Shop vac tip

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Forum topic by Mainiac Matt posted 11-13-2017 10:36 AM 7486 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Mainiac Matt

9596 posts in 3131 days

11-13-2017 10:36 AM

I’ve been using the same old shop vac with an accessory HEPA filter (or at least that’s what they call it) for close to 15 years, and aside from replacing a switch, it’s always done just what it’s supposed to do?...sucked!

I hook it up to both my belt sander and ROS, and though it’s no Festool dust extractor, it does a pretty darn good job. But I have one beef with it. The fine dust from sanding quickly clogs up in the HEPA filter pleats.

I decided to experiment with a pre-filter made from paper house vacuum cleaner bags.

I ran this set up and filled the tank three times before I noticed the suction falling off. When I emptied the tank I would blow off the paper pre-filter, but after the third go, I decided to tear it off and inspect the pleats on the HEPA. To my surprise, it was in good shape. For comparison I ran without the pre-filter again and the HEPA clogged up after only half a tank.

The only problem with this set up is the ridiculous price of paper filter bags. But keep your eyes open and you might find the at garage sales. I scored a 10 pack.

-- Matt -- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

24 replies so far

View SteveKnnn's profile


66 posts in 2691 days

#1 posted 09-16-2013 03:05 AM

My alternative site dust deputy. Keeps dust out of the shop vac

-- Steve in Richmond, VA

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5861 posts in 3112 days

#2 posted 09-16-2013 03:08 AM

You can do the same thing with women’s nylon socks stretched over the filter. I get them free from my wife. Well I guess I paid for them at one time.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View BJODay's profile


528 posts in 2746 days

#3 posted 09-16-2013 04:09 AM

I purchased a second filter for my vac. That way I can take it outside and hose it off, let it dry while the other one is installed in the vac.


View a1Jim's profile


118080 posts in 4380 days

#4 posted 09-16-2013 04:12 AM

View jonah's profile


2123 posts in 4101 days

#5 posted 09-16-2013 12:30 PM

I do what BJO suggested. I have two filters. When I’m doing fine-dust-producing activities, one is outside drying while I’m using the other.

View Wildwood's profile


2876 posts in 2937 days

#6 posted 09-16-2013 12:58 PM

I have tried the panty hose over the filter and it does extend life of the filter somewhat. Now use a more expensive option and buy paper bags and have not bought a filter in several years. Do not use my VAC for dust collection, just cleaning up.

-- Bill

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3653 days

#7 posted 09-16-2013 03:50 PM

Let’s back up a little bit and see if we can get a different view of this. I bring no particular skepticism of what’s been said, just curiosity.

Let’s assume the vac is being used to clean up around, or gather through the fence of, a router table. So we’ll have a mix of dust and chips. Fair enough?

In the stock configuration, the filter shown will gather the dust against the paper of the pleats and the chips will fall down because of their greater weight and their reluctance to seal against the suction.

When the suction decreases we open the machine and dump out the chips and clean the filter. Repeat.

If we put an enclosure of porous paper, as a repurposed vacuum cleaner bag, around the filter, the procedure wouldl be the same: use till it doesn’t suck adequately, open, dump the chips and clean the paper. (Let us assume the repurposed paper is identical to the stock filter paper.)

As I write this, I am forming the opinion that the repurposed paper, as in Matt’s picture, is really duplicating the function of the paper in the original stock filter. The only difference is the stock filter has (rough guess) three times the surface of the repurposed filter add-on.

Would it follow then, in general, that with the repurposed filter one would have to stop and dump and clean the filter three times more often?

I’d like to keep this on the theoretical for now, rather than anecdotal contributions. In order for us to adequately assess the anecdotal information we’d have to have controls on the amount of debris available, style of gathering, and duration of run time on the machine.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View distrbd's profile


2252 posts in 3249 days

#8 posted 09-16-2013 04:05 PM

Lee although you are right about the”wrapped” paper is duplicating the function of the stock filter,the difference it possibly makes is cleaning up a flat paper oppose to the pleated filter.
If this is the case I’ll give it a try since I dislike cleaning/shaking those pleated filters .

-- Ken from Ontario, Canada

View shampeon's profile


2153 posts in 2986 days

#9 posted 09-16-2013 04:46 PM

+1 to using a cyclone bucket before hitting the main tank/filter. I recently set up a Dust Deputy, and it really works well.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

View Sanding2day's profile


1015 posts in 2649 days

#10 posted 09-16-2013 06:26 PM

Great tips… I’ve been using the Shop Vac Gore Filter for a couple months now, and have been able to perform a quick cleaning whenever emptying the 16 Gal. This seems to be more than effective for my use rarely loosing suction between bag emptys/replacements.

-- Dan

View troyercar00's profile


21 posts in 3691 days

#11 posted 09-16-2013 08:50 PM

+2 on the Dust Deputy, I had gotten tired of cleaning out the filter all the time (even had 3 filters) and installed a cyclone on top of an old shop vac tank. Only had to clean filter 1 time in about a year.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2172 posts in 3653 days

#12 posted 09-17-2013 12:05 AM

Thanks Ken.

I clean the filter this way: I remove it, hand it to a grandchild, and cheerfully request that he or she take it outside and throw it up as high as possible, six times. They love the way the dust explodes from it when it hits the asphalt. After that, I blast it for 30 seconds or so with the outside air hose and back it goes into the vac.



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 3596 days

#13 posted 09-17-2013 12:33 AM

I do something a little different. I use bags in my shop vac. When they get full I throw them away. It does cost more but it is convenient. And no mess either.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3493 days

#14 posted 09-17-2013 12:57 AM

I have a nylon stocking over the filter in one of my Ridgid shop Vacs and the bag that came off of my Hitachi belt/disc sander over the other Ridgid filter (both secured in place with rubber bands. The Hitachi bag works the best and I just bump the shop vacc on the floor and most of the dust falls into the cannister without ever opening the canister.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Walt's profile


263 posts in 3641 days

#15 posted 09-17-2013 01:21 AM

I too use two filters for my shop vac. Currently is assigned to the Chop saw and does a very good job. I have cleaned the filters by using my garden hose with a high pressure nozzle It cleans it well and in the summer dries over night In the winter it may take three days to fully dry. I like Lee Barkers method but my grand son is now to old to be impressed by an exploding dust cloud.

-- Walt Wilmington Delaware, http://[email protected]

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