I’ve been meaning to blog about my “DIY” cyclone dust collector build, but I’ve been a remiss in documenting stuff as I go along, so in this first post, where I came from and what lead me to this project. In subsequent posts, I’ll go over motor selection, component selection and document the build up to where I have it today (cyclone operating, no fixed ducting yet though). I also plan on going over some rudimentary performance tests and going over the ducting, so that will all be covered as well.
I started off with a Jet DC-1100 dust collector a few years ago and it didn’t take long before it started to drastically change from the stock configuration. I bought it used off of Craigslist and the original owner had already done the Dust Dog canister conversion, however I later found out that that canister was only rated to 2 microns, so a Wynn nano cartridge was one of my first upgrades.
After I got the Wynn cartridge, I needed a way to keep the chips out of it, so I added an internal Thein baffle to the ring. This had the added benefit of not requiring any additional floor space and did work quite well. There were usually a couple of fines on the baffle after an intense sanding or planning session, but not much. The internal baffle had one major drawback though – it was located after the impeller.
I had a couple of catches on the lathe and accidentally sent some poorly chucked bowl into into the impeller. I managed to shut the dust collector down before the bowl reached the impeller, but there was still enough suction as it was spinning down for the bowl to make it all the way in. Had I not been able to turn it off in time I suspect the motor would have stalled or the breaker would have tripped. Fortunately there was no sign of damage. The straw that broke the camel’s back for though was accidentally sucking up a jar of Shellawax. This time I couldn’t reach the remote in time and the glass immediately shattered upon impact with the impeller. Impeller again survived unscathed, but the downside this time was the Shellawax went EVERYWHERE. It was an enormous pain in the rear to clean everything up and it was at that point that I decided I needed some form of pre-separation. On a side note, I do believe it was the Thein separator that prevented the filter from getting goo-ed up.
While I was willing to live with the static pressure hit from a pre-separator, I still didn’t want to give up the floor space, so I felt a cyclone solution where the motor sat on top would be the best solution. I ended up buying this separator off of eBay in lieu of making my own:
As to why I didn’t just make my own Thien separator and change the mounting configuration of the motor, I don’t really remember anymore, but I had rationalized it somehow or another in my mind. The entire contraption went together in a frame I built (sorry I can’t seem to find pictures of this setup) that took up less floor space than the cart for the DC1100, albeit not by much. The entire setup was on wheels so I could move it around from machine to machine as needed.
That setup worked better in theory than it did in practice. The main drawback was that my original assumption that I would be able to move this around to the machine turned out to be wrong. Very very wrong. If I was hurting for the 4 sqft or so for a trashcan separator I have no idea why I thought I’d be able to freely move this thing around. The other drawback is that 6” flex hose running along the ground all around you can tend to be a trip hazard. I felt like that was an accident waiting to happen.
I didn’t feel like fixed ducting was really an option as I felt like I would wouldn’t be getting very effective suction when I started adding in a bunch of ducting. For a while, I just lived with the drawbacks as I was limited by only having 110 volts in my workshop. I finally bit the bullet and had 220 installed so I could get my end-all table saw . My electrician offered to install a second 220 circuit for basically the cost of the breakers (extra 220 plus some tandem 110’s). Seemed like a no brainer so I went ahead.
Like any red-blooded American with a hobbyist woodshop, my first thought was “I’ve got an open outlet now, what can I fill it with”? Didn’t take long for me to realize that upgrading the dust collection would be my best bet. Adding a more powerful motor would allow me to add in some fixed ducting and free up some of that ever-so-precious floor space.