tool - low cost cyclone dust collector

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Project by Michael Hacker posted 10-23-2008 11:45 PM 39868 views 21 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

well if you wondered where i have been the past few months, this is the main reason! i have been working on my low cost cyclone shop dust collection system, and i am very happy to tell all of you that it works, and works WELL!

a few months back i decided i wanted to make a dust collector, and began my research. early on i determined that a cyclone was the thing for me, and read lots and lots of documentation on how to properly build one.

much of my labor and costs were spent on things i did not need, and couldn’t make work the way i wanted. in the end my cyclone design was very simple and cost effective, and i will be using a similar design on my next version.

my cyclone sizing is undersized for my shop vac, and while it still works well, could be larger despite the calculations and recommended sizing.

the absolute most important thing learned from this project: make certain that all seals around the lower dust bin are completely air tight, this will prevent updraft thereby disrupting the cyclone and push dust up into the top vac section. i was able to correct all my problems with a $3.22 bag of rubber weather seal!

a dust collector is really only half the battle, each tool has to be connected to ducting effectively! my table saw and bandsaw both have effective dust collection hoods, however my jointer and drill press do not and will require customization to effectively collect chips.

my design used a shop vac, some ducting tin, pvc, tape, adhesive, wood, and a garbage can. relatively speaking it was cheap, effective, and a definite conversation starter!

as always, additional pictures are available on my personal website here!

8 comments so far

View jcame's profile


72 posts in 3088 days

#1 posted 10-24-2008 01:28 AM

Very Cool, amazing what you can accomplish with a little research, huh? I like the outcome and would be interested in the plans if not too much trouble.

-- Jed,Ala,

View Microsuffer's profile


52 posts in 3076 days

#2 posted 10-24-2008 01:29 AM


How does this compare to using a shop vac with one of the cyclone adapters for 55G drums? What happens if the intake is plugged for a few seconds?

Charlie H.

-- "Those are my principals, if you don't like them....I have others." - Groucho Marx

View Michael Hacker's profile

Michael Hacker

48 posts in 3224 days

#3 posted 10-24-2008 03:13 PM

I have had several issues with my design, and worked through each problem to create a really decent cycloone dust collector.

the first issue i had was with the Rubbermaid lower can imploding, and in the first picture you can see the screws used to affix gussets to the inside of the can. these gave the can rigidity and still allowed to can to flex under vacuum.

the second major issue was updraft up through the lower can into the cyclone which pushed dust and chips up into the vacuum. i corrected this with 1” rubber weather stripping around the lid.

i am happy to state that approximately 99.5% of all the dust is emptied into the lower container, and the upper container only ever sees the finest of the dust particles. i have filled the lower 35gal container 3 full times and have only had to tap off the upper filter once. that is the purpose of the cyclone.

i would like to release a set of plans for my design, as i feel it is effective, low cost, and lots of fun building additional functionality into something you already have (shop vac), if enough people are interested i would seriously consider making a second version with what i have learned and releasing the details.

michael hacker

View Michael Hacker's profile

Michael Hacker

48 posts in 3224 days

#4 posted 10-24-2008 03:18 PM

oh… Microsuffer: i haven’t anything to compare my design too, but i can definitely tell you mine was cheaper to build (approximately $100 – 120). as for blocking off the intake port, the vacuum spools up louder, the lower can implodes a little bit, but no seals are broken or any other detrimental effects. and i have tested this for 2mins. i will also state that extended ON sessions obviously put a strain on the shop vacuum, but i have used it for at least an hour on the jointer with out any negative effects, just let it cool down.

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

783 posts in 3344 days

#5 posted 10-30-2008 08:37 AM

Ver very creative and cool. What information/design criteria did you use to size the cyclone.

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

View Abe Low's profile

Abe Low

111 posts in 3357 days

#6 posted 11-19-2008 09:18 AM

I put in a Clearvue cyclone about a year ago. It is powered by a 3 hp, 3 phase, Delta blower and 6” ducting to each machine. The best thing I did was to put a 4 inch hose to the Excalibur table saw blade guard and another 4” to the base of the Unisaw. I really think the counterbalanced blade guard with the 4” flexible ducting is the most important part of the system on the table saw.
I have decided that the best place to collect the dust is as close to the source as possible so I have my 18” bandsaw with the entire 6” duct placed just under the table as close as possible to the lower blade guides.

Some dust does collect inside the saw base on both saws but hitting that area with the shop vac about every 5 or so hours of sawing takes care of that. The important thing is to catch the fine dust befor it enters my lungs.

I put the cyclone an blower in a lean-to on the outside of my shop and us NO filter on the blower’s output and have yet to detecy anything exiting the unit. I empty the 55 gal barrel when it is about 2/3 full.

I’m very happy with the setup but am still fine tuning the hookup the the jointer, drum sander, drill press and Inca bandsaw. I’m not too concerned about the jointer and drill press as they produce mostly wood chips, not dust.

-- Abe Low, Fine furniture, Sacramento, CA

View mmh's profile


3666 posts in 3234 days

#7 posted 11-23-2008 06:13 PM

Very impressive! Thank you for sharing. I’ll have to see if we can work one into our workshop.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View ahock's profile


102 posts in 2835 days

#8 posted 05-21-2009 04:37 AM

I’ve been thinking about getting a Clearvue cyclone for a shop vac, but like to build things myself (sometimes to a fault). I’d be interested in the plans if you would put them up. Thanks for stoking my brain on this one!

-- Andy, PA ~Finding satisfaction in creation

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