diy separator vs. store bought

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Forum topic by sawedoff posted 11-15-2012 02:51 PM 4160 views 1 time favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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155 posts in 2595 days

11-15-2012 02:51 PM

Now I’m not wanting to take anything away from the Thein Separator (I’ve heard nothing but good things), but was wondering how the store bought one’s compare? I was wondering if they are close. I have a friend who runs one and he loves it. Any feedback would be great

looking at this one

-- still wet behind the ears.....

14 replies so far

View Bieser's profile


176 posts in 2210 days

#1 posted 11-15-2012 02:56 PM

I just recently was looking at the same things you are. I found that the biggest complaint with the lid was once the can got half full it stopped working as a separator. I ultimately decided to go with a cyclone. Good luck… I hope someone chimes in with some more info.

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3261 days

#2 posted 11-15-2012 03:01 PM

The store bought separator was lucky if the barrel was half full before it no longer worked. The Thein I built
from scratch cost a little more, but does a better job of separating the dust and chips and works until the
chips are up to the bottom section. The cyclone is the best way to go if you have a big enough system and
can afford the cyclone.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View ChuckC's profile


843 posts in 3110 days

#3 posted 11-15-2012 03:07 PM

You really need the baffle in there.
I put together a slightly modified Thein. Instead of having an inlet pipe in the middle I cut a hole big enough for a 5 gallon pail. I cut a 5 gallon pail in half, stuck the top part in the hole, and then propped the DC motor on top of the pail. I got everything to fit on the stock HF DC cart and it works well.

View Don W's profile

Don W

18990 posts in 2743 days

#4 posted 11-15-2012 03:11 PM

I bought one from grizzly similar to the one you show. It seems to work very well and I could never understand why everybody else had such problems with it. I then realized I retrofitted mine to a 55 gal drum. Once it gets about a foot from the top, it will start sucking the stuff through, but that close to the top makes sense.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View TeamTurpin's profile


85 posts in 2237 days

#5 posted 11-15-2012 03:24 PM

I made my own. I used some scrap plywood, but bought the elbow connector pipes. The whole project took a half a day or so. I’ve got two compartments with a four inch hole between them. While not a true cyclone effect, the dust stream has to take quite a path to get out of the box. No big stuff ever gets out of it.


View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3146 days

#6 posted 11-15-2012 03:36 PM

If you make a DIY version of the purchased lid:
- use 3/4” plywood disk, a little larger than the drum you plan to use, skirt the outside with a 1-1/2” wide strip of masonite to provide a lip. A closed cell foam gasket strip completes the seal.
- put the outlet in the center with a 6” length of 6” pipe sticking into the drum, 4” out through the lid.
- use a 4” 90 degree elbow on the inlet and locate it as close as possible to be tangent to the outside wall of the drum.
This arrangement will work better than the purchased lids and close to the Thein with a lot less work.

View PurpLev's profile


8541 posts in 3824 days

#7 posted 11-15-2012 03:37 PM

TeamTurpin – nice separator! do you find (have you checked) that you are losing suction as compared to not using this separator?

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View TeamTurpin's profile


85 posts in 2237 days

#8 posted 11-15-2012 03:48 PM

I can’t really tell if I’ve lost much suction. When I built the system, I installed a vacuum guage in the line, but I guess it’s not accurate enough to give me a real reading. But, I ran some crude tests when I did the plumbing. If the vacuum dropped when I added in the separator, it didn’t drop much. When building the box, I carefully caulked all the joints and I have rubber weatherstripping on the door. I think it’s pretty efficient.

But, I have a small shop so that may not be typical. The 4” pipe that runs from my vacuum closet to my inside manifold is only about 10 feet. My DC is only 2hp, but I’ve always had strong suction in my small environment.


View Randy Woodworker's profile

Randy Woodworker

68 posts in 2504 days

#9 posted 11-15-2012 04:21 PM

I went with a Dust Deputy, chronicled here

I can’t say enough about how well it works.

View exit2studios's profile


4 posts in 968 days

#10 posted 03-25-2016 04:46 PM

TeamTurpin, do you happen to have pictures of the inside of your chip separator box? I would be curious to see how the interior is designed.


View biggeorge50's profile


14 posts in 2367 days

#11 posted 03-25-2016 06:32 PM

I use that lid, but I added a baffle under the elbow like on a Thein. Improved the design greatly.

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1567 days

#12 posted 03-25-2016 11:17 PM

It all depends…are you expecting it to remove the tiny invisible dust, or just the “chunks”?

My DC system exhausts outside…so other than a few squirrels running around with emphysema, not being able to separate out the fine dust from the visible stuff is of no importance here.

That’s why I went even cheaper than what you’re talking about. No Thein, no cyclone, not even a store-bought trash can separator.

Mine is very simply a metal trash can with the lid that goes with it. I cut two 4 inch holes in the lid…one in the center and one near the edge. The one near the edge has a 4” PVC elbow in it, positioned to spray the incoming debris along the perimeter of the can. The center hole just has a 10” long piece of 4” PVC straight pipe sticking straight down. That’s it!

Most of the time there is zero visible stuff making it past this setup to the 2HP HC DC. I have noticed that when the can is more than half full and I use my planer, the system spews some chips. After running it this way for several months of frequent use…I have MAYBE a quarter cup of shavings laying around near the exhaust.

So, again. It all depends on what you want it to do. If it is purely to catch the majority of the visible stuff…my way is almost free and took about an hour to build.

-- Last week I finally got my $*i# together. Unfortunately, it was in my shop, so I will probably never find it again.

View Holbs's profile


1984 posts in 2205 days

#13 posted 03-26-2016 02:19 PM

When it comes to using a shop vac system or less than 3 HP DC system (maybe 2HP depending on duct infrastructure), they are considered “chip collectors”, not “dust collectors” though they do suck up some dust but not the unhealthy particles. I have a dust deputy for my shop vac which does it’s job of separating large debris from small debris. I also have a 3HP Grizzly DC with 6” ducts & a DIY Thein baffle, which does it’s job. Lots of folks use the trash can lid separator, dust deputy, Thein baffle, or cyclone. Any separator is better than none. BUT… there efficiency at separating are vastly different. This is where a Thein baffle and cyclone outshine the lid or dust deputy because of the 6” ducting and higher horsepower & CFM.

-- The Carpenter Bee is derived from the Ancient Greek word wood-cutter "xylokopos/ξυλοκὀπος"

View ArtMann's profile


1106 posts in 991 days

#14 posted 03-26-2016 03:47 PM

I used one for a short while and it only separated maybe 70% of the material. It did absolutely nothing for the problem of frequent filter clogs. It quit working entirely when the trash can got 1/3 full. I would have been happy to give mine to you but it got in the way so I put it out for the trash people to pick up a few months ago.

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