Dustless Sanding (really!): Rigging up your own vacuum system with the Porter Cable Model 333

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 06-01-2007 03:35 AM 34322 reads 2 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The hardest dust for me to breathe is the fine stuff that comes out of the orbital sander. I have used the Porter Cable Model 333 for about 10 years now, and have done a lot of sanding with it. I am sure there are better, more expensive sanders, but I like it, at least so far.

Here is a photo showing my collection.

The one I bought two years ago (gray one with yellow tinted lacquer overspray on it) is now dead, but I keep it around for parts

The sander from 10 years ago (black one) is still going strong, only needs a new belt on the bottom pad stabilizer. If the new one only lasts as long as the last one I bought, this will be the last P/C sander I buy. I already made that decision on P/C routers a year ago, but that is another story, and I hate to spoil my chances of a corporate sponsorship, ha!

The new sander has a bigger more awkward body than previous versions, and I don't feel that the dust collection canister works as good as it did on the previous two sanders. It comes with a new o-ring design that leaks dust like a sieve. Why can't they just leave "good enough" alone? I figure it must be "management's fault."

Anyway, I decided it was time to get a new sander last week, and so I bought the new one shown here, as it was cheaper than the Dewalt, and I thought it would last longer than a Ryobi.

Why P/C gave me the real nice plastic case to go with it is beyond me, just something else to store somewhere in a small shop. I say, "save the plastic next time."

The sander does work great so far, except that it has a lot of dust that shoots out of the o-ring connection to the hard dust canister. I had high hopes that the new, bigger and more awkward style canister would work better on this new body, but it doesn't. After a dusty 5 minutes of sanding with it, I decided to convert it over to the vacuum system I used on the last sander.

About 3 years ago, I looked at the Fein sander in a photo and purposed to figure out how to connect my shop vacuum up to the Porter Cable. You would think the wise folks at Black and Decker- P/C would figure out how to make this adaption easy for us, but they don't.

Since I spent some cynical years arguing with management as an engineer, I'm sure the engineers had a solution they were trying to use, but either marketing wouldn't allow it, or Management said it would cost too much, but I'm just guessing. So, the P/C sander has to be rigged up to a vacuum on your own.

As I was converting my new sander to the dust collection system set-up this week, I decided to take some photos and show what I did.

It is simple and inexpensive, I just bought a Shop Vac brand "Universal Adapter", and cut everything off of it except the one diameter section that fit on the back of the sander dust tube.

Then, I bought some inexpensive black flexible hose, I think it is called Sump-Pump hose at places like Lowe's and Home Depot and connected it with the "Universal Adapter" section to the sander dust tube.

On the opposite end of the hose I added a 2-1/2" to 1-1/4" Shop Vac brand adapter with a hose clamp, hooking it easily to the standard 2-1/2" vacuum hose.

Honestly, (I'm not getting any money from this-but I would accept some) there is no visible dust when I am using the sander and running the vacuum at the same time.

As I was writing this tonight, I saw that I needed a photo of the "Conversion Unit" end of the vacuum hose and a shot of the industrial vacuum I use, so I will add that another night, I'm tired and headed to bed.

Conversion Unit, 2-1/2" to 1-1/4"
Shop Vac Catalog Number: 906-85-00

Here is a link to the universal adapter that I used to make this work:

Don't breathe that dust,
Mark DeCou

(copyright 5-31-2007 M.A. DeCou, photos and text protected)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

7 comments so far

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4124 days

#1 posted 06-01-2007 03:37 AM

Thanks for sharing Mark.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1809 posts in 4113 days

#2 posted 06-01-2007 04:26 AM

The biggest problem I have in my shop is the dust….thanks for the ideas…I really need to do something. I woke up this past Monday (after a weekend in the shop) and was coughing up wood putty….not pretty….probably TMI….:)

-- Bob

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4432 days

#3 posted 06-01-2007 04:29 AM

Hey Bob, save that putty, it takes stain well. ha.

Hope this concept works for you. I also added “rigged” ceiling filter units that I will blog about another time. They have helped a lot also.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4353 days

#4 posted 06-01-2007 04:53 AM

Yeah… half of my Thorsen table is made up of that wood filler we jocks seem to make naturally…. as for the shop, it looks like it’s been undisturbed in years! But if you think wood kicks up some dust – take the orbital to some slate – a few seconds of that and I went outside!

Between that dust and the pollen my throat is in bad shape this week. I’ll be picking up those adapters on my next trip to the big box store! Thanks for the photo documentation.

I finally remembered to pick up a furnace filter and 20” box fan to pull dust away from the workbench – what a noticable difference that made!.... oops spilled the beans on a future blog!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View mot's profile


4911 posts in 4063 days

#5 posted 06-01-2007 07:14 AM

You could have written this before I popped for the Festool stuff! Thanks for nothing! LOL…just kidding, thanks for sharing…this will be helpful with my DW sanders out in the garage or at the lake.

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View David's profile


1969 posts in 4165 days

#6 posted 06-01-2007 08:28 AM

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4432 days

#7 posted 07-08-2007 02:34 PM

Well, it is now official, my opinion about the new style Porter Cable 333 Orbitals. I don’t like them, and won’t buy another one. The big canister on the back does not stay on, and when it does, it leaks dust. What really makes me mad is it falls off and the dust shoots out and it blows right into my eyes. Happened 4 times yesterday in about 2 hours. If finally taped it on.

I am thoroughly convinced that the engineering manager at P-C tools that decided that his engineers needed to adapt the Dewalt design and scrap their better design should be fired. I don’t believe any of those engineering managers could have spent 30 minutes using the sander before they went into full production. They couldn’t have, they would have deleted their CAD files and started over. What looks good on a computer screen doesn’t mean it will work in reality.

The only way I can use this sander is with the suction hose going, which still works without any visible dust.

I’m helping out a local cabinet maker friend from our church on Saturdays to help him clear up his backlog some, and he has had the exact same problem I have. He has an old 333 that is black, and it still works. He has a newer Gray 333 with the old style dust canister, and it is dead, just like mine.

He has a brand new 333 with the larger Dewalt style dust canister, and he hates it also. He and I think a lot alike on tools, and we agree, the P-C orbital is not the tool it was 10 years ago, and the new ones are not good.

Sorry folks for the bad P-C news from me, I have been a dedicated buyer for about 10 years, but something has changed, and I will be changing to a different brand as the need arises. If it had just been my sander that was like this, I would have thought I had a lemon. But, when my friends new orbital 333 did the same thing, I was convinced.

Well, there goes the big P-C/Dewalt Sponsorship,

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics