Cyclone dust collector - make your own

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Forum topic by pashley posted 10-16-2009 03:35 AM 48289 views 9 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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10-16-2009 03:35 AM

Topic tags/keywords: dust

Take a look at this from Harbor Freight:

Has anyone had an experience with this type of setup?

From what I understand, you hook this plastic piece over a 5 gallon pail, attatch your hose from the vac, and then a hose to a machine, and off you go. The big particles collect in the bucket, not your vac, which keeps the suction high.


-- Have a blessed day!

11 replies so far

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#1 posted 10-16-2009 03:45 AM

You really ought to look up Phil Thien's DIY cyclone. Save yourself the frustration. I have built several. The results are amazing!

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856 posts in 3761 days

#2 posted 10-16-2009 03:53 AM

Thien’s the way to go. I’ve have one in a HF DC and it works great.

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5772 posts in 3739 days

#3 posted 10-16-2009 03:57 AM

I have a Thien Cyclone fitted to a 20 gallon trash can set up for my shop vac, and one on a 55 gallon barrel set up for my HF DC. I wouldn’t expect better performance out of a ClearVue CV1800 to be honest…

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67 posts in 4434 days

#4 posted 10-16-2009 04:05 AM

We had one that was larger and attached to a trash can in the community shop I work in. Ours was hooked up to a 15” planer. It worked alright for smaller boards, but there was not enough suction from our industrial vacuum system to keep the 5” hose connecting the planer and trash can from filling with chips when planing wide boards. I think this type of system would work well with a high power vacuum and smaller power tools- if you bump up larger planers / joiners/ belt sanders you might want to look for a really cyclone system.

Anyway, that is my two cents.

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4329 days

#5 posted 10-16-2009 05:01 AM

Patrick, I got one of these from Woodcraft and put it in my shop along with 30 gallon galvanized trash can. It works pretty well. It largely traps the chips from the planer and lets the fine stuff on through to the dust collector. The only annoyance that I have had with it is that occasionally the inlet elbow will fall down into the trash can. It is held in by a friction fit. It probably would be better to simply glue it in.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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#6 posted 10-16-2009 06:37 AM

have one never used it.

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119 posts in 3674 days

#7 posted 10-21-2009 01:06 AM

One day I’m going to add a Thien baffle just to see if it will improve my DC system any. I know that his baffle works VERY WELL for shop vac set ups. My shop built system uses a 55 gallon barrel for a separator. Though I’m quite pleased with its function as is, I’m still curious to know if the Thien baffle would make it even more efficient. By that I mean that it would be nice to NEVER have to empty the dust bag on the DC unit!

If interested, you can see my shop built system at the page below. If you decide to visit this page be sure to check out the useful tip at the bottom of the page for installing blast gates into thin wall S&D pipe DC lines.

Hopefully, someone will find this to be useful information. I’ve learned so much from other people who freely share their knowledge and experience. So, I try to pay them back by “keeping the circle unbroken”.

-- Build for the joy of it!

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96 posts in 3733 days

#8 posted 10-21-2009 02:37 AM

I’m going to build a Thien separator soon. I found this page that tells how to convert that lid into a Thien separator. The general consensus is that in a 5 gallon bucket, most of the dust gets sucked back into the DC which defeats the purpose unless you Thien-ify. In any case, it’ll probably be easier and more efficient if you use something larger than a 5 gallon bucket, in which case this lid is what you need, it’s 21” diameter instead of 12”.

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Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3871 days

#9 posted 10-21-2009 01:33 PM

Adding an elbow to the inlet side (angled toward the outside) is critical. Without the elbow, the airflow stirs the drum and once it is about 1/4 full, it starts to suck material into the dust collector. The Thien baffle is definetly worth the time to install.

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119 posts in 3674 days

#10 posted 10-21-2009 04:32 PM

Ditto on the elbow. Without it the project is a waste of your time. The elbow is what creates the cyclone effect inside the can, barrel, whatever you’re using.

-- Build for the joy of it!

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5 posts in 3621 days

#11 posted 11-15-2009 01:28 PM

Hi All,

Just signed up because I noticed my website getting traffic from this thread. I am Rob, I have the Evenfall Woodworks website where I have two articles written about Shop Vac Dust control and scaling the Thien Separator to the 5 gallon Bucket size.

You can read both those articles if you like, there is a lot of research testing how to and conclusions in both.

Improving Shop Vac Dust Collection

Building the 5-Gallon Thien Separator

The separator works by decelerating particles along the edge of a container and allowing them to fall through a slot below a baffle. The hose side does need the elbow to direct the airflow coming into the separator to be guided around the circumference of the separator. The intake air to the Vac is collected out of the separator in the middle of the container above the baffle and uses no elbow, so as to avoid interrupting the cyclonic-ish action. It’s just a particle decelerator.

My article shows you how to modify the HF or Woodcraft plastic lid so that this arrangement is possible. If you rather, you could as easily make the lid from MDF.

I use the separator daily making shooting boards as a business, working primarily Baltic Birch and so the shop vac is commonly working DC duties on my Drill Press, CMS Hood, ROS and 1/4 sheet sanders. It also does collection on my router table fence, My 10 inch Band Saw, My Porter Cable Saw Boss, and my DW 621 plunge routers. It is very effective. I have tried it on my Table Saw, but the TS really needs CFM that a Shop Vac can’t supply. I figure it is allowing me to run the Shop Vac about 10 times longer than I could without it, before the filter clogs enough to reduce suction. only the finest dust ever gets to the shop vac, and after a 10 time longer session than what you would get without the 5 gallon separator, I see about 1/2 to 3/4 inches accumulation in the bottom of the shop vac.

Due to the production nature of my shop needs, I have a pair of filters I clean, and alternate. If the separator is full I take the bucket outside and dump it in a bag… If I need, I change the filter, without always cleaning out the shop vac. No biggie. I can fall back when I have time.

To clean filters, I wrap them in a used plastic grocery bag and bang then on the sidewalk. This knockes out most all the clogging dust. It takes about 10 minutes, but I then vacuum the filter with a crevice tool pleat by pleat. It works great. Chalk it up to shop maintenance. Dumping the bucket itself is a cinch. WAY easier than dumping a Shop Vac.

On the up side, I can run an ROS or 1/4 sheet with the Vac hooked up and keep a dust free shop. I have a shop air filter made from a 20 inch box fan that captures the rest. My biggest dust spewer is the lack of an overarm guard on the Table saw.

If you buy from Harbor freight that is cheapest. If you follow the directions in my article it will work for you. If you want to step up and get a 7-gallon Bucket, you won’t be disappointed.

If I can be of any further help, either contact me from my website or I’ll try and look in here as well.

I can just say this, Phil Thien’s design works. Onieda and Clearvue know it, and they know I scaled it to work in a 5 Gallon Bucket. Both companies sharpened their pencils exponentially once they learned that you can make this happen for your self for about $20-30.00 and now offer products for $60 instead of $200.

It’s a great project that will help sharpen your layout and bandsaw skills as well. Enjoy!

-- ~Rob

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