Shop Vac Cyclone???

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Project by cdhilburn posted 10-20-2011 12:38 AM 6441 views 14 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The sawdust is finally getting to me. After the last couple of projects I had sinus trouble, sore throat, headache, etc. Not a coincidence as I had been sanding for a couple of hours a day!!!! My dust collection efforts up to this point have been minimal at best. I cannot spring for a dust collector at the moment and really do not have the space. I ditched the old shop vac for a Ridgid WD1450 (amazingly quiet compared to the old screamers I had!!!) but couldn’t see spending the money for a Dust Deputy. I have seen several guys making something similar to this and thought I would give it a try. I am not nearly smart enough to talk flow rates but this thing works. I hooked it up and started sucking the dust and pieces from the box below my table saw and could hear pieces start to rattle in the bottom of the bucket. Opened the vac up and there was maybe a 1/4 cup of dust in the bottom and lots and lots more in the bucket. I didn’t document the process because I honestly didn’t believe it would work. I think Bill Pentz is the guy responsible for all of the science behind the cyclone so here is a link to his site –

Construction is sheetmetal, screws, liquid nails and the tops and bottoms were 1/2” plywood cut with a jig saw (wood working part of project). I used so much of the liquid nails that I had to paint it to cover it up. We had just finished making some wooden pumpkins for Halloween so enter the orange color. It was just fortuitous that it matches the new Ridgid vac. The side piece of pvc is angled slightly downward and the top piece goes into t depth about 4 inches bellow the side. Again this isn’t science but what I had seen elsewhere!!! Thanks to everyone who posts there genius so the rest of us can piece it together with normalcy!!!

12 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

23609 posts in 3666 days

#1 posted 10-20-2011 12:49 AM

That looks great. I have to make one too!. I’m looking for about a 20-30 gallon bucket/barrel to put it on so I don’t have to empty it so often. I take it the vacuum source gets hooked to the top and the hose to the tool comes out the side? Right?

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View cdhilburn's profile


102 posts in 3245 days

#2 posted 10-20-2011 12:56 AM

That’s right Jim

View 489tad's profile


3683 posts in 3572 days

#3 posted 10-20-2011 01:04 AM

Thanks, thats going on the list. Nice metal work!!

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View Andy123's profile


226 posts in 3034 days

#4 posted 10-20-2011 02:15 AM


-- The mistakes I make in woodworking are not mistakes they just give my projects character- Me

View wdh's profile


55 posts in 4201 days

#5 posted 10-20-2011 02:30 AM

Nice! I built one too. It is amazing how much sawdust it catches before getting to the vac! Do you have an air cleaning system?

-- Wayne,Saint John,NB

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3831 days

#6 posted 10-20-2011 02:36 AM

I made my own with a ball of yarn and some duct tape (just kidding).

Actually, I received the Rockler cyclone as a present and it has worked supperb for me. After having one of these and using it….I wonder how I did without one….especially when I don’t have to keep cleaning out the filter while it is buried in a ton of dust and other muck pulled in by the vacuum. No matter what the theory and the calculations behind these…they work well and sure save on the filters.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Sodabowski's profile


2388 posts in 3393 days

#7 posted 10-20-2011 01:48 PM

Far more decent than mine (a thrash container on wheels with the tubing coming in from the front).

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3522 days

#8 posted 10-20-2011 02:50 PM

I was hoping the orange color was for the University of Tennessee, even though they haven’t done very good this year. I supplement my Cyclone with a box fan and a furnace filter held on with a bungee cord. Wife gave me this idea from an H&G show.
Compliments on a useful project.

View Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop's profile

Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

646 posts in 3251 days

#9 posted 07-16-2013 08:29 PM

Great job here as well. I actually spent the 40 dollars on the cyclone part of the DD system. I couldn’t buy it all when I could make it. I never thought to make it all though. Great job, it looks like it works very well.

-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

View MT_Stringer's profile


3183 posts in 3792 days

#10 posted 07-16-2013 08:44 PM

Looks great and I am sure it will work well for you. My DD does a great job.

As for your new vac, I have a question for you. How are you dealing with the exhaust? Did you upgrade the filter to catch more of the micro particles? That’s the ones that will still get to you.

I upgraded my Shop Vac to the best filter Lowe’s sells for it. Honestly I can’t tell any difference in performance or air quality.

And I also upgraded the Harbor Freight dust collector by swapping out the 5 micron bag for the .5 micron NANO canister filter cartridge sold by Wynn Environmental.

AND…I have a 20 inch box fan with an AC filter duck taped over the inlet. Works for me. :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View cdhilburn's profile


102 posts in 3245 days

#11 posted 07-20-2013 05:19 AM

Actually it works really well. I normally just use it with the shop vac and ROS. I emptied the bucket a couple of days ago and was amazed at the amount of fine dust. When I upgraded the vac I got the best filter and a filter bag. I run both. It has to restrict the air flow some but my sinuses give me a fit when I do a lot of sanding so this really helps. I have the HF dust collector as well but haven’t swapped the bag yet. I haven’t been able to get it set up for the performance I need yet…i.e. still not getting enough of the table saw dust. Once I get the lines run or a better system then I may upgrade the filter.

View cdhilburn's profile


102 posts in 3245 days

#12 posted 10-04-2013 05:35 PM

I made the mistake of running my shop vac with this for a few months. Started losing suction and had to clean it out along with the filter. Almost an hour later I hooked the separator back up. See the 2 new photos to see how well this thing works. This was after a week or so of normal hobby woodworking. Keep in mind that the vac itself was already a little dusty from before so it wasn’t perfectly clean.

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