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Workshop Wednesday - Dust Collector

A dust collector has been on my workshop to-do list since I first decided to give it an overhaul at the beginning of the year. It's not as exciting as a new tool or clever storage, but it's incredibly important for the health of my lungs!

Keep dust out of your workshop with a dust collector! This two-stage system is simple to put together yourself, and will keep your lungs healthy!

A shop vac does a halfway decent job of getting big wood chips out of the way, but doesn't do much to control the finer particles you really need to be worried about. Plus, nothing kills my creativity faster than having to clean up before starting a project! With my new dust collector installed, I'm able to work longer, faster and safer.

I need to get the sawdust situation in my workshop under control!

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Today, I'll show you how I turned my single-stage, 5 micron Harbor Freight dust collector into a souped up 2-stage, half a micron dust collection system! Next week, you'll see how the various machines in my workshop are hooked up to this beast!

Why Install a 2-Stage Dust Collector?

The filter bag that comes with the dust collector doesn't trap the fine particles that are most dangerous to your lungs. The 0.5 micron filter upgrade has four times the surface area and is able to catch even that pesky MDF dust that seems to coat everything. The standard filter bag just spews that stuff back into the air!

With a dust collector installed in the workshop, clouds of dust are contained.

Not only that, but the increased surface area of the new filter means way more suction. More suction = more wood chips and dust moving out of your way!

Upgrading the filter bag on your dust collector keeps harmful particles from getting into your lungs.

But that ultra-thin filter is ultra-delicate. Poke a hole in it, and you've created a release valve for all that dust to come flying out! Ever suck up a stray screw with your shop vac? You definitely don't want one rattling around in your expensive filter. You need a way to sort out the shrapnel from the fluff!

Metal screws can ruin that expensive filter! A two-stage dust collector prevents them from tearing the filter apart.

Luckily, a two-stage dust collector will take care of that, and it's simple to make. Just a trash can with a special lid will do! The lid creates a cyclone effect, causing the heavier pieces fall into the trash can. The lighter stuff moves on to the dust collector, where the finest particles are trapped in the filter. The rest falls into the collector bag.

Using a trash can separator lid protects your fragile dust collector filter from bigger debris.

Now that you know why, I'll show you how!

Materials for Dust Collector System


Start by assembling the Harbor Freight dust collector according to the directions. It's fairly straightforward to put together, although you'll want to figure out which screws go where before you start (ask me how I know!)

A single-stage dust collector is great, but a two-stage dust collector is better!

The Wynn filter comes with these little clips to attach it to the dust collector. Just set the filter in the center and hook them into place.

The clips that come with the upgraded filter connect it to the dust collector.

With the upgraded filter in place, you have a perfectly good single-stage dust collector. Wood chips and sawdust goes in through the 4" hose, spin around through the filter, and the heavy stuff falls into the bag below.

Dust circles through the filter and falls to the collection bag below.

But have you noticed how much sawdust your table saw generates? Don't even get me started on the planer! The collection bag will be full in no time, and replacing it isn't exactly fun. By adding a separator to this setup, removing the sawdust is as simple as dumping out a trash can!

Instead of filling the dust collector bag, adding a trash can separator makes disposal easier.

Instead of going straight into the filter, debris takes a spin in the trash can first. Only the lightest material and dust move on to the second stage. This sawdust roller coaster keeps the filter flowing longer and prevents damage to the fine mesh.

A 2-stage dust collector powers away any dust in your workshop!

I was pleasantly surprised when I turned on the dust collector for the first time. It's actually quieter than the shop vac! It also sucks up an amazing amount of sawdust very quickly. Here you can see a video of how fast it removed the pile under my table saw.

UPDATE: I've switched out my giant machine for a smaller wall mount dust collector to save space in my tiny workshop! It works just as well as the version I talk about here, but gives me room for more tools! 🙂

wall mount dust collector with 5 micron filter bag

In the meantime, here are a few more workshop ideas to make your space more productive.

Make the most out of your miter saw with this extended fence and side supports. Add the Kreg Trak and Stops kit for the ultimate in productivity!

Build a strong, sturdy workbench for all of your DIY projects! This Kreg workbench has everything you need to make a functional workshop.

If you would like to keep up to date with my latest posts about woodworking, home decor and more, you can follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. You can also sign up for my email list below and get access to the woodworking plans library!

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Keep dust out of your workshop with a dust collector! This two-stage system is simple to put together yourself, and will keep your lungs healthy!


Friday 23rd of June 2017

Can't wait to see how you hook it up to all of your machines. I'm in desperate need of dust collection. This is helpful!!!

Janice at Sawdust Sisters

Monday 19th of June 2017

Vineta. I need this in my life!! Definitely pinning. And like Toni, I'm hurting for room, too. But I may be able to shift a few things around!


Monday 19th of June 2017

It was really hard to find room in my tiny one-car garage space! But it actually feels bigger now that there's not piles of sawdust littering the floor all the time!


Friday 16th of June 2017

Having a dust collector will be really useful for everyone because it can protect our health! I like your idea and thanks so much for sharing this helpful workshop experiences. :D


Friday 16th of June 2017

Wow, what a great idea! Never saw anything like this before and I love it!


Wednesday 14th of June 2017

That thing is so cool, if we had room in the garage for one I'd follow your lead. Yes, your lungs will thank you for sure. Smart move!


Wednesday 14th of June 2017

After building the storage for our shed, I moved some things around to make room for the dust collector. It's musical chairs over here!

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