Introduction: Leaf Blower/Vac. Bag Extender - Leaf Hog "Snout"

Picture of Leaf Blower/Vac. Bag Extender - Leaf Hog "Snout"

If you have ever tried to use a blower/vacuum then you would probably agree that its built-in bag is too small for any substantial quantity of leaves. The Snout is an attachment that my brother and I made in order to solve this problem. This instructable will show you how to make a trash bagging system cheaper and better than commercially available units.

What Are You Talking About?
A blower/vac is a yardwork machine that is capable of both blowing out a strong stream of air and "inhaling" small objects. Most include a mulching feature that will shred leaves before ejecting them into a provided storage bag.

Why Would You Use One?
We normally use our mulching mower to cut the ground cover of leaves, but not all parts of our yard are ideal for using a lawnmower. For example, we have a large patch of ivy along our driveway that never needs to be mowed. This area, however, still has leaves that need to be mulched.

So, What Is Your Problem Again?
The included bag, although large, is not nearly big enough when compared to the number of leaves our yard contains. I spend two thirds of the time sucking up leaves and one third emptying the bag. When the attached bag is almost full, it becomes very heavy and burdensome.

Why Did You Call Your Project Leaf Hog Snout?
The Leaf Hog is a blower/vac made by Black & Decker. Hogs are known to nose through the dirt, and this system reminded us of that process. Thus we named it after the structure where all the work begins: the snout.

Disclaimer
Using your common sense should, for the most part, keep you out of trouble, but it is important to mention that you are dealing with a machine that spits out very small and sharp objects. I suggest that you wear safety glasses and hearing protection (these things are not quiet). Attempt at your own risk.

Note
This is my first Instructable. Any comments or questions are welcomed.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

For this instructable you will need these materials. Prices for items bought are included (US Dollars).

Trashcan with lid - $11.74
4" x 10" Corrugated drainage tube - $4.02
Tube elbow 90 degree bend - $4.69
Tube cap - $1.74
36" x 34" Fiberglass window screen - $5.49
Epoxy
Dremel with cutting attachments
Cardboard Scissors
Sharpie Marker
Cardboard
Paper Plate (used as stencil)
Compass (the drawing tool)
Sandpaper
Binder Clips
Duct Tape

Step 2: Modifying the Leaf Hog

Picture of Modifying the Leaf Hog

In order for the leaves to find their way into the trashcan, they must travel through the corrugated tube. Unfortunately the exhaust spout of the leaf hog was smaller than our tubing. Therefore an adapter was necessary. Our only requirement for the adapter was that it allow us to slip the old bag over it for normal use. The end cap worked perfectly for this. We placed the cap on the end of the spout and traced an outline. After cutting out a hole, we slipped it over the top and used epoxy to glue the cap to the exhaust spout, making sure that it sealed any spaces. Popsicle sticks were used as applicators for this step.

Step 3: Cutting Vent Holes in the Lid

Picture of Cutting Vent Holes in the Lid

The trashcan lid was designed to intake both air and leaves but only allow the air to escape. Vent holes were cut around the center of the trashcan lid, making sure to leave enough plastic to support the inner circle. This inner circle will, in turn, support the inlet tube. We used a sharpie to mark an outline for the vent holes.
I recommend using a jigsaw to cut out the pieces. Since I did not have one, I used a router bit in my dremel. After the cuts were made, we finished off the vent holes with a bit of sandpaper to remove the burs.

Step 4: Cutting Center Hole in Lid

Picture of Cutting Center Hole in Lid

In order to get the leaves into the trashcan you will need to cut a hole in the center of the lid. The hole must be exactly the same size as the grooves of the elbow piece. By making a hole the same size as the grooves, it allows the elbow to spin freely.
Note: We made our hole too small on the first try, but the sander attachment on the dremel cured that problem. It is better to be too small than too big on your first cut.

Step 5: Cutting Elbow Piece

Picture of Cutting Elbow Piece

An elbow piece is designed to attach two drainage tubes at a right angle. For our purposes we only need one connection end; the other side will be attached to the lid. As explained in the previous step our goal is to make the groove of the elbow piece fit into the hole of the lid. Using a cutting wheel we cut off the connection end on one side (both sides are identical).
Using the groove as a track for rotating would have been easy and ideal except that the groove did not go all of the way around the elbow piece. The groove smooths out on the inner side of the bend. In order to change this we used the cutting wheel to cut a slit from where the groove ended on one side to where it begins on the other side.
Finish this step by slipping the elbow piece into the hole of the trashcan lid. You now have a swiveling intake piece capable of 360 degree movement.

Step 6: Creating the Filter

Picture of Creating the Filter

Find a box bigger than the top of your trashcan. A box with a single, unbent section would be ideal, but we only had a smaller box which we unfolded. Flip the trashcan upside down and trace an outline of the top. Draw a smaller circle inside of the first to create a ring. We used a compass to keep the width uniformal. Cut out the ring. We used cardboard scissors for the task.
Since our cardboard had several creases in it, we reinforced it with a piece of duct tape on each side. Our homemade filter was made out of window screen. Simply cut the screen to size and staple it on. The holes in the screen were a bit too large for our filtration needs, so we put a second layer on. Be sure to slightly rotate the second screen to create a criss-crossing pattern with smaller holes.
A second, smaller ring must be made for the hole in the center of the filter. After attempting and failing to freehand our inner ring, we decided to create a template out of a paper plate. Like the outer ring, just staple the cardboard to the screen.
To securely attach the screen to the lid, drill four holes through both the lid and filter. We used a nut, washer, and bolt to hold the two together. A washer is not necessary, but we figured that using it would reduce the chance of tearing the screen.

Step 7: Testing

Picture of Testing

We took it for a spin. We were satisfied to find that the suction was only slightly less than normal bag operation. It rarely clogged, but when it did I simply needed to give the tube a gentle sideways kick to clear the line. An added bonus: the leaf hog seemed quieter when attached to our bag extender.

Problems encountered: (Solutions to these problems are detailed on the next step.)
1. The empty trashcan had a tendency to lean if you moved too far away.
2. When the bag was placed in the trashcan it would create a seal around the rim and capture all of the air beneath it. This created a sort of balloon that had to be deflated in order to get a full bag of leaves.
3. Leaves would escape from beneath the trashcan lid at the loose points between the two handles.
4. After a bit of use, the elbow's slit began to bend outward. This allowed the elbow to sometimes slip off the lid.

Step 8: Problem Solving

Picture of Problem Solving

1. Our trashcan-leaning-problem was the easiest to fix. We simply added a few bricks to make it bottom heavy.

2. We kept our trashcan from holding unwanted air by drilling four holes in the top sides of the trashcan. This allowed air to escape as the bag filled out.

3. In order to stop leaves from sneaking out from beneath the lip of the trashcan, we added binder clips halfway between the handles.

4. Our biggest problem was the loose elbow piece. During normal operation it would randomly slip off and shoot mulched leaves into the air. This was happening because the plastic strip created by cutting the slit was bending out and no longer providing the support needed to keep the elbow piece "locked" into the lid. In order to keep our bent strip of plastic straight, we decided to create an "artificial" groove. An artificial groove needed to connect the plastic strip to the base while still allowing our lid to be sandwiched between the two. We considered using half of a small tube to create this groove, but we decided to use a strap instead. Although the strap could have been made of anything flexible and tough, we chose duct tape. Simply attach two strips of duct tape together (sticky side facing each other) to create a durable strap.
We then glued the strap to our bent plastic, and bolted the other end of the strap to the inside of the elbow. This held the plastic strip straight and prevented the elbow from falling off of the lid. In order to maintain as much strength as possible, we used two straps of duct tape. We suggest you use epoxy for the glue, but since we already depleted our supply, J.B. Weld was used instead, which required a 24 hour wait for it to cure. We used binder clips to apply pressure while it dried. After the straps were securely attached, we drilled four holes through the inner side of the elbow and the tape. The tape was held tightly while drilling to ensure that the holes were made in the correct place. We finished it off by slipping the bolt through the hole and fastening the nut.

Step 9: What Do You Think?

Picture of What Do You Think?

The "Snout" was invented and created before we even realized a commercial unit existed. This allows for an interesting comparison of effectiveness between the two designs. Both have their pros and cons.

Side By Side Comparison: The comparison will be made between the Snout and these two commercial products. Note: I do not actually own either of these commercial products. I simply gathered information from comments and pictures.
Black & Decker Product
Toro Product

Price: This is a category that brings many people to instructables and and other DIY sites. Commercial units are priced in the range of 30-33 US dollars. These products are composed of a flexible tube and a draw-string-tightened cloth that channels the leaves into the trashcan (not included). The "Snout," including the trashcan, costs approximately 28 US dollars. Without the trashcan, the project only costs about 16 US dollars.
Winner: Snout

Tube: The commercial products have a very flexible and sturdy tube capable of collapsing for easy storage. Our homemade Snout used rigid drainage tubing. This is commonly available and cheap, but not ideal for storage or ease-of-use.
Winner: Commercial

Filter: The filter on the commercial unit is made of flexible cloth which is tightened around the top of the trash can. It works fine for containing the large, mulched particles, but allows almost all of the dust to escape. The Snout's double screen filter is stiffer than the commercial filter, resulting in less dust in the air. The Snout's filter will accumulate larger leaf particles against it during operation, creating a sort of leaf filter that keeps escaping dust to a minimum. This is not true of the commercial products because the cloth forms a constantly moving/bending dome shape during operation, thus preventing a leaf barrier from forming and allowing the dust to easily pass through.
Winner: Snout

Ease of Obtaining: The commercial products can easily be bought in many hardware stores, or simply ordered online and shipped to your door. Building the Snout involves a sizable investment of time. Although, if the commercial products are not available locally and you need those leaves gone ASAP, it could be quicker to build your own rather than wait for the shipment.
Winner: Commercial

Overall Winner: That part is up to you. If you have money but no time, then the commercial product is probably the best option. If you have some time but no money, then you can penny pinch with the Snout. If you have neither time nor money, then I would hate to see what your yard looks like.

You Can Help
This project was entirely conceived and created by two brothers with limited, local supplies. If you can think of cheaper or better materials, tell us. For example, you may know of a cheap and widely available source of tough, flexible tubing, or maybe you have stumbled across an easier way to make a filter. Just drop us a comment. It will help out everyone who wants to create their own Snout.

Comments

circesdad (author)2015-10-17

Great project and presentation. Thank you for your efforts. On the dryer hose concept its possible to reinforce the plastic film the manufacturer uses with duct tape or heavy clear packing tape. We had a situation in our warehouse where the guys did just that to reinforce dryer hose used in a vac system for cleaning packing debris off the shipping tables. Sometimes besides the styro peanuts and fragments a staple of something hard went through and dinged the side wall of the hose. They tried patching it but eventually had to replace it. Then they took a new dryer hose and extending it to its full length they wrapped the entire hose with duct tape. It's 3 years old now and still working. Just a thought.

Mugsy Knuckles (author)2015-10-15

I wonder if the window screen is making this more complicated than it needs to be. Seems to me that if you just drilled a ton of very small holes in the trashcan body and lid with your dremel or used a pinpoint on a soldering iron to melt them, you might get the same airflow without losing the filtering powers, and would thereby prevent the potential of the leaves clogging the screens.

This won't work with a bag, but since I compost the leaves I don't need to bag them.

If it's accurate that the leaves are acting a a filter in this situation, this wouldn't work.
I know one way to find out!

Mugsy Knuckles (author)2015-10-15

I wonder if the window screen is making this more complicated than it needs to be. Seems to me that if you just drilled a ton of very small holes in the trashcan body and lid with your dremel or used a pinpoint on a soldering iron to melt them, you might get the same airflow without losing the filtering powers, and would thereby prevent the potential of the leaves clogging the screens.

This won't work with a bag, but since I compost the leaves I don't need to bag them.

If it's accurate that the leaves are acting a a filter in this situation, this wouldn't work.
I know one way to find out!

howest525 (author)2013-11-27

Forgot to ask one thing, what do you do about filtering? Did you attach the old filter to the blower or just leave it non filtered? I would think without a filter something could get lodged in the blower turbine and ruin it. My Homepage

Bosnoff (author)howest5252013-12-10

The only filter leaf vacuums have are their bags. They use an impeller which is meant to draw debri into the blade and mulch it before ejecting it. Occasionally a small stick manages to lodge itself in the grinding chamber. The result is a loud whine as it slowly wears the wood away. This can often be cleared by slapping the outside of the chamber to dislodge it. The impeller is made from steel, so it is not easily damaged.

stantheman1955 (author)2011-05-06

I have the commercial attachment and found as you said the can falls over if you go to far, i strapped mine to a hand truck and when the can is full I wheel it to where i want it to go and dump saves the back.

I found that the string tie which secures the cloth filter/bag is not effective and need to add an extra strap to secure it to the can I use. I really like the idea of the modified removable trash can lid.....Good job. I thought about modifying the cloth bag attachment so that when i want to dump the can the connection between the hose and the cloth bag would open to a larger opening for ease of dumping then reduce back down to hold the discharge end of the hose securely once again. It would be easy enough to do I just haven't located a source for the right material. Burlap was a thought but not tough enough nylon material used in the making of lawn catchers is what i am looking for. Does any one have a source where I may purchase this by the yard thanks.

Squareman (author)2009-10-24

With the ability to haul leaves in a pickup truck, I made a hose attachment that fits into a stake box hole on truck box. This holds the discharge end of hose and allows me to move/adjust/direct the stream of leaves into the desired area of the pickup box. A poly tarp held in place with bungee cords covers the top of the bed and still allows air to escape around edges.  If leaves begin to build up, removal of bungee cords allows me to rake/push the leaves to other areas of the box.   I can blow all my yard leaves onto the driveway next to truck, and simply vacuum them up from next to the truck.   I have been using 2 inch hose ( replacement for a shop-vac at Menard's Building Center) but may try your larger diameter hose to reduce clogging.

X86-1138 (author)2008-09-12

Have you thought of trying flexible plastic dry hose? This would make storing the hose more like the commercial one.

Bosnoff (author)X86-11382008-09-17

Yes, dryer hose was an option that we considered. We decided not to use it because the plastic appeared to be very thin and would probably tear when sharp twigs ran through it. But if you know of some industrial strength dryer hose that is stronger than the common white plastic or foil hoses I would be glad to hear about it.

i.am.flink (author)2008-09-03

This is very similar to the garbage can chip catchers that woodworkers use. Rockler and Woodcraft both sell garbage can "cyclone lids" that work ahead of the impeller (unlike yours where the junk goes through the impeller) to capture chips, etc., before they hit the duct collector's impellers on their way to the dust bag. BTW, the sound level is attenuated by the new "muffler" you added. Before, all the impeller noise exited straight though the leaf bag. Now it's trapped in the can. A happy situation ;-) I wonder how this would work with a strong shop-vac....

boognishmofo (author)2008-08-19

AHH!! Wonderful!! I was just out back rigging a home made bag to my lawnmower out of some chicken wire(for inside support) and what little irrigation hose I had. Worked for a minute and then I started having the problem you explained. It dawned on me before seeing this a trash can would simplify things. Cheers, let you know how it goes.

clanger (author)2008-08-08

looks like some kinde of time machine to me be carefull

gamer (author)2008-03-16

hehe, i use this thing called a rake;p

Bosnoff (author)gamer2008-03-16

But I can't mod a rake..... or could I :)

gamer (author)Bosnoff2008-03-16

use your creativity:P you could add a bag to a rake:P or.... make a motorized rake:P or maybe a robot that can rake leaves for you. (im not very creative and see what i came up with while writing this comment ;])

GorillazMiko (author)2008-03-15

Cool! I have a leaf blower too (my dad's), I might show him this, nice job.

Bosnoff (author)GorillazMiko2008-03-16

What brand does he have?

Sgt.Waffles (author)2008-03-15

Borat is sitting next to me and he says "vereh nize".

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