Five years later, Workshop Remodel. Going from pretty to functional #7: Water dust filter interest

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Blog entry by Craftsman on the lake posted 03-04-2014 07:16 PM 1834 reads 3 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 6: Cleaning (secret weapon) Part 7 of Five years later, Workshop Remodel. Going from pretty to functional series Part 8: A better miter saw table? Maybe »

In my last post I mentioned the building of a fine dust filter using water. I’ve had a number of people send me private messages inquiring about it. So, I’ve decided to prematurely talk about it before it’s done or even know if it works so that people can have their questions answered. And maybe some other heads involved might provide some insight into what I might expect. This may not work at all.

Below is a picture of what I’ve done so far. Some of the drawn in parts are what I still need to do. Parts are on order. To date, I’ve eliminated the damn top and bottom cloth bags that are a bear to reinstall. I’ve turned the collector upside down so that the inlet is now at the top with motor at the bottom. The cowling inside is made something like a thein collector with out the baffle. I was only interested in making the container easier to remove and empty. I wasn’t interested in a pre-collector barrel. I don’t fear anything damaging the steel impeller. So those wondering why I have sort of looking thein collector directly on the unit.. well it isn’t a thein collector. It’s just an easier to empty collector.


When I fired up the unit the chips never go up the pipe. They always go down. So, no chips leave the unit. It’s the dust that must be getting through that I’m interested in. This is only a 1 hp collector hence the 4” pipe inlet and outlet. The unit works much better than it did with the bags. I took the flexible hose off the router table you see on the right and opened the baffle. A pile of sawdust and wood chips will be cleaned off my hand if I hold them about 6” away from the opening.

The water part

I haven’t implemented the water stuff yet. The only thing I have installed is the vertical 1/2” pvc pipe inside the 4” one.

The plan is that with thin slits cut about every 6” on the pipe on three sides I can create a water bath that the dust has to pass through. I’ve ordered a pond pump from amazon. A pond pump is made to run a small fountain in a pond and be able to accept some level of debris without clogging. It’s submersible and runs on 110V. I’ll connect the pump to the bottom of the 1/2” pipe that has slits. The pump will grab water from the bucket and spray it out through the slits on the sides of the pipe. The top of the spray pipe is capped. As air and dust is forced through the dust collector outlet it will pass through and over the water spray and the dust will be trapped in the water and drain down the sides of the 4” pipe back to the bucket to be used again. I would have to add water to the unit periodically as it evaporated. I’ve never seemed to have any moisture issues in my shop as it’s a garrison type building atop my garage. So, I don’t think the water evaporation will be an issue. Besides it’s only running periodically with a power tool. The newly installed plugs on the wall have a switch on them so that when I switch on the unit, the pump and collector will start and stop together.

I hope all this made sense. I have absolutely no idea if this will all work. In my mind it will so that’s all I need for now to waste my time trying. (I did save the bags though!). I know there are instances where water has been used before, in some home vacuums and commercial sheetrock sanding vacuums so it does work someplace.

I’ll let you know when I get the rest of it all connected. I’ve got other things to make first. For now, it collects dust as good or better than it ever did with the bags. Hopefully later on the fine stuff will get collected too. Fingers crossed.

Any thoughts???

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

16 comments so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2512 days

#1 posted 03-04-2014 07:50 PM

I hope it works.

When I mentioned doing something on that order everyone told me how I would cause all of my tools to rust, seemingly overnight.
Since the humidity in my shop is normally less than 30%, I doubt the raise in moisture would be an issue, especially with the short time the system would be running.

I never did anything with the idea after that, not because I didn’t think it would work but my health issues and life in general got in the way.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3462 days

#2 posted 03-04-2014 08:14 PM

I sometimes keep a coffee pot steaming in the shop. Never had an issue. I heat propane and an unvented heater too. Still no issues.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View dbhost's profile


5725 posts in 3257 days

#3 posted 03-04-2014 08:37 PM

I would be interested to see if this works at all.. I have 2 things that spring to mind…

#1. Sounds like the old “Ranbow” vacuum cleaners. Which ostensibly filter out the nasty stuff being sucked out of your carpet through water before putting clean air back out where you are breathing… I have seen the gunk they pick up and it’s nasty, but how much nasty gets put back into the air? Dunno…

#2. I hate to use this reference, but a bong, I.E. a Marijuana smokers water pipe. As I understand it, it is supposed to cool down the smoke, and condense it, but still allow what the marijuana smoker wants, the smoke complete with particles and THC, through…

The air will travel through the water chamber, typically in bubbles, untouched by the water, so I suspect the majority of the particles will pass through uncaught.

I would hope you have something along the lines of a Dylos meter to test this with… It would be a good way to prove / disprove this either way…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3462 days

#4 posted 03-04-2014 08:50 PM

I understand about water traveling through the water chamber in bubbles untouched but in this case there is no water chamber. It’s a multiple sheet of sprayed water. The bucket is simply something for the water to fall into. Still I don’t know. I can’t imagine dust escaping after being dissolved in water. if it gets dissolved at all.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View changeoffocus's profile


467 posts in 1642 days

#5 posted 03-04-2014 09:30 PM

Interesting approach, I’d maybe try a piece of that perforated flat garden hose rather than doing the work on the 1/2” pipe just for a test.
I would try to get the water to atomize which might take more than a fountain pump, maybe try it out with city or well water throttled to the point where it atomizes.
I feel those fines need to get wet to remove them.
Paint shops use a similar method where the paint laden air is ran across a water fall like a swamp cooler or evaporative cooling tower.
Another thought might be to pack the 4” pipe running down the with loosely packed filter media so as to avoid a high pressure drop. Your fountain pump would work fine for that.
My shop is so dry that my wide puts her Aloe plants in it during the winter and they grow like weeds.
I have a Dylos meter if you want to borrow it, I’ve witnessed your acts of generosity on this site.
It will shock you when you check your filter off conditions.
Good luck on your project, there is a need out there.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3462 days

#6 posted 03-04-2014 10:15 PM

Measuring the amount of dust collected might be a problem. No matter what I do, I think as much dust never gets sucked into the dust collector as gets sucked in. When I see people doing videos with these super clean shops I think, “either they’ve got a tremendous system or they clean perpetually, or they don’t do much to begin with”. My belt sander has the standard end of the belt with a collector cowling but the outside edge of the cowling still gets a coating of dust after awhile. My table saw and especially miter saw… forget it. No one can convince me that dust doesn’t escape from a miter saw. I think the best I’ll be able to do is arbitrarily see if dust builds up as fast on surfaces in the shop as it did before, and keep track of any dust that settles to the bottom over time in the water in the bucket. If none or little does, I’d say that the dust is in the air if i can’t find it in the bucket right?

So, even though I’d love to trap all the dust that emanates from my tools, I’m just interested in seeing how much emanates from the pipe at the end of the dust collector. Getting it to go into the dust collector is a perpetual, ongoing project that I think we all strive for and have varying degrees of success with. That’s why even though I think it’s great that people get those pleated 1 micron filters and see the dust collect inside the pleats that they have to scrape off, I feel that for all there is still plenty of dust we just don’t collect to get to that filter. And for those of us with smaller dust collectors it must be even more dust that gets into the air.

And I’ve always wondered. For those who have the super 1 micron filters with the higher powered collectors, do you have the ceiling mounted air filter too? Can you just leave a few gates open and run the dust collector for awhile to clean the air?

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View jeffwedekind's profile


144 posts in 2717 days

#7 posted 03-04-2014 10:27 PM

Daniel, I built something very similar many years ago when saddled with a large drywall project/remodel.

I wanted to be able to sand the mud and not create the HUGE mess throughout the rest of the house. My solution was to run my shop vac through a 6 gallon bucket filled with water. (about 1/3 full, if I remember correctly)
The Inlet pipe ( between the sander, and the bucket) ran through the top and partially into the water. the outlet (to the vac) was simply cut through the lid.

IT WORKED LIKE A CHARM!!! The water trapped all the dust, and the exhaust was clean… (If not a bit humidified)

The water did indeed ’’bubble’’ around much like db hosts analogy. In fact we dubbed it the ’’drywall bong’‘

The only problem I had was that the water would get to bubbling violently enough to get a bit sucked into the outlet hose, and into the shop vac. Not a problem so much in my situation, but probably not so good in a whole shop situation My solution was to simply run a couple feet of pvc straight up then attach the outlet to that. (An elongated baffle, so to speak) Very little water got through after that.

Just my 2 cents worth, hope it helps some….

Good luck,

-- Jeff, eastern Wa

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2794 posts in 3462 days

#8 posted 03-04-2014 10:36 PM

Interesting Jeff. I thought of that then wondered if the water would hinder the flow of air at all. Also, the air coming out of the dust collector is 10 times the velocity of my craftsman shop vac. I’d wonder if it would simply blow the water all over the shop! That 4” pipe stuck in about a foot of water in a 5 gallon bucket. I can just see it splashing out in full force all over the walls. Glad it worked for you though. I think commercial water collecting sheetrock sanders work just like the one you made.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View NormG's profile


6138 posts in 3028 days

#9 posted 03-04-2014 11:31 PM

Great idea and very interesting, keep us posted on how it woks out

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View CoolToolShed's profile


71 posts in 2190 days

#10 posted 03-05-2014 01:18 AM

Definitely interested in this!

-- Chris in Maine -

View kiefer's profile


5619 posts in 2692 days

#11 posted 03-05-2014 02:50 AM

This is a very interesting blog you have going and I will follow this closely as I too have been kicking the idea around for a while and have been looking for solutions .
I have a 1150 CFM dust collector with a separator and recently installed a dust filter but like you say there is always dust escaping from one tool or another .
I have thought about a water dust filter based on the old oil bath type where the dusty air hits the water and collects the dust and the air continues in a cleaner state . the issue I have with this is the humidity caused by the water .
I have thought of using some type of oil instead but the issue with that is the smell and possibly a fire hazard and I also wonder how fast the oil would cake over and become ineffective .
Just some thoughts and like I said I will be following this closely and looking for ideas .

-- Kiefer

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3110 days

#12 posted 03-05-2014 05:12 AM

The oil bath air filters, I had one on my 39 Chevy had a lot a oil surface for amount of air flowing over them,
I think to duplicate the surface area with a dust collector, you might have to have over a 4 ft. diameter
surface, I have been wrong before & might be again. My thought is that the amount of water picked up
by that pipe arrangement might make a fairly humid shop, it would work OK in a warm climate where the
air could be exhausted outside, but I will be waiting to find out what your experiment shows.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View jimhester's profile


24 posts in 3160 days

#13 posted 03-05-2014 03:40 PM

The water part of your design is quite interesting. It reminds me of a device my son bought to vent his electric dryer indoors until he can install the outside vent. He hasn’t noticed any impedance of airflow by submersing it iin water. I’m looking forward to hearing how your progress goes. It sounds like this may be an excellent way to control the fine dust that still escapes from a dust collector or vac. Jim

-- Jim

View oldretiredjim's profile


206 posts in 2410 days

#14 posted 03-05-2014 03:41 PM

Following this with great interest. I think it might work.

View sras's profile


4811 posts in 3154 days

#15 posted 04-23-2014 02:45 PM

I like the idea! I put my dust collector in a closet with 4 sub micron furnace-style filters for the exhaust. It works okay, but this seems to be a better way to go.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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