Use compressed air not above 80 psi. and the combination of dropping it against the ground from a height of 2 to 3 inches so’s not to damage the filter or the housing.

Just thought I’d pass what I just learned along . . .

Dick Wynn sounded very approachable and eager to help in anyway you could. He invited my call again should I have more questions. Great customer service!

View dorald's profile

dorald

16 posts in 540 days


#11 posted 03-31-2014 08:10 PM

Dear Rex B
I just finished talking with Dick Wynn, and he said your method is definitely the right way to go. It wasn’t an endorsement just that it was definitely the correct way to go.

I made the mistake of letting my Wynn air filter get too congested. It took a long time to clean it out. Dick mentioned that never let the debris bag get more than a quarter full although with the installation of this baffle you can get it let it get fuller, maybe half.

Dick also mentioned never wash the filter. Use compressed air not above 80 psi. and the combination of dropping it against the ground from a height of 2 to 3 inches so’s not to damage the filter or the housing.

Just thought I’d pass what I just learned along . . .

Dick Wynn sounded very approachable and eager to help in anyway you could. He invited my call again should I have more questions. Great customer service!

View dorald's profile

dorald

16 posts in 540 days


#12 posted 04-04-2014 12:37 PM

REX – What is the length of the 1” dowels you used and how far does this put the baffle from the cove surface?

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

314 posts in 998 days


#13 posted 04-04-2014 01:20 PM

Dorald, I don’t know what length the dowels are exactly, but they put the baffle right above the bent lip at the bottom of the DC ring, as you can kind of see in one of the pictures above.

-- Rex

View splinter1000's profile

splinter1000

8 posts in 231 days


#14 posted 05-05-2014 04:02 AM

Hi Rex,

I was wondering if you could tell me how well the internal baffle is working , especially in terms of keeping dust out of the upper filter bag?

Kindest regards

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

314 posts in 998 days


#15 posted 05-06-2014 12:07 PM

It’s hard to say exactly how well it’s working, because I still haven’t upgraded to a canister filter. The big difference I do notice between my dust collector now and when I first got it is that there was a whirlwind of chips always swirling in the lower bag, and the baffle has stopped that. So I think the filter must be staying cleaner than it would have otherwise.

-- Rex

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