PVC tubes to shop vac

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Forum topic by woodworkingdrew posted 10-05-2014 06:20 PM 9863 views 1 time favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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190 posts in 1603 days

10-05-2014 06:20 PM

I was wondering if anyone ever made a makeshift duct system with PVC pipe hooked to a shop vac. I know its not ideal but cant afford a quality DC at the moment and dont really have the space for it. Thanks

-- Andrew, California

16 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

4981 posts in 2487 days

#1 posted 10-05-2014 06:49 PM

They will have to be small enough that the vac can handle them (2” or so, +/-). Our last house had a central vac system, and it used PVC pipes. I would bet most folks with hard piped DC’s use PVC as well….I know that’s what is on my system.

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

View WhyMe's profile


1012 posts in 1555 days

#2 posted 10-05-2014 06:52 PM

Using PVC is not makeshift. See this…. Same would apply for a shopvac setup.

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#3 posted 10-05-2014 07:10 PM

Sears used to sell a ducting system for shop
vac setups. It had blast gates and a bunch
of 2.25” clear tubing I think.

With smaller diameter tube like that clear
tubing is an advantage because clogging is
going to happen. 4” duct doesn’t clog

View BorkBob's profile


127 posts in 2686 days

#4 posted 10-05-2014 07:13 PM

I have a 10’ length of 2” PVC conduit (gray) with a couple long sweep elbows on one end and retractable hose on the other. The shop vac is outside the shop. I use it to clean around the table saw and for router table and blade guard dust collection. Works great.

-- Please Pray for Our Troops / Semper Fi / Bob Ross /

View Loren's profile


10373 posts in 3642 days

#5 posted 10-05-2014 08:06 PM

For some time I used a shop vac running to
a trash can with a “cyclone lid”. I ran a 4”
hose out to a planer. The performance
was acceptable over the modest run of
4” hose. If you can find a modest size
trash can and put your vacuum next to it
on a wheeled base, it’s not so awful to
switch the hose from place to place.
You’ll get far better performance that way
compared to running a bunch of small
duct which you’ll want to upgrade to 4”
anyway as soon as you get a “real”
dust collector.

I have no objection to shop vacs as dust
collectors except that they are annoying
to listen to.

I used another with a foot switch hooked
up to my table saw for a couple of years.

View English's profile


655 posts in 1471 days

#6 posted 10-05-2014 08:15 PM

A well laid out 2” PVC pipeing system will be more efficient than a long (20’) hose. Just remember the same rules apply for 2” has with larger 4” or 6” system, use sewer long radius fittings. Run the pipe as directly and as short as possible to the equipment. Avoid sharp turns whenever possible. Use WYES not tees to connect multiple runs. Leave yourself a way to clean out clogs.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View Tugboater78's profile


2743 posts in 2186 days

#7 posted 10-05-2014 08:40 PM

Yes I currently have a 2” system setup with my dust deputy and shop vac. Its not perfect but it allows me some collection.

I blogged about it

Its not perfect, I used what I had, and have some idea on how to improve. Long elbows and less flexpipe. I added a shop vac 1.5” hose after a gate for cleaning up on end of the line.

-- "....put that handsaw to work and make it earn its keep. - summerfi" <==< JuStiN >==>=->

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2656 posts in 2916 days

#8 posted 10-06-2014 12:28 AM

shop vacs are not made to draw through long ducts. Also they are not meant to run for long periods of time., I have killed three of them to learn this.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

View woodworkingdrew's profile


190 posts in 1603 days

#9 posted 10-06-2014 03:32 AM

Jim- I agree with you, but with funds tight I am trying to work with what I have. I thank everyone else for there input.

-- Andrew, California

View MT_Stringer's profile


3168 posts in 3225 days

#10 posted 10-06-2014 03:55 AM

Yep, mee too. My miter saw station is on the opposite side of my garage from the dust collector. I have a shop vac that I use for it. I plumbed some 2 inch pipe and 45 connectors so that I have a connection to the saw via blast gate, and a second connection under the table (via blast gate) that I can hook a hose up to to collect dust from my ROS, or router operations. The PVC pipe is connected to a Dust Deputy, then routed to the shop vac via flexible hose.

It is working just fine.
Hope this helps.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1385 days

#11 posted 02-12-2016 02:07 PM

I’m bringing back this old thread for another run. It is the closest thing I can find to my question.

I have a 2HP HF DC setup outside my shop and piped around with blast gates etc.

This is about a centralized solution for general cleanup around the shop. I want to set up a shop vac outside, with a simple trash-can separator similar to what I’m doing with my DC.

I want to run the shop vac suction into the shop and route it to 3 places. A dangling “retractable” hose near my main workbench, one near my TS/router table combo, and another one near my other bench that has spindle sander and miter saw etc. A wall mounted switch next to the wall mounted DC switch would turn it on and off.

I like the idea of having it outside for low noise and not tripping over it and not having to drag it around to different parts of my (small) shop and having an easy to empty separator can.

I’m worried about clogging as mentioned earlier in this thread and wondering what sort of a piping arrangement has worked well for this to combine good airflow with “some way to deal with clogs”.

So far I haven’t thought of a good clog solution. Have any of you tried using limited size flex hose on the end of slightly larger PVC runs as a solution here? I’m thinking maybe 2” flexible hose and maybe 3” PVC?

I’m thinking I can run the PVC in the rafters of my shop building with just one long straight run across, and a slow bend outside in my lean-to down to the separator. So the 3 inch part would be very “clean”.

The 3 drops would be just 3 inch “Wye” with a 2” flex MacGyver’ed into each one. The 3” pipe can be setup with the far end of it being the highest point, and the Wye’s positioned such that they point up so hopefully stuff from the far end won’t get “stuck” at the next Wye.

I’m hoping that if I engineer the 2” to 3” connections well, I can easily pull one out and shove a wire or something in there to break up the inevitable clogs.

Anyway, would welcome both thoughts and especially real-world experiences trying to setup a “central vac” system for a wood shop.

Please note…none of this has to do with “dust collection and air cleaning”. It is all about tidying up the shop.

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

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


4515 posts in 2403 days

#12 posted 02-13-2016 04:36 AM

I have used PVC when I needed an extension, never had a problem. Most of mine is 2” clear plastic tubing I got from HD years ago. Adapting it will require you to be creative but it is easy to work with.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View JeffP's profile


573 posts in 1385 days

#13 posted 02-13-2016 12:54 PM

I’ve pretty much decided this is one of those “you never really know until you try it” questions. As soon as the weather warms up a bit (hopefully this coming week after the polar vortex slinks back to the north pole where it belongs), I’m gonna just build a prototype of this thing in my driveway.

That way I can try some different things more easily before I put it up inside the shop.

It seems to me that the most likely thing to cause clogs would be some curly waste from hand-planing and/or some longish thin strips that are “too big to suck up and too small to bother bending over to pick up”. I’m gonna make some of each and do some experimenting to see if my planned system will be prone to clogging.

When the weather is cold, mental experiments combined with forum posts are more fun…but when it is warm, driveway science always wins. :)

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

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1286 posts in 1724 days

#14 posted 02-13-2016 01:13 PM

When you get your parts, use electrical sweeps for you bends. They have large a large radius over 2” ID’s. Also, no one posted while using plastic, pvc or flexible clear tubing, all that stuff needs a ground wire the keep the static down which will also cause clogs….... Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View woodworkingdrew's profile


190 posts in 1603 days

#15 posted 02-13-2016 03:01 PM

Back when I started this thread in 10/14 I remember reading quite a few articles on this. Its not realistic to do this type of setup for many reasons.

1. Shop vacs are not made to run for long periods of times. I had an old craftsman that literally went up in smoke from running to long
2. Shop vacs have high horsepower, however they lack in CFM. CFM is the general “area” suction power.
3. You need the right attachments for saws and sanders to have a chance at collecting dust.

Stick with your HF dust collector and just get a shopvac on wheels for general cleanup. routing tubes and pipes is a waste of money in my opinion and wont do near as good of job as the dust collector.

-- Andrew, California

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