Introduction: Mini Cyclone Bucket Dust Collector

Picture of Mini Cyclone Bucket Dust Collector

Keep your Lungs Healthy.

If you are involved in woodworking by now you know that every woodworking workshop no matter how small it is needs a dust collector.

Many say that the heart of a woodshop is the table saw, others say, it's their router table, band saw, planer... and so on.
Which ever it is, one thing is for sure, the lungs of every woodshop is the dust collector.

When you making chips most of them are heavy enough to fall on the floor, but when you have wood dust or other sort of it, that will fly in the air you breathe. These fine particles of wood can easily find their way into your lungs and are a serious health hazard.

Now there are many ways to protect your self like wearing a good dust mask (they don't come cheep but are good) or the inexpensive throw-away paper filters air respirators (not a very safe way to go, but is better than nothing).
Then you can have an air filter which is mounted on the ceiling to purify the shops air (the dust must first pass from your face before it reaches them, so these are good for after work), and finally you have the dust extractor systems which can be complex or simple (if you can afford one they are very good up to a point).

Regardless how good your dust extraction may be, there is still ambient dust that escapes from it, especially if you are sanding or routing you need something which is easy to use, portable, and powerful to suck the dust from your tools. Here is where a shop vacuum comes in handy.

The problem with shop vacuums is that if you connect them direct onto the tool it will suffer from dust clogging within 10 minutes, and also is not that easy to empty it so often, even if you push it to collect more it could burn out.
An alternative to this is to have an intermediate system between your tool and the vacuum, and this is the cyclone dust collector bucket.
The cyclone dust collector bucket will collect 99% of the dust and throw it into the bucket below, leaving your vacuum almost dust free and clean.

My cyclone dust collector bucket is very inexpensive and efficient. It only cost me under 20 euros (about 25 U.S. dollars), easy to build in a weekend, so here is how I build it.

Step 1: Materials List & Diagram

Picture of Materials List & Diagram

Materials List:

1 Vacuum cleaner (1600 watt +)
1 Paint plastic bucket 20L
1 Metal (tin) paint bucket 20L
1 Plastic Funnel
1 Electrician's plastic pipe about 30cm (12") long
2 pipe joiners
1 90 degrees plumbing elbow fitting
1 Extra vacuum flexible hose
4 bolds, nuts & washers
8 self taping screws
5 minutes Epoxy Glue
Some sort of filler (builders bog or similar)
2 pieces of plywood or MDF 30X30X18mm (12X12X3/4")


The diagram shown here below is the one I worked on to build the cyclone bucket

Step 2: The Cyclone System

Picture of The Cyclone System

The Cyclone System consists of two stages.

The first stage is the paint plastic bucket with its top lit , fittings, and the funnel.
The second stage is the metal (tin) paint bucket which is attached under the plastic bucket and will hold in the dust and waste.

The two stages are locked together with the standard metal buckets holding clamp that comes with it.

Step 3: The First Stage - Top Lid

Picture of The First Stage - Top Lid

Before purchasing any of the fittings make sure to check your vacuum's flex hose end, and buy the appropriate diameter fittings that will fit between them (not all vacuums have the same diameter hoses and ends).
Take the plastic top lit and open a hole in its center, the same diameter with your pipe joiner (this is where the long pipe will fit), and one hole at the side end of the lid (This is where the elbow fitting will go).

Epoxy the first joiner half way into the center hole of the plastic top lid - this is where the long pipe will fit (use PVC glue to join the two if you have any or epoxy), just make sure that the pipe joiner is perpendicular with the lid.
You can cut the long pipe shorter latter and after the first test run if you are getting any dust into your vacuum, normally it should go us deep as the wooden ring sits.

Epoxy the second pipe joiner into the side hole the same half way leaving equal protrusion on either side. After it's dry, fit into the under side of it the 90 degrees elbow fitting having the fitting pointing parallel to the plastic bucket's walls (side). This will give the cyclonic spin circular action to the incoming dust.
Make sure there are no openings - if any feel them in with some epoxy or silicon.

Optional Modification:

In case the plastic top lid is soft like mine was, I added two more MDF circles about 22cm (8.5") in diameter and 6mm (1\8") thick to support it. The wooden circles go over and under the plastic lid and I bold them between them with 4 bolts/nuts/washers.

This gives me also the extra strength and the advantage in the case I want to add two more 90 degrees elbow fittings on the plastic bucket top lid, and run longer PVC pipes so that the use of flexible hoses is minimized, and improves the overall flow and pressure drop.

Step 4: The First Stage - Funnel

Picture of The First Stage - Funnel

To fit the funnel you will need first to cut a wooden disk/ring out of one of the two pieces of wood. The wooden ring should fit inside the plastic bucket tight (the inner disk that will remain from this cut we will use it latter). The outer diameter of the disk should fit tightly about half way into the bucket, and the inside diameter should be wide enough so that the funnel can sit on it. I cut the ring on my tool bench's inverted jig saw close to the line, and then using my circle sanding jig attachment I shaped it in a perfect circle. Dry fit to check everything out.


With the second stage finished we put the wooden ring inside the plastic bucket (about half way or more deep) so that the funnel's end protrudes out of the metal top lid hole. I screw the wooden ring in place from the outside using 8 self taping screws.

In my design I cut the funnel short so that its end hole won't be very narrow (more easy for the dust to run below) about 4cm in diameter and then I epoxy a piece of pipe to bring it out.

Now here is when things went nasty. I then epoxy the funnel's edge with the wooden ring's edge and then I added a kind of filler (use builders bog if you can get it) to smooth the ring with the buckets walls in a slope, so that the dust won't sit on the rings edge but slide down.
Since I could not find the builders bog here, I used the best next thing I could find and that was polyester filler that could stick on both surfaces, wood and plastic. Except form its ugly color (black) and the mess that does when spread (use gloves) other than that it was ok.

NOTE: If I am to do this again I will use less hardener than the suggested ratio to give me more time to shape it and smooth it out, even if it will take a bit longer to dry out.

That polyester filler after it dried at least gave me the raff surface to apply over it a softer, white filler layer, and with a wet cloth I manage to smooth it so that the dust falls into the funnel easy.
*Another Idea

OK, guys, people are messaging me that they have difficulty getting a funnel big enough and are asking me where I got mine from... well in my country is easy to find one, but it seams that’s not the case in there’s.

So depending on the diameter of your bucket there’s another idea here, you could go on any car accessories shop and buy an emergency street/traffic cone (those white and orange striped cones), and cut it down to your diameter size and length (and they do come in various sizes)... that will work nicely too.

Step 5: The Second Stage - Bucket Base & Metal Top Lid

Picture of The Second Stage - Bucket Base & Metal Top Lid

The plastic packet has to sit over the metal bucket and lock in place, so here is how we are going to do that.
We will need the 2 pieces of circular plywood or MDF which will support and join together the plastic bucket with the metal bucket's top lid.

We cut two disks about 4/5 of the diameter of the plastic bucket bottom (we already have the one piece that was left from the funnel's ring cut) so you need to cut only one.
Accuracy is not very important here so you can cut the disks with your jig/saber saw. Each disk has a center hole about 45-50mm (2") in diameter, I did that using a hole saw.
We will use the first circle to sit inside the plastic bucket's base, and the other one under the metal bucket's lid.
As the two disks have the same center hole opening, the same hole openings we should open one to the base of the plastic bucket, and one to the top lid of the metal bucket so that the funnel goes through them.

Sandwich everything together by butting the first disk into the plastic buckets bottom - the plastic bucket sits on the metal top lid - and the other wooden disk is under the metal bucket top lid. Bolt them together using 4 bolts, nuts and washers. Now we can connect the two buckets between them.

Step 6: Final Assembly & Test Run

Picture of Final Assembly & Test Run

Now I can put the plastic bucket over the metal one, hold the together with the standard metal buckets holding clamp that comes with it. Fit the vacuum's flex hose to the center joiner pipe and the secondary flex hose (I found that one from a thrown away vacuum) which is going to suck the dust through to the side joiner pipe, turn on your vacuum and let the cyclone run. All the dust ends down to the metal bucket leaving your vacuum clean and powerful to keep on going.

Remember when you will empty the dust from the metal bucket to ware some mask for protection, after all we don't want to breathe any of these nasty stuff at the end.

Step 7: Mini Cyclone Dust Bucket Cart Addition

Picture of Mini Cyclone Dust Bucket Cart Addition
Moving around the workshop and carrying with you the cyclone dust collector bucket and the vacuum is not a very easy thing to do, so I think a cart on casters may comes in handy and practical.
The design of the cart is very simple and can be made with only plywood, there are no dimensions here because you will have to measure and fit it according to the bucket's diameter and the vacuum's shape.

One thing that I will point out is that the base is made from two plywood sheets and the top one has a hole cut into it so that the bucket sits inside it.
Some Velcro straps can secure the vacuum if needed, and another addition are the 2 wooden handles on the plastic bucket to keep it from falling down when you are about to empty the lower tin bucket.

Hope you enjoy it and give it a try.

Don't forget to check on my other instructables:
The smallest workshop in the world

Bench Lathe 3 in 1 (Lathe - Sander - Grinder/Sharpener)

Stay Safe and Healthy

Stelios L.A. Stavrinides


fredo55 made it! (author)2016-08-30

Thanks Steliart for a great instructable. I made one as soon I got your info for my new cnc toy. The only change I did was the funnel, I made it from a 16"x 36" rectangle of thin metal found at Home Depot at the ventilation section. Using Sketchup I drew a truncated cone and then projected to a plane. No ring was necessary.

Now I'm looking for ways to deal with the static.

shadetre (author)fredo552017-09-10

I used a 10 foot length of wire soldered to large fender washers. The wire is attached to the plastic lid with an eyelet that fits one of the screws that attach the center duct on mine. Just toss the washer on the ground and it seems to do the job of preventing any static building up. Good luck.

SanttuH (author)2016-01-12

This is great. I have a home vacuum that is not too old, but because I can't find any replacement filters for it, it has been sitting useless.

This cyclone system seems like a way to save the vacuum and use it in my workshop/garage.

Cheiftain (author)2015-08-11

Terrific set up, well done!

I have seen trying to think of a way to remove ash from a wood stove that is dust free. There are various ideas around but I have not found one that nails it and the fine dust is difficult to contain especially without letting the larger coals go completely out.

Taking note of previous reference to dust explosions and given that it would be preferable to clean a stove out before the house freezes over, do you think this design could be adapted to have the ash dust filtered through water? The slurry could then be dumped in the compost or on the garden.

Thanks for sharing a great design.

rossxza made it! (author)2015-07-20

Thanks for the idea. Made a mini version (21cm dia x 42 cm high). Used 25mm PVC pipe, 2x 5L buckets from Bunnings and large funnel. Positioned funnel low in the top bucket (see shadow/silhouette) and increased outlet hole dia. Bucket dia is approx. 21cm. No blockages. Catches all the dust.

very nice glad I could help... go make some dust now :)
thank you

J-50Break1 (author)2015-03-20


katkon (author)2014-03-13

Μπράβο φίλε από τα ποιο ωραία πράγματα που είδα σε αυτό το site

Ευχαριστώ νάσαι καλά

γεια, πολυ ωραια ιδεα οπου ψανχοντας τελικα την εκανα με κωνο σημανσεως. Εχω μια απορεια που οσο και να εψαξα δεν βρηκα πληροφοριες. Το ποσο μεσα μπαινει η σωληνα εξοδου παιζει ρολο καπου! Γιατι βλεπω σε φωτογραφιες. Οτι ειναι σχεδον στο υψος της εισοδου. Επισης αν η εισοδος ειναι λιγο στενοτερη αραγε υπαρχει λειτουργικο θεμα στη λειτουργια?

qz9090 (author)2014-06-25

I have a philosophical question that I would like to pose. I have seen many similar designs of this "cyclonic" dust collector and think there might be a better way to design this.

I believe the farther away the outtake is from the intake, the less dust there will be going into the shop vac. When the intake sends the particles out along the walls of the "cyclone", the particles need to pass fairly close to the outtake to fall into the lower bucket.

So, my question would be, why not feed the intake all the way down to the lower bucket? By doing this, the larger particles are already contained in the lower bucket.

Also, flip your cone upside down so that the dust particles can stick to the inside of the cone and not make it up to the outtake. (If you put some velcro or some other similar material on the inside of the cone, it would help in collecting the dust)

Additionally, shorten the outtake to the point that it is flush with the lid.

If a dust filter is required, it could be mounted on the top of the cone.

Does this makes sense? Any thoughts?

Azze01 (author)qz90902014-10-08

qz9090, seems like you didn't understand the principle of the cyclone (no shame, took me a while, too).

Entering the cyclone chamber, the dust is forced into a circular motion along the sides of the funnel. As the only way is down (due to more air entering from the top) and as the incoming air will keep the circulating air at the same speed, towards the bottom end of the funnel the circulation of the air will increase in rpm (so to speak). This will give the particles an increasing amount of momentum, thus forcing them downward and against the wall of the cyclone, away from the upward motion of the stream of purified air rushing towards the outtake. In other words: The particles proceed downward to the bunker on the outer track, while the air returns to the outtake upward on the inner track.

Once the particles are in the bunker you want to keep them there and not stir them up. Therefor it would be a bad idea to put the intake exactly where you want the dust to settle. By flipping the funnel upside down you would even help the particles to leave the bunker

OK, guys, people are messaging me that they have difficulty getting a funnel big enough and are asking me where I got mine from... well in my country is easy to find one, but it seams that’s not the case in there’s.

So depending on the diameter of your bucket there’s another idea here, you could go on any car accessories shop and buy an emergency street/traffic cone (those white and orange striped cones), and cut it down to your diameter size and length (and they do come in various sizes)... that will work nicely too.

Good Luck

Watch out for those wsquishy cones. I just built a cyclonic dust separator and the cone implodes when I turn on the vacuum. Get a rigid one!

In the design used here it's not very important if the cone is a bit soft because it's supported with a filler, but if it's not supported then you are right you need to purchase a rigid one. :)

georion (author)2014-02-20

WHAT standard metal buckets holding clamp that comes with it.????

The one I purchased its top comes with a metal ribbon clamp to hold it tight

gunsgt1863 (author)2014-03-06

Yet another source for the funnel, at least in the US, is a 12" funnel used in home brewing. Check home brew supply sites.

polerix (author)2013-02-18

now all i need is a box for wood carving with high speed rotary tool

dimmaz88 (author)2013-01-28

Hi Steli (and anyone else who could help),
I'm going to build one of these, however I was thinking of making it out of plywood. Basically two boxes stacked, would the square shape hinder the functionality? I'm still going to use a cone.


dimmaz88 (author)dimmaz882013-02-02

Hi Stelios, thanks for the input. I wanted to use ply just because I have plenty of scrap, and didn't want to buy those buckets. I 'borrowed' a traffic cone too :).
I've finished my version of a cyclonic dust buster, simple design really. Just a cuboid with two sections, the top one has the cone in obviously. The cone goes right to the top so the cyclone is maximized. I tried it out yesterday and it works a treat, I'm using a brand new vac, not a single spec of dust in it.

On the downside, it is quite heavy. However, I'm going to mount it on wheels so it's not much of an issue.

Thanks again,

Hi dimmaz88,
The reason that the top part is cylindrical is to give to the collected dust and chips the cyclonic action needed to drive them down through the funnel and into the bucket. Now, if you want to have a top box, with a cylinder insight and a cone, that's ok.
The lower bucket could be a plywood box if you like as long as the top cylinder locks safely on it. I believe that will be a much more complex build up without any advantage.


zenbooter (author)2012-11-08

Hi Stelios. Once again in a matter of minutes I address you. Your Dust Collector is clearly well thought out,the employment of the metal paint can with it's clamping band is the real clincher.I will also build this one.Thanks.Tom.

skirmishmonkey (author)2012-04-10

Whilst building my rooftop workshop I became worried about the amount of dust in the air.
I had a look at the dust extractors on here and picked this one as best suiting my needs. (I loved the silent dust sniper too but as I am inherently lazy I decided that whilst it is amazing, it was too much work for me).

Just finished it and gave it a test run - works perfectly. Mine differs slightly - based on the 2 buckets I could get my hands on. You will see it's massive - in fact it is probably too big, but I needed something and until I get round to finding a smaller cyclone part, it will do.

I used a massive funnel (Yep PVC) that my local hardware store had in stock (4euros) and had bought and fitted it yesterday - used hot glue and expanding foam filler (Hot glue - perfect, expanding foam - nightmare) . Last night I came online to see if I had missed anything in the design and saw all the comments about static build up and possible explosions. This made me slightly worried. However - my simple (and works well) solution was to strip a length of wire I had lying around. Drill a hole just above the funnel in the side of the barrel and feed the wire through the barrell, down the funnel into the bottom barrel. I hot glued it flat and there is no static build up.

I now look forward to cutting mdf with less risk to my lungs. Big thanks to Steliart for this 'ible.

Very well done "skirmishmonkey" and thank you for the photos.
I am expecting most people to do changes in their model and depending on the matterials you can get your hands on, but the basic idea is there and as we say in woodworking - What ever works for you... :)
Thanks for sharing with us.

LMillerCarver (author)2011-11-07

I did something a bit different and it worked for me. I didn't bother with the funnel down the center.

I cut a bucket into thirds: The bottom, a 'ring' from the center, and the top - inclusive of the stability ridges. Inverting the 'ring' from the middle section and sliding it inside the top made it so the bottom wouldn't fall out when placed inside. Basically, this made the bucket a bit over 5 inches deep.

I cut the input port between the top's two ridges using the ridges to support the input adapter. The middle ring and the bottom were notched to match the hole through the top ring to allow for the input. A circular dust and debris notch was cut into the bottom for about 200° against the side wall about an inch wide. The bottom of the bucket seemed flimsy to me, so I left two spots intact without notching them.

I put the output port in the center of the lid as shown in this tutorial and extended it down to within about 2 inches from the bottom of the modified bucket.

I used 5 minute epoxy as my adhesive and hot melt glue sticks for filler around the gaps. I used caulking around the inside to ensure no dust nor debris would fill in the minor gaps.

You can use 2" ABS pipe from your DIY store (Home Depot, Lowes, etc) for the input and exhaust ports. 2" pipe couplers let me accept my 2.5 inch shop vac hose.

I didn't have the vacuum hose lying around and ended up buying an additional 12 section of shop vac hose online. (By the way, the $3 per foot price you pay through these stores was unbeatable by my search. I envy this author having his extra hose at his disposal!) That way, the shop vac can still function as a wet vac with all the original tools and hose and I can dry vac with the purchased extra hose.

Future plans call for me to make a second one for use with the work bench to collect the dust from the table and chop saw. I plan to 'plumb' in the work bench using 2" ABS rather than the pricey vacuum hose.

I will take pictures and make this tutorial easier to understand if there is enough interest...

Looking forward to see the pictures. Thanks for sharing :)

pfred2 (author)LMillerCarver2011-12-10

I'm interested.

I don't know if it is true or not but I hear it is pretty important to ground plastic pipe if you use it in a dust collection system. Maybe you can let us know.

True, but this applies more to a workshop dust collection system with long 5-6 inch plastic pipes and not so to the small vacuum cleaner system that uses flexible every day use household hoses and 1 foot piece of PVC pipe. Honestly I don't think you will have any problem in this case.

Even if the only hazard posed by static build up in dust collection systems is annoying shocks I still think it is worth taking some precautions to prevent it.

mmettipv (author)pfred22012-04-07

I agree with phred...........I installed a built-in house vac several years ago and the instructions stated that you had to run a ground wire from each vac wall port along the PVC (taped to the pipe at intervals) and ending up at a ground connection on the vac cannister,whcih was metal. I have to wonder what the static charge condition is in the pipe when the dust is moving through it. If you have ever thrown sawdust in a fire, you would realize the potential for fire inside the PVC when you have a flammable substance, air, draft and spark,,,,,,,,,,,,,better safe than sorry.

Thank you for your interesting comment, I would love very much to see some photos and an instructable on your idea. Let us know when you post this, I think many friends will like to also have a look. :)

Okay... but I should warn you that my pictures are even worse than my caulking!

I will try to get some taken for where I am now -- the first one is built and the second one is nearly completed -- and see if I can augment them with drawings.

Thanks for the interest!

Here is the link to the instructable and pictures:

It's my first instructable and I struggled with the editing and posting. Any suggestions for the project or instructable improvements are welcome.


skirmishmonkey (author)2012-04-10

Oops pics didn't seem to have uploaded.

chaitanya.vedak (author)2012-04-02

This too is an Awesome instructable to make a dust Collector.. Say bye-bye to Brooms and Pans..
May i Add that if you can make simple holder attachments to the collector hose, so it can stay pointed at the chips being thrown off, it could collect it in Mid Air-Mid Flight, and make Post Operation Cleaning a lot more hassle free.

Thanks for the tip ;)... a good one

mpikas (author)2012-02-16

where did you get the funnel? that appears to be the hard part of building one of these

Home depo, gas stations, kitchenware shops

Paul King (author)2012-01-14

I've worked in the Coal Mines starting a week after I finished High School in 1975. Any preventive measures, while working around any type of air born particles, are a great PLUS. Working on a Surface Mine the dust is more harmful than working in a Under Ground Mine! This is a great piece of equipment.

Thank You Very Much ---- for this product -----

The Eagle

Thank you for visiting and comment

djr6789 (author)2010-09-30

will this work if you vacuum up water?
and does the vacuum cleaner fill up with dust much ?

Never tried it with water.
The vacuum is almost dust free.

Thanks for visiting

also how long should the pipe in the middle be?

For starters, let it as long as deep is the top of your funnel (please see top diagram). If you see that some dust is collected into your vacuum you can cut it a bit shorter so it does not collect any dust.

Ive built the mini cyclone and about half the dust is going into the shop vac . if i cut the center tube any shorter it will be in line with the 90 degree angle. (the reason I screwed that up is that i installed my funnel too high, and before I realized I wasn't supposed to finish that step yet, is there anything I can do short of moving the funnel?)

iNate (author)2011-11-08

Dose it matter weather you hook the vac up th the center pipe or the other pipe

Yes it does :)

saintOlav (author)2011-01-30

Thank you so much for this instructable. I will be building this over the next week. Any experience with static charges building up inside the collector? The metal bucket would be easy to connect to ground.

@1010tbone; you might want to try stores that sell lawnmowers and landscaping equipment. They usually have larger diameter funnels for filling (lawn)tractor gastanks.

Thank you for visiting.
Take a few photos for us and post them when you done. I would love to hear your comments on it.

No need to worry about static in such small hoses.
Actually even in the big dust collectors unless your ducting is 8" plus there is no real static danger. Static combustion occur in big dust collection systems like farmers cyclones. I believe its more of a marketing sales thing for metal ducting instead of the use of soil pipes. From what I red from professionals who are in this line of business, there was never a recorded incident of static dust combustion in 8” or less in ungrounded soil ducting pipes. There is a much higher danger from floor sweep dust collecting if your collector picks up small metallic things like nails etc. those may hit the fan and trigger a spark that can result to combustion.

About This Instructable




Bio: Design Communications Graphic & Web Designer Photography NYIP, PSA ---------------------------------- Woodworking 3D CAD designs Photography Scuba Diving (PADI Assistant Instructor) Iconography Painting Esoteric Studies
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