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3D Printing for the Woodworking Shop

12604 Views 92 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  MFled
After watching a YouTube video by Marius Hornberger about 3D printing things for the shop, I finally started seeing an excuse to get myself a printer. I could make jigs, replacement or improved parts for tools, adapters, etc. so I decided to get myself a printer. I've had the printer about 2 months now and I've made a couple of useful items so I thought it might be fun to share what I have printed and see if anyone else has any useful ideas to share. This could also be a good place for anyone new to 3D printing like me to ask questions and share do's and don'ts. Share your 3D printer setup, software, etc. and the good and bad experiences you have had with it.

Here is a list of 3D printing resources I have discovered so far. I will add to the list as new ones are discovered.

  • Marius Hornberger's designs for the shop on Thingiverse.
  • Free CAD designs that you may be able to adapt to your needs. This covers a lot more than 3D printing but I've seen a few woodworking tools and jigs that might be worth printing.
  • Sketchup STL Extension. This is needed to export Sketchup designs to STL format usually required by the 3D slicer software.
  • Sketchup Solids Inspector. 3D printing can be a little picky when it comes to the STL files. This extension can help you find an fix things that can confuse the slicer software.
  • 3D printer maker but their free Cura software is a decent 3D slicer that is needed to convert STL files to the gcode needed by the printer.
  • Web based parametric CAD system. Free as long as you don't mind your designs saved publicly to the cloud. Online tutorials are very good and parametric approach makes it easy to make changes. My first impression is that this will replace Sketchup for 3D printing and some CNC designs at least. There is also a free iPad app.
  • Free online design software designed for 3D printing. I have not tried it yet so cannot provid any review.
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Here is my current setup:
SainSmart x Creality3D Ender-3 3D Printer
Sketchup 2017 (free) with STL export extension
Ultimaker Cura 3 Slicer

Note that The Creality 3D Ender-3 printer is made and sold by multiple companies. One nice thing about this one is that it can resume where it left off after a power failure which has already happened during a particularly long print.
After printing a few simple tests, the first useful thing that I printed was a flexible segmented hose designed by Marius Hornberger and downloaded from Thingiverse. His design was for a 75MM hose size so I used the Cura software to scale it down to 63% of the designed size so it would fit the standard 2.25" shopvac hose. This was printed with PVA filament. Since taking this picture, I have printed a few more segments and a bracket to attach it to a base that I can clamp in place where needed. Even though the intake is a little small it actually works pretty well for sanding on my lathe and when place in just the right spot it works fairly well for catching sawdust thrown off my router table. .
Blue Automotive tire Synthetic rubber Floor Flooring


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My next project was a little more ambitious. I decided to try printing a cyclone similar to a Dust Deputy. I found a few different designs on Thingiverse including one that you could customize directly on the website but wasn't happy with the size or parameters of any of them. Instead, I spent a couple of weeks working on several different designs in Sketchup. Here is the first prototype printed at 1/10th scale.
Table Wood Audio equipment Gas Flooring

To get a little more height and to make it easier to print without tons of support structures. I opted for a 2 part design. The bottom section is a cone with the mounting flange and the top section is a cylinder that mounts on top of the cone that provides the input and output hose connections. This is where I discovered that Sketchup can be a little frustrating for a novice such as myself when trying to develop 3D prints. Any little gap can cause the slicer to get confused and create surfaces that aren't there. This is especially true when you use curves. Because Sketchup draws curves as a bunch of line segments, intersections with those segments can create microscopic gaps that sometimes even sketchup gets confused about. Because of the complexity of drawing cones and cylinders for the hose connections I nearly gave up but finally worked through all the little problems , starting over at least twice. I am sure that some of the problems I had were due to my inexperience with Sketchup. This is where I discovered the solids inspector extension that helps quite a bit but sometimes the only solution was to delete part of the design and redraw it.

After printing, I discovered that my hose connections were a couple of millimeters too small for my shop vac hoses, even though I had printed several test rings prior to printing to make sure that they fit. I suspect that the filament I used may have warped or shrunk slightly as it cooled but who knows. Since each of the 2 sections took about 24 hours each to print and used about about a a quarter of a roll of filament, I decided to just design an adapter to enable the hose and PVC pipe to fit.

I printed this one in some PETG filament that I read was suppose to be easy to print and a little tougher than the PVA that is most common. It seems to be a pretty tough but it is a PITA to print. It leaves tons of little hairs and one of my first prints started to warp pretty badly so I aborted and started over after adjusting some of the printer's temperature settings. But ultimately it worked out okay.

Automotive tire Tire Gas Rim Flooring

Automotive tire Electrical wiring Coil Gas Electrical supply

The bungee cords are used to hold it on top of the shop vac and to prevent me from pulling it over when I drag the hose around the shop. One of these days, I will make a platform that sits on top of my shop vac to hold the bucket and cyclone.

I just emptied the HD bucket for the first time after a couple of weeks of use and checked the shop vac to see if anything is getting through, especially after running my Dewalt planer through it. The bucket was about half full but no chips made it through the cyclone into the shop vac. There was a light coating of really fine dust on the filter but not bad enough that I needed to clean the filter off yet.

If I were designing again, I would probably make the intake wall a little thicker. I made the walls about 4mm thick and it seems to be holding up so far but time will tell.


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How much would you estimate for the cost of the filament for the cyclone? I figure it would be nice for things you can't buy like retro fitting dust collection on an old machine or customized tools/jigs.

But I would worry that the filament used would cost more than a dust deputy or flexible segmented hose or anything else that can easily be bought. Let alone the amount of time you spend printing it out.
I've wondered the same thing as Tony. If you wouldn't mind, I'd appreciate seeing your filament costs on your projects. Everything that I've read until now seems to say that the cost of the printer is sort of a loss leader compared to the cost of the filaments.
Tony, you are right that one of the strengths is in being able to make adapters and replacements for old tools that you cannot find anymore or things that no one else makes at all. But not counting the cost of the printer which will be recouped over time or my time to design and experienment, this actually was cost effective. The Cura slicer software calculates how much filament it will take when your run the slicer. I didn't write down the exact amount it computed but it was in the ballpark of 250 grams for each half (top and bottom) of the cyclone. A roll of filament is typically 1 KG and this roll costed about $20 on sale so not counting some of the small tests I did to check the diameter and fit between the upper and lower halves, I estimate that the filament cost me a little over $11 to print including the 2 adapters I had to make. An earlier design was going to be almost double that because of all of the support structures that would have been printed to deal with overhangs, etc. so paying attention to that during the design can save you filament costs, not to mention the extra time it takes to print,

Is it worth it rather than just buying a Dust deputy for about $50? Maybe not but this was as much about seeing what I could do and learning 3D printing as it was about making a usful tool for the shop. Frankly, my old $3 Theon baffle that this replaces worked just fine and probably as just as well, though I do think I get a little more suction. Another thing I noticed is that when I used to disconnect the pipe between the old separator and the vac, the pitch of the motor would change indicating a reduction in the airflow. Oddly enough, I don't detect a change when I do that with this one.
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My experience on cost is like Nathan's. The filament cost is not too painful and compares well to what a similar commercial part would cost. Of course my experience level is also similar to Nathan's; I too am just getting started with this.

I've been making dust collection fittings and adapters for my upgrade to six inch hose. The fittings typically use about 250g of filament for a material cost of about $5 each. Print time is eight to ten hours each. Design time seems endless but I'm still learning Fusion 360 so lots of backtracking and Youtube viewing.

This 100mm to 6" DVW adapter and matching quick connect hose end could be made with a PVC coupling, a six to four HVAC reducer and some duct tape for about $15 but would not include the latch that keeps the hose from falling off when the DC is shut off.
Office supplies Gas Electrical wiring Wire Cable


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My youngest kid was gifted a Mini Delta but had zero interest in it, so my oldest kid set it up and got it running, then I figured out how to print but we have been dissatisfied with it. After only half a dozen prints it broke and it's been breaking before and after every print since. I have to fuss with it to get it to print, and more often than not it stops during the print, then it breaks after the print. Seems that it was just thrown together with substandard parts. It did get me interested in 3d printing and I've been thinking of selling off some equipment not being used and buying something better.
Rick, what's an example of something that is breaking? Is the electronic components or mechanical ones…or all of the above?
Various things. There is a part on the extruder that keeps separating and causing jams. The SD card is junk. The board apparently just stops working. IDK, last time it just wouldn't print. Seems that many people upgrade these parts to make it more reliable but I'd rather spend the money on a bigger printer.
Well, knock on wood, my Creality Ender-3 design implemented by Sainsmart seems to be pretty solid so far. It actually came partially assembled. The X-axis, its stepper and the extruder/gantry were fully assembled and simply had to be slid onto the vertical rails and adjusted to make it tight and level so assembly wasn't too bad. X & Y axes are controlled with a toothed belt and the Z-axis uses a drive screw. It came with a micro SD card and a USB reader to use with the PC, that came preloaded with an older version of the Cura software plus some test g-code for the first run. The electronics are basically a black box with a separate display panel with control nob and the cables are all clearly labeled for easy identification. Cable management is mostly non-existent but after a little fiddling I've got them under control. There are plenty of cable management designs on thingiverse specifically for the Ender-3 if you want to make everything a little neater. The packaging it came in was pretty impressively padded as well. Every part was well padded by foam and would have taken a pretty major crush to bend or break anything. I think than mine was delivered directly from the local Amazon warehouse, using Amazon's delivery service so UPS and USPS didn't get a chance to try.

BTW, I also bought a couple of spools of Sainsmart filament from Amazon. They are a little pricey but compared to the Amazon Basics filament I bought, which is a tangled mess, it is a dream to use because it is neatly wound on the spool so you don't have to worry about tangles at all. That was pretty important on the cyclone which took about 24 hours for each of the 2 halves to print. Definitely worth a few extra bucks to avoid tangles from causing a long print to fail.
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My only comments about 3d printing for the shop is to ditch Sketchup and go to something more robust. Sketchup can be a bit of a hassle when trying to make your parts "manifold" or watertight, and for 3d printing, not being manifold can result in non-printable parts. There is software to fix them but it's just another step you should go through. My preference is the AutoDesk Fusion 360 which is free for hobbyists making less than $100K/yr with it, and there are many YouTube videos to help you start using it. There are other free CAD tools also, like Blender, Freecad, TinkerCAD, OpenSCAD, and others.

There is a Facebook group for the Creality CR-10 series of printers and the Ender line is welcome since quite a lot of it has parts compatible with the CR-10 line. There is a REDDIT group just for the Ender 3.

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Thanks Wayne. I've been thinking about trying F360 again for the reasons you mentioned. SU was pretty infuriating while designing my cyclone. I don't know how many times I had to delete and redraw parts because I could not get the mesh to close. I tried F360 a couple of years ago and I really like it but I learned SU first so making the switch is tough. They are just different enough that it can be frustrating to use F360 so when I need to design something I tend to go with the one I know, but with the problems I had with SU for 3D, it cannot be any worse than that.
I almost forgot about this one. My wife bought a cheap Delta 10" bandsaw at an estate sale. I didn't like it so we decided to sell it but it was missing the table insert. I was going to just make one out of wood but it would have had to make it out of less than 1/8 wood or route a rabbet around the edge to which was going to be a PITA. I could not find a compatible one on all the usual web sources either and then it occurred to me to just print one. I found several for different saws on thingiverse. I tried to just modify one of those to fit but in the end it was easier to just design one from scratch in Sketchup. It took about 10 minutes to design and, if I remember correctly about 45 minutes to print. I printed with pretty low quality settings but was good enough to sell the saw (and make $100 profit).
Wood Tints and shades Font Circle Road surface

Wood Font Symbol Circle Electric blue


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Is that paper on your buildplate?
It is blue painter's tape-regular stuff not the Edge-loc stuff. I was actually having a problem getting items printed with PETG filament off the plate, especially if I waited until the plate cooled down. One piece was stuck so well it broke and I spent about 30 minutes carefully scraping all of the remnants off the plate. One of the tips I saw suggested that the painters tape was the preferred way to print PETG so I gave it a try.
Ok, thanks, I see it now. I was confused by the clips and the peeled edge.

I've only used PLA so far but the stickiness of PETG is well reported. I had problems with the PLA not releasing from regular (cheap) masking tape and recently tried this Frog brand tape. So far it's been releasing very easily after cool down.

Ingredient Material property Font Circle Peripheral

Oh yeah, nice job on the insert plate. That's the kind of task that, at least to me, makes a 3D printer really useful in a shop.


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Those clips are for holding the build plate to the platform and because the tape sometimes starts to lift around the edges when the plate heats up, I usually strategically place them at the seams so that only the corners release. I'm using the (nearly) 3" tape so 3 strips mostly covers the entire plate which is makes it quick to lay it down. I've got some frog tape sitting on the shelf so maybe I will give that a try next time just to compare.
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