Economical Dust Collection System for a Small Home Workshop

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Project by Aggie69 posted 12-18-2012 03:18 AM 184603 views 115 times favorited 26 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have a small workshop with several tools that generate a lot of dust and sawdust. I wanted to build a dust collection system that wouldn’t break the bank, was small and didn’t take up a lot of room, and could be built from off the shelf components from the local lumber yard.

I had an old 2 1/2 inch Sears Wet Dry Vacuum system that was great as a vacuum, but clogged up way too easily to use around dust and sawdust. I’d seen reviews of the Dust Deputy by Oneida. It’s an inexpensive ($40) cyclone separator for dust and sawdust. I bought one and tried it and it worked great! In a test, I picked up piles of sawdust that were deposited in the cyclone separator container leaving the vacuum filter completey clean This, connected between the old Sears Wet Dry Vac and the piping for my new dust collection system, became the work horse of the shop. Building it into a simple dust separator was very easy, using a 5 gallon bucket, a couple of pieces of 3/4 ” plywood cut into two circles (inside bucket diameter and 2” larger than the bucket diameter), six bolts, and a little silicone sealant.

I found very quickly that when a company gives you a dimension for something, say 2 1/2 inches, that’s really not the dimension you probably need. It may be the inside dimension, outside dimension, nominal dimension, dimension of the adapter on the hose or the inside or outside dimension of the hose itself!! Trying to understand what’s available on the market and what hose fits what adapter was a nightmare. My Wet Dry Vac had a hose adapter that was classed as 2 1/2 ” because of the outside diameter of the fitting on the hose. The hose itself had an ID of 2”. I decided to use 2” PVC from the local Lowes – Home Depot because it and it’s associated fittings were readily available and very inexpensive (~$6 for a 10 ft length). Plastic 2” conduit hangers were also inexpensive and readily available there as well. Since dust moving through plastic generates a tremendous static charge that will knock you on your keister, I devised a very simple static dissipation system. I used 2” foil tape (like that used in heating and air conditioning duct installation) and ran it along the length of the PVC pipe collection system. At each blast gate, I installed a #12 machine screw through the tape and into the PVC. These became clipping points to which I attached grounding wires from the various collection hoses. One of the screws became the attachment point between the foil system and the electrical ground of a 110V outlet.

There are a number of distributors that sell blast gates (the open/shutoff between individual tools and the dust collection system). Unfortunately, they don’t give you actual dimensions of the valve. A 2” valve doesn’t necessarily connect to 2” PVC (which is 2” ID). Rather than taking a chance (and probably being wrong), I decided to build my own valves where I knew they would be the right size. I built them out of 3/16 Masonite (hard board). I cut short pieces of 2” PVC pipe and glued them to the outside pieces of the blast valve body. This way they would fit directly into the 2” PVC TEE’s or elbows for each tool hookup. The blast valve shutoff slides are 3/16” Masonite also, sanded down a little to fit into the opening and slide smoothly.

For connection hoses I decided to use two sizes 2 1/2” and 1 1/4”. I ordered two 13 ft lengths of 2 1/2” hose from Sears (~$19 ea) thinking they would match up nicely with the old 2 1/2” hose from the Vac. —NOT—They don’t have the embedded wire coils in them like the old hose, they’re NOT right hand spiral wound (they’re concentric circles of plastic), and they’re not the same size as the old hose. I had purchased some 2 1/2” hose adapters through the internet. They fit the old hose perfectly, but were the wrong size for the new hose. What did work great however were 2” PVC FITTINGS. The new hose was a perfect interference fit into 2” PVC fittings (like a 2” PVC coupling which would then attach directly to the blast gate). At Lowes, they had some 1 1/4” flex hose that they sold by the foot. It was quite expensive at $2.68/ft. While getting ready to purchase several feet of it, I ran across the same size hose in black called well discharge hose. It was in a package 24 ft long, over by the well and septic system supplies, and only cost $10!. 1” PVC pipe fit into the hose very well as a connector only requiring a hose clamp to finish the connection. I used braided picture frame wire that I ran down the inside of each flexible hose. I brought the wire out at each end of the hose leaving several inches free. At each end I attached a small alligator clip clip that could be used to attach to the grounding bolt at the blast gate or to the tool itself. These supplied continuity for the static dissipation system.

PVC Pipe Dimension Schedule 40 (Schedule 80 is same OD, but smaller ID’s)
Pipe Size (in) -OD (in) – ID(in)
  • 3/4 ——- 1.050 ——- 0.824
  • 1 ———- 1.315 ——- 1.049
  • 1 1/4 —- 1.660 ——- 1.088
  • 1 1/2 —- 1.900 ——- 1.610
  • 2 ———- 2.375 ——- 2.067
  • 2 1/2 —- 2.875 ——- 2.469
  • 3 ———- 3.500 ——- 3.068
  • 4 ———- 4.500 ——- 4.026
  • 5 ———- 5.563 ——- 5.047
  • 6 ———- 6.625 ——- 6.065
  • 8 ———- 8.625 ——- 7.981

26 comments so far

View dubsaloon's profile


623 posts in 4012 days

#1 posted 12-18-2012 03:44 AM

Very nice Job and Ideas! You gave specks as well. Thank you for giving us all that info.

-- The works of evil people are not the problem. It is the "Good" people standing by and watching not speaking up. Dubsaloon

View JSB's profile


737 posts in 3297 days

#2 posted 12-18-2012 03:46 AM

Looks great. Id love to see it in action with your different setups

-- Jay -

View a1Jim's profile


118200 posts in 4796 days

#3 posted 12-18-2012 04:32 AM

Cool design great job.


View albachippie's profile


773 posts in 4254 days

#4 posted 12-18-2012 08:26 AM

This is great. I have a very similar bench setup to yours, with the same tools! This would be a good addition. Thanks for posting,


-- Garry fae Bonnie Scotland

View GerardoArg1's profile


1015 posts in 3212 days

#5 posted 12-18-2012 10:10 AM

Very good innovative idea. I loved it.

-- Disfruta tu trabajo (enjoy your work) (Bandera, Argentina)

View Shark64's profile


12 posts in 3287 days

#6 posted 12-18-2012 10:45 AM

Well designed and built. The blast gates look very functional.

View  woodshaver Tony C   's profile

woodshaver Tony C

8224 posts in 4571 days

#7 posted 12-18-2012 12:44 PM

Great work! Great idea!

-- St Augustine FL, Experience is the sum of our mistakes!

View clarkey's profile


468 posts in 4275 days

#8 posted 12-18-2012 02:28 PM

Great design Aggie69 ! Well thought out and great description of how you put it together. A quick question , the other machine screw at the collection port , is it used to keep the collection hose in place ?

View Aggie69's profile


31 posts in 3219 days

#9 posted 12-18-2012 03:14 PM

The other machine screw at the collection port is to keep the blast gate firmly in place. You can place one on the collection hose adapter as well to keep it firmly on the blast gate if you need to.

View oldretiredjim's profile


206 posts in 3604 days

#10 posted 12-18-2012 03:15 PM

thanks – some great ideas.

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

509 posts in 3258 days

#11 posted 12-18-2012 05:13 PM

Looks good, but just for reference, you aren’t supposed to use PVC in dust collection. The Uniform Fire Code actually forbids the use of PVC. Your jurisdiction may or may not have adopted these uniform standards. Now having said that, I did a lot of research on this, and the reason PVC is not supposed to be used is because it can build up static electricity and ignite a dust explosion. However, I did a lot of research on that too, and I found several places where it was discussed that PVC pipe in a dust collection system has never caused a dust explosion that anybody can find. But just the other day I had a guy in my shop that used to be a professional boat builder and we had a discussion about this, and he told me he personally knew of a shop where this did happen. He said they had run 4” PVC pipe under the floor for dust collection and eventually there was an explosion and after the explosion the shop burned to the ground. I would suspect that having it under the floor where it had to come back up to get into the dust collector probably played a role in that. Don’t want to rain on the parade, but anybody thinking about doing this should study the regs especially if you are going to have a commercial shop that will be inspected by the fire inspector. You probably have nothing to worry about at your home as long as everything is properly grounded.

View JLJones's profile


228 posts in 3471 days

#12 posted 12-18-2012 05:35 PM

Very well done! Having dust collection is crititcal! :)

-- "Keep thy airspeed up, lest the earth come from below and smite thee." - William Kershner

View ptofimpact's profile


393 posts in 3535 days

#13 posted 12-18-2012 08:30 PM

Great work, thank you for sharing, might try this.

-- Pete in NC

View KMT's profile


603 posts in 3881 days

#14 posted 12-18-2012 09:35 PM

Thanks for posting your dust collector with such great detail. I have favorited it and will likely use some of the info in my shop.

-- - Martin

View Milton Toal's profile

Milton Toal

107 posts in 3289 days

#15 posted 12-19-2012 12:18 AM

Thanks heaps for posting this. I am about to launch on organised dust collection and this will be a huge help.

-- Milton Toal, Doncaster, Melbourne Australia.

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