I am a new member and this is my first post, but I have to say thanks to everyone in the Lumber Jocks network. This site has been a great resource for me for some time now and I have appreciated all the good reviews and comments on several topics.
I recently decided it was time to get a dust collection system. I started out with several basic requirements/goals.
1) Keep the shop cleaner while working and reduce clean up time at the end of the day. When I started using my new planer, this became a top priority.
2) Small footprint for small garage shop and must store neatly out of the way to accommodate dual functionality of the space (i.e. garage)
3) Must include a chip separator that is easy to empty
4) Mobility for tool to tool hook up (no permanent ducting would be used)
5) Minimal cost
I settled on the HF 2hp dust collector primarily based on the price point (5). I tend to shy away from HF tools when precision and accuracy are required. While a dust collector is not necessarily in that category, design quality could be a huge factor for longevity and overall performance. Based on the many good reviews here on LJ and the price point with 20% off coupon, I decided to give it a try. If nothing else it would get me in the ball game and allow me to tinker.
As shown in the picture I built my own mobile stand/base (4) and made a few modifications to include the cyclone chip separator (3) in the smallest possible footprint that I could (2). I used the 30 gallon cyclone lid from woodcraft. I also included a 4’ to 28’ expandable hose and the dust right system to facilitate the mobility and need to hook the DC system to each machine on an as needed basis (4).
- Disassembled the housing, removed impeller and drilled new holes to mount the housing 45 degrees relative to the factory position – This helped relieve stress on the provided 5” hose connecting the impeller housing to the collector. Sealed the motor to housing with gasket sealant upon re-assembly.
- Mounted the motor vertically with a ½” rubber/foam mat between the impeller housing and the shelf to mitigate any potential vibration and chatter. I doubt the motor is designed with shaft axial thrust bearings to accommodate being mounted vertically, but there are many posts on LJ with this modification with no issues reported that I could find.
- Sealed the fan housing outlet with provided gasket and gasket sealer.
At this point, my preliminary physical design requirements have been met leaving just the performance requirement (1), which brings me to my review and questions.
Dust Collector Review:
- The unit was well packaged and I felt the Styrofoam adequately protected the product.
- All major components were accounted for and in good shape.
- First item of business, turn on the motor and cycle the switch a few times before total un-packaging.
- The instructions were useless, but I did not really use very much of the provided hardware in my installation, so I really did not need the instructions. In addition, I cannot say if there was any missing hardware or if there were any issues with design tolerances for mating connections to the provided base since I did not use it.
- I checked the motor amperage draw and found a peak start up draw of 20.9 amps and a continuous running draw of 10.2 amps.
- The noise level was surprisingly lower than I expected – I don’t have a sound meter, so I cannot say what the sound level truly is.
- Air flow was checked through practical use: I have 8’ of clear hose attached to the 4’ to 28’ expandable hose attached to my planer. The expandable hose was not fully extended; the effective length of hose was approximately 16’. I planed ¼ inch of material in 1/32 increments from 8 4’ boards. The suction was sufficient to keep all the chips clear – experienced no chip compression on the board surfaces from the planer rollers and there were virtually no chips on the floor around the planer when done. The majority of the dust and chips were in the chip collector with only about 1 cup of finer dust in the dust collector bag. I felt that this was a very good showing of the HF dust collector and it met my performance expectations.
Rockler expandable hose review
- I am very pleased with this purchase right now.
- The hose appears to be quite sturdy, but I did use the less expensive hose to make the 180 degree bend from the top of the chip separator to the floor.
- I really like the way it compresses to the shortest possible length required when suction is applied. This helps maintain a minimum required effective length of hose during operation between the DC and the tool, which will have some efficiency benefit.
- The hose storage was a big concern. The hose will compress when vacuum is applied but the DC does not have enough vacuum to pull the weight of the hose completely up off the floor into the storage rack. Reviews on the Rockler storage rack for the hose were mixed; and the issues tended to be centered on getting the hose in and getting the hose to stay. I figured a canted storage system would mitigate these issues. I only have to give the hose a gently nudge into the rack and the cant angle along with gravity keep it in place.
Overall, for the price, I am very pleased with this purchase. For what it is, it performs very well and meets my initial expectations and requirements.
This brings me to my issues and questions. With a 5 micron filter bag, I would not characterize this as a Dust Collector. I would say this system is more of a Major Mess Mitigator than a Dust Collector. The fine dust that poses the most health risk and is not visible until is settles all over everything is not expected to be contained with this system as is.
1) Is the cost of a cartridge filter justified? Is the performance increase from the larger surface area of the pleated filter significant enough to merit a cartridge filter over a 1-micron bag replacement or is the major benefit the 0.3 micron filter of the cartridge.
2) How much additional benefit would the addition of a Thein baffle in my chip separator really provide and would I expect a significant performance hit from the baffle? I really did not see very much in the collector bag, but I expect this ratio may increase with waste from the table saw instead of the planer.
3) Has anyone demonstrated a good way to upgrade the bag/filter collector with a wok style baffle and has this proven to provide any real benefit?
I hope my review can be of some use to anyone who is thinking about purchasing the Harbor Freight 2hp dust collector.
-- PJ Strong, Utah