Introduction: Make a Woodshop Pre-filter (aka Cyclone) for $8

If you spent any time cutting wood you know how annoying it is to clean out your Shop Vac all the time since it get's clogged up with wood just as fast as your lungs do. There are many options to fix the issue, ranging from the dirt cheap to not so bad to "I'M RICH, BEOTCH!!! solutions.

I tried to set the budget bar even lower with my $8 Shop Vac prefilter build.

Follow along at home if you dare.

Step 1: Get a Bucket, Then Spend $8

Picture of Get a Bucket, Then Spend $8

Grab a bucket. Make sure it has no hole, leaks or fissures other than the giant one in the top you can stick your head into.

Grab a GammaSeal lid from Amazon or Lowes or wherever finer plastic lid products are sold.

Get some additional hose if your length doesn't match your girth.

Amazon hose kit, Here is Home Depotshose kit.

Step 2: Screw Your Lid

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While I was at Lowes I bought a threaded PVC piece that was the same size as my Shop Vac hose. The threaded side I screwed into my GAMMASEAL lid. If you do it right it will be leak free. If you suck at tools, then shoot some silicone or some sort of sealant around your wonkey hole.

This is good life advice.

If you suck at life, shoot some sealant around your wonkey hole.

Step 3: Use Your Shop Vacs Nozzle Attachment

Picture of Use Your Shop Vacs Nozzle Attachment

You probably have the Shop Vacs nozzle attachment floating around in a junk drawer somewhere not doing a damn thing for you and your dusty lifestyle. Cut a hole in the side of your bucket and jam this tool into it. The hole will need to be this peculiar shape in order for the nozzle to fit inside at an angle.

Don't be lazy like me, deburr your hole.

That's more good life advice. "deburr your hole."

I should write a coffee table book full of life tips.

Moving along.....

Step 4: Use the Nuts and the Bolts and the Flavens

Picture of Use the Nuts and the Bolts and the Flavens

Silicone alone won't hold the vacuum attachment in place. I used a few nuts and bolts I had in the shop. If your shop is a disorganised mess or devoid of nuts and/or matching bolts, buy them when you are at Lowes. They might set you back $2.

Silicone this hole too.


Step 5: Put It All Together.

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Now put it all together and bask in your success at making wood chips spin inside of a bucket.

Step 6: Weeeeee

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Step 7: Look at Your Wood, JUST LOOK AT IT!

Picture of Look at Your Wood, JUST LOOK AT IT!

Are you proud of yourself now? Look at what you have done. Now your wood is no longer clogging up your Shop Vac. You should be able to suck wood for substantially longer periods of time now before needing to remove the waste.


Step 8: Now Figure Out How to Keep This Stuff Together

Picture of Now Figure Out How to Keep This Stuff Together

I have an old cart leftover from the BBQ Grill I made from junk. I might use the cart to hold the vacuum and the prefilter. Stay tuned and maybe I will show you how I accomplished that someday.

Why am I using such a wimpy Shop-Vac you say? It has good reviews on Amazon, and was in my price range. It was also one of the more powerful ones in it's category, so it was a good fit for me. Maybe someday I'll upgrade into something fancier, but for my basic shop garage it does the trick.

Step 9: I'm Like Elvis, I'm Everywhere.

Picture of I'm Like Elvis, I'm Everywhere.

I make my Instructables about 2-3 days after my videos are completed, so if you want to see my new stuff even faster, check me out on Youtube. Instagram is where you can get sneak peaks of stuff that is in progress or fun little snippets. Twitter is a wasteland of bots and marketing people, so enjoy me there as well.

Maybe someday I will make a coffee table book of clever life tips. I shall call it "Just the tips".



jimdkc (author)2016-09-20

If you have a Firehouse Subs near you, they sell their bright red 5-gallon pickle buckets for $2 each. Proceeds go to provide life-saving equipment and resources for firefighters, police, and EMTs. The buckets do smell like pickles, but that shouldn't matter for this use! Good sandwiches, too!

bgunville (author)jimdkc2016-12-10

I am thinking lunch time now thanks have to head out

_diyMATT (author)jimdkc2016-09-20

Oooh nifty.

scienceboyroy (author)_diyMATT2016-11-20

Where I live, I think they cost $3 each. The caveat is that they smell very strongly of pickles and take a lot of time or effort to air out.

That said, they are nice buckets.

Mattwhitt (author)2016-12-08

legend bro

scienceboyroy (author)2016-11-20

I've been planning to do this one for a while, but I have to ask: where did you get the hose? Is it just a spare that you had lying around?

My shop vac is a very small, portable unit, with very little capacity in the waste compartment. I think it's been discontinued (for good reason). I'm hoping to use your bucket technique to make it useful, since it should extend the capacity to the gallon range (previously measured in cups).

Unfortunately, I only have one hose. So I can use it to connect the shop vac to the bucket, but then I have nothing to attach to the radial hose attachment.

I'm thinking about maybe mounting the whole shop vac on top, sideways, and making some changes to the "tip-over protection" mechanism (the ball that cuts off the flow if it falls over). Then I could use only a couple inches of hose to connect them, and the rest of the hose could be used on the radial attachment.

_diyMATT (author)scienceboyroy2016-11-21

I did have some spare hose but I also had to buy some from Lowes. That's the funniest part, the hose is crazy expensive. I think this is where they get-cha. I paid 50$ for my Shop-Wac and the hose is 15-25$ alone.

You can grab some hose from Amazon for 17$ with some extra attachment ends which is infinitely useful.

Here is HomeDepots price.

Brad I. made it! (author)2016-09-30

This was a nice and easy build. My pictures are from making 8 four inch cuts with a bandsaw. Check out all that lovely dust caught in my first bin that isn't clogging my filter. Would buy again.

_diyMATT (author)Brad I.2016-10-01


Brad, I think you are the first person to ever make something I made an instructable for! Neato!

Brad I. (author)Brad I.2016-09-30

P.S. Also notice how I left the brick out of the bottom, but it still caught alot of dust.

JustinJHCS (author)2016-09-23

Get a Centr-Vac and use it Problem solved 160.00CND and you have no work to do just buy a Crazy carpet and make it into a cone with Tabs attach the tabs to the top Underside of the suction chamber around the Bag filter and your done.

they are made Bagless and Filterless. I turned mine into a Hepa Water filter for my Home when it fills up It flushes like a toilet no changing bags for me.

_diyMATT (author)JustinJHCS2016-09-24

hah, you want me to buy a 120$ vacuum? The whole point is to do this on the cheap. :)

Brad I. (author)_diyMATT2016-09-30

But you would save the original $8 you spent.

Bosun Rick (author)2016-09-25

I would like to suggest that you use the chlorine tablet containers from a swimming pool service company. these are 5 gallon capacity, have an airtight screw-on lid, and the pool companies are very happy to give them away! (I've made arrangements with a local company to pick up as many of these containers as I wish, whenever I want them, for FREE) I would also offer this improvement to the i'ble, mount 2 buckets in tandem. this will let your vacuum capture all of the sawdust, or other fine dust that escapes the first bucket. just be sure to use the same 'swirling' motion as in the first bucket.

fredellarby (author)2016-09-20

This would be great for wet vacuuming. Just "kick the bucket" over, instead of killing oneself trying to move a shop-vacuum full of water.

EricS142 (author)2016-09-20

when was doing fibre glass fabrication we would get our 5 gal buckets at dunk'n doughnuts-had wash out the jelly though

_diyMATT (author)EricS1422016-09-20

That sounds like a horrifically (delicious) experince.

geeser (author)2016-09-20

Great idea to use that useless furniture cleaning attachment as an inlet. Why didn't I think of that? (don't answer that)

bgunville (author)2016-09-20

I am wondering how much dust / fines goes to your vac? Most YouTube builders show that as a final step. I like what I saw cheap and simple.

_diyMATT (author)bgunville2016-09-20

No idea. I saw everybody doing all that measuring and made it a point to not do that on mine. :)

It works.
It works better than it did before.

Mission accomplished.

AimsA (author)2016-09-20

I agree with sizzle74. A great instructable and an excellent read. You are absolutely effin hilarious!! I'm waiting with bated breath for that coffee table book.

_diyMATT (author)AimsA2016-09-20

I'm happy to make you effin happy. :)

desidude52 (author)2016-09-20

Love the inside video of the bucket. Very nice instructable.

I made one of these with a Home Depot bucket to drain water from clogged sink. I had my home carpet vacuum and did not want to buy a shop vac so bought the bucket and attached a 3/4" tube and small hole on top for my vac hose. One issue was with such a small tube the bucket tended to collapse so had to tweak it some, but it got the job done for less than $5.

_diyMATT (author)desidude522016-09-20

Relaly good idea. I would have never thought of that.

cchubb (author)2016-09-20

One small (and more importantly, cheap!) addition will make this design much better at keeping chips in the bucket: Put a brick or 2x4 chunk in the bottom. That will make the air turbulent there and chips and dust will fall out. I use two bricks and it keeps the heavy hoses from tipping the bucket over too.

stmrn (author)cchubb2016-09-20

I agree with cchubb - the brick or any non-aerodynamic object helps. Excellent instructable, love the comparission, and spirit of simplicity. I would like to propose you 2 small and cheap additions: A) attach a magnet near of outlet of radial hose - I used a magnet from "burn" hard-disk. It will catch metal chips, in case you cleaning a floor. B) attach a hard-plastic cup (or anything conical) with say dozen of vertical slots on side on the inlet of centered axial hose. With bottom directed into bucket, of course. It will help you to separate fine wood-dust. I have got mine from fast-food. You can enwrap it with some filter insert, but it is not necessary: it has not some dramatic effect on air purity, worse, you can burn your vac motor, if the pressure difference is too high. Thanks again, for your instructable, looking for your book.

_diyMATT made it! (author)stmrn2016-09-20

Both good tips.
IRT the second one, I did something like this afterwards. I put a old chunk of tube into the inside, covered the end and drilled tons of holes into it. It looks like a silencer. this helps mix things up even more on the inside and prevent big chunks from coming into the vacuum. Pretty much the same principle as your thought. Thanks :)

_diyMATT (author)cchubb2016-09-20

Thats a supurb tip. I still plan on integrating all this into a cart or a mobile station so I may or may not use that trick. thanks. :)

BrandonW86 (author)2016-09-20

This is so awesome. Also, the project is a neat idea. Love your commentary.


mark.howard (author)2016-09-20

Nice simple design! I also liked your comparison links. I went HF route with your "I'm rich beotch" link, spent $135 after tons of coupons for a similar 2hp DC setup on a cart. Then I built my own cone like your "not so bad" link with a sheet of lexan and some scrap 2x4's, and used a bucket and gamma lid just like yours. Much more work, but filters nice also. But again, KISS principle, I like yours, keep up the good work!

sizzle74 (author)2016-09-19

great instructable and a very good read.your effin halarious

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)2016-09-18

Perfect for high saw dust applications.

About This Instructable




Bio: Alton Brown taught me how to cook, now I want to tackle diy projects.
More by _diyMATT:I Converted a Bookshelf to a Music CenterI Made a #battlecar Out of My Soccer Mom Minivan.Homemade Cat Scratcher
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