Cyclonic Separator Shop-Vac With Secondary Water Filtration (Wet Scrubber) Made From Junk.. This Is Version Mark 2 of the Cyclonic Dust Collector Shop-Vac.

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Introduction: Cyclonic Separator Shop-Vac With Secondary Water Filtration (Wet Scrubber) Made From Junk.. This Is Version Mark 2 of the Cyclonic Dust Collector Shop-Vac.

About: I like things

This is a homemade cyclonic shop vac I built that has a second stage water filtration feature also known as a wet scrubber. The nice thing about this shop vac is it can extract large and fine particles down to several microns with very cheap methods without losing suction and all the while keeping a relatively small footprint so it is easy to roll around the shop.. A third stage could even be added such as a fabric HEPA filter to remove the ultra fine particulates but I did not include that in this build.

For instructions please watch the video first!

This design is actually a Mark 2 version (technically Mark 3) of my first CD Case Cyclonic Dust Collector. Mark 1 only had a the single stage cyclonic separator.

A majority of the dust will be collected in the 3 gallon bucket placed below the cyclonic separator, what makes it through the vacuum motor will be further filtered using the wet scrubber stage. This doesn't remove all of the fine particles but does a decent job down to the 10 micron range. Should a fabric HEPA be placed as a third stage filtration, it would take a very long time for it to clog.

This shop vac has 3 main parts, the cyclonic separator, the vacuum housing, and the wet scrubber.

The Cyclonic Separator portion is made from a CD spindle case, a toy traffic cone, and some 1 1/4" PVC Pipe.

I acquired the vacuum motor from another broken upright vacuum cleaner. I created a housing for the motor using scrap particle board. This housing is essentially a sealed box which contains the inlet/outlet ports, the power switch, and power cable.

All of the vacuum components are sealed with a generous amount of glue and attached to a wooden disk that is secured on top of a 3 gallon bucket lid. It is important to ensure everything is air tight.

The cyclonic separator is bolted onto the vacuum motor housing and then secured to the pipe on the bucket lid using silicone tape. The bracket holding the cyclonic separator doesn't necessarily need to be a metal one as shown in the video but could simply be a piece of particle board with the same diameter hole cut out of it. I used this metal bracket simply because it was laying around my junk part box.

It is also a good idea to empty and sterilize the wet scrubber after each use to prevent germs from being aerosolized into the shop.

To complete the CD case cyclonic separator module you'll need:
1x 50disc CD spindle case

1x plastic traffic cone (found it at a department store sports/toy section)

3ft of 1 1/4" thin walled PVC pipe

1x 1 1/4" PVC straight coupler

To complete the Vacuum Housing you'll need:

1x plastic bucket with lid (doesn't necessarily have to be round)

1x vacuum cleaner motor (can source from any spare vacuum cleaner)

2x 1 1/4" PVC 90 deg elbow

Lots of Particle Board

4x 3" x 13" boards 4x caster wheels 1x toggle switch 1x power cable

To complete the Wet Scrubber you'll need:

2ft of 1 1/4" PVC Pipe

5x 1 1/4" 90 degree PVC elbows

1x Cylindrical bottle with slightly larger diameter than PVC pipe

1x Plastic cup or bottle bottom that is slightly larger than cylindrical bottle

1x small plastic waste basket or tall narrow bucket that can fit on top of shop vac

Step 1: Building the Cyclonic Separator Out of CD Cases and Toy Traffic Cone

Start with a 50 CD case spindle.

Cut out the base of the spindle (the black portion) such that the PVC pipe can fit through it.

Cut an oval hole out the side wall (the clear cylinder) of the CD case so the inlet pipe can be inserted into the case

Cut the clear top off of the CD spindle case

Cut the center out of the CD to act as a spiral ramp for the air inlet

FIrst glue the inlet pipe so it is about half way into the CD spindle case

Tack the CD spiral ramp to the inlet pipe then position spiral ramp so the outlet pipe can still fit

Fill in the gap between the spiral ramp and the CD spindle case with glue

Glue the outlet pipe to the spiral ramp

Glue the black bottom of the CD Spindle case

Cut the top off the toy traffic cone that is the same size as the 1 1/4" PVC pipe

Cut the base off the toy traffic cone such that it can fit into the CD Spindle case

Glue the toy traffic cone to the CD Spindle assembly

Step 2: Building the Vacuum Housing

Measure the diameter of the vacuum motor

Make a box that is slightly larger than the diameter of the vacuum motor

Cut two spacer blocks that can wedge the vacuum motor to the walls of the vacuum motor box

Glue a 1 1/4" PVC coupler to the inlet port of the vacuum motor box

Drill a stepped hole for the power switch

Insert Power Switch

Drill a hole for the power cord

Insert Power Cord and secure using a wooden bracket that screws onto the vacuum motor box

Wire the vacuum motor to the power switch and power cord

Drill a hole for the outlet port

Seal the vacuum motor box with screws and glue

Test the vacuum motor box and ensure it is air tight

Cut out a particle board disc the same diameter as the bucket lid

Secure the disc to the bucket lid using screws

Drill a hole to fit in a 1 1/4" PVC coupler, (glue this in place)

Mount the vacuum motor box near the edge of the bucket lid disc using screws (you can use small blocks of particle board as 90 degree screw brackets)

Secure the Cyclonic Separator sub assembly to the vacuum motor box

Seal the Cyclonic Seperator dust collection hole to the bucket port using silicone tape or glue

Attach the output of the Cyclonic Seperator to the Input of the vacuum motor box using a small section of PVC pipe and PVC elbows (you may want to install a small screen into this pipe to catch any large particles that make it through the cyclonic separator in order to prevent the motor from clogging)

Step 3: Building the Wet Scrubber

Cut two 1 ft sections of 1 1/4" PVC pipe

Connect the two lengths using two 90 degree PVC elbows

Attach another two 90 degree elbows to the other end of one of the 1ft sections

Attach a single 90 degree elbow to the other 1ft pipe section to be used to connect the wet scrubber to the vacuum motor box

Take a cylindrical plastic bottle and cut the bottom off to make a tube

Attach one wall of this tube to the rim of one of the two 90 degree PVC elbow pieces. This will form a concentric tube around the PVC tube

Cut a bottom off of a larger plastic bottle and screw this to the top of the cylindrical bottle tube to form a splash cap

Fill a small bucket or plastic waste about half way full of water and submerge the PVC pipe assembly into it. The two 90 degree PVC elbows should be submerged in water.

Connect the wet scrubber to the outlet of the vacuum motor box

Test the entire assembled Cyclonic Shop Vac with Wet Scrubber to check for any air leaks and to test performance.

Step 4:

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    12 Comments

    Awesome project... The Scrubber is a wonderful idea... I've been longing to build something like this but just don't have the time... Well done....

    1 reply

    This is a very similar system to how they clean the gas generated from a Blast Furnace to be able to reuse it. Works quite well. So I'm sure this will work well too. Well done !

    1 reply

    Sweet! I did not know this.. I even had to look up what a blast furnace was hahaha. I knew this was used in some kind of industrial process but not sure what exactly. Thanks for the positive vibes.

    In my dark still-a-student days, a roommates mother brought over a vacuum that basically bubbled the incoming air+dirt through a few litres of water. I thought it was a really cool idea at the time. Years later, researching it, I found the concept had two problems:
    1) When the air bubbles up through the water, any dirt that isn't on the surface of the bubble isn't going to be captured. The bigger the bubbles, the less the water captures. So, not very effective for small stuff.
    2) Unless you sterilize the system before each use, the water+dirt is a growth medium for pathogens and the bubbling releases some of the water into the air as an aerosol (the later models of the aerogarden used an aquarium pump and stone for that same purpose). Think Legionaires Disease.

    1 reply

    Thanks for mentioning this. It was a concern that I was thinking about when making this and I forgot to mention in instructions that it may be a good idea to add a small amount of bleach to the water to try and keep it sterile.

    I've seen some of those water based filtration vacuum cleaners on the market, I think it was called the Rainbow? or the Dolphin? Those use the water as primary filtration and I think the main disadvantage is having to strain out large debris from what is vacuumed like hair or rocks, or the water directly turns into mud which is a real pain in the butt to clean. That may be why they grew out of popularity. That is why I'm thinking the water filtration is almost perfect as a second stage after a 1st stage cyclone since it excels at smaller particles but not ultrafine, and hepa fabric as third stage to catch the remainder.

    Small tip with using hot melt: After you apply the bead of hot melt, to make it bond even better, hit it with a hair dryer or heat gun lightly to allow the melt to flow into the joint and make a more intimate contact to the surfaces. Also on cutting the plastic, rather then use the knife, wrap some wire around a soldering iron tip to form a hot wire cutter. Avoid the plastic from cracking like the cd disc. Nice build and I will definitely copy that :)

    1 reply

    That is brilliant! Thanks for the tips I'll try them next time.

    I initially wanted to do something similar, but gave up. This build will clean the exit air very well, but will also evaporate a lot of water - not something you want in a wood working shop.

    1 reply

    Yea evaporation can be a problem depending on shop environment. I simply have my garage so it is generally cold and gets equalized with outside air since i open and close the door a lot. May not work for people that have more hotter climates or enclosed shops

    Why did you connect the water filter AFTER the vac? I would be worried of all the fine particles messing with the vac operation and needing to clean the vac constantly. I understand the need to keep the fine particles out of the air you are breathing, but don't you want to keep them out of your vac too?

    1 reply

    Actually what you suggest is a better design and what I would do the next time as current design has a small screen in the tube connecting cyclone to motor.

    There are two lame reasons why I did it this way, one was because it slightly simplifies wet scrubber as i dont need a sealed container with inlet and outlet ports. (I didn't have any lids on the plastic bins to add a port where motor could suck air out of wet scrubber) Second reason would be the marginal sound dampening wet scrubber provides. Provided the wet scrubber was shortened a hair to be able to fit into the water bin and it had a lid, it is really easy to change the order of the stages using pvc pipe, you could even have wet scrubber be first stage if you want to suck up mostly liquids for a wet spill.

    My next design i want to try a thein baffle with second stage wet scrub, motor, then third stage hepa fabric filter.