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Making the Jerrjens Mini-Cyclone

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Forum topic by Don posted 2766 days ago 36508 views 17 times favorited 26 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Don

2599 posts in 2810 days


2766 days ago

In one of my early blogs, I made reference to the dangers inherent in inhaling wood dust. Over the years, I’ve concluded that any small particulates that find their way into the lungs are a health hazard. We all know the risks to ones health from smoking, airbourne asbestos, coal dust, etc. And the claim is made by some that some species of wood are actually carcinogenic. Regardless of the scientific validity of these claims, any woodworker will attest to the fact that inhaled dust is not a good thing. Most of us will have experienced clogged nasal passages and even blood in our hankies when trying to clear the nostrils. This cannot be a good sign.

There are many steps a prudent woodworker will undertake to prevent dust inhalation. To name a few, there are various dust masks from the simple, inexpensive throw-away paper filters to the positive-pressure air respirators; there are central ceiling mounted air filters, and there are Dust Control Systems that can be simple or very complex. I have posted a link to Bill Pentz’ site where he discusses dust extraction systems with a particular emphasis on cyclone extractors. If you spend any regular amount of time in an enclosed workshop environment, it would pay you to spend some time reading the research Bill has done on the subject. He is the woodworker’s cyclone guru.

Regardless how good your dust extraction may be, there is still ambient dust that escapes these and settles on the various surfaces in the shop. (As an aside, I frequently don my air respirator and turn on my air filter and start blowing off all of the surfaces in my shop with compressed air. Some of it escapes outside my open door, and some gets cycled through the shop air filter where it is trapped. Unfortunately, some of it resettles back on on the same surfaces.)

This is where a good shop vac comes in. For clarity, I am referring to a portable vacuum cleaner that we use around the shop to pick up wood dust and wood chips; the stuff that gets away from the ducted central DC System. Unfortunately, most small shop vac’s suffer from dust clogging, and may eventually burn out. (Think of the dust bag as akin to you lungs.) A good mate of mine, Peter Jurrjens, who has a local reputation amongst woodworkers for being very innovative, borrowed the concept of the cyclone from central DC systems and adapted this to the shop vacuum. It’s known locally as the Jurrjens Mini-Cyclone.

In essence, he designed a pre-filter to remove the majority of dust and chips before they reached the dust filter bag of the shop vacuum. The benefits are many; a cleaner shop, less frequent bag changes due to the larger storage capacity of the cyclone, no loss of vacuum power due to clogging, and protection of vacuum motor preventing burn-out. This is a relatively easy modification that will take only a few hours to do, and cost probably less that $25.00.

The cyclone consists of a two-stage unit. The top stage is made up from plastic paint buckets and a large plastic funnel to form the cyclone section, the lower section is a metal paint bucket that serves as the waste/dust collector. A look at the schematic will help you visualize this. The hose fittings are common plastic plumbing fittings. Two hoses fit into the top lid. One runs to the shop vac, and the other is used to pick up the dust and waste around the shop. The action of the air circulating around the upper unit is caused by the funnel shape of the top section. When dust and chips are sucked up into the mini-cyclone, the heavier material falls immediately to the lower container. The cyclone action of the air-flow throws slightly lighter particles to the outside walls of the cyclone by centrifugal force. When this lighter material hits the walls, it spirals down the cyclone walls and through to the lower container. Only the very lightest of material finds it way up through the vacuum hose into the vacuum bag. In my experience, you can fill the larger cyclone container two or three times before needing to change the vacuum bag.

I am hoping that the schematic shown here is sufficient to inspire LumberJocks to make their own mini-vac systems. You will never regret taking the time to make this fantastic little shop aid. If you have specific questions regarding this, I will either answer them myself, or have the designer of the mini-vac answer them for you.

I am not bothering changing the metric measurements to Imperial. If you can’t relate to metric, then do your own conversion. [1” = 25.4mm]


-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/


26 replies so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2794 days


#1 posted 2765 days ago

1. Here’s a conversion chart that might help the non-metric people
2. I admit it – I skipped this one. Why? Well, I’ve found that the technical information posted on blogs etc here on LJ is “way over my head” generally so I just skip it for now, knowing that when I’m ready I know where to find it. And so I skipped passed this one, not knowing what it was really about. (A lesson for me—read all the messages on LJ.)
3. This is very interesting and yes, very important. I hate the thought of all those tiny particles of wood (and who knows what else) going into my lungs. I’ll be printing this one off! Thank you for taking the time to share this with us

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

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scottb

3648 posts in 2960 days


#2 posted 2765 days ago

Can’t believe I missed this one… you may have just saved me a bunch of cash over the one you can buy and mount to your own 5 gal bucket, for considerably more $...

and to think I was just at the Big Box store this afternoon, picking up some plumbing fittings to fix a corroded pipe under the kitchen sink. I could have grabbed these when I was there.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

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Obi

2213 posts in 2870 days


#3 posted 2765 days ago

Don’t feel bad, Don, I read it and instantly tried to figure out how to make one. I woke up thinking about a Cyclone Dust Collector, so it did have an impact. I just didnt want to look stupid but I don’t really care now, so here goes:
1) what hooks up to where? And how can i turn my current shop vac into one? the price is good, and can I convert my regular dust collection system into one?

View Dusty's profile

Dusty

785 posts in 2789 days


#4 posted 2765 days ago

I hadn’t seen the post Don, It was one of those days, I found it very informative and useful. thank you.

P.s
As a side note to your comment “its getting so busy” boy isn’t that the truth. any ideas?
There is so much to read-and I find very useful. I just have to find a way to take it all in.

-- Dusty

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 2933 days


#5 posted 2765 days ago

I seldom use my shopvac as an attachment for dust collection because most of my equipment is attached to my dust collector. Another thing, my shopvac is so noisy.

Thanks Don, it did made me think about making something like this with larger fittings for my dust collector.
I have a question though, does the cyclone dampen some of the noise?

Comment: One thing I never do is use an air hose for cleanup, doing so your just putting more dust into the air, that’s why I bought a shopvac.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN. http://www.woodcarvingillustrated.com/gallery/member.php?uid=3627&protype=1

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 2960 days


#6 posted 2765 days ago

Question about the lenght of the hoses…. should I have this mini-cyclone near the shopvac and make them both mobile, (Dick – I’ve seen plans where you can make a plywood box, lined with carpet or insulation as a sound buffer – just leave a hole for the air exchange) or can I stash them under a workbench and just get a longer hose?... or perhaps my question is, what is the point where this will loose its efficiency with lengthening the hoses?

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

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Don

2599 posts in 2810 days


#7 posted 2764 days ago

Quote Obi: ”...what hooks up to where? And how can i turn my current shop vac into one?”

Obi, re-reading my post, I now realizes that I used a term that may have given the wrong impression. I referred to a “shop vac”. More specifically, I am referring to any small vacuum cleaner such as a domestic house vacuum cleaner. Of course, it could also be what the big box companies call a shop vac. The main purpose of the Mini-cyclone is to remove as much of the sawdust and larger wood particles before they get to the vacuum’s filter. The power of the vacuum cleaner decreases in inverse proportion to the amount of debris that clogs the filter device of the vacuum cleaner. So the mini-cyclone serves as a pre-vacuum separator removing most of this debris.

Now, the plumbing is quite simple.

The hose from the vacuum cleaner is attached to the the through-lid fitting that goes to the long pipe that runs down through the center of the cyclone unit (one of the pictures shows a ruler held next to this pipe – it is about 11 long. It extends down to and level with the top of the plastic funnel that forms the cyclone.

The cyclone and the lower holding tank must be constructed in such a manner that the only air that enters the two stage canister is through the second pipe with a right angle. This pipe is connected to the hose that is used for picking up the dust, dirt and debris. If any air is drawn into the canisters through an unsealed opening, it reduces the effectiveness of the cyclone.

Quote Dick: ”I have a question though, does the cyclone dampen some of the noise?”

No, the cyclone has no affect on noise. It doesn’t dampen or increase it. Peter Jurrjens uses ordinary domestic vacuum cleaners installed in sound-proof housings around his shop. (See Scott’s comment on this.) I think he has at least 3 of these. Remember, the mini-cyclone/vacuum system is only used for cleanup. It is not left running like the DC unit. (I have installed my DC unit in a separate space under my house where it cannot be heard in the shop.)

And yes, Dick, the mini-cyclone takes the same principal of a cyclone separator used in line with a DC unit. I also have one of these. But as I stated in my article, the Mini-Cyclone is used with the shop vac when cleaning up around the shop the stuff that escapes from your central DC system.

Quote Dick: ”Comment: One thing I never do is use an air hose for cleanup, doing so your just putting more dust into the air, that’s why I bought a shopvac.”

Dick, you are right. Blowing the dust with the air hose does put the dust into the air. That’s why I turn on the shop air-filter unit to catch some of this airborne dust. But I also wear my Triton Air Respirator when blowing the dust out of the many awkward hard-to-reach places in my shop. (I plan to write a review on this under a separate blog.)

Quote Scott: ”Question about the length of the hoses…”

Scott, the hose on my unit between the vac and the mini-cyclone is 2.5 meters. The actual pickup hose is 1.5 meters. There is no apparent loss of power, but I guess this might occur if the hose was exceptionally long.

Your suggestion about the mini-cyclone being on wheels to make it portable is a good one. I’ve seen woodworking mates put both the shop vac and the mini-cyclone on a small cart to make the whole affair portable.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

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scottb

3648 posts in 2960 days


#8 posted 2764 days ago

Thanks Don… I was planning to do just that (make a cart – with some sort of silencer) but would have made a built in unit under a bench if a longer hose would have worked. Didn’t think so, but was hoping. Most of my tools aren’t that scattered, but a 4-5 foot hose won’t cut it.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2810 days


#9 posted 2764 days ago

Of course, Scott my setup has 4 meters = 13’, and I’ve had as much as 18’ all up with absolutely no deterioration is vacuum that I notice.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Karson's profile

Karson

34870 posts in 3034 days


#10 posted 2764 days ago

Just a little bit of different information.

I’ve bought Hepa filters for my shop-vacs. A Ridgid and a Lowes brand. They are different size filters but I don’t have any noticable dust come out of the back. I’ve used the Lowes one, attached to a drywall sanding attachment and It seems to stop all of the dust from getting through. They are suppose to be rated at a low Micron range.

The Ridgid vac I’ve had full where the hose got full and it was still sucking as if nothing was in the vac. Thats why I kept sweeping up. It didn’t seem full. I’m quite happy with those filters. The dust just knocks off when you tap the filter against the trash bin. If you hit them with an air gun I’ve noticed some pealing of the filter material.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2810 days


#11 posted 2764 days ago

Karson, it depends on the configuration of the filtering device. Some lose efficiency when the filter clogs, others simply pass the dust right through and the whole process is counter-productive. Still others use a kind of mini-cyclone built within the vacuum.

__Peter Jurrjens has been monitoring the responses here and sent me the following.

Don,

I’ve been reading the postings at Lumberjocks. In regard to
Scott’s comments of length of hose I think the hose can
be much longer.

Firstly if he puts the mini cyclone next to the vac in
a permanent situation he can shorten the connecting
hose and then use a longer hose for pickup.

The unit we took photos of has a hose that can reach
anywhere in the main part of the workshop and I have
regularly used an extension hose to reach up into the
far reaches of the back part of the workshop which
would be at least 8 meters.

When I use it for cleaning I have the reducing hand
wand attached to the hose which helps to concentrate
suction , this normally comes with the vac.

Another point that you haven’t mentioned is that with
the appropriate adapter the mini cyclone hose can be
attached to hand held tools like a sander or router or
as I intend to do attached to the CSM Saw or to the
overhead guard on the TS.

With the appropriate wiring the vac can be controlled
from a central location especially if the vac is built
into a soundproofing box.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

View Karson's profile

Karson

34870 posts in 3034 days


#12 posted 2764 days ago

Don: I think what I was trying to relate was that the hepa filter didn’t seem to clog at all and it had full vacuum use even when the vac was full. Here is a web site that talks about HEPA Filters that filter down to 0.3 Micron

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2870 days


#13 posted 2764 days ago

O.K. All I want is to see a picture of the entire set-up.

View Don's profile

Don

2599 posts in 2810 days


#14 posted 2764 days ago

Thanks for this, Karson. Very interesting. Imagine combining a HEPA filter with the mini-cyclone – I think you would have the perfect setup. The first stage being the cyclone would filter out all of the larger particles and the HEPA filter would capture all of the microscopic particles.

Quote Obi: ”All I want is to see a picture of the entire set-up.”

Obi, this one shows a modified Triton Dust Bucket. Whilst it differs in detail from the pictured above, it is essentially the same modification. The upper chamber is the Triton bucket (substitute any similarly sized bucket), and the lower chamber is the paint tin (usually available free from a paint supplier) which serves as the dust container.

You can clearly see the funnel, and the two through top-pipes. The one with the elbow is attached to the pickup hose and the other one with the long pipe extending down to the top of the funnel is connected to the vacuum hose.

One other point; the lid through which the pipes feed only needs to be tight. It everything is sealed, the vacuum creates a tight fit making it next to impossible to remove the lid when the vacuum is on. The lower connection between the two sections is sealed with the lower lid clamp.

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://dpb-photography.me/

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Obi

2213 posts in 2870 days


#15 posted 2764 days ago

Thanks Don, now I can see what plugs into where and with the detailed information, I can probably figure out how to put all this information together.

I thought the angled piece went to the vacuume and the strait one went to the attachments… that way the stuff that was sucked up would be lower than the one that went to the vacuum and the filter.

Does hooking it up backwards change the operation, or has anybody else tried that?

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