Dust Collection #1: DIY Dust Extractor with Shopvac and Router Speed control

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Blog entry by ichbinpete posted 12-24-2012 01:17 AM 4764 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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I was laying in bed the other night, when the wife noticed I was a bit to distracted (not responding to her conversation). She leaned over and saw me looking at Festool stuff and started in on me…see I just bought a used 3HP Powermatic DC on craigslist and still had my lil 1HP Delta DC and a shopvac. Oh yeah, and I just added a PM air filter hanging from the ceiling. Needless to say, she shut down any thoughts I had of getting a Festool extractor, and rightly so!

Not to be discouraged, I kept reading and reading and reading. As many of you know, woodworking for some of us is as much an obsession with new tools and more wood as it is about creating stuff. I unfortunately fall victim to that obsession and was desperate to find a way to better collect my sanding dust. Both my new DC and my shopvac are headache inducing, so what could I do.

Then I came across some guys trying to use Router Speed Control units with their shopvacs to achieve similar results to what people had received from the Festool vacuums. Better yet, they were have some moderate success with the brand of shopvac I have (Ridgid) as well as a cheap controller from Harbor Freight. Although, as with many tools from HF, it can be a crapshoot on the quality you get.

Quality be darned, I was up and out the very next morning, heading over to the nearest HF to find the controller. This was my first trip to HF, and it was interesting. The collection of people shopping there kinda scared me, but everyone seemed friendly enough. I had to ask for some help finding it, but was in and out in 10 min and on my way back home. Order Online

Got home and immediately hooked it up. My admittedly basic understanding is that equipment like shopvacs and non-variable routers have universal motors in them (AC\DC) and can be controlled by what I assume is some sort of rheostat or potentiometer. With it plugged in, I was able to back down my shopvac to a lower speed, which meant it is much quieter and also has more appropriate air flow for dust extraction. Also note that this supports a 15A fuse. If you need something larger, you can get a 20A made by MLCS off of Amazon. With my 20% off coupon though, this one came in at $18 and change.

Next step is to sneak a new RO Sander in without the wife noticing. Any suggestions on my first festool sander or should I look at something else?

-- It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

6 comments so far

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2790 posts in 3433 days

#1 posted 12-24-2012 02:05 AM

If money is an issue then look at another good ROS sander like bosch or dewalt or many other brands. If money is no object then do the same.

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

View toolmantim's profile


22 posts in 2019 days

#2 posted 12-24-2012 04:48 AM

I can understand you completely. I’m recently upgrading my DC system, going the route of a higher HP unit, though my 1.5 HP Shop fox will be put into service elsewhere. My obsession with collecting dust started last spring as my woodworking endeavors became more numerous. A ceiling hung Powermatic air purifier, larger trunk lines, a cyclone unit from Oneida, and I’m still not done yet. I must say the improvements are worth every cent spent doing them but I still see that fine dust settling overnight on my equipment and bench’s. Believe it or not I believe my Dewalt ROS is the major culprit when it comes to producing that extra fine dust. I’m thinking a small Dust Deputy for my portable Shopvac might help. As for the sander, one fine piece. Good luck !

-- " My favorite Place in Life, The Shop "

View crashn's profile


528 posts in 2461 days

#3 posted 12-24-2012 02:19 PM

Help me to understand, how does slowing down the shop vac increase dust collection?

-- Crashn - the only thing I make more of than sawdust is mistakes

View ichbinpete's profile


110 posts in 2687 days

#4 posted 12-24-2012 03:34 PM

someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe if you have to much airflow, it acts to clamp the sander to the wood and doesn’t allow as much airflow beneath the sander, which usually means less dust collection.

that and standard shop vacs are ridiculously loud

-- It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.

View Sarit's profile


549 posts in 3135 days

#5 posted 12-26-2012 09:32 AM

One simple solution is to merely introduce some leakage in the vac hose connection when sanding.

Yes, the vac can really suck down the sander to the surface.
I believe the issue is not the dust collection, but the sanding efficiency. They say the right pressure is the weight of the sander and your arm. Too much pressure and the disk doesn’t spin as freely and you may take more time to sand.

Personally, I don’t find the air pressure to be so strong that it affects my sanding and I’m using Craftsman’s biggest “6.5 HP” vac (it’s not really 6.5 hp).

View John Lowell's profile

John Lowell

137 posts in 1977 days

#6 posted 12-26-2012 01:47 PM

I think I went overly small on my DC, it is a 1HP jet with a 5 micron bag attached to a shop build Thien dust separator. I loose some flow, but keep the runs short to compensate. There is leakage, need to seal some of the fittings and work on the connection from the dust separator to the trash can, and I think there is dust escaping around the motor housing. Always dust there. But all in all, it is way better than without it.

I also use a dust deputy on a small Fein, use it for all clean up and above the blade on the TS. When I connect it to the sander, it does a good job, but I still wear a HEPA rated mask when sanding.

Never thought about slowing down either unit, but am thinking about a remote start for 1hp.


-- Trying, but lots to learn.....

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