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Building a Cyclone vs a Thien Baffle: pros and cons?

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Forum topic by Kenny posted 02-23-2012 07:50 PM 24065 views 0 times favorited 37 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Kenny

260 posts in 1908 days


02-23-2012 07:50 PM

I know the Thien baffle is a very popular and low-cost separator, and I know it works rather well from experience. But, now that I have upgraded to a true DC from a shop-vac, I’m wondering if it may be worth the effort to put together a true cyclone.

I have seen many options for doing so, some made from wood stack-ring lamination style, some from wood using staved construction, others from steel, and acrylic too. So I know there are plenty of options for construction, and I know I could manage to construct a cyclone several different ways from the previously mentioned methods. But, it is truly worth it?

I have been looking at the units from Cyclone Central in the UK, as they offer a 100mm cyclone (100mm inlet size) for 90 pounds (not positive of conversion, maybe $135?), which I don’t see as being too bad for a cyclone.

I have also considered making my own from sheet steel. Since my step-father is a HVAC worker and forms sheetmetal all day, and his employer has a computer controlled plasma cutter and other necessary tooling, it may be the cheapest route.

But, before I get any more involved in this, I’d like to hear some opinions.

Thanks

-- Kenny


37 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2150 days


#1 posted 02-24-2012 03:09 AM

Kenny, Look at my chip separator I posted recently. I was very skeptical when I built this but it performs amazingly well. I just emptied the barrel and had only a double handful of dust in the plastic bag under the DC. I have almost nothing invested in it and built it in a day. I wouldn’t mess with the more complicated cyclones or Thein baffles after building this one. Sometimes simpler is better!

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Loren's profile

Loren

8295 posts in 3108 days


#2 posted 02-24-2012 03:14 AM

I have a cyclone I bought used from a guy who built it from
the Wood Magazine plans. It works great.

It only consumes 4 square feet of floor space. The benefit
of not fussing with a bag dust collector with its need for
headroom, the flimsy wheels and top-heavy design make
using the cyclone a real pleasure in contrast.

View kizerpea's profile

kizerpea

774 posts in 1828 days


#3 posted 02-24-2012 07:03 AM

i bought the woodmag plans an built my own. it looks nothing like the plan…plans are made to be changed or customized to your shop it,s in my projects

-- IF YOUR NOT MAKING DUST...YOU ARE COLLECTING IT! SOUTH CAROLINA.

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fussy

980 posts in 2511 days


#4 posted 02-24-2012 07:49 AM

The Thein baffle works as well as, or better than a cyclone, takes up NO space if you put it in the dc ring, costs nothing, and is a 45 min-1 1/2 hour build. Next to nothing gets in my Wynn filter. Go to Thein’s site and look at what they do.

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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pmcustom

30 posts in 2260 days


#5 posted 02-24-2012 08:39 AM

My DIY system is loosely based on the Thien-baffle concept. You can check it out in my project for pictures. After 6 months of use, the most sawdust I could get out of the Wynn filter was maybe 2 cups of flour. There are a ton of similar setups, most commonly adapted to the HF 2hp DC, which have worked very well for people. I believe it is easier, cheaper, requires less space, and works well enough. The cyclones also add more resistance (SP), which would especially be a consideration in a lower HP system. Good luck!

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Kenny

260 posts in 1908 days


#6 posted 02-24-2012 08:42 AM

Fussy,
I don’t have to go anywhere but to my own shop to see and use a Thien baffle, I have one on my shop-vac, works good.
But, I’m not totally sold on the Thien yet.
And I’m especially not sold on the “in the ring” Thien, and for one main reason: it doesn’t pull out debris before it goes through the blower.
However, I do like the idea of a JET style “Vortex Cone”, and possibly with a rim around it like the Thien baffle has. BUT, only if I were also running some type of pre-blower separator to keep possibly damaging objects from making it into my blower.

It’s something I’m going to have to think about and consider for a bit, and hearing both sides and keeping an open mind is my plan for now.

Thanks

-- Kenny

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Kenny

260 posts in 1908 days


#7 posted 02-24-2012 08:46 AM

“The cyclones also add more resistance (SP), which would especially be a consideration in a lower HP system.”

Now THAT speaks volumes to me! If it is true, I would end this debate right now. I’m looking to get the most performance, not the most drag on my system.

I had thought the opposite would be true, but seeing as I know little about airflow, I could well be wrong, and I likely am.
But, it’s why I asked questions before buying something I know little about.

-- Kenny

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pmcustom

30 posts in 2260 days


#8 posted 02-24-2012 09:33 AM

Check out billpentz.com for more info. It’s THE website on dust collection theory and is where I learned a ton. It’s definitely a must read.

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

3927 posts in 1953 days


#9 posted 02-24-2012 12:20 PM

I built the Wood cyclone and used for several years before I changed over to a commercial model. I believe the Wood worked every bit as well as the one I have now. But I did have a much larger DC hooked to it ( 2 1/2 HP, 12” Impeller) than they did in the design, enough deal with the increased drag. Almost anything you do for a separator will increase drag, some more than others. As mentioned above it has a bigger impact with a smaller DC. Check the Pentz site, start with the FAQ part since there is enough techno-bable there to give you a headache.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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Loren

8295 posts in 3108 days


#10 posted 02-24-2012 04:58 PM

If you are just running 1 machine at a time (no wide-belts allowed),
you can run fixed ducting all over a modest shop with blast gates
and have plenty of suck with a 1.5HP blower. Honestly, there
is no need to overthink it unless you have more than 1 port open
at a time and longer runs of duct than would be possible in a 20×20’
shop. A 1.5-2HP cyclone of regular DC will be fine for most machines
but not a wide belt sander.

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1908 days


#11 posted 02-24-2012 09:05 PM

See, thing is, I like to turn, and I turn a LOT! And that turns into a lot of sanding on the lathe, one of the hardest machines to collect dust and debris from.
My train of thought, as well a what I’ve read, says you need a lot of air to collect from a lathe, so making this little DC suck for all it’s worth is my plan.

Also, It is my thought that the more fine dust I can pull out of the air stream before it hits my filter, the better. I know and accept that I’ll never remove it all in any separator, just the facts.

However, after researching cyclones for several hours today, as well as various baffle designs, I’vE decided against the cyclone, for now anyway.
From what I’ve read, the cyclone is going to cost me a lot of flow. And after looking at a few commercial cyclones and their flow numbers (which are much lower than a comparable “standard” type collector), I feel that my 2hp DC will be far better suited to a Thien baffle.
Maybe if I had a larger impeller to help deal with the added resistance it would be worth it. But with my present DC, it just doesn’t make sense.

I think Bill Pentz is right, you need a 12” impeller and 5hp to really make it worth while and operate properly. I thought I may be able to get away with less, but it will just cost me too much performace and offset any gains I may have seen.

I’ll be building a Thien Baffle to sit atop a barrel of some sort, likely a Rubbermade Brute trashcan or a metal trashcan.

I am considering using 6” pipe into and out of the separator, as I was planning to use it for the main lines of my system anyway.

Thanks

-- Kenny

View DS's profile

DS

2151 posts in 1881 days


#12 posted 02-24-2012 09:16 PM

I keep thinking I should upgrade my stock HF DC, so this thread is very helpful to me.

The lathe dust collection sounds interesting to me. Mostly, I deal with lots and lots of chips and shavings from my lathe. My last lathe project was 7 pedistals each standing 48” tall and 14” in diameter. They were turned in 3 peices each, a base, a column and a cap.

I cut the blanks into octagons on the bandsaw to minimize the shavings, but by the end of each column I was literally up to my knees in shavings. There is a reason I own a snow shovel in an area that NEVER snows. Collecting to a DC seems almost futile, if not impossible for the lathe. I’d like to see how that one works.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

14940 posts in 2150 days


#13 posted 02-25-2012 02:04 AM

Kenny, My ‘chip separator’ does not decrease my airflow any that I can determine.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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HorizontalMike

7143 posts in 2374 days


#14 posted 02-25-2012 02:16 AM

Ditto gfadvm, and I could care less that my DC improves by some fraction of one percent. ALL of these things help clean the air. For the sake of argument, just quit bickering (the generic you) about who is best and choose one and be done with it. If you think money solves the problem, send the money to me. I’ll take it and compliment your choice,... yada, yada, yada,...

FWIW, my Thien separator does the same job as the Grizzly plastic separator does. I can NOT see any performance increase. The Thien MAY be cheap to build if you use scrap lumber, but only maybe. I have both.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Kenny 's profile

Kenny

260 posts in 1908 days


#15 posted 02-25-2012 05:45 AM

Mike, I understand your point, but you’re way off on the percentage of increased flow with a the average baffle vs a cyclone. From what I have read (which was based on a lot of testing), a cyclone would cost my DC 20%+ in flow. FAR from a fraction of a percent.

As for Grizzly vs Thien, you may be right. But I’m not looking at a Grizzly, or any other commercial unit. And to be honest, I’ve owned and used a commercial bucket-top separator with my shop vac, very similar to what you pictured, only smaller. It sucked, and not in a good way. It scrubbed off dust and chips so badly that I was emptying both the vac and the bucket at the same time, and the vac would have more in it than the bucket! (full vac, 2/3 full bucket)

I built my Thien, and I have cleaned my filter once in 16 months, and that was just to set my mind at ease, it certainly didn’t need it.

The reason I asked what I did, was because I was comparing two very different systems, one I’ve never had any real experience with. I’ve had my mind made up since the get-go, if I was to build a separator, it would be another Thien. The only other thing I considered was a cyclone, as it’s a very different system that obviously works pretty well.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen other separators that I think are well made and I’m sure they work well. I just know what I’ve tried, and I know what has worked for me. I was hoping for an improvement, but it looks like the Thien is where it’s at, so to speak.

I picked up my trashcan earlier tonight, along with the fittings I need and some all-thread. Circle jig is on the bandsaw, all ready to go. Just need to dig out my sheet of MDF and get cuttin!

Thanks to all who had input. Much appreciated.

Next “project”, the “Vortex Cone” to put in the ring.

-- Kenny

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