Introduction: Cheap and Easy Shop Vac Connections
I don't know if anyone else has this problem, but I certainly did: I have four tools that have dust collection ports - a router table, a benchtop belt/disc sander. a chop (miter) saw and a Dremel mini table saw. I also have one shop vac - a VacMaster. I quickly discovered that exactly none of the ports on my tools mate with the end of my VacMaster. On two of the tools, the diameter of the dust collection port is exactly the same as the diameter of the end of my shop vac hose - 1 3/4 inches. On the other two, the port diameter is just a bit smaller - 1 5/8 inches - but not small enough to allow the shop vac hose to slip over it. I suppose there are probably couplers out there you can buy that will work, but I've found easy ways to fix both situations so that I can quickly and easily move my shop vac hose from one tool to another and have a secure connection for every tool.
Step 1: The Rubber Connection
First, for the two tools with the 1 5/8 inch diameter ports. At a big box hardware store I found rubber hose connectors labeled "1 1/4 inch drain pipe to 1 1/4 inch drain pipe" (Figure 1). It turns out these connectors have exactly the right inside diameter so they will fit snugly over the ends of the 1 5/8 inch ports. I slid one of these on to the end of each of these ports and secured them with hose clamps (Figure 2). The other end fits snugly over the shop vac hose end with a little push and twist, yet releases easily enough to let me pull the hose off and take it to the next tool I'm going to use. If the fit is too snug on either end, you can use a tiny drum sanding bit on a Dremel tool to ream out the snug end of the rubber hose connector a bit until the fit is more comfortable (Figure 3).
Step 2: The Plastic Tube Connection
For the two tools that have a 1 3/4 inch outside diameter port I stumbled across an even easier and cheaper remedy. You'll find that with caulking that comes in plastic tubes rather than cardboard, the empty plastic tube is exactly the right diameter to slide snugly onto both the shop vac hose and the dust collection port. Now you can wait until you've used a tube of caulk that came in a plastic tube - but don't be a cheapskate! Buy a cheap tube of caulk, squirt out the contents, and cut off the end of the tube (Figure 4). Wrap the resulting plastic cylinder in a few layers of duct tape (Figure 5 - the handyman's secret weapon!) to give it strength, and you instantly have a workable connector that you can easily move from one tool to another as you need it (Figure 6)! This solution does not work for the tools with the 1 5/8 inch ports because the fit between the plastic tube and the port is too loose to hold the hose on securely.
Step 3: A Little Testimonial...
I want to give a shout out to the VacMaster shop vac (Model VWM510). It is by far the best shop vac I've ever owned, for three primary reasons:
1. It is quiet for a shop vac. I'm not kidding when I say that when I used my previous shop vac I had to use earplugs because the noise was terrible. The VacMaster is much, much quieter.
2. It comes with a 21 foot hose. I have the shop vac mounted on the wall of my basement shop - up and out of the way - and can reach every inch of the shop with it.
3. It has a wireless remote control on the working end of the hose to turn it on and off. This is an absolutely wonderful feature. You can be using it while making successive cuts in a project and turn it off between cuts without having to walk clear across the shop - then turn it on again for the next cut. True, it's one of the pricier small shop vacs (5 gallon) out there, but in my estimation it is worth every penny.
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