I needed a new dust collector in a bad way. Shop vacuums are a great way to start collecting dust and chips out in the garage or basement, but a full sized dust collector offers much more suction as well as greater capacity for chips on tools like the planer and jointer. It is always hard to justify the cost of a tool that just sits around collecting dust (that’s a joke), especially when I still need other tools for actually making things! I scoured the internet, home stores and woodworking shops for a full sized collector with at least a 2HP motor with 650 CFM suction and a 5-micron bag. I came across a version from Harbor Freight at a fraction of the cost as the closest competitor; less than $200** including shipping, so I decided to go for it.
I will admit I was skeptical after placing the order, but was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box to my new machine. It was safely shipped with fitted Styrofoam packaging, and each part was protected from the other by cardboard or wrap.
I propped the base on sleepers to attach the casters. While both the diagram and instructions informed me to use hex-head bolts and nuts for this task, there weren’t enough included in the shipment. There were enough pan-head screws included, however, so I decided to use these instead. It may be best to avoid the manual, which gives incorrect information throughout the assembly.
The cap to the fan housing has a fitted gasket that makes the machine more efficient. This detail was unexpected considering the bargain-basement price. The hose outlet bolted firmly to the blower.
Despite taking 2 hours to assemble, I’m pleased with the Harbor Freight Dust Collector. It performs well. While it doesn’t have mind-blowing suction, it has plenty to capture dust when connected to individual tools such as a table saw, jointer or planer. I will certainly invest in blast gates to manage the suction in the machine and to keep my runs of hose short. The manual was maddening, and actually mislead me in a number of circumstances; be warned! But for the money, I have been quite happy with this Harbor Freight Dust Collector. I do plan, however, to add a cyclonic separator to keep the chips from clogging the 5-micron filter and plastic bag.
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Harbor Freight 2HP Dust Collector, Model 97869 $199.00
**Coupons and discounts are frequently available for all Harbor Freight tools, and shipping is a flat rate $6.99
How long is the power cord for this? I did a raincheck on one and am wondering if I need an extension cord at all until I get duct ran?
Hi Adam. We no longer have this dust collector. Please contact Harbor Freight with your question.
Paul-Woodworkers Guild of America
I wouldn’t buy anything from Harbor Freight, not even hacksaw blades after owning one of their lathes. They discontinue models frequently and do not offer replacement parts.
I have one and am assembling my new shop in the basement. I was wonder how I would connect my 5 basic machines and one connection for my portable tools?
Hi William. I would suggest using 4″ metal ducting, keeping your runs as short as possible, and minimizing the use of flex hose.
Ticket does harbor fright have hose and all the fitting to go with the dust collector.
Hi Corky. They have flex hose and blast gates, but if you want to set up a permanent duct system you’ll need to get some steel ducts or PVC. I use PVC and get everything from a home center.
1) Two big Jets (3hp). One with two 1 micron bags up and two plastic collection bags, the other is the same, but with canister filters on top. They run through Super Dust Deputy cyclones.
2) The big Jets replaced an Oneida Gorilla cyclone, but only because I, now, turn the collector off and on frequently, which the big systems are not designed to do.
3) A Jet 1-1/2 hp with a canister on top.
4) Last year, I added a HF. It replace a 1hp Delta I gave to a friend,
In short, I’ve had a little experience with dust collectors. From that experience, I can say the HF was a night and day jump from the little 1hp Delta and I suspect it would compete with my little Jet. For the money, I don’t think I could beat it.
I did change the bag to a 1 micron bag and I added foam gasket, like you use between campers and pickup beds, to get a better seal around the bags and both things helped a great deal.
Because my unit has been modified by the addition of large wheels, to allow me to roll it out into the yard , along with one of the Super Dusty Deputy cyclones, to vacuum pine cones and fall leaves, I stayed with bags, rather than an expensive cartridge, which would not be as tolerant of abuse.
I suspect a swap to a cartridge would make this unit into a stellar performer for half the price of the competition.
If you’re looking for a bargain collector, this is it.
If this is marketed as a 2hp unit with 1500+cfm’s and is insufficient for a whole shop, how can one compare it with other more expensive units? I mean, the one with the bigger motor should win right? So are the specs exaggerated? Is it truely 2hp? It’s tough to know what to buy these days!
I’ve been using one for several years, paired with a cyclone lid and a aluminum trashcan. I can attest to the good overall airflow as when I first set it up, it crumpled the trashcan like a soda can, I wound up having to reinforce the trashcan (after pounding it back into shape) with angle iron.
I bought the HF DC as well. I did not assemble it as instructed though. I made a Thein Top Hat out of some MDF and plywood and a 30 gal. metal trash can. The thing works great. As has been said, it won’t provide suction for an entire shop, but for me in my 1 man shop, it works great. BTW_ I had a cuopon and got it for $169.95, a bargain.
I bought a HF dust collector about 5 years ago as an inexpensive alternative and it worked fairly well, I retrofitted with a cyclone and a pleated filter, worked better yet.
A friend of mine had one that he was no longer going to use and sold to me cheap and I hooked it up in tandem with my previous unit through 50+ feet of 6″ pipe and it went from pretty good to amazing!
I have tried it with blast gates open to 3 different tools, table saw, jointer while using my router table and it still pulled the vast majority of my dust
Even if you bought 2 units at around $150.00 each you are still way below the cost of the name brands.
Mark are you in Muskegon, MI….
There are a few You Tube videos out there showing how to modify the HF dust collector to a cyclone system.
I didn’t realize that the previous comment was giving you a direct link to Wynn’s site.
Instead of a bag, replace it with a Wynn 35A nano canister filter. The kit cost around $190.00. It will increase the suction and is better for your health.
I’ve had one of these Harbor Freight Dust Collectors for 6yrs now and have had no problems with the unit. I had a coupon for 20% off and then caught it on sale so I ended up with $117 in it. I have run it with a large leaf bag inside the bottom bag to facilitate easy emptying and that has worked well for me. I have this unit hooked to my table saw and the other hose to my router and it does a good job for me and I’m very happy that I purchased it. I have 3 other small unites dedicated to machines but have considered selling them and getting another HF unit and running 2 hoses to 2 machines or running a pipe along the wall to connect all the other machines to. This would actually save me some shop floor space since I would have 1 HF unit verses 4 other units. The Harbor Freight unit is a good bang for the buck, in my opinion.
I am very please with mine. I did upgrade it to a pleated cartridge filter for better dust control.
I placed mine on an outside wall to my shop and rant the intake inside my shop, hooked to a Dust Deputy. Then I ran an expandable hose with DustRight fittings on all my tools. Works great. Btw, given the collector happens to be on an outside area, the exhaust hose simply blows free – I don’t have it running into the filter bags. So little is exhausted because of the cyclone, that it is no big deal. And because of the lack of back pressure – better suction.
Seth, please post pictures when you have added your cyclonic separator.
I too, have a Harbor Freight Dust collector. I was very lucky to find one on Craigslist for a very reduced price. I built a “thein type” primary collector. Very happy with my set-up. With PVC piping around my shop at/near each “station”. I did modify mine by adding to the impeller, with some rigid yet still a bit flexible plastic tabs on each impeller blade. All identical in size & weight. I feel it greatly increased the amount of air movement, pretty close to a Shop-Vac. The only down side is…. That modification made it very loud!!! Sounds like a fire horn to summon voluntary firefighters. It now has enough suction it can pick up lead bird shot. Very tiny beads that i used to make a dead blow turned mallet.
Wynn Environmental makes a ridged filter that helps the efficiency greatly, about $225.
I bought this same unit about 3 years ago. It’s performed very well. I replaced their dust bag with a 1 micron bag. I also replaced the casters as one developed a flat spot and wouldn’t roll.
I really enjoyed having this tool while framing our house, it saved a lot of clean up. While it didn’t catch all the sawdust I believe that is due to the Ryobi saw design rather than a lack of suction. As the motor was powering down I would slap the bag with both hands and you could see the dust falling into the lower bag, that cleans the 5 micron filter. When the house is finished I will install it in my workshop with a manifold to several machines.
Is there a way to upgrade to a 1 micron filter bag for this model?
Yes it is. I would search around on the internet for options, but you also might want to start here:
I used Penn State and they had a hard, taller one micron filter that fit the ring of the Harbor
Freight vacuum. Costly, but after building a separator from a wok I have a great vacuum that doesn’t put any dust into the air.
Wynn Environmental makes an outstanding filter 35A274NANO at 0.5 microns.
I have this filter set up and highly recommend it.
I have a similar unit with a 1hp motor. Fitted it with a 0.5 micron HEPA canister from Wynn. The difference was night and day better than the bag. i highly recommend the upgrade.
Harbor Freight list the part number mentioned, 97869, but also another – 61790 – that is also 2HP 70gal, best I can see the only difference is one has a solid base vs a frame? But beside that confusion, their site lists both of those as being 1550cfm? Have they upgraded the motor since this article was written? Or is their description a little less than honest? Any ideas?
Hi, Bryan. The HF dust collector has likely changed multiple times since this review, but fundamentally it is the same machine. CFM ratings from many vendors are based on theoretical numbers, or measured right at the inlet. That machine will not generate anywhere near that level of CFM when measured through a duct. But it is more than adequate for small shop dust collection.
where can I find extra 5-micron bags
Hi, Oscar. I suggest starting with a woodworking specialty store. I believe that Woodcraft carries these, and possible others.
I have one with 70′ pvc and a lot of blastgates running a whole shop. I does a good job for about 150 with coupon.
I know this is an old post. Do you still have your HF DC? what size PVC did you run? are you still happy with the performace?
Seth has moved to a new shop that has a large dust collection system, so he no longer uses the HF DC. I would suggest 4″ ducts, as it doesn’t move enough air to effectively use 6″ ducts. If you keep the duct runs short, run hard pipe to as close to the tool as possible, this machine should work well in a small shop.
Hope this helps,
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I’ve been pretty satisfied with mine as well. I’ll be adding a pvc pipe system with blast gates to various areas in my shop. Also, I’m thinking about adding a duct booster fan venting outside through a window to help with any fumes.
Hope you plan on grounding your pvc pipes. Static builds up. A duct booster fan? also fumes you’ll need to find an explodtion proof fan, expensive.Consider using neg. pressure.
Negative Pressure how… any ideas on boosting performance?
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I have been quit happy with mine also 2HPDust collector Model 97869 $199.00