DC finished - HF 2 HP, stacked assembly

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Forum topic by rieferman posted 04-21-2011 05:52 PM 2388 views 1 time favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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39 posts in 2690 days

04-21-2011 05:52 PM

Just finished installing my dust collection system. My shop is a detached barn that I rebuilt last year, and my floor space for woodworking is roughly 20’ x 25 feet square. The shop is a dedicated woodworking shop, so hard-plumbing to stationary equipment made a lot of sense in my case.

I scored a bunch of 4” PVC for next to nothing, so although I understand that 5” or 6” pipe is better… well, you gotta go with the budget-friendly choice sometimes in life. So, I’ll live with a respirator still being required at times.

I went with the ever popular harbor freight 2 hp dust collector. I had a $139 coupon so it was similarly budget-friendly. While I was at it, I ordered their blast gates and clear flex hose.

Shortest runs are about 12 feet for my miter station, table saw, and jointer. Longest runs are closer to 25-30 feet for my bandsaw, planer, and drill press.

I plan to build a thien baffle for my shop vac to use with smaller tools such as hand sander or circ saw.

I modified the dust collector to make a stacked assembly. This saves me footprint size. I exhaust directly outside (there are no “makeup air” concerns in my case, and I’ll live with the heating loss.. no cooling in my barn, so no concern there either). I built a thien baffle directly into the ring of the DC which was easy and effective. And, I suck THROUGH a bag (rather than through a barrel). This makes it so that I can just tie up and discard without the messy dumping step. To keep the bag from imploding, it is lined with a cage skeleton that I shimmy out when it’s time to empty. Works great.

TOTAL SPEND on this entire setup = $250.

What I learned from real testing now:
4” pipe with poorly optimized runs (i.e. I have 90 degree bends) up to about 35 feet still work fine with the hf 2hp blower unit. My band saw is the furthest away with four 90’s on the way, and it keeps my shop so much cleaner. Yeah, sure, fine dust is killing me still, but I wear a respirator to reduce the issue (and my shop is detached, so my family is not affected).

The cage skeleton wants to collapse under the pressure, so I need to reinforce it. It’s passable for now, but will eventually fail if I don’t beef it up.

Exhausting outside is great, at least in this warmer weater. I may filter during winter months, but otherwise, I’m very happy with venting outside, and there’s almost nothing besides air getting out of the building due to the baffle.

Dust collection for the drill press is kind of a pain. I tend to just leave it running and move the hose around manually to cleanup as needed.

Reducing to 2.5” hose works fine, but not great. It’s worth doing as a way to have a quick/easy cleanup without dragging a shop vac out, but it’s not as powerful as a shop vac.

Running two ports at the same time is not an option. I wanted to run a 4” and a 2.5” for my table saw. No way, not with this blower. It was worth a shot.

HF blast gates and clear 4” hose are fine. I used electrical tape wrapped around the couplings of the blast gates to make them fit snuggly into the PVC pipe. Then I secured with two 1/2” screws through the PVC and through the coupling. Solid as a rock.


Overall, I’m very happy with the results. My shop will stay much cleaner, and I spent less than $250 total to complete the entire effort (and that includes purchase of the DC, the duct work, blast gates, and flex hose). I hope this is helpful to anyone else that is trying to wade through the confusing/intimidating topic of dust collection. My ending point on this topic is that there’s an optimal way to do this process, and there’s an economic way to do it. I chose the economic route knowing there’d be limitations, but at the end of the day, it works pretty darn well anyways.

-- New to woodworking, old to barn fixin'

10 replies so far

View rieferman's profile


39 posts in 2690 days

#1 posted 04-21-2011 05:54 PM

here’s how I attached the baffle if you’re curious:

Some more pics of the various machines with gates etc.

-- New to woodworking, old to barn fixin'

View rieferman's profile


39 posts in 2690 days

#2 posted 05-05-2011 09:35 PM

I can’t tell if this has been read by anyone, but in the spirit of providing good information should anyone search later, I’ll update.

So, this week, I jointed, planed, band sawed, drill pressed, table sawed, and miter sawed a bunch of rough cut white oak. The end result was a full bag full of chips/dust collected, about 1 dust pan’s worth of mess on the floor/tables to sweep up manually, and some small additional lessons learned.

- The “suck through the bag” design is getting scrapped in favor of a normal hard container. It just can’t take the continual beating of the system.

- Miter saw hood is good, but I will be extending the port on the back of the saw down into my dust collection tube to reduce the puff of dust that occurs with each cut.

- I need a damn remote for turning the DC on and off! ha ha

In the end, I would have no problem advising someone to try 4” PVC (as opposed to 5” or 6”) for runs as long as 30 feet if they are looking for a much cleaner shop on a budget.

I hope this is helpful to anyone

-- New to woodworking, old to barn fixin'

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3157 days

#3 posted 05-05-2011 09:47 PM

I’m surprised nobody commented on this. Very nice setup. Thanks for sharing…I’ve got the same DC and will be looking at doing something very similar.

-- jay,

View FaTToaD's profile


394 posts in 3140 days

#4 posted 05-05-2011 11:34 PM

Looks good to me. I plan on putting up pictures my super compact DC solution here soon. After using my “less than ideal” setup I gota saw any dust collection is better than no dust collection.

-- David

View Les 's profile


201 posts in 2689 days

#5 posted 05-06-2011 01:43 PM

As far as the remote is concerned, just go to Grainger or a similar supplier and get an all purpose relay with a 120 volt coil. Wire your DC through the contacts and get an inexpensive remote used for table lamps and such. Plug the DC relay into the lamp control and drop the remote into your apron pocket. You can control from anywhere.


-- Stay busy....Stay young

View rieferman's profile


39 posts in 2690 days

#6 posted 05-06-2011 01:51 PM

Thanks for the comments guys (and for the remote control suggestion Les!) :) My whole point in posting my success story here is two fold:

1) As noted above, any dust control is better than none. And if the excuse is “I can’t afford it”, you really can. I did, and for under $250 total. And realistically, my shop is nice and clean now, so the “cheap solution” doesn’t need to be a crappy solution.

2) I was in a constant state of “holy cow this is so complicated”, double guessing myself, reading and reading… I’m gonna die if I don’t have four thousand horse power and 40 inch wide metal spiral pipe to my machines! 4” pipe won’t work in runs longer than 3.175 feet! Flex is more horrible than getting a wedgie! CFM, static pressure, lions, tigers, and bears… Oh my!

So, while a dylos meter will ding like a carnival game in my shop, it’s nice and neat in my shop, and a respirator and air cleaner (and an open garage door + leaf blower) help me round out my solution to something that I can live with in terms of health concerns.

In other words, my post about my DC solution is intended to be an “every man’s dust collection solution”. If I worked wood for a living, I’d surely upgrade, but for 2 hours per night, I think this is a reasonable solution that ANYONE can realistically install in their shops.

Just trying to help out anyone else that’s stuck in analysis paralysis like I was. :)

-- New to woodworking, old to barn fixin'

View StumpyNubs's profile


7592 posts in 2799 days

#7 posted 05-06-2011 02:07 PM

Good for you for solving your dust collection problem with your own ingenuity!

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

View Les 's profile


201 posts in 2689 days

#8 posted 05-06-2011 04:03 PM

Good for you!! I like people that take on problems until they are solved and do it within what they can afford.

I am not sure how you are using your flex tubing, or what you are using, but check at your Lowe’s or HD In the drain pipe section you will find 4” black ribbed flex used for downspout drain and such. there are 2 kinds, perforated and solid. It works really well for the connection from the blast gate to the equipment. Just FYI

When I put the sections of pipe together I never glue, I just short self drilling sheet metal screws and an drill with a 1/4” nut driver on it. If you want to change your piping later, just take it apart.


-- Stay busy....Stay young

View rieferman's profile


39 posts in 2690 days

#9 posted 05-06-2011 05:26 PM

Hey Les, Thanks! :)

I used the 10 foot lengths of clear 4” flex hose from harbor freight (has to be ordered online, they don’t carry it in stores). It was cost effectve compared to other options, and it’s super flexible and easy to cut. I really only used short lengths in a few places where movement was likely (such as raising and lowering the planer, or moving my band saw a little bit) so I ended up only needing a little bit of material.

As far as connections.. I used SD (sewer/drain… astm 2729 I believe) pipe. For those buying pipe and fittings, if there’s a plastic/pipe supply house in your area, the pricing is unbelievable compared to Lowes/Home Depot. I paid about 1/4 price by doing just that.

The SD pipe accepted the harbor freight blast gates very nicely. To make a snug fit, I wrapped a couple courses of black electrical tape around the male portion of the blast gate, and snugged it into the PVC pipe. This makes a nice airtight connection that is cheap and easy to do. Then I used 1/2” screws in two places through that connection to prevent it ever coming off. On the other side of the blast gate, I completed the connection to my machines either with more PVC (same process) or with hose clamps and flex.

For all the PVC to PVC connections around the shop, I initially used HVAC tape (foil tape, NOT “duck tape” or “duct tape” which I actually find pretty useless in most long term applications) which worked very nicely, but is overkill. In the end, I actually found gaffers tape (like they use to tape ankles) is perfect. It’s cheap, it’s strong as hell, the adhesive lasts indefinitely, and it forms nicely around the joint in the PVC.

To keep the PVC in place along walls and ceilings, I used plastic pipe straps – the roll of perforated plastic that you use to hold plumbing to the ceiling of your basement. I think it was $3 for a roll that I’ve been working through for several years now. It’s not a beautiful looking solution, but I’m woodworking, not entering a beauty pageant (you can all sigh with relief).

-- New to woodworking, old to barn fixin'

View rieferman's profile


39 posts in 2690 days

#10 posted 05-23-2011 02:54 PM

As I noted above, the “suck through the bag” design DOES work if you can fabricate a suitable skeleton/cage to put inside it to keep it from imploding. AND, it DOES have advantages, namely that you don’t make a mess when it’s time to through away the dust (just tie it up and toss it). My free solution (wire mesh fencing) wasn’t up to the task, so I opted to return to a canister to collect the dust.

So, I called around to some local plastic molding companies. They use 35 gallon fiber/cardboard drums to receive their shipments of plastic pellets. On a tip, I found one locally that was willing to give me 3 of the drums for free. I also own a 55 gallon plastic drum, but I’ve found that even for a big guy like me, it’s just too cumbersome (too big). Anyways, at $0, the price was right.

With a canister, one issue is knowing when it’s full. If it fills up without me knowing it, dust will be spewed out the exhaust all over the side of my barn. Can’t have that. So, I cut a window and covered it with plexiglass. The glass does get a bit dusty during operation, but not so much that you can’t see if the material is backing up. A little bit of weather stripping I had laying around, scrap plexi glass, and 4 nuts/bolts from my miscellaneous bin… $0. Price is still right.

Now… how to take a cylindrical containter and connect it to a different diameter cylindrical DC ring? With a nod to automotive design, I decided upon a diaphragm design. My next door neighbor had some leftover rubber pond liner laying around (although you could use inner tube material or similar) so I wrapped it around the DC ring tightly, and then used the band strap that came with the unit to hold it fast. I left about 8 inches hanging below sort of like a “skirt”. $0. Budget still in tact!

To put the canister in place, I hike up that skirt, slide the bin in place, and pull the skirt down again. It takes a little bit of effort, but not bad (easily a one man operation), and about 30 seconds of time spent. The connection is so tight that no additional strapping is needed to hold it all together.

I pushed about 10 mountainous piles of dust/chips/shavings through the longest run in my system. Through the window in the canister, I could witness the cyclonic action. We also watched the exterior exhaust and noted that not even the slightest trace of dust was getting past the Thien Baffle. Suction is actually improved significantly (I’d venture to say “dramatically”), which leads me to believe my old bag system had a hole in the bag or was otherwise leaking.

Final verdict… If I were to build this entire system again from scratch, I think I’d aim for my current design. The diaphragm is so easy to use and so easy to construct. The window works great. The container is small enough to empty, but large enough that you don’t need to constantly do so. The stacked assembly has a very small footprint (less than 2 foot x 2 foot… less than 5 feet tall) AND incorporates a cyclone substitute that works like a charm.

I hope this is helpful to anyone else.

-- New to woodworking, old to barn fixin'

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