LumberJocks Woodworking Forum banner

dust collection on the cheap

1300 Views 9 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  rwe2156
I'm looking for individual components to put together a DC system for use on one machine at a time that will be able to pull chips from my portable thickness planer. Since I do my woodworking on my driveway, the system needs to be able roll out there. It also needs to fit in a 24" x 36" footprint.
Any suggestions?
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
For years, I've used a old Craftsman shop vac (one of the larger ones) with a Dust Deputy. It could even handle the forced output of my Dewalt planer. Not sure the combination shop vac w/ dust deputy (plus whatever you decide for a chip canister under the DD) would meet your footprint requirements unless you stacked them. But mine worked great - and still does.
I have one of the smaller shop vacs inserted in cut out in the lid of a 55 gal. drum with dolly. Works good with my 13'' planer. Takes hours of planing to fill the drum. Dolly is just plywood on wheels.
Since you are working "outside", it seems that your interest is skewed more towards handling the solid waste that comes off the machines rather than air cleaning.

It is a generality, and no doubt there will be those who disagree, but I would say that skews the solution in the direction of a shop-vac rather than a "dust collector".

A "dust collector" (be it a traditional DC, or a shop vac) is essentially an air pump. Any pumping system presents a tradeoff of what to accomplish with the energy applied to the system. It can either suck harder on a small straw (using the energy to create more static pressure), or it can suck more air through a bigger straw (using the energy to move more air). Cleaning up your shop or your driveway requires more static pressure to move big chunks with a smaller volume of faster moving air. Cleaning the air requires moving large volumes of air through a filter. It is a tradeoff…you can't get more of both without providing more energy.

As Dyson will quickly tell you…the main problem with a shop-vac for solid waste handling is…the filter clogs. With a shop-vac system, that is the main reason you want some sort of a "separator" on the front end of the system so that less of the filter-clogging residue makes it to the filter.

Since the filter on a typical shop-vac is NOT a fine-particle filter, putting a cyclone there could be considered "overkill", as the advantage a cyclone has over something simpler like a Thein baffle separator is that a cyclone removes finer particles better. With a shop-vac, those tiny 1 micron and smaller particles will just go zipping merrily through the filter and not clog it.

For solid waste handling only (no attempt to clean the air), a shop-vac with a large volume simple separator is the most efficient and cheapest solution. A metal trash can with carefully positioned "in" and "out" PVC fittings in the lid is a good separator. The "in" is just an elbow that shoots the debris in a path that will send it in a circular motion just below the top. The "out" is just a short pipe down the center about a foot long. Sounds too simple, but it works well for macroscopic-sized solid waste. Just like a cyclone or Thein setup, this is using centrifugal force to separate chunks from the air…it is just about the simplest form of that and works well enough for this purpose.

Again…the downside to this kind of a system for most people would be that it provides very little reduction in the air-borne dust. It is good only at keeping the solid waste from piling up in your work area.
See less See more
I agree with Jeff. Do note that he said metal trash can. Plastic trash can will cave in. A 5 gallon bucket will fill up fast.

I do have a seperate system for dust control.

Motor vehicle Gas Machine Engineering Wood


See less See more
Since you're looking for chip collection and it you will have it at the machine, the harbor freight 1hp green unit might be what you're looking for.
I do think you should make some kind of separator, not for dust control but to give you the added collection capacity.
Just making something to sit on a trash can out of plywood would be sufficient in my opinion.

For what it is, the 1hp does a decent job of picking up the large particles.
If you want to go really cheap, go with a passive chip collections system with no vac at all.

Thanks guys for your advice! I should have said in my initial post that I currently use a small shop vac with a dust deputy and it doesn't work well getting the planer shavings. My shop vac has a hepa filter that stays pristine with the dust deputy. So I am thinking I need higher cfm from a shop vac or some other fan to get the planer chips. Most shop vacs that I have seen only offer less than 200 cfm. The collection attachment for the planer has a 4" outlet which I transition to the 2.5" hose for the shop vac.
Given this additional info, any other ideas?
Sounds like you are saying that with the shop vac hooked up, a lot of material is still coming out around the bottom of the planer head rather than going out the dust collection port to the vac.

Have you checked to make sure the DC port hasn't gotten plugged up inside the planer head?

My DW 735 has an internal fan that launches everything out the port even with nothing connected, so I haven't run into this with my planer. I know that my cheapo bench-top jointer quickly plugs up near the DC output if I don't have something sucking it out. Once the stuff gets wadded up in there, no amount of suction will get it out…have to apply some elbow grease and a variety of digging tools.
Pat, don't mean to sound cheeky, but there's a reason the planer has a 4" port.

As you've already discovered, you just don't have enough CFM's with your current set up.

I would try it without the HEPA filter and see if performance is better.

Other than that, I would look for a dust collector. A 1HP model with probably be adequate.
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.