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.
Photos By Author
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