Question: 13 Gal Harbor Freight dust collector (green)

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Forum topic by Elizabeth posted 10-17-2010 12:52 AM 9981 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3142 days

10-17-2010 12:52 AM

I got the above dust collector (Central Machinery # 31810) as a stopgap while I figure out where my tools will live and what sort of dust system I will ultimately put in. Today was the first day I ran it attached to a machine, and I am having problems.

I connected it via a 4” flexible hose to my G490X jointer. The collector didn’t have any instructions to speak of but it seemed pretty straightforward – put the bag on the port where the air blows out, and the hose on the port where the air sucks in. There’s a preinstalled plastic grate on the infeed port and they included a spare grate, I guess if the first one breaks. It appears to require opening up the whole collector to change the grate.

My jointer is set up to take about 1/16th off, I believe. I’ve got a spiral cutterhead. The small chips of wood that blow through the jointer look like the really thin shavings used with hamster cages, but they’re not “dust”. The problem I’m having is that these chips are not small enough to go through the grating on the dust collector infeed port.

Some chips have gotten pulled through and are in the bag, but within about ten seconds of cutting anything there is a buildup of chips on the infeed port. This drops the air pressure in the hose (though the bag stays inflated) and before I’ve finished passing the board through the jointer I’m getting clouds of chips spraying out of the jointer anywhere they can go. In the instant that the board clears the cutterhead and the guard has not yet popped back there’s a festive little shower of chips that bursts out of the cutterhead area.

Surely this is not normal. What am I doing wrong? Do I need to get a trash can and cyclone lid to let the chips drop down before reaching the dust collector? They’re so light I think the majority of them would go through anyway, and that will run me an extra $50…which starts to negate the purpose of getting the little one for now anyway. To make matters more annoying I am pretty sure I ditched the dust collector packaging already, after testing that the motor worked.


12 replies so far

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 2945 days

#1 posted 10-17-2010 12:55 AM

Liz, pretty sure I’ve seen several posts on this DC that recommend removal of the grate, most had the same problem as yours. I’m assembling one and will do the same pretty quick.

-- Smitty

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3142 days

#2 posted 10-17-2010 12:57 AM

That’s what I was leaning toward. Is there any down side to removing it, assuming I’m careful not to suck up bits of metal? (I use a shop vac for floor cleaning.)

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3142 days

#3 posted 10-17-2010 03:08 AM

It’s working much better now. Dale, FYI there are actually two grates to take off, one on the inlet and one the outlet. I missed the second one at first because the white bag was still attached.

Works great now though! My jointer was completely backed up with sawdust but I’ve given it a going over with the shop vac and I think it’s all cleared out.

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 2945 days

#4 posted 10-20-2010 02:55 AM

Elizabeth, thanks for the tip! Here are several reviews of this DC, many great tips and modifications covered in the discussions. Two favored mods are the addition of the homemade Thien baffle and a cannister filter in place of the top bag.

Sounds like you’re having fun in the shop.


-- Smitty

View crank49's profile


4030 posts in 2969 days

#5 posted 10-20-2010 07:55 PM

Smitty22: This is not the collector with the top bag. It’s a fan and 1hp motor on casters with the discharge going directly into a horizontal bag.

I have the 2hp collector you are thinking about with the bottom plastic bag and the top cloth bag. I was leaning toward the small one that Elizabeth has, but I lucked up and caught the big one on sale for $139.

Elizabeth, the grill is as much of a safety guard as anything else. Supposed to keep you from sticking your hand into the fan and also to stop any chunks of wood from going into the fan. Since it sounds like you already removed the grill, be careful. When you get time and funds available, add a metal trash can between the dust source and the fan inlet. A Thien baffle is nice, as is a cyclone, but just a 30 gallon can with two 4” hose connectors on the lid will drop out any big chunks and some of the larger chips before they go to the fan. This can be added now and later upgraded to the baffle to catch more of the chips and dust if you want.

View Elizabeth's profile


817 posts in 3142 days

#6 posted 10-20-2010 08:12 PM

Hi Crank49, thanks for your reply. I have been trying to get a metal trash can but can’t find anyplace selling them for less than $30 which seems a bit much! I already have a modified lid for it, just trying to find a can now.

I’m not planning on getting my hands anywhere near the fan opening, don’t worry!

View ChrisForthofer's profile


150 posts in 3065 days

#7 posted 10-20-2010 09:07 PM

I have no affiliation with this guy but it is about the best deal I have found going for a true cyclone separator. Its just the cyclone, no motor (you already have that) and you can get it in either a 4 or 6” inlet. It would do the job you are needing it to do as well as be able to grow with your needs. Here is the link.


-- -Director of slipshod craftsmanship and attention deficit woodworking

View PCTNWV's profile


99 posts in 2803 days

#8 posted 10-20-2010 09:11 PM

I had a similar DC and still use it on my Bandsaw. I encountered a similar problem. The gaurd is not only to keep your fingers out but to protect the blades of the fan as well from large pieces and to prevent jamming. To use it w/ equipment that creates a lot of larger chips I added a trash can and a homade cyclone (I believe the total cost, including the can and PVC pipe, was 35-40). It is easy to find plans on the net and making one is pretty simple. This eliminated the cloging problem. I still use the trash can today on my larger DC as it prevents me from changing bags as often.

-- Troy, Virginia

View smitty22's profile


714 posts in 2945 days

#9 posted 10-20-2010 09:55 PM

Crank, thanks for the correction, I made a wrong turn somewhere!

Elizabeth, The external can and lid sounds like a good idea in any case.

-- Smitty

View sillac's profile


644 posts in 2762 days

#10 posted 11-02-2010 04:35 AM

I have an old Jet 1100 and have a garbage can to separate out the chips, it works very well indeed, in fact I would say it gets over 95% of the chips and dust, I will empty the can 4 or 5 times and still only have 4 or 5 inches in the dust collector. The suction fitting is in the center of the lid and the inlet is out near the edge and has an elbow under the lid to start a cyclone effect to the material entering the can. I also replaced the bag, (it let fine dust through and I had a fine layer of dust all over my shop) with a felt bag that is about 1/8 inch thick and maybe 8 feet tall, this has greatly reduced the dust in the shop (old shop). The new shop will have a Clearvue cyclone with a 5hp motor. Which is very loud, I will be building a closet around it to dampen the noise. Hope some of this info will help in the future DC system.

-- Steve in Oregon,

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3172 days

#11 posted 11-02-2010 04:40 AM

”I have an old Jet 1100 and have a garbage can to separate out the chips, it works very well indeed, in fact I would say it gets over 95% of the chips and dust, I will empty the can 4 or 5 times and still only have 4 or 5 inches in the dust collector. ”


That’s my story, too, with the 2HP HF DC, a Wynn 35A cartridge filter, a Woodcraft cyclone lid, and a 30gal garbage can.

It’s pretty amazing how well the setup works. Now that I use a Performax 16-32 drum sander, I CAN get some dust in the bag, but … before that … almost all chips, baby !

Much easier to dump the 30gal can into contractor bags, and then … empty THOSE into the yard, too !

-- -- Neil

View Lochlainn1066's profile


138 posts in 2776 days

#12 posted 11-02-2010 08:39 PM

4” is too small and flex hose too constricting for anything but short (3’) runs for anything but the lightest of collection. Jointers and planers put out massive amounts of chips. My planer is on 3’ of 4” flex hose to a 6” run and it doesn’t quite keep up.

There are two rules I follow for plumbing DC’s: use the biggest pipe you can (6” is fine for 2 HP) with a minimum of smaller pipe to mate to machines, and avoid flex hose like the plague.

I use my DC (2hp Grizzly, identical to the HF) mainly to collect lathe shavings from a floor sweep port. I used 6” pipe. I had to build a pre-separator to keep it from clogging. Sawdust is nothing compared to 6-8” shavings, and I don’t have any problems with it.

-- Nate,

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