Have you ever heard of a cyclone? Yeah, probably not so you can thank me later. The basic premise behind these bad boys is that all your vacuum dust moves through a “cyclone” before hitting your Shop-Vac canister. With the help of gravity it gets separated into a separate canister. This dust collection system captures about 99% of the dust, which in turn keeps your vacuum filters clean, which in turn maintains a super high and efficient suction. Incredible isn’t it?
Aside from the money saved from replacing dust bags and filters, the added simplicity of moving all your dust to a separate container makes emptying canisters so much easier.
While wood shops may require a more commercial grade solution (think way bigger version of this), these are quite suitable for at home DIY’ers. My goal for this project was to move my chunky vacuum out of sight and out of the way, while leaving the “garbage” easily accessible in a much smaller profile. I built the encompassing case using some of the best ideas from Seb Techs foam technique as inspiration. His solution is more suitable for a mobile vacuum, whereas mine is fixed. In my garage, I use a web of dust collection pipes and hoses to navigate around my work area. I find this look cleaner, easier and more efficient than rolling around a trolley everywhere I go. Also, since our winters here are quite cold, we tend to park our cars indoors so garage real estate is prime and to be protected at all costs.
This post will focus primarily on the dust cyclone build out. I’ll share a more in depth description of my setup once I’ve finished grounding it.
- Drill & Driver Set
- Hole Saw Kit
- Garage Vacuum. Shop-Vac is actually a brand, but it’s become synonymous with wet/dry vacuums. The one I have is compact and comes in at 4.5HP. The more horse power the better, of course. Hence, for my garage I will be using a 5HP Dewalt Wet/Dry Vac that I got on clearance. I will likely build out a mobile Cyclone shell down the road for the smaller Shop-Vac.
- Oneida Dust Deputy “Cyclone”. The official brand name cyclone. If you are short for time, you can grab one of these no problem. They come with a foam gasket to “seal” the gap between the deputy and your mounting surface.
- Knockoff Cyclone. I opted for a cheaper version of the cyclone. For half the price of a dust deputy, you can grab one from AliExpress. The only issue here is time. This unit took 3 months to come!
- 2″ Rubber Couplings
- 3/4″ Plywood (I used spare cutoffs)
- Piano Hinge (If you have the time version)
- Foam Tube
- Build your base. We won’t get into too much detail on how to build a box here, but your goal here is to create a 3 edged base wide enough for your canister to slide in and out easily. Not too complicated and any changes you make would be for cosmetics. You can use glue and brad nails, direct screws, or in my case pocket holes with glue. I premade the box before I bought the piano hinge, so I made the mistake of making the far edge flush with the side rails. Piano hinges can only open in a certain direction without obstruction, so be sure to cut your far edge height 3/4″ shorter than the rails so that it’s flush once you put the base top on. In summary: 1. three edges, 2. enough width for bucket clearance, and 3. far edge 3/4″ inch shorter than the side rails. My base dimensions were 15″ x 16″ before rails, but again this is up to you.
- Cut top of base and create lock. Cut out a base ceiling that can fit easily into your base. The goal is here is to create a drop floor mechanism that sets the bin flush against the top of the casing when locked, but also provides enough clearance to remove the bin when the lock is removed. Like a door, the far edge will be attached via piano hinge. The lock mechanism is a basic cutout of the depth between the base ceiling and the base floor. Hence if your rails are 3 inches, then you need to cutout a lock of 3″ – (3/4″x2) = 1.5″. When attached to the face of the lock, it will act as a door stop (see right image).
- Build out Top of Casing. The width of the station ceiling is equivalent to the base width plus 1.5″. This accounts for 3/4″ pillar’s on each side of the base. Once done, use a straight ruler and draw an X from opposite corners – this will indicate the center point of your rectangle. I pre-drilled the center, and then used the appropriate hole saw bit to punch a hole down the center of the casing top.
- Canister Buildout. Using a foam tube, I wrapped it around the top of a Home Depot 5 Gallon bucket. There is adhesive on the foam itself that will form a tight seal to the bucket lid. I used some glue to bond the two endpoints together. The goal here is to have a flat plane across the top so that air can’t seep out. In terms of the bucket, feel free to use what you want so long as you can get a tight seal. I’ve even seen people use large garbage bins!
- Add your Pillars. Again, this is really cosmetic and there isn’t a right way to do this, so feel free to be creative. What I did was simply add the height of my bin to the height of my base rails, and cut 4 spare pieces to length. Again, using pocket holes, I attached the 4 pillars to each corner of the ceiling. I then pre-assembled the unit making sure the base lock was in place so that the base was level. Then once leveling off the top, I drilled the pillars into the base. If you don’t have a pocket hole jig, you can simply drill the pillars right into the ceiling. Other than aesthetics, all you need to achieve here is a flush sealed canister when the base is locked.
- Add hanging brackets. As you can see above, I added two slats across the back of the casing, so that I can easily mount it to the wall.
- (Optional) Router and Sander. Not required, again just for cosmetics. I routed all the edges with a roundover bit and then sanded the casing with 2 quick passes at 120 and 220 grit. If you notice the top where the hole saw cut through is rough, you might want to smooth it out so that the cyclone can sit flush without any air paths. If you can’t get it flush and notice air continues to seep out – you can use silicone to seal the gaps before screwing the cyclone in place.
- Attach Cyclone to Case Ceiling. To attach the cyclone, position it in the direction you want so that the hoses don’t obstruct any preexisting fixtures. Mark off the drill points with a pencil. Predrill, then lock in the cyclone with 3/4″ screws. I didn’t want the screws to pierce through the plywood as I want to limit any potential air exposure from the setup.
- Attach your hoses! Use your couplings as the bridge between the cyclone and your hoses. Since most brand hoses vary in size, the couplings give you some play. You can tighten them to fit as needed.
I hope you enjoyed my setup and found some inspiration for your own work space. I personally love the fact that I can hang my Vacuum up high and away from my day to day, while still accessing the dust canister as needed. This setup can work as is without an upgraded dust collection system – simply attach your vacuum hose directly to the top of the cyclone, and your attachments to the side.
That being said, I know many of you may be interested in how I built out my dust collection system so I’ll be sure to get that post up as soon as possible!
Final disclaimer – it is possible the static electricity charge in these systems can spark and cause a fire, given the right mix of dust and air. While the chances are unlikely and the need for grounding in a residential environment is heavily debated, the long term safer approach would obviously be to ground the unit. I personally do not have this set up as of yet, and have not noticed any “built up” static. I will however, likely get to it over the next few weeks as a safety precaution. It’s quite simple to do and I will include my process along with the full dust control system post to come. In the meantime, do your own due diligence on the matter and decide for yourself!
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