15 minute dust separator #1: Idea and initial test

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Blog entry by clasher posted 10-01-2009 05:31 AM 4549 reads 4 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I recently purchased a Dust Deputy to add to my shop vac so I wouldn’t have to spend as much time emptying and cleaning the filter on my vacuum, I’m very happy with it and was considering purchasing another for my father’s workshop when I started wondering whether I could build something cheaper. The Thien Cyclone Separator Lid was just about what I wanted but I couldn’t help imagine I could make something even cheaper and simpler (willing to sacrifice a little efficiency). What follows is my attempt at a dust separator I could build in about 15 minutes, with parts I had lying around, using only a drill and jigsaw.

Mind you this is a first try, I’m still trying to determine if it is worthwhile to try again.

First I took a piece of plywood larger than the top of my trash can. Set a drywall bucket in the center and traced an outline of the bottom of the bucket. Actually having the pencil parallel to the side may work better because I want this circle just a little larger than the bucket bottom. The center piece will become the lid, wedged into the top of the bucket while the outside piece will hold the bucket on top/inside of the trash can.

Next I drilled a few holes just outside the line in a row so that I could fit my jigsaw in. Cut the circle out. Then I cut a hole in the center of the circle piece large enough to fit a piece of ~12” straight pipe and another hole about 1” from the side to fit the intake pipe. The intake is a 45 deg elbow, a short straight piece to go through the lid, another 45 deg elbow, and then another piece of straight section.
Cut Plywood

I pushed the bucket through the hole in the large piece and marked a line around the perimeter of the bucket a little below where it comes through. I drew a concentric circle on the bottom about 1-2” inside the edge. I marked the edge of the bottom of the bucket at 12,3,6, and 9 o’clock and intersecting both the line around the side and the one on the bottom. Then made 4 more marks about 1” offset from each of those also down the side to the line around the base.

I took a jigsaw and carefully cut through the thick bottom edge, and then cut out each of the four larger sections.
Cut bottom

Next I connected the intake pipe through the off-center hole in the lid and shoved it into the bucket as deep as I could, then pushed the bucket into the center of the larger plywood piece.

I set the plywood on top of my trash can (I’m still trying to come up with an easy way to seal the large piece of plywood to the trash can) and connected it to my vacuum. I was surprised at the amount of suction when I first turned on the vacuum, knowing full well my jigsaw cuts weren’t going to make a very tight seal, the vacuum still sucked the lid another inch into the bucket!

Without any sealant around any of the joints the thing still functioned surprisingly well for about 15 minutes of work and less than $20 of parts. I will probably try to make at least another one or two and was hoping that I might get some ideas from fellow Lumberjocks before I try version 2.

5 comments so far

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3431 days

#1 posted 10-01-2009 05:48 AM

I put this one on my to watch list… I am intrigued by the idea… You may not want to go through the effort, but I would love to see this side by side compared to the dust deputy compared to the Thien separator lid / baffle. You have the baffle idea down pat,

Does your inlet air come in and spin in a cyclonic action or do you dump straight down?

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View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3400 days

#2 posted 10-01-2009 03:15 PM

Take the garbage cans lid and cut a hole in it the size of the 5 gallon bucket. Use foam siding screws with the plastic washer on them and use them to mount the lid to the plywood. Try placing a ring of plumbers putty between the plywood and the metal lid, it should fill in the gaps and provide a decent seal. The garbage can lid should fit snug enough for this to work great. I’ll keep watching.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View stefang's profile


16130 posts in 3533 days

#3 posted 10-01-2009 07:08 PM

This was very interesting and I wish I understood what you were actually doing. I think I am lacking the big picture. We don’t have these in Norway as far as I know. Please forgive my ignorance. I am putting this on my watchlist though just in case I can eventually glean something useful from it. Thanks for sharing.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View dbhost's profile


5767 posts in 3431 days

#4 posted 10-01-2009 08:22 PM

The idea is to have a device in line with your dust collector, or vac that pulls the chips, and as much of the fine debris as possible before it gets to the filter to keep the filter from getting clogged…

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View clasher's profile


14 posts in 3766 days

#5 posted 10-02-2009 03:19 AM

dbhost: Yes I attach the inlet so it forms the cyclone. I’ll include a picture in my next post.

UnionLabel: I don’t have the lid for my metal trash can but like your idea (simple and cheap) so I’ll see if I can find a snug lid to try it out.

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