In this tutorial Brent walks through how he upgraded a Harbor Freight Dust Collector with the Super Dust Deputy XL from Oneida Air Systems.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

Hey! Brent here to share a project I have been working on the past few weeks in the garage. My latest undertaking helped our garage look and function more like a woodworking shop.

There comes a time when you work on enough DIY woodworking projects that a shop vacuum just won’t cut it anymore. I was finding it was inconvenient because I was constantly having to unhook it from my table saw and then wheel it across the room to hook it up to my miter saw and then unhook it from my miter saw and wheel it back across the garage to the table saw.

It was also fairly ineffective because quite often the filter on the shop vacuum got clogged because the bin filled up so fast. Well, that might be on me because I never cleaned it out, but when you are in the middle of a project, who wants to stop the fun part to clean out a vacuum after every few cuts? Obviously not me. So much sawdust would end up on the ground that Courtney joked she could make sawdust angels.

I would procrastinate cleaning the floor until I started a new project which meant if I ran out into the garage to get something, I most likely definitely tracked in a good amount of sawdust on my socks.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

It became clear to me that I needed to build a dust collector so I finally built one for the Gray House Studio shop by taking a Harbor Freight dust collector and upgrading it to a 2 stage cyclone dust collector. I did this with the Super Dust Deputy XL Cyclone Separator. Oneida Air Systems was kind enough to send us one to use and it made a huge impact.

My goal for my dust collector was to have it service multiple tools at the same time. Since the tools are separated by 10 to 20 feet I needed more power than the Harbor Freight dust collector could provide. It just wasn’t cutting it so I modified it with a larger impeller so that I could use a six inch duct.

Also, the filter bag that came with the Harbor Freight dust collector didn’t filter out the tiniest particles. What I really like about the Super Dust Deputy XL Cyclone Separator is it separates the wood chips and the dust so only air and very fine particles pass through the blower to the filter. This prevents any microscopic particles from entering back into the air in the shop.

Alright, enough talk, here is how I upgraded my Harbor Freight Dust Collector.

How We Upgraded a Harbor Freight Dust Collector


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Harbor Freight Dust Collector Mod Video Tutorial

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Harbor Freight Dust Collector Mod Tutorial

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

1. The dust collector build started with a stock 2hp single phase Harbor Freight dust collector. To seamlessly connect to the Super Dust Deputy XL I’m going to upgrade the impeller. The stock blower can’t push enough air to support a 6″ opening. I removed the impeller using a puller tool.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

2. The stock harbor freight blower has a 10″ impeller so the new 12″ impeller should boost performance significantly. Plus, the stock Harbor Freight impeller as a forward-inclined fans whereas the larger Rikon impeller has a backward inclined. Forward inclines provide more flow but lose power when pressure increases. The backward incline provides more consistent performance as the pressure increases.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

3. Using a jigsaw and sheet metal blade the intake port was widened from 5″ to 6″. A 6″ duct collor was then attached to the intake faceplate with rivets.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

4. To hold the blower to the wall we made a mounting bracket with 2x4s anchored to the wall studs.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

5. After mounting the blower on the 2×4 bracket the outlet port was converted to a 6″ outlet by attaching a duct transition with 1/2″ screws and caulk.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

6. Before mounting the filter to the blower I used a jigsaw to open the closed side of the filter. Then, cut a donut shaped mounting plate out of sheet metal to mount the 6″ collar and secured the mounting plate to the filter with 1/2″ screws.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector
7. I made a U bracket out of 2x4s to hold the filter in place against the wall. The filter attached to the bracket with screws from the top.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

8. The Super Dust Deputy XL cyclone is designed to mount directly to the lid of the barrel. The opening at the bottom of the cyclone is roughly 6″, so I cut out another 6″ hole with a jigsaw in the top of the barrel lid. The cyclone comes with hardware to mount the cyclone and a gasket. Since I misplaced the hardware I used construction adhesive and large rivets.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

9. Once connected to the barrel lid the cyclone was attached to the inlet of the blower with 1/2″ screws.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

10. To seal the bottom of the filter I attached two latches to the filter allowing me to secure and remove a plywood donut and plastic bag.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

11. The bag will catch any particles that makes it though the blower to the filter. Once particles accumulate they can be easily cleaned by emptying the bag.

Harbor Freight Dust Collector

12. Before turning on the dust collector I taped all the joints with foil duct tape.

I tested it out and it was nice to have it work just how I wanted and not be near as loud as my old shop vacuum. I am looking forward to the connivence and having a cleaner shop. The Cyclone Separator made a huge difference in taking my dust collector to the next level and making it more powerful and effective.

I can’t wait to work on my first woodworking project with my new upgraded dust collector.


  • Hi Brent! I was curious if you’ve hooked up some ducting and measured the air speed at the end of your longest run yet (and if so how long it was)?

    I keep going back and forth on using 5″ vs 6″ ducting as my longest run would be about 25′ (with maybe 2′ flex hose at the end). That puts it right on the edge of what I *think* the air speed would be to hit 3500-4000 FPM, though all of it would be horizontal runs. I hate to spend a bunch on 5″ fittings and blast gates and then still decide to upgrade my collector later *and* duct to 6″. Of course if I put in 6″ and it’s not enough then I might be upgrading sooner rather than later :).

    Thanks for the article and video!

    • The short answer is no and I need to. I’m hoping to spend some more time documenting the rest of the build once it warms up a bit. My longest run is quit 25′ but my thinking is the 6″ is better for longer runs because the air is restricted less. We got distracted by all the projects for our nursery. Turns out there are no shortage of fund projects when you have a baby. -Brent

  • Great build! I’m looking to do the same. It’s worth noting that Rikon has increased their prices on the impeller fairly dramatically given the demand produced by the popularity of your (and presumably some others’) mod!

    A few questions: 1) What’s the total height with the 55 gal drum? 2) What is the distance (approximately) from the top of the unit to the inlet on the SDD XL for duct planning purposes? 3) How heavy is the drum (approximately) when full? Do you just wheel it to the end of the driveway for pickup? I have a basement shop so height and weight to lug the drum outside are a concern.

    I wonder if you had looked into any other replacement impellers, specifically JET. It looks like they offer an 11″ and a 12″ but the ID is 19mm instead of 20mm which would be a direct replacement like the Rikon. My primary concern is the weight of the replacement impeller although I’m having trouble learning the weights of the alternatives compared to the original.

    • Hi, That is an interesting development, maybe I should reach out to them and see if they can give me a cut ;). 1) The total height from the floor with the drum is 8ft. 2) The distance from the top to the center of the inlet is 24″. 3) I’m not actually sure how heavy it is. I can move it by myself. I typically empty is out before it ever gets half full and can dump it in a bag.

      I am intrigued to look into the JET impeller now that you mention it and Rikon has raised their price.

  • Hey Gary, awesome job, and thanks for all the info! I was just wondering what the total height from to bottom came out to be? thanks!! Jeff

  • Good job on the dust collector improvement! My question is this! How many stationary tools do you have connected to your improved dust collection system and how effective is it after hooking everything up? I’m enlarging my shop so it will be 28 ft X 26 ft. with a table saw with 350 CFM, a bandsaw with 450 CFM, Bandsaw w/400 CFM, Drum Sander needing 600 CFM, Jointer needing 450-600 CFM


    • We have the table saw and miter saw always hooked up with blast gates. There are a few other tools we don’t leave hooked up but can hook them up when needed via blast gates. The great thing about using blast gates is it doesn’t really matter how many tools you hook up because with all the gates closed, besides the tool being used, it is as if only one tool is hooked up to the dust collector.

  • Paper filters the diameter of my cloth filter are quite expensive with lots of freight, Your filter may be one which fits a big diesel truck and has big demand that is price sensitive. I never bought one since I did not how well it would flow. My micron filter gets about as tight as a balloon, hopefully yours flows more freely. I fine filter is particularly importantif you cut MFD, the dust is bad

    • From my understanding that is the exact application of the filter I have. There doesn’t seem to much tension on the filter when the system is on and I think it is because there is so much filter surface area for the air to pass through. The filter I purchased is tested on the same parameters as actual dust collector filters so I felt confident in its filtration ability.

  • HF makes 2 nearly identical dust collectors for the same price. List price seems to be about $200. I cannot get them to apply multiple discounts like you can. The most obvious difference seems to be the color, yours is brown and mine is metallic green with different part numbers, I have an one micron bag I got on amazon.

    • From what I can tell they are the same model. The box for my Harbor Freight Dust Collector actually showed the green model. I was surprised to find a brown/gray dust collector when I opened the box. I found what Harbor Freight calls a “super coupon” in Wood magazine for the really great price on the dust collector.

    • They tend to have a 25% coupon applicable only on holidays like Christmas Day, Easter, and the Fourth of July. They usually send them out a couple weeks before if you sign up to receive the catalog.

  • There is no specification name plate on the HF Dust Collector motor but there is a 14Amp sticker below the filter clamp. The Rikon literature shows a 16 Amp rating on their DC which, other than the 12 inch diameter fan and possibly the motor, appears identical to the HF dust collector. My stock HF runs between 10Amp and 13.5Amp.

    What are the Amp readings on your modified system as configured?

  • Brent,
    I was wondering how your modified D.C. System is working for you over the time you have had it put together. Do you have any specs on the filter how many sq ft of filter media?
    What is the altitude of your shop?
    I have the SDD with the stock HF DC I am considering going to the Rikon fan, my ducting is 5 inch since that is what the SDD inlet is I made a new fan cover with a 6 inch HVAC

  • Awesome video. I was wondering if you have used a planer with this larger SDD yet, or what machines you have used that generate larger chips and if you have found the cyclone to work efficiently with the current blower size? thanks a bunch.

    • I am still looking to buy a planer and wish I had one to test. The closet thing I do on a regular basis that might be similar is sweep the shop and vacuum the pile. The pile can get rather large with scrap wood, large sawdust and fine dust. The cyclone works great and the blower size seems more than adequate. Hopefully, this Christmas I will have a planer to test.

  • What would be the effect on the can, if I left the stock 4″ opening on the HF collector with the larger impeller? Would it overload anything? Like to get more cfm, but have 4″ sweet pipe already throughout garage.

  • Brad thanks for the video. My wife found it and saved it for me. I am in the process of building a new wood shop and this really fits the bill for my dust collection system. Thank you very much for your post.

    • The total cost was around $550 if I include the cost of the DDXL. Below is the cost breakdown of the dust collector build:
      Harbor Freight Dust Collector – $135
      Rikon Impeller – $100
      Oneida Super Dust Deputy XL – $240
      Clark Filter #1565938- $38 on ebay
      55 gallon barrel – $15
      6” duct collar – $16
      6” duct transition – $10

  • Dust collector looks great. When changing the collection bin does the cyclone and lid hang from the blower motor and duct? Is the collection bin flat on the floor thanks.

    • Hi Matt, I’m glad you brought that up. I am working on another video to address the system for raising, lowering and moving the bin. I didn’t have enough ceiling height to add a collar and flex hose to the bin so I raise the bin to the fixed lid. Basically, I have a furniture dolly with a cheap car jack. The bin rolls around when the jack is lowered and once in place it easy to raise. Also, after I filmed the video I went back and made a plywood bracket to attach the middle of the cyclone to the wall.

  • My question would be the same as Bill Hoover. However, I have the Super Deputy with a 5″ opening, not the XL Super Deputy. Would the modification improve the air flow or be just over kill?

    • Hi Dallan, I spent some time to answer Bill’s question and explain he difference/benefits of the new impeller if you want to checkout that comment. To answer your question, the larger impeller should make even more of a difference with the 5″ opening because the smaller opening creates more static pressure. The new impeller is a different design that performs better under pressure.

  • Brent, seriously like what you have done here and am thinking about applying the same mods to my HF. My one concern is switching to the 12″ impellar. I was impressed with how easy it looked and your resulting improved air flow. However, I am concerned about the additional load to the motor. Where you still in tolerance for safe operation? If you are, I am a go. Thanks for your thoughts.


    • Hi Bill, Sorry for the delayed response. I knew it was going to take a while at the computer to respond. I did a bit of research on this because it was also a concern of mine. Plus, the new impeller’s blades face the opposite direction so I was curious why that was and the effect it would have. Long story short, the new impeller is a backwards curved impeller and the original on is a forwards curved impeller. They are both designed to spin the same direction and can both function on the Harbor Freight dust collector. The stock impeller is actually a way to inexpensively get more CFM. So, the larger impeller is actually less stress on the motor under the static pressure of a dust collector because of its design. I’ve found several articles saying that the forward curved impellers are best suited for moving large volumes of air against relatively low pressures (HVAC) but have a tendency to overload and stall under pressure.

      “Backward-inclined fans are more efficient than forward-curved fans. Backward inclined fans reach their peak power consumption and then power demand drops off well within their useable airflow range. Backward-inclined fans are known as “nonoverloading” because changes in static pressure do not overload the motor.”

      Also, “Backward inclined and airfoil fans remain more efficient than forward curved when the filters in a unit become dirty/clogged.”

    • Hi Steve, The bag on the bottom of the filter catches any particles that make it past the cyclone separator. The bag can be easily removed and emptied to prevent the filter from being quickly clogged.

  • Hey Brent,

    I really like your dust collector build. I’ve been evaluating several mods from other folks but yours is by far the cleanest design yet.

    Where did you find the larger impeller. Searched for it but appears to not being readily available. Did you salvage yours from another unit? Were you able to purchase a new replacement part?


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