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
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
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.
Step 3: 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.
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
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.
DO NOT COMPLETE THIS STAGE UNTIL YOU FINISH THE SECOND STAGE.
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.
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
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
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
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