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Thread: Adding a Thien Baffle to a Harbor Freight DC

  1. #1
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    Adding a Thien Baffle to a Harbor Freight DC

    I've been very pleased with my Harbor Freight dust collector (HFDC). From the get-go I added a 0.5 micron pleated filter and a neutral vane to improve the performance. Here's the story on that part. However, every time I emptied the lower bag I had to remove the filter to clean all the embedded chips and sawdust from between the pleats of the filter. The solids were not staying in the lower bag like they were supposed to.

    I'd read good things about the baffle designed by Phil Thien, so I decided to adapt it for my Harbor Freight DC. If you're not familiar with Phil, he came up with a nifty baffle, and uses it in a trash can chip separator. I wanted to see if it'd help my DC without a detached separator unit.

    The baffle is essentially a piece of 1/4" Masonite, placed between the intake of the DC and the lower bag. Here's the basic shape of the baffle...

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    Here's the separator, removed from the DC and turned upside down...

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    The inside diameter of the separator is 19", so I needed to draw a 19" circle on the masonite. I don't have a compass that big, but I do have a nail, a pencil, and some scrap wood...

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    Then I needed another circle, 1 1/2" inside the first one. Same approach, just a different hole for the pencil...

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    According to Phil, the part that's not cut away from the edge should be 120 of the circle, so I laid out that part...

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    And got busy with the jigsaw...

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    More in the next post...
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

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  2. #2
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    Next, I needed some standoffs to hold the baffle in place. I used some 1 1/4" (as I recall) dowel material I picked up at the Borg. I had to play around a bit to figure out the angle to cut the ends to match the slope of the separator. I have no idea what the actual number ended up being, but it worked. I also drilled the holes in the end before cutting the angle...

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    Then I attached them with screws at roughly equal points around the separator...

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    And attached the baffle to the tops of the standoffs. (Actually, it's the bottom once the separator is turned right-side up.)

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    And a shot of the finished installation after putting the filter back on (but before attaching the lower bag). This is looking straight up into the bottom of the separator. I had to attach the filter before installing the baffle, since with the baffle in place, I could not reach the turnbuckles that hold the filter in place...

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    Before I added the separator, I could walk by my DC at any time, bang the sides of the filter, and see clouds of sawdust fall off the filter and into the lower bag. I have now been through two fillings of the lower bag since I added the baffle, and although I've not removed the baffle to check the condition of the filter, I get absolutely no dust falling now when I bang the sides of the filter. My DC seems to perform better, since the filter's not getting clogged, and emptying the lower bag (and cleaning the filter) is no longer the nasty chore it used to be. It will be a bit more work to remove the filter now, because I'll have to remove the baffle first, but based on what I'm seeing so far, I won't be needing to remove the filter any time soon.

    I'm very impressed with how condensed the debris stream is when it drops into the lower bag. Previously, I could see the material swirl around the bag, but with the baffle, the spiraling stream of dust and chips looks like it's being shot out of a hose. I've also nearly filled the lower bag (12" to 18" from the top of the bag) with chips from my planer, and still saw no signs of chips going into the filter.

    I'll give the Thien Baffle two thumbs up.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
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    Very cool, Vaughn!

    I just did the same thing to my Jet DC1100. I did mine outta some sheet metal I had laying around so hopefully it'll hold up

    I have a Wynn filter on mine and those little turnbuckles have bothered me for ages. I finally gave up on 'em and grabbed two 48" black rubber bungee cords. Drilled a few holes and now they hold the filter on from above and I ditched the turnbuckles. They just strap right over the top of the canister. I tried some borg-style fabric covered ones first and took a bungee to the head learning they don't clamp round stuff so good... who'da thunk?

    Those standard flat rubber ones did the trick, they just cross in the middle up top and they really snug down on that thing. I could have probably gotten away with longer ones, too as the 48" were a wee bit of a struggle to get on, but overall not bad.

    I haven't filled my bag since putting the baffle on yet, so i'm glad to hear your successful report. Hopefully I will have similar reporting
    Jason Beam
    Sacramento, CA

  4. #4
    I made that mod on my HFDC a few bags worth of dust ago. It definitely keeps the filter from loading up as much (I have a pleated JDS). A lot of the fine dust collects on top of the separator, but doesn't seem to effect the opertion. Another thing that really helps is every couple of bags worth, I take the canister off and take it to the carwash and thouroughly clean it ,let it dry and reinstall. Man it really sucks after that!

  5. #5
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    Very Cool, Vaughn!
    I've thought about adding Phil's separator to a trash can before my DC, to reduce the hassle of changing the bag. But I never thought of putting it inside the DC, which saves floor space. (floor space is one of the main reasons I haven't built it yet...)
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
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  6. #6
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    Just a though Vaughn, but what about replacing the screws with a 1/4 20 bolt with the head cut off and epoxied into an enlarged hole of the stand offs. You could then use some wing nuts to hold the baffle on. Make access a little easier I'd think
    Aloha,

    What goes around, comes around.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Royall Clark View Post
    Just a though Vaughn, but what about replacing the screws with a 1/4 20 bolt with the head cut off and epoxied into an enlarged hole of the stand offs. You could then use some wing nuts to hold the baffle on. Make access a little easier I'd think
    That's a good idea, Royall. I'll probably look into doing something along those lines the first time I need to remove the baffle.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  8. #8
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    OK, I REALLY need DC and this is starting to get interesting to me. I won't be able to afford what I want any time soon. A Clearvue and the ductwork are probably pushing a couple of grand now. I assume these run on 4" duct?

    Going to have to keep this in mind.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


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  9. #9
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    Jeff, the HFDC has a 5" intake, but it comes with a 5x4x4 'Y' connector, so I plug one side and run a single 4" flex line from machine to machine. Most of the time it's hooked up to the dust hood behind my lathe, or the bandsaw right next to it.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  10. #10
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    I just had a thought. If there is enough room & a person was to put a sheet metal cone point up on the top side of the separator if it would cause the fine dust to slide down & past the edge of the separator & into the bag. I wonder what problems it may cause?
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

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