Installing a Harbor Freight Dust Collector Outside

Thinking about trying to install a Harbor Freight dust collector? Check out this DIY project where I installed my dust collector outside!

Because of one thing or another, I just haven’t gotten around to finishing it, but this week I finally finished hooking it up outside of my shop and piping it in to my tools. I hooked up a remote so I can quickly turn the unit on and off when needed. I’m storing my unit outside of my shop because I didn’t want to take up any floor space with the unit and loved the idea of killing some of the noise. I ended up building a small lean to shed on the backside of my shop just for this unit (and eventually my air compressor). If you missed the posts where I built the shed they can be found building a shed part 1, building a shed part 2, and building a shed part 3 . Also, if you missed the video showing how I turned my one stage dust collector into a two stage then you can find that video here.

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2 Dust Collector

The first thing I did was set up my trash can, thien baffle, and the collector of the HF unit. I took a measurement from the ground up to the intake port of the collector. Then moved inside my shop and went up that same distance. Note: This isn’t going to be exact since the level of the shed floor is slightly different then the level of the shop floor, however it will get me close enough. I was wanting to get this short section of hose as straight as possible. 

Once I marked the height on the inside of my shop I took a stud finder to the wall to check for studs. You do not want to drill a hole where a stud is. Also be mindful of where outlets are because it’s an indication on where wiring might be and that is something else you don’t want to be cutting into.

I am using a product that Rockler makes called a Through the Wall Port Kit to go through my wall to pipe things together. I took the pipe out of the box and removed one of the end fittings so that I could hold the 4″ pipe up to my shop wall and trace around it.

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Next I drilled a hole large enough for a jigsaw blade to fit into then cut out the entire circle. To transfer this hole to the outside wall, I took my drill and drilled four holes at different points around the circle (I went for the top, bottom, left, and right). I made sure that the shaft of my drill bit was up against the edge of the circle and tried to keep my drill as straight as possible.

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This way when I went out to the shed I could use the same 4″ pipe I used before to hold up against the wall, and make sure the four holes were inside the pipe, then trace around it. This gave me my circle to cut out with the jigsaw. I again drilled a hole big enough for a blade to fit into then cut the circle out. 

I inserted the Through the Wall Port. The fitting doesn’t come with a way to attach it to the walls, and it would probably be alright if I left it alone….however I went ahead and used four screws to attach it to the wall.

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To connect this fitting to the collector I used a 4″ coupling on the Through the Wall Port then a 5″ to 4″ reducer fitting from the collector. I’m using the 5″ hose on the collector that came with the unit. Note: reducing the unit down to 4″ right away reduces some of the efficiency but I’m not worried about it because I have very short runs in my set up, but this is something you might want to consider while designing yours.

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Now I mounted the motor. I had to get my husband to help me hold it while I used some lag bolts to secure it to some 2x4s I placed on the wall. I placed the motor so that it is right above the collector, again just trying to make straight lines where I could.

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I originally was thinking of rotating the exhaust around 180 degrees so that I could cut a hole in the side of the shed and exhaust what little fine dust comes out directly into the yard. I’ve seen others do this and the amount of dust that actually makes it outside is so small that it isn’t a problem. However, when I went through the effort of taking off the baffle to rotate it, the exhaust port fell right on a stud. I could have moved the motor but then I wouldn’t have enough hose to reach from the exhaust port to the collector so I ended up only rotating the baffle 90 degrees. I will either attach a bag to collect the fine dust or continue on the path of cutting a hole in the shed and just purchasing some hose to pipe it out.

I moved back to the inside of the shop and started preparing to cut the pipe in the wall down to size. As you can see in the below photo, they give you extra pipe so if you have thicker walls you won’t run into problems. However, I need this end fitting to be seated snuggly on my wall so I measured the inside of the end fitting where the pipe rests. Then I took a sharpie and made several marks around the pipe using this measurement. I came back with painters tape and lined it up with my marks so that it wrapped around the pipe. This will give me a guide on making a straight cut. You could always eyeball it.

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10 Dust Collector

Once the pipe was cut to size, I slipped the end cap back on and secured it with four screws like I did the outside cap.

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Awesome, now that the connection was made, now it was time to start attaching hose to run to my machines. I’m only going to be adding my tablesaw, bandsaw, and a floor sweep right now. I am using a combination of 4″ flex hose. I went with regular flex hose for most of the run but with a more rigid flex hose for areas that I couldn’t add in a lot of support. Like around my bandsaw. The cool thing about this black flex hose is it’s keeps the shape you give it.

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I added in a blast gate on both the floor sweep an the bandsaw, but I didn’t yet add one on the table saw. I think I want to change to a different fitting or configuration so I have more access to the floor sweep and it’s blast gate. We’ll see what I end up doing.

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Ok now the unit is in place and hooked up to my machines but I didn’t have a way to turn it on. I ordered a remote off line that says it can handle 20 amps, which is what the Harbor Freight unit pulls on start up. This remote was more expensive then most on the market so if you have a different DC unit then check to see how many amps it pulls before you order a remote and you might be able to get away with a cheaper model.

The existing plug that comes on the DC wasn’t long for my situation so I had to wire in a new plug. I cut the existing plug off the DC and pulled out the wires from the electrical box on the motor. I drilled a new hole in my shop wall, right next to the other hole I drilled, and ran the new wire out to the shed.

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From there I ran the wire up to the electrical box and stripped back the three wires so I could add on new terminal fittings to the black and white wire. I pushed these back into the electrical box then took the green wire and grounded it on the green screw provided. With all three connected I replaced the electrical box cover then went inside the shop and attached the receiver to the wall and plugged in the DC.

Now I can keep the switch on my pocket or table saw fence and simply push the on and off button when I need to control the unit. : ) I am very happy to finally have this project finished! I still have a few loose ends to finish but at least I can use the unit as it is now.

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