tool - low cost cyclone dust collector

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Project by Michael Hacker posted 10-23-2008 11:45 PM 51916 views 20 times favorited 9 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!

9 comments so far

View jcame's profile


72 posts in 4135 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 4123 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 4271 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 4271 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

812 posts in 4391 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 4404 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


3679 posts in 4280 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 3882 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

View restored's profile


53 posts in 2651 days

#9 posted 03-10-2017 11:18 PM

Dust collection has hit the next level. I love the entire concept, and for the most part understand how it works in theory. Though I have found that we woodworkers, turners, tradesman, most often take for granted that we all understand the basic’s of the basic’s. So many youtube ventures on this build your own cyclone are a total waste of time watching someone cut a round piece of plywood for both a jamb per say and a door of which both sit on a metal barrel. On Mikes design, there is a beginning to some of the questions I’m sure we all have, but I guess it must be best to redesign the wheel ourselves. Mike has a vacuum on top of a barrel separated by the metal cyclone. Correct and help me Mike. I have a 1.5 HP delta dust collection system I also have 4 shop vac’s one 2 top of the line ss 25gallon cans, one a ridid, one a dayton. I need to position my dust collector so that the motor/blower has to be mounted on top of a AIR TIGHT container of some short, sized properly. I bring all my dust and shavings from my piping to the main intake, using the proper sizes piping. What ever I choose to build or use the first container, this should be sized properly, have some type of filter system or not? the inlet and outlet which drops into the cyclone section have to be sealed like a frogs behind. The same section of the cyclone then is attached to the main collection and disposal container. The seals on this need to be 100% tight during operation, so #1 the system works correctly, but # 2 built in such a way that after disposal of it’s contents it seals back up nicely. Excuse me but most of all this are questions. So if I’m on the right track, I need to find a source to help me size the inlet container, size the cyclone accordingly, and size the disposal container, or make sure it also is air tight to the bottom of the cyclone. So a 2 part disposal container probably makes more sense. Real question does this lower container need to be air tight after the seal to the bottom of the cyclone? Could the debris just fall from the cyclone into a small out building? I have a set up like this which is about 3’ deep and 5’ wide, a bump out with walls and roof overhead, that I planned to drop my shavings into at one time. I now want to pur my whole system there, to get rid of the noise and operate with a remote. As far as the system goes, am I on the right track to begin my search for material I will need and retrofit to what I already have. I realize that the logistics that Abe talked about is a whole other animal. I don’t know if my 1.5hp system is enough. I do have one other 3/4hp intake fan/motor system with a 4” outlet that I once used in line at another location, years ago. I was thinking I would do the same and mount it about 15 ft from where my out building is. Do you have any links you can share about sizing, where one can purchase barrels with sealing covers and cyclones them selfs for us DIY’ers. Thaanks Mike, at least my wheels are turning, I really need to deal with this dust issue I have. End grain cutting boards and sanding on the lathe I have a real problem. Mostly my fault because I hate walking back and forth to the dust collector to turn it on and off. I do have a long Ranger in the mail. I was giving some thought to isolating one of my router tables, and chop saw, and making a separate unit like yours with hard piping 2.5 ” pvc. I’m thinking about putting it upstairs, and dropping one line and a switch to operate.

-- KRT

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