It has been right around a year since I started into DIY woodworking. So far the process has been very educational and rewarding. I have been accumulating tools here and there over the course of the last year. One thing that I completely decided to disregard was how to clean up all of that mess those tools make. I picked up a Dust Deputy cyclonic separator attachment to hook up to a bucket and my shopvac. The results were dismal for my needs to say the least. As I am preparing for the finish on my table this week, I look around my garage and realize how much sawdust I have accumulated over the past few months alone... Something had to be done and soon.

A lot of research over the few previous days made me come to the realization that I needed an actual dust collection system and not just a shop vacuum. My research and budget yields that Harbor Freight's 2 HP Dust Collector is just what I need in my life.  So, equipped with a 20% off coupon, I head to the Fort Collins location and pick it up. Loaded in my Jeep I head home and begin the process of assembly, which went fine, until I dropped the motor into my lap and one of the sharp mounting brackets cut my inner thigh. I'll save you from that photo, just know that it hurt... A lot!

Matt Sparx
Matt Sparx

After the assembly was complete, I moved it over to where I have the most sawdust accumulation. The miter saw has been known to kick up the most sawdust and spread it within 4-5 feet of the blade. I fire up the dust collector and let me tell ya... This thing SUCKS... In a great way. I was totally blown away by the amount of suction this unit has. By far overshadowing my small shopvac system.

Within an hour of moving most of my equipment around, I was able to tackle most of the problematic areas. I still quite a bit of sawdust around the garage, but it will be taken care of this week before I tackle the sealing of the table components.

I chose the Harbor Freight model as it was very cost effective and the reviews have been good. A 2 horsepower motor provides plenty of suction and the 70 gallon bag provides more than enough dust storage in between projects. I have plans to upgrade the dust collector in the near future to fit my needs better. Those upgrades include:

  • a second stage chip separator for larger shavings
  • smaller micron dust filter to keep the air cleaner in my garage
  • PVC piping to my table saw, jointer, planer, router and miter saw with blastgates to channel suction to the tool that is being used
  • A fixed location for the dust collector and the second stage chip separator

Now, if you are starting out as a DIY'er and you are using power tools to cut or sand, you might want to put this up there on your priorities list as a must have tool. You really cannot tell how much sawdust is in the air and how much of it gets all over EVERYTHING until it is time to clean it up. A dust collector, will save you quite a bit of time in that department as most of the dust will be sucked into a bag and out of your mind. If I could go back and start over again, I would have bought this right after getting my table saw.



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