A dust collector should be one of the first major purchases for any woodworking shop. Not only do they help keep things clean and tidy, they also protect your lungs from harmful airborne dust. A dust collector is only as good as it's filter, and as filters fill up with dust it reduces airflow and efficiency. One way to reduce this is to create a chip separating baffle, which collects most of the debris in a trash can before it reaches the filter. This instructable will show how I created a chip separator for my dust collector.
Being on a tight budget, I chose the 2hp model from Harbor Freight. I waited until it was on sale, and then used a 20% off coupon making the total price around $165 with tax. I think the 2hp rating is a little overly generous, but it still can't be beat for the money. The filter that comes with it only filters down to 5 microns, which means it won't collect the dust that is most harmful to your lungs. Rather than spend a bunch of money on an aftermarket filter, I decided to vent my system outside, eliminating the filter completely. I highly reccomend this approach if you're able to.