Introduction: Portable Dust Collection System With Noise Reduction & Dust Separator Using Shop Vac

Picture of Portable Dust Collection System With Noise Reduction & Dust Separator Using Shop Vac

This is a dust collection cart that I made for my small workshop that serves multiple purposes:

o It provides a handy portable working surface of various shop projects

o It serves as my primary means of vacuuming dust from the floor and work surfaces

o It includes a dust separator made from a Dust Deputy that separates out 95+% of the wood dust into an easily removable container (and allows the shop vac to continue to produce maximum suction)

o It includes a noise reduction system for the shop vac that significantly muffles the shop vac noise (-10 dB)

o It has power outlets on both sides of the cart (one is switched)

o It allows easy connection of a vacuum hose to various woodworking tools in the shop to suck up most of the dust at the source of dust generation, including:

- Radial arm saw

- Kreg pocket screw jig

- Circular saw

All parts used in this instructable are off-the-shelf parts. No specialty parts are needed.

This instructable is intended to provide a proof-of-concept approach for creating a portable dust collection system using a shop vac. Detailed steps are not provided, but if there is sufficient interest, I'll be glad to provide them. If you would like additional detail for a particular step, please post a comment and I'll respond.

Step 1: Determine Which Shop Vac You Are Going to Use

If you already have a shop vac that provides great suction, you can use it.

I used a Ridgid WD1450 14-gallon 6 HP shop vac (available from Home Depot for $99). It has great reviews and provides excellent suction.

Step 2: Determine What Dust Separator You Are Going to Use

I used a Oneida Dust Deputy dust separator because of its lower cost and lower profile. It's available from Amazon for $58.

Step 3: Design Your Portable Working Surface ...

Picture of Design Your Portable Working Surface ...

This is by far the hardest part. Take some time on this one.

My source of inspiration for the noise reduction came from the following two links by Mr. Schrunk:

How To Silence Your Shop Vac

Build a Simple Box to Muffle Your Shop Vac (be sure to view the video and listen to the difference the noise reduction system makes)

I followed the basic design of Mr. Schrunk's shop vac noise reduction box, but added a compartment to the right to hold the dust separator (Dust Deputy).

Determine the height you want the working surface to be (be sure to include the height of the casters).

Determine the width of the cart, the depth, and where you want to add the partition between the shop vac and the dust separation compartment.

Determine what you will use to catch the dust. I used a plastic container that I purchased from Walmart. Make sure the width and height of the dust collection compartment will hold the container.

Note: The dust collection compartment MUST have an air tight seal or the dust separator will not work correctly. I created a lip and included some weather strip seal on the lip. I also sealed the inside of the dust collection compartment with caulking. I also purchased toggle clamps to hold the door onto the weather strip seal.

Determine what you will use for noise reduction, if anything. The acoustical noise reduction padding that Mr. Schrunk used is expensive, and I decided to use some egg crate foam padding that I had in storage. You really don't have to have any padding in the box to get a significant noise reduction (I don't think the egg crate foam padding added that much to the noise reduction). Note that I did not get anywhere near the noise reduction that Mr. Schrunk got, but it is still perfectly fine for my purposes.

If you make the cart tall enough, you can include a small storage compartment just above the dust separator. Also, depending on the size of your shop vac, you might also be able to include small storage compartment above the shop vac.

I'd also like to refer you to another Instructable that describes another noise reduction/dust separation cart:

He has a very detailed Instructable with lots of good information. For those concerned about heat build up in the enclosure, see esp. the discussion in Step 5 of the Dust Sniper link above. He also includes a circuit diagram to make a switch that automatically turns the shop vac on when the connected tools are turned on (see Step 13).

Step 4: Obtain Plywood and Parts and Construct the Cart

Picture of Obtain Plywood and Parts and Construct the Cart

You will probably need 1-2 sheets of plywood.

I used 3/4" plywood.

Build the outer walls first (do not put the top on yet), then focus on placing the partition between the shop vac and dust separation compartments. I used two sheets of plywood for the partition.

The Dust Deputy uses a 2" vacuum hose connection, and you will need to cut a hole in the partition to connect the shop vac to the Dust Deputy.

I also shortened the power cord going to the shop vac and added a power outlet inside the box.

You will need an adapter to connect the 2" hose to the 2-1/4" shop vac. These are not easy to find. I modified a Porter Cable 1-1/2" to 2-1/4" adapter that I got from Amazon. I used some plastic tubing that I got from Lowe's to make up the difference between the 1-1/2" and 2" vacuum hose.

Add casters as needed. I used 3" casters from Harbor Freight Tools.

Step 5: Add the Dust Separator & Small Storage Compartment

Picture of Add the Dust Separator & Small Storage Compartment

Once the shop vac compartment has been constructed, go ahead and determine the height of the base to the Dust Deputy. Make sure you have adequate clearance for the dust container.

Make the plywood base for the Dust Deputy fit as closely as possible to the sides. I used Kreg pocket screws to attach it, and then sealed the edges with caulking on both the top and bottom.

Install the Dust Deputy per its installation instructions, and attach the 2" hose from the shop vac.

Then, mark where you want the intake port to be on the side of the cart. You will need a 2-1/4" - 2" adapter for the side of the cart. I used a universal adapter similar to the one below and cut off the excess. Drill a hole in the side of the cart and install the universal adapter.

Once the Dust Deputy has been properly installed, you can go ahead and add a piece of wood on top of the Dust Deputy to make a small storage compartment accessible from the top (if desired).

Step 6: Make Sure the Dust Collection Box Is Properly Sealed ... Troubleshoot As Required

Make sure the dust collection department is sealed as best as you can make it.

Connect all the hoses together and power up the shop vac.

Try vacuuming up the dust and see if it all goes into the container.

If it does not, try doing a "smoke" test. With the system running, light a match and blow it out and then hold the smoking match near the edges of the dust collection compartment to see if any smoke is drawn in. If smoke is being drawn in, you will need to rework your seal.

In addition, you will want to make sure that the Dust Deputy is grounded. Use some metal tape and run it over the surface as described in the link below. Then, attach a wire to one of the Dust Deputy mounting bolts and run the wire to a washer which can drag along the floor. This will make sure that the Dust Deputy is adequately grounded when running and will help ensure that all of the dust drops into the container below.

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Tool!

Picture of Enjoy Your New Tool!

I've included a photo showing a comparison of the dust that gets captured in the plastic container under the Dust Deputy and what actually made it to the shop vac.

You can see that most of the dust and small chips are captured by the dust separator system!


Leathaldose (author)2017-11-06

would this work for silencing an air compressor?

RichardS246 (author)2017-05-31

Good instructible! Ive made similar systems in the past but have used a home made Thien Baffle instead of the Dust Deputy. (Just Google Thien Baffle if you're not sure what it is.)

My main suggestion is you'd get far better noise reduction by tearing out the eggcrate foam and replacing it with a couple of layers of 5/8" fire rated drywall on all sides of the box including the cover. Make your corner joints as tight together as possible. If you glued the 2 layers of drywall together with "Green Glue" (available at most drywall supply specialists) you would have the same effect as 3 layers of drywall, but at a lower cost. The drywall works by adding Mass to the system. Mass is a great dissipator/absorber of sound. (Think of the limited sound transmission through the floor of a concrete building compared to the much greater sound transmissions through a wood framed floor, even if it's insulated). Make sure you use the regular heavy weight fire rated drywall and not any of the new "lite" versions of drywall they have now. Really, the heavier the better.

You can also make your system quieter by baffling the air outlet strip you have at the back of your enclosure. The simplest way to do this would be to make a double wall at the back with a cavity between the drywall and the plywood. The air would enter the cavity at the top of the enclosure and exit at the bottom as it does in your present design. You could further improve it by glueing small horizontal boards in the cavity that would create a long back and forth channel that goes from side to side of the enclosure making the exiting air travel a much longer route to the exit. Just make sure that the cross section area of the channel is always as large or larger than the area of your 2" or 2-1/4" vacuum hose. I've found that a cross section area of the channel about one and a half times the cross section area of your hose seems to give the greatest noise reduction in my experience with systems of this type.

My last tip would be that spring loaded "Butterfly Clips" like those used on road cases for musical equipment and scientific instruments work very well to seal the cover on the enclosure. These can be obtained at many large music stores as well as online.

I'd really recommend you at least try the drywall. Its pretty cheap and will make a drastic difference in noise reduction. ?. Quiet is Good.

lokithecat (author)2016-02-03

best thing I have seen

Alywolf (author)2016-01-23

I especially LOVE the noise reduction.... that makes a major difference for me. When I have a shop....

bongodrummer (author)2016-01-07

Hi. Nice build. I see a lot of similarities to this system I made some years back,

Maybe consider giving it some link love ;)

pbriggs8 (author)bongodrummer2016-01-07


bongodrummer (author)pbriggs82016-01-18

Thanks :)

I noticed the hold downs you use for sealing the doors - is that permanent, or just for the prototype? Do they work well for that?

Oh also, did you consider making a power outlet from your system that automatically switches on the vac when you use the tool pulgged into it? There is a circuit diagram for an easy to make one in the link above.

pbriggs8 (author)bongodrummer2016-01-07

The toggle hold down clamps work OK, but they are a bit cumbersome; however, I don't need to open either of the covers very often. I like the appearance of your cover hold down design, though, and may change mine in the future.

Slip203 (author)2016-01-16

Dimensions would be helpful. I realize some adjustments may or may not be needed based on the wet-vac, but in general, we could get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time if we had them for a basis.

pbriggs8 (author)Slip2032016-01-16

Please see my response to Robert in the comments below. Mr. Schrunk has posted dimensioned plans for a shop vac noise reduction box which can be adjusted to the dimensions of your shop vac. This project is really just an extension of his noise reduction box, and could be built in two stages with the dust separator section built separately. In a future update to the Instructable, I'll post some more details on the dust separator section. In the meantime, let me know if you have specific questions.

Slip203 (author)pbriggs82016-01-16

Thank you very much.

Yonatan24 (author)2016-01-16

The noise reduction is a great idea, Isn't 10db supposed to be around 6 times less noise? (I think every 3db is 2X the sound_

pbriggs8 (author)Yonatan242016-01-16

I *think* 10 dB reduction is approximately 1/2 of the noise level (at least according to this link: The shop vac sound is significantly reduced to a comfortable level. I can run it continuously without being annoyed.

This may be partially due to the fact that I purchased a new Ridgid shop vac which is already a lot quieter out of the box than my 20+ year old Shop Vac. I'll also note that I'm not sure that the eggcrate foam helped that much in reducing the noise. I used it because it is what I had available. I checked the noise level before I added the eggcrate foam and it was about the same as after. If you really want to go all out though, you could install the expensive acoustical noise reduction padding that Mr. Schrunk put in - he stated that he got 22 dB noise reduction!

Yonatan24 (author)Yonatan242016-01-16


Robert Glass (author)2016-01-07

I would very much appreciate a plan including detailed steps. It looks like something that would work great in my woodworking & carving shop.

pbriggs8 (author)Robert Glass2016-01-07

Robert - This tool might be easier to build in two stages: 1) build the shop vac noise reduction box first, and then 2) build the dust separation/collection box (and then bolt or screw them together).

Mr. Schrunk has dimensioned plans for a shop vac noise reduction box here: .

I would make the following changes to his design, though: 1) run the shop vac intake through a hole on the right side so that it can easily connect to the Dust Deputy in the future, 2) shorten the shop vac power cord and install a power outlet inside the box, 3) add a switch and power outlet on the left side of the box (you may also want to run wiring to the right side if you want a switch/power on the right side in the future), 4) adjust the height of the box to your desired height (and perhaps add a drawer or storage compartment on the top), and 5) use 3" casters.

Once you've got the shop vac noise reduction box assembled and running the way you want, you could then build a box with the dust separation/collection compartments separately, and then attach it to the right side of shop vac box, add a piece of plywood underneath that runs the length of both boxes for stability, and then add the casters.

Robert Glass (author)pbriggs82016-01-07

Thanks so much. I will take pics and keep you informed.

pbriggs8 (author)Robert Glass2016-01-07

I look forward to your pics & response. I'll also be thinking of how to simplify the dust separator/collection portion of the cart. It is critical that the dust collection box have a perfect seal and I'm sure there are better/easier ways to seal it than what I used.

astokic (author)2016-01-07

Not here to advertise stuff, but I've seen some videos about AcoustiBlok sound insulation. Unfortunately, I'm far away from USA, so I can't try it, but it seems to work much better than sponge.

pbriggs8 (author)astokic2016-01-07

Thanks for your comment. I checked the noise reduction before and after I added the eggcrate foam, and didn't really notice much difference after I added the foam. I think this box would muffle the shop vac noise just fine without any noise reduction material at all - the 3/4" plywood and rear exhaust do a pretty good job of muffling the higher frequencies. Besides, the other tools that the vacuum connects to make a LOT more noise. If I do come across some good sound insulation at low cost, though, it would be easy to remove the eggcrate foam and install the better quality insulation.

TimB2 (author)2016-01-07

Your portable dust collection design looks good and rather functional. I hope it serves your needs well. I once thought a 5 gallon bucket would suffice for me. I had two problems with that. One was it would fill up way too quickly and the excess would go right into the shop vacuum. The other issue was if the end of the vacuum hose got blocked even briefly, the sides of the 5 gallon container would crush in like an empty cola can. And oh, it was very prone to falling over while in use and all the dust would go into the shop vac. I got fed up and graduated to a dust deputy mounted on top of a poly plastic 30 gallon industrial drum. I have two Ridgid 6 hp shop vacs pulling together on the dust deputy. All this collection hardware is in a separate room. The hose feeds through a wall connection. I turn my system on and off with a pocket remote. I use a low current remote system to activate a three bank 25 amp contactor to turn on the shop vacuums. In my setup I rarely ever find more than a small handful of dust in my shop vacs even when the 30 gallon container is nearly full.

pbriggs8 (author)TimB22016-01-07

Tim - Thanks for your comments. Before I built the cart, I tried using my existing shop vac with a Dust Deputy on a 5 gallon bucket just like you did. It was functional, but very loud and cumbersome, and after I saw Mr. Schrunk's design, I decided to try build a system that had both noise reduction and dust separation. Actually, my original design included two shop vacs and two Dust Deputy's similar to what you've got (but I ran out of money and space). I'm very satisfied with the current design, but if I had a bit more space in my workshop, I think I would make a bigger cart and use two Ridgid vacs with noise reduction and two Dust Deputy's for even greater suction. And, if I had a lot of space and money, I'd probably just get a complete dust collection system and run 4" suction lines throughout the shop. :)

IanE14 (author)2016-01-07

Brilliant! Just what I need - thank you :-)

silkier (author)2016-01-07

What a splendid construction, well done that man!

deathbyproxy (author)2016-01-04

Is there no issue of the vac heating up inside the confined space?

pbriggs8 (author)deathbyproxy2016-01-04

Here's a picture of the backside of the cart - note the long opening at the bottom to exhaust the shop vac air.

pbriggs8 (author)deathbyproxy2016-01-04

The shop vac air exhausts out of a rather large narrow opening in the bottom rear of the box (see pic in Step 3). I've checked the air temperature in the shop vac compartment after a period of heavy use and it was moderately warm, but not hot. I've followed the same basic design as Mr. Schrunk, and his shop vac box with noise reduction did not seem to have any overheating concerns, either.

sosclosetsandfurniture (author)2016-01-03

Nicely done. I've put off doing this because of the added noise in my small shop area. Never occurred to me to muffle it. Great job!

If you are really tight on space, you might want to build just the shop vac box per Mr. Schrunk's design (and skip the dust separator). You could make it to the height that you want (perhaps with a small storage area or drawer). I would suggest providing power inside the box as I've done, and I'd also add outlets on both sides of the box as they are very handy to have.

jcgoforit (author)2016-01-02

Can one make the duster and hook it up to the inside of your house to help with house dust like a air cleaner.i have a garage attached to the house

pbriggs8 (author)jcgoforit2016-01-03

The Dust Deputy is intended to strip out the larger dust particles and I don't think it would work as an air purification system for your house. You would probably be better off going with a dedicated air purifier designed for use inside the house.

kylegilbert (author)2016-01-02

Wow, this is nice! I keep putting off building a separator, but I really like your setup here, and love the addition of the sound dampening.

pbriggs8 (author)kylegilbert2016-01-03

You can easily add the Dust Deputy to your current shop vac by mounting the Dust Deputy on top of a 5 gallon container. Once you do that, you'll probably be hooked on the dust separator. The 5 g container is cumbersome to move around and the shop vac is noisy. This system really reduces the sound so that it is not very noticeable at all, provides a great portable work surface, and separates out almost all of the dust.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm an Electrical Engineer by training and profession. I enjoy working on complex problems and processes, and I especially like finding ways to do ... More »
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